Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I really cannot think of a title for this post, so I went back to what I learned from Mary Poppins, "So when the cat has got your tongue, there's no need to dismay, just summon up this word and then you've got a lot to say! But better use it carefully or it can change your life..."

I don't think anything life changing is going to happen, but hey, I have a blog-post title where I had none before!

Have you ever walked into say, your kids' room, and the chaos was so great that you didn't know where to start? That's where I am with this post. I've been out of it for so long, I'm not quite sure how to jump back in...

So, I thought, I'd get back to the basics...the cakes! Part of the reason that I've been in and out so much (mostly out) over the past two months is the number of cakes and cookies that I've done for my friends and family. Baking and decorating all of them and then trying to keep up with the homeschooling and general life activities around here, didn't leave me much time to stop by and chat with you...much less post pictures. So I have come here today to do just that. Post pictures. It's a small step, but it's a step nonetheless. May the drooling begin!

I made 2 dozen of these cookies for my nephew's birthday. My niece called and wanted cookies for him, and she said "All he cares about is bowling, can you do bowling cookies?" So, here you go...bowling cookies.

Then, one of my favorite kids (whom I did NOT give birth to) was turning 6 and wanted a football cake. You can't tell from this picture, but the chocolate fondant was textured to look like an actual leather football. :) (By the way, the reason I like him so much is that he said I'm still pretty skinny for being so old!)

Another friend of mine had a brother getting married again, and he asked if I would make a small cake for a wedding at his house on Valentines day.

A few weeks ago, I was asked to recreate a baby shower cake I had made previously for a baby boy shower...but this time for a girl. I never like to do the same cake twice, so I did change it up a bit with some ideas I got at the Cake Show earlier this month.

On that same day I did a wedding cake for the daughter of our church's worship leader. It was a very simple cake, so I figured I could do both in one day....honestly, the baby shower cake took longer than the wedding cake! They didn't want any topper on it, but it was supposed to have a flower on the top...the florist forgot that little detail, so they just had me continue the leaves and vines on the top of the cake.

And finally, just this past weekend, I was asked to make a cake for a friend's niece who was getting married. The cake was for a couple's shower for both the bride and groom. They both play guitar and lead worship at their church, and the sentiment on the cake was what was written on their wedding invitation. In case it's tough to tell from the photo, the cake is a double heart....not a set of bongo drums. :)
Okay, so now you are all caught up on my cake and cookie world, and I'm hungry! Talk amongst yourselves while I go find something to snack on...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Home to Heather Creek

Ya'll, I TOTALLY forgot that Tricia Goyer is giving away a set of these books on her blog as well! Here's the info...
Oh...and the best part is the EVERY FOODIE contest!

Okay...this book is loaded with yummy food: strawberry cupcakes, cinnamon rolls, baked chicken with cornbread, chocolate cake, pancakes with homemade syrup, French onion soup, parmesan crusted chicken…well you get the idea!

So the contest for this tour will be the EVERY FOODIE contest! Leave a comment on this post with your favorite meal and a recipe (feel free to post more than one recipe for additional entries in the contest!)! I’ll choose the one that most tantalizes my taste buds to receive an entire set of the Home to Heather Creek series (books 1-7)!

Five runner’s up will win a copy of Every Sunrise (or another Tricia Goyer book of their choice).

Let the mouth-watering commence!
So, if you want to go and enter over there as well, you can do that here! You can also find links to the other blogs reviewing this book and check out whether or not they are hosting giveaways as well!

I'm not quite sure where the last 11 days went...

I posted two whole days IN A ROW, and then...nothing. I remember why I didn't post last Wednesday...it was a crazy day that started early in the morning and lasted well into the night. Then Thursday and Friday were spent baking and decorating wedding and baby shower cakes. Saturday and Sunday were motorcycle competitions in Houston for my man and my boys. This week I guess I've just been trying to catch my breath!

But, I'm back now, and I have something good to share with you! As you know (if you've hung out with me for awhile), I have gotten the chance to review quite a few books on this blog. That is my most favorite yet unexpected perk of starting this little thing 2 years ago. And you know by now that fiction is my first love when it comes to books, but Christian fiction tops the list. I like reading a book that will help me learn to live my life more like Christ, so I love reading about Christian characters that have struggles and issues and watch how they work through them and I learn from them. I figure, if I learn right along with them, then perhaps I just might be able to skip that particular lesson in my own life! :) So, whenever I read a book, I'm looking for myself in the characters and trying to discover what I can learn through them. Ya'll, this book threw me for a loop!

Charlotte Stevenson's world is turned upside down by the death of her daughter Denise. Denise ran away from home when she was a teenager, and Charlotte has never forgiven herself. Now, Denise's three children have come to live on Heather Creek Farm: Sam, fiercely protective of his younger siblings; Emily desperately missing her friends; and young Christopher, a sweet soul who only wants to fit in. Is this Charlotte's chance to make things right?
That is the premise for a series of books titled "Home to Heather Creek". I believe there are 9 books in this series...so far. The book I was asked to review was written by my Twitter friend, Tricia Goyer. I reviewed one of Tricia's non-fiction books, "Generation NeXt Marriage" some time ago, and I've been following her on Twitter for awhile as well, so naturally I was anxious to read some of her fiction. But this particular book caught my interest for another reason.

Tricia Goyer didn't write the entire series. The series has been written by 5 different authors! Each of the first 5 books in the series were written by a different author and the following 4 books have had some of those authors write another book in the series. (That is why I think the series might not be finished, Kristin Eckhardt hasn't written a second book for the series yet. :)) I believe having different authors writing the series helps each book stand alone as well as fit into the series. Although I was diving into Every Sunrise, book 7 of the series, I didn't feel lost at all. Each book stands alone as it's own story even though it is linked to 8 other stories about the same family.

In Every Sunrise, the bleak, biting cold makes February on Heather Creek Farm a test of endurance for the Slater kids, trying to make it through their first winter in Nebraska. As winter wears on, Sam becomes more and more withdrawn and unhappy, and when he sets out from the farm one night, searching for the father who abandoned them all, Charlotte has to face the memory of Denise's own disappearance all over again. The family tries to discover where Sam may have gone, and as Bob and Charlotte set off on a cross-country journey to track him down, they need all the help--and prayer--they can get to bring him home safely. This broken family needs God's help like never before, but their trials remind them all that every sunrise brings a new beginning.

Now, here's where I got thrown for a loop with this book. I fully expected to identify with Charlotte when I read this book. I expected to find myself in her as she's trying to raise 3 kids and keep a house together. And I do see myself in Charlotte...although she's much better at the whole "keeping the house together" thing. But the one I really identified with in this book was Sam...the runaway, and not just because some days I feel like running away. ;) I identified with Sam for one main reason. Sam saw events happening around him as signs that what he was doing was the right thing to do, and when things didn't go according to his plan, he took that as a sign that something was trying to keep him from doing the right thing. In reality, I believe it was the opposite.

For example, when Sam's uncle was able to figure out what was wrong with his car, and get it running again, Sam believed it was a sign that he should get in that car and go find his father. And when Charlotte gave him permission to spend the night with his friend, he saw it as the perfect opportunity to leave without being missed, so it must be a sign that he should go, right? But when he runs into trouble with the car that can't be repaired in time, he believes that he should press on toward his goal because the good things that happened to him, must have meant he was doing the right thing.

Looking at it from the outside, I saw Sam's uncle fixing his car, and his grandmother allowing him to spend the night with a friend as blessings from God. These were blessings that made his life more pleasant and easier....right there in Nebraska... on Heather Creek Farm. And when he ran into trouble with the car later, I saw that as a sign that God was trying to stop him from making a mistake.

Isn't it interesting how the same circumstances can be read two different ways? This is why I related to Sam in this book. I have been struggling lately with knowing what it is God wants me to do. There are times I've thought I heard Him clearly, but when I acted on what I heard, everything came crashing down around me. Then I was faced with trying to figure out if Satan was trying to keep me from obeying God, or if I hadn't heard right in the first place! In other words, I am Sam.

Do you ever feel that way? Do you struggle with knowing what the will of God is, or what you should do in your day-to-day life? Do you want to know how Sam dealt with his setbacks, and whether or not he ever found his father and gained that relationship he longed for so much? Or how his family dealt with his leaving and whether or not they were able to bring him back home? Well, then you're going to need to read this book! And if you get curious about what might have happened in the other 8 books in this series, then you need to get the whole series!!! And guess what? I'm going to be giving away BOTH right here on the blog! That's right, I'm going to give away one copy of Every Sunrise and one copy of The entire Home to Heather Creek series!

Now I could ask you all to leave a comment telling me just exactly how you know when God is speaking to you....but that seems a bit too deep, and I'd feel really badly if you all had it all figured out and I was the only dope in the bunch! So, to keep my fragile ego in tact, I'm just going to ask you to go to the Guidepost's Home to Heather Creek website and check out the other authors in this series. Then come back here and leave me a comment telling me if you've ever read anything from any of those authors and how you liked it! In other words, I'm always looking for new authors to read, and I want recommendations! :)

I'll leave the comments open until Friday, March 20. Then I'll use Mr. Random Integer Generator to select a winner or, just write every one's name down and put it in a hat and draw out a name...whatever works! So go, check it out, and come back and comment. I'll just wait right here for you to come back.....

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Is Christmas Really Over?

Since our family was conducting the great Christmas tree experiment of 2009, I took a keen interest in the times that houses in our neighborhood took down their outside lights and decorations.

There are those who seem to take them down on Christmas Day. Others leave them up Christmas Day, but they are down first thing in the morning the day after. Some leave them up until New Year's Day, and others just kind of come down here and there during the next few weeks. We have a few, who never take the lights off of their houses. They do stop turning them on at night, but they leave them up all year long.

When I'm out running the mornings, I get to observe all these different houses and guess at who might live there and what kind of people they might be.

But there is this one house that I run past 3 times on my route. It is March 3, and they still have all of their Christmas decorations up outside. I'm not talking about some lights around the roof line, or a snowman in the yard. These people have a beautiful display in their front yard. They have a wire-framed, lighted deer with a velvet collar with bells on it, that is harnessed to a sleigh in which sits a beautiful doll wrapped in a wintry blanket and wearing a white fur coat and matching hat. She holds the reigns in her hands. They have lights on the house, and they have an old fashioned lamppost that is wrapped with red ribbon and decorated with pine cones and poinsettias. They even have two pots at the end of their driveway with silk poinsettias in them.

There was one morning a few weeks ago that I was out running in some lovely drizzling rain, and I really wanted to get a rain coat and hat to put on that doll. She looked like she needed it, and I thought it would be funny at the same time.

But I find myself wondering more and more why they haven't taken down their decorations. When that beautiful doll was getting rained on, I really started to wonder. It seemed like they would at least come and get her out of the weather...unless there was another reason why they were leaving the decorations up so long.

So I began to look for signs that something might be wrong, but everything seemed to be okay. Their cars were coming and going just like normal. But I did notice one thing.

I noticed that among the Christmas decorations, there were also yellow ribbons and American flags. I'm guessing these people have a soldier, or a sailor, or an airman, or a marine out there somewhere. And that got me wondering if maybe, just maybe they were keeping up their Christmas decorations because they were waiting for that soldier, sailor, airman, or marine to return home to celebrate the holiday with them.

Obviously, there is no way for me to know why (unless I just knocked on the door and asked, but that is NOT likely to happen), but I now find myself praying for them every time I pass their house. I pray for a safe return for anyone they may be waiting for. I pray for peace in the household. And I pray for blessing on them in whatever they may be going through...

...and I watch their house and wait to see just how long those decorations will stay up.

Christmas is Over....I think

Here at the house of Kids and Cakes, we took our Christmas tree down just 9 days ago....

No need to adjust your bifocals or check your calendar. Yes, I meant February 22.

There were multiple reasons for leaving it up after Christmas: celebrating the "season" not just the "day", it went up late and the kids wanted to keep it for awhile, most of my storage boxes got water damaged somehow and I needed to find new storage boxes.... Those were all reasons why it was still up in January. But the reason it was still up in February was that we homeschool over here.

You see, when you homeschool, just about everything can be turned into a lesson of some sort. And so our Christmas tree became just that...a science experiment. You see, it was still drawing water, and looking quite lovely far into January. Oh, did I fail to mention that it was a real tree? It was. So, there it was looking good, and still pretty fresh a month after Christmas....and that my friends, shouts "Challenge!" to a homeschooler.

We decided to see just how long that tree would: a) continue to draw water, b) hold onto it's needles, c) keep it's branches strong and upright, and d) keep it's lovely dark green color. And the results are in!

a) up until about the 1st or 2nd week in February
b) never did lose any needles, until we started taking off the lights, and that pulled some off. They were very brittle by then, but they hung onto the tree unless you knocked them off somehow.
c) the branches started drooping around Valentines day, but only a few ornament slid off, it still held most of them up just fine.
d) about the same time it started to droop, the color started to fade.

So, what was the lesson learned in all of this? If you buy a real Christmas tree, buy a Frasier Fir and buy it from your local Sertoma Club, because that tree was AWESOME!