Such A Beautiful Baby

I had the most wonderful dream the other night.

There’s a song that says “…a dream is a wish your heart makes, when you’re fast asleep.” I believe that’s true in a lot of ways.

For those of you who’ve read some of my other stories, as well as those of you who know me quite well, you already know how much I enjoy piecing together the meaning of dreams. To me, dreams are often a beautiful tapestry that weaves itself together in front of my eyes as I’m resting.

Sometimes those dreams have a deeply hidden meaning that I enjoy dissecting, bit by bit, until I uncover that meaning.
Then there are the dreams like I had the other night. Just a peaceful, beautiful scenario that foretells a special event coming up in our lives.

And what are the chances that our daughter would have a very similar dream that same night, and in fact, had been having those similar dreams the entire week and had never told me?

Our daughter and her husband are expecting their first baby, our first grandbaby, in less than two months. To say we’re all excited is an understatement. And to have been blessed with the dream I had the other night is something I find difficult to put into words.

But of course, I’m going to try.

Imagine being a first time grandmother to be, who is getting more excited by the day at the prospect of soon being able to hold her first granddaughter. A granddaughter who is being named after my own mother, my daughter’s beloved grandmother.

In my dream I was actually holding our precious little Rachel Marie. She was in my arms. I could look into her face, see her beautiful big blue eyes, and her head full of light brown hair. I couldn’t help but just stare at her in amazement, as I held her, and cuddled her. And watched her smile up at me with the biggest grin I could imagine. My granddaughter. I can even describe the outfit she was wearing, although I haven’t seen it yet in any of the baby stores. It was yellow and coral, with little yellow ruffles on the bottom.

This little girl of my dreams was our precious gift. A special delivery directly from the Lord. I remember looking at her and thinking how my own mother actually met her before we did. Because I know my Mom had been caring for her little namesake in heaven until it was time for our new little Rachel to be born and come live with us. I imagined my mother kissing her little forehead, and handing her over to a special angel who would take her down to earth to her new earthly family. And I imagined my heavenly family smiling and rejoicing, knowing what a special, beautiful gift we were getting.

My dream faded softly as I woke up, and for a few minutes, I actually found myself looking around to see where baby Rachel was. And then I remembered. She hasn’t been born yet, except in my dreams.

Now imagine my surprise when our daughter Ashley texted me a little later and said she’d been dreaming all week that Rachel was already here. Only she hadn’t seen her yet in her dreams; in her dreams Rachel was sleeping in her nursey and Ashley was walking down the hall to get her. So Grandmom got to see her first. Yes, I think my daughter was a tiny bit jealous of that one.

Little Rachel will be here before we know it, although right now it seems like it’s taking forever. And I can’t wait to see how much she actually looks like she did in my dream.

And I know she is beautiful. Like her mother.

Homemade Hot Cross Buns

There are a number of special food delights associated with Easter. Certainly chocolate bunnies, Cadbury crème eggs (be still my heart!), those sugary marshmallow peeps, jelly beans, and the chocolate covered Easter eggs we discussed last week are some of the first to come to mind.

You can also find a lot of cute Easter treats to make for kids on Pinterest*, one of my addictions, such as rice krispie “nests” filled with jelly beans or peeps, creatively decorated coconut cakes made in the shape of bunnies or even decorated with more peeps….you get the idea!

But one particular item I’ve always enjoyed at Easter is the Hot Cross Buns. My mother would buy them every year, as soon as they were in the grocery store, which was usually about a month before Easter Sunday. And as soon as Easter was over, once the stock was sold out, you couldn’t find them again until next year.

5ecf625ec1bf91acb4247c48f2cfb15fIt’s funny how my mother, who was a wonderful cook, never tried to make them herself. Most likely it would’ve been fairly easy, especially using her special cinnamon bun recipe.

Next year I’m most likely going to be trying all kinds of those creative treats I mentioned before, because we’ll have our granddaughter next Easter, since that’s what grandmothers are supposed to do. But for right now, I’m going to try this recipe that I found years ago and just filed away in my “things to make sometime when I have the desire” recipe box. It sounds good, and it also sounds fairly easy. And I like both! And don’t be put off by how long the directions seem to be. They are very similar to how we make my mother’s cinnamon buns, and those are easy!

Homemade Hot Cross Buns

1 pkg active dry yeast
3/4 c warm milk, divided
3 1/4 – 3 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c sugar
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1/4 c butter, softened
2 eggs, room temperature
3/4 c dried fruit (combination of currants, and chopped candied citrus peel – and yes, I’d add a bit extra!)
2 tsp grated orange zest

In bowl, mix together 1/4 c of warmed milk and 1 tsp of sugar. Sprinkle yeast over the milk and let set 5-10 minutes, til foamy.

In large bowl vigorously whisk together 3 c flour, salt, spices, and 1/4 c sugar.

Make a well in the flour mixture and add yeast mixture, softened butter, eggs, and remainder of milk. Mix ingredients until well blended (will be “shaggy” and sticky). Add fruit and orange zest.

Slowly sprinkle in remaining flour, 1 tbl at a time, kneading after each addition, until mixture is no longer completely sticking to your hands. Form dough into a ball and cover with plastic wrap for 2 hours, or until doubled in size. (Be sure to put in a warm spot in your kitchen)

When ready, take dough, and roll into a log shape and cut into two halves, leaving one half in bowl until ready to use. Cut dough you are using into 8 pieces. Take dough and form into mounds, placing them 1 1/2” apart on baking sheet. Cover mounds again with plastic wrap and let rise again until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

orange-hot-cross-buns-su-xPreheat oven to 400. Whisk together 1 egg and 1 tbl milk. Score tops of buns in cross pattern with a knife (deeply cut so that the cuts will stay visible after baking). Brush egg mixture on top of dough. Bake on middle rack in over 10-12 minutes til lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool in pan for a few minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

When buns are totally cooled whisk together 1 tsp milk and 3-4 tbl powdered sugar, adding sugar until you get a thick consistency. Place in plastic bag and snip off corner to make pastry bag. Pipe lines across the top of each bun to make a cross.

*If you want to visit my personal Pinterest board to see the Easter goodies I’m talking about, here’s the link: https://www.pinterest.com/bdnewell/easter-ideas

It’s Not About the Bunnies

For the last several weeks, all I’ve seen on Pinterest and other sites are cute little bunnies. Sometimes with brightly colored eggs, sometimes with pastel Easter baskets, and sometimes, well, they’re just there looking cute and adorable.
Obviously it’s close to Easter. And EVERYONE associates bunnies with Easter, right? Along with the colored Easter eggs, of course. And the marshmallow peeps…in all colors.

But…it’s not about the bunnies.

From what I’ve been able to determine, the legend of the Easter Bunny bringing eggs seems to have been brought to our country by settlers from southwestern Germany in the 1800’s. Since that time the Easter Bunny has gradually become the commercially recognized symbol of Easter.

Folklore tells us the Easter Bunny brings baskets filled with colored eggs, candy, and sometimes even toys to children the night before Easter. Sometimes the baskets might be hidden, and the children have to go and find them. Most likely, that’s how the tradition of the Easter egg hunt began.

But it’s still not about the bunnies.

To those of us who are believers, Easter is about one thing. The resurrection of Jesus Christ. The very name of the holiday may have come from an ancient holiday depicting the rites of spring, or rebirth from the bleakness of winter, but to us, it represents much more than a rebirth of the world. Easter is a celebration of the eternal life we have when we accept Jesus as our Lord and savior. In fact, our belief in the resurrection is the very foundation of our faith.

John 11:25-26 “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

While Jesus was conducting his ministry on earth, He told His disciples what would happen to Him in order to fulfill the ancient scriptures, but of course, they really didn’t believe Him, and even tried to prevent it. Until they saw the truth for themselves.

We have read about the agony of the crucifixion. We have seen it depicted in countless movies and plays, sometimes in such a gruesome manner we have to look away. But the real crucifixion was much more gruesome than can be portrayed in a movie or a play. And our Lord suffered the most horrific pain, so those of us who choose to love Him and call Him Lord will be eternally with Him in heaven, along with all of the others who believed the same.

What a wonderful, unselfish, beautiful story. As wonderful as the Christmas story is, the Easter message is so much better. Because in this story, death is defeated for all time. The baby that was born at Christmas has grown up, became a man who is the son of God himself, and gave His very life to save ours, and has now defeated death itself.

Multitudes saw Him die that day. They saw the lightning and heard the booming thunder when our Lord drew His last earthly breath. They saw his lifeless body taken down from the cross, and many followed the procession to where His body was laid to rest in a tomb, the entrance sealed by a heavy stone and guarded by fierce Roman soldiers.

Luke 24 2-3
And on the third day after the crucifixion, just as the ancient prophecies had declared, when the women went to the tomb to anoint His body with spices, they were were quite surprised!

And an angel was there as well, to remind them, “He is not here, for he has risen, as he said.” (Matthew 28:6).

No, it’s not about the bunnies. They’re cute and cuddly. But the true Easter story isn’t cute and cuddly. It’s real, and it’s brutal. But it’s also the greatest love story that ever took place.

Have a blessed Easter!

Note: I was brought up on the Easter Bunny as well as Santa Claus, and I think I turned out OK. As far as I’m concerned, as long as you also teach your kids the true story behind these holidays, let them enjoy these children’s traditions while they can, because being a child doesn’t last that long!

Chocolate Easter Eggs

I admit I absolutely love those chocolate covered eggs sold this time of year. When I was little I couldn’t wait to get in my Easter basket, grab the big chocolate coconut egg, and take a huge bite out of it! And were they ever delicious!

They still are. And I still have to have one every year!

However, it’s become quite popular now for people (not me yet) to make their own chocolate covered Easter eggs. A lot of organizations sell them as fundraisers. The hair salon where my mother used to go sold them every year, and I’m sure they still do.

One thing I’ve never tried to do, though, is make my own. But I thought just for the fun of it, I’d try to see how complicated they are to make. So I paged through all of my mom’s old church cookbooks as well as recipes she’d cut out of the local newspapers, and came up with a couple of recipes!

easter egg2I doubt I’ll have time to try them this year, but next year, since we’ll have an almost year old granddaughter at Easter, well, I’m sure there will be lots of new things made that I’ve never tried before!

I’ve not made candy before. And I confess I haven’t tried this recipe, but it sure sounds easy enough. Maybe next year I’ll attempt it. But if you try it, or have other similar recipes you’ve tried, let me know. I’m always interested in new ideas!

Chocolate Easter Eggs

½ c butter, softened
1 tsp salt
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla or 1 tsp almond extract (I’d probably try coconut extract as well)
2 ¼ lb fine confectioner’s sugar
1 ½ lb semisweet baking chocolate, melted

Decorative icing, sprinkles, or cake decorator candy flowers

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Gradually beat in milk and extract. Slowly beat in confectioner’s sugar until well blended. (Note: I’d probably try to add some finely shredded coconut in this mixture, because my favorites are the coconut cream eggs.)

Knead with hands until mixture is soft and easy to shape. Form into egg shapes. (This is where I would say a bit of skill and ingenuity comes in. Probably mine wouldn’t look as close to an egg shape as I’d like, but we shall see…)

Place eggs onto tray or cookie sheet lined with waxed paper. Cover and chill for 4 hours or until firm.

Place each egg on a fork and dip into melted chocolate, letting excess drip off. Place back on tray, cover, and let stand until firm. Refrigerate for best results.

easter eggsWhile still most, you can decorate with colored sprinkles, or add the candy flowers. I would wait an hour or so to add the decorative icing, but remember, I haven’t tried these yet, so it’s a matter of trying it out to see which works the best.

I would probably display or serve these in decorative cupcake cups, especially the ones that are shaped as flowers. You might even want to put them in an Easter basket if they turn our really nice!

Happy candy making!

A Grain of Sand

Several months ago while looking through one of my favorite magazines I saw an article about a man who had started a career photographing grains of sand. Not just any photographs, mind you, but photos taken through high definition microscopes which reveal the unique character of each individual grain of sand. Like snowflakes, no two are alike.

Dr. Gary Greenberg* has filled gallery exhibitions from Hawaii to Arizona with these photographs. Most of the photos show close ups of individual grains of sand, which reveal their origins as tiny, tiny bits of shell, coral, volcanic rock, or even the skeletons of tiny sea organisms. They come in all shapes and even colors. Stars, hearts, crystals, spirals, a never ending array of shapes, and none alike. Some are square, some are oblong, and some are even flat. And the colors….blues, yellows, purples, oranges, reds…. who would ever have thought?

Every time we walk along the beach, we are walking on innumerable years of history, condensed and worn down into tiny grains. We pick up a handful of sand and look at the grains, but it’s impossible to see with our un-aided eyes the beauty and magnificence of each grain of sand. We see a conglomeration of tiny bits of stones, mostly appearing to be shades of brown and cream and white. We can’t see the actual tremendous individual beauty of each piece unless we are aided by intense magnification. And we can’t even begin to imagine the number of each individual grains of sand just held in our hand. Let alone how many grains of sand there are in that one beach itself. Not counting the other beaches all around the world.

Psalm 139The Lord promised Abraham in Genesis 22:17, “I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as sand on the seashore….” In I Kings 4:29, we read, “God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore.” Hosea 1:10 tells us “…the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted.” Why did the Lord use stars and grains of sand as examples to show a measure of infinity? Because they are so numerous they could never be counted by anyone but the Lord himself.

We are taught these grains of sand become the miniscule shapes we see under the microscope by being beaten and pummeled by the waves of the sea, and while physically we know this is true, we also know it is another part of the divine plan of nature given to us by God. He designed this for us. Not only did he design the overall element of the sand on the beach, he actually designed and formed each and every grain of sand in its very own unique design and shape and color. No two are exactly alike. And when you think about how many millions and billions and trillions and even zillions of grains of sand there are, and how no two are exactly alike, you cannot help but be awestruck by the power and design of the world created by our God.

Just like He created us. None of us, not even identical twins, are exactly alike. Identical twins may look so closely alike that most people cannot tell them apart, but their fingerprints are always different, and you will most likely find some other little subtle differences (the size of their eyes, for instance, or a mole on their skin the other does not have) that most people would never notice.

Imagine being a grain of sand on the Lord’s beach…

Similarly, we are like grains of sand on the Lord’s own beach. We each have unique traits and characteristics, gifts and experiences, that are ours, and ours alone. Like grains of sand, we are tumbled and tossed by the waves of life, which may change our outward appearance, but we are still always, and forever, uniquely “us”. Because that’s how He made us. And just as He knows what each and every grain of sand looks like, because He created them, He also knows each of us intimately because He created us. He knows our hopes, our fears, the deepest desires of our heart.

Like those grains of sand, we were each created individually, and for a set purpose.

sand in handThe next time you’re at the beach, pick up a handful of sand and let it sift through your fingers. Take a close look at the grains that still cling to your fingers. You can’t see the unique shape in each one with just your unaided eyes, but try to imagine what they really look like close up.

That’s how the Lord sees you. In the palm of His hand, but magnified by His heavenly eyes. You see an insignificant grain of sand, which looks to us like every other grain. But the Lord sees us exactly how we are, exactly how He created us. He knows our true beauty…the beauty we don’t see for ourselves, because we don’t look close enough. But like with that tiny grain of sand, there’s a unique beauty in each of us that’s just waiting to be discovered.

Even if we don’t feel beautiful, the Lord knows we are.

*Source: www.sandgrains.com

But Which Door?

We’re all familiar with this scripture from Matthew 7:7. Many of us know it by heart. But take careful note of these two different versions from these two different translations. Don’t they seem to have two different meanings?

“Knock and the door will be opened to you.”(NIV) When we refer to this particular passage, it sure seems to mean that if we knock on that door it’s going to open. Right? At least that’s how I’m looking at it.

But then the New Living Translation states it like this: “Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.”

Keep on knocking? Doesn’t He hear me the first time? Of course He does. Then why do I have to keep knocking? Why doesn’t He just open the door?

Good question. Maybe I’m knocking on the wrong door? Or maybe what’s behind it isn’t ready yet. It’s like being invited to someone’s home and showing up an hour early. The hosts aren’t ready for you. The table isn’t set; and the food is still cooking. It’s not the right time yet. You’re too early.

Maybe it’s the wrong door. If you get the address wrong of where you’re invited, and no one is home, you’d wonder why your friends invited you and then weren’t even there. And you’d be angry. Or the door would open and neither of you would know each other. You’d all be embarrassed, and then you’d have to call your friends and ask them their address again. That sure wouldn’t start out the evening well, would it?

mat7_7Or maybe we aren’t ready for what’s behind that door. We aren’t quite prepared. Would you go on a vacation without packing your suitcase with everything you think you’ll need? You wouldn’t be ready, would you? Then you’d have to scramble around when you got to your destination and try to find the things you should’ve already had with you but forgot to pack.

What if it seems like there are two, or even three, doors in front of you? How do you know which door to knock on? Sometimes you can knock on the one you think is right until your knuckles are almost bleeding, and nothing happens. Discouraged, you go to another door which doesn’t look as good, and it opens right away! Sometimes without our even knocking.

So how do we really know which door is the one the Lord wants us to go through? And what about that door we’re so sure He’d opened for us? The one we happily run through into what seems to be wonderful…for a time, that is. And then everything behind that door suddenly becomes uncomfortable and stifling; and you know if you don’t go back out that door, you’re going to be trapped.

Ask

So did you go through a door you weren’t supposed to? Or was it actually a door that was a stepping stone to something better? Perhaps if you hadn’t gone through that door when you did, you wouldn’t have this other door open in front of you that really is better! In fact, it’s what you’re been looking for for quite a long time.

Over the past several years I’ve really been searching for those doors. Every time I think I’ve found the right one, I knock and knock. Sometimes I even try to take a battering ram to it to try to open it because I KNOW I’m supposed to be going through it. And sometimes I succeed in opening that door and charging through it, only to discover I went somewhere I wasn’t supposed to be. And then it’s back to square one, trying to find the right door again.

So how do we determine whether it’s the right door?

We knock on the door by praying…

That’s where prayer comes in. That’s how we knock on the door. When we pray in faith, believing for answers, the Lord answers those prayers. Sometimes He doesn’t answer them the way we want Him to. He knows better. And when He delays His answers, it’s usually because He’s trying to get us to a better place. A place that may not be ready for us yet. He knows what door He wants us to walk through, but sometimes we don’t like that door, and try to find another one we like better.

That’s where it starts going wrong. Since the Lord gives us free will to make decisions, when our own minds, our own hard-headed stubbornness takes over, those doors can start opening because we force them to, and then we’re in trouble.

I have learned, and yes, I continue to learn, that forcing that door open is not the answer, any more than going from door to door, testing each one and pulling on it to see if it’s the right one. I have learned that sometimes we go through one door in order to be directed to another one. And I have learned that no matter how had I pray that a certain door will be opened, if that’s the wrong door, no crowbar, no battering ram, not even a grenade, is going to open it.

I continue to believe in the promises of the Lord. And I continue to pray for what I’m hoping for. That’s exactly how I’m knocking on that door. And when it’s time, it’s going to open, and it’s going to be perfect!

Header Photo taken by Betsy Roberts Sclater Beamon, Bandi-e-Amier, Afghanistan, August, 2005

Homemade salt water taffy

I love salt water taffy! Especially when I can go to Ocean City and get it at Dolle’s! Best ever! I’d love to try making it sometime, but for now, I’ll just look at the pictures, read the directions, and be glad that someone else can do it! And if someone wants to make it for me, I’ll be happy to accept it!

Little House Bliss

Homemade Salt Water TaffyThere are a couple of foods that I always associate with trips to New England and the beach.  The first is Campbell’s classic chicken noodle soup (not sure why?), and the other is salt water taffy.  I love the big boxes of mixed flavor salt water taffy, but it never seems to last long enough ( really, is there such a thing as lasting long enough when it comes to salt water taffy?)  Turns out, it’s not that hard to make, and now I can have salt water taffy any time I want, not just every few years on vacation.  And I know that I could probably buy it at Walmart, but it’s just not the same.  Somehow making it at home doesn’t wreck the nostalgia factor like I know buying taffy from a big-box store would.

This is a great recipe to make if you have a husband or other…

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The Day I’ll Finally Stop Grieving

Thoughts on grief from another blogger we follow. My voice still quivers at times, and it’s been almost ten years. And I hope it always will.

john pavlovitz

tears

“How long has it been? When is he going to get over that grief and move on already?”

I get it.

I know you might be thinking that about me or about someone else these days.

I know you may look at someone you know in mourning and wonder when they’ll snap out of it.

I understand because I use to think that way too.

Okay, maybe at the time I was self-aware enough or guilty enough not to think it quite that explicitly, even in my own head. It might have come in the form of a growing impatience toward someone in mourning or a gradual dismissing of their sadness over time or maybe in my intentionally avoiding them as the days passed. It was subtle to be sure, but I can distinctly remember reaching the place where my compassion for grieving friends had reached its capacity—and it was long before they stopped hurting.

Back then like most people, my mind was operating under…

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On the Day I Die

This is too well written not to share. We hear all the time about living each day as if it’s our last. This reminds us once again to do just that. How would you be remembered if this were your last day?

john pavlovitz

flowers copyOn the die I day a lot will happen.

A lot will change.

The world will be busy.

On the day I die, all the important appointments I made will be left unattended.

The many plans I had yet to complete will remain forever undone.

The calendar that ruled so many of my days will now be irrelevant to me.

All the material things I so chased and guarded and treasured will be left in the hands of others to care for or to discard.

The words of my critics which so burdened me will cease to sting or capture anymore. They will be unable to touch me.

The arguments I believed I’d won here will not serve me or bring me any satisfaction or solace.   

All my noisy incoming notifications and texts and calls will go unanswered. Their great urgency will be quieted.

My many nagging regrets will all be resigned to the past, where they should have always…

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Sometimes the Littlest Things…

…make you stop in your tracks. Tell your eyes not to cry. Tell your lips not to quiver like they do when a good cry is coming in. Tell your voice not to shake because you know you won’t be able to talk normally for a little while.

That just happened to me. Sitting at my hairstylist’s while my color soaked in. As I looked up and saw a lady come in who could have been my mother’s twin. Her height, her face, her hairstyle, her clothes, the way she walked. I tried not to stare…to quickly look away, because I knew I couldn’t watch this lady without that longing in my heart jumping into my throat.

It still happens. After almost ten years. And it probably will happen again.

Shortly after my mom passed away, my daughter Ashley and I were shopping in one of the department stores where we used to take my mother all the time. My mom had had a shopping routine, and when she’d get tired she’d sit down in the shoe department and wait for us. She’d hold our bags and quietly watch the shoppers go by. Usually someone she knew came over and talked to her for a while; that’s one of the beautiful things about living in a small town.

That particular day Ashley and I both saw the woman at the same time. She looked so much like my mother…sitting in that shoe department with a bunch of shopping bags, just quietly waiting. How I wanted so badly to rush over to her and hug her, because she so reminded me of my own mother. That’s when we saw the woman’s grown daughter, and obviously the woman’s granddaughter, coming over to meet her. The little girl’s face lit up as she ran to her grandmother to show her what she’d bought. And the smile on her grandmother’s face was priceless, and she wanted to know all about everything that little girl had found.

The look on my own face as I watched them was most likely a mixture of sadness, envy, and nostalgia for what we’d lost. And probably hadn’t fully appreciated until this moment, when we realized such moments wouldn’t ever happen to us again. And Ashley…she turned away and quickly walked off, knowing she was ready to cry.

We never seem to truly appreciate what we have until it’s gone. Forever gone. As much as I loved my mother, enjoyed being with her and doing things with her, I still regret all the times I missed out on. And didn’t even know it at the time.

When I left my hair appointment that same lady was standing outside the salon with her hair stylist, waiting for her ride. I stopped to speak to her, and with an almost cracking voice, told her how very much she looked like my mom who’d left us ten years ago. Her China blue eyes (like my mom’s) looked at me, thanked me for the compliment, and very unlike my mother, proudly told me she was going to be 102 this year!! And that she hoped to see me there again, because she had her hair done every week! Just like my mother used to.

I’m going to be sure to make my next hair appointment for a Saturday at the same time I had today. Just so I can see this lady again. This time I’ll ask her name. She deserves to be more than a nameless memory.

March 5, 2016

Just A Frustrated Baker

This post was actually written a couple of years ago about a side business I have called Cake-A-Bye Baby. I make towel cakes and diaper cakes for bridal showers and baby showers. When I have the time, that is. I thought it appropriate to re-post it here, since I’m working on another diaper cake creation for my own daughter, and haven’t had as much time to write as I’d like.

And anyone who knows me well know that I really don’t enjoy cooking – I have to be in the mood. Writing is much more fun.

I do enjoy baking though, but usually only Christmas cookies. The whole month of December our house has the best smells – and containers of all kinds of tasty cookies piled all over the kitchen, waiting to be devoured by family and friends or packed up and given as gifts! You’ve seen some of those recipes!

But secretly I’ve always wanted to learn the art of cake decorating. I’m always just so amazed at the beautiful cakes so many bakers turn out, seemingly on a daily basis. Pinterest can sometimes drive me crazy because I see all these fantastic sugar creations that other people have made. If only…..

Pinterest Wedding cakes
pinterest2

Here’s a treasure chest a friend of mine made for a birthday party, and she’s not even a professional baker!
birthday treasure
Aren’t they incredible? So why not me….?

Well, probably one main reason. No matter how hard I’ve tried, I just cannot frost a cake. No matter what I do there are always cake crumbs stuck in the icing. Really attractive! I’ve tried many times to make frosting flowers, and we won’t even discuss those fiascoes! And certainly I have no pictures!

I have friends who turn out masterpieces from flour and sugar – and they’re just amateur bakers who should really open their own businesses. I have other friends who are professional bakers and create beautiful wedding cakes and birthday cakes. Like this magnificent creation from a collaboration between Jessica from Cake Delights and Catherine from Catherine’s Distinctive Floral Designs…layer after layer of gorgeous wedding cake with fresh roses in between each layer!

Chincoteague

So this frustrated baker gave up! Try as I might, there was never any question that whatever cake I made and decorated certainly involved no help from ANYONE else!

But then…problem solved! With no oven or other cooking skills involved. It was perfect. All I needed was a set of towels or a package of diapers, and a couple of trips to the craft store. No ingredients to spoil. No pans or bowls to wash. No recipe to follow. Nothing to refrigerate!
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And I can even use actual cake pans to put the diaper cakes together!

Best of all, I can do the decorating at my leisure; and if I don’t like the way it looks, all I have to do is unpin a few things and re-arrange them. If I find items in the craft store I like, I can buy them and keep them on hand for future creations without worrying about them spoiling or going stale!

So who wants a cake? Guaranteed it won’t be underbaked, burned on the bottom, and it can be kept around for a long time without it going bad!
Cakes and Cakes
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Want to hear something really funny? I actually received a postcard a few years ago from a local culinary school addressed to “Pastry Chef” at Cake-A-Bye Baby! I have it sitting on my desk! I’m deciding whether or not to frame it!


Photo Sources: Top Row: Photo 1-2: Source Unknown; Photo 3 – Foodista.com Second Row: Photo 1-2: Sweetcakebox.com; Photo 3: Likeitshort.com – Treasure Cake: Personal Files – Rose Tiered Cake: Cake Delights – Remaining Photos: Personal Files

Inspiration in the Mundane

Since I am a bit under the weather today, and not feeling like writing, or anything else for that matter, how appropriate is it to post this blog about writing from Hampton Roads Writers!? And, no, I don’t think I’m going to write a post about my being sick. Doubt anyone would be interested in that topic!

Characters Corner

We’ve all be there. You want to write, but nothing is inspiring you. You’re not feeling any particular emotion or have been through an exciting or interesting event recently. So what do you write about? The good news is that there is plenty to write about where you least expect it.

Here are a few writing exercises to get your pen moving. If you write something from one of these exercises feel free to share it in the comments!

Exercise 1

What is your least favorite household chore? Write a poem or short story about a character, not yourself, doing this chore. Use imagery to describe the experience and make it sound particularly awful.

Exercise 2

Choose an item on your desk to write about. What does that item mean to you? Does it help you write? Does it distract you from writing? Is it special to you? If so, what…

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