Friday, June 29, 2012

Lemon Pound Cake...easy and so good!

     When my dad was here I was trying to come up with a light dessert to serve after a big meal. I made this slightly lemon flavored pound cake (my first pound cake) and served it sliced with whipping cream and fresh blueberries. It would be good with any fruit, ice cream or even as a breakfast bread. I know it was a hit at our dinner table.


1 stick butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs (separate the yolks from the whites)
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
2/3 cup sour cream
1 tsp real vanilla
1 T. fresh lemon juice

3 heaping T of powdered sugar
juice from one lemon
Whisk together until blended

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

     Grease a 9x5 loaf pan. I prefer to sugar a pan after greasing rather than using flour. The sugar melts into the cake and not only doesn't show, it creates a little crispy crunch.

     With a mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (see top photo). Add the egg yolks one at a time, mixing after each addition. Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix, then half of sour cream, then the rest of the dry and the rest of the sour cream. When the batter is smooth, add the vanilla and lemon juice and mix well.

     In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold (with a spatula, don't beat) the egg whites into the batter until they are completely incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until the cake is golden brown, 1 hour and 25 minutes. Let the cake cool and pour the glaze over the top.

     I forgot to take pictures after I plated the cake, but I simply put a large dollop of whipped cream on one corner of each slice and dropped a handfull of blueberries on top of the cream. The cake has more of a vanilla flavor with a hint of lemon. Enjoy!

I am joining Michael @ Rattlebridge Farm for Foodie Friday
Please visit our hostess!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Make New Friends, But Keep The Old

     The old Girl Scout song lyrics have never felt so true to me as they feel this week. I just spent the weekend in the company of many of my high school classmates as we celebrated our 40th (ugh) class reunion.

Class of '72

     So many of us are struggling with words to describe what the weekend meant to us. My class has a page on Facebook and the pictures and words have been streaming in at a fast pace since Sunday. I really had no plans to do a blog post about the reunion, but as a writer…I just had to try to capture some of the feelings that this event stirred in all of us. The other thing I hope to do is to encourage all of you who skip class reunions, to rethink that idea.

     To quote some of my classmates, “Looking around, this weekend and seeing other old friends being together was all so familiar” “I feel like this weekend changed my life again” “but only the friends of our youth knew our families and where we came from”. I think it could be said that most of us were shocked at how wonderful it was to reconnect with old friends and even make some new ones. After all, at most we spent 12 years of our lives with these people and we have had 40 years of life, new friendships and experiences since leaving high school. It doesn’t make sense that when I saw my friend Elaine walking towards me, I felt such a rush of pure joy. The hug I gave my friend Liz, was genuine and filled with love even though I hadn’t seen her in 20 years.


     I think there is something to be said for people who knew you before “life happened” to us all. It was a time of hope and innocence for most of us, although I have learned that some classmates weren’t living my sheltered childhood and yet they never told us. I knew when my mom died and so many classmates sent me messages through Facebook, that there was something special about the bonds we created years ago. People who know me today, were kind and very sympathetic but those who knew me back then, had spent the night at my house, had my mom for a Girl Scout leader or been to my birthday parties. They knew her and that helped me through the worst time of my life.

     During our class picture, one of my friends who knows me the best, realized that as an extremely claustrophobic person, being somehow situated in the middle of 100 plus people for what seemed like forever, without dinner, in the heat and humidity was starting to get to me. She was standing right in front of me and probably felt my knees start to shake…what no one knows is that she stuck her hand up behind her back and grabbed mine and held on until the picture was done and quietly said under her breath, “do you need to leave”. True friendship based on years of knowing someone very well.

     We talked about our classmates who were no longer with us…and how much we missed them. We talked of those who still live in town and didn’t come and how much they were missing by not showing up! We missed many who live away and for some reason didn’t make the trip. We had people come from Oregon, Texas, Florida, Iowa, Indiana, Colorado and I’m sure other states. I doubt anyone would say they regretted making the trip.

     We learned that some of the boys thought we were cute in junior high but never bothered to let us know (oh what a difference that would have made in the 7th grade), that where you lived in school and what your father did makes absolutely no difference now that we are all grown up (it didn’t matter then either, we just didn’t know it), that the class clown is still funny and that years can drop away in a heartbeat and you fall right back into the banter that you had decades ago. We discovered that people who felt like wallflowers in school are really great people and they certainly weren’t ignored anymore (isn‘t it sad they ever were). We are a class that we has produced lawyers, doctors, business executives, teachers, laborers, housewives, mothers, fathers and grandparents…funny, smart and caring individuals. Our parents and our teachers would be proud I think of who we have become.

Grade School Classmates

     The point is, it was worth it. It was worth all the work (done by others, not me) to prepare for this event. It was worth the travel, the manicures, the worrying about what to wear (I screwed that one up on the second night-bad outfit for pictures). It didn’t matter that we didn’t lose the 20 pounds or that we couldn’t read the name tags because we all have old eyes. There was something special happening in Mattoon, IL last weekend…and I am so glad that I was part of it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Beach and Blue

     I have been on a bit of a break from "tablescaping" but when my dad was bringing his girlfriend (there has to be a better word than girlfriend for people in their 80's) for a few days last week, it was a good excuse to set the table! We decided to grill out because we weren't sure what time they would get here, so I opted to keep the table simple and comfortable.

     I thought the beachy theme was perfect for them since they live in Florida. Plus, I love the bright colors in the salad plates and continued them through the rest of the table. The table runner actually has a large shell on each end, but you can barely see it in the pictures. The salad plates and the water glasses are both HomeGoods purchases. The plates are 222 Fifth and the pattern is Beach Stripes. I love how each plate is different.

     My water pitcher was a surprise gift a few days ago from my oldest (not in age) friend. She literally dropped by my house carrying a box, said she thought of me when she saw it and had bought it a while back. Then she left! This wouldn't be all that odd except she lives in North Carolina and was on a quick visit to our hometown which in near here. I not only love surprises, I love the pitcher! She was right, it is perfect in my house.

     I kept the centerpiece very simple and low. I think ornate centerpieces are much prettier, but not easy to talk over or around. I sprinkled a few water colored pebbles, added some shells and a trio of mini Crate and Barrel vases with flowers from the yard. Mercury glass votives added a little glow.

See the fish on the tumblers?

The seahorse platter (plastic) was another HomeGoods purchase.

Cream napkins match the runner, seaglass colored
napkin rings and my every day flatware finish the table.

     Dinner was grilled chicken, spinach salad, grilled vegetables and the first sweetcorn of the season. For dessert I made a lemon pound cake with whipped cream and blueberries. I'll post that recipe soon.

Dinner was a relaxed meal at home,
a good way to catch up and enjoy the company.

I am joining Kathleen @ Cuisine Kathleen for Let's Dish!
How lucky for me that my first time to join it is Beach Week!
Tablescape Thursday

Please visit these lovely ladies!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Perfect Wedding

     It will be weeks before the professional photos are ready from my niece's weekend wedding, but I couldn't wait to share a few of my own photos. The above photo will be my favorite, no matter what the photographer does because Jenny looked at me and grinned after the ceremony and it looks "so Jenny" that I just love it!

     This was by far my favorite wedding, ever. I would say the same thing if I hadn't been related to the bride. Our family tends to do things slightly non-traditional and this wedding was the perfect blend of fun, fabulous, silly and elegant. It took place at the Adler Planetarium on the lakefront in Chicago, at sunset. The view was stunning even though the temperatures were a little warmer than we expected.

My dad walking my sister (the mother-of-the-bride) to her seat.

     There were 7 bridesmaids, the dresses were these deep teal and navy. The two above just happen to be the bride's sisters, my nieces. Aren't they all just gorgeous? The guys all wore gray suits of their own choosing, with matching plaid ties.

    Jenny and her dad entered from the upper level down two flights of stairs. There was no traditional Wedding March. Our Jenny came down the aisle to Cosmic Love by Florence and the Machine. I loved it!

     The service was really personal. Jenny and Jerry asked their very good friend Chris to be ordained so he could marry them. He was friends with Jenny long before Jerry came into the picture and as he said during the ceremony, he was there after their first date when Jenny came home floating on air. His service was a mix of humor, memories and a few tears. Above you see that they asked my dad for a few words of advice about having a long marriage. He talked to them about a few things he and my mom did to remind each other of their love and then he read from the Book of Ruth, which was very special to my parents. There wasn't a dry eye in our family when he was speaking. The bride and groom also included a memorial section on the program that included my mom, Jenny's other grandparents and two of Jerry's friends.

     We had cocktails and a large variety of appetizers out on the terraces before dinner was served. They had a mac and cheese "tini" bar set up. A large chafing dish of macaroni and cheese (with truffle oil) to be spooned into martini glasses and topped with everything from sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms and blue cheese. So clever.

The flower of the day was the pink peony.

     You can't share a blog post without showing the food. We had the choice of salmon (mine-above), chicken (my husband's below) or a vegetarian dish. I don't know who catered this wedding but they did it very well.

     Another thing that I loved was they didn't have a cake. In fact at one point my niece said, "we are going to cut the beignet" and that is what they did! There was a beignet dessert bar. Servers would fill the beignet with either chocolate, vanilla, strawberry or lemon cream and then serve them with ice cream, hot fudge sauce and a fruit selection. Coffee and tea were served with chocolate spoons and optional Bailey's. 

     The DJ was great and the dance floor was packed all night long. There is nothing quite like dancing to Katy Perry singing Firework while the fireworks are going off right outside the window.

Of course being in a planetarium added a few
decorations that one doesn't normally have at a wedding!

     My niece is as sweet as she is beautiful. My sister and I are really close and our kids are also very close, so I couldn't be happier if this was one of my kids. What makes it even better is that her new husband Jerry is such a great guy. He not only worships her, he fits in very well with our family and after meeting his parents and grandparents over the weekend, I can see why he is so special.

     It is rare these days when everything comes together perfectly, when everyone is happy and healthy and when everyone has a wonderful time. We were all very blessed that our first family wedding was absolute perfection! They are currently taking a 3 week tour of Italy, France and London. Bliss!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

I Just Can't....

Come on mom, relax!

     I just can't get it together right now! It seems around my house/life, we are either really boring or everything is happening at once. Well, this is one of those "all at once" times. I didn't mention in my post about the day that we put our much loved Nike to sleep that we got hit by a semi an hour later. It sounds worse than it was, but on our way to get "maybe I'll feel better ice cream" a truck took a turn too wide and hit us in my husband's car, and kept on going! Well, you don't mess with people who are already upset...we called 911 and followed him to get his plate number. He pulled into a truck stop before the police got there and jumped out yelling at my husband, "do you have a problem"? Well, long story short, he denied hitting us at first until the police pointed out the paint from his truck all over the car, and finally owned up to it and got a ticket. We found out yesterday that he lied about having insurance. It appears we may have to pay the repairs through our insurance and pay the deductible.

     Just a couple of nights later I got a call from my daughter. She had been on her way home on the busiest interstate in Orlando and her car died while driving. She said she panicked and tried to get it off the road, hitting the guard rail with the front of her car which spun it around and then the rear crashed into it. She ended up with a dead car, off the side of the road and facing the dark. I nearly lost my mind until the police got to her. I was so afraid someone would hit her and there is nothing worse than having your child scared to death, 1000 miles away. She wasn't hurt, but her car was totaled. So, while texting us, she bought her first car alone Friday. We are just feeling so grateful that she is okay.

     Our new carpet is coming on Wednesday. So, instead of having a toilet in my bedroom like I did a couple of months ago when we did the bath redo...I have 3 beds/mattress sets in my dining room, plus all the rest of 3 bedrooms, the hallway and the living room shoved into the kitchen, garage, dining room and basement. We aren't quite done with all of the moving yet, our bed will be last. My husband has started taking up the old carpet. They may finish late Thursday. My dad gets here Thursday! I booked him a hotel room to be safe. If they have to come back on Friday to finish, it will be without us because we head to Chicago to my niece's wedding. So, when we get home we will have the entire house to put back together before my dad gets back here a few days later.

     So, between the car issues, the destruction of most of my house, company coming and trying to figure out what to pack to take to the wedding...I'm losing my mind. Did I mention I picked this week to put things on Ebay for the first time in years? What was I thinking? So, if I'm not around much for the next few will know why. Of course I will have wedding photos and house photos after it all calms down!