Browsing Archives for May 2008

We had a truly fabulous Memorial Day Weekend.  Several different varieties of family members stopped by to watch the rain pour down from the porch.  We cooked out in a thunderstorm, and watched it rain some more.  Finally on Monday afternoon, my mom and I loaded up the kids and drove to Manhattan (Kansas) to see Prince Caspian.  It was wonderful.  
As a kid, I read and re-read and re-read and re-read and re-read all the Narnia books.  Along with Nancy Drew and Madeline L’Engle’s science fiction, the Chronicles were a mainstay for me.  I did not think the first movie was spectacular.  Something about it bugged me.  But the second movie based on the second book more than makes up for it in capturing the true essence of the book which is after all an allegory on the challenge of believing in God which was the thorn in C.S. Lewis’s side.  Wow!  The second film really nailed it. The children’s characters were more developed and they seemed more “real” and the dynamics of the brother and sister relationships made me cry (especially the brothers).  
Anyway great film.  I plan to see it again,I enjoyed it so much.
So when we arrived back at our fake farm, from the movies, I set about to make a cake from scratch.   Because I am such a scratch cake baker!  Actually, my friend Liz who was here for mother’s day and who baked a Victoria Sponge while here, managed to leave here cookbook behind.  I have been eyeing it for several days and decided to give one of the cakes inside a try, The chocolate fudge cake.

And that is how this picture of chaos happened.  After making the cake from scratch, I was far too exhausted to even think about making the accompanying fudge frosting.  So I decided to whip up some whipped cream.  Except I was also grilling some steaks, and chatting with my sister… and shucking some corn… and slicing some watermelon… and fretting over my cakes… and ordering my kids around… and trying to tidy things up a bit and… well… um… 

I whipped the cream too long and it turned into butter.

So I cried for a while.  And then I added some cocoa powder and some powdered sugar and then I thought wait… I want this to be special… I want this to be interesting… I want this to be unique… so I rooted around in the fridge and found….

Some hoity toity mustard for all you mustard snobs out there….

But I did not add it.  Then I had to drain off the whey and it was not looking very good at all.

But finally, it was spreadable.  And yes it tasted like chocolate butter in a not very good chocolate butter way.

So I covered the chocolate butter in strawberries…

And here we have chocolate fudge cake with strawberries and my mom cleaning the kitchen.

Chocolate fudge cake with my dad and the Country Doctor on the porch.

Chocolate fudge cake with pond.

Chocolate fudge cake with urn.

Chocolate fudge cake with kids on trampoline.

Chocolate fudge cake with red barn.

Chocolate fudge cake with April on computer.

My piece of chocolate fudge cake.  It was delicious.  I am going to try another one of those recipes soon!

Dear Martha,

Hello. Wow! Thanks so much for personally picking me to be in your contest! That really means the world to me. I have been a big fan of yours for a long time.  Well… okay… I used to be a big fan of yours. Back when I was younger and had a LOT more energy.  Back when I had crazy ideas about making curtains for the laundry room  with four hundred pleats per square inch and hem stitching my own handmade leather crafted photo albums with silk thread imported from the barrier reef and decorating my homemade sugar cookies with exact replications of all the oil paintings in the Louvre using only your very own very special royal icing recipe.  Then suddenly… out of nowhere… things changed.

I had a baby… and another baby… and then I had two more… and then I woke up one day on a sheet drenched with leaking milk from one breast while the other breast felt like it was about to explode.  I stumbled to the baby’s crib and clamped that squalling infant on to my engorged boob so that he could guzzle away my misery and then I slopped some cereal into a chipped bowl and ate it with a plastic spoon while pouring a pile of cheerios and raisins onto a paper towel on the  floor for my diaper clad toddler to eat … 
And that’s when I decided to cancel my subscription to Martha Stewart Living.  

But I did buy a LOT of your paint.  And I used to buy a bunch of your stuff at K-Mart until well… I am not sure what is going on with K-Mart anymore, but somehow, it just got too depressing to go there.  How long can a store have 200% off everything and still keep the doors open?
I do still buy the garden issue of your magazine.  Not for myself…  I buy it for the Country Doctor.  He loves to look at pictures of trees and he does not mind occasionally being sidetracked by pictures of shrubs, flowers, retaining walls, hoity toity patios, Grecian urns, pebbled pathways, and stunning vistas overlooking a pool which overlooks a mountain, which overlooks a dessert, which overlooks the ocean, which overlooks the other ocean.
So yeah, I think it is safe to say that you and I, Martha (can I call you Martha?)  that we have a lot in common.  Did you know that my mom’s name is Martha?  If I had ever had a little girl, I might have named her Martha.  I love girl’s names that are kind of stern and frumpy and old fashioned like… Martha.  Not that you are stern and old fashioned and… frumpy.  It is just that you are kind of… well… okay maybe a little stern.  Or at least you are perceived as stern.  I am sure that in real life you are as sweet as a baby kitty cat.
Moving on!  
This is supposed to be about my dreams.  Ah yes, my dreams.  My first dream was to be a princess… followed rapidly by ballerina… then by a figure skater… then by an  Olympic gymnast… back to princess… to ballerina… to figure skater… to Olympic gymnast…  
Then I wanted to be the next Carolyn Keene – you know the lady who writes the Nancy Drew books?  I wanted to write Nancy Drew books.  Then I decided that I wanted to be Nancy Drew. Then as I grew older and wiser I decided that I just wanted to live in Nancy Drew’s fabulous colonial mansion in Riverside, with her cook Hannah, her rich accommodating lawyer-dad Carson and her cute college boyfriend Ned.  
Then I decided to be a folk rock star.  
Ah yes, the Folk Rock Star era of my life.  That was an interesting time…  But I think it would probably be better if we just glazed over it briefly. 
 Okay… done.  
Then I decided to build a house.
The Country Doctor was not very excited about building a house.  Not very excited at all.    He basically became catatonic whenever I brought up the idea of building a house.  I found that the only way to get him out of this catatonic state, was to cry, lament, cover my body in sackcloth and ashes, pull the suitcase out of the closet and start throwing clothes in it, slam doors, rant, rave, refuse to speak to him repeat… repeat… repeat….  After about six consecutive days of this emotional storming around he might slowly blink one eyelid in acknowledgement of my pain.
It was a slow process.
Eventually we did build a house.  And that is one dream that really came true.  And as much as I love our home, I have discovered that it does not make me a complete, total, full, satisfied, human being.  In fact, it makes me feel kind of empty sometimes because I miss having the dream of building a house.  I miss the planning and the deciding, and the sketching out of the rooms on paper, and the ability to erase the location of the rooms and move them around with only a bit of india rubber and some pencil lead.  It is much harder to move the rooms around now.   
So I need a new dream.  I have been mulling a few over, but all in all, I think that life is not really about fulfilling your dreams, it is about having dreams.  People really need them.  You know, it is what keeps us going.  Facing one more day.   Getting out of bed one more time. Schlepping through the day again.  Opening one more box of macaroni and cheese.  We do all this because of our dreams. 
Lately my dreams are much simpler.  I have a dream of keeping my entire house clean for more than thirty seconds at a time.  I have a dream of my children actually putting away their own laundry.  I have a dream of wallpapering the hall.  I have a dream of planting an oak leaf hydrangea.  I have a dream of soaking up every last second of my boys’ childhoods as they seem to be skyrocketing through them.  I have a dream of someday actually hanging up all the pictures that are leaning against the walls.  And I have a dream of finding a truly magical family vacation spot.  
So those are my dreams Martha. At least a few of them.  I also wanted to let you know that the whole “prison thing” for lying about cheating about stealing is well… I don’t want to say okay with me… but I don’t hold it against you either.  We all make mistakes sometimes.  Once when I was six, I stole a pack of Chiclets from the grocery store.  My sister told on me.  My mom drug my petrified carcass back into the store and made me apologize to the store manager.  It was very embarrassing.  Then a few weeks later I stole a butterscotch disc from the Brach’s display at the grocery store.  Once again, my sister told on me and my mom again drug my petrified carcass to the manager to make me apologize.  He was not so smiley and kind the second time.  That was the end of my career as a thief.  We all have to learn that it is wrong to steal.  It just took you a little longer that is all.  
Thanks again for asking me to enter your contest.  I hope I win!
“The Country Doctor’s Wife”

Dreamers into Doers is an annual program honoring women who have turned their favorite hobby into a business or nonprofit organization.

“I was so touched and inspired by the women we honored with last year’s Dreamers into Doers Awards program,” says Martha Stewart. “I’m thrilled to once again be celebrating the accomplishments of women who have worked hard to realize a dream, and I look forward to learning about all the wonderful ways in which this year’s entrants have turned their passion into a reality.”

I have to blame Jean over at Renovation Therapy for my obsession with Grey Gardens. Several months ago she wrote something on her blog about Grey Gardens and it made me want to know more.   Eventually, I had the presence of mind to place both of the Grey Gardens documentaries in my Netflix queue.   A few weeks later, the two Grey Gardens films arrived.  I made a cup of tea and sat mesmerized through both films.

Firstly, Grey Gardens is about two crazy women… a mother and daughter… relatives of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, living in squalor in a crumbling shingle style house on some of the most expensive real estate in the United States.  Secondly, Grey Gardens is about the house and the gardens and I can’t ever resist a movie about a great old house surrounded by a overgrown, abandoned garden.

In the film, the house is a wreck, with raccoons coming in and out the walls, but you can still see the faded glory of what once was. The mother, confined mostly to her stained mattress of a bed with feral kittens on her lap, eating carton after carton of ice cream, while her daughter… her fifty six year old daughter… completely steals the show with her dramatic outfits and head scarves and bathing suits and dance steps,  exhibiting the same faded glory of the house, she dances, she sings,  she talks… and talks and talks and then she talks some more.  Everything Edie says is crazy and also astonishingly erudite.  She eats ice cream and goes swimming and it was all captured on film by two documentary film makers who would go down in history for capturing a slice of American life… madness and blight… spirit and independence… squalor and valor in one amazing film.

After watching the two films I had to rush to my computer and see if I could find out what had happened to the women and to their house.  I found a link to a story about the renovation of Grey Gardens in 2005, House voyeurism at it’s finest.

I also found an interview with one of the film makers.  This interview gives you a great overview of what the films are about and why Edie was such a watchable character.  Every time I see pictures of her, it is so clear to me how much influence she has had on fashion today.
Would Anthropologie even exist without Edie?