Spring Adventures and Carrot Cake

Summer is just around the corner, and with the never ending winter we had to endure, I think everyone has been outside enjoying the sun and warm temperatures. I know we have been! My husband and I took advantage of a few nice sunny weekends to do some spring cleaning inside and outside of the home. It’s always such a great feeling to declutter and get organized, open all the windows in the house, take a deep breath and smell that fresh air!

Not only did we get rid of a lot of junk, we also did a big yard clean up made a vegetable garden 🙂 We’re both rookies when it comes to gardening, but I come from a long line of green thumbs and we have lots of friends who have gardens of their own, so should be a piece of cake right?!

We are starting small for now, about 15×15, and since it’s our first time making a garden we had someone come over with a small tractor to till the soil for us. To my delight we found out our soil is more sandy (since we live on the water) and it’s also quite neutral, so our soil is easy to work with.

Here are some pictures of the early stages
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Freshly tilled

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Rows have been made

Yesterday we went to our local farmers market and purchased some tomato, cucumber, strawberry and cantaloup plants and we also got seeds to grow some carrots and green/yellow beans. We decided to get two blueberry bushes and one raspberry bush that we will plant near the garden as well. Now if the rain can let up for a little while I will be able to finally go outside and get my hands dirty! I’ll write more later on to let you all know how our garden adventure is going.

Now for some more exciting news, we got a tent trailer!!! After months of searching we finally found our new (to us) home away from home on wheels. I have many fond memories of camping in a tent trailer with my family when I was a little kid. We never went really far away, but my parents always brought us to new and interesting places. I still remember visiting Bar Harbour, Maine, and falling in love with all the seals we saw along the coastline.

Camping has always been one of my favourite summer activities, and as I’ve said before, I look forward to it every year. With our new Subaru we can now tow our little trailer almost anywhere our heart desires so we started off by going to Fundy National Park for the May long weekend. Here are a few pics I took with my Canon Rebel T2i.

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Our little 8 footer

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The view from look out point, early in the morning

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Foster brook, a bit of a challenging trail but totally worth it

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Our doxie Layla, “ruffing” it at the campsite

I’m really looking forward to doing some camping this summer, I will keep you posted on our camping adventures as well and I will try to do a special post with some helpful camping tips and tricks.

Now for the carrot cake, with cream cheese frosting of course! Today is Father’s Day, a day where (if we are lucky) we get the spend some time with the one man who we have looked up to our entire lives. I love my dad, plain and simple. He is an intelligent, creative, generous and caring person, it also helps that we are two peas in a pod. I have inherited many traits from my father and I am proud of every single one them, right down to my skinny feet and intolerance to green peppers. We have the same sense of humour and we both enjoy being around people, but also desperately need our alone time. It’s so comforting to know that someone out there is a lot like me and understands me and he is just a phone call or a short drive away. And he is ALWAYS there for me, every time, any time. He gives great advice and I have learned countless things from him, needless to say I am one lucky girl.

That being said, like me my father is not a big fan of sweets. I love to bake them but will only indulge in moderation (it’s how I keep my girlish figure). So every year I make my dad a carrot cake, I’m a big fan of dessert with fruit or veggies in it, and really who doesn’t love a good slice of carrot cake once in a while?! This recipe is very basic and easy, the cake always comes out super moist and full of flavour, and the cream cheese icing is also very easy and could be used with lots of other cakes like red velvet.

Carrot Cake

Turn on your oven and preheat it to 350, grease two 9″ cake pans (I like to use Pam for baking). Before I get started on the cake batter I like to get the grated carrots ready. This time I used about 8 small/medium sized carrots, I peeled them first and then used a cheese grater to grate them into small pieces that will break down well and will leave just a hint of orange when the cake is fully cooked. I keep a large measuring cup nearby so I can dump the carrots into it as I go, and I once I have 3 cups I know I have a enough.

Here is what you will need for the cake:

4 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup apple sauce
1 cup white sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
3 cups peeled and grated carrot

Start by mixing together both kinds of sugar, eggs, oil, apple sauce and vanilla. Once everything is well combined set aside and mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Slowly add in the flour mixture a little bit at a time until well combined and then gently fold in the carrots. Pour equal amounts into the prepared pans and bake for 40-50 minutes. I usually check at the 40 minute mark, if a knife or tooth pick comes out clean after inserting it into the middle of the cake, you know it’s done! Let the cakes cool in the pan for at least ten minutes and then gently remove the cakes from the pans and let them cool on a wired cooling rack. Make sure the cakes are properly cooled before applying the icing.

Now for the Cream Cheese Icing

The most important thing to remember when making cream cheese frosting is to make sure both the cream cheese and butter are at room temperature. Trust me! I’ve ruined my icing many times by not waiting for the ingredients to reach too temperature and it makes a lumpy mess. If you want a smooth and even icing use this tip!

Here is what you will need:

1 package (250g) cream cheese softened
1/4 cup butter softened
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. salt

In a kitchenaid mixer or with a handheld mixer beat together cream cheese, butter, icing sugar, vanilla and salt until smooth. While mixing, make sure to take breaks to scrape the sides of the bowl (also bottom of the bowl if you are using a kitchenaid) this will make sure you get all the lumps out and will make the icing nice and smooth.

I usually do this while the cake is baking, it will seem like there is not a lot of icing in the bowl, but there is just enough to ice a two layer cake. I find cream cheese icing quite rich, but if you want extra or want to make a larger cake, you can double the recipe. Once the cakes are cooled I will start by icing the top of the bottom cake and then I will place the second cake on top (this will make a layer effect) and then apply icing all over the combined cakes.

And here is the finished product

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I believe I found the original recipes on Allrecipes.com, but for once I did not find them on the Pinterest, so I do not have a direct link for you this time. Hope you all enjoy this recipe as much as my father and I do 🙂

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