4th of July goodies…from last year

Strawberries are a staple around here.  Big Boss eats them with his cereal every morning.  I eat them not every day but they make a great snack.  I eat mine minus the dip in the sugar, using a packet of Splenda instead.

But these turned out so pretty last year, I decided we need to revisit them….

 

One tray complete, one to go....

One tray complete, one to go….

If you live out in the country, it might be too late.  But city folk will be good to go should you decide to accept this challenge for your July the Fourth party/gathering/celebration.  🙂

I saw these little patriotic jewels online a while back, made a mental note and much to my…and probably everyone’s else’s…surprise, I remembered it.  I didn’t pin it at Pinterest for some weird reason but hey, I remembered!!!!

Way easy!!

Let’s name this “Sousa Strawberries”…as in John Phillip?  You know…the guy who wrote all of those wonderful patriotic tunes a long time ago?  Or maybe “Key Berries” after Francis Scott Key.  You remember him right?

Wash berries thoroughly and drain on a paper towel.  Gently dry each strawberry with another paper towel.

image

If you have time, let them air dry for 10 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, in a small Pyrex bowl…I use those handy-dandy 1 cup measuring bowls that Pampered Chef makes…pour in a handful of white chocolate.  I used the Pure White wafers from Hobby Lobby.  Zap them for 30 seconds on high. Stir and zap them again for 20 seconds. Stir until smooth.  Let it cool until it’s warm.

Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper or use styro plates to place the strawberries on while the chocolate hardens.

image

Dip the strawberry in the melted chocolate, covering 2/3 of the berry with chocolate. Let it drip a bit then place on your plate/sheet. Repeat.  Melt more white choco as needed as there is no set amount to use.

Let the choco-berry harden, then redip them 1/3 of the way or halfway up the already dipped part.  Does that make sense?  It really doesn’t matter…just so you have the red part of the berry showing, a white part and a blue part.

image

Now for the blue part…when you’ve dipped the berry for the second time in the white chocolate, have some blue sugar in a second little bowl..about 3/4 cup.  Make a little indentation in the middle of the sugar and roll the berry around kind of on its sides and squish the choco into the sugar.  Think of a top spinning??

And you’re done.  Well, you are after you’ve dipped all the berries and rolled them in the sugar and let the whole shebang cool and harden.  Yummo!!!

image

 

I’m serving mine with real whipped cream although in the pics, I used Cool Whip because I didn’t have time to make the whipped cream at that very second.  I had to hurry and get a water sprinkler system reprogrammed then hustle home to help get vehicles out the wheat fields.

Yep, we’re almost done with wheat harvest!  Now I get why everyone here always celebrate in a big way on the Fourth of July.  Harvest is usually OVER!!! YeeeeHawwww!!!!

OH, and if you don’t want to hand over 2-4 bucks for colored sugar..and I don’t and also don’t want to drive 80 miles for it…

Put sanding sugar or Sprinkle Sugar…the diff is the sanding sugar is a little larger granule of sugar than regular sugar…the Sprinkle Sugar is even larger.  I didn’t try regular but prefer the sanding, in case you want to know.

Put a cup or so of sugar into a plastic bag that seals.  Drop some food coloring or color gel..whatever you have into the sugar. Seal the bag and squish out the air.  Knead the sugar around until the color is even.  I used 3 drops of my Wilton Royal Blue.  Easy peasey!

Posted in Recipes | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

1,781 Shades of Grey

Learned something new lately.  Grey is not easy.

Pale grey icing fresh flowers wedding cake

There you have it. I was living in a dream world where you just put a dab of color in white icing, and VOILA, you have the perfect color.

So when a sweet, dear, old friend asked me to make a special cake, I said YES!! (But but…you said NO more weddings! This was an exception.) She wanted simple, not huge and pretty….maybe with fresh flowers. Sounds great right? And she thought a pale shade of grey would be nice for the cake frosting.  I did too!  Grey!?! I had never done a grey cake!  This is going to be fun, I thought!

Well, let me just say, my spare fridge is full of grey icing. (Anyone need a blueish cake?)

Yes, friends. Grey is NOT easy. What?, you declare, just add a bit of black to white and you have grey. I wish.

First round looked baby blueish.  Second round was even worse.  The more black I added, the bluer it got.

Maybe it needed a bit more white icing?!  Nope. How about a touch more black and maybe a bit of brown?

Wedding cake strawberry filing

Well, that didn’t work.  What to do. What to do.  OK maybe I was being paranoid, but more black seemed to be the only answer.  Nope. Now it was REALLY blue.  Argggh.

Time to call on the experts so I messaged my go to lady, Sharon Zambito.  Thankfully, she answered quickly saying, “wow, grey is tough”! Oh yay.  “Add a tiny bit of red or orange!”  Looking on Cake Central’s Urgent Care Center (ok, I just made that name up) several cake ladies suggested NOT using Wilton’s black.

With a full pail of a LOT of blueish icing that couldn’t be used, I decided to make a fast trip to the closest Hobby Lobby and get a new black and more powdered sugar. I jetted back home with a plan in hand and a different black.  Hope sprang fresh in my cakey heart!

Sure enough, the new batch looked greyer…still a blue hue to it, but not like the first batch.  So I threw it on the cakes, smoothed it and chilled it.

Decorating went smoothly the next day.  I hauled the three cakes up to the reception hall.  Where, in the kitchen, there were blue fluorescent lights that turned the cakes…you guessed it…BLUE!!!!  I was close to throwing a wall-eyed hissy fit but I gathered what was left of my self-control and moved the cakes into the main room where there were….YELLOW lights.  And the cakes turned grey.

Moral of the story?  Grey ain’t easy in any light but make sure your venue lights are NOT blue.  Trust me on this.  And that little dab of red made all the difference.  Hallelujah!!

I was happy.  The bride was happy. And we’re living happily ever after!!

BTW…does anyone need a grey/blueish cake?

Posted in cakes | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Does your church have one of these?

No, I’m not talking about the guy who shows up only on Christmas and Easter.

No, I’m not talking about the “Church Jumpers”, who try churches on like the latest trendy shoes.

And not hypocrites.  We have those. You have those.  Heck, we are THEM!

And not the eternal crying kid who throws a fit every other second during worship and whose parents refuse to hear him. Or take him out.

OK, I might…just maybe…be talking about the backrow Baptist types.  Yeah, we all have them.  Them was us once.  When there were babies to wrestle with and toddlers to shush. But…

solid oak, church, attendance board, hymn number board, antique

I’m talking about the wood boards that may still hang at the front of your church. Or were discarded years ago.  You know the ones…they record attendance today, last week, last year, offering amounts, etc.  I remember looking at those when I was a kid and wondered why we needed to announce all of those figures. It baffled me.

And it baffled me as an adult.  I kept thinking that surely those calculations were material for Business Meetings only.  And the boards at my childhood church had the hymn numbers on it…that was the one on the right side up front.

Our church only had one and it came down years ago.  Well, it didn’t actually “come down”.  It just hung at the back of the church with random numbers decorating it.  Every Sunday, I’d pass by it and think…well, nothing.  It meant nothing.

And then, one day, I was cruising through Pinterest. The solution to The Blank Wood Board slapped me right in the face!  PUT SCRIPTURES ON IT! Instead of the usual statistics, use words!

Good Grief.  WHY did I not think of that?!!!  Years ago. How simple. How useful. How classic!!

The Wood Board on Pinterest was standing/leaning/propped up on a table in the church foyer.  It looked good! I can DO that!

 

church, attendance board, scriptures, antiqueSo, I headed to the basement, powered my Cricut up, and started to work.  The beauty of these old timey boards is that the slots are made so you can slide them in and out, which means you can change the scriptures/messages whenever the notion strikes.  (Never fear…the original number boards are stashed in a drawer at the church.)

The final touch for the entire wall on which The Board resides for now, was some beautiful wall lettering made by a sister Church Lady.  I love it!

church foyer, antique attendance board, scripture art

So y’all hit the church attics, scour the church basement, look in the church kitchen’s cupboards (??)…wherever and polish those jewels up.  Then…USE THEM!!

PS I saw where someone had used their board to display family photos.

 

Posted in Antiques, Christianity | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

The Education of Meemaw

 

Minecraft birthday cake Creeper Someone please tell me that I’m not the only granny who didn’t know what “Minecraft” was?  Grandson #6 breathlessly informed me he wanted a Minecraft birthday cake, to my complete and total ignorance.  Then he started rattling on and on about Steve, the Creeper and other previously unheard of characters that his old granny was clueless about.

But, just like past cake requests that left me going “HUH?!”, I did my research, picked a few grands’ brains and got ‘er done…after numerous panic attacks.

You know…when the same kid said he wanted a “Gold Rush” cake.  A WHAT?!!  Help MEEEE!!! Thank goodness for Google.

Gold Rush birthday cake

And the time when grandson #5 asked for a “Ben 10” birthday cake.  Ben WHO?!!  So, I learned all I could about good old Ben.

Ben 10 birthday cake

Ben 10 theme cake

Can’t forget about Bowzer, who made his grand appearance on grandson #5’s fifth birthday cake.  Mario Brothers I had heard of…Bowzer? Not so much.

Bowzer castle Marion Brothers cake

Before these kids get done with me, I’ll be the best educated old dog around these parts.

 

 

Posted in cakes | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Big Boom and Sunday Cakes

I thought about doing a Cake Wreck post a la their “Sunday Sweets”.  Their Sundays, as opposed to all other day where “wreckie posts” rule the day, Sunday Sweets feature truly amazing cakes.  Yes, even I have appeared on Sunday Sweets!  Amazing huh?!!

I think this will be a Catch Up Sunday.  Lots has been going on here, and lately a few cakes.  Actually, the end of March begins my official cake season.  Birthdays every month until August, with several in some of the months.

Adding to the confusion/chaos/celebrating is a wedding, of which I swore I was done with BUT a dear friend requested a small cake for her wedding and heck, who was I to say no to such a joyous occasion?!!!

But I’m getting ahead of myself and instead should be looking backwards. To March specifically.  Granddaughter #1 asked for a “painted cake” for which requires a fondant finish instead of buttercream.  Of course, I thought we could adapt for buttercream cake.  And we did but not with the exact finish as the picture showed.

 

 

Nonetheless, Jess and I had fun doing it and spent last Saturday afternoon putting the finishing touches on her birthday cake!  I plan to hand over the cake decorating to her one day.  She’s got the touch!!

I spent this week, on and off, working on a football field cake.  Grandson #5 chose this gem and it’s taken me a while to figure out how to maneuver this one.

 

I did my first chocolate molding.  It wasn’t as difficult as I thought, but I have much to learn!!

Getting the cake top as level and smooth as possible was a challenge, so I topped the cake with green fondant and cut out the white lines using sheet sugar from Wilton, which is not especially easy to cut, but was the only way I could come up with to get straight, flare, even lines.

The numbers came from a “Tappit”-like mold that’s super easy to use.  Cake Stuff in Wichita mailed them lightening quick, along with the  plastic goalposts.  I repainted them in coordinating colors as this was to be a Hodgeman County football cake!

I found the footballs on the sides of the cake at WalMart!  The stars are made with scrapbooking paper punchers.  I roll fondant with a little Tylose powder real thin, let it dry out just a bit then insert into punches and carefully lay them out to dry.  Easy peasy! They’re glued onto florist wire with a dab of royal icing. They dry in about 15 mins.

Once was assembled, I poked a hole into the middle of the cake (argghh) and inserted the chocolate football.  I was worried about the football tipping, but since it’s hollow, it stayed put. So far.

 

And when Big Boss saw the finished product (he was appalled that I was sticking a football into the middle of the football field) he said, and I quote…”Big Boom”.

There you have it.

Posted in cakes | Tagged , | 2 Comments

On a reading jag



Since Christmas, I can’t seem to stop reading.

 

First was “Seven Women” by Eric Metaxas.  Which led me to…

“The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom.  Amazing!


And then I heard about “Defying Hitler: A Memoir” by Sebastain Haffner and “In the Garden of Beasts” by Erik Larson.  Fascinating first-hand memories of pre-World War II that give the reader a real sense of the atmosphere in Berlin during those years leading up to war.

For a change of pace, I started re-reading “Aunt Jane in Kentucky” by Eliza Calvert Hall.  This is a fairly obscure book that paints a picture of Kentucky in the mid-1800’s through “Aunt Jane” telling stories about her life, her friends, church, quilting and cooking.  Her ancient colloquialisms and the rhythm of her banter so reminds me of listening to aunts talking when I was a child!

I found it on eBay years ago as preparation for a presentation about fabric arts of bygone days.  Eventually I ordered Hall’s “Tales of Long Ago”, which is a continuation of her first book.

Somehwere, sometime in February, I sped through Chip and Joanna’s book, “The Magnolia Story”. Two of my favorite people!!!

And…since I’m up to my eyeballs in the “Victoria” series on TV, I read Jerrold M. Packard’s “Victoria’s  Daughters”.  I found it to be easier to read than I anticipated with wonderful insights into the royal family! I suspect that a bio focusing on only Victoria will be next on my list!?


Now I’m working on “The Return of George Washington” by Edward J. Larson.  This book covers the years between the end of the Revolutionary War and Washington’s presidency.  Really, really intriguing…I’m a huge Washington fan and couldn’t resist adding this book to by collection.  So glad I found it!!


I also added to my Washington collection, “His Excellency, George Washington”.  Halfway through it and putting “The Return Of…” on my nightstand to be continued after I finish “The Return of…”  I know. I can’t help myself BUT…here’s my logic. Or whatever. “The Return of” hits the years between the Revolutionary War and the Presidency.  “His Excellency” is a broad overview, biographically speaking, of his entire life. So I want to get the general idea and then focus on those in between years.  More on that later… I’ve also received “The Bulletproof George Washington” by David Barton and “Being George Washington” by Glen Beck.  So many books, so little time!!!!

However…I must get in gear to teach a cake decorating class.  I haven’t taught one in quite a while and am a bit rusty.  So tomorrow, I’ll spend the day gathering supplies, whipping up buttercream, baking a cake for demo purposes and getting a lesson plan finalized.  Right after I read this next chapter, “Reeling in the West” where we find Washington headed to The Frontier aka western Virginia!!!!

 

 

Posted in books | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Remember when I was going through the OLD STUFF?

It all started a couple of weeks ago.  I needed an outlet.  Something constructive but not time-consuming. Life was getting me down, down, down.  Well, actually it was the nastiness of political stuff.  But that ain’t going away, so….

I started going through boxes and boxes of ….STUFF.

I found THE most amazing STUFF!

My second grade portrait of my All Time Favorite Teacher?

Math papers from 7th grade that wasn’t failing!!!  (Yes, I am still bad at math)

Birthday party invitations from the 4th grade.  And the 3rd grade. And the 8th grade.

Party napkins from every wedding, baby shower I ever attended and also every birthday party and graduation party. Sigh.  I’m not kidding even a little bit.

On top of all that…was my husband’s box of grade school-college STUFF!

And our three sons’ STUFF.

Then came the tons of photos.

BUT…in the middle of all that STUFF, I found really, really old valentines. That were sent to Big Boss, his mom, a lady his mom took care of, me, our sons…

Getting the picture?  I love old STUFF and naturally assume that everybody loves OLD stuff.  So I’m sharing!  Aren’t you glad?

Here goes…I backed them with 8×8 scrapbooking papers to make them pop and am considering recycling them for grands’ valentines this year??

First, a World War II era card sent to my mother-in-law…

valentine-military Then a cute Indian Valentine sent to her… valentine-indian Next, another WWII era valentine to Granny aka MiL… valentine-airplane

And, a hinged card (and the oldest), to Pearl, the lady who Granny watched over.  She was teacher and I have a sack full of these!  I know. How lucky can one hoarder get?!!

valentine1

Posted in Antiques, Art, Boomers' Corner | Tagged , , | 4 Comments