Friday, December 2, 2016

CAKE BALL EXPERIMENT...

I know Cake Balls are old news.  But I just recently made some and figured out the secret of making pretty ones!  Another thing I just figured out.  With all the desserts at holiday parties, cake balls are really a great way to get a little bite of cake and not have to eat a whole piece.  In other words, they are MUCH BETTER FOR YOU!
My experiment was new flavors - I got some cake from the sale rack at my local grocery store - one small Pumpkin Creme Cake and one small Gingerbread Creme Cake with a tub of Butter Cream frosting to make what I called Pumpkin Spice Cake Balls!  I dipped them in white almond bark.  Reminded me of Pumpkin Roll, which I also enjoy making.  They were delicious!
 As far as the secret of making pretty ones, I found out after making a large amount for a shower and not dipping all of them, that it's great to have some un-dipped balls in the freezer.  They keep for a long time and then when you dip them, they do better than those that have just been in the freezer a short time.  Also, I've been making them smaller, about the size of a pecan.  They still are a good bite and then they are easier to manage when dipping.  I use 2 toothpicks when dipping, one in the bottom of the cake ball, and one to push it onto the wax paper from underneath.  It works for me!  You can probably find your own method, it sometimes just takes practice!  Also I found that using a glass one cup measuring cup and melting 4 pieces of almond bark in the microwave at a time works best for me.  The small cup  is just right for dipping.  Lastly, you must have something to sprinkle on the top!  It draws your attention away from the other imperfections.

So those are my tips!  I got some rave reviews on the chocolate ones I made recently, too.  Not sure what made them so good but maybe it was because they were CHOCOLATE.  Actually, I did combine one regular chocolate cake mix and one dark fudge cake mix, along with two different kinds of chocolate frosting in the tub.  So try your own combination for a little different flavor.

I decided to post all this more for me to remember than for you.  Have you ever practiced on something like this and finally found your own best way to do it?  It's exciting!




Monday, November 28, 2016

MY FIRST GRAND CANYON HIKE...

When I said YES to the Hubs when asked if I wanted to hike the Grand Canyon with a group of people from church, I said, SURE.  I assumed we were going to do something I've wanted to do for a long time....hike down to the bottom of the canyon, spend the night at Phantom Ranch, explore, see waterfalls, etc., then hike back out.

You know, I had other things on my mind...wedding...retreat...moving Mom.  Then I find out we are doing something crazy athletic-type people do.  Hiking down to the bottom of the canyon and then come back out in one day!

I decided to roll with it.  If my husband thought I could do it, I would!  Besides I did run a couple of half-marathons a few years back, right?  (Never mind the fact that the last couple of miles I walked)  Anyway, we trained some and were off!  It was a great time with some folks I didn't know very well and really enjoyed getting to know better!

I'd say it was an awesome experience - and it was - I saw views of the Grand Canyon I had never seen on previous visits - but honestly it was just a really long hike!  One foot after another.  Seventeen miles to be exact.  Part of the time going down, and the other part going up.  The last two miles of up was hard.  (Why do I always have a problem with the last two miles?)  My calves felt like rocks and I had a hard time lifting my leg to step up on some of those higher steps.  The group slowed down a little to accommodate me and sometimes it was so slow and steep that I felt like I lost momentum and worried them a little.  Plus my nose dripped the entire day.  TMI?  In my mind I wnted to tell everyone who was saying, only 3 more miles, "SHUT UP!"  They had been talking about a mile and a half and I thought they meant to the top.  But then I realized it was to the next bathroom hut.  ARGH.  Just quit talking!  Then the last 30 minutes all I could think was this old song in my mind from Phillipians 4:

I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me,  
I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me. 
Day by day, hour by hour, I am kept by his pow'r!
I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me.
(The Hubs and me about 3 miles from the end - thankful for an old tree seat)

11 1/2 hours after we started - we made it- 17 miles with virtually no problems! Quite a feat when you consider there were ten in our group.  One minor fall, no blisters or injuries, just a couple gear problems that were solved, lots of calories eaten and our Camelbacks in constant use, and lots of oohs and aahs at the views.

It felt good to cry and  lay down cheer and hug and take photos at the top.  And some WAY TOO ENERGETIC people decided we should do jumping photos at the top...





         (Here's my sweet friend and coach with her Hubs)

Maybe I sound casual about it, but really there's no way I would have ever attempted this without the Hubs and a great friend and coach who loves these challenges!  She knows how to train, how to fuel the body, how to pack, how to dress, and how to pace.  Thankful for her and this opportunity!

Other favorites:

One member of our group is an elite runner and RAN the trail!  He took this picture of us on the trail from above - if you zoom in you can see some little pink and blue dots...that's us!


















Tuesday, November 22, 2016

COUPLES SHOWER...

We hosted a couples shower recently, and had a really good evening!  A couple in our Bible class are getting married after many years of not being married.  We wanted to show them our love and have an opportunity to get the men in our class to get to know the groom better.  

We didn't want to be too fussy about this  so here's what we came up with for a menu:   Cowboy caviar with frito Scoops, a cheese tray, chocolate cake balls, mixed nuts, and white cake with lemon buttercream icing and sugared blackberries.  I was in a real dilemma about how much to make but this turned out great. Drinks were simple - we served fruity water and decaf coffee.  

The A & K blocks I made from leftover wood blocks that I painted, sanded and stained - bought the chipboard letters from Hobby Lobby and painted them, then hot glued them onto the block.  Kind of shabby chic like the bride's style!



We also played a game I called "My Two Cents," which was a combination of things - the Paper Airplane game from the retreat (which I just realized I never blogged about - boy, am I behind) and wedding advice.  Everyone was asked to take a paper, then fill it out while the bride opened her gifts.  It had these sentences to complete:

My name is_________________.
I met the bride/groom at _____________________.
My best advice for the couple is _________________________.
The couple should take a honeymoon trip to ___________________.
Their next big project will be ___________________________.

We then folded them into paper airplanes and tossed them for a minute, continuing to pick up whatever one lands close to you and tossing again.  Then each person had to introduce whoever's airplane they ended up with and read one of the sentences on it.  It was a fun combination of advice and laughter - and made for some fun reading when the couple looked at them later, I'm sure!  






Monday, November 14, 2016

TRAINING FOR GRAND CANYON...

So do you think there is really such a thing?  Can you train for something like a Grand Canyon hike from the rim 7000 feet down to 1200 and back up in a day?  More than a half-marathon of hiking? I'm trying not to doubt but am psyching myself up this week that I'm ready...

We've climbed stairs in a tall building numerous times with weighted backpacks. We've worked out, walked and hiked with our backpacks, and I'm drinking my beet juice!  I don't usually go for supplements, but I confess I drank a 5 hour energy drink Saturday as we walked around Lake Hefner in our hiking boots and backpacks.  Just wanted to test it to  make sure it doesn't make me sick!

I've also been introduced to Stingers and Body Glide....anyway, wish us luck!  We're actually in a group with 8 other awesome people and one is our guide, and has done this several times.  So we're in good hands!

Saturday we hiked around the lake(9 miles) - watched the sun rise and ate lots of snacks and solved all the world's problems.  :0

 Chilly but nice!

After we finished we headed to a new(er) place for breakfast:  Belle Kitchen!  They have square donuts and some good breakfast sandwiches.  Totally worth it.





Sunday, November 6, 2016

THE REST OF THE STORY (WEDDING STYLE)...

Oh, the professional wedding pictures!  Gorgeous, huh?  No story on this one, just gorgeousness!  I believe this was after their "first look."

Bridesmaid's bouquets - I made them two days before,  and I am not a florist!  Thank goodness I did, because with rehearsal dinner and all, I was making 14 boutonnieres/5 corsages the morning of the wedding.  I was literally in my robe with groomsmen coming in and out as I labored at the kitchen bar!  Protea is the large tropical flower in the middle that she picked out.  The rest of the bouquets were wax flower, seeded eucalyptus, and sage.  My daughter helped me finish them off with strips of fabric around the base that were left over from her fabric strip curtain and then we put ribbon streamers on last.  My son bought the bride's bouquet, and we added vintage lace streamers to it that cam from her mother and grandmother's wedding dresses.

MOG dress - I love telling this story!  After shopping for two days in Dallas at a fancy mall, I reluctantly bought a blue dress, just to have something.  It was fine.  Then I had a brainstorm and decided to google upscale resale shops and the first one I went to I found this Kate Spade dress that I loved!  It had a navy skirt on it so I knew it would please the bride.  Only it was a tad snug.  I knew if I could lose 5 pounds it would fit better.  That was way back in April when I bought it.  I did lose more than 5 pounds and it fit like a glove!  The pearl necklace and earrings I wore belonged to my Grandmother Flora. 

This cute little ring bearer guy is our nephew's son!  He was a hit!

The ceremony setting - the bride's parent's backyard.  It was perfect for a large group!  Lots of green space.  The bride made this curtain to separate the seating area and stage from the reception, and so the audience wouldn't see her until they were opened.  

Woohoo!  They're married!  The hanky in my son's pocket was literally given to him just minutes before the wedding.  My aunt brought it to me to give to him.  It belonged to my Great Grandpa Townley, and was monogrammed.  So it was from my son's great-great grandpa!

The signing of the marriage license.  What became of it after this moment, no one knew.  Finally it was found in the house, on the top of the refrigerator, only after they had applied for another one!

The reception was immediately following and set up in long tables.  I loved the cuties (clementines) they had on each plate.  They had charcuterie boards along with caesar salad and bread.  I actually sat down and ate for some of the time.  It was really good and everyone seemed to enjoy it.  

The Mother/Son dance.  Three days before the wedding my son asked me if I was going to dance with him.  He said he wanted this song, so we practiced a whole 10 minutes and came up with this!  It was a lot of fun!
Did you ever wonder what a non-dancer looks like?  Here you go.  I'm laughing my head off.  

The cake signs were watercolor done by the bride, and the hand lettering by a bridesmaid.  The cake topper figurine of a bride and groom was something my grandmother gave me when I got engaged.  I always wondered why she gave me it because I am brunette and the bride in the figurine was blonde.  But I have used it for a little decoration for showers and such.  It totally fit my son and his bride with their hair colors and they wanted to use it.  Sweet.

Ahh...this one's a favorite.  My son looks so handsome in his green suit with that green convertible.  That was just a fun way to acknowledge my Dad in a way, since my Mother has kept it all these years since his passing.  Made for a fun exit!

Thanks for letting me bask in the wedding stuff once more!













Sunday, October 30, 2016

BLESSED...




A blessed life
Playing house on the rock
Venturing to the creek nearby
Hearing Indians playing their drums
Only to find out it was the oil well in the next field
The big cottonwood tree
Finding treasures from years gone by
The tire swing and the teeter totter
A tree house
All lovingly made by my Dad
Railroad ties for landscaping
Cats and pet rabbits and just one dog
Even a baby squirrel we tried to nurse back to health
Pet funerals
Falling out of a tree, flat on my face
Black eyes where my glasses hit me
Walking on cable spools
Cable spool outdoor table
And cable spool nightstand
Yardwork
The zigzag tree
Picking strawberries what seemed like hours
Taking the scraps to the compost
Helping Dad rototill the garden
Meals Dad proudly proclaimed all from our garden
Having weinie roasts
The sunflower kitchen with the bay window
Cathedral ceiling in the living room
The face in the wood of the door
The sparkles on the ceiling
The mysterious nail in the living room beam
My pink bedroom
Mom's pretty decorating with each season
Cleaning on Saturdays
My parents disgusted with my room
The trauma of a dog bite
The fear of the neighbor with the dogs
The neighbor who taught me piano
Countless neighbors who hired me as a babysitter
Making neighborhood friends
Gravel roads
Appalled at the lack of sidewalks
Our big hill
Bike wrecks
Growing up with plenty of space
To explore, live and dream
Running the car into the air conditioner unit
The trampoline
My date who split his pants on it
And a proposal a few months later
Years of holidays and celebrations
Living there again, a few months with my family of five
While our new home was being finished
Dad's final days
In the front bedroom
Mom alone,fifteen more years
A good place, a loving home
Enhanced by Christian parents
Consistent in love
Blessed

My reflections of my childhood home as I help my mother move out of it after living there 43 years!

Monday, October 24, 2016

LIFE FAST FORWARD...


This has been on my heart lately, contemplating the crazyness of life and its twists and turns.  October has proven to be very full of big life events, with hardly a chance to take a breath!  But that's the way it is sometimes.  So far this month I've been involved in a wedding, seen fulfillment of a women's retreat in the planning over a year, am helping my mother prepare for a move Wednesday from her home of 42 years, and we've had two extended family deaths last week.  One death was my aunt, which was expected, and another a surprise.  Both funerals are tomorrow so I'll be traversing from one side of the OKC metro area to the other.

(A bouquet from my yard I took to my aunt the day before she passed)


Good to remember God's promises that He will be with us through good times and bad!  I love Paul's words of encouragement:

I have experienced times of need and times of abundance. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing. Philippians 4:12