Monday, June 10, 2013

Rainbow zebra cake

I promised I would show you how I made the zebra cake for Boo's birthday.  Finally, I am able to take a few minutes to get it up.

I found a picture of a zebra striped cake on Pinterest but it did not take me to instructions (make sure when you pin you have the proper source) so I did a search for how to make one and came up with several sites so you shouldn't have any trouble finding anything.

I knew I was going to make cupcakes so I only needed a six inch cake to use for candles.  I chose to use the Wilton zebra cupcake liners that would retain color while baking.

I made up two cake mixes (chocolate and french vanilla) to use.  I departed here from one of the recipes I found online that suggested you add a bit to the chocolate cake mix, but I went on the fly.  I shouldn't have.  If you find one of the sites that says to add something to the chocolate, it will help thin it out a bit (I'm guessing).

I just alternated a quarter cup of batter from each flavor until my pan was full enough to bake.

The instructions said to bake according to package directions so I made sure I got two mixes that had the same bake times.  Now, I'm not sure if my oven is having issues or if I did something wrong, but my cake took almost an hour to bake.  That is way too long for a six inch cake to need and I didn't have a lot of time to start over so I just went with it.  I had plenty of cupcakes so the cake wasn't really as much of an issue.

I iced the six inch cake white and used parchment sheets cut straight across to draw a rainbow on top.

This is the first shot of me actually putting decoration on the cake.  The hubs asked if he could do anything to help so I told him to grab the camera.

I also iced the cupcakes white and used candy to stand up for the rainbow on them.  Just to remind you, this is how they looked.

If you use this candy on cupcakes, put it on right before the party.  The strips will slowly flatten down, they are not very stiff.

Here is the cake.

Notice how the rainbow was off centered a bit?  I didn't even let it bother me this time.  I just keep telling myself about all the money I saved making this myself.

And here is how it looked cut.

What cakes have you made lately?

Linked to: Skip to My Lou

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A forced reprieve

Not long after my last post I was working on my follow up to the zebra cake when my laptop no longer wanted to cooperate with what I wanted to do.  I realized that at eight years old, it was on its last legs and I started looking for a new one.  I found what I thought was the perfect computer, transferred all my data, and promptly had it crash on me causing everything to be lost (luckily I had not deleted anything off the old computer).  I contacted the manufacturer who suggested I send it back to where I bought it since they believed it to be defective.  They merely wiped the hard drive and sent it back to me in a nearly unusable state.  The manufacturer would not take it back at that point because it had been wiped.  I went through the very slow process of trying to restore this laptop to a usable condition.  That took almost three months.  Now I am migrating my stuff to the new laptop once again.  I am going more slowly and concentrating on whether I really need some of my really old files anymore, kind of cleaning out the junk as I go.  I even got rid of over half my fonts and I am a font hoarder.

I have not forgotten you out there, really.  I am going to try to get back to regular posting soon.  I have a semi busy summer (as most everyone does).  My mom has decided to remodel her kitchen, most of the work done without taking any pictures before (the nerve!).  I plan to take pictures of the before and after while I am painting it for her.  I am also the parent volunteer for a science camp this year as well as having my girls take swimming lessons (way overdue).  Vacation Bible School just ended so that is out of the way.  Things won't slow down when school starts back in August, either.  I will be even more involved than I was last year not to mention splitting time between two schools.

Thankfully, the blog saved the progress I had already made on the post under construction, so I will get it up as soon as I have my photo editing software up and running.  It might take me a few more days.  Until then, tell me what you are doing this summer.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Mississippi Tornado Damage

We live in Petal, MS.  Sunday afternoon I was working on a post of how I made the zebra cake for Boo's birthday.  My husband wasn't feeling well so we did not go to church so we wouldn't spread germs (we thought he had the flu) to the other members.  It was raining on and off during the day and we were under a sever thunderstorm alert.  The weather app on our phones went off telling us we were under a tornado watch.  We turned on our TV and saw that it was almost immediately upgraded to a warning and it was just one town over from us.  We gathered our girls and dogs and put them in the closet (I should note they were not afraid and were quietly playing their DS games, this was not the first time they had to go in the closet for weather).  We continued to watch the TV to see where it was headed, when the cable and then power went out.  We had no idea where the tornado was headed but towards our town.  I went out the front of the house and Jeff went out the back to keep an eye out, and so we could head to the closet if needed.

I could see very dark clouds in the distance, but there are a lot of trees around so it was a little difficult to see.  Our neighbors were doing the same thing we were.  Here is a shot of the dark cloud rolling in.

Just a few seconds later we saw the tornado going by a little over a mile from our homes.

Can you see the edges?  Here is a shot that shows where they are in relation to this picture.

Then, relieved, we watched it move off.

You can see the back edge just between the farthermost houses.

Having no power, cable or internet, we did not know what happened.  I immediately called my parents who live a bit closer into town and found they were okay.  My sister and her family had gone to church and I was relieved when they pulled into our driveway.

We were without power until late into Sunday night and did not get cable or internet until last night.  Monday Jeff wanted to go by his work because he had a meeting so we went with him, hoping to connect to the internet there to get a little info.  On the way we found out just how bad the storm was (our info so far was through Facebook on our phones and texts from people outside our area).

Late in the night we got called by the school district telling us no school for Monday.

This is what we started to find as we drove.

Trees were just twisted right off and put down farther away (the trunk is on the right and the tree is by the road).  This is  smaller tree, but the larger ones were not any better, just sheared a bit farther up the trunks.  We live in an are with a lot of the tall pine trees like the ones you see in the above photo.  Many along the path are now missing tops.  What I have not posted are pictures of destroyed homes through here.  This pictures is just a little less than half a mile from my parents' home.

We started seeing a lot of debris in the trees.

We were even more heartbroken as the damage continued to get we got closer to town.  This used to be a hardware store on Main Street.  This is about 1000 ft from our church (our church was not damaged).  Many houses around here were destroyed or heavily damaged.

Here are the stores across the street.

Going into Hattiesburg we found more damage.  It was not easy to find a way to get where we were going.

We could not even get on to one of the main roads in Hattiesburg.  We had to make our way around.  It was sad to see the Alumni House at The University of Southern Mississippi had been heavily damaged.

Other buildings on campus were damaged badly also.

After getting to Jeff's work, his meeting was cancelled so we just gathered the info we could and headed back home.  We took a quick drive by our girls' school to see how it fared as it was in the path.  Houses across the street from and behind  the school were damaged, but the school itself looked intact.  Only debris and downed trees on the playgrounds.

What we saw at homes everywhere we went were people coming together to clean up even though our rain has not yet ended.  I watched my friend's daughter so she and her son could go help with clean up efforts in the afternoon.

Here is a video taken by storm chasers in the area.  The video shows the same stretch of road twice, with two different cameras.  The damage they stop at is the University where the road is now closed.  This is taken in Hattiesburg.

Thankfully, there have been no deaths reported.

Please pray for the families here who have been affected.  Go to the Mississippi Red Cross site and donate to the relief efforts in Forrest and Lamar counties.  Our local Red Cross office was destroyed along with their recovery trucks, but they are still helping people.

Friday, February 1, 2013

January 365 pictures

A few years ago a friend of mine did a 365 photo project, the project where you take a picture every day of the year.  She is a wonderful photographer and always took great pictures.  She encouraged me to try, but I never did.  Now that I have a camera on my phone I thought I would try again and post the pictures to Instagram.  So far I have remembered to take a picture every day.

All of my pictures are taken with my phone's camera and then I choose one from the day to import to Instagram.  Some of the pictures are not great, but I am just taking snapshots of my day and those moments aren't always the best so it works out.

Here are my January shots:

Day 1:  My favorite sneakers, bright green Converse All Stars.

Day 2:  My husband ordered me a ukulele for Christmas but it didn't arrive until January 2nd.

Day 3:  Boo ate a whole lemon for the first time.  She claimed she loved it but her eyes were watering.

Day 4:  Not far in to the year my agitator quit spinning on my washing machine.  I looked it up on the internet and found that my agitator dogs could be broken.  When I took it apart, I found that was the cause.  All those small little pieces on the bottom left should be four slightly larger pieces.  I was able to replace them myself easily and save a repair bill.  Oh, and I cleaned all that gunk up on the other parts before I put it back together.

Day 5:  Just before bed I helped Boo pull her first tooth.  She was very brave and extremely happy that she would get a visit from the tooth fairy.

Day 6:  The start of Downton Abby season 3.  We got to watch the first episode on PBS but have missed all the following ones.

Day 7:  Beryl and Turbo fight over who will get to sit next to me.  Beryl rarely lets Trbo touch her when they are laying down so this was rare.

Day 8:  I had a hard time recovering from bought with the flu because of my asthma.  This was a common sight next to my bed for a couple of weeks.

Day 9:  I got to have lunch with my big girl at school.

Day 10:  Beryl one this battle of the dogs.  Turbo climbed up on the back of the sofa so he could still be near me.

Day 11:  I love Texas toast.  I could eat it all the time.

Day 12:  Turbo won battle of the dogs this night.  He slept right next to me all night.

Day 13:  I used these rainbow swirl suckers as part of Boo's birthday goodie bags.

Day 14:  Boo's birthday, she now has to use two hands to show her age.

Day 15:  I was folding laundry when Turbo decided he was not getting enough attention.  He was actually pushing things off with his nose as I folded.

Day 16:  Got to enjoy the third in a series of books.

Day 17:  It doesn't happen very often in south Mississippi, but it snowed here.  The girls were very disappointed they had to go to school because they wanted to play in it.  It only lasted an hour and was completely melted a half hour after it ended.  This was a spectacular end to nearly two weeks of solid rain.

Day 18:  I made cupcakes for Boo's birthday party.

Day 19:  Boo's rainbow zebra birthday cake.

Day 20:  Our church was lucky enough to have a great gospel singing group called The Dartts come sing for us (l to r: BJ Speer, Sharon Dartt, Stone Mountain Dartt and Tracy Dartt).  Their daughter used to attend our church and I became good friends with her during that time.  Even though she has moved, I'm glad when her family comes back to sing for us.  If you want to check out their music go to their website.  BJ tours and performs with the group but also does solo albums so you can check his out here.

Day 21:  Boo just left all of her gift bags in the middle of her floor.  It was a little girl birthday explosion.

Day 22:  In December I was supposed to have an appointment for my leg but couldn't make it because i had the flu then.  I finally got my follow up and my x-ray showed the break was healed.  I won't have to see this exam room again.

Day 23:  I found Beryl fast asleep in my spot on the bed.

Day 24:  I was practicing my ukulele.  I'm not very good, in fact this is my first ever musical instrument.  I'm trying though.

Day 25:  Folding clothes again, I had stacks of little girl clothes everywhere and nothing of mine.

Day 26:  Checking on the girls before I went to bed I discovered this little bunny outside Boo's door.  No idea why she put it out there.

Day 27:  We went to visit Jeff's mom and the girls were looking out over the lake by her house.  They are almost always holding hands.  Unfortunately our altenator went out on us while were there and we had to use her car to get home.

Day 28a:  Usually Jeff takes the girls to school on his way to work.  He had to go back to his mom's to get our car fixed so I took them this morning.  It was already 70 degrees out and very humid and very foggy.  I snapped this picture of a field while at a stop sign.  You could barely see the trees.

Day 28b:  The only double picture day so far.  Just a shot of the same field when I went to pick the girls up from school.

Day 29:  Our two coffee pots.  Both were gifts from my mother-in-law.  We use them both, but K-cups are expensive so we are looking for a good cup to use in it for our regular coffee.  We tend to use the Keurig on the weekends and the other maker during the week.

Day 30:  Just a few days before the alternator went out I had a flat tire.  Jeff put the spare on and we intended on getting the bad tires replaced.  This day it was pouring rain and I was nearly out of gas when the low tire light came on.  We had just paid for the alternator and I was praying that it wasn't another flat.  Tires weren't flat and new tires have been ordered for us.

Day 31:  Boo was putting the finishing touches on her school project telling about how a Canada Goose spends winter.

Up until February 1st my Instagram was public, but there was a comment left on this picture with extremely vulgar language and innuendo.   I went to that person's profile only to find it was a fake.  I have decided to make my Instagram feed private now so if you want to follow my 365 there just request me to add you.  Look for @renondab.

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