Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Culprit

The reason dinner will be late...again. Dangit when will the blossoms just fall off already?
I'm sitting in my living room drinking a warm mug of coffee I'm loving my view. Even though we live in a small Northern VA townhouse, one of the cool features that sold us on this end unit is the fact that the living room has a high ceiling and a beautiful 2-story arched window in the back. The window bathes the room with so much natural light, opens up the small space and makes us forget that we're in a townhouse. It helps it feel less confined and is a piece of heaven in the mornings when I sit here with my puppies getting my thoughts & to-do lists together.....


However....the ornamental pear tree outside my back deck is in a very happy place right now (which is good, of course....for the tree....) but it's so darned distracting!  I mean, seriously, I get nothing done. It looks like a bridal tree, or a popcorn explosion in my view at all times.


I love it!

Isn't it amazing? So sweet. So ethereal. So romantic. So....a nightmare for someone who has the attention span of a you may have already guessed.


It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so! ~Mark Twain

OKAY!! Back to work. I have so much to do today! The laundry is churning, I need to get to the grocery store, I have to mop the kitchen floor and I'm making something Jewish for dinner (a kugel) from a Passover food magazine I devoured yesterday.

I'm going to wear dark sunglasses round the house so that I don't look ..... out that darned ..... window ..... I just noticed a cherry blossom tree across the street that is in FULL bloom, oh my GOD.

I'll be back.........


Cake Attack

The morning after wreckage. I guess they didn't care that the instant coffee granules weren't dissolved. I'm glad I live with a barrel of monkeys.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dad's German chocolate coconut pecan cake

I love quick & easy treats! Remember this recipe when I made boxed brownies and simply added my favorite Ikea Lingonberry jam on top and made magic? OK, well, magic in my book anyway.

One of my favorite fun cake cook books is The Cake Doctor, by Ann Byrn. It's a fun book that is the epitome of simplicity & ease. Every recipe begins with a cake mix and then the author "tweaks" the batter by adding extra yummies to bump it up a notch. My kind of baking! I have made several cakes with this book and my family loves it when I pull it off the shelf. They know good things are about to happen.  :o)

On my recent trip to Texas my Dad totally surprised me by making a "Cake Doctor" type bundt cake as a little something special to go with the grilled chicken dinner he fixed that night. It was so delicious, moist and, get this ~ there was only one add in! 

Now please be patient with me....I'm not a food blogger although it would be my dream...Seriously, if I could blog and photograph food I would be a very happy lady. I love photos of food. I can look at cookbooks and cooking magazines all day. Halleluja!

I did my best here, sometimes using only one hand so half of my pics are out of focus and don't get me started on how much chocolate cake batter I got on the back of my camera....I need a food blogger for dummies class.


All you'll need is Betty Crocker German chocolate cake mix & coconut pecan frosting.


Make exactly according to the package directions.


Easy peasy so far, right? Told you.


Now take a second, as I did, to taste a teensy bit of the batter. No one's looking.


Now get that can of coconut pecan icing.....


And spoon the whole thing into the batter and mix it well.


This time, go ahead, take the beaters off and lick them. Because now there are little pieces of pecan and coconut in the batter, it's heavenly.


Spray your bundt pan well with some nonstick spray and pour in your batter. Put the cake pan in the oven at 350 degrees for 39-42 minutes.


Or until the cake begins to pull away from the pan like this.

After about 40 minutes look at what you get!


A big, giant, brown, hideous blob.

But that's OK!


Because when you let the cake cool for a little bit then flip it over ~ VOILA!


Can you see the pecans that were added from the icing? Yum.

Now Dad's cake was delish, but I went one step further and added a light glaze to the top.


I love the taste of chocolate and coffee (mocha) so I found a packet of instant coffee (about 1 Tbsp.) and added it to 1 cup of confectioners sugar.


Now let's pretend that I added 2-3 Tbsp of milk to the instant coffee first to dissolve the crystals instead of doing what I did ~ NOT dissolving the crystals first, but oh well. You live, you learn.


Mix in enough milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, to make a smooth glaze.


Dang I wish I'd have dissolved those crystals! Now I'm going to be haunted by this forever. Or until the cake is gone. So, until tomorrow night, Ugh!




Oh yeah, now that's what I'm talking about. And there's nothing to it!


Without a glaze, it makes a delicious coffee cake. Make it for your friends next time they come over. I can't wait until Johnny sees it. He's going to be excited.

So Johnny's eyes buldged out of his head when he walked into the kitchen after work and saw the cake, and he started singing songs in my praise. It was so touching and sweet.

OK, maybe not.

After we sliced the cake I grabbed my camera to grab a quick pic of the inside and...I don't know what to say...every time this man gets his hands on any kind of dessert he goes a little koo-koo. And the more koo-koo he gets, the more pictures of him I take!  :o)


Needless to say HE LIKED IT and he wanted more! Johnny loves coconut, Mmmm....


Thanks for the recipe, Dad! Simple, easy, delicious and moist ~ the perfect cake. Johnny says "It's a keeper."

We had a little bit of rain this morning and when the sun came out my pear tree was just sparkling & flashing through the window from all of the little water droplets on its leaves. It was so preeeeeeeeeeetty. Minnie was the only one who was brave enough to join me on the deck for a few minutes because it's still so windy and cold outside.


But at least it's a small sign of Spring! The tiny pear buds are starting to POP!


And look, it's Tiffany's pinecones in the background, they're still hanging on. But not for long. Spring will be taking over these parts of the range soon.


Oh, Mommy, it's s-so-soooo cooooold outside, are you d-d-d-done yet?

Minnie's my little trooper. She sticks by me when I get my wild hair and get distracted by something shiny. Which happens about every 3.5 minutes.

Now........back to laundry. The trees had better stop winking at me or I'll never get anything done in this house.
Wow, this 5-day GREEN photography assignment is awesome! I've just spent 1/2 hour looking at all of "Group 1" finalists and dozens of other entries. They are so inspiring. I entered my second photo today.

Entry #49,608 in the GREEN photo contest ~


Kamakura, Japan
My favorite place on earth.

Unfortunately, the photo isn't that sharp and it's a little blown out, but my first digital camera was only 3.2 mp and after cropping, well, it is what it is. But this is so F-U-N going back through memory lane! Kamakura is heaven on earth and was only about a 20 minute train ride from Yokosuka, where we lived.

Johnny, Josh & I used to get on a train to Kamakura simply to eat at (Caraway) The Curry House! That's where my dying love for all-things curry started. They serve 6 styles of Japanese curry and nothing else. And water. If you're lucky.

We'd stand in a line that went down the street for an hour just to get crammed onto a long picnic table with 20 strangers who didn't speak English ~ and let me tell you ~ it was SO worth it. There hasn't been a night when I've made Japanese curry that the three of us don't say, "Kamakura! The Curry House!!" And rub our tummies. We're a family of curry eaters, we're easy to please.

(Of course I have photos of the restaurant/eatery, but don't ask me where. Afterall, I only took a little over 3,000 pictures around Japan in one year.)

Now I have a project ~ find pictures of Curry House!  Amen.

Wouldn't you know I'd turn a post about a photography assignment into a topic about food.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Well, I did it again! I'm onto another photography assignment/contest. I love PW's assignments. I get to go onto the Flicker pages and get inspired by everyone's beautiful images.

This week she's challenged us with "GREEN"  No rules...just GREEN.''

Since I'm stuck in bed I had time to revisit some old albums and the first thing that I always go back to when I think of anything beautiful is JAPAN. My Japan.

It's the perfect place where Johnny, Josh and I became a family. We had a wonderful 2 years of private time to tour the country & bond into little unit (with Minnie Mouse!) and where better than one of the most beautiful places on earth?

It wasn't always easy! Oh no, haha. Living off base was, let's say, "an interesting experience," but we laugh at so much of it now and I will never, ever forget the smell of kerosene. That's another story for another time....

We were so fortunate that Johnny was stationed at Yokosuka Navy Base during those first young years of our marriage. I had a new husband, Johnny had a new wife and 8 year old son, so we all needed a sanctuary to get to know each other and blend.

Looking back, I think it was by divine design because the three of us ended up leaving a piece of our hearts there forever.

We talk about our life in Japan a lot. That time period holds a very, deep, special memory for us. Josh even got a tattoo of the city we lived in written in Kanji ~ not that I necessarily love the idea ~ but he did, and that's that. It's a private place that only the three of us share and a bond that we have that no one can ever take away from us.

Anyway, that's my story of GREEN.

And it looks like 48,519 others have a green story also, I love it! These assignments are fun, why don't you join me? This one goes for 5 days, then PW will come up with another one. This is so inspiring to me.

Well, I'd hoped to get out and photograph the dogwood trees today. But I haven't left my bed in 2 days. Boooooo! 

I was doing ok for a few days then very late Saturday night I took a turn for the ICKY.  Oh well, such is life. So I've been tucked under the covers getting better ever since. Thank GOD for Johnny, my girls, the Kindle, my DVR, TV, blackberry, Jelly Belly's, Chipotle, photographs, magazines and my computer or I'd shoot someone. BANG! The fact that I can't even kill a moth should not factor into this.


Yup. I still have the ICK.

Still...ugh. I'm too impatient for this.

It's slowly lifting, though. I can tell. Every day a little better.


In the meantime, look at all of these pics of "My Lap."

I've had a lot of good, furry, warm, lumpy, bumpy company.

So much love that it's hard to move my feet! And they steal my popcorn!


I'm lucky it's been raining and cold out these past few days or else I think these little girls would be standing on my chest pitching a fit to go outside and take a walk. As it is they are happy to be snuggling up with me up in my room.

So on the bright side I guess I wouldn't have been able to go photograph the dogwoods anyway so it's the perfect time to be sick. Or ICK.

My new lens shipped today so by the time it gets here I'll be back on my chubby toes and good to go! If not......I'm really, REALLY going to kill someone.


I got some gift money for my birthday because some of you know I always have a "wish list" going...big surprise, right?

Soooo...I put it together with a Penn Camera rebate I just got back in the mail (score!) and ordered myself this 35mm every day, all purpose lens with an f/1.8. I'm so excited to get it and play with the shallow depth of field. Amazon had a great price and they added in some freebies; like a polarizing filter & cleaning cloth. I love freebies!

Thank you to my birthday fairies! I really appreciate you thinking of me and I wanted you to know that I put the $ to great use. I'll try and do ya proud at the cherry blossom festival!  :o)


Saturday, March 27, 2010

~ Proof to my sister that I DID go to CVS and buy some Chloraseptic ~

And Jelly Belly's, naturally. I wouldn't have admitted that, but the proof is in the pudding. Oops!


Sick Brenda Picture. Nice, huh?


I went out of my front door this afternoon and was struck by the shocking contrast between the sweet will of Spring against the cold remnants of Winter in the trees.

It's like my forsythia bush was saying, "You go on and be grumpy, you overbearing and cruel trees. You can't intimidate me. It's my time to shine and I'm going to party!"

Go forsythia ~ Party on, Chickie. You'll make the trees jealous and in 2-3 weeks they'll follow suit. Beauty likes company.


Mama Kay's hyacinth garden bloomed this week also so I ran over there to snap a few pics. These beauties don't care one bit that it will be 35 degrees tonight. They're strong. Tomorrow they'll get sunshine and warmth and make all of us giddy with anticipation of the pretty weather and cherry blossom trees still to come. Two more weeks ~ Yay!

I love the Spring. It's natures way of showing us that life must, and will continue. The seasons go on and on in perfect cycle. Night turns to day. Day turns to night. Month after month, everything has it's wonderful moment in time. Daffodils will be popping soon and I'll be there, like a good little stalker.

I'm happy.

Still sick. 

But happy. 



Friday, March 26, 2010

My cutie pie husband took half the day off today so that he could take me to the doctor. I have a sore throat. I mean, can't swallow because it feels like there are sushi knives down there! kind of sore.

I decided to sit in the back seat on the ride to the base hospital so that I could get the full "Driving Miss Daisy" experience.

I liked it and I may do this forever.


Johnny called me Daisy all day, he understands me. Afterall I had a sore throat.

But if I sit in the back seat then I can't be the girl that sits up front with him, holding his hand & loving it when he calls me Honeybun. I won't trade that for anything in the world so goodbye Daisy, hello Honeybun!!  Ooh-rah!

Turns out I don't have strep. I have accute laryngitis, a swollen, gross, sore, red throat, no voice, a high whine factor and percoset for my pain, turmoil and anguish. I'll be better soon, but you can still send flowers, Jelly Belly's, candles, the movie "You've Got Mail," Chipotle, red licorice, chocolates and jewelry. But not necessarily in that order.

Shut up Tiffany & Kat.