Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Effects of Living in a Cashless House

LK: boys, you've been very good today. I would like to get you a treat. So would you like to have a reeces peanut buttercup or cookie dough blizzard to share?

Geo: cookie dough

ISH: reeces!

Me (taking my cue from a recent Arthur episode): how about we flip for it. Geo, do you want heads or tails?

--moments pass as we explain to the boys what change is and what heads of a coin is verses tails --

Geo: heads

ISH: tails!

Me: um ... LK? ... Do you have any change?

Monday, June 28, 2010

We'll Make Great Pets

Or at least this dog did.

This week's photo challenge for iheartfaces is pets.  This dog isn't mine but is one that was at the library for a special reading night I took the boys to.  After Geo finished reading, Tatum (the dog) did a few tricks in appreciation for a job well done.

click on the iheartfaces logo to view more entries

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Photo Challenge: Food

Mandy's photo challenge this week is food.  And those of you who have been reading this blog longer than a week have probably been able to figure out that food is one of the things I photograph most.  But here's a photo of food that I'm pretty sure I've yet to post.  It was from when I made the Pampered Chef confetti recipe for our small group Bible study.  Dripping chocolate- kinda makes you want to reach in there, grab to spoon and start licking.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Foodie Friday: Mama-Slappin' Good Food

When LK and I lived in Memphis we loved to eat the local favorite- barbeque. One place we would go when we could wrangle up a sitter was the Germantown Commissary. Their slogan was just about as catching as their food: So good yu'll slap yo mama.

Well this week I'd have to say the food was so good you'd slap your mamasita (except since I'm the mamsita- please don't).

Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas, pg 115
This meal will leave you asking "Ted who?!"  It is just that good.  As Geo said "it's almost like a satisfying meal."  I think that was a good thing.  I used canola oil (she gives the choice of EVOO or canola) and I did (begin your backpatting now) move to unbleached flour.  I used chicken broth (she gives the option of broth or base + water), and cooked the chicken and chopped it as I did last week.  I only had 10 tortillas instead of 20 so my rolls were bigger than what I'm sure Tanya was anticipating in her description (if only there was some way to write down and keep track of exactly what I need to buy at the store).  Since I had less tortillas, I had some chicken and monterey jack left over.  With the little bit of left over chicken mixture I had, I just shoved it around the side of the baking pan and with the cheese, I just added it to the top of the enchiladas with the cheddar cheese.  I think worked out pretty well.  I meant to roll up some spinach inside the enchiladas because 1- I had the spinach and 2- I love spinach enchiladas, but I forgot while I was rolling so I just put some fresh, raw, spinach on top.  Super yummy.  Super yummy.

Chicken Pillow, pg 120
Anytime I see a recipe that mixes crescent rolls with cream cheese and fresh garlic, I'm immediately harkened back to my Pampered Chef sales days.  Yes, that's right, I use to sell Pampered Chef- and the best part was, I didn't even cook back in those days.  It was, to say the least, my gateway drug into sales.  I loved going into someone's house, throwing food around, making people laugh, trying not to leave something out or set something on fire (thank heavens for damage insurance!) and getting paid for the whole experience.  While I didn't get paid for this dinner, it was so tasty I should have!  Once again, I used my new-to-me food processor to chop up the chicken.  And it really does look like a pillow once it's all cooked-- well once it did. actually. bake.  See- somehow I only set the oven at 250 instead of 375 so it took way way way longer than 12 minutes to cook (see, it is like back when I sold PC!) - but is was very much worth wait.

One Step Pineapple Angel Cake, pg 148
I made this for our family game night dessert.  So simple - I gave each boy one ingredient, they dumped them in a bowl and I stirred.  Super easy.  Here's what I didn't know- did you know that if you mix crushed pineapple and the juice with angel food cake mix you can get one rocking fizzy, bubbly, science experiment in the making. Really, dye that puppy red and you've got yourself the inside of a volcano for your kid's science fair like that!  What I didn't know is that it would continue to grow and bubble while cooking (does it do that every time you make angel food cake or is it something about the pineapple?).  What a mess! A sticky, sweet, tasty mess.  Thankfully I had the foresight to put the baking dish on to a stone with a lip so it didn't make that sticky mess inside the oven.  We had 5 guests staying with us this week- three middle school girls and their parent sponsors here in the city for middle school mission trip- and one of the sponsors marveled at the cake, going on and on about how amazing I am that I "bake."  While I don't consider this baking (it was just too easy), who was I to correct her.

Creme Wafers, pg 184
I made these for little treats when Darin and Theresa came over to play a little Spades (boys-v-girls, tied 1 to 1) and for whatever reason I decided to dye the icing orange (in this house where we Boomer more than "Bleed orange" of all places I know! ).  The shape was a little funky thought too- she calls for circles but the flower cutter-- well it was calling to me.  I'm horrible at judging how thick/thin I've rolled something out but I'm going to guess each wafer is more than the 1/8 inch thickness called for in the recipe.  Just guessing here.  But they were still cooked through (not browned as specifically pointed out to not be in the recipe).  The whole process takes some time so it's not a last-minute-throw-a-treat-together kind of dessert but they are worth working towards.  And she's right, you'll have most of the ingredients on hand so in that regard it's easy.  I even had the whipping cream on hand, left over from another recipe.  A nice tasty way to use un-needed whipping cream (other than just beating it into whipped cream and eating it in it's sugary fluffy state).  One tip to note- the filling gets squishy as it comes to room temperature so either keep on a chilled platter, only get out what you'll be using at that moment, or eat fast.  I leave you to choose.

Next week I'm making Southwest Pizza at Geo's sweet request, come back to see how it turns out.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Random Thought Thursday: Projects

What time is it: 841A

Where am I: living room couch

Listening to: ISH try and explain Lego Star Wars to me

Last ate: a plum from my backyard :)

Thoughts: I don't care if your partner is Ghandi, if you take a project that requires exact measurements and add to it a late night, an Oklahoma summer, Memphis-like humidity, and dive bombing june bugs, you'll end up with a pretty good argument. Bar none.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Landslide Chords

I know it's been a long time since I've had time to get into the recording studio*, but I have been practicing- and I feel like it's really starting to come along. Though I know, I know-- if you're really good at guitar (or have been playing longer than 6 months) you don't need to tell me this still needs work.  I understand that.  But, I'm feeling more confident and was even brave enough to try a song that is all picking (I'll have to keep practicing before I post that one here).  So, here is one of the ones I've learned how to play- Landslide.  It's a bit more like the Dixie Chicks version than Fleetwood Mac's in that I play it faster and up on capo 5.

Here's what it sounds like so far:

And if you're interested, here are the chords:

C           G/B                 Am7  G/B
I   took my love, and I took it down

C           G/B                   Am7   G/B
I climbed a mountain and I turned around

      C       G/B              Am7          G/B
And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills

         C         G/B        Am7       G/B
Till the landslide brought me down

   C             G/B          Am7  G/B
Oh mirror in the sky: What is love?

        C           G/B        Am7  G/B
Can the child in my heart rise above?

      C                G/B      Am7   G/B
Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?

      C          G/B     Am7   G/B
Can I handle the seasons of my life?

        C     G/B Am7
I don't know

D/F#  G         D/F#      Em7       Em7/open 4th
Well, I've been afraid of changing, Cause
     C        G/B         Am7 
I've built my life around you

D/F#   G              D/F#        Em7          Em7/open 4th
   But time makes you bolder even children get older

    C           G/B   Am7    G/B
And I'm getting older too

    C           G/B   Am7    G/B
Yes I'm getting older too.

     C       G/B                 Am7   G/B
So I took my love, and I took it down

  C         G/B                   Am7   G/B
I climbed a mountain and I turned around

           C      G/B               Am7 //          G/B //
And if you see my reflection in the snow // covered hills //

     C       G/B   Am7  G/B
Well maybe

     C       G/B   Am7  G/B
Well maybe

        C //           G/B //        Am7
The the landslide //   brought me//  down

*recording studio = my bathroom with the voice memo app on my iPhone. Yup, I'm high tech in these here parts.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Photo Challenge: Fun

It's been a few weeks since Mandy's had a challenge, but she's back (hooray!) and this week's challenge is summer fun.  I took this picture on Friday when Geo was out front coloring with sidewalk chalk.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


If you're one of my followers on Twitter then you're aware in recent months I've had the craving for a garden.  Well, to be transparent, I want the produce of a garden without the work and space required to actually have a garden.  So, needless to say, I haven't had a garden.

Or so I thought.

Because look! Plums!

Plums that grew from a tree in my yard that I have, for the last two years, pretty well ignored.  It was there when we moved in and all I've done is keep the suckers from overtaking the place.

So, I don't know if it's that I haven't been home in the middle June since we bought the house or that the tree has not produced fruit before, but I'm going to lean to the latter because my west-neighbors (those whose property line is by the tree and are always working in their yard) never knew we had plums.

And the picture really doesn't do it justice because for the last three days I've collected a bowl twice this size full of plums.  And yes, I'm open to any suggestions for plum jam recipes.

The best part of the plums?  Well, yes, their tangy sweet flavor; but moreover, I finally met and spoke with my east-neighbors.  The neighbors who previously denied our existence.  Apparently they're big fans of garden-grown fruit.  Who knew a basket of plums would be all it would take to finally learn her first name.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Food Friday: It was Bound to Happen

It's been a long time, and I mean long time since I've had a total blunder in the kitchen.  But, it was bound to happen, and this week it did!

Zucchini Soup, page 27
This was, dare I say, more soupy than I'd like.  I know, I know.  If the title alone didn't warn me, the fact that it's in the "soups and salad" section certainly should have.  But my nose smelled the curry powder and I think it expected something thicker.  Once I got my mind under control and in line for thinking soup, not curry, it went better.  This does have a nice summer feel to it.  Since you let it cool before blending (and really, you should do this lest you have a very big explosion in your kitchen.  I didn't learn that lesson this time, only because I'd learned it the hard way before), it isn't a hot soup like what I'd want in winter.  Instead, it's more of a cool soup with yogurt.  LK and I both agreed it would go well with the pita chips from Rachel Ray's tomato dinner (you know, #157, the one I didn't like any of but the pita- anise. yuck).

Pink House Chicken Salad, pg 36
When LK and I were first married and living in a guys dorm as house parents (what a first year that was!) I once breaded chicken breasts in lemon pepper.  Seriously.  I didn't know how powerful that stuff could be so I took chicken, poured out lemon pepper on a plate, and rolled the bird around in the pepper until it was nice and covered.  Let me just say that there were not enough mashed potatoes in the world to make that chicken anywhere near edible.  So when Tanya called for 2 TBSP of lemon pepper in this recipe, I for one was glad she noted
Sounds like a lot, but it's correct.
Thankfully, she was right.  While it is more than I might have been willing to put in on my own (following the first year experience, I don't voluntarily add lemon pepper to much), it was a perfect blend with the mayo, pecans (I used small ones so LK would eat it), and pineapple.  I didn't "chunk" my chicken, instead I poured 1 TBSP EVOO into a pan and got it hot.  Then I placed the chicken breasts in the pan and salted them with a little sea salt and just a dash of pepper.  Then I cooked the chicken until it had that nice brown crisp on each side.  Once the chicken cooled, I chopped it up in my food processor (yes! I got one- so need to blog about that vintage beauty).  I seriously ate this one by the spoonful.  It was so tasty.

Animal Crackers, pg 58
The boys and I made this before our family game night.  I didn't have buttermilk, so I made some with milk and lemon juice;  but I think that since I used 1% milk to make the "buttermilk" it made the dough sticky.  Or said another way, the dough was very sticky.  They were soft and tasty but it was a pretty doughy mess we made in the process of cutting out our animals.  Next time I think we'll be sticking with animal cracker snakes.  Or maybe rollie pollies.  If you like oatmeal cookies but you're not a fan of raisins, this will be right up your alley.  I'm personally a fan of the frosted animal crackers, so I snuck some icing on one or two of mine while LK was reading the junior books to the kids (shhh.... don't let them know I have icing in the fridge or they'll be asking for it on their waffles!).

And here it is, the moment you've been waiting for- the disaster that was me, in the kitchen, early on a kid-less Sunday morning.

Ham and Swiss Braided Bread Loaf, pg 90
I have a very strict rule- I never make something I've made before when entertaining.  That way, I don't know what it was suppose to be like should it not turn out.  And while I haven't made this recipe before, I did make one like it- the Rueben Loaf at the MOAB.  And that one was beautiful- it was art baby.  So I think I had my expectations up before I even started the HSBBL.  But it was our Brother's Keeper pot-luck and Tanya specifically states this is "fun to take to a potluck" so I had to try it. However ...
I didn't have Dijon mustard like I thought I did.  Thankfully I learned my lesson way back when I substituted ranch dressing for milk when making cheesy hamburger helper, and I knew that not everything that seems like it would work, will.  Thus, I stop short of adding horseradish sauce to French mustard in place of the Dijon.  Instead, I was a good girl and look up a recipe for Dijon. However...
It calls 2 cups of white wine and I only had 1/4 cup.  But! Again, being a super cook now, (or so I told myself) I divided the recipe down until I knew how much of each item to put with my 1/4 cup wine (and how exactly do you get 1/8 of 3 cloves garlic, yeah well it wasn't exact science).  However...
I did not reduce the cook time (doh!) so I cooked it down too much and from that point I just punted.  I added enough water to the "Dijon" mustard to make the 1/4 cups Tanya calls for - and while it had a tang that I'd expect of Dijon, it did not have the texture.  So when I added my 1/4 cup "Dijon" to the 1 c water she calls for- I got very sticky dough.  Dough that did not want to roll out pretty or braid well.  And then there is the fact that I forgot to buy pickles.  So I chopped up some Kalamata olives I had on hand.  LK and I agreed it wasn't a bad punt- but that the pickles would have been better.
I think it could have only felt worse if I could have lit a potholder on fire while pulling the cooked "meal" out of the oven.
And yet, with all that said, like the mangy pound puppy that becomes the quintessential family pet- the bread loaf was a hit! I only came home with a small piece.  It really was a Sunday miracle.

Here's to hoping wherever my head was this week, that it will be back in the kitchen with me where it belongs next.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Random Thought Thursday: Answered Prayers

What time is it: 750A

Where am I: At the kitchen table in my work out clothes, which at this point is more a hope than an absolute.

Listening to: The boys shrill like girls in the other room accompanied by the Phineas and Ferb CD.  Summer has come with an extra injection of energy and all around goofiness and I am about to send them outside to run laps.

Last ate: Plain yogurt sprinkled with All Bran and walnuts, topped with a little honey, and (of course) coffee

Thoughts:  I don't know if it's summer or that this week started off with the Great Flood of 2010 but I'm feeling a bit out of schedule.  It's likely summer, I'm sure.  But it appears this out of schedule-ness has infiltrated my blogging as well.  Longest silence I've had since inception.

When I was child, or maybe a teenager, I remember vexing when I'd pray for something and would have what seemed to be an answer present itself.  I would question myself into total indecision wondering if the opportunity at hand was really the answer to prayer or a temptation in masquerade.  After all, I would remind myself, can't the devil hear my prayers too?  So was satan presenting something that would eventually lead me off course with what seemed like a good choice.

Four months ago I prayed one of those hard prayers.  I prayed God- show me what the purpose for this part of my life is.  What is it that you want me to be about right now?

I mean I have a great family and career.  I'm involved in ministry at my church and life has been pretty easy going for the last year.  And to whom much is given- so why has he given?  What is he expecting of my in return?

Currently there is an opportunity, one that I'd put out of mind as an option a few years ago when it initially surfaced, that seems to be an answer to that prayer- a mission on my heart that feels so hard to deny.  And still this ministry, this heart-mission, is not one that I'm rushing towards with open arms.  It's one I take one timid step towards and two large questioning steps back from.

So is this trepidation on my part- this analyzing every situation of my day to see how this heart-mission would effect __________, is it some sort of proof that this is good and an opportunity for service.  Is this God showing me that such a time as this.  And is the fact that, since LK and I sat down to openly talk with each other about what this would mean, life has seemed to speed forward in such rapid succession that to find the time to pray and search for the answer to this ministry a ploy from satan to keep us from doing this?  Or is it God's way of showing that maybe now is still not the time?  Or is it just life, and if I feel this mission on my heart that I need to give it to God and trust that some days it will work very very well and others I'll think to sign up for such a job was the craziest thing I've ever done (and boy doesn't that say a lot in so few words!).

It's been a long time since I've dissected every encounter and thought until I've nothing but the nucleus of the situation's atoms left to study.  Maybe this is a good thing, maybe not.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Rains Came Down As the Floods Came Up

And during this kind of rain, the wiseman's house was on the highest ground possible. And here are a few reasons why:

And while my sink hole has nothing on Guatemala- I could still loose small children in it, I'm sure.  Okay, Okay ... very small children.  But I could probably loose them in the hole of disappointment I have from my yard caving in (I know, wah wah right).

But LK thought he could divert the water with some strategically placed tarps.  They held up okay during the day, we'll have to see how they faired once tonight's storm passes.

However, after seeing the news, I will no longer be complaining that rain is coming in my fireplace, that the creek took away the sandbox, that the laundry room had approximately 5 gallons of water in it when I awoke this morning, that my backyard has caved in on one corner, or that my newly painted bedroom had water pooling between the wall and the paint.  Because compared to the 50-60,000.00 dollars of damages some people have- I'm going to change my thoughts from this being one bad "case of the Mondays" to being pretty blessed.

Prayers and thoughts are with those whose damage is more,

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Life's a Beach

One of our family traditions is to kick off summer with a stay at the beach. While I'm not a fan of the 12 hours it takes to get there, I am a fan of spending time with my family and watching the boys play together in the sand- digging holes is apparently the coolest thing ever.

My boys hard at work

And hard at play 
(Geo spent most of his time in the water- way out with his aunts and uncle so not as many pictures of him at play on the beach this year ... he's getting so big!)

Geo catching up on some summer reading

One of my in-laws favorite beach activities is flying kites

pictures of the dolphin cruise and rocket launchers to come later 
(don't worry, we weren't launching the rockets at the dolphins)

Oh and, it's a good thing Gena's family wasn't there or she might have come home with yet another pet.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Foodie Friday: Ich Bin Alleine

This week I was alone.  All alone.  Here are few important facts about what normally happens to me when I'm alone:

  1. I decide to remodel something in my house
  2. This project takes over my life
  3. Thus I tend to not cook and instead eat only what is on hand.  (Now it's not that I don't like to cook for me.  I love to cook for me.  However, when no one else is here I loose track of time- no kids to feed and put to bed so no need stop what I'm doing.  It's the me equivalent of "5 more minutes mom" except my sandbox is a room of dust and paint.)
But this time, as LK was making his yearly pilgrimage to the Apple Developer's conference and the boys were away at Grannie Camp- I told myself I'd do it right and cook for me.  And I did.  Well.... I mean... I made one dessert and one entree for the 4 days I was alone, but baby steps right?  As for what I ate the rest of the week ... it's really best that we don't go into that.

Strawberry Pretzel Salad, pg 34
Don't let the word "salad" fool you.  No greens here.  It's more of a jello salad but with sweet cream cheese goodness added in for good measure.  I made this to take over to the house of Geo's friend, Sophie, when we went for a little swim. It was the perfect summer dish to go with their organic burgers and salad Sophie's mom grew in the garden.  Wonderful people.  I tried to find the smallest bag of pretzels I could which ended up being butter snaps which are not as salty real pretzels- I think saltier would have been even better.  And here's a question for you- it says "2 cups crushed pretzels."  This always confuses me.  Do they mean cups of crushed pretzels or two cups of pretzels then crushed?  See what I'm asking?  Is this just me or do you find yourself over-analyzing that kind of stuff too?  I used two cups and then crushed but that didn't seem like enough so I crushed up a few handfuls (no idea exactly how much) until the bottom of the 9x13 was at least lightly covered.  And yes, I did decide that strawberries made it a worthy breakfast food the next day.  After all there's eggs and milk in the chocolate cake, right Bill?

Fast Canadian Bacon Asparagus Fettucini, pg 91
Since I was cooking for me and only me, this one called out to me so I went with it.  I used thin spaghetti because I had it on hand and added some mushies I had that I needed to use.  I also went the fresh asparagus (she gives the option between fresh and frozen and fresh was totally spot on).  When I was in St Louis for Dr_EAM's match day I had some asparagus that was charbroiled a bit and it was very very yummy so I thought I'd try something like that with this.  So after the veggies were cooked and before adding the cream, I stuck everything under the broiler for a bit.  It got a little brown and didn't take away from the taste but it didn't really add anything either; and given that I didn't start cooking until 9pm the added time wasn't necessarily worth it.  She's right that the "fast" part is the cooking time if you have it all chopped up- which I didn't. So, while it's not fast like Lean Cuisine, man it sure tastes better.

And hey! Check out who's in town! Tanya!!! I've been linking to her ebay page before, but look- she has a website too: heylookicancook.com, what a great domain name.  And, if you're in my area and have been thinking about getting one of her cookbooks (and you should) let me know and while she's here we can work something out to help save on shipping.

Happy eating.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Random Thought Thursday: My life brought to you by TNT

What time is it: 1:02P

Where I am: my house, on my couch, in my painting clothes praying fervently it's all going to come together better than I currently anticipate it will

Listening to: Burn Notice (on in the other room) and it's multi-hour marathon that's been running since roughly 3AM

Last ate: Coffee and a handful of Fritos (I am not proud this)

Thoughts: Between Saving Grace and Memphis Beat if the TNT producers could come up with a show called Tulsa Time they've have the major cities of my life covered in cable access cop shows.

These are thoughts one has while painting with oil based paint in the middle of the night.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

To the Previous Owners of This House

I know think you were being all smart to modernize the house by painting the popcorn ceiling with a taupe oil based paint.

You were wrong.

Monday, June 7, 2010


This week's challenge for iheartfaces is "play."  I love the concentration ISH has on his face while putting the train together.

Click on the camera icon to see more faces at play.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Algorithms

Last night on our eternity drive home from Padre I spent several hours trying to get Google to tell me the answer the a question a client of mine asked. I knew somewhere out there in the series of tubes the answer was waiting but it took forever to figure out how to word my request correctly to get the answer to come to me.

Tonight I checked my analytics status for the blog and saw that someone stopped by this site after searching for the phrase "can guitar strings cause tetanus."

Algorithms can be so weird sometimes.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Foodie Friday: Geo's Birthday Dinner

Well I did it! Not only did I figure out a way to make a rainbow Star Wars cake not look like a shout out to June at Disney but I successfully made a cake (from scratch), icing (from scratch) and pizza lasagna (you guessed it, from scratch) all from the foreign kitchen of our condo in South Padre Island, Texas that was lacking in several of the necessities such as a mixer, a 9 x 13 pan, and a whisk.

 But it is indeed the mother of invention, for instance, did you know you can stiffen egg whites in a blender?  Well most of the way, then you have to use a fork to whip up the final bits- but not bad for having no mixer.

Pizza Lasagna, pg 74
This dinner was by request from Geo for his special birthday meal.  I didn't have a 12 x 8 glass baking dish so instead I used a longer roasting pan, balled up foil at the ends to make it not so long and used a 4th lasagna noodle on each layer to account for the width.  It still ended up kind of separating into 4 rows, but it tasted too good to care.  I used store-bought pizza sauce instead of making my own, but when I'm back trying this in my own kitchen, I'll be sure to go totally pioneer on this thing and make it all the way from scratch ... well minus the lasagna noodles I'm sure I see no need to make them from scratch.  And I was surprise to find a can of tomatoes that includes the green peppers and onions.  The recipe calls for it and I thought it would likely be something I would never find but by golly, Del Monte to the rescue!  For the mushies, Tanya only asks you to use three fresh ones, but I'm such a fan of mushies that I sliced a small container of the fresh ones.  I also heaped the parm cheese on top because I didn't think too much parm cheese would be a bad thing.  However, when cooked it got really (and I mean really) hard.  No one at the dinner seemed to mind, but next time I'll be heaping more of the mozzarella cheese on top and only sprinkling the required 2 TBSP of parmesan.  This one served all 10 of us (probably because of the extra row) and only 1 little piece of leftovers.

Laughably Simple White Cake, pg 155
I can see how in my kitchen this would be laughably simple.  In the foreign land of condo kitchen, I'm going to call it mild-little-chuckle white cake (mainly because I had no mixer- no fault of Tanya's).  Other than still not using the unbleached flour she calls for I followed this one to the letter.  And on my! It's easy and the almond extract is key.  I don't think I will be able to bring myself to buy a box mix after this one.  I didn't have the 9 x 13 that she called for and I needed to use part of the cake batter for the Tie-Fighter part of the cake, so what I made ended up flatter than I know a 9 x 13 with all the batter would have been.  But my BIL decided it made for a better cake to icing ratio.  Normally I'd agree because normally I'm a way bigger fan of icing than cake- but with this cake, I might have to opt for more cake in the ratio.

Cream Cheese Frosting, pg 156
Last year I spent hours trying to turn store-bought white frosting into red and not pink frosting.  The year before, when I was ignorant of the strong frosting dye you can buy at Hobby Lobby, I gave up that quest and Geo had a pink cake.  But this year- I cannot explain to you the vibrant color this frosting gives.  Red was R-E-D and the blue was SOOO blue. No baby boy or valentine's day colors here.  HELLO! This frosting kicks up the color wheel into a pinwheel party.  And the taste is excellent to boot.  I did omit the pecans from the recipe because I was using it to frost a cake, but I'm really looking forward to making it nuts and all to top some oatmeal cookies.  So very yummy.

And so... drum roll please ... I now present the final outcome of ... Geo's rainbow Star Wars birthday cake