Is There Anybody Out There…?

*tap tap tap*  Is this thing on?

Well, hello there.  It’s only been just over 2 1/2 years – whaddya want?

I kind of knew I was going to take a hiatus from blogging, I just never thought it would be so long.  And, if you managed to wander over here, you’ll notice some changes.

No ads, for one.  (I might bring them back, but for now, nah.)  A very simple template, for another.  (The old one was broken and causing the site problems.)  I’ll probably update it to something fancier sometime in the future, but right now I’ve got too much on my plate to worry about it.  My tagline has also reverted to the original “A Little of This, A Little of That” because while, yes, I will still post recipes, and many of them will be paleo (many will also be “vintage” but I’ll talk about that in a later post), this is now a personal blog again and I’ll talk a lot about other things.

Like this:

New Friends

Oh, yeah…LOTS to talk about.

The Sunflower Cake

Oh, hai.

Yes, it’s been a month.  Sorry about that.

I’ve been cooking, of course, but have not had the time (or inclination, to be perfectly honest) to photograph and write the recipes for the things I’ve cooked.  Summer is pretty busy at our house, what with the CSA, the backyard garden and all the freezing and canning and preserving.  The Young One is home for the summer (and working full time – let’s all CHEER!!) and Darling Daughter is firmly settled in the spare bedroom, and working the graveyard shift at a local nursing home.

We’ve also had The G Man quite a bit this summer; Jolly has taken a new position with her employer and is getting ready to move to Michigan.  She’s been traveling to her new location nearly every week for a few days, transitioning over and finding a new place to live, and we’ve been watching the apple of our eyes while she does this.

Like I said:  BUSY.

In the midst of all this busyness are a couple of birthdays:  Jolly’s was last weekend (The G Man celebrates his 5th birthday in just a few weeks).  At her request, I made a Mexican feast of enchiladas, rice, beans and corn spoon bread.  And of course, cake was involved:  a 9″ yellow layer cake filled with lemon curd and covered with a lemon-flavored classic buttercream.

Since ombre cakes are all the rage these days, I thought I’d give it a whirl.  I wish the cake had been taller because I was really pleased with it.  Unsure of what to do with the decorations otherwise, I kept in mind that Jolly loves earth tones, and ended up with three gum paste sunflowers over airbrushed stems and leaves.  Nothing fancy, but it came out pretty well.

Sunflower-Cake Sunflower-Cake-2 Sunflower-Cake-3 Sunflower-Cake-4Say-Cheeeeeeeeese

The G Man approves of the “lemonade cake” Meema made for Mommy.

What I’ve Been Up To

Yeah, as a phrase it sucks, but it’s Monday morning and I’m blogging so I’m not going to be too terribly picky about my grammar.  At any rate, I wanted to show you one of the reasons for my sporadic blogging over the last six weeks or so.

As you may or may not know (or care) I spent a significant portion of my much younger life as a professional cake decorator.  Not one of those grocery store types that they love to showcase on Cake Wrecks, either – my specialty was sculpted cakes (I once made the Space Shuttle – the thing had a four-foot wing span and must have weighed 200 pounds) and airbrushed caricatures.  My mother, who was an extremely talented woman, taught me and from 1987 to 1994 I was the manager and head decorator at her bakery in Dallas, Texas.

We worked exclusively in buttercream – this was before the big, fancy, fondant-covered cake revolution really hit the U.S.  Mom passed away in 1996 at 51, the victim of a lifetime of cigarettes and poor diet, and I put away my pastry bags and my #21 star tips and rose nails for quite awhile.  It was something of a relief, to be honest – cake decorating is a stressful profession and can be quite detrimental to your health.

After a few years, though, I sort of came to miss it.  I had no desire to return to it as a profession, but as a hobby it seemed like it might be…fun.  It also became the perfect opportunity to learn some of the newer techniques that had become so popular in the intervening years, and I jumped feet first into royal icing, rolled fondant and, eventually, gum paste (you can see some examples of what I’ve done here, here and here).  Then I discovered Craftsy.com and their amazing array of classes and tutorials on cake decorating (and crocheting and photography and just about any other “craft” oriented pastime or occupation) and I was sucked back in with a quite pleasurable vengeance.

So, for the last six weeks or so, I’ve spent a great deal of time in the evenings and on weekends alternating between crocheting a Spiderman blanket for The G Man (photos forthcoming upon completion) and making, by hand, 15 pink roses, 3 dozen hydrangea, 4 dozen leaves and about 225 baby’s breath out of gum paste for an 80th birthday cake I delivered this past Saturday.

Voila.

80th Birthday Cake

Not the best photo I’ve ever taken (I was using someone else’s camera in low lighting), but you get the gist.  No fondant on this one – they specifically asked for frilly and feminine in buttercream – but you can see the three floral arrangements on top of each of the tiers.

All in all, I’m quite pleased with it.

Next on my list to learn?  Modeling chocolate – I have a wedding cake and a groom’s cake coming up in October for the son of our beef farmer (who is also one of the fine butchers at Whitefeather Meats).  The wedding cake is going to have bride and groom kitties (yes, as in felines) on top, and the groom’s cake is going to look like a raw t-bone steak on a cutting board.

This is going to be fun.

 

Random Tuesday W.T.F.

I am going to dispense with the usual pleasantries that normally accompany Random Tuesday Thoughts and keep this entry brief, for reasons that will become painfully obvious shortly.

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This was our garden Sunday afternoon, when it was sunny, 75 F and very spring-like:

Garden-Left

This our garden this morning, when it’s 33 F and SNOWING:

Garden-Left Snow

Okay, I promise I’m done bitching about the snow during April.  I pinky-promise I won’t do it again this spring – even if we get a blizzard tomorrow.

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Let this serve as a warning to you all:

ridin the rhino

This is what happens when you go to a wine tasting on a Monday night with the crazy people from the Sushi Bar – you end up astride a rubber rhinoceros in downtown Podunk.

(Full credit must be given to my friend, D.G., who is a far better sport than I.)

And on that note, I’m going to go drink more coffee and pretend I’m a human being rather than a hungover pile of sludge.

I’m too old for this shit…

Random Tuesday Spring Fever

Stacy

You know, it’s been ages since I’ve participated in Random Tuesday Thoughts, so why the heck not?  Tomorrow, I shall endeavor to have a recipe for you that involves sea scallops and Meyer lemons.

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On a whim, early last week, Beloved and I booked a cabin at Hocking Hills State Park.  We drove down Friday morning and came back yesterday afternoon.  It was wonderful – peaceful, with beautiful and sunny, if a tad chilly, weather.  We purchased what turned out to be a pretty large set of dominoes and set about teaching ourselves a couple of games.  There were marathon sessions of Chicken Foot when we weren’t in the hot tub or taking lovely strolls to see sights like this:

Waterfall
Click the image to enlarge

Unfortunately, our hopes of having no cell phone reception were dashed.  The kids found us anyway.

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The cabin was equipped with satellite television and had both The Food Network and The Cooking Channel.  At one point over the weekend, while playing dominoes, I watched Alton Brown make cottage cheese.  I am SO doing that this weekend – I love the stuff.  Always have.

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And while we’re at it, let us be eternally grateful that there is not a Tim Horton’s in Podunk, Ohio.

*stands up*

Hello, my name is Jan and I am powerless over honey crullers.

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It proceeded to rain all day yesterday and when we got home, I was loathe to put away my new camera so I ventured outside and took this photo:

CrocusClick the image to enlarge

The crocus are coming up, and I can’t tell you how absurdly pleased and excited this made me.  Or maybe I can, since I spent 10 minutes hunched over this, attempting to protect my camera with a lawn and leaf bag. I’m sure the neighbors were amused, if not bemused.

“Mabel, that crazy woman across the street is lying in her flower beds, in the rain, with a plastic bag over her head.”

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And that’s all I’ve got for today.  You can wake up now, and go visit Stacy to see what other Randomness is going on.