Some sort of cray cray

I’m in a life-phase right now that many of you (all twelve) haven’t experienced with me in the past. I recognize the signs. If you haven’t known me since the 80s, you may not. Hell, if you HAVE known me that long you may not recognize the signs.

The crazy I feel like I’m going through happens to be a more positive crazy than the last two times. Previous times have resulted in all out moves (to California, from California, to North Carolina…see where I’m going with this?) But I don’t feel like that this time. I guess my advancing age has me taking some of the “positive impact” features while leaving the negative ones out. Maybe it’s cuz I’m 55 now (my piss poor typing skills just had my fingers type 44 instead of 55. Is that wishful thinking?) and I know my purpose in life is currently being where I am doing what I’m doing right this minute. Maybe I just grew up a little bit. GASP.

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Anyway, the crazy does still include obsessing over the music I can’t help loving. And so, I’ve had a few of my favorite bands on repeat. Okay, I’ve had Warrant on repeat for two weeks now. But, I feel a slide over to some other band coming in the near future. Why does this merit an entire blog post? Here’s why:

  • This music has always encouraged me to “be my best me” – I’ve got a super-critical eye when I look at myself and there have just been a few things I couldn’t seem to get “on top of” in the past seven years (read back thru old blogs, you’ll figure them out)
  • This music has always inspired me to play the guitar. Or more creative. I am unsure if it’s nostalgia driving me to remember the days of playing my guitar along with all these songs pretending some day I would play in public (not talented enough to do that so don’t go there) as the *next Nancy Wilson* or some sort of insane dream
  • This music has always driven me to write. Used to be poetry I believed would some day become song lyrics but today it’s trying to get those crazy “love stories” (using that term very loosely) down as they tumble around in my head.

I would be lying if I said that the idea of giving it all up and joining the circus (I’m using little Mary metaphors there…) didn’t creep into my head. But (and here comes the GROWING UP thing) I’ve got responsibilities. I hate having responsibilities. Really. If I could just have the responsibility of driving to see concerts for the next ten years, I don’t think I would complain.

And, so I blog. I’m hoping blogging about this will kinda unblock the creativity block I’ve run into – not just my personal writing…a little blocked in the professional area too. I’ve never struggled so much to get 10 words down for two days…it’s killing me. And the stuff I’m writing after work is flat too. Not exciting me, not flowing. Honestly, Saturday it was rolling out of me like a broken faucet. Sigh.

If playing loud (and I do mean loud…I’m hard of hearing, if you didn’t know) Warrant (and other bands at some point) music unblocks this friggin clog in my brain, I will be eternally grateful to the soul of Jani Lane, and to all the other members of Warrant (including Robert Mason…Rockaholic and Louder Harder Faster are GREAT albums!)

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Posted in Crazy Random Thoughts, Daily Fat Fight, Journaling, Life With Mom, love, Music, My Thoughts and Musings, Rock 'n Roll | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Thirty Year Old Salsa

No, the salsa isn’t actually thirty years old. That would be kinda gross, huh? But way back in 1988, while I was living in Rohnert Park, I somehow recall being involved in some sort of neighborly cookout with our neighbors Bill  & Sherri. I connect this recipe to that time but I’m not at all sure it actually happened like that.

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So, in an effort to keep this recipe going…I wanted to get it written down. This is a bit different than the original because the original calls for canned chiles, which I always have, but I wanted to roast a poblano and make my own roasted chile. I did that first. In a cast iron pan…on high, turning until the skin was blistered. I then cored it and chopped it into a small dice.

Here we go with ingredients:

1/2 a sweet onion, chopped fine

1 garlic clove, minced

Zest and juice of one lime

(Put these ingredients in a bowl and let sit while you do the rest of the prep)

1 diced roasted poblano (or 1 can of green chiles)

3 large seeded, chopped beefsteak tomatoes (or approximately 2 cups of chopped tomatoes)

(Optional – kernels of roasted corn cut from one ear of white corn)

I used Penzey’s Salsa spice mixture, but you could make your own with cumin, coriander, ancho chili powder, and Mexican oregano. About 1 tbsp total.

Zest and juice of a 2nd lime

Normally I would also add probably 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro but my husband hates it so I left it out.

Salt to taste

Stir to combine vegetables. Reserve 1 cup of chunky mixture and place the rest in a blender. Blend to desired consistency. Pour back into the reserved mixture and let sit in fridge overnight.

I believe there’s a way to tighten it up (it’s pretty juicy) with corn tortillas pulverized in a food processor. I haven’t ever done it, but you can probably google the method. I am a fan of both a pico de gallo type salsa where there’s no blended portion, and also of true salsa where it’s mostly liquid. Name it salsa and I’m all about it.

As with every recipe…it’s a guide. Lots of  “to taste”…..because it’s all about taste!

 

 

 

 

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Brand New Day

Those of you who know me outside of this blog know that one of my loves in life is rock ‘n roll. Something very few people know is that there’s a note from a dear friend in my high school yearbook that says, “I hope you marry your rock star” which upset me at the time because I was actually going to BE a rock star, not marry one.

Fast forward all these years and I really am married to my rock star. You all know him as Jim but it’s true. He’s worked with some of the greats, fulfilled a lot of dreams the rest of the “normal people” would never consider dreaming. Now he’s MY rock star and he has settled in the Carolinas, where the music industry is ruled by…well, let’s just say it’s not the burgeoning biz you might expect here. (Joke there…)

And, if you’ve been around a while, you read about the “night of dreams” when he played with one of my favorite national acts, Winger, right here in Myrtle Beach (he did in Charlotte too but the first one was mind boggling)…actually 4 years ago tomorrow night.

To keep it in that same vein, he stood in with my favorite local band last night. We consider Matt Parker (and Jeremy Davis) to be close friends and love Matt Parker and the Deacons so much so that we have included them in our date nights multiple times…like on our fifth anniversary and my recent birthday. Matt asked Jim to stand in for a few songs last night. Playing four original songs. Matt’s originals are amazing, so seek out their videos on YouTube (Matt Parker and the Deacons).

Jim got to play Drama Queen, one my favorite songs Matt has written – there are many ones he’s written that I love but Drama Queen…yup. Awesome song. Hooky as hell. I sing it for days after hearing it.

Here’s a picture of Jim playing with our friend Dave Pasq…wanna see him playing live with MPD? My Facebook “handle” is 1CharlestonSC. Send me a friend request and watch his videos. If you DO send me a friend request, I don’t do political on my FB page. Just puppies, happy times, and cute farm animals. Start it and you’re gone. Oh, and otters. I love otters.

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Mental health

Short but sweet. I promise.

I don’t suppose to know anything about struggling with depression so deep that you consider suicide. I also don’t want to trivialize the topic by waxing poetic. I’ll give a couple of opinions and then one fact.

Opinions:

  • I can’t imagine a pain so great that death is the only way out and the idea that someone is in that much pain saddens me.
  • Although I’ve heard in this darkest hour you feel you’re alone and this act is the only way out, you are never alone.

Fact:

  • If you are in a state of desiring death over life, reach out to someone because someone is always there.

    Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline    1-800-273-8255  because they are always available. There’s no shame in reaching out. There’s no shame in asking for help. There’s no shame in knowing your limit and understanding the ramifications of your next move. 

I’m praying for all those who are on the edge…

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More than just a royal wedding

I woke up late – at 8 AM (Eastern time) but luckily, the Royal Channel on YouTube was preparing a rebroadcast immediately after the “ride around”…which was perfectly timed post coffee cup #2 for me.

Really, I’ve seen a lot of “haters” saying how they aren’t impressed at a royal wedding…and that’s sad. Why? Because of what Rev. Michael Curry preached. Love is the answer. He summed up the reason we ALL should be thrilled by a public, social, OUT THERE display of two people committing to love. Because love IS the answer. That specific statement has been sung, spoken, preached, proverbed, exhorted…but we don’t listen.

Love is powerful. Love does conquer all and if you are a nay-sayer there, then you have never been enveloped in a love that is healing. So, off I go into the Christianic version of why this is true.

I don’t have a specific date and time in my mind when I confirmed and stated that Jesus Christ is my savior. I know a lot of Christians do. But quite honestly, I have always accepted it. I do remember the time when I realized that Christ had performed the ultimate act of love…dying so that I could have eternal life…dying so that my sins would be forgiven…taking on my sin (and there’s a LOT of that) so that I am right with God. Can you imagine that? Who would you die for? Seriously. Ask yourself that. Who would I die for?

I can’t answer it. I wish I could…oh, many of you will say your wife, your country…and I truly hope that is so, but I know I am a coward. I don’t fear death, but I’m not ready for it…so I’m not sure I would be willing to die for….anyone.

Anyway, the reason I bring that up is because the ultimate act of love was demonstrated on the Cross at Calvary…by Christ. To give up his life so that we are free…we will live in heaven forever, with our heavenly father.

So…if that’s the ultimate act of love, why do people do awful things (say awful things, think awful things, commit awful acts) in the name of God? Why does God let bad things happen to good people? (C’mon, you’ve asked yourself that before. I know you have…)

God wants everything to be good. He wants all of us to live in harmony, in love, in happiness, in communion. If you’ve read even a portion of the New Testament, hopefully you’ve gotten at least that…So why does he “let” bad things happen? He really doesn’t. And by virtue of the fact that we have GOOD, we then assume there is another team on the ball field. That team is EVIL.

Consider this – when you see something horrible happen, even if the perpetrator CLAIMS heavenly guidance, remember that the devil wears many masks. Those masks cover the face and the hearts of “good people” and obscure their vision and connection to God. Whether you believe in God or not, you have to believe there are two teams playing. Those who are good, and those who are not. I’m just taking that analogy to a Heavenly angle.

So…why? Why all this with a tie-in to the royal wedding. Listen to Rev. Curry’s sermon if you have time – because he just about tasks Harry & Meghan with changing the world through love. How can you watch two “kids” starting their married life so much in hope and love and not feel that maybe…somewhere…possibly hidden in this fragmented, sad, distressed, bickering, finger-pointing world…maybe somewhere there is love. Love that will go beyond just a couple of kids…Love that will begin a take-over.

I work for a company named Blackbaud. We have a motto of “Helping Good Take Over” and I would like to say right now that we…those of us RIGHT NOW, RIGHT HERE, IN THIS DAY AND TIME…pledge to *stop* the hatred, sadness, poverty, arguing, pain, suffering, hunger, division, finger-pointing, name-calling, “unfriending”, complaining…stop hyperfocusing on what is bad in this world and stop for a moment. STOP RIGHT NOW.

…If you’re still reading, do this with me. Right now. Take a slow breath in. Hold it for a count of five and as you exhale promise yourself (or the world) that you will do one good thing today. It’s a promise. So go do that one good thing.

If you read this far, if you have persevered, my hope is that you take to heart the above paragraph and commit to doing the same exercise every day. It doesn’t even take a minute. It’s a count of five…and a promise.

I had in my head to use Matthew 22:38 as a reference point for this blog, but oddly enough the Verse of the Day I came up with is Luke 6:35-36 and as always, God’s timing is perfect.

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I am happy that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle begin their life in love today. Whether royal or common…rich, poor, American, French, Swiss, English, Egyptian, Japanese, Morrocan, Kenyan, German…you get the picture…marriage…a life of love…is just one part of the LOVE picture.

Take that breath now. And go out in love. Help someone today.

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What It’s Like…

Really, there’s no way to describe what life is like here. I’m not complaining because I have a fantastically blessed life. Overall, my life is so wonderful. However, there is reality in the fact that Jim & I are caregivers. And care-giving is hard. Really hard.

Most days, we maintain a super-rigid schedule because change is the enemy. There must be a standard wake-up time, breakfast period, wash and dress time, and then she switches between TV and crosswords or just crosswords. Jim tries to encourage her to play the piano multiple times a week and he has noticed days with piano-playing are days when we are engaged with her longer.

Because I work from around 7:30-6 PM most days, I don’t get a ton of interaction time and I typically see her after sundowning begins. For those of you unsure what sundowning is, it’s the period of time where as the sun goes down, the patient becomes more closed-off and quiet. Some Alzheimer’s patients sundown in an almost catatonic state. Not mom, but those hours past 2-3 PM are “iffy”. Sometimes we have her, other times we have someone I’m not familiar with.

There have been days where dinnertime is wrought with silence, broken only by Jim cracking a joke or two…sometimes she laughs, sometimes she doesn’t even hear him. I’ve even had times where I have tried to strike up a conversation and she just stares at me as if I’m invisible.

When I think about her memory issues as related to her age, I often wonder how bad is it? I mean, really, I forget a ton and I’m only 54. So, how bad is it that she forgets stuff, right? The key is not forgetting things. The key is, can she care for herself? No. She can’t. She can’t drive anymore – she started getting very lost about five years ago although she was never Magellan to begin with. She also is not good with remembering general health and welfare items. That’s why Jim and I are here. We ensure she is eating, drinking water, and taking care of daily standard tasks so she is in good health. And by the way, the doctor says she’s in good health (she went for her semi-annual physical yesterday).

We’re trying an experiment this year. We’re trying to celebrate her 90th birthday (yep…she’s gonna be the big 9-0 on April 15, 2018)  with a bit of fanfare. We’ve asked people she doesn’t even know to send a birthday card to her. We’re collecting them here on my desk and on her birthday, we are going to surprise her with (hopefully) a huge stack of cards. She loves greeting cards! (If you want to be involved, you can comment on this blog post with your email address and I’ll email you her name and address!)

So now you know a little bit about what it is like. This is by far not the extent of life here in the sunny Carolinas. But it is a huge part of my life, and my life with Jim. We are here for the long haul. Not looking for praise, just tellin’ it like it is….

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Ringing the Same Old Bell

I admit, I’m on the same path as I’ve been this past week but we had a family event that brought up some old feelings and my Facebook memories reminded me of stuff that happened about six years ago this week.

During this family event, I was reminded several times of how back in 2011, I dropped everything…and by everything, I mean my entire life in Charleston and moved in with my parents…dog and all…dragging Jim along every weekend (well, okay, he came up of his own volition but still, I was kinda his only friend in South Carolina).

I might not have had this luxurious existence in Summerville, but I had friends and I did stuff locally (volunteered with the greyhound group, went to church weekly, hung out with some friends I made through work, greyhounds, or church…I really DID do stuff) and I was “footloose and fancy free”.

That June day…I think it was June 20, 2011…mom called, she was in distress…didn’t know what to do because they’d actually taken dad from the specialty urologist’s office to Grand Strand Medical Center to get a blood infusion…and they were keeping him overnight. She wasn’t exactly sure how she got home, and was totally unsure how she would go back and get him in the morning. I asked her multiple times if she needed me to come up and help. She said no several times until I finally made her stop and listen. “Mom…do you need me to come up and help?” After a few moments of tears and sobs, she said yes.

Nothing else was needed. I had taken the afternoon off anyway, I packed some clothes (not many…just some), grabbed my work stuff (it was a Tuesday, I remember that clearly), put dog supplies in the car…and the dog…and off we went. I called Jim while I was backing out of the garage and said, “Mom needs me, I’ve gotta go…I’ll call you later.” And my life changed. Forever.

In retrospect, everything changed that day. I’ve only been back to that house three times since that day. My “footloose and fancy free” days ended. Everything was measured with “can I leave mom (and dad, for a while) alone if I go _____ (wherever)?”

Quite seriously, it wasn’t a selfless act. It didn’t take any thought at all. I wasn’t thinking I’d given up my life. I just did what needed to be done. At the time, my parents needed help and I was there. I didn’t ask myself a thousand questions. I just did it.

And really, I still say, “Isn’t that what family does?” Multiple times this week I was thanked for my actions and my response was….”this is what family does…” Family supports each other. In times of great joy, and in times of great pain. Family truly stands beside you physically or maybe just emotionally when you need them most.

I don’t have a huge family, really. If you want to get highly technical, my family is quite small. But the ones I have, I care about deeply. And that caring…opening up your heart and truly caring…sometimes comes with pain. If you expect certain behavior and you don’t see it…that causes pain. But truly, at the end of the day…truly when you strip away all else and you look into your heart, the love you have for those who touch you…it doesn’t disappear, hurt or not. When you think about events in your life and you look at who supported you during the highs and the lows…those are the people you will (most likely) support during their highs and lows.

This past week I really felt old…I felt as if my youth was so long ago. Memories of summer vacations and Christmases spent with people I looked up to, people I care deeply about…they all came rushing back. The sound of a cousin’s voice. The stories from … well, before I was born…they were all put out in a way that reminded me of some very happy times.

These ramblings really boil down to this: for family, you do what you do…and family is something you define on your own.

I miss those that have passed. last_christmas_together

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Saturday Mornings

There’s nothing better than an “early” Saturday morning (read that as 9:30), sitting in my dream kitchen, pretending I am living in my dream house with Jim…and no one else is around…….and by around, I mean no golfers on the golf course behind our house, no neighbors for at least 5 acres except for some horses, goats, chickens, and maybe an otter. Okay probably not an otter…but they’re cute! My dream doggies would be happily fed and snoozing on their beds in the other room…and I’d be … yes, watching Pioneer Woman while eating my breakfast I cooked in my cast iron skillet…Jim would probably be sleeping soundly (he is less of a morning person than even I am…) and I am lazily eating a breakfast burrito…my version.

Okay, so how it really happened was, I ran out of my usual breakfast food, and have nothing left in the fridge (hey, it’s almost payday) except faux breakfast sausage, a few eggs, and some parmesan cheese. This sounds like a breakfast burrito to me!

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I could tell you that the faux breakfast sausage tastes just like Jimmy Dean pork sausage but quite honestly, I haven’t had real pork (or beef, or chicken) in 23+ years so I don’t really KNOW what those things taste like anymore. This *does* taste like what I remember of those sausage rolls…you know the ones…But does it taste like real pork? Doubt it. ANYWAY, I use it because it’s fairly low carb, and definitely high protein. I’ve gotten pretty good at eyeballing one serving so I cut out a hunk and sauteed it in a pan coated with olive oil cooking spray.

Once the sausage was browned to my preference (I like to get this stuff crispy because if left gooey, it winds up tasting more like warmed up white bread…you know, that white bread that is super gummy?) I add one beaten egg mixed with about a teaspoon or two of milk. I just let them cook until they’re very dry. I’m a …cook ’em til they’re dry… gal with eggs. I don’t like them runny in any way.

Just before I take the eggs off the heat, I put about 2 tbsp of parmesan cheese on the top and grind some pepper and pink salt onto the egg and sausage “filling”.

I’ve got some low-carb chia wraps that look like tortillas. I put the eggs in the tortilla and rolled it like a burrito. Paired with a cup of coffee and my multi-vitamins, I made it a no-plate meal!

So, back to my perfect dream kitchen…yeah, I’m not sitting in that. I’m actually sitting by the window where the sun is shining on the thermometer making it look like it’s 80 degrees…and enjoying my Food Network Saturday…with Mr. Cardinal…

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Yup, he’s in that bush right there.

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A Little Udon For Me

I’m a fan of noodles. And I really like soup. When you put those together…you get a story, of course.

Something that grew out of my dabbling in low-carb eating (I am consciously trying to reduce my dependence on high carb items) was the desire to have broth, with a lot of flavor…and even though it is moving toward spring here in the Carolinas, a steaming bowl of broth with a pile of lower-carb noodles came to mind. I had in my head a pile of those thick, round noodles you find in a lot of noodle bowls at oriental restaurants. So, how could I go about making those?

I started with broth. Being 99% vegetarian, I went with veggie broth. There are so many kinds, brands, versions…I went with low sodium (actually, I wound up with unsalted) because I intended to add soy sauce which can definitely increase the saltiness! And then I just assumed flavors I would want in this noodle bowl.

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I love the tang and flavor of ginger, and for whatever reason, having the green and white rounds of scallions really makes it “oriental” to me….so, a scallion. I grabbed 5 snow peas, trimmed them, and then cut them in half. Then, took the noodles and heated them according to the instructions on the back of the package.

In a bowl, I used half the “single serving” veggie broth, added about 3 tbsp-1/4 c of low sodium soy sauce, and a squirt of ginger. Yes, as you can see, all are pre-prepared. Because this is my work-day lunch, I needed speed. Otherwise I could make my own crushed ginger and veggie broth. Hey, I cut the pea pods and the scallions up.

Once the noodles were warm, I put the veggie broth, ginger, and soy sauce in a bowl and heated it for 90 seconds. Then, added everything else into the bowl and voila. Lunch. Noodle bowl style.

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I’ve been known to drizzle a little bit of toasted sesame oil on top. I suppose any veggie could be added. I saw a picture with some baby bok choy and Japanese eggplant. I think baby corn and shitake mushrooms would also go well!

If you’re looking for a quick lunch, especially those of you in the chilly parts of the country (which seem to be changing…not necessarily where I thought it would be cold!) might consider making your own noodle soup. Use veggie broth, or chicken broth, or even seafood broth! Layer in the vegetables (and protein if you are in the mood). This works well in a microwave or in a soup pot too!

#noodlesinsoup

#oodlesofyummynoodles

#udonknowhowgooditis

Posted in Daily Fat Fight, Food, Journaling, My Thoughts and Musings, Photoblogging, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

By the pound

A pound, a pound, a pound, a pound. So…what’s that?

I was reminded today about the easy way to pull together a fantastic dessert. Pound Cake. I don’t have a new version of any recipe here but I’m waiting on this cake to bake…this time, I did it without a recipe – I went totally with the nature of the cake. A pound, a pound, a pound, and a pound. Here’s what I did.

I didn’t have a pound of butter, veggie shortening, or coconut oil so I did them all! I  did have 7 oz of Presidente butter, and then a few ounces of Crisco and the remainder I used coconut oil. I tossed all that in the Kitchen Aid with the paddle attachment and fluffed it up – creamed it until it was totally soft and fluffy.

In the same way, I didn’t have a pound of coconut sugar, or organic sugar so I used MOSTLY coconut sugar and filled in with organic sugar. I incorporated it into the fat and continued to cream it adding one egg at a time up to eight (approx 1 pound of eggs).

I happened to have some 1 lb packages of paleo flour which is a mixture of almond and coconut flour. I added it all into butter/sugar mixture and mixed until it was light and fluffy.

My final two ingredients were 1 tsp of coconut extract and 1/2 cup of organic shredded UNSWEETENED coconut.

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Into a bundt pan i poured the batter (carefully, not to deflate…Demaris Phillips would be very proud of me…I learned from her today!) and heated the oven to 325 degrees. It’s set to  bake for 55 minutes but I can smell it now so I will watch after 30 minutes to see how we’re doing.

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For a glaze, I used 1/2 cup of culinary coconut milk, 1 cup of confectioners sugar, 1 cup of unsweetened coconut (1/4 cup set aside), a 1/2 tsp of coconut extract and 1/4 tsp vanilla extract. I whipped the milk and confectioners sugar until it was completely combined. I then added 3/4 cup of coconut and stirred until it was totally combined. I transferred it to a small saucepan and brought it to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly. Once it boils (still stirring) I removed from the heat and stirred until it was thickened. I added a tablespoon of coconut oil and let it cool.

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It’d probably be fine without the glaze too.

A pound, a pound, a pound, a pound…and I actually WEIGHED my ingredients, instead of using a measuring cup.

#DemarisPhillipsTaughtMeSomethin

#nofearbaking

#Imadeitupasiwentalong

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