Friday, June 25, 2010


Our dear friend Miss Leslie took some trips this spring to exotic places near and far and brought us back some yummy gifts!

And by yummy, I mean a really spectacular Cher magnet from Las Vegas:

Just how big is that magnet you wonder? Well, let me give you some perspective...

Yes folks, that is one sweet treat gracing the travel section of our refrigerator door!

But the real star of Miss Leslie's travels (sorry Cher!) is the Mexican vanilla that she brought back just for me!

I can't explain how it's different than vanilla you'd find in specialty stores here, other than saying it's just better. It's fuller, softer, more vanillaier.

I'll be busting this open tomorrow when I make a very special birthday cake! Perhaps I'll crank up some Cher as I'm mixing, beating and frosting....

Saturday, June 19, 2010


This beautiful girl turned 21 a couple of weeks ago and we're finally getting around to celebrating next Saturday!

The wonderful ladies of her family are getting together for dinner, games and drinks and I'm guessing it may get kind of rowdy. We're kind of a rowdy bunch...

(Grand Canyon 2009)

Anyway, I'm extra excited because I get to make the cake! I gave her a list of choices for cake, filling and frosting and she just got back to me with her selection: chocolate cake with whipped cream filling and vanilla butter cream frosting. A very tasty choice indeed!

When I know I'm going to make a cake, I can't stop thinking about it. I'll dream up different recipes for the individual parts and imagine creative ways to decorate it. I'm really excited about this cake because the frosting will be vanilla butter cream, so there are endless decoration ideas: writing, "happy birthday!" or other well wishes across the cake, decorating with shapes or designs, adding other sweets to the top, finding a crazy cake topper that may or may not be appropriate for a family birthday party... like I said, endless ideas!

And of course, most of all, I can't wait for the birthday girl to taste the creation I made especially for her. Hopefully she won't be so tipsy that she can't discern it from HoHo.

Of course there will be pictures to come!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Ok, I feel better now...

My Nana is the cutest woman on the face of the planet. Seriously, she is.

Just look at this picture of her taken last year at the Grand Canyon. She's holding a little step stool Mr. Z made for her so she could get into the eight passenger van the ladies of my family rented to get us to the park (it reads: "Grand Canyon or bust!")

Anyway, she's a cutie-patootie (and probably my most loyal blog reader).

When she read my post about the boxed cake, she sent me an e-mail that began like this, "I loved reading your blog today. So the princess made a box cake...welcome to the rest of the royal family!"

That Nana cracks me up sometimes! I sure do love her.

The yellow cake with milk chocolate frosting was a huge hit at the birthday party. Only one person asked if it was from scratch (why do people ask that?) and I had to admit it wasn't and try to explain that I really am a great baker and yadda yadda yadda, like she cared...

Thankfully I had time today to whip out a masterpiece: a whipped cream yellow cake with strawberry jam filling and lemon buttercream frosting. Delicious!

Betty worked her tail off today and I could tell she was smiling the whole time.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I buy lots of berries during summer, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries... you get the picture. And they all come in those holey plastic containers, which for some reason I have a hard time throwing out (kind of like the long cardboard tubes that come with paper towels). So toss them in the pantry and on occasion, when Mr. Z goes for some chips, they all come tumbling out. He grumbles and asks why on earth I am saving useless containers.

Well, now I know! To portion out spinach from our CSA (Driftless Organics) for green monster smoothies throughout the week, of course!

I washed and dried the spinach then portioned it into four different containers (ok... so I know what I'm going to do with four of the 80 containers in the pantry).

I figure each morning I can pull one out, toss the spinach into the blender with some yummy fruit and call it good (then wash the container and put it back into the pantry...).

We also got potatoes in our CSA box this week. Aren't they pretty?

I used them to make potato and kohlrabi au gratin for Sunday dinner.

It was very tasty! I love Sundays that include lots and lots of baking and tasty food!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Oh no she d'int!

Oh yes I did! I openly admit it... I made a boxed cake.

There is a surprise party tonight for Farmer Ted - he's turning 60!

Luckily he doesn't read the blog, he doesn't even own a computer, and if he did own a computer, he'd likely never stray from the "Tyra Banks" google image search page. So I think I'm good.

I'm in charge of the cake and his favorite cake is yellow with MILK chocolate frosting. He's very clear about it being milk chocolate and not dark chocolate, or any other kind of chocolate for that matter.

(See Betty in the background in all her pink glory? She's kind of sad she didn't get to help out with Ted's birthday cake. It's ok Betty. Duncan took care of this one, but I promise you get the next tasty task!)

Now, why did I decide to go with pre-packaged, artificially flavored, preservative filled tastiness rather than true food deliciousness? Honestly, time and audience. Do you realize you can make a cake in less than an hour and only dirty four dishes?! It's amazing!

And the birthday boy will be the first to tell you how "country" he is. Even if I told him this cake came from a box and a tub (which I won't) he'd rave over it for days and call me "Susie Homemaker" for the rest of the month.

There are many reasons why I bake, but the number one reason is to make people happy. And I'm certain this cake will do the trick! Well, the cake and maybe a picture of Tyra Banks.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Game on!

Equisoccer season is in full swing! Pixie and I took our place on the field this week for the very first time under saddle.

She did a GREAT job with the ball. Dealing with the other horses was another matter. It will take time for her to get used to maneuvering the ball around other horses. Usually, when she's around other horses, she's the boss. When she's under saddle and there's a soccer ball involved, I'M the boss. It will just take a little time to get used to that...

But seriously, get that ball in front of her and her name's Pixie Hamm.

See the resemblance?


Saturday, June 5, 2010


Whew! What a weekend. I'm too tired to come up with anything witty to write, but here are some pictures to tell a story...

Bought protein powder at the co-op. I'm going to try it in our green monsters. I'll keep you posted.

Helped Mr. Z in the yard. Shoveling rocks is rough. Wearing a tiara while you do it makes it just a little bit more fun!

Riding lesson on Pixie. Practiced trotting and transitioning to a canter. She is so fast!

Sunday dinner. So yum! Sweet potato ravioli, pork chops and greens.

My view from dinner. What a satisfying end to a weekend of hard work!

I hope you had a great weekend!

Friday, June 4, 2010


Mr. Z has been working hard to make our lawn look beautiful. Mulching, shoveling rocks, laying that black fabric that goes under mulch and rocks. You know, general landscaping work. Last night he requested a big fruit smoothie for breakfast this morning. I was more than happy to fuel my little worker bee!

I threw together some spinach, strawberries, Greek vanilla yogurt, banana and frozen pineapple in the blender. Added a tablespoon of ground flax seed and came up with these green beauties:

I took mine to go and will have it as a mid-morning snack at work.

I put Mr. Z's in the fridge.

I'm headed to the co-op after work today and will load up on spinach. We're heading into a marathon weekend of yard work and there's no better fuel than green monsters!

Happy weekend!