Welcome to my blog. Thanks for coming! One day I hope my little piece of internet real estate will be home to lots of family photos, pictures of my scrapbook and card art, with some random thoughts and memories posted on a somewhat regular basis. Mostly my world is very predictable, but occasionally some excitement will find me, so visit often. Who knows what useful (or useless) information you may find here.


Monday, September 27, 2010

My Kid Brother

An angel from heaven came down one night
And made a big sister of me.
And though Mommy said it would happen some day,
It's not all that I thought it would be.
The baby smelt funny and cried all the time,
And Mommy, she always was tired
This baby was simply no fun at all!
If I was his boss he'd be fired!
But as he got older, he got kinda cute,
And one day he smiled up at me!
And when he was able to sit up and play,
It was then I was able to see,
That someday he might be a very good friend,
A brother I really could love,
And I could than God for sending to me
This wonderful gift from above.

Happy Birthday, Michael!  I love you!

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Cake, Part 2

Okay, so I know you're just dying to see the final results of the cake.  We're happy with the results, but keep in mind this was an EXPERIMENT, and my anal self has to remember that first attempts often fall short of perfection.  I would have liked for the polka dots to have been perfect circles, but seeing as how we hand-rolled each little ball of fondant, then smooshed it into a circle, perfection was impossible.  The "real" cake will also have trim work on it.  You know what I mean, the "molding" stuff where the cake meets the plate, and where the first layer meets the second layer.  I'm sure there are professional terms to describe what I'm talking about, but, hey... I don't know anything about cake decorating, so I'll just call it "molding", or "trim work".  So please view the photo with a forgiving attitude, and remember... this IS our first one... drum roll please...

And in case anyone is wondering, the top level is NOT Mexican cornbread!  :-)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Cake, Part 1

Hello Kitty or Minnie Mouse.  Leyland had quite a difficult time deciding between the cat and the mouse for her birthday theme this year.  The mouse finally prevailed, so this year's party is all about the ears.  Whitney found the most precious little Minnie Mouse dress (and of course the headband with ears) for her to wear to the party.  Conveniently, the sweet little outfit will serve as her trick-or-treat costume as well.  And to make a great deal even better, the essential black patent leather shoes will also fill the need for new "church" shoes for the fall.  A big bang for our bucks.  Gotta love that!  Birthday parties for the kids usually just about kill me.  Leyland's birthday falls right in the middle of football season, so her parties are usually held on Sunday afternoons, which means 1) I must rearrange my work schedule, and 2) I must rush to decorate after church.  (So far, we have used the fellowship hall at the church for her parties).  3) Then I must rush to get everything cleaned up before the evening service.  Fortunately, family and friends are there to help out, but it still just wears me out.  Earlier this year we decided to try a different approach.  We'll be having the party at 1-2-3-Jump, a place at the mall with the blow-up things that the kids hop around and slide down inflatable slides.  I'm hoping the stress level will be significantly less by eliminating the need to decorate, and having a much smaller menu.  Pizza, cake, ice cream and drinks.  Not quite the spread we usually lay out, but I think it will suffice.  Besides, there's a food court right around the corner for anyone who prefers more substantial fare.

Apparently I'm unable to function without some level of stress, and birthday parties are no exception.  Instead of getting a $20.00 cake from Sam's large enough to feed an army, (no stress!) Whitney and I have undertaken the task ourselves.(Stress!)  Our internet search lead us to hundreds of Minnie Mouse birthday cake photos.  We decided that if those folks can do it, so can we.  First, you must understand that my personal culinary skills are laughable, at best, and downright toxic at worst.  Whitney is an excellent cook, but (with the exception of one cake last summer) her cake decorating skills fall just shy of ... pitiful.  So to even entertain the idea of decorating a cake for Leyland's birthday seems unlikely... and to plan a fondant cake is unthinkable.  I've always loved the look of a fondant cake, but never, EVER thought that I would attempt one my ownself.  Thanks to You-Tube, we have watched many videos, and our confidence was boosted to the point that we decided to tackle it.  Our most daunting task was deciding which design to use.  Tiered round?  Tiered square-round? Sheetcake? Layer cake?    

Tonight was the big night.  Time to make the prototype.  We decided on a square bottom with a round top.  I have one of those cake-leveler thingies, so once the bottom layer had cooled sufficiently, I leveled that baby out, and whipped up some butter cream frosting to smather all over it.  Oh yeah.  I learned that to use fondant, you must first ice the cake with butter cream frosting, then chill it until the frosting is somewhat firm. I was delighted to find that butter cream frosting comes in a box, requiring only a tad of milk and butter and an electric mixer.  Check.  

Despite our confidence when watching the You Tube videos, when it came time to prepare, roll, and drape the fondant, we were a tad bit nervous.  Whitney was soon up to her elbows in corn starch and confectioner's sugar, and soon had it rolled out to an adequate size.  The moment of truth had arrived... draping it over the cake.  Total Piece Of Cake!! (pun intended)  

I'm very happy to say that we are delighted with how the bottom layer has turned out.  

The jury is still out on the top level, as it remains unfinished.  Of course, we couldn't complete the project without a disaster.  I only have one 6" round pan, so the top layer had to be made in two batches.  Oops.  Whitney forgot to spray the pan, so the first layer wouldn't release from the pan and tore all to pieces.  No worry, we had more batter, so into the oven it went.  Well, by the time I leveled it out, the layer isn't tall enough.  We need that second layer.  We didn't have another box of cake mix anywhere in the house.  As a final effort to complete the project, I asked her if we didn't have some blueberry muffin mix, or SOMETHING to bake in that pan so we could frost it and finish our masterpiece. After looking one last time, she was finally able to locate some Mexican cornbread mix....  

....to be continued....

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Old Things

My dad will be 80 years old in June.  80 years.  Eight decades.  Wow.  That's a lot of years.   And my dad has packed a lot of living and learning in those 80 years.  As a young boy, he waited in the chicken house with his dad while Santa Clause (and the good doctor) brought his baby sister into the world on Christmas Day.  He learned to work the fields and tend the livestock with my grandfather.  His leg was shattered in a milling accident, and he still bears the scars.  Fortunately, a good surgeon saved the leg, and it has caused no problems in subsequent years.  As a young man he served his country in the Air Force as a communications specialist.  Shortly after leaving the Armed Forces, he met and married my mom, and 16 months later he became a father.  4 years and 11 months later, my baby brother was born, and our family was complete.

My brother and I enjoyed the proverbial "Anything your daddy can do, our daddy can do better."  I speak the truth.  We were the lucky kids, the ones whose parents resolved to stick it out through thick and thin, and who held together when times were tough.  Our daddy worked hard every day, then came home at night and was a *real* daddy to us.  Not like the daddies of today, who have one ear plugged with a Blue Tooth, one hand on the remote, and one hand on the cell phone.  Nope, he played with us kids, fixed things around the house, helped his neighbors any way possible, and built things.  He has always been a builder.  Whether it be a garden shed, a greenhouse, a newfangled carburetor (which he should have had patented!), or a toy from a wooden spool, a toothpick, a rubber band, and a chunk of soap that could be wound up and would roll across the floor.  Magic, I tell you!  He built much of the house in which they live.  He built toy chests for the grandchildren, numerous bookcases and a beautiful pie safe for my home.

We cherish all of the things that he has built with his hands.  Perhaps the most amazing thing that he has built, though, is a car.  That's right, a car.  As a young boy, he always dreamed of building a car from scratch.  (Go figure... I guess it was a "boy thing".)   Since the age of 16, he has had the dream of building a particular model of a car.  An Oldsmobile Model R.  A year or so ago found him realizing his dream, as he researched the project and located the plans that he would need.   He ordered materials, doodled things on paper, read manuals, and talked about his project to his friends.  He cleaned out his "building" to make room for the project, and greased up his saws and presses, and prepared for The Big Day.  Finally he was able to begin the adventure.  He would disappear for hours, "piddling around", making a little progress every day.  My mom would get a report of what he had accomplished that day.  Finally things started to take shape, and you could really see that all those piles of wood and metal were coming together to form something... and as time went on, it became evident that it was indeed a car!  Not the kind of car we use today.  The body of it looks more like a carriage.  (At one point in assembly, I told him it looked like Santa's Sleigh.  I don't think he much appreciated that.)

Hours and hours of determination and dedication have resulted in The Car My Daddy Built.  It is really cool!!  He is so proud and excited, as he very well should be.  He has taken it to several car shows, and has won several awards.  This past Saturday he won a 6' trophy, for being The Favorite of the show's sponsors.  How exciting!

We are so thankful for the continued good health of our dad.  And so very thankful that he is industrious and ambitious, regardless of his age.  His mind is sharp and his hands remain skilled and talented.  This project, we feel, has been instrumental in maintaining these blessings.

Yes, we are very proud of all that he has built in his lifetime.  And The Car is no exception.  But what we are most proud and grateful for is the relationships he has built with his family and friends, and with God.  We love you dad!!!

My dad and The Car will be at the Sunflower Festival in Statham this Saturday.  If you're in town, drop by and take a look.  He would love to tell you all about it!!!  Here are a couple of photos of the finished product, and of his latest award.