Thursday, September 29, 2011

# 3 Hide and Seek

The Top 10 Funniest/Best Memories of My 50 years...

# 3 Hide and Seek

This story was written over 10 years ago and many of my friends have already read it, but it's still a good story for any who haven't heard it before.  It centers around my youngest daughter, B, when she was about 8 years old, give or take.  It may be a bit of an understatement to say that she is a selective eater.  (How PC does that sound?  Aren't we all glad I didn't say that she was a picky eater?  Don't we all feel better?  I thought so.)  When she was much younger we would kid her by saying she only ate white foods - mashed potatoes, ice cream, milk, ramen noodles, pasta, etc.  We don't say it very often any more, but we did when she was little.  She loved it.  Well...ok...maybe "love" is a bit of an overstatement...but only a bit...I promise. 

So without further ado...I give you the Hide and Seek story aka B likes Oreos...

B likes Oreos.  Yes, I know, she's a white food eater, and Oreos are black and white, but what can I say? She ventures out every so often.  And Oreos are a firmly, placed "like" in the "not-so-white" food column.

Knowing this, her Grandma N gave her a bag of Oreos and a pottery-like, Oreo cookie jar as one of her Christmas presents one year.  This jar is shaped like an old-fashioned milk can that they used to use on dairy farms decades ago.  It has the Oreo logo on the outside, and the lid is shaped like an Oreo. 

After she'd eaten a few Oreos, I placed the rest in the jar and took the jar to her room, placing it on one of the lower shelves.

She never noticed it.

Until one weekend a few weeks later.  At which point, she decided that she didn't want the cookie jar in her room, so she walked it into the kitchen with the announcement that it belonged there.  "I don't want a cookie jar in my room!"

"But it's your cookie jar," I said.  "Grandma gave it to you, not us."

"I don't care," she said.  And walked out, thinking that the question was closed.

It wasn't.  On a lark, when she wasn't around, I walked the jar back into her room, and put it on that same shelf.  A day or so later, she saw it, and walked it back into the kitchen.  This went on a couple of times back and forth, each of us walking it into the opposite room when the other wasn't looking to see how long it would take for the other one to notice.  And each one would laugh when they found it back in the "wrong" room!

Then one night, I come home from work to find the cookie jar in the kitchen again.

"And don't move it back into my room!" B exclaimed.

"Oh, I will.  Only this time, I’ll put it in a different place. I’ll hide it, so you can't find it," I told her.

"You better not!" she again exclaimed.

I left the cookie jar in the kitchen that night.  The next morning I was putting school lunches together, and got ready to pack a couple of Oreos into B's lunch.  Lo, and behold, the cookie jar wasn't in the kitchen! 

I looked on the shelf in B’s room where I had been putting it, and it wasn't there either.  Was I wrong?  Was it in the kitchen and I missed it the first time?  Nope, it wasn't there.  So I went and asked my son, D, if he had decided that he wanted the Oreo cookie jar for himself.

Um, yeah, suffice it to say that he looked at me like I had lost all my marbles.

And that's when I heard it.  A little "tee-hee" coming from the back bedroom.  B’s room.

"You didn't!" I said.  "Did you hide the cookie jar on me?"

More laughter.  That sneaky, "tiny-little-woman," as she likes to call herself.  Well, I showed her.  She got vanilla wafers in her lunch!

But I couldn't find it.  I looked in my room.  I looked inside cabinets.  I looked in the pantry.  I couldn't find it.  I even looked in the basement.  No cookie jar.  And the whole time that I am looking, I’m thinking...

"I’m playing hide and seek with a girl who is legally blind.  AND SHE'S WINNING."

Epilogue...I did find it eventually.  Here is proof that I found it...
And every once in a while I (not so much we) play this game again.  Just for old times' sake...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

# 4 - I'm looking for my niece

The Top 10 Funniest/Best Memories of My 50 years...

# 4 I'm looking for my niece...

The year was 2003. 
The look was pink.

Pink doesn't happen by accident.  It is intentional.  And you don't just add pink to your natural color.  You dye your hair white first before the pink is added.  It's a process.  It represents commitment.  As far as pink hair goes, the beautician did a great job, and my girl pulled it off well.

This post is NOT about me thinking that S's pink hair was a funniest moment.  I promise you that.

But the pink hair is a vital part of this story.  And believe it or not, this may officially be a DD, but it's short!

We were all in Salt Lake City for my niece's graduation.  It was our first family vacation in I don't know how long.  We'd done the touristy things, and we'd hiked in the Wasatch canyons surrounding Salt Lake.  We'd formed snow balls in June.  And we were there to watch L graduate from high school. 

L's graduation took place in a large auditorium near downtown Salt Lake.  As is often the case after larger graduations, scores of people pour out of the building.  My brother-in-law, G, had gone to find L while the rest of us all headed outside to wait for the two of them.  G is rather tall - one of those folks that can scan over the top of a crowd to find people.  (I have no idea what that is like but it sounds amazing!)

Anyway it was a large crowd, so he is scanning when he says to a nearby lady, "I'm looking for my niece."  

"Does she have pink hair?" responds this lady without G providing any sort of description of S.

"Why, yes, she does!" replies G with surprise.

"She's over there," and points directly to where we are waiting.

I just love that story!  It makes me smile every time I think of it!   



Monday, September 26, 2011

# 5 - Every tat has a story

The Top 10 Funniest/Best Memories of My 50 years...

# 5 Every tat has a story...

I'm old enough to remember when tattoos were only seen on old sailors.  Does anybody else remember those days?  When I was little, tattoos weren't really thought of as body art but more like drunken sailor mistakes.  Or am I just repeating what my father thought?  Hmmm...

Anyway somewhere long about the 80's - the decade when I was having babies - tattoos became main stream hip - body art, something the cool kids all had.  I'm not a cool kid.  This isn't a post about my secret trip to Iron Age late one night to get some ink that noone has ever seen.

A good friend once said that tattoos are guaranteed until 6 months after death.  And have I mentioned that I'm almost 50?  I have images of tattoos on sagging skin when I'm being wiped down by the employees of whatever nursing home my children choose for me.  All of those things are part of why getting ink is not one of the things on my bucket list.  I'm not actually anti-tattoo, you understand.  I just don't feel the need to be a cool kid with a tat.

No, this post is really more about the fact that every tat has a story.  The story may be good - like my son's tattoo, intentionally chosen as a symbol of his faith - his ancient faith - boldly displayed on his forearm for all to see.  The story may be bad - like when people ink a person's name but it's spelled wrong or that person then leaves them by choice.  I don't remember knowing anyone personally with that particular story, but we all know that there are multiple websites devoted to ugly and bad tattoos, so those stories are numerous and I cannot add anything to them.

But I can tell you my two favorite tattoo stories.  Anyone who knows me well can stop reading now, cause they've heard me repeat these stories multiple times - like old people are often accused of doing.  But they are at least short!

The first one came from a couple of good friends.  Their daughter had a rose tattooed on her upper breast when she was in her 20's.  You know - that glorious time in a woman's life when things are firm and perky and gravity is only a subject for science class.  While I've never seen this tattoo, my friends tell me that as time has moved on, the rose has changed somewhat...becoming more of a long-stemmed rose. 

I just love that story!

The other one is closer to home.  Here is a pic of this tattoo on my daughter.  S has 3 others, and they each have a story for her, but it's only this one that is one of my two favorite tattoo stories.
It is an African symbol for faith and grace.  It has an official name, but I can't ever remember it.  Let's just call it Abungu.  It's a good solid African name!  Anyway when S got this tattoo, it was at a time when she was a nanny for an adorable two-year old boy that we'll call Jake.  Jake loved S, and S loved Jake.  I still miss Jake stories.  When she showed up at his house the next day he saw her new tattoo and immediately said "Chwistmas twee!"  S did her best to correct him and tell him that it was Abungu, but he didn't believe her.  Can you imagine?  When his mama came home, he enjoyed telling his mommy about "S's Chwistmas twee on S!"  I just love that!  Two-year olds are awesome!!! 

What's your tattoo story?  I enjoy collecting stories.  Who knows, maybe your tat story will become one of my new two favorite tat stories!  Happy tatting!!!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

# 6 - I now pronounce you...

The Top 10 Funniest/Best Memories of My 50 years...

# 6 I now pronounce you....

Marriage.  It's a wonderful thing.  I really mean that.  That isn't sarcasm.  I have observed some wonderful marriages.  Take my sister and her husband, for example.  They have been married since 1969 (I was their flower girl!) and despite significant difficulties during those 42 years since, including grief, multiple moves and lots of long hours and hard work, they are still in love.  Truly.  They still like each other.  A lot even.  Like it still surprises me how often they talk on the phone when they are apart.  Cause they want to, not cause they are supposed to or have to.

Or take my good friends, J&B.  He is the pharmacist I made the cake for a few weeks ago.  They've been married 55 years, raised 4 kids, kept track of many more grandkids (some of whom now have spouses of their own) which tends to bring about great grandkids, and have had their fair share of hardships, because life happens.  But he still looks at her with love and tenderness and joy in his eyes every time I see them together.  Like he is thinking, "I am the most blessed man in the world, for this woman is my bride." 

I know - I hear ya.  It's just crazy talk.  But it's all true.

And couples like this inspire me.  Perhaps an old divorced person like me can learn a thing or two - or 47 - from observing and talking to couples like this if the opportunity ever presents itself for me someday.

Which is not to say that I'm not married today.  For I am.  It's true.  The romance leaves something to be desired - ok, a lot to be desired.  But I do reap some benefits, even so. 

My engagement ring, you ask?  Oh, it's lovely.  It "sparkles" with little blue and turquoise lights, telling me of its happiness.  It can spell "facets" perfectly with my help.  It doesn't exactly fit on one finger so much, but it is still quite portable.  I take it with me almost everywhere I go.  And it's been replaced a couple of times in the last 4 years.  Mac lovers and evangelists would say this is because I'm running Windows.  For you see, my engagement ring is a work-issued laptop.  I received it in the Fall of 2007 ready to move to my current job on the SAP project/support team.  You don't need to know any further details at this point; suffice it to say that I make my living as a geek.  (And just for the record, I could have told quite a few stories from that project time in these Top 10 Funniest moments, but they had to be scratched, for they would have fit in that category of "potentially too embarassing or damaging to others to publish."  I would have had to change the names...er...initials of many people to protect the innocent and all that.) 

But back to our story.  My husband has issued many engagement rings to people.  My daughter is engaged to my husband as well, for she works for the same company.  And works off hours or while on the road at times - hence, the need for a laptop. 

But she isn't married to my husband.  No, there is another group of us who share this husband.  We all have a wedding ring, too.  While many of the engagement rings look very similar the wedding rings vary widely in style and color.  These wedding rings can do way much more than the mere engagement rings.  They are far more portable, albeit they still don't fit on one finger, but could be balanced on one finger.  At least it can be on my pointer finger, but my ring finger is a little too weak to balance it well.  Its sparkle comes from a touch screen that takes me to email (Outlook, Yahoo and Gmail), Facebook, a camera, a picture gallery, books, a bubble level,(which I don't use on cakes!) an egg timer, a dictionary, music, news and weather, games and - get this - even a phone directory!  For you see, it even makes phone calls and sends texts. 

Yep, my wedding ring is my work-issued phone, so that I can be reached 24/7. 

While my husband issued it to me rather unceremoniously - no wedding, no reception, not even a "you may now kiss the bride" - my former departement coworkers knew how much this moment meant to me, knew how sentimental I am, so they arranged a full-up St. Louis wedding reception for me during my last week in that department.  If you're not from St. Louis, then you may not know what we mean by this phrase, but it isn't a true St. Louis reception unless there's mostaccioli, fried chicken, italian salad and wedding cake.

And that is exactly what they did!  It was truly a wonderful, fun surprise for me.  They called me into the lunch room and surprised me with this reception.  It was so cool and so fun.  So story # 6 counts as a best moment in my 50 years....

...uh...but it also counts as a funniest...for the wedding cake has its own separate story.  Because I've made so many cakes and brought them into work - even a little tiered wedding cake one time for a couple who both worked for this company at the time and had eloped in Las Vegas - they knew that they had to make me a good, respectable wedding cake for this auspicious occasion.  My then boss and good friend, P, was put in charge of the cake.

She had visions of a 2-layer, 6" square cake stacked on top of a 2-layer, 9" square cake.  How hard could this be, right?  She had a couple of 9" square cake pans, so this should be a snap.  Just trim a few inches off of the sides of two of the layers, and you've got yourself two 6" cakes, ready to frost and stack.  This should be easy enough.  It may not have all of the curly-cues and fancy schmancy flowers and do-dads on it like a Deb cake, but it would be close.  It couldn't be that hard.

So after work, the night before the reception, P stops off at the grocery store for the ingredients.  She sees all of the boxes of cake mix, complete with pictures of frosted cakes on them.  You know the picture I'm talking about.  They all have that same slice of a two-layer cake with frosting between and on the top and sides.  So it seems only logical to think that the box of cake mix includes frosting, too, right?  Absolutely.

Ok, so maybe not, once P opens the boxes of cake mix.  Oh well, she'll "think about that later."  (Extra points given for naming the movie reference for that line.)  But let's get these cakes in the oven.  And out of the oven - only to discover when taking two of the layers out of the pan that they aren't quite baked in the center.  Ok, that shouldn't matter.  These two layers will just be part of the 6" tier.

Fast forward to the next morning.  P has meetings most of the morning, and cakes are still not frosted, much less cut or stacked.  She dashes into a store and picks up 2 tubs of icing.  On her way into the office, she calls one of our coworkers in on the plan and says to go get another one and both of them meet her in a conference room.  J and K are at the ready when P arrives.  She hands off the cakes and icing to them and asks them to finish it off.  It's hard to say whether she communicated her full vision to them of 6" on top of 9" or not, for that isn't exactly the result that came from all of this rush of activity, but J and K spread those two tubs of icing as far as they could across those 4 layers. 

But not to worry.  P had a gift bag at the ready with a beautifully decorated, tiered wedding cake on both sides to set up next to the real cake.  I looked for that bag this morning in my collection of gifts bags to take a pic of it to post here, but to no avail.  It's hard for me to believe that I used that bag to house an actual wedding gift to give away since it was a big bag, and I'm just not that extravagant when it comes to giving wedding gifts, but maybe P took it back home?  Anyway the point is, THAT is what the cake looked like.  By the time J and K were done with those 4 layers and 2 tubs of icing, it looked just like that picture on the gift bag.  Minus the curly-cues and fancy schmancy flowers and do-dads.  Or the difference in sizes between the tiers.  Or the lots of icing.  But otherwise, it was the same.  Just the same.  Almost the same.  Really.  I promise. 

And it's like I told S&K before they got married.  No matter what else happens at the reception or to the cakes, in spite of all of the plans and preparation, in the end you both get married.  As long as you hear the words "I now pronounce you husband and wife" that's the whole point.

And I definitely heard those words.  And I like to believe I've been a faithful spouse.  For even as I type these words, while laying on the loveseat, my wedding ring is resting quietly on my chest, ready to alert me to anything requiring my attention.  And if that isn't love, I don't know what is.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

# 7 - Where are the cake scraps?

The Top 10 Funniest/Best Memories of My 50 years...

# 7 Where are the cake scraps?

This moment didn't really include me when it occured.  At least not in person.  Only by inference.

My daughter, S, was away at college across the state and working.  It was the end of the school year, but she was staying nearby school for her job.  Her birthday is in May, and she was staying with a friend's family on that day.  S didn't know it, but the family had baked her a little birthday cake that afternoon to have with dinner.

She walked into the kitchen ready for supper that night, and they were excited about the cake that they had baked as a surprise for her birthday.

S thanks them and then wthout even thinking, she asks, "Where are the cake scraps?"

"The what?"  Apparently looking at her like she had 3 heads...cause remember, I wasn't there, at least not in person.

You know about cake scraps.  Right?  You don't?  Then maybe you can understand this family's response.

"You know, the cake scraps," S asks once more, thinking that they just haven't understood what she said. 

Again, "the what?"  Their use of the English language is broader than only these 2 words.  It's just a function of their confusion at the moment.

"You know, the part of the cake you cut off so it's level across the top," S innocently answers them.

Let me explain.  Here is a layer of cake as it comes from the pan.  Note the dome...

Now here are two views of that same layer of cake after the "cake scraps" have been removed and set aside in a plate nearby for kids to come along and enjoy. 



The scraps are the best part of the cake in B's opinion.  In fact she may not even bother to eat the "real" cake, only the scraps.

And now back to our story...

"We don't cut off the top of the cake.  We've never heard of that," and with that they show her the frosted cake, which - if you have guessed where this story is going - wasn't so much level.

Or up to the appearances that she was used to.  I'm sure she did a great job of not looking disappointed, and I know that she was genuinely appreciative but S became instantly aware that not all families do cakes the same.

Or level.

Like the cakes S had grown up with all her life.  Because if you're going to write on a cake and decorate it, much less stack it with other cakes, it must be level.  And because a level cake looks more finished.  And because "presentation matters" since people eat with their eyes first.

Try not to blame S.  The fault is all mine.  See, my name is Deb, and I raised cake snobs.  I've been looking for a 12-step group for this particular "disease" for a long time now.

Of course the first step to getting help is recognizing that you have a problem.  And I'm still in denial.  I even perpetuate the madness and encourage others to be snobs.  Like K.  He started out saying things like, "We Lemay folks are happy with our humpy cakes."  And now he says things like, "There were 2 cakes brought in to work today.  The chocolate wasn't that good, but the lemon was really worth eating!" 

Or like W.  Those pics above came from her house today, because we did Cake Decorating 101 - and created quite the respectable plate of cake scraps.  I was so proud.

"Hello, my name is Deb, and I raised cake snobs."  I'm practicing in case I ever find the right group. 


Thursday, September 22, 2011

# 8 - Squirrel!

#8 of the Top 10 Funniest/Best Memories of My 50 Years - Squirrel!

If two certain individuals are reading this post, they have probably already started to smile, for they are the two lovely ladies who have kept this story alive.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I like to hike.  I like to walk, but I'm not a power walker much less a runner or jogger. Oh occasionally I get a spurt of sprint energy, but on the whole I like to walk for the sake of catching up with friends or releasing tension and stress.  I enjoy the fact that it counts as "exercise," but for those who are walking to gain speed or long-term endurance, I'm probably not your gal.  And I'm definitely not a treadmill sort of gal.  I need visual stimulation.  Which is part of why I really like to hike - that sense of taking a walk to see what there is to see - wild flowers, birds, trees, animals, water, rocks and the like.  I'm not a genius like my friend, Father Time, or my friend, "James" Bond Sr. (not to be confused with 007), at naming all of these wonderful things - and correctly to boot! - but that doesn't keep me from enjoying them.  If the hike can be with good friends and take us past water running over rocks or include rocks for climbing and exploring or cute animals to see, so much the better.

Well this was a lovely early summer Sunday afternoon - still felt a little more like spring- partly sunny, partly cloudy - in general a nice day for a hike with friends.  My friends knew of a place relatively close by where we could hike.  I was never one to know where "those places" were, but these folks were always in the loop on that scoop.  There were 5 of us plus 1 dog, if I remember right.  I'm sure about the 5 people - it's the dog that I'm a bit foggy on.  Was Shayne (the dog) with us?  I think so, but my friend, M, would remember for sure.  Someday I want to go to Austria with M and sing all of the songs from Sound of Music with her.  We would rock Salzburg.  Oh yea...

Anyway, as is often the case, pretty soon the guys (and the dog, if she was there) were ahead of us, and we girls were taking our sweet time.  There's no need to rush through a good hike, after all.  It was a Sunday afternoon, which means time for relaxing.  Besides we were enjoying seeing what there was to see.

Like a cute squirrel that we saw "sitting" at the top of a tree trunk that had been topped about 20 feet up by a strong wind at one time.  He (or she) was perched at the top in a rather odd, but cute angle.  At a glance, it looked to me like a squirrel who had been playing and stopped to rest for a moment.  We walked past rather quickly, but I made a casual mention of seeing the squirrel at the top of this tree trunk and thinking that he (or she) looked funny.

We kept walking and talking and making fun of the guys in front of us.  We got nice and caught up as only gals can.  After a while we had looped back to this same spot with the topped tree trunk.  And sure enough that squirrel is still there.

However this time we look a bit closer.  And yea...he (or she) hasn't moved.  Not even a bit.  And we've been out hiking for well over an hour. 

Can you tell where this is going?

Um...yea...we came to the conclusion that this squirrel was dead.  As in apparently punctured by one the sharp points where the wind had ripped off the tree top without regard for smoothing the edges, which wind can be want to do from time to time.  Or picked up by an owl or a hawk or an eagle and dropped again.

Which means that I thought a dead squirrel was funny.  (Please don't report me to PETA.  Let's keep this secret just between us, ok?)

And, of course, it follows that my two friends break out into song because that's just how these 2 gals roll. 

"Debbie thinks a dead squirrel is funny!  Debbie thinks a dead squirrel is funny!'  It sort of goes like that for a while before resolving with a bridge and a final "Debbie thinks a dead....squirrel....is...fu----nnyyyyyyyy!" 

The CD will be out soon.  It's a little hard to pin down the genre, but some might call it alternative.  Look for it on itunes soon.  It's the next big thing.  I promise.

Debbie thinks a dead squirrel is funny...la-la-la-la-la...

# 8 - Cause I am one observant nature type chicka.  You know it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

# 9 - Here Comes the Baby Land Punkin' Rose

This is the one.  This is the one that will either make my kids cringe or melt their hearts.  # 9 on the Top 10 Funniest/Best Moments of My 50 Years - Here Comes the Baby Land Punkin' Rose.  I decided to post it now, so everyone will forget about it by the time we get to my birthday in a few weeks.

See if my kids read this, they will know immediately that this isn't really the right title.  The right title would be too long to count as a title.  This is an abbreviated version of the title.  In case you can't tell, this memory is all about when my kids were little - little enough that we had regular bedtime routines that included bedtime stories and songs.  So this isn't so much a funny memory but a best memory.  And it's not a specific moment but more a collection of moments.

We would read books for bedtime each night - classics like Good Night Moon, gentle books like Harold and the Purple Crayon, silly books like I Hate Lima Beans, "educational" books like Sesame Street's series with titles I don't even remember.  I remember doing the voices of The Count and Grover and Oscar the Grouch and even Snuffleupagus (yes, that spelling is correct!), but I never did a good Big Bird for some reason.

After books, I'd sing lullabies.  Each of my kids had their favorite lullaby for bedtime.  My oldest would rest easier after hearing the song "Here Comes the Sandman."  You may not have ever heard of it.  I haven't ever known anyone outside of my own family who knew the song, but it was one my mother sang to me, so I sang it to my children.  Here is a view of the sheet music that has been around over 100 years.  But we never sang the 2nd verse.  I didn't even know that there was a 2nd verse until just a year or so ago when I found this link!
http://www.gruntle.com/lotus/sites/staging.gruntle.com/filebrowser/files/sandman.pdf

Keep in mind that this was when my son, S, was a little guy - only about 5 or so when this routine was still going on.  He may be all cool and hip and grown up these days, but there was a time when he was a little guy who enjoyed the sound of his mama's voice singing him to sleep.

My daughter, S, the new bride, would know that her day was coming to an end if she heard the song, "How Many Miles to Baby Land?"  It may be another one you're unfamiliar with since again I haven't heard it sung outside of our family.  Such is the nature of lullabies, I suppose, with the exception of a few.  My mother never liked to sing the more popular Top 40 Rock-a-Bye-Baby one to us.  Or if she did, she'd change the words so the baby didn't fall out of the tree.  Babies aren't supposed to fall out of trees, with bows breaking and cradles falling to the ground!  We were also never big on the Hush Little Baby one.  I always got the mockingbird mixed up with the looking glass mixed up with the billy goat on that one, too.  I needed songs that sort of told a story like the Sandman one above or the Baby Land one.  I could keep track of how the verses built on each other, even at the end of a long day of mothering young children.  You can hear it by clicking on this link - well you can hear the tune anyway that you can hopefully match up with the words...
http://www.kididdles.com/lyrics/h058.html

Now, while both of these were favorites of my first two, my next child, my son, D?  Yea...he HATED both of those songs.  His hatred for the baby land song was only exceeded by his hatred of the sandman one.  How do I know that he hated both of these?  He would scream.  Yes, that's right.  He would cry and wail and carry on like we were torturing him to listen to such horrible songs!  His favorite was "Go To Sleep Now My Pumpkin" that I always sang as "punkin'".  I can't find the music or even exactly the right lyrics for this one, but this link is close.  Maybe D liked the idea of turning into a rose as he went to sleep each night...
http://www.rainbowsongs.com/lyrics-database/go-to-sleep-now-my-pumpkin.html

As for my youngest, her song wasn't really so much of a lullaby, but a version of the "Where is Thumpkin" song - one that she learned at Delta Gamma where she went for vision therapy until she was 3 years old.  I remember times when we'd be in the van, driving the older kids between various activities, and she would be upset in her car seat, but if we sang this song to her, she'd calm down.  In fact, by the time she was only about 6 months old, she was singing it to herself.  You may find that hard to believe.  I couldn't even believe it myself when I first heard it.  But she was singing - tune and words.  She wasn't talking, but she was singing.  My mother used to tell me that my sister, J, could sing before she could talk - singing "Jesus Loves Me" before she could talk.  I didn't understand that whenever she told me...so God gave me B.  And now I get it.

This is getting to be a really extra long DD, so I'll stop.  I hope I haven't embarassed my kiddos - my now all adult "kids" - too much by sharing special memories from their young childhood. 

Because these are all moments that I cherish and hold dear.  Priceless.  I wouldn't trade them for anything.  And they are all part of celebrating 50 years of me living on this planet.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

# 10 - I like the word...

The Top 10 Funniest/Best Memories of My 50 years on this planet...

# 10 I like the word...

We'll get to the end of that phrase shortly.  But first the Deb Disclaimer.  These aren't necessarily the 10 absolute funniest memories of my 50 years.  And I decided to take out the Twilight Zone weird funny memories to save for another time. 

Therefore I changed the title to the Top 10 Funniest/Best Memories of My 50 years to include one memory that my kids will either cringe at when they read it or their hearts will melt. 

This means that:
a) Deb hasn't had a very funny life.
b) Deb has too many memories that are funny but that may embarrass others.
c) Deb is sappy and wants to include memories that aren't funny ha-ha but make her smile.
d) Deb's best memories involve her own children.
e) all of the above.
f) B, C and D.

So far the Top 10 Things I've Learned in My 50 Years hasn't changed.  But this is me.  Anything's possible.  As I said at the beginning of this blog, I'm learning this whole blog world, and this isn't an English paper that I am turning in for a grade.

So on to # 10.  This story is fairly recent and involves my friend, P, my daughter, S, and my new son-in-law, K, only before he was my son-in-law.

We had gone to a movie.  If I remember right we had gone to see the Adam Sandler movie "Grown Ups."  P had fixed the popcorn.  Which, if you've never had P's movie popcorn, you need to invite her to go to a movie with you one time just for the popcorn.  The woman has a gift with popcorn - that is if you like to eat really good popcorn with lots of "butter" and salt.  If you are one of those health nuts who eats your popcorn bald and bland, well, don't bother wasting a good movie theater popcorn trip with P on yourself.  Save them for those of us who appreciate good popcorn.  I think, but I'm not sure, that P was whisked out to Niagra to join S&K for one night on their honeymoon just to fix the movie theater popcorn.  It's that good.

The movie hadn't started.  We hadn't even gotten to previews yet.  I, for one, love previews, by the way.  I am one of those who hates to get to a movie late and miss the previews.  I'm silly that way.  Anway, we are snacking (read: scarfing) on P's yummy movie theater popcorn and somehow we start talking about words.  We often start to talk about words.  It's a hazard of being word geeks.  I say "we" but it was really only us chicks - P, S and myself.  Only not in that order.  It was P, then me, then S and then K.  But us girls get to saying that we like the word "rogue" - that it's one of those words that sounds like what it means.  It was probably prompted by something we saw on the screen that is the previews' previews - those ads and stills that they now show on the screen between movies.  And maybe it was the popcorn, or maybe it was just how cool and hip and funny we girls are, but we are feeling pretty hip in our assessment about how great the word "rogue" is.

And if I recall right, K, is sitting on the end, eating his popcorn pile and texting on his phone with his military / train / car buddies.  We think that this is another one of those moments when girls believe guys aren't paying any attention.  You know what I'm talking about.  We do it all the time - because often times they aren't listening.  They are too busy texting on their phones with their military / train / car / sports buddies, right?

Well, ladies, we were wrong this time.  K was listening.  Unbeknownst to us, K was getting ready to join the conversation.

"I like the word 'bookkeeper,'" says K. 

Now maybe you had to be there, maybe you needed to have just been enjoying P's Nirvana movie theater popcorn, but we cracked up over his statement!

But being the Random K that he is; he is totally serious.  He really likes the word "bookkeeper." 

"Double O, double K, double E, all in a row."  Which made us laugh even more.  But ya gotta respect a guy who recognizes his triple double letters.  Random or no.

And now, I like the word "bookkeeper," too. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I feel rich when...

...I have herbs growing in my garden.  I feel rich every time I step outside to cut some rosemary or basil or sage to use in cooking.  The possibilities!  Almost endless!

...I get to share those herbs with young children.  The first Sunday that our little flower girl was in town, she and I spent some time exploring the herb garden...naming them and cutting them and scratching them to release the oils and smelling them.  Lots of smelling them.  And cutting.  Lots and lots of cutting.

...I have bread dough rising on the counter.  If that "bread" dough happens to be croissant dough resting in the fridge, I'm a king!  Er...well...queen.

...I have ideas of things I want to create AND everything I need to make them become a reality.

...I have ideas of things I want to create and a plan for a time to do them.  Such as the cake that I'm making for a Kaizan event at work next week.  Or the toasted raviolis the sisters plan to make.  Or even the cake decorating lesson planned with one of the sisters.  Ok, well, she really just wants to learn how to frost a cake without crumbs, but that's like Cake Decorating 101, so it counts in my book.

...I have homemade toffee and/or peanut brittle on hand.  Which I don't today, and it's too cloudy today to change that situation, but I do have a few store bought toffee bits on hand - which is totally not the same, but I have snacked the occasional handful from time to time over the last few days.  Confession - it's good for the soul.

...I have memories and I'm concious of them.  Which I am today.  See, I have this birthday coming up.  It's one of them milestone birthdays.  As in The. Big. 5. 0. 

That's right.  Fiddy.  Fiddy.  Fifty years.  If you were able to read the inscription on the Something Old spoon for S a couple posts back, you would see that I was born in 1961. 

1961. 

Just look at that number.  It even looks old.  As in "you know you're old when you are on a website that is asking for your birthdate, and you have to scroll DOWN in the list of years that pops up to find yours."

But I digress.  This post is about feeling rich.  And being aware of good memories is definitely akin to riches.

I am working on two new blog post series in preparation for said birthday coming up.  I love me a good Top 10 list every now and again.  And I will be posting two such lists:
  • The Top 10 Things I've Learned From My 50 Years on This Planet
  • The Top 10 Funniest Memories From My 50 Years on This Planet
The Top 10 Things I've Learned may remind some people of the book All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten but it really isn't.

And the Top 10 Funniest Memories may not actually be the very funniest of my whole life, but I want to only share the ones that hopefully don't embarass anyone.  And there's also a Deb Disclaimer that comes along with this one:  sometimes funny does not mean funny hah-hah but can mean funny bizarre - like sometimes I look for the camera wondering if I'm part of a Twilight Zone episode. 

Both of those lists should start in the next few days, since we are now 27 days away....

There is one other thing that I plan to post about between now and then.  I have said for years that I would be launching the bucket list with this birthday.  Stay tuned...

So to close, I feel rich when I remember to appreciate.  Simple things, like herbs and bread and ideas and memories.  And yes, even birthdays.  For therein is a celebration of life.  And that's rich.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

At least 9 wonderful people

First off, I seem to be in love with the word "wonderful" of late.  I have over-used it in the last few posts.  I can't quite explain this affection for the word, but I can either embrace it and continue to over-use it to the point of causing you, the reader, to vomit in your mouth every time your eyes skip over it or I can change and commit to not using it at all for the next 5 posts.  Yes, that's what I'll do.

Wonderful.  That's decided. 

I mentioned a few days ago about some people that allowed me to spend a few special moments with my daughter, the bride, right before the wedding - being just that, her mother, but in a good way.  Helping her with her dress and her accessories and taking pictures of her.  I'd like to tell you about these people. 

These wonderful people.

I'll begin with family members who helped make this gift possible.  Both of my sons strung white Christmas lights on the railings at the Transportation museum that line the platforms.  My oldest son's girlfriend, A, also helped with this task (and I'm including her here because we already think of her as family!)  This may not sound like much, but we're talking 4 railings, each about 50 feet long, plus we asked for black tulle to lay over the lights.  The net effect (ooo, did you catch the pun?  tulle...net...get it?!) was to draw the upper portions of the platform where the bar and the cakes were to the lower portions of the platform where the buffet was set up and the wedding took place.  I wish I had a picture of how this looked, but alas, I forgot to do that.  I was just plain too busy smiling at the lights every time I walked by. 

Then came my sister, J, and her husband, G.  J&G live in Indiana and drove over for the wedding.  And I had the audacity to put them both to work just about immediately!  And they did it!  Joyfully even!  Setting up the table for the programs, settings up the altar, fighting against the wind with the foamboard picture of S&K where the escort cards were attached using glue dots, eventually having to attach it with zip ties pursuant to the genius idea of another person that I'll get to later. 

Now I'll move to the friends.  My friend, C, a different C than helped with the cakes, came over and sat at the house, letting P and C in to pick things up and drive them to the wedding site.  C will tell you that she has to plan her spontaneity, and I didn't give her much notice when I asked her to do this, but she did it anyway.  She even found a couple of things I forgot to set out for P to pick up plus called me with updates since she knew I'd be wondering about what was happening back at the house! 

I've talked about C with the cakes before, but I can't say enough how much she did to make these cakes a success.  Have you ever driven a cake across town?  Much less 4 cakes?  Have you ever driven a cake that is about 2 feet long across town?  It can be a nerve-racking experience, but C did it.  Successfully.  When I get upset with drivers who are "too slow" or "too cautious", I try to remind myself that they might be driving a cake somewhere...

Now I'll talk about P.  She has an SUV who a) cleaned it out so there would be room to take all of our stuff to the wedding; b) found every one of the things that I had on our list; c) picked up every one of those things and drove them across town; d) unloaded those things and set them up; e) came up with the genius idea to zip tie the foamboard pic to the easel AND magically poofed a glue gun out of thin air to glue said zip ties; f) cleaned herself up for the wedding; g) helped tear everything down; and h) drove it all back to our house on Sunday! 

Since I don't really have many pics for this post, I'll include a pic of P here, so you can see an example of the decorations, which leads to my next wonderful person.  (P is the 2nd one from the left.  Doesn't she clean up good?!  PS - she is single, too!)

I don't have any pics of the decorations, but this is a pretty good example.  See the table name sitting in the white box table name holder?  See the centerpiece?  See the placecards?  See the little favor box?  See the jewels hanging from the centerpiece?  See the white roses at the base of the centerpiece?  All of those are there because of our friend, J, and her team.  Pretty wonderful, right?

So that is 9 people.  9 people who made it possible for me to spend a few precious moments with my baby on her wedding day - a day like no other that will never be repeated again.  And this list of people is by no means exhaustive.  I could tell you about more who helped make this weekend work for us.  Like the lady in the pic above who is sitting to the left of P.  She came over and ran my kitchen for the post-wedding brunch on Sunday morning for the wedding party.  Or B, the maid of honor, who helped put together S's something old (my baby spoon that was hidden in S's bouquet)...
...and her something borrowed (an ankle bracelet given to her on her wedding day) and the real something blue (a turquoise ribbon from her wedding) plus S's fun something blue shown in the pic below.  I have told S for years that she should decorate her "Christmas tree" tattoo for the holidays every year, but for some reason she never does...Hmmm...I wonder why...
I've thought about making a list of the 10 top things I've learned as the MOTB, and while I haven't thought of all 10 of those things, I'm pretty certain that the # 1 thing I've learned as the MOTB is that I need friends.  And family.  And help. 

And I'm grateful that there are wonderful people who step up and give me the gifts of their time and talents and joy and help.  I am blessed. 
J'Deb

Monday, September 12, 2011

Getting back to "normal"

My heart is still so full from our wedding weekend.  I was off work again today for some MOTB recovery.  I did not get to use the spa treatment yet that my daughter has made available to me, but I'm sure I will indulge myself with that soon. 

But today has been evidence of getting back to life post wedding.  S&K are on their honeymoon in Niagra and have unplugged from the rest of the world for a few days.  She called to say that their hotel room has a wonderful view of the falls, which is just so wonderful.  Out of town guests have all arrived home safely, and my son, D, flew back to California this afternoon, so my daughter, B, has returned to take rightful ownership back of her room!  We returned the rental bridal back drop today.  And I've written most of my thank you notes, but not all, and done quite a bit of laundry.  I still haven't completely changed over and organized "Wedding Central" into "Post Wedding Central," but I'm sure that will come with time. 

So the house is quiet again.  After weeks of activities every night and checking off to-do lists, I'm thinking of to-done lists and remembering special people and special moments.  I'm remembering all of the time S and I spent working on creating the program fans and tying ribbons on them.  I'm thinking about how B came out of her shell some to help S with favor boxes and cake boxes and organizing the escort cards with the table names and the placecards.  I'm cherishing once-in-a-lifetime moments, working on centerpieces or making bows for the flower girl basket that we found for $3 at a Goodwill store.  I'm thinking about all of the meals we shared together in these last couple of weeks leading up to the wedding.  And I tear up - not because I want to take those moments all back and relive them, but because I'm so grateful that I had them.  I know that not everyone gets them.  But we did.  And I'm grateful. 

And speaking of tears, I will share a few of my special, emotional moments from the wedding itself.  I was fine all the way up to the point right before the wedding was set to begin.  All of the guests had arrived, and the wedding party was lined up, ready to go in.  I turned around to look, and that's when I see my daughter at the back of the line, waiting for her escort.  And it became so real to me, and she was so beautiful and strong and confident in that moment, I couldn't help but feel the tears come.

And then her escort leads her in - her older brother.  I don't want to deter from the beauty of these moments too much by going into our history, but suffice it to say, that my children's father has been out of their lives for well over 10 years.  But that has not stopped them from growing and maturing and laughing and LIVING and becoming all that God intends them to be.  And that was noticably true in this picture - oldest brother, walking his sister down the aisle and handing her off to her future.  How could I not be proud or shed a tear or two at the beauty and redemption of it all?

The only other time I got emotional was during the vows.  Most of the time K, was joking, probably to keep himself from crying.  In fact, I have titled this pic, "Do you take this woman?"  He made quite the show of looking S up and down, appraising whether he would indeed take her to be his wife or not...I am so glad one of our friends caught that very moment on film.

Now that I've shed more tears just writing this down, I should probably stop before I get a full-blown tears headache!  Thanks for reading, and I hope you've enjoyed hearing a bit more about our wedding adventure together.  Most of all I hope you are grateful for the moments of love and tears and laughter in your own lives.  God bless, J'Deb 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Such a special day!

For those of you who've been watching the progress on the cakes, you'll know that I'm talking about my daughter, S's, wedding day yesterday.  I was more nervous for her wedding day than my own, and I'm starting to think that is normal for the MOTB.  But everyone and everything came together and just worked!  It was truly a beautiful day all the way around.  I didn't get pictures of everything, but I will share what I have. 

Let's start with a couple of pics of my beautiful daughter and her beautiful dress.  I didn't get Bridal Gown 101 from the store, but thanks to some wonderful people that I will talk about more another day, I had the special privelege of helping her with her final dress preparations.  I kept having to take pictures of my lacing job from the back and showing them to her to see if I was doing it right.

 And I got it wrong at first.
The bow goes on the inside!  See how pretty it lays!
 
And here is my daughter all ready to go.  Can we say "beautiful" boys and girls?

I will post another day about her something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue or the wonderful people and beauty of the setup or even the moments that made me tear up. For now we'll just go straight to the cakes.  We'll begin with the wedding cake.  Here are the final pics of the cakes taken from my house, ready for C to pick up and transport to the wedding venue. 

And here it is all stacked up and ready for S & K and their guests to enjoy!
Now for K's Frisco 1522 cake.  Let's begin with some of the fondant prep activities.  I said something a couple of days ago about black luster spray being my new BFF.  Here's a shot of the fondant before BLS.  Notice how the fondant is still closer to gray than black?  Also notice the leftover powdered sugar traces even after I had brushed it off repeatedly? 

If I had caught a shot of the "steam cap" (that hat-looking piece from a few days ago) layed on top, you'd really see the contrast in color.  Now look at the BLS after.  Amazing, right?!!

I added some trims to lay the first sense of dimensions that it's a train and then it was ready for C to take on the task of transporting it to the Transportation Museum.


And now, here are some shots of the final cake with all of the side pieces and the top pieces in place, the working light, the working bell and yes, even some smoke coming from the chimney for a few minutes at the very beginning. 


 And here's a view of the entire cake luggage cart.
As one friend put it, a one of a kind cake.  And she's right.  It will never be built again - to be enjoyed but once and irrevocably, like fireworks.

It was a very special day.  And it was obvious that S&K had a wonderful time. 

Oh, and they ended up married....which I think was the whole point! 

Friday, September 9, 2011

1 day...

...or really T-minus 27:30...and counting!

I won't post much, and it seems wrong to post any pics of the cakes now, but I wanted to at least say a few things:

1 - the cakes are ready for transport!!!  I was giving myself until 2pm today to do all that I could on both cakes and trusting Providence and my friend, C, to take care of the rest.  Well, I was actually "done" 20 minutes early!  Woo-hoo!!!  I'm quite pleased with both cakes.  They aren't perfect - they were done by me, after all - but I like them overall.  I really hope S & K enjoy them!

2 - black luster spray is my new BFF.  When I show you pics of the before BLS and after BLS, you'll think it's your new BFF, too.  Trust me on this one.

3 - I still need Commando strips that hold 5 lbs.  Sitting here across from the picture that I still need to hang up (hopefully before I have a household full of guests the next 2 days!) reminded me.

4 - I need to run to Wal-Mart after the rehearsal dinner.  Does that fact make me a) a normal MOTB?  or b) a cheap MOTB?  or c) forgetful?  or d) all of the above?  Need to add Commando strips to that list...

5 - My sister and her hubby (J&G) are on their way from Bloomington for the wedding!!!  Woo-hoo!!!

I suppose I should go.  It's now T-minus 27:20, and I have to leave here in under 2 hours to head to the rehearsal.  By the way - "not" and "now" mean totally different things, but I get them typo-ed wrong all of the time and often end up giving a sentence a totally opposite meaning!  And that's not just a result of being the MOTB on the Wedding Eve!  (Does anyone else do that?)

Looking forward to posting pics of the finished cakes as well as my beautiful bride daughter and all of the beauty she and her wedding coordinator friend have planned!

J'Deb

Thursday, September 8, 2011

2 days...

...and 48 hours from now we will be dancing at the reception. 

It's just getting from here to there - from now to then - from planning to doing - from vision to execution - and keeping it all in perspective - keeping the main thing the main thing which is S&K get married.

The layers are thawed...
...and most are stacked and trimmed and crumb coated.   
I think I may be tired and not able to form really good thoughts, so I think I'll just post a few pics and let them do the talking for me.  I may not get to post again tomorrow since it'll be Wedding Eve, but I will do my best to post pics of the final finished cakes as well as the bride, the wedding, the reception over the next few days.  
Crumb coated base of wedding cake

Crumb coat before smoothing

Crumb coat after smoothing (see the difference?)

Wait - I have to say one thing before I close.  These are my 2 favorite fondant geniuses ever!  And may be my 2 favorite people for today.  These 2 fondant geniuses spent an hour - yes, you read that right - an hour between the two of them needing WHITE white chocolate marshmallow fondant into BLACK white chocolate marshmallow fondant.  That is an AMAZING feat and a HUGE help to me.  If you have ever spent 5 minutes kneading fondant, you can appreciate the muscle and humor and sheer love for bride and groom (or self...I suppose, since one of the people in this picture IS said groom!) it took to do this.
Random thoughts since I'm tired.  My son, D, flew home from CA today, and then he and S&K went out for a white shirt and black shoes for him to wear.  We (not my son, D, but we as in bride, MOTB, MOH and GMOTB) went for manis and pedis today and for the first time in my life, I can honestly say that I'm shellaced.  My fingernails feel like they are 3 times their normal thickness.  I almost put the gold side of the foil on the wedding cake boards instead of silver.  (Don't tell S, the bride, that; she hates the look of gold, and her color scheme includes silver, gosh darn it!) 

I think I need to go to bed.  In fact I'm pretty sure of it.  Tomorrow is a big day followed by an even bigger day.  And there is still so much to do.  And I'm not sure this post is making any sense at all, but S is looking for one of the bridal party gifts that's lost, so I'm out. 

G'night

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

3 days...

...and I've had to keep reminding myself all day that it's only Wednesday and not Thursday!

Since I've been talking about the groom's cake almost exclusively, I thought I'd spend a little bit of time on the wedding cake in tonight's post.  We made the fillings for each of the layers today.

The top tier will be strawberry with a mascarpone marshmallow filling.  It doesn't look like much, but it has a very nice, subtle flavor that will blend well with the strawberry cake and the buttercream icing.

The middle tier will be amaretto cake with a raspberry mascarpone filling.  This is so simple to put together it's almost shameful, but the flavor is really rich.  It's just mascarpone mixed with raspberry jam.  Seriously.
The lowest tier will be chocolate cake with a mocha filing, including some espresso provided by a friend from high school who is now in the coffee roasting biz.  Nice!  And yum!  I basically took the mascarpone marshmallow base and added espresso and cocoa.  I am really pleased with how this came out.  It's velvety on the tongue with a very nice balance of coffee with chocolate.  Neither flavor overpowers the other but are happily blending like a good husband and wife should!
I'll close with a quick peak of the really cool cake base that our caterer is letting us use so we don't have to buy one or rent one. 

It looks much heavier than it is, which is very nice for transporting.  The ribbons will go around the base of each tier.  My friend, C, will apply that at the very end.  She is even supplying all of the royal icing for final attachments to both cakes.  Is this lady a wonderful God-send or what?!!! 

Tomorrow is a big cake make or break day.  Please feel free to say as many prayers for us as you like! 

Signing off for now and taking layers of cake out of the freezer tonight.  This means commitment....but not quite as much commitment as that first carving cut...have I mentioned that I'm excited and nervous all at the same time?  

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

4 days...

...and we're just about ready for cake layers!

Call me a morning person, and I know it's only been about 12 hours since I last posted, which I suppose could mean I'm OCD, but I don't have time to think about that right now.

I don't really have many words to add to these pics; they're pretty self-explanatory.  The first two show the mess that carving styrofoam makes...
And then these last two show a couple of views of the foam layers post carving and covering with baker's foil. 

Can you read the labels?  Make sense?  I still need to glue the tender and cab bases down onto the train wood base, but I'm waiting until after C visits tomorrow evening to do that just in case our discussion means tweaking things.  We're pretty much committed on the engine - although there's still hours in the days to redo but I might have to cry, if so!

That should be all for today!  Thanks again for taking this train journey with us!  And yes, just so you know, I will be posting pics of constructing the wedding cake, but I'm just not doing anything on it yet - unless you want to see pics of the base or black ribbon...hmmm...maybe tomorrow...

Love,
Jus' Deb

Monday, September 5, 2011

5 days...

...and the weather is FANTASTIC!

Today was absolutely BEE-U-TEE-FULL!  How long ago was Friday?  Was that just 3 days ago that we were feeling 100 degree weather?  Saturday was much the same for most of the day.  Today was 30 to 40 degrees cooler.  Such a breath of fresh air the last couple of days have been.

It brings thoughts of Fall - cooler evenings, leaves changing colors, soups - it even make the colors of this cake fit.  (Was it just yesterday that I was posting about my favorite summer meal?  Seasons change quickly around here.)  This is the cake I told you a little bit about yesterday.  This family was honoring their father who has been a pharmacist for 50 years this month.  I was happy to do this cake for them since they have been friends for a long time, and he and his wife have inspired me multiple times.  Here's the whole...

And here's a close up of just the logo.  You may not be able to tell it, but there's glitter and sparkle dust on the cake in various places.  I love adding those tiny touches at the very last.

But that's not all we did today.  We started on the overall train cake layout.  Some of you may think that the pics you are about to see are cheating, and you could be right.  At the same time there's going to be so much more cake at the reception than people can eat that I can't justify baking that much more.  In fact we have little black and white boxes pre-folded ready for people to take home as much cake as they can hold in one of them!  I'm pretty sure there is a law that says you cannot leave S&K's reception without a box full of cake,  Yes, I'm sure of it.  It's the S&K Cake Law.  Look it up.

But back to the cheating part.  We are using layers of styrofoam to make up some of what "should be" cake.  To make the cake large enough to capture as much detail as possible, we need a few fake "layers."  If you've lost all respect for me and stop reading now, I can't entirely blame you.  For the rest of you, here is what I'm talking about.
The pieces on the left are the tender, and the pieces on the right are for the engine although they still need to be carved into the cylindrical shape.  The cake layers will begin behind the stack of blocks at the front and match the width and shape of the carved blocks.  Here's a view of the mock layout from the front.
I will carve the rectangle shaped pieces to match the front round of the engine.  Likewise with the cake layers that will be stacked on the foam.  I will also need to cover all of the foam with decorator's foil after they are shaped - similar to this...

My daugher, S, actually came up with the idea of how to adhere the blocks to the wood.  She drilled little holes in the base and then hot-glued skewers in the holes so that the foam blocks are not only glued to the board, they are also stabilized by the skewers.  Do I have a smart bride daughter, or what?!

Speaking of how smart she is I will close tonight's post with a comparison of the "mess" she and her maid of honor, B, made today while kneading the white chocolate marshmallow fondant vs. the mess that I made....
See all that extra powdered sugar all around the finished fondant bags from S&B?  I mean, really, it's like mountains of powdered sugar, right?  Here are two pictures of my mess. 


I spilled the melted marshmallows down the side of the mixer and then couldn't get the powdered sugar into the bowl!  I swear it's like I've never had a bag of sugar in my hands before!  I blame it on the glass of iced coffee I had an hour before.  Yea, that must be it.

So if all goes well, I hope to have pics of the carved foam blocks in my post tomorrow.  But for now I'm heading off to bed.  I am looking forward to a good night's sleep under soft, freshly-cleaned covers with the windowns open, letting in the cool evening air.  And I don't have to get up early to go to work.

Sigh.  Nice.  Good night. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

6 days...

...means we are under a week! 

It's been 9 days since I last posted, but that doesn't mean we've been reading magazines and eating bon-bons.  My daddy used to say that, and it's just sort of stuck.

I'm now on vacation until after the wedding, and our maid of honor is in town for the week along with her beautiful daughter, our flower girl.  We have organized Wedding Central, discovered a problem with 1/2 of the programs and one of the center pieces, and had the bachelorette party.  I suppose all of that means we are right on track.

I also made the below football cake that I took into work on Friday for college football day to help hone my carving skills ready for this week's activities.  To form the football I took a 6" round cake plus a small amount of cake baked in a glass bowl and then 2 portions of cake baked in custard cups. I "glued" them all together with icing and then started cutting.  It's not perfect, but it's not too bad either.  And it was very good practice.  The Notre Dame logo was for someone else, not because I'm a fan...
As I'm working on this post I'm also baking another cake for some friends tomorrow, again to help freshen up my skills.  I'll try to remember to post a pic of it after I deliver it.

And yesterday we all went to the farmer's market to finalize the plan for some of the flowers and pick up the things to make my all-time favorite summer meal that we ate for lunch!  Corn on the cob, watermelon, fried okra and homegrown tomatoes!  That combo just shouts "SUMMER!" to me, and makes me happy every time I get to enjoy it. 

Indulge me a moment to describe what I mean by fried okra.  I do it the same way my mama did, and that doesn't mean dipped in a batter or a 3-stage breading and then deep fried.  My mama always rolled her okra in cornmeal with just a couple tablespoons of flour tossed in per cup +/- of cornmeal.  She would saute some onion (I add garlic, too) in bacon drippings (I also use olive oil) and then add the okra lightly dusted with the cornmeal.  I guess you could call it somewhat of a stir fried okra, but it is so much more flavorful to me than the deep fried version.  And yesterday's rendition was probably the BEST I've ever had.  The okra was so fresh and tender, the flavor just popped in our mouths!

But that's not what you all are interested in hearing about.  You want to know about the groom's cake!  Well, let me assure you that the base is done!  Here are some updated pictures...

The groom, K, gave us a pilot (cause I guess we needed one...shows what I know about trains, right?!)  It's that flat piece across the front...I think...


He also added some cylinders and gear...

...before finally declaring it "done' and ready for cake!
Here's another angle of "done"...

Pretty cool, huh?  I haven't even seen the whole entire thing "live" and up close yet, because check this out.  You see the railroad tracks themselves?  That whole piece comes off of the base for transporting the cake.  Talk about ingenius!  This is the part that is now at my house, ready to build cake on to. 

That's not all that has been happening.  Remember my friend, C, who has been helping me with the cake all along the way and is doing the final delivery for me?  She has also been very busy making beautiful things and I got to see them yesterday.  It was so exciting! 

Look at these really cool pieces...a chimney, a bell, one of the 1522 signs, and that big round thing that sits on top of the boiler.  Obviously I know the real name for this thing, I'm just trying not to show off too much...

And here's a look at the tender sides...
Pretty incredible, right?!  They are made of a gum paste/fondant combo and then painted and lines formed with rice paper.  See why I'm getting so excited about this!!!

Here is a look at one before painting that is still here at the house to use for sizing since those panels won't be applied until after delivery.  Even I won't get to see the cake completely put together until the reception.
C even made us the "light" to put on the front.  So cool...

There is more that I could show you, but this is probably enough for one day.  I promise to post tomorrow with the next steps to building the cake parts.  Thanks for taking this journey with us!