Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sunflower Peeps Cake

I found a recipe, or rather I should say a list of instructions, to make a Peeps cake. There are so many fun things to do with Peeps. Even if you don't like them, you have to buy them at Easter, if no other time. It's sort of a tradition!

Our daughter Tara was coming for the holiday, mostly to pick up the wee little dog we were pet sitting/terrorizing and return him to his rightful owners, my brother Roland and his wife Jane. Nikki is a Bishon Frise and RJ is fond of following, herding, chasing, licking, sniffing and all around annoying him. Our very large and surprisingly aggressive fluff ball of a cat mostly glared at him and sat, Sumo-like in the doorway of any room Nikki wandered into, and intimidated him into the corner. We spend the last week rescuing poor Nikki from all his animal cousins!

So Tara was coming for a visit over a holiday, so naturally we had to organize activities. Tara organized a trip to the Buchanan Historic Movie Theater. It is a restored theater and kind of fun. They really need to have FRESH popcorn, candy and soda, but the price was right! My contribution to the event was a Sunflower Peeps Cake.

The idea is to make a yellow layer cake and frost it with chocolate frosting.

Then place concentric rings of chocolate chips in the center of the cake leaving a one inch ring blank.

The Peeps are slightly pulled apart to curve them in the shape of the cake and placed on the outer ring of frosting.

It takes about 2 full double boxes of Peeps, or about 19 of them. You may need to buy an extra box for snacking while frosting.

Tara and I have taken several Wilton cake decorating classes so this wasn't a real challenge. I think it would have been better to make our own chocolate buttercream frosting. But I have been eating a very low carb diet since January (25 pounds and counting) and while I was going to have one piece, I knew I would be sending the remainder home with Tara to eat or give away. No point in tempting myself beyond my ability to endure!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

What Happened To Our New Driveway??

One of the reasons we got the whole, entire 1/3 of a mile driveway paved, even though it was very expensive, was because Lee would have to go out every time it rained and resurface the driveway. He would also have to try and scrape it in snow storms, but those are few and far between.

It rains a lot! If I remember correctly, 33 inches a year is the average. That is about 3 inches a month, every month. For a girl from Southern California that is crazy wet! Of course, that is what makes Virginia so green and beautiful! And not brown and dry like it gets every summer in Southern California. Summer, better known as Fire Season. This is followed by Landslide Season. We also experience Earthquake Season to help round out the year.

My cousin Saja told me she was sending rain and wind my way from her home in Memphis. I know she loves me so I am hard pressed to understand why she would do such a thing. She is currently going through chemotherapy so the only thing I can think is that she knew Virginia was behind on rainfall for the year and she wanted to help. Or she is demented ( better living through chemistry )and wants me to suffer, too :)

Nonetheless, we had wind that shook the house and then we lost power and then the rain fell. It had been falling for quite some time and then it came in buckets. We have been trying to get the contractor who built the road to come back since October. We had some hard rain then and it was beginning to undercut the side of the drive. We wanted him to come and repair it before it got worse. We called again last month as it was getting worse. I think the grading on the sides of the drive, where it was a pretty steep and narrow canyon was causing the water to flow under the drive rather than away from it. Now that the driveway is ruined he says he will come on Monday. Oh, goody.

The driveway and the street in front of our road was covered with about 1 foot of the mud that was washed from the sides of the driveway and from under the asphalt. Lee had to get the tractor and start scraping it off the road and off one side of the drive so we could get out. I had to use to shovel to get what he couldn't. I love hauling mud and rocks by shovel in the pouring rain.

We also had to clear a lot of debris from the stream that flows under our bridge. Huge logs were across the culverts that went under the bridge. More and more branches were washed down and blocked some of the holes. I was worried one of us would fall in and get lodged under the bridge and drown. Just thinking of that gives me asthma (that is what my mother always used to say she got when she watched Lloyd Bridges on Sea Hunt!). We need to get a grappling hook to throw in the stream with a long rope so we don't have to bend over try to grab things. We used the rake until it broke. I tried to use the shovel, but the water was going so fast it would almost pull it out of my hands.

So now it is clear enough to drive out. The roadbed is buckling and if you get too far on one side or the other, I worry that it will break off and the car will rollover. Can you tell that I am a worrier? Well, I am. So, there.

So now I am in the upstairs office writing my blog. Lee is out resurfacing the back drive, as that is all he can do. I have a beautiful view across the valley on a sunny and cool day with quite a breeze going and I am trying to feel grateful. According to that great Oracle, Oprah, Gratitude is an attitude. It is quite a challenge when my cousin is fighting cancer and it is the first anniversary of my sister's death. But I am working on that. It may take a while.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Is It Riding Time?

Working at the library has many benefits. One thing I like is the many interesting people I meet. A man came in to get a library card. He is new to the area. It turns out he is a horse trainer. My ears pricked up, or they would have if they could have.

Obviously a person who works in a small county library is not making beaucoup bucks but we came to an accommodation on price and he will do some riding for me. There is no point in having horses I don't/can't ride. The less they are ridden the more worried I am about riding and letting other people ride. I don't want any one to get hurt, me included!

It has been too wet to get out and ride the last week or so. But I need to get some stuff ready. I need to shed out the horses, give them a bath and spend some time on the tails! I need to clean up the tack. It gets VERY dusty and until I get a wall between the rest of the barn and the tack room, it will continue to be a huge problem.

Lee got me a new bridle for Christmas 2 years ago, but I haven't used it yet. It is an English bridle which is a bit problematic as I ride Western. But that isn't a huge issue. I'm not showing or anything, so who cares, really. The main problem was I could not find my Neatsfoot oil. Any time you get new tack you need to soften and protect the new leather with some oil. It is also something you need to do periodically to keep it in good shape. You have to be careful on a saddle because you don't want to stain your bum or slip slide all over, but it still needs to be done. So I had some oil. I brought it up to the house to work on the bridle and then didn't. And then Lee organized the garage and neither one of us can find it. So I did nothing. I would be a procrastinator, but that takes too much forethought!

Nonetheless, I bought more oil and got to work. The biggest problem with bridles are the many pieces. You have to take everything apart that is possible, to get the oil on every speck of leather. Then you need to remember which part goes where and faces what way.

I got the bridle together without too much trouble and then the bit got twisted around and I put the left hand rein facing the wrong way. Naturally I couldn't get it apart, so I had to use the fall back option, "Lee! Can you help me for a minute?" That's one of the reasons women get married isn't it? So there is someone stronger than we are to fix the things we can't!

So that was fixed and now it is ready to go. I will take the used oily rags to the barn to wipe down the other tack when we feed tonight. I hope to remember to throw them away when we are done. Oily rags and barns don't mix. We had a neighbor years ago who left oily rags in his garage. It caught fire and you could hear the explosions of his paint cans and chainsaws, etc. for quite sometime. Fortunately, we lived close to the fire station and he only lost the garage. But that is a lesson that sticks with you!

Sunday, April 3, 2011


I haven't written in awhile. It seems when you get out of the habit of writing, it is hard to get back in! I went to visit my mother in California and never wrote again!

Mom lives in San Clemente in assisted living. She has lost a lot of weight and can no longer walk or dress herself. But she is sharp as a tack most days. She still remembers poems from back when she was in school. After a day or two of catching up, we run out of things to tell each other. This time she recited poems to entertain me. She is really good at it and her memory is phenomenal. She uses lots of facial expressions and gets a scary voice in the scary places. I want to buy a Flip camera next visit and record her. Until then, here are the three poems she told me.

The first one I can recite also. I was told it so many times as a child I assumed it was about me. After all, I had curly hair, too. The first part of the poem seems to be from the short poem by Longfellow. I don't know where the rest came from.

There was a girl who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good she was very, very good
But when she was bad she was horrid.

She stood upon her head in her little trundle bed
With no one near for to hinder.
She yelled and she bawled and she screamed and she squalled
And she kicked her little heels against the winder.

Her mother heard the noise and thought it was the boys
Playing in the empty attic.
She hurried up the stairs and caught her unawares
And spanked her most emphatic!

The next one I also heard as a child but can never seem to remember. Now I have it written down so I won't forget.

Betty At The Party

"When I was at the party,"
Said Betty, aged just four,
"A little girl fell off her chair
right down upon the floor;
And all the other little girls
Began to laugh, but me -
I didn't laugh a single bit,"
Said Betty seriously.

"Why not?" her mother asked her,
Full of delight to find
That Betty, bless her little heart,
had been so sweetly kind.
"Why didn't you laugh my darling,
Or don't you like to tell?"
"I didn't laugh," said Betty
"'Cause it was me that fell."

The last one is her most dramatic. She scrunches up her face and speaks in a low scary voice. I remember being scared as a child, but I am a big girl, now!

The Little Orphan Annie
by James Whitcomb Riley

Little Orphan Annie's come to my house to stay.
To wash the cups and saucers up and brush the crumbs away.
To shoo the chickens from the porch and dust the hearth and sweep,
And make the fire and bake the bread and earn her board and keep.
While all us other children, when the supper things is done,
we sit around the kitchen fire and has the mostest fun,
A listening to the witch tales that Annie tells about
and the goblins will get ya if ya don't watch out!

Once there was little boy who wouldn't say his prayers,
And when he went to bed at night away up stairs,
His mammy heard him holler and his daddy heard him bawl,
And when they turned his covers down, he wasn't there at all!
They searched him in the the attic room and cubby hole and press
And even up the chimney flue and everywheres, I guess,
But all they ever found of him was just his pants and round-abouts
And the goblins will get ya if ya don't watch out!

Once there was a little girl who always laughed and grinned
And made fun of everyone, of all her blood and kin,
And once when there was company and old folks was there,
She mocked them and she shocked them and said she didn't care.
And just as she turned on her heels to go and run and hide,
There was two great big black things a standing by her side.
They snatched her through the ceiling fore she knew what she's about,
And the goblins will get you if you don't watch out!

When the night is dark and scary, and the moon is full
And the creatures are a flying and the wind goes Whooooooooooo,
You better mind your parents and your teachers fond and dear,
And cherish them that loves ya, and dry the orphan's tears
and help the poor and needy ones that cluster all about,
Or the goblins will get YOU if you don't WATCH OUT!!!!