Finishing touches…..

My goal was to make the cake look like two slabs of wood sitting on a bed of rocks.  This process was a tad easier than I thought it would be.  Being a ceramic enthusiast came in handy.  I had a rubber mat for the bark of a tree, and I found my rock mat also.  These two items made all the difference in the appearance.

I had some new stiffer brushes out in my workroom, so they came in handy to brush on the colors and blend them.  Steven threw some little ladders together for me and cut some dowels to insert into the bottom two layers of the cake for support.

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Not a bad start to the assembling.  I was very excited to see it actually come together and look really good.  I had a small cake left over so thinking that we might need the extra cake to feed the 25+ friends and family, it became a little house.

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So far so good.  Using a die cut alphabet, I cut out Caden’s name and made a little banner of welcome, then started loading the animals and decorations…..

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Now for the floral of the forest…..

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Holy cow it weighed a ton, lol.  Steven had to carry it out and set it in my Niece Julia’s (well she’s actually my cousins daughter, but she’s more a niece to us) lap to carry to the shower.  We made it there with no casualties, whew.

When Julia and I carried it into the house, WOW, the house was so beautifully decorated!  I was instantly relieved that I had pulled out all the stops with the cake.  A plain jane cake would have been so tragic in this woodland wonderland that Kacie’s Mom, Kelley and Lynn  (close family friend) had created!

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So, here it sat in its place of honor waiting for the Mom-to-be.  The tears said it all, and the squeal was perfect!  The day was perfect in every way.

Oh, and I think I did find a new adventure that someday I would love to have a reason to play again!  …..Cyn

 

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Forest Friends…..

Just hasn’t been a great time, had some computer issues and couldn’t get myself logged in.  Probably was the user not the computer, lol, but alas I have gotten in finally.

Sticking to my schedule every day, the animals came together one by one.  I know Noah felt it should be two by two, heck I was lucky to get just the one done!  As they were finished I was sending my sister, Corinne and my daughter Colleen a picture daily.  It helped to feel as if they were keeping me on task, I knew they would be looking for the next photo.  Little did I know that both of them were sharing with their respective co-workers.  Lol

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Ta da, the animals were all finished.  The raccoon was my favorite.

Now I just had to bake her favorite cake, frost and cover, then assemble all the pieces.  Excitement took over and the nerves kinda took a back seat the rest of the way……. Cyn

 

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Fondant Frenzy…..

Day 2…..  I had laid out on paper just what I needed to accomplish everyday to complete my mission.  The kitchen table was going to be my work station, it was ready for me to get started on the next animal as soon as I came home from work.  Laptop open, deer fondant colors ready to go, tutorial ready to press play!  Here we go.  I was actually excited to get my fingers into something creative.  It had been such a long time.

My first attempt was wonderful until he started to slump.  My deer became the incredible shrinking puddle.  Well, that’s an extreme exaggeration, lol.  I had not used enough of the  CMC Powder, which gives the fondant some strength to hold its shape.  So, by adding more to the body itself and a bamboo skewer, my deer held his own when I placed his head.  The shrinking ceased!

The details to the body were easy in comparison.  I was gaining confidence by the animal!

 

So far so good…..

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I needed to wait to see if the slumping occurred over night.

Yahoo, my baby was holding his own….. Mr. Fox you’re next!  Cyn

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Here’s to new pursuits!…..

As I was talking to you about, raise your glass to new pursuits!  New hobbies, such a bitter pill to swallow, NOT. Steven has been ever so eager to see this train get rolling.  I was presented with the perfect opportunity to jump in with both feet, a baby shower!  Not just any baby shower, but our new grandchild no less.  Well, I can hear the skeptics, “You know this is a big occasion, do you think it’s wise to go all out now?”  Hell yeah, no time like the present, my 4th grade teacher Mr. Tobes used to say.

Our son informed us of their upcoming new member to his family like this……..

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This was at Christmas, look at those adorable Oregon Duck booties!  As the time approached for shower-talk to arise, our son Shamus, let me know that our daughter-in-law Kacie’s Mom was going to host the shower for both sides of the families.  He knew I would be thrilled with the idea, I was sorta running on fumes.  Funny though, then I was kinda sorta disappointed not to be involved, who knew lol.  They decided on May to have the shower, Kacie was due in July.  Ooooh, around that same time Kellie, Kacie’s Mom, asked if I would consider making the cake.  Duh, of course I said yes.

It was about an hour later, I thought of all the questions I needed to ask.  How many people, theme, etc.  So, I texted and asked.  The theme was to be forest animals- foxes, squirrels, deer, etc.  Super, how many people are you feeding?  20-30.  Yikes, all ridey then, I had my work cut out for me.  I was so excited to be included and to contribute to this upcoming event.  The texted cake photo ideas that I asked for started arriving on my phone, we had lift off!

I set my laptop up on the kitchen table and started to research my theme.  I was pretty good at fresh floral cakes, but this was going to require fondant, dyes, and a whole lot of chutzpah!  I found a new friend in the “Cake Duchess” on youtube.  After acquiring all the tools and supplies I would need, I set out a schedule of what I had to complete on each day to successfully complete my mission.

My daughter Maureen came over the first day and we soon discovered that I was way more anal about how things should look!  She laughed at me and told me I was on my own, lol.  She was so completely right.  This was something I needed to do on my own, the mistakes would be mine and the failures too.

Deciding to start with the animals, knowing that they would be perfectly fine in an airtight container, in a dark cool location, until I assembled the cake.  The bunny was first……..

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This little cutie, truth be told, took me 5 attempts until I was satisfied.  I became very adept at pausing and starting the demo on Cake Duchess.  I felt certain that if I kept at it they would soon look adequate?!?  But, I so wanted more than adequate, I wanted WOW.  It was a start and I was pleased with myself that I had completed my first task!

I had 3 weeks to finish “The Fondant Mission”…….Cyn

 

 

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Where has time gone?…..

This year has been one for the books!  It has been a time of recovery, renewal, and evaluation.  It has been almost a year since my last post, so much has changed since then!  We have had loss of parent, loss of property & homes in the fires, and loss of confidence.  There has also been rebuilding, the birth of our Grandson Caden, and realizing what’s truly important to us.  FAMILY!

As I grow older, so does my poor body, lol.  This simple vessel has been dealing with some challenging changes this year.  I found out the hard way,  that as a 50+ adult, this body doesn’t recover as quickly as it used to.  I look in the mirror and still see the just turned 19 year old, who was getting married and embarking on her journey with Steven.  As I turn away from said mirror, the body is laughing uproariously as every muscle and joint screams to take it easy!  The mirth it derives from demonstrating that I am not 19 anymore still stings.

As a gardener, I envy my gorgeous yard which I have nurtured for the last 30 years.  Okay, truth to tell it has now been 37 years (my body just reminded me lol).  This time of year it knows it is time to rest, repair, and store up energy for spring.  I truly think that is advise I should listen to.  When you have gone full steam ahead for so long, raising your family, working, and creating a home – it is so difficult to retrain yourself to stop and smell the roses.  Everything will get done, the flowers tell me, just not as fast as before.

It is a lesson I am determined to excel at.  Quite frankly, between you and me, my severely arthritic feet are really the ones in control.   Thought I might pacify them by just saying it right now, he he he.  Oh, I can hear my hips and back start to argue with that statement.   This new twist (no pun intended) in life is a tough one to swallow I tell you!  As a way to re-exert my authority over this recalcitrant body,  I decided to take up a few new hobbies that are a little more forgiving of my limitations.  See I have had the last word. lol

Stay tuned to review my new hobbies………Cyn

 

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Something new…..

Well folks, I learned something about myself this week.  My husband and I came to the conclusion that we are dinosaurs, a dying breed.  We were raised with a completely different set of rules.  Rules of behavior, etiquette, and yeah in a lot of ways morals.  Yeah, times have changed, the social climate has changed, hell the whole world has changed, I agree.  Here comes the “BUT”……

I taught my kids those same rules because I felt they were important.  Manners were so revered in my youth, they set you apart, I was always so proud to make my parents proud!  I just couldn’t stand to see any disappointment in my parents eyes, especially my Pop!  I felt that my behavior reflected back on them, good or rotten.  As a growing adult, I still felt the same way.  As a parent, these things are even more important to me!

We recently sent a gift.  We were very excited to send this said gift.  It meant a lot to us to acknowledge an event in their lives.  We tracked the delivery of the package, the package was delivered and we waited to hear from the recipient.  Of course, you want to hear that they liked it, or loved it, or it was a wonderful surprise.  I think as a society, we all still like and want to be responded to when we do special things for people we love.  A validation of a sort.  Especially in this “instant message age”, you can drop a text, e-mail, even post on a facebook page.  Plenty of ways to respond…..

I was disappointed and yes, hurt when we didn’t hear anything.  I talked to my Mom, Steven, our daughters, and my sister.  “Am I being unreasonable?”.  After a very long conversation with my daughter, Colleen, she reminded me of something I have said many times.  “You have to decide whether you can give without expectations, or whether you need to hear that “Thank You”.”  Well, she was right!  This was all about MY expectations.

I’m so glad we raised such smart kids, lol.  Colleen was so right.  I am the one who was projecting my expectations, I needed that confirmation of receipt, and I wanted to hear that they loved it!  I was a tad unreasonable!  Our daughter Maureen, reminded me that I could feel that way when my own children didn’t acknowledge, but not others.  The parent learning from her kids, see I am getting old fast. lol.  Once again, a dinosaur!

I have learned something very valuable from my kids and about myself too.  I just don’t know if I am ever going to be able to adjust, I find I like hearing from that someone I send a special item to.  The anticipation of their reaction, the joy of hearing the happy tears, excited voice, or a picture on Facebook, knowing that it made a difference to their day,  I need that!

The alternative is just not something I can swallow.   So, I keep learning new things about myself.   I will definitely ask myself that big question the next time I go to send a gift.  I thank my parents for the exceptionally great teachers they have been.   Truth be told, the shoe is on the other foot now, Mom.   I am my parents, bursting with such pride when others comment on my children’s fantastic manners.

May that circle stay in motion for many generations to come!   Cyn

 

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The Gift…..

Fortunately for us, the Tubb’s Fire never caused us to evacuate.  We definitely had some powerful angels watching over us.  The fires started on Sunday nite/Monday early morning,  the National Guard had shown up and a curfew was in place, we still had no gas, the air quality was atrocious, and the fires were still jumping around.  Some folks were evacuated and cleared to return several times, we still was no idea when our wonderful fire fighters would be able to get a handle on this storm!

Due to this tragic turn of events, Steven was unable to get to work.   He didn’t know if the job site would still be there, Sonoma was burning too.  So many people were unaccounted for, in transition, and struggling to find some footing.  My boss sent a text out to our team, asking us to text back “OK” if we were safe.  Luckily, all were accounted for and safe.  There were so many of my co-workers who couldn’t get to work, understandably!  I was supposed to be on leave, but with Steven home I took a drive in to see if they needed help.

It was the first time I had left the house in days.  My home town looked like a war zone.  No gas left at the stations, all intersections were without power, with visibility making it so very dangerous to attempt to enter.  The ash was so thick you had to use your windshield wipers to see.  Raley’s had no power, they were open, using flashlights to help folks get water and non perishables.  All of the perishables were being loaded into trash bins.  It was so quiet, it was almost tangible.  Folks were in shock.

We were opening for the first time in days, there was a skeleton crew.  But, with the need for essentials it seemed prudent and right to open the doors.  The most urgent needs were underwear, socks, and shoes.  So many had to flee in just their night clothes.  As people came through, I just hugged strangers, asked after their families “was everyone safe?”.  Cried, yes cried with many!  This wonderful city was pulling together and leaning on each other to get through this.  You might not have personally lost anything, BUT we ALL had loved ones who had lost everything.  The news that my Aunt and Uncle’s home was gone brought the loss even closer.  The events had touched all of us, one way or another!

It was only Wednesday, October 11th.  So much chaos, so much uncertainty, so much Hope.  Upon returning home after work, the Hospice nurse was visiting.  My mother-in-law was slipping fast, we were now in comfort mode.  The trauma of just getting her home was taking it’s toll.  I was so grateful this fire had allowed Steven to be with his mom when she needed him most!  Mixed Blessings, my Grandma used to say.  The end was nearing, we both knew it.

The next few days we stumbled through with evacuation threats everywhere.  KSRO radio was really the only link to what was really happening.  We were on pins and needles waiting for the Sheriff’s “nixle alert” to go off on our phones.  New information, delivered by a new technology!  Concise, correct, and reassuring.

On Saturday morning, Steven went to check on his mom.  She had passed away during the night, peacefully in her sleep.  While waiting for the mortuary to arrive, Steven walked outside.  He found a burned section of a book page, right under his mom’s window.

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Call it what you want, but for us it was a comfort.  It was a sort of message, we both felt that the fire had given Steven the time to let go.  He had given his all, loved her on her terms, and had no regrets of any kind.  We walked with her out to the mortuary hearse.  The man I loved, fell apart.  You are just never ready to say goodbye, even when you have said it all already!  We just held each other in the driveway and cried.

The fire had given Steven 5 full days!  What a gift ……Cyn

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Firestorm…..

October of 2017 was a horrific month!  On Sunday afternoon, October 8th, Steven picked up his mom from our Kaiser Hospital.  It was a fight to get her home, but Steven got all the arrangements made and picked her up around 3pm. Our son Shamus, came by to help get her into the house and comfortable.  The wind was really kicking up a mess but we settled in for the night…….

At 2am, Steven’s phone starts ringing in earnest.  His co-workers were being evacuated due to a fire.  They were calling us because our area was listed as an evacuation area too and they wanted to make sure we were okay.  They knew the situation with his mom and were concerned.  They all had family to stay with to ride out the storm, so to speak.

We made a pot of coffee, we were wide awake now! Stepping outside onto our back porch, the whole sky was bright freaking orange!  We do not have cable, by choice, so we immediately turned on our local radio KSRO.  There was not just one fire but a storm of fires all over Santa Rosa, Rincon Valley, Bennet Valley, Calistoga, Napa County…………  Booting up the computer, to get a better idea of what was happening, Facebook was alive with activity and the pictures were horrific.  Our hometown was under attack by a fire.

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My Uncle, Niece, Nephew had evacuated safely!  My cousin and his wife had evacuated safely.  By this time our road was a parking lot of families evacuating to safety.  Our neighbors had a yard filled with their family.  The frenzy of hugging and tears as they assured themselves that they are all accounted for and safe now!

By now the news started to flood the media.  Kaiser Hospital was frantically evacuating patients!  Thank the Good Lord Steven had gotten his mom home!!!  The fire had jumped the 6 lanes of Hwy 101 and was rapidly moving in our direction.  As we sat on our porch, one by one, our children checked in.  Having heard of the evacuation notices not too far from us they were worried.  We were fine.  As were assured them and calmed them down, the propane tanks 3 miles off and the Gun Store were engulfed with flames.  The popping and percussion from the blasts were felt and heard.

All of nature had conspired to develop into a FIRESTORM.  Residence reported the fire dancing on top of the ground, swirling and jumping from place to place.  It was burning so furiously and unpredictably in no fewer than 10 locations now.  Our gas was turned off by PG&E for safety.  Steven contacted his cousin who works for Cal Fire at the command center.  He told us to stay put, he would give us a 30 minute window if we needed to evacuate his mom.  So we did what everyone around was doing…… loading up cars with essentials and hooked up to the trailer.  We gathered his mom’s medical supplies and fervently prayed that we wouldn’t have to move her.

With his Mom on oxygen and it’s now 3am and we couldn’t see more than 30 feet in front of us.  We hurriedly turned on the air purifier we had bought a few month earlier for the dust created by the house construction next door.  So thankful we had it, it kept the air clean for her.  The ash was falling like snow, huge pieces of paper, leaves, and debris were everywhere.  The neighborhood was now on watch for cinders catching our area on fire too.  All we could do was sit and wait it out.

That was just our first 2 hours of the first day of this fire!  Cyn

 

 

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Adjustments…..

Howdy strangers.  My Mother-in-law’s journey came to the end of the road in October.  If you are new or have followed some, she had breast cancer and Myasthenia gravis.  She battled for 16 years.

Have you ever been exposed to the 2-children syndrome (as we refer to it)?  Some of you have experienced it and are nodding you heads, some are wondering what in the blazes is she talking about.  I am referring to parents who only have 2 children, especially when they are the same sex.

One child is the reliable one, the one they turn to for important matters, the child who gets the job done, and they can count on.  This child they never fail to criticize, nothing is ever good enough to earn praise (and believe me they live to receive that praise!)

The other is the favored child, the one who is never criticized, who can do no wrong.  The child who intentionally leaves all the responsibility to their sibling, it’s not their job – they’re too busy to be bothered, but is there with their hand out to “get their share”.

Sound familiar for any of you?  It is so common, we have seen it so often in our lives.  Well, my husband was the “reliable one”.  It wasn’t an easy journey for him, but I am glad that my schedule was flexible enough to accommodate most of her needs.  The last six months, she required around the clock care.  It’s a good thing she lived with us, we were able to be there for her.  She asked to be able to pass from this life in her own bed.  My husband was able to make that happen for her and she passed peacefully where she wanted to be.

My husband is still working through all the financials and chores that need to be done.  It is an adjustment for him, and me too yes.  The holiday’s were difficult, the room empty.  Family filled that gaping hole with loud boisterous laughing and fun filled companionship.  We still go to tell her we have an errand to run, things of that sort.  Our dog Chewbacca for weeks, went to her room to check on her, he was confused that she was never there anymore.

Adjustments of every sort are on the menu daily.  But, this too will slowly become a seamless transition and the healing will continue with remembering the fonder memories.  Also, the comfort of knowing with certainty, that you did all that was asked of you every time!

God Bless and here’s to a great New Year!  Cyn

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Woman’s Prerogative…..

I changed my mind!  Way tooooooo many times, if the truth be told.  But in the end, I have to be wild about the outcome.  The finished product has to talk to me, one way or another, good or needs improvement, sometimes it’s even “go back to the drawing board!”.  There are even times I just put it away for another day!  An idea will come along and I will pull it back out and finish with a flourish.

Well I tore apart my cat afghan square, just didn’t like it at all.  I’m not sure if it was the yarn or what, it just had to go.  I am supremely pleased with this cat square.

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I also replaced the edging on the brown cat also, thinking it might be more pleasing……

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It’s a little better, I definitely think it’s the yarn!  I will hold it in reserves.  Only time will tell, back to work.

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