So, I read around and played around and finally had some great success today. I used a yellow cake recipe off of epicurious (linked below) and used a few of the recommendations there: I added 2 Tablespoons of mayonnaise to make sure the cake was moist and I sifted the flour, then sifted it again with the baking powder and salt, then sifted it again as it went into the batter. I did not use cake flour (didn't have any) but I know it would turn out even better with it. (can anyone tell me what the actual differenc is in using cake flour and regular white flour?)
I made two eight inch rounds (i really think nine inch would've made the cake too thin) and after it was cool I added a thin layer of simple syrup on the top of both layers.
Next I used a buttercream recipe that someone gave me on chowhound a long time ago called Swiss Buttercream. Can't for the life of me remember who it was but whomever - Thank you!! Here's the recipe:
4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
3.5 sticks butter, room temp
Put whites and sugar in a bowl over simmering water. Whisk until sugar is dissolved and mixture is warm to the touch. Remove from heat. Whip until cool. Add butter piece by piece. Whip like heck.
I used confectioners sugar. I was really worried at first this wasn't goign to come together but sure enough, right at the end, it did. I wanted it a bit sweeter and as was suggested in the original posting, this is a good recipe to combine with the sugar/butter buttercream of my childhood. I added the rest of a small bag of confectioners sugar alternating with milk and more vanilla. Wasn't too sweet or two buttery and was the absolute perfect consistency for frosting the cake. I then added about a cup of sweetened coconut, and after frosting, added it to the outside as well. I wish I could show with a pic - it looks really beautiful and tastes even better.
Sigh - Finally!! Perhaps the evil streak is over....