Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Cake: It’s What’s For Breakfast

Please enjoy this little video. It will help make sense of the rest of this post.


We love the comedian Jim Gaffigan. If you haven’t watched his stuff, please do. He is funny and clean and spends most of his stand-up comedy routine talking about food. Now that’s my type of funny! He is the person who introduced me to the very obvious fact that muffins are just cake for breakfast.


Who am I to argue with a professional?


I made some breakfast cake this morning. It wasn’t intentional, but I did happen to read some food blogs before even getting out of bed this morning. (Curse you, work iPad!) Can it be helped that I stumbled upon Lemon Muffins by A Southern Grace in my internet experience this morning?

IMG_2465  IMG_2466  IMG_2467

No, I didn’t think so.

That being said, you might as well try these guys. I did. Who cares if giving into peer pressure is not as popular as it was when I was in middle school? Everybody’s making these…


And I know why! The topping turns into a nice, light, crunchy top as the butter melts the sugar into pure deliciousness. Don’t forget about the fresh lemon juice that goes inside.


We’re practically eating fruit here, people. Work with me.


I ate three of them in the name of my blog. I had to get pictures, after all. And then I took some to my sister today, so I didn’t have an unnecessary amount of lemon sugary goodness in my house all day. I only made a quarter batch but still got a dozen “muffins” out of the recipe.

If you call them “muffins” long enough, by the way, your brain starts to connect all the missing synapses to make it work. Make these yesterday!

P.S. How are these pictures treating everybody? Better than a slideshow?

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A View Of The Past

A New Home for the House
My sister gave me one of the best presents for Christmas. She printed and framed a picture of the house from The Ranch. After moving it from one place to another in search of the best location, I only recently found the perfect wall on which to display this wonderful memory.

It now hangs in the entry to the guest room. And I see it every time I walk down the hallway from the bedrooms to the rest of the house. Every time I pass, I smile. I am overcome by emotion and memories of the best two summers of my life.

We lived on The Ranch on Willow Crick (not creek) during the summers of 1990 and 1991. As soon as the last school bell rang, we were all packed with our cowboy hats, play clothes, and fake pistol holsters and ready for the seemingly-forever drive to the Uintah Basin in northeastern Utah. We were to spend the next three months under the loving supervision of my grandparents and in constant companionship with several other cousins. It was a kid's dream come true.

We had horses. We had ticklish goats. We had chickens. We had sheep. We had forest fires. We had a Pout Rock, where I admit I spent an hour or two of my precious time over the months. We had home-cooked food. We had a bunk house where we all got to sleep. We had the great outdoors available to us night and day. We had RAP each night, where we got to express the good and bad that had occurred that day so as to prevent any hard feelings before we fell asleep. We had Clint Black t-shirts. We had endless swimming in the Crick. We would return to the house after a good swim, only to have someone else shout out, "Hey, let's go swimming!"

And we had each other.

We didn't have electricity. Or indoor plumbing. Do you know how exciting it is to use an outhouse when you're a kid? I know I'm not too keen on the idea now, but back then it was exhilarating!

The Ranch House
When I think of those times on Willow Creek, my heart gets warm and fuzzy. Those summers helped to mold me into the person I am today. They helped me learn how to share and how to work hard and how to help. 

It's amazing how the simple things in life can mean so much. I don't know who I would be without The Ranch in my memory bank.

What about you? Any special places from your childhood that always make you smile?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Mother of All Desks

You know how some projects take muuuuuuuch longer than expected? This post was well-intentioned to happen a few weeks ago. It's amazing how allowing for proper drying time after paint and stain can really eat up timing for the overall project, huh?

And you all know that I'm such a patient person...

But it is done at last! We brought this puppy into the house on Friday when Hubby mistakenly told me that he had the day off from work. That poor guy will not be taking any days off again any time soon, I bet.

One disclaimer: Hubby seems to have a standard Building Uniform in all of these pictures. You will see him ever-present in blue plaid stretchy pants and his Defending the Caveman t-shirt. Occasionally, you see him in basketball attire, but that is only when he had just removed the Building Uniform that he so loves. Don't was washed after each day that he wore it. I've been doing lots of laundry this past month!

So let's get right down to it...

Demolition Man

We received some awesome cabinets from friends who had recently gutted their kitchen in a remodel. Though they weren't the correct size to support a desk, Hubby's eyes glistened over when he heard the Ryan even loaded them up in his truck to bring them to our house, since it would have taken thirteen trips in Corolla. Hubby got to work tearing them apart in preparation for cutting the pieces with yet another borrowed tool from a neighbor. We certainly picked the right neighborhood since everyone has tool shops galore! Do you see how long and narrow the cabinets are? We needed them less long and less narrow to properly support the weight of a desk top. And to not eat up too much real estate where Hubby could be sitting. Thus, using Alan's table saw, Hubby quickly cut down the cabinets to make the pieces to build them short and stocky. Soon he was ready to put all of his carefully-measured pieces back together.

Glue It And Screw It

The assembly was done very well, and I am sure that it helped that I was gone for most of it. It's amazing to me how much more he can get done when I am not around to constantly make "suggestions," as I like to call them. He probably refers to them with other names. Hubby built four cabinets and attached two together for one side of the base, then the other two together for the opposite side. He also built a toe-kick to allow the doors enough height to be opened over the carpeted office. And he added toe-kicks on top, too, to create little paper cubbies while providing enough clearance for the doors to open on top after the desk was in place. If I can take any credit...the paper cubbies were one of my few successful "suggestions." I was really impressed with the cabinets after the build. Though there were some cracks where joints came together, I knew we could cover them up in our next step.

Prepping Like It's High School

Thanks to some help from Young House Love, I knew that wood filler would be our bestest friend to get rid of some cracks, crevices, and holes that we didn't want visible in the final product. Using a putty knife and a little too much confidence, I tackled filling all spaces before letting them dry overnight. We then sanded all of the surfaces down. The doors also got a sanding to roughen them up for the primer and paint. We tack-clothed everything to get rid of the dust before primer went down.

Painting For Days and Days and Days

Once the surfaces were all prepped and not-so-pretty, it was time to lay some smack primer down. I only put one coat on but was a little worried that it had been a wasted effort. Luckily, after two coats of white paint that we had leftover from another project, the old wood was now reborn with a beautiful, clean look. I waited a full twenty-four hours in between coats, which just about killed me. I was tickled with the results when it was all said and done. The cabinets sat finished in the garage for about a week while we worked on the top of the desk.

Stains Of Our Lives

Hubby scored this beautiful gigantic door at Habitat for Humanity for $40. It was the bulk of the budget for this under-$100 project of ours. At first, I was tempted to just leave it in its natural wood color. But I am a fan of dark woods, so we stained it with one coat of Dark Walnut from Minwax. Man oh man, am I glad we did! I LOVE the color of the stained wood. It is so warm and inviting and smells like cookies. Two out of three of those comments are mostly true. I liked it before, but the stain and then semi-gloss polyurethane on top of that just make the desk top sing. We added four coats of poly to the top and two to the bottom. Didn't I mention how much patience I exhibited during this entire project?

Bringing It All Together

This was my favorite part, of course. Everything up to this point had been grunt work. Now we were going to see big results in very little time! I had begun this process a few days earlier by arranging and cleaning and moving things in the office. Then I regretted being so proactive, because the office was then a mess for a few days until we could get the big desk inside to finish the job. On Friday morning, we started bringing it all in the house. First came the two bases, and then the doors went on. Hubby drilled some holes for some handles to be added...some leftovers from our kitchen cabinet job before we moved in. Then we hauled in the gigantic (and heavy) top to place over the two cabinet bases. It's purdy already, but now we get to move everything in place and get the old out. Have I ever mentioned how much I passionately hated Hubby's old desk? And that he would never let me do anything about it because he had a desk? I am so tickled that it is now gone, and that this gorgeous beast now takes its place. The only downside? Since we got a little toe-kick happy on the top and bottom to allow the doors to swing freely, we ended up creating a really tall desk. Too tall for Hubby's present office chair. But you know what? I haven't been a crazy fan of that lately, either. We are on the hunt for a tall chair to replace the now-too-short current option.

The Big Reveal

 I love being on the other side of the room with my desk, and I absolutely love that we were able to make a reading chair fit in here. Now I can peruse my cookbooks to pick out dinner and be much more comfortable. I just love creating reading nooks in every available space. Nerd Alert!

Hubby seems to be happy with the end results as well. The desk is large enough to house not only his work station, but all of his play goodies as well. The concealed storage is just a dream, and now we only see what is absolutely necessary on top. Perfection for a Type-A gal such as myself!

I love it. I absolutely love it.

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