Wednesday, April 23, 2014

from the mouths of babes

posted by jennifer:

a conversation with a 5 year old.... from a nonreligious household.

her:  "who is that of picture of?  on that flag."  

i look across the street to our neighbors house.  they have a banner with a picture of jesus hanging up.

me:  "that is jesus.  he was a man who lived thousands of years ago."

her:  "he looks like a girl."

me:  "no he is a man.  some people think that he" ....(here i was going to continue with "is the son of god" ) 

she interrupts:   "that he is a girl?"

i think jesus would have been alright with this...  because even though i don't subscribe to a religion in his name.  i do think he probably was one cool cat.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Vintage wedding cake topper and my new pan

Yesterday, Easter Sunday,
 the Duke of Earl and I marked 46 years since we entered into that theme park of marital bliss. 
What a roller coaster ride marriage is!

To celebrate, I baked a cake.
I wanted to use our wedding cake topper to put a little anniversary spin on  Easter egg hunt day.

Back in the 1960's weddings were not as individualized as they are nowadays.  Everything was pretty traditional, including the cake toppers.
Our's was a common place bride and groom under a love nest of millinery Lily of the Valley flowers and a white glittered bell.

Although quite ordinary, our cake topper has become unique in that it has been the crowning glory on 7 wedding cakes to date.
When a couple uses it, their name and wedding date is added to the bottom.
It has been used in 1968, 1973, 1977, 1982, 1987, 1999, and 2006.

Baking layer cakes has never been my forte.  They taste good, but rarely hit my expectation.  The first cake I ever baked was a setback for me for years of future cake baking.
I was fresh into my teens and I wanted to bake a surprise birthday cake for my mother.
My dad was taking her out to dinner and I conspired with him that I would bake the cake, while they were out to eat.
I was in a BIG rush to get the beautiful surprise I had visualized ready for mom's return.

I had no idea of how to grease a pan. I did not know the importance of letting the layers set for 10 minutes before removing them from the pans.  I did not know the cake would break apart, when I tried to frost it while it was still hot.
As you can imagine, the cake was a pile of pieces with frosting stuck here and there.  Mom walked in to me in tears.  My birthday surprise was ruined.  The surprise was nothing like I had conjured it up to be.  Nothing like adding a little drama to mom's birthday!  Oh, the scene was heart breaking.

As my layer cakes have never measured up, height-wise, I compensate by making three layers instead of 2.  My three layers equal the stature of most people's 2 layers.
I also found a good recipe that uses egg whites, stiffly beaten, that help hold the cake up for the final elevation. 

I have 2 layer cake pans that I bought for my hope chest before we got married.  It was a long engagement.  I filled my closet with items for my future life, buying something new every pay day.

Now here's the interesting thing.
These cake pans purchased in 1967, or so, are marked on the bottoms:

       EKCO   Baker's
      USA  Secret
    8"  M95

In the past I have baked 2 layers and then put in the third layer in the oven when I had an empty pan.  I have asked neighbors if they have an 8" cake pan I could borrow, but they have only had 9" cake pans.
For this baking session, I decided to buy a third 8" pan.

Now we know that portion sizes keep getting larger.  And the only round layer cake pan size available was a 9".  I kept looking at those 9" pans in the store thinking they looked to be the correct size. 
I purchased a 9" pan thinking I could return it, if necessary.

I measured the new 9" pan against the old 8" pans.  They are exactly the same size!  EXACTLY.  Nine inch is the new 8"?  Using a ruler there is no part of the new 9" pan that measures 9".  I don't get it.

I'm happy to say that this 46th Anniversary cake did meet my intention.
8" pans or 9", the cake looks like the one I wanted to bake for my mom's birthday so many years ago...minus the cake topper, of course.

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol

Friday, April 11, 2014

pink stinkhorn and other lovelies. no photographs included. but feel free to research the images yourself. if you dare.

posted by:  jennifer

so, last week i was in the front yard and noticed something popping out of the earth.  it was about 6 inches long, pink, and stalky.   i know huh?  sounds lovely.  the tip of this thing was covered with flies.  i mildly freaked out.   i thought maybe it was a small rib bone... fresh.   i tend to have an active imagination.  my mind went other places as well... maybe it was something alien?  where did you think i was going?   okay, it did seem slightly phallic... but really not so much at the same time.

i was quite brave.  i got a plastic bag, and pulled it out.... i determined immediately that it was not a bone.  maybe an alien life form...  i threw it away.  and pretty much forgot about it. we had a crazy day on friday, and this was pushed to the recesses of my mind.  until another one came up.  (5 have been spotted thus far)

at this point i decided to research it.  we have pink stinkhorn fungi spores in our yard.  who knew these lovelies existed?

on another note:  chilblains.

have you heard of them?  a couple of times a year i have these lovely outbreaks on my toes.  
they are bright red and at times insanely itchy. they stick around for a couple of weeks, going through a few stages.  they then disappear for many months.  

 on doing research i have come to find that many people silently suffer from this condition.   i think that we need to shed some light on this matter.  chilblain sufferers unite!   although i honestly don't know what we would do for each other....  encourage others to be strong, and to not scratch.... offer helpful tips on what footwear will cover up the chilblains, but will let air in to help them heal.

lastly.   earlier this week i spent a couple of days with my oldest child at the beach.  we both love beach combing.  

 side note: i just looked up beachcomber in my vintage (1972) dictionary. i wanted to make sure it was one word.  the definition of beachcomber is: a man who loafs on beaches or wharves, esp. on a south sea island, living on what he can beg or find.
hmm.  well, by that definition, we are not beachcombers.  however, we do like to comb the beaches for shells, rocks, and other treasures.

second side note:  did you know that extreme temperatures are not good for people who get chilblains?  walking barefoot in 59 degree water and then walking on 95 degree sand probably did not help with my... ahem... condition.

anyway.  while beach combing.  i found not only several sand dollars, a couple of bones, (one i thought might have been from a whale. my husband feels it is probably a rib bone... from someones b.b.q.)  and a pair of diving goggles... but i also found what i thought might have been a fossilized piece of a sea star leg/ray/appendage.  i took it back to our hotel room. 
while sorting through our finds i couldn't help but notice that there was a strong smell of the sea in my treasure pile.  i showed it to my daughter who has a knack for finding fossils.  she informed me that no it wasn't fossilized.  

well, i am not sure how to end this post.  but maybe just with this.  what you think might be a rib bone may just be a fungus.  what you think might be an ancient whale bone may just be a rib bone.  but always keep an open mind.  because you never know.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Silly and a Kiss

Love this.

A lovely collection of pictures that "capture the human experience" HERE.


Monday, March 31, 2014

Topsy turvey --- updates

My world was rattled last week.
According to
we had 15 earthquakes of 2.5 or more magnitude in less than 24 hours.  I felt almost all of them.
Being a native Californian, the jolts and the rock and roll are not new to this girl.  I am, however, starting to wonder what is going on?

Then there is this, and this, and this.

The moonflower seeds that I started earlier this month...remember?  Well, of the 10 seeds I started, only 2 broke soil.  But the odd thing is that although the first set of leaves showed green, they just stopped growing.  They never opened.  They turned brown and died.
I am not a quitter! I started more seeds.  This time I did not "nick".  Daughter April suggested that nicking might remove "something important" needed for the success of the plant.  The theory sounds plausible.  (Still, the reality is that we have nicked moonflower seeds for years with fruition.)
I have started a new set of moonflower seeds the way a young child in school starts lima bean seeds.
They are in a cup with blotter paper and so far, so good.  They have grown healthy looking tap roots, and are getting lateral roots, and have opening leaves.  A couple days ago, I planted one in soil to see what will happen.  Fingers crossed.

I told you about the earwig traps.  They are working better than expected.
But there's the weird thing.
I have continued to empty the traps in the chicken yard.  Both hens had been gobbling up the scurrying bugs until a week ago.  Suddenly, Amelia, has become a vegetarian.  She is not in the least bit interested in the earwigs.
While Nellie continues to peck up the extra protein, Amelia is now content with strawberry tops and whole grain bread.  Did she read an article in the newspaper about the cruelty of earwig hunting or the benefits of a vegetarian diet? 

Amelia, in the back, reading a life altering story in the newspaper.

And then there's my mum's roses.
My mom died 8 yeas ago, and her roses have been pretty much neglected ever since.
Her once lush garden has been in steady decline.  The plants did receive water for many years, but my father no longer wants to pay for water for the garden.
The lawn is brown, the gazanias are barely hanging on around the perimeter of the parkway, and once abundant ferns and cascading baby tears have withered, crisped, flaked and blown away.  
Yet this spring, my mom's roses are more beautiful than since she tended them with her own hand.  They are large, perfect, and velvety. 

I was at my dad's today and I pilfered some of my mom's roses.
How wonderful to it is to have these roses in my house.  It is as though part of my mom is with me. What a calming presence when other things are 
thrown off balance.

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Spring Mantle

Spring Mantle....

*A garland from  This Etsy seller I had various styles of these glass garlands in my favorites on ESTY for a good year... Then one day I just cracked and bought it before I could talk myself out of it. I have never regretted that purchase. It's one of my favorite things. 

*A "Chocolate" bunny. It's ceramic but he looks so much like a chocolate bunny! And he holds candy inside. There was a decent sized earthquake here last night. Many of my friends who live close by lost things. I was certain this bunny was going to be broken. I was so happy when I arrived home and found him whole. This morning he got a good helping of earthquake gum to hold him in place. :)

*“Happily” on the chalkboard. Because yes, Happily. 

*Daffodils. About $1.00 at Trader Joes in the spring. I buy a bunch just about every time I go.

I love spring!!!


Monday, March 24, 2014

Repotting my water lilies

I have had a pond in my garden for over a decade, and love it. 
The sound of moving water, reflected sunlight on the water, fish, dragonflies,  and water plants, especially the water lilies, made me want to give the pond more space in our garden.
So what started as a 2 barrel pond, progressed to a barrel-and-in-the-ground pond in 2008.  A waterfall feature has been a part of both ponds.

I received a "Colorado" salmon pink hardy water lily for a gift in 2004.  It lived in the first barrel pond along with a couple gold fish. It was while in the barrel pond, that the lily survived its first raccoon raid.  Sadly, the fish didn't.
Raccoon attacks have continued through the years, in spite of wire covers to protect the plants and fish.
Raccoons are not laid back fishermen.  They ravage the plants, while chasing and catching the fish.  My water lily has survived these repeated assaults, even though its leaves have been shredded, and striped.

After having the lily for a few years, I had a lot of lovely water lily leaves floating on top of the water, but it had stopped blooming.

After reading an article (Pet Project by Robert Smaus 3-15-2007) in the L.A. Times 7 years ago about repotting the lily tubers, I started bringing my lilies up and out of the water once a year to shorten the tuber and roots, and to replace the soil in their pots.  Turns out, water lilies need this care in order to continue blooming.

For years I was nervous about cutting the tubers and roots.  But my lilies have responded, producing flowers all summer long, since I began making it a yearly job.  I am less hesitant about it all now, after many successful tuber splits, trims, and repots.

It is a muddy job, one requiring my garden apron, old clothes, and rubber gloves.  This apron was a gift from my friend over at  Thank you, Jen.

The roots have jumped this pot!  The plant is healthy and has divided in two. 
(The plant in the second pot, the white plastic dish pan, has died. This is the ups and downs of gardening.)

First I remove all the old leaves, leaving only the newest, still curled, leaves. 

After removing the lily from the pot, I cut the tuber leaving 
about 5" of the growing tip on each lily.  Next, I trim the roots, leaving about 6" in length and width. 
Using ordinary clay garden soil, not potting mix which is too light in weight and will float away in the water, I repot the trimmed lily in new soil, placing the tuber and root ball to one side of the pot.  I fertilize the plant with a high phosphorus food. (I continue fertilizing once a month during the spring and summer for continuous flowers.)

The pot needs to be replaced into the water in a timely manner, so the plant will not dry out.
It will bubble for 20-30 minutes while the trapped air escapes.  The pond may be cloudy for a day or so while everything settles back into place.

By the summer...

Oh, and I think we have finally found something heavy enough to keep the raccoons from fishing in the pond.

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol