Saturday, May 30, 2009

Cake Wrecks, Here I Come!

I'm pretty sure I want to quit. I've been looking for the perfect cake recipe for over a year. A cake solid enough to withstand the tortures of carving and moving, without tasting like cardboard. Still no such luck.

Check it out on my Kake blog.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Nineteen Minutes

Jodi Picoult Pictures, Images and Photos

Jodi Picoult's "Nineteen Minutes" was a powerful book for me. It wasn't grand literature of the Austen/Steinbeck vein, but it was powerful for me nonetheless.

The story deals with a shooting rampage at a high school, seen through the eyes of several people in the town affected by it; a police office, a judge, a victim, the shooter's parents, the shooter himself.

The book flashes backwards and forwards in time. You see the kids in preschool, then you're back in the present. Back and forth. It's painful to see the shooter, Peter, as a young child. It's painful to see the experiences that shaped him to what he became. It's crazy, but you almost have empathy for him. Almost.

You see how hard several parents try to be the best parent, to give the best advice, be the best role models, and you see how miserably they fail. You don't know you've raised a bully, a geek, a slut, a brainiac, a killer.

It's frightening how close to the heart Picoult digs in this way. I found myself crying throughout the book, wondering "What If?" What if, no matter how hard I try, it turns out horribly wrong. You can only guide them so much, but will you catch the signs in time? Is it possible to?

It deals with their teens and their struggles to define who they are, how huge their problems seem to be to them at that moment in their lives.

Am I liked, who am I, why is he dating me, can I leave him, why is he like this to me?

Why do they pick on me, why can't they leave me alone?

I wanted to tell them that it would be over soon, promise. It's only one small portion of your life. Blink, and you're 40. Don't let it get to you. My highschool days were really painless. Are they for my son? Would he even tell me?

"Nineteen Minutes" (named for the time it took the shooter to go through his school on his spree) is like a mirror we parents really don't want to stare into too much.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Help Me Choose....

....a new Letterboxing Trail Name.

I'm known as DavidandKaaren in the LB community, but as David's not as involved anymore, I want an indentity of my own. Knowing me and my obsessions as some of you do, which one on the poll to the right do you like? Some of these were friend suggestions, thanks All!!

(tVS = theVampire Slayer)

If you have any questions, comment on this post. Have a suggestion of your own? Leave a comment too!

The poll closes soon. Thanks a bunch. :)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Boelyn Inheritance

THE BOLEYN INHERITANCE Pictures, Images and Photos

I read this book because I really enjoyed "The Other Boleyn Girl," and wanted to try another historical fiction by Philippa Gregory.

The book deals with Henry the VIII's next two wives, after he divorced his first wife Catherine of Aragorn, after his second wife, Anne Boleyn's beheading and his next wife, Jane Seymour's death at child birth. Dude was a whackadoo, by the way. After reading "The Other Boleyn Girl," I became extremely interested in the Tudors, renting movies and reading autobiographies. So again, I say, Dude was a whackadoo. The whole lot of them are fascinating.

The story is told through the eyes of three women. Wife # 4, Anne of Cleves, is a German-born woman longing to escape her tyrannical brother. She is betrothed to the king, based on his choice of her from an artist's rendering. She is taken to England to be his bride. In real life, it is said the King thought her a cow, an oaf, that the artist greatly improved her in pictures. In Ms. Gregory's book, we see how one huge mistake on Anne's part dooms her marriage. Her voice, Anne's, was the one I enjoyed the most. She was smart, level-headed, she knew what a miracle it was that she was not killed by the man she knew to be mad.

The second voice is that of Catherine Howard, a superficial teenager who becomes wife # 5 by seducing the aging, insane king with her youth and sensuality. The book portrays her as an airhead only interested in pretty things; jewels, dresses, furs. Not much is known about her in real life, other than she was apparently unfaithful to the king and was put to death less than two years after marrying him. Her voice in the book was my least favorite.

The third voice was that of Jane Boleyn, wife of Anne Boleyn's brother (the same brother who was killed for rumours of sexual liaisons with his sister Anne - quite possible made up so that the king could get out of his marriage to Anne; we'll never know). Jane was an interesting character. Self-Preservation was her number one goal. Throughout the book she is portrayed as a woman who loved her husband, madly & deeply, yet it was her testimony that sent him to the scaffold. She's in denial about who and what she is. Her voice is a little off. She wants to believe her own voice, but we all know she's a bit insane.

It's a pretty good book, not as good for me as "The Other Boleyn Girl," but a quick ready, as the chapters are divided by speaker, making it flow faster.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

More Letterboxing Pics

These were taken by ThreeHearts (Kim). I want a fancy camera for Christmas!

Um. So yea.
"I'll get it!"
Kaaren of The Jungle

See Jack! I'm still defying gravity!

Stamping in, in a clearing in the woods.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Spring Letterboxing

The last time we letterboxed successfully was in January. We attempted another time, but found everything either under water or missing. Very disheartening.

Saturday morning was the Florida Letterboxing group's Spring Gather in St. Cloud, FL. I intended to go with Isabel, and leave the boys at home, but when Isabel woke up sounding like one of Marge Simpson's sisters, I opted to let her stay home. It was just me, all day long. Which is actually a plus. No one to say they were bored, or hot, or whatever. I got to 'box all day and got 9 finds.

Lundy and Vickster, Three Hearts and Grizzly Adam

Siamese (standing), Moira, Grizzly Adam, and across the bench, Retrogreekgirl.

Moira, Siamese and Old Hounder.

The ladybug cake I made gets her heiney cut off.

Me, ThreeHearts (Kim) and Sits & Knits (Dawn)

Hunting for Tuppy!

Adam, Dee and Dawn. Getting the last box of the day.
I left the house at 9 a.m. and returned at 5 p.m. It was a fun day with friends. Can't wait to see the pictures everyone else took.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Nursery Rhymes are Weird

Ladybug! Ladybug!
Fly away home.
Your house is on fire.
And your children all gone.
All except one,
And that's little Ann,
For she crept under
The frying pan.

Morbid much? Or do they mean the kids got away? Nursery rhymes are weird if you really think about them.

Check out my LADYBUG. :)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

How to NOT be a role model for your kids

The kids and I were at Wal-Mart Tuesday evening shopping for groceries. Isabel has been on Tinkerbell kick for a while and has been begging for a Tinkerbell costume to add to her collection for a couple of weeks. I decide to head over to the toy section with her to check them out.

The deluxe costume with wings that she wants is hanging up and is $20.00. I notice below, that there are these cardboard "toy chests" with Tinkerbell all over them. I bend down to look. The cardboard sets include two dresses, a pair of slippers, small wings and two plastic bracelets, in the cute chest for the same price. Granted, the dresses were not as fancy as the deluxe one.

I ask her if she's interested in those instead. She looks doubtful. I'm sensing high maintenance? She gets that from her aunt V. :) I notice that two of the three boxes have actually been opened, so I decide to look inside them to see what's what.

Box # 1: Empty of all its contents

Box # 2: Wings on top, plastic wrapped dress # 1 underneath wings. Cool, let's see what else is there. I lift up the wrapped fairy dress to discover some kid's used dirty clothes shoved in there.

I pause.

Someone undressed their daughter in the aisle, dressed her in the fairy costume, fairy slippers and jewelry, shoved the dirty clothes in the box, and put the second dress on top.

What in the Sam-Hill is this parent thinking?? They undress the child there? They steal clothes with the child as the accomplice? (reminds me of the parents who used their child to steal a puppy from a puppy store here a few years back and they were caught on surveillance tape).

I am absolutely disgusted. I am. There is nothing more I can say about these trashy people who would do that with and to their kids.

I took the two boxes, found an employee and explained it to him. He sighed, thanked me and took the boxes.

My Princess opted for the Deluxe costume, but I did not buy her the shoes. Yet. I'm a sucker, I know. But I'm an honest sucker.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mother's Day Weekend

The lovely guests of the Magnus-Inn arrived on Friday night. We had steak on the grill and lots of yummy sides, including this Victorian Raspberry Torte which was YUMMO!!

Saturday morning, we got up bright and early, as our guests, Aunt Ramona and Uncle Russ, had to change their plans and take care of some things. I made scrambled eggs, bacon, toast, hash browns, with coffee and OJ. Yum. They left around 9:30 a.m.

At around 4 p.m, my friend Mo came over and were were WICKED!! Woo Hoo! David gave up his seat to Jacob. His reasons were two-fold. 1) So Jake could experience a professional Broadway-style show and 2) so he and Isabel could go shopping for Mother's Day (lol, men!)

The play, of course, was again fantastic. We had a great time, even with the crazy noise-making section in the first half. Over our shoulders and to our left we kept hearing people talking and laughing and being rude. Then at one point when a goat-man on stage says "Baaahhhh," someone in that group also yells out "Baaaahhh!" Everyone SHUSHED them. I seriously thought that maybe we were dealing with mentally challenged people at a play. I was ok with that, until that is, intermission, when the lights come up and an usher comes forward to talk to the group. The group...of 3-4 redneck, (possibly) drunk women. Yea. Nice. People, this is not a pep rally, this is not a monster truck rally, and there is no audience participation. This is a PLAY. After the usher's rebuke, not a peep was heard from the boiled peanut gallery.

Sunday was LAZY DAY. I tried calling my mom several times in the a.m. but could not get a line.
"All circuits are busy now. Please try your call again later." I finally reached her around 1:30 p.m.

Isabel was all a-twitter about bringing me my flowers and cards to bed.

Here are my sweet cards.

Remember that "shopping" David was going to do with Isabel? gift cards.

Bwa ha ha. SO funny. We did go to Books-A-Million after my Mother's Day dinner at the Mellow Mushroom. I picked up a couple of books, but still have plenty of "gift card money" left.

My mom sent me some $$ as well. I used it to purchase the centerpiece seen below.

I hope you all took care of your mom like I was taken care of. :)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Anansi Boys

Anansi Boys Neil Gaiman Pictures, Images and Photos
Another Neil Gaiman book, I know. I like him.

"Anansi Boys" is the story of a man. A sad sack of a man named Charlie Nancy, better known as Fat Charlie, even though he's not fat anymore. He was a little chubby as a child, and his father, Mr. Nancy, named him Fat Charlie. It stuck. Things tended to stick when Mr. Nancy named them, after all, he's a god. Fat Charlie just never knew this until after Mr. Nancy's sudden demise.

Suddenly, Fat Charlie, a man with zero ambition, is thrust into a world of magic, missing relatives who assume his life, a swindler of a boss out to escape before being caught, time and plane traveling, amusing and scary Animals, killer birds and all sorts of mischief. Fat Charlie is just not happy about it at all.

It was a funny, something groan-emitting book (Fat Charlie FRUSTRATED me at times with his wishy-washiness) that in the end, came out all right for most who deserved it.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

This Inn Includes Pancake Breakfasts!

Hee hee. I love this.

(click the pictures to make them bigger)

The Back Story:

We live in Florida, a vacation Mecca. We also moved into our new home in 2006, giving us not one but two spare bedrooms. We have lots of house guests. LOTS.

I love being a hostess. I do! I get to create great meals, bake fun things and open our homes to people, to help them save $$ and to share in their company.

Don't get me wrong, there are times when it's a little crazy, like the month last fall/winter where three weekends in a row had us hosting people. Those time, I want to hide in a hole. But most of the times, I am hinting, asking, begging friends and family over because I love being together with people. We moved kind-of out-of-the-way to afford the house, and now we are paying with loneliness (cue violins). ;)

Jacob at one point states that we are the "Magnus Inn," a play on our last name. I loved it. Wouldn't that be funny as a sign on one of the guest room doors?

The months went by. A pal of ours has a store on ETSY, a great place to buy homemade goods of all kinds. (looking for fun, homemade note cards? Check out Niki's store, Nikco.) While on Etsy, I remembered "the Magnus Inn" joke and started browsing.

I found Define Your Space after several pages of searching. Her stuff looked fun, so I started an on-line conversation with the owner about what I was interested in. She was quick with the pictures and samples; super-quick. I told her ideas, colors, she showed me fonts and layouts. Pretty soon, we were on our way to getting our sign.

Isn't in fun and fantastic?? Check out Define Your Space's many many items.

EDIT: Saturday 05/09. Jacob insists that *I* gave the room its name, not him and that I'm giving him credit that is not his. Oh well. I'm good then, huh? :)

VoilĂ !!

Click the cake to see, well, the cake.

Monday, May 4, 2009



That sound, that "ding dong" drives me nutty!!!! It's the sound of the front doorbell. It's the sound of the front doorbell ringing five minutes after I have walked into the house from working all day.

pulling hair Pictures, Images and Photos

Isabel has a neighbor friend who is on the lookout for me. The minute I get home, neighbor girl (n.g. for the rest of this post) is bolting from her house for my front door.

Why, you ask? Because for some reason my hubby once-upon-a-time told her and her brother that they could not be over the house unless I was home. I have control issues and David has tunnel vision and notices nothing. Long story.

Well, the n.g. and Iz play outside now. I can't remember the last time they were in the house. I like that Iz gets outside exercise and she has a friend. But PLEASE LET ME RELAX FOR MORE THAN 5 MINUTES!!


I have told the girl on several occasions "I just walked in the door, let me get settled," while Isabel is screeching in the background that she wants to go out to play.

I don't let Isabel outside by herself. She's 5 and a very young, naive 5 at that. I go out there and read a book or talk on the cell while they play in the opened garage or back yard.

I just want 5 minutes to get relaxed and maybe another 30 minutes to start dinner before being dragged outside. I hate being the grumpy lady that won't let Isabel play, but come on!

Edited: 45 minutes after this post - "Ding Dong!" The doorbell rang. But hey! It's 2 hours after I got home! Dinner was already done and cleaned up!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

500 Cakes

As you all know, I love experimenting with pretty cake designs, but have been having some not-so-good luck with cake recipes. Usually, the cake decorating books recommend a Madeira cake to work with. Madeira cakes are excellent for shaping and carving, because they are dry as the desert! No desert desserts here.

While at Books-A-Million, I perused the baking sections. They have a great selection of cake recipe books, as well as cake decorating books. After looking through all of them, I purchased "500 Cakes: The Only Cake Compendium You'll Ever Need, " by Susannah Blake.

It's a small book, maybe 5" x 5" but it's full of a lot of different cake recipes, like classic cakes, coffee cakes, cheesecakes, tortes & gateaux, etc.

I have already attempted two recipes (banana cake and classic wedding) and I am impressed with the tastes. Tomorrow evening's attempt: Coffee & Praline Layer Cake. I'll let you know how it goes.