28 August 2011

THE birthday cake

Friday we celebrated Theo's 9th birthday.  Today I became the mother of a teenager, as we celebrated Walter's turning 13. 
John and I were also involved in a friend's wedding yesterday (he as the officiant, I as the wedding coordinator), so it's definitely been a weekend full of CAKE!

While I do have things to share from the weekend, I thought I would post one of our family's very favorite birthday cakes.  Walter asks for it every year, and has loved it since he was just a baby.  I found this recipe in Real Simple, back when it was a fledgling magazine, maybe 10 years ago.
This cake looks impressive, and is really not that hard to make (as long as you read the directions, just like they taught you to do in school!).  It's light and sweet, filled with lots of fresh fruit and whipped cream.  What's not to love?!
It's just a wee bit too long for that platter...hope you get the idea.  Oh, and the cake in the background is left over from Theo's day. 
Strawberry Long-Cake Roll
from Real Simple
3/4 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
4 eggs, separated
1 1/4 c. sugar, granulated
2 t. vanilla extract
confectioners' sugar
1 pint heavy cream
2 pints strawberries, cut in half or sliced

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Coat a jelly-roll pan with cooking spray and line the bottom of the pan with wax paper.  Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.  Set aside.
With an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until foamy.  Gradually add 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.
In another bowl (sorry, you will dirty several bowls with this one!), beat eggs yolks and another 1/2 cup granulated sugar until pale and thick.  Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla.  Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the flour and beaten yolks in the whites until just blended.  Spread in the pan.  Bake for 15 minutes (keep and eye on it so the edges don't get too brown), or until it springs back when lightly touched.
While it bakes, place a clean dish towel on your work surface and dust the towel with confectioners' sugar.  When the cake comes out of the over, invert the cake onto the towel (if the edges stick, loosen with a knife).  Carefully peel off the wax paper.  Now, roll the cake and towel up lengthwise and set aside to cool.  You can make this up to a day ahead.
Whip the cream with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla until soft peaks form.  Unroll the cake and spread with whipped cream (any left over whipped cream can be used for topping).  Top with strawberries and re-roll the cake (without the towel!).
Serve with any remaining whipped cream and sliced strawberries.

A couple of things:
1.  I've found you can never have too much whipped cream.  That's well nigh impossible in my family.  I like to make extra.
2.  You can easily add blueberries to this cake.  Or any kind of berry, for that matter.  The better the fruit, the better the cake will turn out over all.

If you want to amaze your friends and impress your neighbors, you should try this cake!


26 August 2011

End of summer

Birthdays we will celebrate this weekend:

Hurricanes expected to blow through in the next three days:

Items we have checked out from the public library:
74 (Oh. My.  How will I ever find them all?  I always say that my fines are the way I support the library.)

Children in my house yesterday afternoon:

Adorable infants we babysat yesterday:

Random and funny questions my children ask:
pretty sure it's 70,000 

Minutes left I have to write this post:

It's going to be a crazy weekend around here!  Hope I'll get to share a bit later on.
Happy Friday, my friends!

24 August 2011


I've been in a bit of a purging mood lately.  For example, the sofa in our family room has been bugging me so much, with its terrible slip-cover and slovenly appearance, that I have received permission from the man of the house to remove it as soon as I can.  I can't wait to take it out and leave it on the curb.  I don't even care that I have nothing to take it's place; in fact, I think I will revel in having NOTHING there.
As a result of this mood, I spent some time in our dungeon basement yesterday, filing through long lost papers, boxes of journals (I cannot believe how much I used to write in my journal!) and memorabilia.
I found a little envelope, sealed, and the front said this:
Ooo, how exciting, my very own time capsule that I don't even remember!  Those are my maiden initials in the lower left corner, for Katharine Priscilla Colwell.
Well, 2000 AD has come and gone, so I figured I had better open it.  Here is what I read:
  I wrote this list on November 12, 1990, four days after my 20th birthday.  I was a sophomore in college, and a baby Christian.  I'm struck by the fact that of the six things on the list, five of them are true.  The first one, about where I would live, is the only one that is not currently true.  Guess I couldn't imagine myself up here in cold, Yankee New England.  The parts about being involved in church and following the Lord seem amazing to me, as I had only been a Christian for less than a year.  
I'm so thankful to the Lord for all the mercy HE has shown and all the things that HE has done.

This is the Lord's doing; 
it is marvelous in our eyes.
Psalm 118:23

18 August 2011

An illegal walk

On our last morning in Taos, John and I got up early and went on a walk.  We wanted to visit La Morada, a small chapel just up the road from my in-laws house.  Long ago, the penitentes (an enclave within the Catholic church) used to make pilgrimage to this place in order to do penance.  The structure has no windows so that the ceremonies could be completely private.
The land here abuts the Taos Pueblo land; we didn't realize til the end of our walk, that we had spent a good part of our time unwittingly trespassing.  

17 August 2011

Nuevo Mexico

 Walking around Taos is one of our favorite things to do while we're there.  My in-laws live not far from the Plaza (the center of town), so we like to just amble around and enjoy the town.  The hollyhocks are amazing.
 This shop is a highlight for the kids because it's full of funny little trinkets and cowboy gear.  The owner is a sweet man who loves to give the children little prizes.  Check out Walter's sweet get-up...
 Now you'll see why I love this place (cue the angelic chorus):  cowboy boots.
 If you know me in real life, you know that I have a thing for boots.  In fact, most of my footwear falls into one of two categories:  boots (for cold) and flip flops (for hot).  
This store sells lots of second-hand boots.  In fact, over the years, I've acquired a number of pairs there, some of my favorites.  This year, John said, "Well, we have to get you some boots at Horsefeathers this year."
"Oh, no," I replied.  "I've plenty of cowboy boots.  I don't need another pair."
Well, John wasn't so sure about that.  He brought along with him on the trip a really nice pair of his boots, ones that don't get much use.  In fact, I had been using them at a decoration in the corner of the dining room.  He went into the shop ready to trade his boots for a pair for me, provided I found some that I liked.  (Snicker.)  (As if I wouldn't find any that I liked.)
So, of course, I came home with a sa-weet new pair.  I'll have to show you soon. 
Here's the little display in front of the store, on the raised wooden sidewalk, just like the Old West.
We were also in Taos for the beginning of the annual Fiestas de Taos, a celebration of the Hispanic heritage of the area.  New Mexico is a fascinating blend of three cultures:  Anglo, Spanish and Native American.  These Fiestas highlight the influence of Spain, and subsequently Mexico, on this part of the world.

And here is just a gorgeous shot of the beauty of New Mexico, perhaps my very favorite state.  The sky!  The clouds!  The mountains!  That paint horse!  Glory!

15 August 2011

Backing up

I thought I would back up a bit and let you in on our weeks away with family, and here with family.
After picking up the boys from camp, we came home and I did a million loads of stinky laundry.  Two days later, we left for New Mexico.  We had two weeks there and in Colorado, with John's family.  Then home again for one night, and off to Maine to meet up with my mom and dad.  We had one fun week with them on the lake, and another great week of exploring here at home.  A pretty great summer, I'd say!
Here are some of our days spent in Colorado, where we celebrated Clay's 11th birthday!
Beautiful, gorgeous Colorado!  Doesn't it just make you want to sing a John Denver song? 
Theo and me, floating down the San Freezing Juan River, near Pagosa Springs.
With Clayton on his birthday.  Happy 11!

Clayton and his Manka (that means Grandma) made his birthday cake and boy, was it yummy!

I guess they get a little bored up in Northern New Mexico.  "Hey, let's go shoot the sign for Cumbres Pass!"
This was our sweet ride.  Oh yeah, baby!!
Tia Luz and Lucy
I'm pretty sure this was called the Conejos River.  We saw a snake there.
After our Colorado sojourn, we had a few more days in lovely Taos.  I'll show you some more tomorrow!

14 August 2011

Psalm 130 (From the Depths of Woe)

Sunday worship this morning:  it was a battle to get there with our spirits intact, what with our sin and sorrow hanging out, but we made it. 
(John preached this morning, so he went along early and alone.  He missed out on all the sanctification.) 
We sang one of my favorite songs of all time today.  I first learned it years and years ago at our church in Atlanta, then didn't sing it for a long time (though I kept the lyrics in my little notebook hymnal, made from songs torn out of church bulletins).
The words are attributed to Martin Luther and come from Psalm 130.
My favorite verses (3 and 5):

Therefore my trust is in the Lord
And not in my own merit
On Him my soul shall rest; 
His word upholds my fainting spirit.
His promised mercy is my fort, 
my comfort and my sweet support.
I wait for it with patience.

Though great our sins and sore our woes
His grace much more aboundeth;
His helping love no limit knows,
Our upmost need it soundeth.
Our Shepherd good and true is He,
Who will at last His Israel free
from all their sin and sorrow.

Here is the best video I could find; while the quality of the video and the sound is not great, I LOVE that the girl is singing with her sleeping baby in her arms.  In fact, Walter was watching over my should and said, "I wish people would sing with their babies at our church!"  
May you be reminded that our Father's helping love knows no limit, He knows our needs, and He will free His own from their sin and sorrow.

13 August 2011


It wasn't my first choice to stay up until 1 am last night.  I was ready for bed about two hours before that.
But when my almost-teenage son and his newly-teenage best friend said that it would be "awesome" if I would stay up and watch a show with them, I admit that I jumped at the chance.  I'm relishing every moment that he thinks it is awesome to hang out with me while he and his friend act like goobers.
Very lovable and sweet goobers. 

12 August 2011


Oh, where to begin, where to begin?
I've been away from the blog for almost a month, busy with weeks of travel to see family and family traveling to see us.
I've also had a week of just reading others' blogs and I've been filled up with wonderful wisdom, inspired writing, and challenging points of view.  Man, all you people out there are wicked smaht.
There is so much to share, so many fun memories just made, and I've been asking myself where in the world should I begin?
And, after some contemplative time away, I've come to the conclusion that there is really only one place to begin, one logical way to re-enter my blog.
I think it will appeal to a wide range of readers.  I hope you will find some real-life application for this.
Are you ready?
Because here is is:
THAT, my friends, is a homemade tattoo.  You can make one, too. Just get yourself a ballpoint pen and some mean drawing skills.  No, that is not a huge bruise on my son's back; it is a shadow.  Please note that the cowboy's lasso goes over the shoulder and onto the chest, as requested by the client.
A fire-breathing dragon, obviously.

Doesn't everyone name their biceps? 
I'm back, everyone!  Can't wait to get caught up with y'all!  (Yes, I just did write y'all, and I can do that because I lived in the South for eight years, and my husband is from Texas.)