oops

How Not to Use a Blowout (or: if You Don’t Have Opposable Thumbs, You Can’t Help)

Have I mentioned that we have plumbing drama in our home?
We do. There are gremlins in our pipes. And you know, since you aren’t supposed to get gremlins wet, it never turns out well.

It really started when we bought the house and began the renovation process, but I didn’t pay much attention to all of that. I heard words like “pex” and “diameter” and decided to tune it out and let my Jedi Master husband and uncle worry about all that. I was busy perusing paint swatches, after all.

All I know is that from the beginning we have had pretty much the worst water pressure that mankind has ever seen in our laundry sink… and that the water you CAN squeeze out of it is yellow. The same rules apply to the toilet in that room. Fortunately, the whole washer setup is new, so that water is good to go.

The toilet randomly decides to purge itself of water… all the water. The bowl, the tank, and any residual water lingering in nearby pipes all get emptied onto the floor. And by emptied I mean “poured out with a dramatic whoosh.” And by onto the floor, of course, I mean “under the chest freezer, washer, dryer, and anything else that is touching the ground at that moment.”

Our kitchen sink also has a gremlin. It likes to stop things up so that NOTHING drains. Occasionally, after washing dishes, if you let the water sit for a good hour or so it would slowly drain… but if the dishwasher was running, forget it. And if you had to use the garbage disposal, everything that went down the disposal would reappear in the other sink bowl… just more chopped up and gross looking.

This happened several times, and several times we used various un-clogging techniques to fix it. But then, the Ultimate Gremlin lodged itself in those pipes, and nothing was working… except, maybe, a blowout.

We had done a blowout once before, but with my dad’s help. This time, he was busy and unable to find his blowout, so we were on our own. Jonathan went to the hardware store and bought one while I was at work, only to bring it home and determine that no, there was no way for one person to do it alone. And since Ramona didn’t have opposable thumbs, it was game over until I got home from work.

For those of you who know exactly as much about plumbing as I do, a blowout is a heavy duty black balloon that you screw onto the end of a water hose. You detach the pipe to your kitchen sink, put the blowout up in there, and turn on the water. The balloon slowly fills up, until it is very full and has lots of pressure built up, and then releases. The sudden, strong surge of water is supposed to dislodge any gremlins and/or clogs that are making themselves comfortable in your pipes.

I arrived home that day to find a water hose stretched through my house and into the kitchen. There were towels and buckets strewn around. All the pipes were disconnected from my sink. Jonathan was ready.

My job was simple: turn on the water hose when he yelled “go,” and turn it off when he yelled “stop.” We put Ramona in her kennel because she was offering way too much moral support, and assumed our positions.

“GO!” Jonathan yelled. I turned the water hose on as high as it would go. Then I waited. And waited. And waited.
“Is it working?” I asked.
“I’m not sure,” he yelled back. “It’s not making the right noises.”
Ramona paced, upset that we weren’t letting her help.

After a couple of minutes, I was about to suggest that we turn off the water and see if anything had changed… when Jonathan started screaming from the kitchen.
“STOP! STOP! STOP THE WATER! STOP IT NOW!”
I ran to the faucet and turned it. And turned it. The problem with those water spigots is that you have to turn about 15 times to get it on all the way, and then 15 times to turn it off. I spun as fast as I could.

“THERE IS WATER COMING FROM THE ROOF!” Jonathan yelled as I spun. Well, that was crazytalk, so I kind of ignored it. Finally, the water turned off. But the yelling continued. “WE NEED MORE TOWELS! RUN! TOWELS! NOW!” I ran past the kitchen – and the water cascading from underneath the sink – and snatched up an armload of the largest, most absorbant towels I could find. I dove into the kitchen and started mopping like my life depended on it. Jonathan was furiously mopping alongside me, and Ramona was still letting us know she wanted to help!

Once we got the cabinets and floor relatively dry, and a fan blowing on all of it, we went outside to investigate. Jonathan insisted that water had been coming out of our roof. I knew this was impossible, and that he was hallucinating. I was about to offer to check him for a fever when he decided to call upon the All Knowing Uncle John.

The All Knowing Uncle John (previously referred to as Jedi Master Uncle) revealed to us something fascinating about plumbing and vents in the roof and pipes and blah blah zzzzzzzz……

The point he made was that there is a vent in the roof, and yes, if your pipes are clogged badly enough, water WILL be forced up and out of that vent. WHAT. When I turned the spigot off, all of the water that was headed up suddenly came down (way to go Isaac Newton), flooding our kitchen and causing Jonathan to have a heart attack. The only way to fix it was to have a third human (I specify human because Ramona was STILL offering to help) on top of the roof to plug the vent with a towel.

So, two days later, we talked my youngest brother into coming over and helping us. It was a Sunday and since he hadn’t made it home yet, he climbed up on our roof in his nice black pants, fancy shirt and shiny black shoes to do the dirty work. What a pal.

This time, the blowout worked. Water whooshed through the pipes like it was supposed to. Our house did not flood upside down. And after 30 minutes of putting the puzzle that is plumbing back together under my sink, all was well with the world… or at least with my garbage disposal.

signature

Advertisements

Cracks & Consequences: a kitchen building adventure

Last night I got to play construction worker. I didn’t have a hard hat, but I got to play with tools and wood and stuff.

It was kitchen building time! Our house is humming right along (I really want to remember to take pictures and post them, but my rememberer is broken). We’re to the point where flooring and cabinets are happening (eeeek!). I hunted and hunted and spent hours on the internet trying to find a decent cabinet man, and finally settled on one that I’ve known for a few years and typically does fairly decent work. I call him “Dad.”*

In order to get the “family discount,” we get to help with the building process. Which is fun and scary. Fun because I get to use tools and see all these plain, flat pieces of wood turn into a beautiful blue kitchen, and scary because I’m afraid if the cabinets fall off the walls in two weeks it can be blamed on me.

I helped put the first few cabinets together. By “helped” I mean I held things while Dad clamped them into place. Then he handed me a staple gun and said, “put a staple right here!”

I froze and panicked. His hand was right beside “right here.” And he doesn’t usually let me use things that are sharp or loud, so I was afraid his mind was finally going. But he appeared to be serious, so I took the gun from him, aimed, closed my eyes, realized closing my eyes was a bad idea, opened my eyes, and pulled the trigger. Nothing. “I think it’s on safety,” I told Dad.

“It doesn’t have a safety,” he said. Then he took it and shook it violently, wiggled a button, spoke some sort of voodoo magic charm over it, and gave it back. I repeated the whole aiming-closing-and-opening eyes process, then shot again. BAM.
IMG_1072It was frighteningly satisfying. So, we worked our way down that cabinet and down the next one, stapling and shooting and lining up and whatnot. Jonathan followed with a screwdriver, and my mother watched and gave helpful advice.

After a few cabinets had been assembled (I think it should be called “scrapling” because of the screwdriver-staple combo), it was time to fill gaps and cracks and chips with wood putty. Which became my job. Here is what you need to know about this process:

  1. 1. We had put “edge banding” (?) on the cabinets the night before. Jonathan glued it; I trimmed it. In the trimming process, a lot of it chipped and cracked and broke. We had to fix those spots with putty.
    2. The putty looks like peanut butter. It feels like peanut butter. I was told it would not taste like peanut butter.
    3. The putty looks very easy and fun to do when Dad does it. It is a hot mess and ended up all over the floor when I tried.
    4. You have to see small things (like chips and cracks) when doing this job, so you don’t miss anything. It is a job for a very detail-oriented person.
    5. I am NOT a detail-oriented person.

We created an assembly line. Dad and Jonathan scrapled the cabinets together. I delicately spread smeared, smashed, and crammed the peanut butter-putty into cracks and gaps in the wood. Mom sanded the sides of the cabinets. Then they came back to me, and I sanded the fronts. My instructions for sanding the fronts sounded like this:

“Run the sander over all the fronts, like this, until they are smooth. Then go over the edges so they are smooth. Do the inside and outside edges of the tops and bottoms, but ONLY the inside edge of the sides. Do NOT sand the outside edges of the sides. I repeat, DO NOT sand these edges! Don’t sand them! Sand only these edges… NOT THESE.”

I was afraid for my life (and the lives of my cabinets) for the first few minutes of sanding. But then I got a system going. I was rolling right along, sanding and smoothing and having a good old time, cranking them out at a decent pace. Then, about halfway through my 4th or 5th cabinet, I realized I had sanded the DO NOT SAND edge.

I looked across the room at Dad. He was busy scrapling. He hadn’t seen anything. I looked at Mom. She was sanding, too. I waved my arms at her and she looked up. “I SANDED THE WRONG EDGE!” I mouthed to her, pointing at the rounded corner that wasn’t supposed to be round.

Her eyes got wide. Her mouth dropped open. She looked at dad. “Just don’t tell him!” she mouthed back. I nodded and went back to sanding.

As the evening wore on, I began to worry about the consequences of sanding the wrong edge. What if THAT led to my kitchen cabinets falling off my wall in two weeks? When the scrapling was done, I spoke up in the most non-committal way possible.

“Hey dad.”
“Yeah.”
“Say… hypothetically speaking… if I DID sand the wrong edge… what would happen?”
“You’d have a hypothetical crack between two of your cabinets.”
“Hmm. That would just give it some character, right? Nothing too bad would happen.”
“I suppose. Why? Did you sand a wrong edge?”
“Maybe. Hypothetically, of course.”

Then mom spoke up.

“Why don’t you look and see if you can find an edge that wasn’t supposed to be sanded but is?” she pointed to our growing pile of finished cabinets.

So dad dove in and hunted. And he found one. Then he told me that that one actually needed to be sanded anyway, for some reason.
“Right!” I told him. “I knew that. I did it on purpose, to save you some work later.”
“Right,” he said.

Man, my instincts as a kitchen-builder are spot-on. I think I’ve missed my calling.

signature

*P.S. – kidding about the whole “hunting for a cabinet man” thing. Dad really builds cabinets, and does a darn good job. Click here to see his website.

Learning to follow recipes: The cake in a bowl.

It is my mom’s birthday today!

I won’t give away how old young she is… let’s just say she is still young and kickin’!We had a birthday party for her last night… family that live in this area graced us with their presence as we ate Haystacks and marveled over the youngest cousin’s growing vocabulary (he says my name now!).I was in charge of dessert… something I was extremely excited about. I carefully chose two brand new cake recipes to make (birthdays always call for something new and exciting!). I found an incredible looking chocolate caramel cheesecake recipe that caused me to gain 5 pounds just from looking at pictures of it. I decided the second cake needed to be something a little lighter… and maybe fruity. So I chose a yogurt lime cake with strawberry sauce. Yes, sauce. Not frosting. (make a note of this… it’s important later in the story).

I made the cheesecake on Thursday afternoon… my one free afternoon every week. I figured that making it three days ahead would be wise; if it fell to pieces, exploded, or otherwise failed, I would have time to make a backup plan.

Apart from burning my hand on the frying pan while caramelizing sugar and flinging it EVERYWHERE (I have super awesome reflexes), the cheesecake making went without a hitch. It. was. lovely. It didn’t even crack… a fact that caused me to invent a Hooray I Just Baked a Cheesecake And It Is So Beautiful I Could Die Dance right there in the kitchen. (Don’t ask what the dance looked like… I don’t know if I can ever re-enact it unless I make another cheesecake).
Saturday afternoon I tackled the yogurt lime cake. The recipe meant it to be a single layer 9″ round cake… but I wasn’t sure if that would be enough cake. So I made two layers. But, the recipe also called for a sauce to put over each piece just before you serve it… no frosting. And, my friends, two naked cake layers just stacked on top of each other is not very pretty. At all. And this was supposed to be a beautiful birthday cake, so frosting would have to be made.

I, however, had never made a yogurt cake before. I didn’t know what to expect… or what kind of frosting would be good.
I had discovered the recipe on a blog, so I went to the comments and searched for any indication that someone else felt the same way… and what their solution was. One lady did. She incorporated the sauce into cream cheese frosting. BRILLIANT, I thought.

So, I made cream cheese frosting. Then I made the sauce. Then I added the sauce TO the cream cheese frosting… and found what could only be described as a sugary pink liquid in my mixing bowl. It was nothing close to a frosting consistency. Hmm.

I added more powdered sugar. I Googled the problem, and found results saying to add cornstarch. I asked my mom’s opinion on this… she said it was a bad idea. I added more butter. I finished off ALL of the powdered sugar in my house. We now had a thick liquid… not as thin as water, but about as thick as my hair conditioner.

I put it in the fridge and prayed that it would thicken over time.

At 9:30, my husband announced that he was going to bed (we had had a youth group lock-in the night before, and we were both still sleep deprived). I told him I was going to frost my cake and follow him… it wouldn’t be more than 15 minutes, I said.

I put my first cake layer on a plate. I got the frosting out of the fridge, and shook the bowl. Still very runny… but just thick enough that I thought maybe, just maybe, I could drizzle it over the cake and it would just make a pretty runny pattern down the sides of the cake. I put some on the first layer, then added the second cake layer, and immediately knew I had a problem. The top cake was definitely not going to stay put. I quickly put it in the freezer, thinking maybe it would solidify… but since it was already almost 10:00 and I was super super tired, I only left it in there for about 4 minutes. I doubt it will be a big surprise when I tell you that that was not long enough.

I tried to spread pour more frosting over the top of the cake, slowly rotating the cake as I went. But by the time I made a full circle and got back to where I started, all of the frosting I had put on that side had simply fallen off the cake… and was spread out on the counter behind it.

A light bulb went on in my head, and I grabbed a container of Cool Whip and began stirring it into the frosting. In the process, my frosting had to graduate from a small mixing bowl to a very large one; after adding so many random things to it, I believe I about tripled the “recipe” in size.

Unfortunately, my plan was not as brilliant as I thought. It turned my frosting a couple shades lighter, and it was a smidge thicker, but definitely still not thick enough. Still, I tried to spread some of it over the older, very thin layer of frosting already on the cake.

I ended up with a droopy, runny, saggy, swirly pink pile of goop that looked like it could star in Monsters Inc. 2 (with a pair of eyes stuck on top, maybe).

I stood there for several minutes, watching my cake melt. The circle of frosting on the counter around it grew bigger as the layer of frosting on top grew thinner. I really wish I would have taken a picture of it… but I was a little too upset to think about it at the time.

I paced. I walked in circles around it. I prayed. I wailed a little bit. I woke Jonathan up and asked him to come look at it. He growled that he had JUST fallen asleep and that I’d been working on this cake for over an hour already and what had happened to fifteen minutes and that it’s just a cake, just let it go.

I informed him that it was supposed to be a beautiful cake and that the frosting was a disaster and I would never not follow a recipe again (knowing full well that that was completely untrue) and that I could really use some sympathy right now. He went back to bed.

The thought of leaving my cake looking like that upset me. The thought of tossing it and starting over upset me. Just as the top layer started to slide again and came dangerously close to slipping off completely and hitting the counter, it hit me: I needed to put the whole cake down IN something to keep the layers from sliding. I needed a bowl.
The thought of pressing my beautiful cake down into a bowl really, really upset me. But then the top layer slide further, and another glob of cream cheese-Cool Whip-strawberry goop hit the counter, and in a fit of frustration (and some anger), I grabbed a large bowl, crammed the first layer into the bottom, plopped the top layer on top, poured frosting over it and stuck it in the fridge.

Then I went into our bathroom and cried.

Half of me was fully aware at the time that I was overly tired and definitely overly attached to the vision of a beautiful pink birthday cake, and that my tears were completely irrational. But that knowledge did NOT help the other half of me that was completely distraught over my beautiful pink birthday cake that was IN A BOWL.

I crawled into bed.
“What is wrong with you?” mumbled Jonathan from underneath his pillow.
“My cake is in a bowl!” I wailed.
He didn’t say anything.

Five minute later, very unexpectadly, the hilarity of the situation hit.
I woke Jonathan up a third time by very suddenly laughing my head off.
“My cake is in a bowl!” I howled, more tears rolling down my cheeks.
It’s in a bowl!”

The next morning, I double checked.
“My cake is still in a bowl,” I sighed.
“I don’t know what you expected,” Jonathan told me. “It wasn’t going to fix itself overnight.”
I discussed the situation with my mother at church that morning, explaining to her that her would-be beautiful pink birthday cake was, in fact, now in a dark green fruit bowl. I told her that if she wanted me to, I would re-bake it, follow the recipe, and have a beautiful not-pink birthday cake with proper sauce rather than runny pink goop. She laughed at me- hard- and then told me she would be quite happy to eat a cake out of a bowl.
And so that is what we did.
The good news is that yogurt lime cake is delicious. Even out of a bowl. Everyone declared the frosting (I took along the extra frosting, since there was SO MUCH OF IT) good enough to eat plain. The cheesecake was amazing.
And mom had a birthday cake. Well… two, really.
And she got exciting presents. =)

Orange Chocolate Buttermilk Smoky Goodness.

I started daydreaming about scones sometime around Monday afternoon.
Orange and Dark Chocolate Buttermilk Scones, to be exact.
I pictured the dough spread out on the counter. I imagined pulling them out of the oven, all warm and soft and delicious. I remembered how they taste…. with butter and strawberry jam. Oh. My. Goodness. The idea crawled into my brain and set up house. I mean, there was a bed and a kitchen and bath towels and everything!
I had to make scones. It was necessary.

Thursday morning would be Scone Morning, so that they would still be semi-fresh when I took them to the scrapbooking party that afternoon. I made sure I had all the ingredients. I bought oranges. I secured a citrus zester from my mother, who has fancy things like that.

Thursday morning I woke up fifteen minutes early so that I would be sure to have the time to make my scones.
I got ready for work, put on an apron, and started mixing, measuring, seperating, and zesting.

Twenty minutes or so later, I had my dough made and rolled out. I had used every single chocolate chip in my pantry. I mean, it required every last one. (I failed to check on those when I did my ingredient inventory…somehow, in my mind, I had an endless supply). I cut the scones and got ready to put them on a pan… when I realized that I had also forgotten to check on parchment paper, which you are supposed to bake them on.
I surveyed the contents of my ziplock/cling wrap/aluminum foil drawer (you know which one I’m talking about!). I had wax paper. That’s basically the same thing as parchment paper, right?

I spread the wax paper out on my pans, loaded them down with scones, and put them in my 425 degree oven.

Two minutes later, something started to smell funny. One minute after that, smoke started ROLLING out of the oven. I realized the living room was already hazy. I threw the oven door open and a huge cloud blew into my face.
I really hope the smoke alarm doesn’t-”
BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP
BEEP

Of course.
I threw the pans of scones onto the counter, grabbed a potholder and ran to the smoke alarm, which is situated right outside our bedroom door. I waved the potholder in front of it, trying to clear the smoke and get it to stop beeping. It finally did. I paused, listening for signs that my sleeping husband might be stirring… nothing.

I returned to the scones and looked them over. They were fine. There was nothing obvious that would create so much smoke. The only thing I had done different than any other time was use wax paper. I checked the box for an oven-related warning of some sort, but there was none.
Just as I concluded that the oven simply does not like wax paper, and the wax paper-making-people were failures at printing warnings, the smoke alarm went off again.
BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP

This time, Jonathan made a sleepy appearance in the bedroom doorway.
“What is that sound?” he asked. Then he saw me, frantically waving a potholder around.
“Oh,” he said. Then he sat down on the couch.

I racked my brain for something else to put the scones on. Scones are a little temperamental, and I was pretty sure there was a reason just spraying the pan with Pam wouldn’t work (greasy scones = gross).
Ovens like aluminum foil. I tried to think of a reason that using it would be a bad idea, but none came to mind.
So, I put aluminum foil on another pan, moved my scones, put them back in the oven, turned on a fan, opened windows, and prayed.

Ten minutes later, Jonathan asked me, “is something burning?”

I gave him the strongest duh look I could muster.
“I mean still burning!” he defended himself. “It smells funny in here.”
I opened the oven and found that some unidentifiable blob of something was in the bottom of it, smoking and smoldering like a tiny little brown volcano. Apparently a piece of one of my precious scones had tried to jump ship when the smoky inferno started… and had not faired so well. It went, quite literally, out of the frying pan into the fire out of the cookie sheet into the oven.

The good news is… the scones are good. So good. Little bundles of amazingness. And our home is still standing. And I am now aware that if our house ever really does burst into flames in the middle of the night, I am fully responsible for making sure everyone gets out… because Jonathan will probably still be asleep.

The Great Cover-Up.

“I did something terrible.”
I was sitting in a Mexican restaurant with one of my best friends. It was a routine lunch date… we were catching up on life over quesadillas and salsa. The conversation up to this point had been light… nothing too deep or emotional. But the guilt over the horrible sin I had committed was weighing heavily on me, and I felt the need to confess to someone other than my husband… someone who would understand the gravity of my transgression.

My friend stopped, mid-chew, and stared at me.
“What did you do?”
“Something awful.” I stared at her.
She started chewing again, and I could see her turning this over in her mind. I knew she was picturing me murdering someone and dumping the body in the woods… stealing money from a charitable organization… intentionally popping a child’s balloon… or deleting the Alabama-LSU national championship from our DVR. Unfortunately, what she didn’t know at that moment, was that what I had actually done was worse… much, much worse.

WHAT did you DO?” She asked again.
“I…” I hesitated. “You can’t tell anyone about this,” I told her.
She nodded, solemnly.
I dropped my voice to a whisper.
“I lost the Grandma Blanket!”

Her eyes grew wide. She gasped. “No you didn’t!”
“Yes I did,” I moaned, knowing that she, having lived with my family for several months, would understand the gravity of the situation.

You see, the Grandma Blanket is a sacred thing. It is definitely the most valued possession in my family. It is a patchwork blanket, made by Grandma. It is colorful. It is warm. It has little yarn knots all over it. It is comforting. It has magical powers. When you are sad, and you snuggle up with the Grandma Blanket, you immediately feel better. If you are sick, sleep one night with the Grandma Blanket and you are sure to feel better the next day (it’s a good idea to pretend you’re still sick, though, so as to earn one more night with the Blanket). Naps taken with the Grandma Blanket are a million times more restful than any other.

The Grandma Blanket is a highly coveted item. Wars have been fought over the Grandma Blanket. Rubber bands have been shot, voices have been raised, objects have been thrown. People have gone without speaking for hours because of the Grandma Blanket being stolen. I, personally, have snuck into my brother’s room repeatedly while he was at work to rescue it from the filth that he subjected it to (it always disappeared from my room and ended up back in his by the end of the day).

Eventually, the Grandma Blanket began to wear out. Too many washings after sleeping with a sick person… too many pulls at the little yarn knots… too many naps, snuggles, and tugs-of-war over it. It developed holes. The edges started to fray. My mom hid it. World War Three broke out. We begged for her to get it back out. We bargained. We offered to pay her. She stood firm, insisting that in order for it to survive for us to be adults (I shudder to think how we will resolve who gets to keep it at that point in our lives), it needed to be tucked away in a safe place. We hunted for it, to no avail. The Grandma Blanket was gone.

Grandma understood that her blanket was valued. I don’t think she understood HOW valued, but she knew we liked it a lot. So, last September she presented my family with a new Grandma Blanket… and she presented Jonathan and I with our VERY! OWN! GRANDMA BLANKET!
The colors are a little different than the original. But it is still colorful. It still has yarn knots. It is still comforting and snuggly and warm and wonderful. The same Grandma made it, and it still has the same soothing effect when it is wrapped around you. And THIS Grandma Blanket only has to be shared with TWO people… not six (or seven, or eight, depending on how many people happened to be living in our house at the time).

The Grandma blanket rode in the front seat with us almost the whole way to Alaska. It stayed on our couch while in Alaska. It kept us warm on cold evenings. It helped us be not so homesick sometimes. It rode in the front seat back to Alabama. We covered up with it and mourned the loss of our niece, Anna Grace, who we never got to meet. We snuggled up with it and slept during the loooooooong boring drives through Saskatchewan and North Dakota. We unpacked it carefully and carried it into our little house and draped it over the couch (where it never stays for long).

And then, we took the Grandma Blanket along with us to Kentucky, for the wedding of two of my best friends. One of the bridesmaids (and my former roommate… we’ll call her B) was doing a bit of couch-surfing while we were there, and she didn’t have a blanket to sleep with. So, I loaned her the Grandma Blanket, knowing that it would not only keep her warm but ensure that she had good dreams.

After the wedding, we packed up B’s things to get ready to go home (she was riding with us as far as Nashville). We still had some time in the area, and we spent an afternoon relaxing… until someone who had been staying in the same apartment as B called us to say they had found the Grandma Blanket! I realized, with a twinge of horror, that I had forgotten to ask about it when we packed B’s stuff up… but it was okay, because it was safe in the apartment! The caller told us she had left for home, but she left in a chair in the living room. It would be no problem to go pick it up.

But it was a problem. Because it wasn’t there anymore.
We searched the apartment. We turned it inside out. We looked in bizarre, illogical places. It was nowhere to be found. We called people. We asked if they’d seen the blanket… but no one had. The Grandma Blanket was gone.

We had a book when I was little, about a little frog who had a Blankey that he loved. It went everywhere with him. One day, though, he lost Blankey… and he was absolutely distraught. If I remember right, he adjusted and learned how to live life without his Blankey… and soon after, the Blankey turned back up. His mom pointed out to him that he obviously didn’t really need Blankey anymore, so he packed it up in a box and stored it away. He said, “Bye bye Blankey, it’s been fun… bye bye cuddly cozy one!”

I heard that rhyme over and over in my head while we were hunting for the Grandma Blanket. I could see the picture in my head of the little frog putting Blankey in a box because he didn’t need it anymore. But I knew, deep down inside, that I would never adjust to life without the Grandma Blanket.

We drove back to Alabama… without the Grandma Blanket. I cried a little bit, I am not going to lie. I cried a little bit the next day, too… and the next day. It was terrible.

I was very careful not to let it slip to my family that our Grandma Blanket was gone. I almost let it out a few times… but I didn’t. I kept my mouth shut. I had hope that it would turn up one day, and I did not want them to judge me just yet… or ever. I figured they could wait until I died and they were going through my things and didn’t find the Blanket before they needed to know.

As I was spilling this story to my friend, she just shook her head. She knew the depth of what I had done… I could tell she was just as horrified as I was.
“Your family must never know!” she warned me.
“Oh, I know!” I told her. I had already imagined the lynching that would take place if they found out.
I stared down at the table in sadness, contemplating my bleak future without a Grandma Blanket, when my cell phone vibrated. It was a text from B.
“I know who has your blanket!” it read (or something along those lines).
I almost fell out of the booth.
A friend of a friend who happened to be the Resident Director of the apartment the blanket was supposed to be in had it… someone who we had already asked about it. I don’t know how she got it. I never found out.

I just knew that another friend (the bride who’s wedding we had gone for) picked it up for me, packed it in a box, and shipped it home. And what a glorious homecoming it was!

The Grandma Blanket has been found. I took a nap with it this afternoon, and it was very, very good. Perhaps Grandma will forgive me for the near loss of her hard work. Perhaps my brothers will forgive me for the terrible thing that I did. Perhaps, one day, my mom will return the original Grandma Blanket to us.
But that might be too much to hope for.

A campaign to keep moms at home.

We all know that the mom is the most important part of any house. She cooks, she cleans, she gives advice, she is brave enough to clean the nasty food-gunk out of the drain (which we all know is toxic and highly explosive). She holds it all together. So, when mom is gone, things tend to get a little… hairy.

When I lived at home, I had to play mom while the real mom was gone. I did everything except the drain gunk. Now, I am gone, and Josh has to take over.
Josh is the “middle brother.” When mom is home, she calls him “Sloppy Josh,” because he leaves a trail, she says. You can tell where he has gone, because he leaves his belongings in his wake… it’s like Hansel and Gretel and the breadcrumbs. He’ll always be able to find his way from his room to the kitchen just by following his trail (not that finding the kitchen would ever be a problem for him anyway).

But, when mom is gone, somehow Josh manages to turn into Mr. Immaculate Housekeeper. He washes the dishes, cooks, does laundry, and takes Caleb (the youngest brother) to school. I don’t know if he takes care of the drain gunk, but he does a darn good job of emptying the dishwasher.

Mom was gone for the weekend. So was dad. The only people left in the house were three boys, and Josh was the elected housekeeper.

Mom and Dad left on Wednesday. I went over to the house on Friday to check up on things. No one was home, so I crept in, a little frightened of what I might find. I was very pleased to find a rather clean kitchen. The drainboard was full of clean dishes, the dishwasher had been loaded, and the counters were wiped down.

Then people came home. Josh and Caleb walked in the door. Caleb took off his shoes in the kitchen, left his backpack on the table, put a water bottle on the counter, and took off for his room to read a book.

Tyler came home from work. He left a cooler full of trash on the floor in the kitchen, left his boots by the bar, and got a drink of water and left the glass in the sink.

“Can’t you guys clean up after yourselves?!” Josh called after them.
There was no response.

I tried to console Josh by telling him a story about a time that I cleaned the whole house when Mom and Dad were gone. Within 20 minutes of me finishing, the boys had messed it up. Josh didn’t look encouraged.

Tyler reappeared and got another drink of water. He put the glass on top of the dishwasher, and left.
“Put it IN the dishwasher!” Josh yelled after him. Tyler didn’t stop.
Later, Josh told me, “Tyler and Caleb are kind of like hamsters. You just change their papers every once in a while… they’re not going to help you, but they’re sure not going to complain, either.”

Yesterday, hours before mom and dad were to return home, I made a trip to the house to see if Josh needed any help. A well-known fact is that the hours leading up to mom’s return are critical: it’s a make-it or break-it time. It’s one last chance to get the house spotless before they walk through the door.

Josh tackled the kitchen, and I tackled the floor. He washed dishes, and I mopped. Then we set off to tackle mom and dad’s closet.
See, a rack of clothes (and other things) had fallen off of the wall that morning. How do things like this happen? We don’t know. We just know that their closet looked like a tornado had gone through it, followed by an earthquake and then possibly a herd of cattle.

We created a makeshift clothing rack out of a broom handle and some chairs, and then hung the clothes on it. We picked up a laundry basket full of pictures and cards all four of us kids had given mom… I think she has things saved from when I was three. We gathered up video tapes and pieces of a very old video camera.
Josh decided he needed to take the actual shelf down, which was still dangling from the wall by one bracket, like a half-pulled tooth. I was straightening up our beautiful broomstick closet when he started yelling.
HELP! SAVE THE TEDDY BEAR! HEEEELPPP!”

I raced into the closet to find Purkle, a very ragged purple teddy bear (and very old member of the family) dangling by one leg from a corner of the shelf.
“Purkle!” I yelped, snatching him away from death’s doorstep.
“Where should I put this?” panted Josh, staggering around with the closet shelf in his arms.
“Um… on the couch!” I answered.
“Sure! Mom and Dad won’t want to sit down… they’ve been sitting all day,” Josh reasoned, plunking the shelf down.
I propped Purkle up on one of our closet-chairs, put a dress and a big hat on him, and shut the bedroom door.

Was the day over, though? Not yet. Just as the bedroom door closed behind us, the backdoor to the house opened and closed. And there stood Grandpa, who lives across the driveway in what we call “the cottage.”
Grandpa had a huge grin on his face… and tons of blood running down his forehead.
I froze. Josh froze. Grandpa grinned.
“What happened?!” I hollered.
“Grandma and I got into a fight!” he chuckled.
“No, really… WHAT HAPPENED?” I hollered louder.
“I fell,” he said, sobering up a bit, but still grinning like the Cheshire Cat.
Just then, Grandma came in from the laundry room. “He got in too big of a hurry to get over here and start our laundry,” she told me. “He fell on the patio.”
He had scratches on his forehead and nose… and a bump the size of a golf ball growing on his forehead. Not a bit of exaggeration there, either (and that isn’t sarcasm!).
I cleaned him up, made sure he still knew his name and had clear vision, and let him go home. Josh checked up on him a few times throughout the rest of the day.

Mom and Dad came home to find a clean kitchen and floor, their closet transplanted to the middle of their bedroom, a very dressed up purple teddy bear, and Grandpa with a very large lump in the middle of his forehead.

This is why moms should never leave.

The Top Five Things I’ve Learned Since We Got Married (A Countdown)

5. Sign out. Log off. Switch user. Whatever applies. Not because J will change my status or make me a 53-year-old male from Switzerland, but because it annoys him to have to go behind me and sign out of everything. When I stop to think about it, I can understand. Email, Facebook, Pandora, Amazon, eBay… the list goes on. All those things we still have separate accounts for, and all those years I went without sharing a computer have led to a lot of signing out on J’s end. I’ve been working on this. He hasn’t said anything about it lately… I don’t know if it’s because I’m doing better, or because he’s just given up.

4. Cleaning is now non-optional, and hair removal is essential. I never liked cleaning, and to be honest, this was the area that terrified me the most about getting married. I knew J liked things clean… as a bachelor, he still mopped his kitchen floor on a regular basis. He had told me, before we ever even got engaged, “if we get married, the bathrooms have to stay clean.” Yikes. I tend to put things like that off. Not that I can handle gross conditions (except in the case of the bathroom I used for my first year at college, but that was a very special case), but I tended to wait longer than I maybe should have when it came to cleaning.
All that has changed, I am proud to say. I am now an active cleaner. Working at a hotel as a maid has helped this… first, it has turned me into the fastest, yet most thorough, bathroom cleaner of all time. And second, it has opened my eyes to just how gross people can be (during just one overnight stay, too!), and has spurred me on to prevent us from ever, ever being like that.
Part of being this new, clean person is keeping track of where my hair goes. J’s hair phobia is intense, much like my toenail phobia. I make sure to clean out the drain in the bathtub. I do not keep my hairbrush at the bathroom sink… beside his toothbrush! I clean out my hairbrush regularly. In return, I simply ask that he trim his toenails into the trashcan.

3. Bedtime is not talk time. I am still struggling to get past the estrogen-induced “slumber party” mentality that arises when more than one person is in the bedroom at night. At night, you are supposed to talk. For a long time. And you laugh, and tell stories, and goof off, and have a general good ol’ time. Then you transition into the deep “this is what I’m feeling” conversations and you tell all your secrets and hopes and dreams. Then, when it is far past the time you should have gone to bed, you turn off the lights… but that still doesn’t mean you go to sleep right away.
Turns out, J doesn’t view bedtime as slumber party time. He views it as… well, bedtime! It was a shock to me the first time he addressed it. I was laying there, chattering on about what I had done that day and how it made me feel and what I was looking forward to the next day, when he rolled over and simply said, “I am going to sleep now.” His tone, however, said much more. And that’s when the realization hit me that, in his opinion, I wasn’t supposed to be talking at that point in time.
But, I thought, if we don’t talk at night, when do we talk about the important things?? I asked him. He said, “during the day!” Hmm.
Turns out, dinner is talk time. Riding in the car is talk time. Taking a walk in the evenings can be talk time.
But bedtime… bedtime is not talk time. I still have trouble remembering. Sometimes I have to lay there with my hand over my mouth to keep words from bursting out. Usually, that doesn’t even work.

2. Compromise is important. Sometimes, there just IS no agreeing. It’s simply a fact. There are a few times when we’ve encountered this. J believes the salt & pepper shakers should stay on the dining room table at all times. Having them on the table at all times drives me nuts. There is only one thing that belongs there: my candle. Spices stay in the spice cabinet. So, they stay there, but I have to, have to remember to have them out and on the table for every meal before J sits down in his seat. Otherwise he tries to keep them on the table after the meal, and it’s a problem.
In October of last year, J bought a 2012 calendar. It has pictures of the Northern Lights on it. He was really excited about it.The first of this year, I bought a 2012 calendar. It was at Target, on clearance for forty cents. It is SO CUTE and deserves a place of honor.
What a surprise when we both brought our calendars out and headed for the same spot in the kitchen with them! I hung mine up first. J moved mine to a secondary nail and hung his on top of mine. I moved mine on top of his. He told me to take mine to my office. I said I already had one there, he should take his to his office. He said he already had one there. Finally, they ended up hanging almost side by side, stuck up against each other all strangely and crookedly, and the truth is we don’t really use either one of them.

1. The DVR is his domain. J is obsessive compulsive about our DVR. He runs the remote control, he sets the timers for recording things, and he organizes things into folders. He’s not mean about it. He just likes it that way. And I’m okay with it, for the most part. He does it all very meticulously. And as SOON as we are done watching something, he deletes it. No time to pause and think about the decision. No time to second-guess whether we are truly done with that show or not. Will we want to watch that movie again next week? Just as I begin asking myself that question- before the first credits make it halfway up the screen- I realize it doesn’t matter, because it’s already been deleted.(UNLESS it is the Alabama-LSU game. It lives on.)
Our recording schedule is always full of sports-related things. Games, pre-game shows, pre-pre-game shows, post-game shows, after-post-game shows, ultimate-complete-total-wrap-up-post-game shows, and shows on ESPN where a bunch of men in suits sit around and talk about all of those shows.
There are movies, too, and of course the various TV series that we both love to watch (American Idol, House, and our new love, Alcatraz.) J has all of these carefully sorted into folders: “Movies,” “Series,” “Sports,” “Alabama” (which technically could fit INTO “Sports”), and “Lacey’s Stuff.” All of the folders, of course, have numbers beside them, indicating how many items are in there. Most of them are high numbers, anywhere between five and fifteen.
Mine has one. One show. It is Cupcake Wars. The most I have ever had in my folder, ever, is three. I did a happy dance that day, because I felt like I was finally moving up in the world… finally establishing myself in our DVR. I try to save my shows. I don’t delete them when I’m done. I stand in the kitchen, chopping up an onion as the last episode of Next Great Baker ends, and I think to myself, “I’m not deleting that!” Then I defiantly go on to the next show in my folder (if there is one).
But then J walks in the door. And I say, “dinner will be ready in 10. You can watch ESPN until then. ” And he says, “thanks,” and picks up the remote, and says, “Have you watched this Next Great Baker?” And I say “Yes,” and in my head I tell him not to delete it. But then I turn to the TV as it says “Please wait. Events are being deleted.”
And then my number is back to one. Or zero.
The thing is, I know it’s not rational to want to keep these shows. I know I’m NOT going to watch them again. I only want to keep them because I know J wants to delete them. It’s the stubborn, un-submissive, non-Proverbs 31 wife inside of me.
The other day, I recorded Footloose. I recorded it WHILE I watched it (I got the courage to start recording my own things about two months ago). After all, I was multi-tasking and I wanted to watch it again, when I had time to sit and really digest what was happening. That was at 2:00 p.m. The movie didn’t live to see 8:00 p.m. I will not be watching it again.
The other day I asked him why we couldn’t keep all of my stuff out, loose, and then make one folder that said “Jonathan’s Stuff.” He could put all of HIS shows in there, and he would have a big number. I wouldn’t have to think about my insignificance in DVR World then.
We discussed it for two seconds, then wrapped up with “that’s a ridiculous suggestion.”

So, married readers… what are the things you had to learn in the first few months after your wedding? What is the number one thing overall? Give us newlyweds (and engaged people) some wisdom to mull over.

Avocados don’t have a fuse.

I apologize in advance for the briefness of this post. I simply have so much to write about that I don’t know how to say it all, so I’m going to do it very quickly… like ripping off a band-aide.

It appears that my blog went on a Christmas break along with the rest of us. And now, sitting down to revive it, I feel the same kind of trepidation I used to feel when I was going back to school. I remember once, in 3rd grade, having a moment of panic over Christmas break when I could no longer remember what 8×9 was. It made me go over all of my multiplication tables, worrying that I would be unprepared for school when it came around again (I may have been a bit of an over-achiever in elementary school).

Well, J and I went “home” for Christmas. We hopped on a plane and made our way to the Sunny South, where it is daylight by seven in the morning and not dark until five. It was glorious. Once we got there.

I have bad travel luck. It’s just a fact. I always have delayed flights, lost luggage, or worse. One time I traveled with a group that managed to shut down the entire Washington D.C. airport… and that is not an exaggeration. I can give you a list of sources to check if you would like.

I wanted to make this clear to J before we got married, and he seemed to accept it and be willing to go on with the relationship. But he may have regretted that about the time we were wandering around the Houston airport trying to get a flight home.

Due to a series of unfortunate events (some guy spilled gas while re-fueling our plane, etc.) we had a series of delayed flights. We ended up in Houston, trying to get a flight to Atlanta in time to meet another flight to Pensacola. No such luck.

It DID turn out alright, though, because we got a flight directly to Pensacola, and we arrived about the same time we would have normally. The bad news was that our luggage was lost, and did not arrive until Christmas Eve.

The time at home was wonderful; we soaked up time with family, enjoyed nieces and nephews, and caught up with friends. We both enjoyed our moms’ cooking, Jonathan reveled in the wearing of shorts, and I marveled at how incredible my hair became as soon as it was re-introduced to humidity.

Sadly, our time at home had to come to an end, and as we packed up our suitcase with presents (among the favorites: a REAL tea-towel for me to use in the making of donuts [Thanks, Grandma!] and a box of cappuccino mix for J from my mother).

I started the trip back ensuring there were no problems when I made sure to mention to security that there was a giant avocado in my backpack (compliments of J’s Aunt Sue), considering it was a suspicious shape.
The trip home was shockingly easy… we made all of our flights, there was no bad weather, and we even got upgraded to better seats on our last flight.
So, it was with great trepidation that I eyed the baggage claim once we arrived in Anchorage. Surely our suitcase would not make it. (drum roll…)
It did, though! I did a happy dance right there in the airport and declared that the travel-spell was broken.

Until we got to our hotel, and opened the suitcase to find everything… and I mean everything coated in a fine layer of dust. Dust?! How on earth did dust get into our suitcase?

I stared at it for a while trying to answer that very question until I noticed that the dust had a very distinct french-vanilla scent. An opened, and very empty, cappuccino box answered all of our questions. We had managed to double-bag everything that didn’t explode (including a whole jar of sweet pickles) and NOT bag the one thing that DID explode.

As we shook cappuccino out of our clothes into the hotel bathtub (I’m sorry, housekeeping!), I was forced to admit that maybe the spell is not quite broken… but maybe I’m making progress?

I have done something to anger the birthday cake gods.

I need to start off by clarifying something. Apparently, a few people who read my blog about our freezer breaking took me more literally than I thought they would. I just want to reassure you: I am not an animal killer. No need to call PETA. Referring to a “puppy in our freezer” was merely an attempt to help you imagine what kinds of noises it was making- strange yelping noises…. much like a puppy. I did not freeze a puppy.

Okay. Now, onto the real business of this post.

Jonathan told me a LONG time ago that he wanted coconut cake for his birthday.
No problem! My mom has a FANTASTIC coconut cake recipe. Last semester, my roommate and I made one and entered it into our dorm bake-off… and won.
So, on our last trip to Anchorage, I made sure I had all of the ingredients and was ready to bake.

After the birthday mud pie I made him a few days ago, I was very excited to make a proper cake for Jonathan. Since my family is coming to visit, we decided to save his celebration for then. They are coming in tomorrow, but since we have to go to Anchorage to get them, we decided to make a weekend of it. We won’t be coming back to Glennallen until Sunday afternoon, and I figured that evening would be a good time for cake. It works out perfectly, since one of the secrets of this cake is that it tastes best after it’s been sitting for a few days.

I had a list of things to do this afternoon when I got off work, so I started in on them as soon as I got home. I needed to finish cleaning & getting ready for mom, dad & the boys, I had four loads of laundry to do, and I wanted to make the cake and some muffins to have on hand for breakfasts.

Before starting anything else, I made the frosting for the cake, because it is supposed to sit in the fridge for a while before you use it. The frosting has sour cream in it. When I bought groceries the first time, I bought a giant container of sour cream, and then froze it. According to the research I did, freezing sour cream is perfectly fine, but you should only expect to bake with it after that, because it is the “consistency of cottage cheese.” (By the way, I also learned that sour cream lasts longer in the fridge if you store it upside down. Who’d have thunk?!)

MY sour cream was NOT the consistency of cottage cheese. It was more like milk. Hmmmm….

Anyway, I made the frosting (using only half the sour cream the recipe called for), and put it in the fridge.

After I had cleaned our bathroom and made four floor beds, I headed back to the kitchen. I made the batter, which is rather simple (it starts with a cake mix!) then went for pans. It was supposed to be a three layer cake, but all I had was 2 round pans…. and a square pan! Again, hmmmm….

I knew I could bake two layers, then another layer, but I wanted to expedite this process as much as possible. So, I decided that it was simply going to be a quirky birthday cake, with two round layers and a square layer. And it would be fine.

Pouring the batter into the pans, I realized that there was barely enough to go around. They were MAJORLY thin layers. A phone call to my mom confirmed that that was to be expected, though, so I went with it.

I put all three pans in the oven- there wasn’t REALLY enough room in there, but, again, I wanted to expedite. So I crammed them in there and walked away to make my muffins. After they were all mixed up and ready to go in the oven, I checked on the cakes. And almost died.

Apparently, once the oven door was closed, there REALLY WASN’T enough room in there. One of the pans was tilted on it’s side… and all of the cake was in one place.

Jonathan tried to help me spread the cake back out in the pan… but it just didn’t work.

So THAT layer went in the trash.

The next two layers came out BEAUTIFULLY… I was very excited for my two layer, half square, half round cake. I let them cool for a bit then flipped the square layer onto a wire rack. I happily banged away at the bottom of the pan to help the cake fall out, like normal. I banged and banged, waiting for the dull sound to turn to a hollow sound that means the cake fell. But after about 5 minutes of banging, I began to suspect something was not right. And I was right.

I took a moment to stare at the calamity. Then I walked away from it. Then I came back and looked some more. Then walked away again. Then, I’m not gonna lie, a few tears squirted out of my eyes. But just as I was reaching a crescendo, the hilarity of the whole situation hit, and it all turned into a bubbly, teary, hysterical laugh that made Jonathan get his car keys and announce that we were going to the store to buy another cake mix.

And so, we marched out into the -19 degrees, crunched across the snow to our car, and drove to the store.

The second time around, I decided to just START with only two round layers…

And everything went absolutely beautifully. The batter was great, there was just the right amount of cake in each pan, and they baked wonderfully.
As I said, it all went beautifully.
Until I tried to flip one of the layers out of the pan onto the plate.

OH MY GOSH. I don’t know WHAT I did to the birthday cake gods, but it must have made them VERY VERY ANGRY.

Anyway. I pieced it back together, put it on the plate, and frosted the booger. And it turned out pretty decent.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt so… triumphant… over cake.

The good news is, the cranberry-orange muffins went off without a hitch. I didn’t have any of those little paper muffin cups, so I used parchment paper. It worked great, and it was cuter. =) (Okay, so the picture doesn’t make them look so good, but I promise they do in real life. Food photography isn’t my strong suit.) AND, as my cousin Brian would have said a year ago, “they’re dee-WISH-us!”



Birthday Mud Pie

The sad thing about long distance relationships is you don’t get to celebrate things like birthdays together.
Which happened a lot to me and Jonathan.
My last birthday was the first birthday we were together on- and he was only able to be there because he wasn’t allowed to be in Tuscaloosa (thank you, tornado.)

For Jonathan’s last birthday, I sent him a birthday-in-a-box… balloons, plates, a cake mix, a pan, frosting, sprinkles, etc. It was super exciting.

But THIS year, I got to make him a cake for REAL.
He requested coconut cake, but we decided to wait to make his “real” birthday cake until we had some “extinguished guests” to celebrate with (my family is coming to visit!).
But, he also really wanted cake to eat on THE day.
“Chocolate cake?” I offered.
“Yes,” he said… “With pecans?”

My mom sent us some pecans in the mail a few days ago… and Jonathan’s been eating them like nuts. (Get it? AHAHAHAH!)

So, ready to bake, I text my mom requesting her incredibly amazing chocolate cake recipe. Sadly, she text back saying she was out for dinner with friends, and wouldn’t be able to get me the recipe that evening.

Disappointed but not discouraged, I started hunting for a recipe. Unfortunately, most chocolate cake recipes call for ingredients that I do not have in my kitchen… if it’s not a super common ingredient, I don’t have it. (Having to drive about 3 1/2 hours to grocery shop will put a damper on your desire for exotic kitchen supplies.)

Finally, in one of my recipe books, I found the perfect solution. And, by the way, it turned out so delicious that I’m going to share the recipe in a minute.

I baked the cake in a 9×13 pan, cut it in half, then stacked the two halves on top of each other to make it like a cute little miniature two-layer cake. It was adorable.

Then I remembered the pecans. Oops.
Sad, but again, not discouraged, I decided to put the pecans IN the frosting!

Ohh, the frosting. I’ll give you the frosting recipe too, because it tastes good. And I’m sure that if you just leave the cake in the pan and cover it with the frosting, it’s fine. But if you want to do anything slightly more creative with it… anything at ALL… find a different recipe, or go buy a can of frosting.

Seriously.

This stuff was a nightmare to work with. It said to “add milk until desired consistency is reached,” but no matter how much I added, it was stiff. (of course, it could be something else that I did something wrong in making it… so if you want to try, by all means please do.)

The frosting was so stiff that as soon as I tried to spread it, it stuck to the cake and gouged out big chunks. It was so sad looking.

I took a minute to mourn my once-adorable cake, then set out to fix it. I microwaved the frosting until it was slightly melted, then just poured it over the cake.
It worked… sort of. Most of the frosting bunched up around the bottom of the cake and just made it look ridiculous. With the pecans in it, it actually resembled the mud and sawdust cakes I used to make when I was little (they made a good dessert to go with the Armadillo Soup my brother made). I’m sorry I don’t have a picture of the whole, finished cake; I should have taken one, but I was too sad at the moment. The good news is that the cake was DELICIOUS.

I made a cheesecake a while back that had a similar fate but was equally delicious. I have a theory that the worst-looking foods are often the best-tasting. I don’t know why.

Fortunately, Jonathan is a man, and that means that as long as it tastes good, it’s fine. He didn’t care that it looked like a pile of mud.


As long as there was also a candle on top, he was fine. =D

Okay, recipe time!

Buttermilk Chocolate Cake:

  • 1 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons baking cocoa
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs

In a saucepan, bring butter, water and cocoa to a boil. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add cocoa mixture; mix well. Combine buttermilk and vanilla; add to batter and mix well. Beat in eggs. Pour into a greased 9×13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 23-27 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Frosting:

  • 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 2 tablespoons baking cocoa
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons milk or whipping cream

In a saucepan, cook and stir butter and cocoa until smooth. Remove from heat. In another bowl, combine the powdered sugar, vanilla and salt. Add cocoa mixture and enough milk until frosting reaches desired consistency.