Five-minute Friday – What Mama Did

Five minute Friday is the one day a week I devote exactly five minutes to a word prompt on Lisa Jo Baker’s site. Once posted and linked, the only other rule is to read the post before yours and leave a little love. Won’t you join us?

This week the prompt is more than one word… What Mama Did

Go…

What Mama did? I’ll tell ya what my mama did. First off, if I ever called her Mama she would laugh hysterically. Mom, we called her mom.

When I was around four years old mom made me a fabulous Halloween costume. It was so beautiful I won a prize!! I was a Fairy Princess! The most spectacular Fairy Princess in all the land. The dress was made of pale blue satin and tulle… but the wings, oh the wings were magical! Imagine gold sequins being stamped out of gold heavy Mylar sheets… Now imagine what the piece left behind looks like… That is what my fairy wings were made from. Sprinkles of gold glitter made them sparkle even more.

My crown was made from cardboard… It was TALL and regal. Glitter, glitter and more glitter adorned the crown in swirly patterns… With a star shaped wand to match.

My mom made me a beautiful Princess for the day. I will never forget how wonderful and pretty I felt. NOT to be out done by her own Moon Martian costume years later. She so desperately wanted to be green, she soaked in a bathtub of green dye… And remained green for a week!

Her creative spirit lives in me.

Done!

QuiltCon Link Party…

Hey all… I’m headed to Austin, TX for QuiltCon this weekend. For all you modern quilters out there this is your MECCA. Classes, lectures and so much eye candy you will be so crazed by the end of the day you won’t be able to speak in full sentences.

I am participating in the LINK PARTY at Modern Quilt Guild’s site HERE. The rules are simple, post a picture of yourself so others can recognized you and list 5 things people might not know about you… then link up to their site. Here goes…

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1. I married my Good Humor ice cream man… right out of High School.

2. I’ve been highlighting my hair for so long I have forgotten what my natural color is… nor do I care. I’m sure it is gray. Only my hairdresser knows for sure 🙂

3. I am happiest living near water… a lake, a stream, the ocean, or river. I feel like a sunflower needing water and sunlight to survive.

4. Most people think I’m a fabulous cook… in reality I’m a frustrated Pastry Chef and major carb addict. Banana Bread, cookies, Scones, Peanut Butter Brownie Tart… you name it, if it has flour, eggs, and sugar… I can whip it up.

5. I’m shy in large crowds. Large crowd being defined as any more than 6 people.

I’ll be helping out in the Alliance for American Quilts Booth #107 on Saturday and Sunday. Stop by and visit! Meg Cox, Amy Milne, and Victoria Findlay will also be there. Come join the party!!!

One of Those Days…

Today is just one of those days. You know the days I mean. It starts in the morning as you  slowly wake up and come to the realization you have a headache. That stuffy head, pressure behind your eyes kind of headache. Ugh… that’s never good.

The dogs hear you moving around so they begin to bark, wanting to go out… but neither of their in residence owners stir. So you take it upon yourself to handle the morning routine. Once the dogs are in and settled THEN the two humans who are supposed to be in charge wake up.

Walking through the hallways at work you realize things are not looking familiar. Oh, you are on the wrong floor. Although you have walked these halls every work day for over a year, TODAY you make a wrong turn and end up on the other side of the building. You shake your head in stupidity and back track.

Back home you try to sync your Nike Plus Sportband to the sensor so you can take a walk and record your progress. Nope, not today… the stupid thing won’t sync.

Next, you run an errand… knowing this particular office is open during regular business hours. It’s only 1:00… plenty of time before they close. Huh! The parking lot is empty, the doors are locked. The sign on the door reads: Beginning Jan. 1, 2013 our office will close on Wednesdays at 12:00. Damn… missed it by an hour.

So you grab some lunch while you are out and head back home. Thinking the day has been such a waste so far you decide when you get home you should do something different and fun. For weeks you have wanted to hand paint some thank you cards with your water colors. Today would be a good day to do this. You grab your paints, paper, pencil, eraser, ruler, paper towels, and a cup of water. Sitting down and getting ready to paint it dawns on you there are no brushes. Where are the brushes??? You can’t find the damn brushes!!! Ugh!!!

All right… you decide you will keep busy and bake your famous banana bread. Uh, you need eggs for that recipe and if you remember, you don’t have any.

OK… so for the rest of the day you sit in the over stuffed brown leather chair and play on the Internet, read magazines, and handle the e-mail.

Considering yesterday you came inches away from being hit by a car as you walked across a parking lot… you take today in stride.

It’s just one of those days. Tomorrow will be better.

 

Five Minute Friday – Beloved

It’s FRIDAY! Time to set the timer for Five-Minutes and write whatever comes into my head using the word prompt posted on Lisa Jo Baker’s site. The only rule is once linked up to her site, you must visit the person who linked up before you and comment on their post. Won’t you join us?? It’s really easy to do… Go to… FIVE MINUTE FRIDAY and link up you post.

This week the word is: BELOVED

It’s the day after Valentine’s Day. The local talk radio station is heralding stories of Valentine’s Day mishaps… basically they want to hear of the failures. Some are hysterical and some just sad.

I’m not a huge fan of Valentine’s Day, never have been, never will be… and this year was to be just another day, until I decided to start a new tradition. I’m making Valentine’s Day a special day, just for me! I’ve decided to leap out of my comfort zone and bake some obnoxiously decadent cake with chocolate as an ingredient every Valentine’s Day forever… and share it with anyone who comes to visit me on that day.

Yesterday I baked a Chocolate-Flecked Layer Cake with Milk Chocolate Frosting... finding the recipe in the current Martha Stewart Living magazine. It didn’t turn out as pretty as I had hoped, since I iced the cake before it was completely cooled… but that didn’t matter.

My home was  filled with friends and family sharing that cake in the middle of the afternoon. And the biggest surprise of all??? My brother stopped by with a beautiful Valentine Card for me. In all my 58 years this is the very first Valentine I ever remember him giving me. This was a special Valentine’s Day after all.

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A New Valentine Tradition…

Valentine’s Day… BAH! It’s really not one of my favorite holidays. Even when I was married it wasn’t a huge hit. If Valentine’s Day could be wiped off the face of the calendar I would be ecstatic!

One year my heart pitter pattered by the surprise of a chocolate “speed cake” made from a box mix… giving me the glimmer of what Valentine’s Day is all about. A gift so simple and sweet given with pride… be still my heart. So THIS year I decided the best way to celebrate and bring happiness to my little world would be to make Valentine’s Day a special baking day… every year.

Not just any cake will do, Oh no. My Valentine’s Cake will have to be decadent and require more skills than it takes to whip up a box mix. Oh… and it MUST include CHOCOLATE. If I’m going to declare Valentine’s Day my special baking day… then the cake has got to be special too.

Flipping through the current Martha Stewart Living magazine I spied the perfect cake… Chocolate-Flecked Layer Cake with Milk Chocolate Icing. OMG!! It’s a sour cream based vanilla cake with flecks of bittersweet chocolate split into 4 layers then iced inside and out in a Milk Chocolate Icing made with FOUR sticks of BUTTER!!!! BINGO! It satisfied all of my requirements.

IMG_0493Shopping for the chocolate was the most fun. Not only did I learn about the different percentages of cocoa in the bittersweet chocolate… but searching out a good quality milk chocolate was an experience in itself. Chopping and melting the different chocolates took a skill I usually avoid. In past efforts I have grated chocolate, but that produced too fine an end product which would melt and make the vanilla cake a chocolate one. No… the idea here was to have FLECKS of chocolate. I grabbed my big ol’ chef knife and finely chopped the chocolate as if it were parsley. Perfect!

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Next came preparing the pans. Using the cake pans as a pattern I cut 2 circles of parchment. Each pan needed to be buttered, the parchment placed in the bottom, then butter the parchment and flour the pans. Phew! I feel like a real baker!!

 

I assembled the rest of the ingredients and pre-heated the oven… I am off and running. Measuring, creaming, cracking and separating eggs, alternating ingredients, and finally folding in the chocolate. Yum… don’t forget to taste the batter. Pour the batter into the pans, level them off and bake. It looks like melted Cookies and Cream Ice Cream… but tastes so much better. The bittersweet chocolate playing tag with your tongue. Yes… I am a  proud beater/batter licker… always have been and always will be. IMG_0500

After cleaning up the mess I made in round one… it’s time to continue on to the icing. FOUR STICKS OF BUTTER!!! I know I mentioned this earlier… but I just can’t get over it so I had to mention it again. Four sticks of butter and a POUND of MILK CHOCOLATE… and if this isn’t enough to make your arteries clog just thinking about it, then you add a cup of sour cream. At this point I saw no need to use LIGHT sour cream… kind of like drinking a diet coke while eating french fries. This cake is so decadent that only a small slice will suffice, so I guess I shouldn’t worry too much about how unhealthy this cake is. After all… It’s Valentine’s Day and I deserve it.

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The pressure was on as family and friends stood around the kitchen waiting for me to split the layers and ice the cake so they could eat it. The cake wasn’t fully cool so the final presentation wasn’t as pretty as the one in the magazine… however no one complained. Everyone was too busy licking every crumb and speck of chocolate from their plate, forks, and lips to be concerned with how it looked.

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If you live nearby, stop on by for a ‘cuppa’ and cake. All of my special Valentine’s cakes are meant to be shared with friends and family on a FIRST COME-FIRST SERVED basis.

Next year??? By special request I’m repeating a favorite… Rick Baylis’ Heaven and Hell cake. The bottom layer is DEVIL’S FOOD cake, the top layer is ANGEL FOOD cake, with a PEANUT BUTTER MOUSSE filling, covered in CHOCOLATE GANACHE. Mark your calendar!

You can find the recipe for the Chocolate-Flecked Layer Cake with Milk Chocolate Frosting HERE.

Happy Valentine’s Day!!!! XOXO

Deb

 

And So It Begins…

Who’s been waiting to read an excerpt from my book??? Wait no more! Here is what I have come up with for the very first page.

If you care to share any portion of this excerpt I ask that you send that person to this site to read it as oppose to copying it and sharing via any method. This excerpt may change as I re-write, and re-write, and re-write some more. I would appreciate the final draft being spread around instead of this original attempt.

Thank you for your consideration and understanding.

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He looks frightened lying in that hospital bed. His wild eyes are darting back and forth seeming to be searching for something. He knows why he is here. He understands what’s going to happen. The ventilator has been disconnected and although he is fully conscious, he can not speak clearly or with much force. His eyes are the only body part he has complete control of.

As far as hospital rooms go, this one is pretty nice. Cheerful yellow and cream, not the drab supposedly calming blues and greens I am used to seeing. It’s a rather large private ICU room with a state of the art hospital bed in the center, a few chairs scattered around the perimeter and the required wires, monitors and bells and whistles mounted on the wall. It is clean, cheerful, and sparse… the exact opposite of the room he has been in for the past four years.

From my vantage point pressed against the wall I look around at all of his friends and family that have gathered to watch him take his last breath. The machinery had been disconnected for a few hours now. “How long does this take”, is the question we all have been silently asking ourselves. We are running out of things to talk about. Prayers for his soul have been said singly and in unison. We have sung through the verse of every hymn and silly song we can pull from the far reaches of our minds. We are all becoming uncomfortable, and hungry… afraid to leave the room to pee in case we miss the big moment. There is nothing left to do but wait.

Earlier in the day nurses and doctors would come in to check his vitals and ask if we needed anything. Now they leave us alone. I know where to find them if needed. They are tracking his vitals from the monitors at the main desk just outside the door. I don’t even have to leave the room, I just have to look out the door and catch their eye… they will magically appear.

I am afraid to go near him. No, not afraid… just keeping my distance. His sisters, brother, children and other friends are here to be with him. I am just another face in the crowd. I will be here to the end. When the others have gone home, I will be here. When it really matters, I will be here… just as I have always been. Yes, I will have my time alone with him when it is all over.

Complaining he is hot, we pack him in ice. His blankets are removed with only a sheet to cover his withered body. Without his glasses his eyes look smaller than normal, surrounded by his slack, pale skin billowing out on the pillow. His high round cheeks are flushed pink from his heat. Excess fluid swells his ankles and feet, and his sausage fingers look ready to burst. He can’t lift his hands and shake the fluid down as he has been paralyzed for the past six years, so his sisters, Helen Lee and Judy each take a hand and massage them. We are eager to do everything humanly possible to make him comfortable and keep us busy at the same time. This moment is all about him. A king, presiding over his court.

He calls us over to his bedside one by one to horsely whisper his last words, as privately as possible in a room crowed with loved ones. He saves me for last. The room falls silent. I lean over his body placing my ear near his mouth so I can understand the loving words my husband of 27 years wants me to hear before he is no longer with us.

“Sue the bastards! Make sure they can’t do this to anyone else… ever!”

I step away from him and retreat to my corner confused. Not… “I will love you forever”. Not, “Take care of yourself and the kids”… or, “I will wait for you on the other side.” Not even a kiss. No… in a moment of time where you think you know what to expect… I have been thrown a curve ball.

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So… what do you think? Would you want to continue reading a book that started off that way? Does this beginning surprise you? Are you intrigued to know how we got there or what happens next?

If you are an editor or in the book biz do you have any suggestions?

Should I continue writing?

I personally read each comment and would love to hear Your Two Cents!

Thanks for reading,

Deb

Retro Recipe…

It’s rainy, windy, cold, and on the verge of snow here in the Northeast. The perfect day for comfort food!! While the electricity is still on and the ovens working I decided to bake something. But what? Cookies, cake, bread, brownies?

Original recipe quickly scratched on scrap paper

Original recipe quickly scratched on scrap paper

Last week I was cleaning out some old paper work and stumbled across a few of my old recipes. My mouth began to water at the thought of my most favorite Pound Cake Recipe. This cake is so delicious my mother requested one for her birthday, not as dessert, but as a present… AND she refused to share a slice… not even a CRUMB would she allow. I’m serious! I was flabbergasted! An entire 10” tube cake, and she wouldn’t share!!!

This cake is made from all high fat, full cholesterol, sugary goodness. You won’t find any substitutions like yogurt instead of the sour cream, or applesauce instead of the butter. Nope. This 40 year old recipe was written when men were men, and cake was cake. It’s the perfect sweet for those times you let your hair down and indulge in decadence… just this once. You can eat low cal and heart healthy the rest of the time.

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It isn’t as heavy as a regular pound cake… and not too sweet, it’s just right with a hint of almond and egg. Tasty all by itself, or enhanced with ice cream (or homemade yogurt) and berries. So comforting!!
Another reason to bake this cake was to use my favorite tube pan. I purchased it at an estate sale 35 years ago for a dollar. It’s not so much the pan that is dear to my heart, but the stories the gentleman shared with me about his dearly departed wife and the many cakes she made with it. It was battered, rusted, well used… and now I get to add to the legacy of that pan.

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Without further adieu.. I bring you my tried and true and not good for you… but totally awesome:

Sour Cream Pound Cake

Ingredients:

2 sticks of butter, softened

3 cups sugar

½ tsp almond extract

5 eggs

1 cup sour cream

3 cups flour

¼ tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease 10” tube pan.

In mixer cream butter and sugar until pale. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add extract and sour cream, combine. Beat in flour one cup at a time adding baking soda with last cup. DO NOT OVER MIX.

Scrape into prepared pan. Bake approximately 1½ hours. Test for doneness with toothpick. Cool in pan 10 to 15 minutes then turn out onto rack to continue cooling.

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50 Shades of Grey – Really?

The run away best seller 50 Shades of Grey Trilogy by E. L. James is now available in hardcover. Really?

The powers that be at Doubleday Publishing timed the release so the books would be available for Valentine’s Day. Really?

The boxed set of all three books in a collector’s edition retails for $80.00. Really?

First off… I haven’t met ONE woman who felt the books were worth all the hype. My mother thought they were boring. My neighbor just couldn’t get ‘into’ them. My daughter didn’t finish the trilogy and I personally found the love story angle too hard to take seriously.

Granted, my mother and neighbor were not Twilight fans (readers of the Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer) and didn’t get the fact these books began as stories on a fan page for Edward and Bella, but my daughter and I did. It didn’t make the stories any better as far as I’m concerned… besides I’m on TEAM JACOB.

Secondly… the real bonus of reading the books on an e-reader or in paperback is the secrecy of it all. Soccer moms throughout the US could read the books and keep them away from little impressional eyes… therefore not having to answer inquiring minds.

I was speaking to a Barnes & Noble employee the other day about the release. After rolling her eyes all she could add to the conversation was that she laughed hysterically when the LARGE PRINT edition was released. Her circle of friends also see no need for the hardcover editions.

Last of all… and more importantly in my opinion is… basically every woman who has wanted to read this trilogy HAS. Getting these books from their significant other as a Valentine’s gift I doubt would be appreciated. Now… the toys that are used in the book? THOSE would be a better gift choice 🙂

The books have been on sale in the US since January 29th… and are not a strong seller. The paperbacks are ranked #7 on Amazon where the hardcovers are over #5,000.

If you are interested in reading more… check out the USA Today article.

 

Lions, Tigers, and Bears… Oh my!

And elephants, boogie men, and rapists! They all seem to be intruding on my peaceful slumber. I just can’t get a good night’s sleep any more.

My eyes are getting heavy, the yawns are getting closer and closer, longer and deeper. My internal clock is telling me it’s 11:00pm and time for bed. Trudging up the steps I turn left at the top the landing to use the bathroom. I still haven’t fixed the door knob, so I pull it shut with one hand, while turning the ancient deadbolt with the other. Not that I need privacy, no one else is here… I keep the door shut to keep the dogs out.

I don’t spend much time in my room. If you were stalking me you would notice my bedroom light is only on for about a minute each day. After flicking on the overhead light, I grab my Pjs and lay them on my bed, place my glasses on the dresser, plug in my computer and phone, then switch the light off and change in the dark. Dropping my dirty clothes in the hamper I walk around to the other side of my bed and snuggle under the covers.

There is plenty of light to see what I’m doing. I have no curtains on my windows so the moonlight dances around. There is snow on my neighbor’s roof bouncing in more. Besides, this old bungalow only has two electrical outlets for the entire room. Using a small bedside lamp is not an option as I use the one outlet near my bed for the chargers and my alarm clock, which emits a luminous glow. The switch for the overhead is on the opposite side of the room. So… in the dark is the way to go.

The temperature of the room is perfect… not too warm, not too cold… just chilly enough to appreciate the comfort of the quilt. My nose enjoying the fresh cool air.

The bed is so comfortable. Way too big for one person. I purchased a king size in hopes of someday sharing it with a special someone… but that didn’t happen. Now it’s a vast waste of space… a constant reminder to not live in a dream world.

It’s now 11:30. Silently I say goodnight to my family and friends… wishing them all a safe and peaceful life. If someone is experiencing some difficulty I send extra good thoughts their way through the universe. Ending with a special thought for a specific friend, I smile, close my eyes and drift off to never, never land.

Bzzzz… It’s 1:20 AM and my phone buzzes. Fumbling and squinting I see it is nothing… just my phone telling me it is fully charged. Thanks for the message! I immediately fall back into a deep sleep.

I wake because my heart is pounding. There is a sheen of sweat along my arms and legs. Covers are tossed around. I was being chased by an elephant in my dream… or was it a zombie? I can’t remember now. All I know is I was frightened! Running for my life. I look at the clock, it reads 2:43 AM.

It was only a dream… a nightmare. My heart slows and a chill falls over my body. I shiver as I pull the covers back over me. As soon as warmth envelopes me, I fall back into dreamland.

Something is uncomfortable. Something is making me wake up. It’s around 4:15 AM the clock tells me. Huh? My bedding is all a jumble. The lace top of my sheet is now at my feet, my quilt is balled off to the side and my blanket is half on and half off. It looks as if I was fighting someone… or something. I hope I won. In the back of my fuzzy brain I remember some bizarre creatures and monsters, bad people and more. I was with a friend, that much I remember. The more I concentrate on the nightmare, the more I can’t remember. Was there really a crown of thorns???

Fixing the covers I try to fall back to sleep. I toss and turn fading in and out of consciousness for the next hour and a half… a fitful sleep. At 7:00 AM the school bus rumbles by and my eyes pop open. Time to start my day.

Sadly this routine has been the ‘norm’ recently. While on medication for PTSD I had horrible nightmares all the time. One of the special ‘side effects’. However I have been off medication for over a year now. Things have been good. Keeping stress out of my life as much as possible, eating well, keeping busy have all been working it’s magic. All of a sudden the nightmares have returned.

I have a few theories on WHY. One of which is I have been working on my book a lot more. Dredging up the past is not always a good thing. However I will continue writing it. I am compelled to get these words and thoughts out of my head and into book form. I don’t care if anyone reads it or not… I just have to get it all out!

These bad dreams don’t prevent me from going to bed. I still look forward to each night crawling under the covers and closing my eyes. There had been a time in my life where I would do ANYTHING to NOT go to sleep… but that is not the case here. I welcome bedtime. I just want a good, solid night’s sleep!

Anyone out there have a cure for nightmares? I’m all ears.

 

Five Minute Friday – Afraid

It’s FRIDAY!!! Every Friday people across the globe go to LisaJo Baker’s site and see what the magic prompt word if the week. You set a timer for 5 minutes concentrating on that word and what it means to you. Then you post it on your blog and link up on her site for all to see. It’s fun! It’s Freeing!! The only real rule is that you have to stop by the blog that posted before you and cheer them on. Join us!

My word today is… Afraid.

GO!

Darla lives her life in constant fear. When strangers come to the house, especially men… she runs upstairs to her room. Sometimes she slowly comes down, one step at a time to investigate and finds there was nothing to worry about. Other times she will stay up there cuddled in her bed.

She is also afraid to have her picture taken. You can see the fear in the eyes of this 6 year old.

Thunder storms and fireworks make her shiver in fright. You can feel her little body quaking as she curls up next to you looking for comfort.

Leaves fluttering in the summer breeze sets her heart pounding.

I can’t imagine living locked up in that kind of fear on a day to day basis. Always afraid… even of your own shadow.

Darla is my daughter’s dog.

STOP!

Darling Darla

Darling Darla

Afraid is not a word in my vocabulary. I am not afraid of anything. Jumping in first and asking questions later is what I do best. Working through each situation as it pops up and getting through each day at a time has kept me moving forward. Dwelling on issues and problems that MIGHT (or might not) occur seems to be a waste of my time. So writing this Five Minute Friday was a challenge for me. Thank Heavens I have a sweet scaredy cat of a dog in the house to remind me not everything or everyone should be trusted in an instant. Our ‘afraid’ gene is there for a purpose… just don’t let it rule our lives.