Martha Thinks

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Summer Crush

Am I late to this party?  For lovers of it already, the answer is YES! 
But I am having a serious summer crush on Fiestaware. 
Gorgeous colors and everything you put in it makes you look like a pro.
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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Walt Disney Effect

They were doing construction on an area at Epcot in DisneyWorld this past Spring.  The blank walls were filled with quotes from Walt Disney.  Couldn't take my eyes off this one...
"The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing."

So I made little changes and listened to advice from professional bakers who told me if you want to be a better baker, you have to bake - a lot.  So I rolled up my sleeves and got busy.

I ordered cupcake boxes from, started reading great baking blogs and watched a lot of youtube videos on cake decorating.  I baked for everything that I could, teacher luncheons, parties, friends and family.

And one day I got an email with a cupcake order.   A real order!  It was for a baby shower.  And then I tackled my first order for a tiered cake, and then another.  I just finished another order for five dozen cupcakes.  And so I can't help but notice that it's really happening.

Now whether this will turned into a big old baking business or not, even to get to this point I consider a great achievement, a bucket list item...

So I keep taking little steps like putting it out there on a business card.

And here's my first big paycheck!  I know it kind of looks like it's floating, but that is just a weird way the tablecloth was wrinkled in the middle, it's kinda funny.  So what I learned is that I really love to bake and I learned that loving it isn't enough when you are in the muddy middle and you have to make a whole other batch of Italian Meringue Buttercream because your crumbcoat is showing on one side. Or when you have been standing on your feet for four hours but have only walked the five feet from the oven to the KitchenAid Mixer (God Bless THAT inventor) to the refrigerator and back and forth and back and forth and...

You have to have tenacity to see it through. And so Mr. Disney, you have motivated and inspired yet another person on this earth.  It is not all Cinderella fairy-dust, achieving these goals, but so gratifying to stay the course.  The pans are all put away now, mixer back in the corner, decorating bags, tips and food coloring tucked back in the cabinet waiting for the next inspiration.

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Boot Kickin' at Fenway Park

Another stop on the summer tour.  Oh boy do we have a boot kickin' good time, Julie and me.  We've traveled from shed to shed, but it was thrilling to see Jason Aldean right in Fenway Park.  It's only been a few years that they have opened the Park up to rock bands and although The Stones, Springsteen, Aerosmith and Jimmy Buffett have all played there, Jason Aldean was the first headlining country act.  So exciting!  We might be Northerners, but we are country at heart.

Jason Aldean was the headliner and Miranda Lambert opened for him.  There was not a spare seat and the beer selling records were broken on these two summer nights.

Jason's tour was called "Night Train" cool.
My kinda party.

Like minded gal.  On this night at Fenway, cowboy hats were traded for baseball caps.
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Nat Geo Pic

Perhaps the most unlikely photograph I have ever taken.
Early last Sunday morning, I was delighting that the 5, 8, 10 day - who knows how long it lasted, I was delirious - heatwave had finally broken.  While the air was still not terribly cool, it was dry.  While I was puttering around something kept catching my eye.  I couldn't figure out for the life of me what the heck it was.  A bug?  A bee?  A bird?  What the?
My facebook friends came to my rescue with the answer.  It is a Hummingbird Moth.  And a couple of people even said that they only come around really great gardens.  Little pat on the back.  Makes me feel good for all of the babysitting required for any garden in the summer, especially keeping it alive in a heatwave.

Ok, so back to the pic.  Once I realized it was a fairly unique winged thing, I ran in to get my camera.  I took about 10 photos that were quite blurry, changed my setting to "action" and got this in a single shot before it flew away.  Oops, gotta go, there's the phone.
 Nat Geo calling. 
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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Building a Firepit in a Heatwave - In the Beginning

"I would love a firepit in the backyard" I said to Carter.  He's got a part-time job in a restaurant but thought this would keep him busy in his free time.  Not that he was particularly looking for a back breaking project in a heatwave.  Nor did he consider watching international soccer games for hours on end a poor use of his free time. "What do you think? Can you build one?  I'll pay ya!"  This was always just a scrabbly corner of the yard that had no real definition.

He didn't say no.  He got right on board and staked out a 7.5 ft. diameter.  I kept calling it a firepit, but actually Carter with help from his father and brother Ronan built a patio with a firepit on top.  Oh, who could have predicted what was to come!  It truly was a perfect example of how not-knowing and just figuring it out as they went turned out to be a blessing.  Because if any of them had known the work it would really take, I doubt I would have gotten my firepit/patio at all.  Nor could I blame them.
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Building a Firepit in a Heatwave - Using Pi

We needed a whole pallet of stones.  The only had 3/4 of a pallet of  grey stones and we would need to fill in with 1/4 pallet of beige stones.  The discussion began on how to arrange them.  Being math guys my husband and son used the beige ones with the grey stones between them (are you following this?) to mark off the digits of pi.  (see repeats forever, but who has the time or the stones?)
Pi is the ratio of the diameter to the distance around it or circumference.  

All of this was typed in verbatim as my husband was explaining to me.  You want to make a cake?  Ask me.  You want to know how to paint something?  Ask me.   This is not exactly in my wheelhouse. 

Little do these stones know they are part of some great math equation.
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Building a Firepit in a Heatwave - Moving the Non-Rolling Stones

All hands on deck!  Well, except mine because somebody had to capture this event for all time. They bought the stones from Lowe's but rented the truck from Home Depot because Lowe's didn't have any free trucks.  That's kinda funny.

This photo will always keep me grateful for all of the hours of work he did in the bleaching sun.  

From one side of the truck to the other, bit by bit.

Rich, Ronan and Carter all worked up a mighty sweat this day.
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Building a Firepit in a Heatwave - The Stone Dust Diaries

The way our yard is set up, there is no way to get the load of stone dust dumped where we needed it.  So it needed to be wheelbarrowed in.  Load after load after load.

Pretty backbreaking work even for an 18 year old.

Pushing it up the slight incline.

From a giant mound to a small one.

And this was the temperature.  And yes, my new Town & Country mini-van gets lousy gas mileage.
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Building a Firepit in a Heatwave - The End is Near

Taking a piece of wood he evens out the stone dust.

Then starts to build the circles.

Using "pi"...

Finally done he can now rest on his bed of stones.
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Building a Firepit in a Heatwave - Bring on the S'mores and Margaritas

You did it, kid!  And your father and your brother, too.  All put many, many hours in - 3 weekends all together including over the July 4th holiday, into finishing this. Tilling the soil six inches deep then getting rid of it, layer after layer of stone dust, machine and truck rentals, moving and placing the stones, tamping it down, filling with sand and building the actual "firepit".
Whew.  Rest up.  I'll make you brownies. You deserve it.  Put it on your resume.  Even if you never do it again, put it on your resume!  I am very proud of you!
We have only lit it once, just for the christening of it.  The heat wave continues so it will wait for the next cooling to be lit again.  I look forward to the gathering place for friends it was designed to be; a space for s'mores and margaritas, laughter and warmth.

Now if I can just get him to dig me a lake beside it...
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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Lime Away

Today seemed like a good day for a new recipe.  I had been wanting to try this as it sounded refreshing and thought I would make them for July 4th.  I was also visiting a former co-worker recovering from knee surgery, so it gave me a perfect reason to start zesting.

The frosting incorporates both lime juice and grated lime zest.

Ok, not to brag, but...they are awesome. 
Refreshing and light as I had hoped.

Key Lime Cupcakes with Lime Cream Cheese Buttercream frosting.
This was from a "Cupcake Wars" recipe...but I did not use the lime curd in the middle and it was still great.,1946,FOOD_9936_632755_RECIPE-PRINT-FULL-PAGE-FORMATTER,00.html 
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