Home Hair Cuts

img_0278I am a big proponent of home hair cuts. We’ve done them for years.

They save money and time and generally turn out great – especially when it’s Grandpa giving our young sons military style hair cuts in the shop.

Things get trickier when those little boys become teenagers. They don’t want a hair cut any more – they want a hair style. And Grandpa is smart enough to not touch it.

Me – not so much.

It sounds easy when they say, “Hey mom – could you just take a little off the sides? ”

How hard can it be?

HA.

There’s undercuts and side burns and ears to trim around.

All with an electric trimmer.

They expect me to cut their hair holding a piece of vibrating metal with moving blades on the ends?! While wearing bi-focals?!

Really?!

Do they realize that the difference between perfection and a gaping bald spot is approximately 2.1637 seconds?

Not that I know this from personal experience or that any of my sons have ever, or are even now walking around with gaping bald spots…just hypothetically speaking of course.

A-hem.

Grandpa always tells them the difference between a good haircut and a bad haircut is about a week.  l think it’s longer for bald spots.

I have only drawn blood on one occasion but nothing that required emergency medical attention. He didn’t really need that ear tip anyway.

You would think that after a few bad cuts they would stop asking, but I guess I raised some really frugal kids.

I do make them promise that they will love me no matter what it looks like when I’m done.

Which is good, because quite honestly, you get what you pay for!

 

 

Cake Wars Drop-Out

Buddy had a birthday this week.

This is the kid who is known for his over-the-top birthday cakes. (Who could forget his infamous M & M shooting catapult cake or his royal pika family surrounded by torches cake!) But this year he left the whole thing in my hands. He had no ideas, no requests, it was all up to me.

But don’t worry – I was ready! After all, I have watched every episode of Cake Wars. I’ve seen every mistakes ever made on cakes and besides, I had an idea.

I was going to make him an electric guitar cake!

Isn’t that an epic idea?! Mind-blowingly amazing!

This cake was going to be so awesome it would probably break Pinterest!

I started by mixing up my cake mix (yes – I cheated and used a cake mix!) but to bump up the flavor and keep it moist, I added sour cream. That was my first mistake.

There will be more.

While the cake baked, I measured Buddy’s guitar, sketched out my design so that everything would be proportional, and cut out a template. This was an amazing template – seriously – I even did fractions to make sure my sides were correct!

I actually thought to myself that I really should mass produce these things and sell them – because honestly – doesn’t every one need to make an electric guitar cake at some point in their life!

When the cake was cooled, I laid my template on top – anxious to get started on my masterpiece!

But the template was too big. What!! Wait, how could that have happened?! I even did the math!

My cake must have shrunk! In a panic I started to whittle sides off, then the top and the bottom. Cake was flying! Forget the proportions of neck to guitar – I barely had enough cake to make a neck!img_0251

Not only that – it was such a moist cake that it kept breaking when I tried to move it from the cooling rack to the serving tray.

I finally had it positioned – a guitar with a neck – and started spreading my buttercream as a crumb coat.

Crumb coat is right. I just kept pulling up cake with each swipe of frosting. This guitar was getting smaller and more messy with each knife stroke. I used up my entire batch of buttercream.

What a disaster! There were cake crumbs and frosting and powdered sugar all over my kitchen and myself.

img_0253I had to mix up another batch of buttercream to hide all the crumbs. More powdered sugar everywhere. My kitchen looked like a winter storm.

So did I.

At this point his amazing electric guitar cake looked more like a fuzzy dwarf electric ukulele.

This did not look Cake Wars worthy. Then I remembered that all the cakes on Cake Wars look so smooth because they are covered with fondant. Yeah – that wasn’t happening.

I considered briefly going with the fuzzy theme and just throwing coconut all over it and calling it a day – but Buddy doesn’t like coconut. So I kept working until my frosting was somewhat smooth – abandoning all thoughts of a piping bag and details.

Instead I turned to an old birthday cake stand-by, a friend that has never failed me, my go-to birthday cake rescue – M & M’s!

img_0255We now had a rainbow dwarf electric ukulele.

And Buddy loved it!

We put 16 re-lighting candles on it, sang Happy Birthday, and watched him try to blow them out over and over again!

It was awesome!

Another birthday cake done.

I’m hanging up my apron now. My dreams of ever winning Cake Wars completely destroyed.

Trust me people – they make it look easy on TV.

But boy was that cake moist!

 

Girl Trip

It was the perfect Saturday for an adventure!

The sun was shining, the weather was warm, and the skies were blue as we headed to Omaha to rendezvous with the girls.

Three generations of girls –

14980805_10207400981720300_6413745664116412665_nGrandma, aunts, sisters, cousins.

Family.

We explored secret gardens and hidden attic rooms.

Shared wild rides filled with laughter and silliness.

14907125_10154197793628315_6029653704083883656_nAte real Irish food at the Brazen Head which inspired a medley of Irish Rover songs from our childhood.

“There were green alligators and long necked geese,

Humpty back camels and chimpanzees,

The cats, the rats, the elephants but sure as you’re born,

The loveliest of all was the unicorn…” 

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We visited antique stores and thrift stores.

Enjoyed apple cider and hot coffee.

Ate chocolate and pumpkin cookies.

And ice cream.

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I think there’s an rule about the necessity of ice cream on an epic adventure.

We hiked, climbed trees, explored, got stuck on cliffs and accidentally photobombed several families at the park trying to get pictures for Christmas cards.

And we talked and shared and remembered.

Three generations of ladies.

One amazing day.

Don’t Have a Hurry in Me

To say that we have no sense of urgency since the wedding would be a bit of an understatement.

You could say that our “get up and go has got up and went”.

We just can’t find a hurry.

But then, when you consider that in six months we’ve had 2 graduations and a wedding – all pretty major life events – in addition to 3 extended family trips, county fair, and VBS that I planned and directed, it’s understandable.

All we’ve done is plan, hurry, plan some more, hurry some more.

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But there’s some things about fall in the country that demand a bit of urgency. Important things like fencing and preparing the critters for winter and bringing in the last of the garden produce while cleaning up the garden.

And there’s storm doors to install, cold frames to plant, and I should really make a path through the basement and put away wedding things.

This gorgeous weather has lulled us into a false sense of complacency.

Maybe this lovely, lingering autumn will never end.

Maybe that late frost will forget to come.

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After all – my flower beds are beautiful and I’m still harvesting green beans and peppers from my garden.

But then we turned the calendar page to November.

November!

That’s the month before December.

In a few short weeks we’ll be eating turkey with stuffing and doing Black Friday, and putting up a Christmas tree!

Hallmark is already showing Christmas movies!

Vacation is over.

Time to get busy!

Winter is coming!

And I’ll get started right away – just as soon as I finish this chapter and check email.

I wonder who’s on Facebook…

 

 

 

 

 

Wedding Dip

One thing both Laura and Steven wanted for their wedding was a relaxed and informal reception.

They didn’t want a cake.

They didn’t want a bridal table.

They didn’t want a big meal.

They didn’t want speeches.

All they wanted was ice cream, dancing under twinkle lights, and a sparkler send off surrounded by their family and close friends.

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And they got it!

The dancing under the twinkle lights and the sparkler send-off’s we’re pretty straight forward! (Hint – the key to a successful sparkler send-off at a wedding is to put a pyromaniac brother and brothers-in-law in charge of lighting them with propane torches just ahead of the bridal couple – then taking a series of pictures as they walk through!)

But the food had me stymied for awhile.

The ice cream and toppings were easy – but not enough. We added veggies and my homemade ranch dip, but we still needed more.

We finally settled on queso dip and chips.

Yes, I know it sounds odd – queso and weddings just don’t seem to go together. I knew we needed a step up from the typical Velveeta cheese and salsa dip – a little fancier version without the vivid yellow color.

And we found it – a simple queso dip without processed foods that was a beautiful wedding white color with small specks of the deep red tomatoes! We made it fancy by served it from a large chafing dish with the chips in a large basket beside it.

It helped make the reception relaxed, fun and more of a party!

And since so many guests have asked for the recipe – here it is!

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Wedding Dip

1 can Rotel tomatoes and green chilies
8 ounces cream cheese, full fat
1 pound pepper jack cheese
8 ounces sour cream, full fat
3/4 cup whole milk (or half & half)

Melt together, stirring well and serve warm with tortilla chips or crackers.

We made it ahead of time in large batches on the stove, stirring and stirring, thinking it was always going to be a big stringy, gooey mess and and then there was a magical moment when it all came together into amazing dip!

Then we stored it in the fridge and reheated in crock pots.

You could probably dump all the ingredients in the crock pot and let it heat on low until melted or zap it in the microwave to melt, just remember that stirring is your friend.

It refrigerates well and can be frozen (although it does get just slightly grainy in the freezer).

Enjoy!