Sunday, December 31, 2006

Harvey Wallbanger and His Cake

Last week at my parent's house I happened upon my mother's very old cookbook binder, this is the one where she kept her prize recipes. The binder cover is tattered and shows off a very nice 1970's pink and yellow floral design. She painstakingly entered each one of these recipes by hand or rocky typewriter courier font.

As I am usually in a cooking rut, I decided to pull up a chair and away I went flipping page by page. The rest of the family soon lost interest and left me with my mother's old book. It was an hour and a half tour through my childhood. Stuffed cabbages, eggplant Parmesan, pork chops and scalloped corn all those family dinners at 6pm sharp. Not only were there recipes but there were notes on some of the dishes explaining what year she cooked them. Some even displayed notes saying things like "took to Kitty Winke's New Year's Eve Party 1980, excellent." Each note was carefully written in my mother's lovely distinctive careful penmanship. Why couldn't I have perfect elegant penmanship like that?

Midway through I happened upon a Harvey Wallbanger Cake. With a name like that how could you not stop to pay reverence? Hmmmm....Harvey Wallbanger.

1pkg. yellow cake mix
1pkg. vanilla instant pudding
1 cup cooking oil (crisco)
4 eggs
1/4 cup vodka
1/4 cup Galliano
3/4 cup OJ

mix all ingredients and beat for 4 min. Pour batter in floured BUNDT pan. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes

Glaze cake when still warm:
1 cup powdered sugar
1T Galliano
1t Vodka
Drizzle over the cake when on the serving dish.

My father explained that a Harvey Wallbanger is a drink and was popular in the 1950's. Well golly gee willikers, if I am going to be a caricature of cul-de-sac suburban living then how could I pass up the Harvey Wallbanger Cake to take to the New Year's Eve party 2006? There I would be with my two lovely children, my muffin man walking all of 6 feet to the neighbor's party with my glass cake dish displaying the Harvey Wallbanger Cake molded in bundt pan form with orange vodka icing dripping down all sides evenly. Of course my darling children would disappear to play with their wholesome looking friends once we arrived and I would be free to tout my domestic prowess among adoring friends and neighbors. The spinach ball debacle of 2001 would be long forgotten and I would be free to enter myself as a cooking judge on the Iron Chef early in 2007.

Yes, we would be bringing Harvey Wallbanger Cake to the party. I quickly stole the recipe. (Then told my dad I took a copy since there were no less than three copies of Harvey Wallbanger cake in the pink floral book.) Three copies, I've struck gold I thought. This must be one winner of a cake.

Back at home the muffin man and I took the girls to the grocery. We needed Harvey Wallbanger ingredients. I carefully looked at the list and found a rather old looking tub of shortening labeled Crisco. I must admit I have no idea how old it was but Crisco doesn't exactly go bad does it? I pulled it out of the recesses of the cupboard patting myself on the back for using something just taking up space for so long. At the store we mosey over to the liquor aisle with our two small children looking for Galliano. We had some of the vodka in the cupboard but Galliano was a mystery. Apparently Meijer thinks Galliano is a mystery too. No Galliano. I ask the muffin man if he thinks it is anise flavored like my dad suggested. Perhaps we could get some anise flavored liquored instead? Oh no, the Muffin Man bellows if we are going to get a $30 liquor let's get something that tastes good, like Grand Marnier. (aka, tastes good and could be used in lieu of real date night at our house.) Hmmm, substitute Grand Marnier for Galliano? And then take the recipe that we've never made to a big party where all of our friends can mock me for being the biggest baking ditz in the world? Surely nothing could top the spinach ball debacle of 2001, why not? Sign me up. Galliano is out and Grand Marnier is in. And thus our family trip to the liquor aisle has concluded. But not before the lady in front of us rammed her cart into a six foot tall display of blue bottled liquors shouting, "Oh Shit!" Ava giggles and my man and I stare open jawed. She laughs nervously and looks at us apologizing profusely. I calmly tell her not to worry since we are a family of 4 who has recently spent 20 minutes educating our 4 year old on the difference between Hot Damn and Cinnamon Schnapps. A little profanity is to be expected.

Fast forward to today. I pull out all my ingredients and my shiny new bundt pan. (No, in 15 years of wedded bliss I have never once owned a bundt pan, it was a red badge of courage.) I use all the ingredients carefully. But then the batter is a little thick. Really thick. I re-evaluate my recipe card with 1960's goop stuck to the left side. Damn, crisco as in oil...not Crisco shortening should be used. Who ever heard of Crisco oil? What the hell? Isn't Crisco always the white disgusting stuff that looks like something out of the fat can?

Crap, no avoiding my mistake. In a moment of panic stricken pure genius I up the orange juice and toss in a dash more Grand Marnier to thin the batter. If it tastes gross at least everyone will be drunk as skunks before they notice.

It is in the oven now. Crisco shortening not oil and no Galliano, Grand Marnier all its glory.

In a moment of looking at the bright side the liquor laced icing made up quite nicely thank you very much.

Here he is. Harvey Wallbanger. I have no idea how it tastes. It's a cake right? I can't exactly dive in and THEN take it to a party.

I'm putting my money on It's a Winner! A little vodka, Grand Marnier, and a nice glass dish (lovely cover not shown) can take a girl pretty far in this cul-de-sac.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Can't stop thinking about those bags!

I've done a little thinking over the holiday season about these. (Scroll down to see the handbags, I know it is tough when you see the pictures of the girlie girls.) I think that I would like to start making them for people on a regular basis. Over the holiday I sold a few, will wonders never cease? I ran a spread sheet last night and I am almost in the black after sewing lots of fun bags this month. (An accounting whiz, I am not.) I find myself jump starting a small business in my head and then pulling myself back, as if I were a horse on a tight reign.

But then I am reminded of how I would like to remember my life when I am old and gray. (Unfortunately I don't think I'll be waiting that long for the gray part.) I want to remember living, trying new things, regardless of the outcome. I guess I would rather live and lose than never live at all. I know the real quote was about loving and losing rather than never loving at all, but it is the same premise right? Of all things, a commercial reminded me of this. Perhaps you have seen it. It has the actress Lynne Redgrave saying that she wants to die dancing the tango, or eating too much chocolate, not die of breast cancer. I hear that message. I want to die drinking a small glass of chardonnay, eating shrimp with killer cocktail sauce on a large front porch giggling hysterically with family and friends about how I wasn't afraid to try something new.

And so, here it is...something new.

Email me if you'd like a funky little bag with a bow on top. Everything in life is better with a bow on top.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Merry Christmas, Pass The Pumpkin Please

I love Christmas in the 'burbs. And, I inevitably I find a giggle in my short everyday travels. Some people say that their children make them laugh. Mine for the record only give me gray hair, for which I had to take a short ride out of the cul-de-sac yesterday to find Clairol's #363 medium golden brown hair coloring to take care of the situation. The Muffin Man watched and said, "Don't they just have some Grecian Formula for that?" "Uhh, yeah and this is it, Bright Eyes." I explained. Grecian formula for girls.

Back to why it is not my children, but rather my neighbors who are putting putting the kick in my holiday season. Here is why. Look at the picture, no those aren't supersized umber colored holly berries. It was taken on the sly by moi today, standing out in the street, with the super zoom acting like my holiday lights were so dang cute I must preserve the moment for the non-existent scrapbook. Pumpkin pie anyone? Maybe the folks at Starbucks could swing by pick them up and use it for my favorite pumpkin spice latte. I'll take mine without the mold. What do you think Mary thinks? Is she saying, "Hey, you remembered the pagan Halloween but you couldn't remember my baby boy's birth?"

Look up Mary, no one forgot about Christmas.

I know this goes without saying but how do you take the time to put up very nice tasteful bough of holly complete with lovely red bows and then not notice that the pumpkins are working themselves into composte on the concrete step 12 inches behind you?

And, yes I do live in a glass house so heretofore no one and I mean no one is ever allowed to open a closet in my house ever again, unless they are related to me and really need a mismatched sheet set or a 27 year old towel with holes.

Recently the Muffin Man won $75 in Vegas while there on business. There is a brand new double or nothing bet with the wife that we will have pumpkin soup by Easter.

And that my friends is the multi-holiday update from this corner of the cul-de-sac. Pumpkin pie and all.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Damn, I Need An Elf

Now why would the magical Christmas spirits punish a well meaning and oh, so hyper organized parent like myself? Way back in October about the time that this was happening I was buzzing around town getting a jump on this.

If I could have this all done and complete by this. Then I would indeed be her. And my children would be them. Complete with Alice, because let's face I could use a little help around here.

And so I shopped. The Muffin Man helped with a Costco run or two and by Thanksgiving we were wrapped, slapped, and tied up with a big ole' bow. The loot was neatly stashed into the back of Grammy and Grampy's Lexus heading off the to great white north where we would meet up with it all a nice and tidy 3 days before Christmas where we would be free to drink plenty of these while laughing snidely at those folks too stupid to start Christmas shopping at Easter. Now is when you should be singing "off to Grandmother's house we go" in your head and envisioning this, except my kids are Chinese, but you get the drift.

Except we have a problem. This child has exercised her prerogative as a woman "in training" to change her mind. Remember, Christmas shopping is done and the presents have been carefully wrapped and are conveniently out of state. Instead of whoozees and whatnots...she has clearly stated to Santa (at the mall and at the Children's museum) that she would like widgets and whizballs. Please, with a red bow on top.

Ordinarily, in past years I might have just run out and tossed a plastic card at these people. However, we have the littlest elf living with us now and what good parent in their right mind would allow Santa to bring more toys for one child than the other? I don't think she would. Oh, no Even Steven all the way baby. Not to mention the fact that we have completed 2 adoptions in 4 years, we have 2 college educations to bang our heads against the wall thinking about, and Momma currently has a slight cash flow problem, she has traded in those delightful Italian leather working boots for these. (Sad Momma kicks.) The toy train has come to a halt, and has fallen off the track.

So, instead what do the Muffin Man and I decide to do? We bought this, which in itself is so far beyond way cool except it was not what was whispered in Santa's ear. I plan to dress it up with lots of blingy bows under the tree. Hopefully when she sets eyes on this baby all other thoughts of widgets and whazoos will be a distant memory. A valuable lesson has been duly noted in the Parenting Handbook and filed under the red Christmas tab, go ahead and with masses on the 24th.

For those of you feeling especially sad for little Ava, the deprived and unloved little soul. Her birthday is three weeks after Christmas.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

All Bundled Up

Here they are, my girls all bundled up. This photo was taken just a few days ago when it was oh so cold outside. Then, yesterday we were out chalk drawing on the sidewalk because it was over 50 degrees. I didn't grow up in this town but I did mostly grow up in towns on about the same latitudinal line, therefore about the same weather. I don't remember winters like these...freezing and then 50 degrees all in the same week in December. The Muffin Man is getting huge guffahs out of the "cow farts are causing global warming" stories out this week. He thinks Al Gore a cow fart himself. I believe his heart is in the right place. I do own an environmental license plate after all. And so by political standing alone you'd think me saddened by the unseasonal warmness of the last few days. I am not. Even those those kids do look super cute in their winter gear, I've decided to start counting down days until the pool opens. It is somewhere around 194. Seems like a lot.

But then again 194 will probably pass in a flash. How do I know this? One baby has been home for over 4 years and the other home 3 whole months. She turned 13 months this week.
I'm watching two of my favorite bloggies travel to China to pick up their babies this week. I can still smell China. I can still feel my stomach turn as I watch someone's live snake dinner swim in the tank and poke his little head over the top. How can it all be gone so fast? We've been home for over 3 months.

I'm sort of bundled up this week too. I'm wrapped up in all that is Christmas and life with an almost 5 year old and a baby who is not really a baby anymore. I vacillate between wanting to enjoy each minute with them while they are small and a desire to figure out what will happen next in life as they grow. They will grow fast and move on to school and beyond. What will I do next? Should I even be thinking of this now when they need me most? I'm not exactly sure why I feel this time in my life holds such opportunity for more than a mom who does all things for kids at home. Perhaps it is a desire to be more than a cliche.

Usually I like to wrap these posts up with a resounding epithet or snappy ending pulling everything together. A lesson for me and for anyone who reads. But there is no lesson yet, I haven't figured out what is next. As always, I pressure myself to figure it out. I'd be well served not to pressure myself and just be. I know that. And yet...still working on it.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

We'll Be Right Back After These Messages

Anyone who has pint size mess makers sponging off them eating macaroni and cheese and animal crackers faster than the grocery man can replenish needs this. My Main Muffin Man brought this home yesterday. I looked at him crosseyed trying desperately to seem grateful since we already have a vacuum cleaner.

But we did not have this Electrolux. No sir'ee.

It weighs about 2 oz. and get this, no plug! It recharges itself. Although, I do sort of miss the untangling of a dog leg or neck. It sniffs up bits and pieces of our hourly messes toot sweet. Then if that isn't enough, the little piece at the bottom comes off and becomes a dust buster. You can swiff up nasty stuff while shaking this thing over your head if you like. I used it in all sorts of scary places this morning.

And if that isn't enough of a party for you. Clean the thing out. You just pop the filter thingy off and shake it in the trash can. I found 5 ficus tree leaves mixed with a gignoramous amount of gray matter after only 6 minutes of skipping through my downstairs.
My life as a boring house frau is officially changed. I'm serious if you have a small human who thinks tossing peas off a high chair is blood sport go get one of these. Find a coupon and shop till you drop.

I ask you what man in his right mind would use his birthday money from the in-laws to buy an electrolux? I knew there was one reason I keep the old guy around.

Kudos Electrolux people. About the color? Umm...well now my girls will be able to say that their parents had an oh so retro orange vacuum cleaner. If I can say that my parents had avocado green and mustard yellow daisies on the wall they should be able to tell the tall tale of an orange vacuum.

I know I know...just show a picture of the girls. Tomorrow, I promise.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

15 Seconds of Fame

The kid's been home three months and she's already had her 15 seconds of fame. Upon visiting the State Museum this week we were greeted by Mrs. Claus motioning us into Santa's lair. Little Liv wasn't so sure. I looked up to see a very large telephoto lens in our face while sitting up close and personal with Mr. Claus. Wow, I thought Santa's photo helpers must have upgraded in hopes of selling extra 5x7 copies to weak and feeble parents.

As it turns out Santa's photographer was not Santa's helper at all. He worked for the local paper.
He quickly took our names and we were off to see some 10 billion year old meteor that hit Indiana soil in the 1960's in no time at all.

The next morning the Muffin Man was reading the paper and sipping coffee. Hey, lookey there he proclaimed, front page of the Metro State section.

And so that is how Olivia got 15 seconds of fame all within 3 months of moving to the USA.

Note to stalkers: I realize that this picture does disclose our last name and town. Should you feel inclined to disturb our little corner of the cul-de-sac...don't, the Muffin Man is large and not nice to strangers. He weilds a hefty golf club over head to any unsuspecting stalkers. Don't tell me you weren't warned when you get your 15 seconds of fame in the paper.

Everyone else, thanks for the nice phone calls and emails saying you saw the cutie pie over your morning coffee.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Still Thinking About Beaded Trim and Grosgrain Ribbons

I am still thinking and planning on how to make a little side business work. So, more to come soon as I work on how best to display my bags online and possibly in some local boutiques. I have tried to respond to everyone personally who has expressed even the slightest interest in purchasing a bag from the most recent batch of chocolate and chartruese/light aqua group. If I have hounded an inbox near you, please there is never any pressure to buy. And yet Christmas is only 21 days away. Ha.

Does using your time sitting outside of daughter number one's Chinese school class scribbling ideas on a yellow pad count as developing a business plan? Don't answer that. I even have a name for the whole shebang...I'm seeing it in lights in my dreams. Kidding.

Ok, Miss Laid back bestest baby in the whole wide world is schreeching for a banana or something.

More to come soon or later, hopefully soon.