Posts tagged ‘celebration’

September 10, 2010

675 Yard Sale!

So doing this whole school thing and having an internship at an awesome local fashion and culture magazine takes up more time than I thought.  I have not disappeared. I just took a little bit of a break.  Now I can tell you all about the splendid fun that is the 675 yard sale!

We woke up early, and I applied copious amounts of sunscreen (or so I thought.  My burn lines told a different story).  Then we were off to Noccalula Falls, Alabama for the beginning of the yard sale.  This was particularly exciting because A) it was my birthday and everyone knows that on one’s birthday only good, exciting, wonderful things happen B) This was my first time I got to go with my mommy.  My aunt, my grandfather, and my mom always went the first week of school every year and I marveled at all of the amazing trinkets, china, paintings, and furniture they brought back.  We always unpacked all the treasures and listened to their stories. AND C) I am obsessed with yard sales.  I love looking through piles of crazy stuff to find the one set of earing that will blow the socks of anyone else’s or the perfect painting by an unknown artist for the wall above my dresser.  I enjoy looking at old things and the hunt.  Some people hunt animals; I hunt for bargains.

There were plenty of old things to see!  FABULOUS vintage jewelry, old chairs, cookbooks from 1956, the first models of portable radios, old cars, the required table of salt shakers, cast iron pans, old comics, vintage fashion magazines, a tub of lard (we are in the South after all), comic books, lots of stop lights, a go-go dancer drink shaker, imitation Snuggies, and even and old stage-coach.

The best part is each of these items hand an owner before, and they loved it or hated it or forgot about it. But this item lived life with them.  It saw the daily life of someone far away.  It brought them joy .  It brought them hope.  At least that’s what I’d like to think.  I’d like to think that the old Pryex bowls made cakes that showed the love of a grandmother to her grandchildren or the old studebaker showed a teenager freedom and the feeling of being invincible in the night air.  They may be plastic, wood, metal, or resin, but they hold the lives of people who go before us, and we pour our lives into them as well whether we realize it or not.  They continue to live on after we stop.

That’s what’s so magical about a yard sale and why you see people out at 7 AM to sift through piles of discarded junk.  It’s exciting to create new memories in a dress or serve new conversation over a platter.  Maybe I give too much weight to non-living things, but they connect us to living people with hopes and dreams and love.  I want to find out the stories behind the things people love because that shows their lives more than anything they could say.

I highly recommend going out to the next yard sale.  Not only will there be fun bargains and crazy/funny things to take pictures of, there will be carnival food.  What is better than a hotdog, kettlecorn, fresh squeezed lemonade, and homemade ice cream? The answer is nothing.  It’s always the first weekend in August.  Check it out here for more info!

August 18, 2010

Birthday Cake

So I’ll finally post a week (almost two) late! I know I said I would have lots of fun stuff for you, but I am slacking.  I could use the excuse of FINALLY moving in (you’ll see cute pictures soon!) but I will just say I’m sorry and I will not allow it to happen again!

So I thought to myself, “I will make the most beautiful birthday cake.  It will be a vision and people will ooh and aah about its glory.  It can’t be too hard. Can it?”

Well folks, Duff and his people make it look really easy! I learned I cannot carve a cake without taking off a good 2 or 3 inches.  I also learned that I’m not that great of a cake decorator and I either need to stick to easier desserts or take a class or some sort.

I dreamed of an elaborate cake, so I couldn’t just use the white box cake mix I has in my cabinet.  I wanted to add a blackberries, but unfortunately our blackberry bush is all shriveled from the sad little bit of rain we have received.  The blueberries at the farmer’s market looked fabulous though!  They make this really great purpley color that makes me so happy! I don’t think you can taste much difference in the cake batter.  I think it would have to be a more potent blueberry flavor for it to really come through once it’s baked.

The cream between the layers and the icing is really deluxe!  I used a recipe for the blueberry cream from Epicurious and the dark chocolate icing is also from there.  I think the slight bitterness of the dark chocolate balances the sweetness of the cream and the cake.  I just used a whole to-go packet of instant coffee because I couldn’t find instant espresso, and I really liked the extra coffee flavor. If you don’t like coffee at all you could leave it out and be just fine!

Actually icing the cake became quite an ordeal! I can’t cut cakes level for one, and the top layer ended up being about the same size as the middle layers.  It ended up looking a little like the Mad Hatter’s hat from Alice in Wonderland.  Cake decorating takes serious skill!  I tried, but it did not form into a work of art.  It did however taste REALLY good, and it lasted for about a week.  I basically ate cake for breakfast and sometimes lunch until I moved to back to school.  Well here’s how I did it!

Blueberry and Chocolate Birthday Cake

  1. The Cake
  • 2 boxes white cake mix (follow box directions for eggs and oil)
  • Blueberry puree (see blueberry cream recipe) – enough to replace the water the recipe calls for (more if you really like blueberries)
  • lots of cake pans

Mix the cake as directed, replacing the water with blueberry puree for one of the cake mixes. I was just able to use two 8in cake pans, a large tier, and another 7 in. cake pan, so it makes a lot of cake! Bake according to box directions

2.  The Blueberry Cream and Puree (adapted from Epicurious)

  • one container blueberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 3/4 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
  • splash of vanilla extract

Rinse blueberries and without drying them, put them in a food processor with the sugar. Blend to a puree.  The original recipe said to strain it, but I liked the bits so they stayed. Set aside the equivalent of the water in the cake mix.  Beat the cream until peaks form. (You cannot do this by hand! Well maybe if you’re awesome, but don’t waste your time. Break out the electric beaters!) Then fold in around 3/4 cup of the puree.  You now have delicious cream that can be used with lots of things!

3. The Icing (adapted from Epicurious)!

  • 1 pound bittersweet or dark chocolate (I use a combo of both because it’s what I had on hand)
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (or instant coffee)

Put chopped chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl, and set aside. Heat the cream and espresso powder.  Bring to a simmer over medium high heat, then pour it over the chocolate.  Whisk the mixture until all the chocolate is melted.  Let refrigerate for about 2 hours or you can flash cool it in the freezer in about 30 minutes. Just keep checking on it.

Then you put the whole thing together.  Level the cakes.  Put chocolate icing over the bottom layer, then add the second layer to it.   I cut all my layers in two and put the blueberry cream in between them.  Ice the cake and make it beautiful!  Then eat it!

July 4, 2010

Happy Birthday America!

Every year in my hometown, a huge parade takes place in honor of our nation’s independence. This year we chose to celebrate on the 3rd.  The People’s Parade is like no other event.  We have bands and old cars and floats and candy that little children riding on the floats (or tow trucks which tends to happen more often) throw haphazardly at the crowd.  But we also have frisbees, band-aids, tubes of toothpaste, and can handles given out to parade goers.  Not only that, but some of the “floats” are a bit unique.  This year we had a Tea Party procession:

A Civil War era themed float

Complete with drummer boy (or man), and AirTrain came out with quite possibly my favorite costume so far.

A street preacher

Ronald McDonald

The Red Hat Society on the Redneck Rivera

A parade of tractors from the Two-Cylinder Club.  The John Deere with the only driver under 50 stood out as a favorite of mine.

And what Fourth of July Parade (on the 3rd) would be complete without lambs?

So that’s the Fourth here!  And of course today we will be eating tons of barbeque, cole slaw, potato salad, and homemade ice cream.  Then the spectacular fireworks display! Happy 234th birthday America!