Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Pining ...

Marlene Terry

Last winter when we were suffering in the below zero cold, the city water main was frozen solid and we ... and everyone else in our cul-de-sac, were without water, I made a prediction.
"I bet by the end of July we'll all be pining for winter," I said.

The look on my hubby's face was memorable. He'd just come in from trying to release the bottom of the garage door from its icy "stuck" position on the pavement, and for him the thought of wishing for similar conditions was absolutely not in the realm of possibility.

"RIGHT," he retorted grinning as he removed multiple layers of sweaters, coats and scarves! "We're all going to miss this and hope it happens again!"

OK. I admit it was miserable then. But now, after more than a dozen days that have registered temperatures of 100 degrees and above (110 one of those days), the thought of having to wear a coat and gloves to be comfortable out of doors, coming in from the cold and feeling the warmth of the home inside complete with the smell of baking bread, a crackling fireplace, and the sight of new fallen snow sparkling in the sunshine or moonlight, seems pretty nice.

A misty morning in July
I'm sure that's why the recent morning that ended up much cooler than predicted as well as cloudy and MISTY of-all-things, had me excited and remembering.
I opened up the windows and let in the breeze that felt fresh and wonderful. Even put on some Christmas music ... which I know will appall some but it really did happen. 
And although it was just a few hours break before the temperatures soared high once more, for that brief time I closed my eyes and reveled in thoughts of autumn's change of color, how burning leaves smell in the fall, the taste of hot chocolate, the fun of snowball fights and making snow angels with the grandkids and the happiness of the upcoming holidays.

... As I said ... pining!

♦ Hope you'll let me share your stories and photos here at my new residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Family reunions ...

Marlene Terry

Summer being traditionally the time for family reunions, got me thinking about our last one. … Just so happens it was also our first family reunion, taking place just a few years ago.

Thanks to a determined daughter who absolutely wouldn’t listen to the creative excuses of her siblings … and I’m ashamed to say her parents as well … about  how  busy we were and WHY we just couldn’t be there, she just pooh-poohed it all away, made beautiful invitations naming the date, time and the place, and arranged every detail. Then she just smiled when all but one immediate family member (who really did have a valid excuse) showed up ready to party!
And party we did. All together up and down the gorgeous autumn colored hills of a favorite destination, Pine Creek in eastern Idaho.
It was the place that sealed the deal. Because when everyone saw the location of the reunion, we just HAD to be there.

When the kids were still living at home, Pine Creek was where we’d head to each year immediately following our Thanksgiving feast.
There, suited up for snow, and with cameras, sleds and snowshoes in hand, we’d brave the early winter cold in search of the perfect Christmas tree.

Even back then, we knew it wasn’t really finding a Christmas tree that was most important. It was the fun we were going to have on those hills and most of all THE SLIDE.

There are many slippery-slide memories in my life. Those I enjoyed during my elementary years and others with friends when I was older. But none of them rival the happenings in the winter on the slide at Pine Creek. 
That's why when we arrived, the sight of it had me smiling even before we walked through the door of the lodge.

I have to say looking at it from the top down to the bottom that day was ominous. For whatever reason it seemed even longer and more scary than I remembered.

Took three full days for every single one of us to, suck it up, so to speak and gather enough courage to do the slide at least ONCE before the reunion was over.
... We had to. Because by the end of the first day the decree had been posted: Those who didn’t do “The Slide,” it stated, would no longer be official members of the family!

Of course we were all going to do it. And we watched as each one made the effort, including Jim who sneaked out early one morning before the frost had melted off the slide for some "extra fun," he said. ... He jettisoned off the end at the speed of light.
Luckily he sustained only minor injuries, but it was enough to keep the more chicken of our bunch … me for sure, my cute Brazilian daughter-in-law and a friend of another daughter ... waiting on the experience ‘til the last possible moment.

… There were many strange sounds coming from Pine Creek during those days, like blood-curdling screams followed by laughter. … And for me personally? … Moaning, as my legs, like jelly at the end of MY ride, refused to work properly for hours.

...  Guess what they say is true. Time ... and people... really do fly when they're having fun!

♦ Hope you'll let me share your stories and photos here at my new residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at

Monday, July 29, 2013

"Pot of Gold" ...

Marlene Terry
Wanted to get this week started out right. ... It is after all Monday, and for me the the bluest day of the week.

Don't know what it is about that day. I wake up about the same time and have about the same responsibilities as every other day. But for whatever the reason I'm more beset by the Fairy of Doom, Discouragement and Depression on Monday than any other day.

It's when I have to face reality again and I notice most, that I and my hubby are getting older. My kids have all left home and don't need me near as much as they used to. The pounds I wanted to shed this year are still intact. The laundry is unusually large and undone, and a dozen or more other little petty things that decrease my resolve to be happy and most important, grateful.

Sure is easy to lose sight of the blessings in our lives what with our fast-paced schedules and how temporary everything in the world seems to be. ... So with that in mind I want to mention some 'bright spots' of the past week that I honestly didn't notice and failed to give thanks for. If I'd done that, I wouldn't be sitting here pitying myself and wondering why my life isn't better.

1.  Some dear friends we haven't seen for months are taking the time during their vacation to come out and see their family to stop by and see us too.

2.  Our utility company informed me that I'd overpaid our bill and we have a credit for next month's charges.

3.  My little 3-year-old grandson called me on the phone and ended the conversation with "Nana you're the bomb!" ... And I'm pretty sure that's a good thing.

4.  A kind young man who reads my column and knows that I LOVE Star Trek, brought his collector's edition of the animated series to me to borrow and enjoy.

5.  A bouquet of dandelions was left on my front doorstep on Friday. The attached note said. "You're nice."

6.  I landed the part time job I applied for ... and it's fun.

7.  A sweet granddaughter who lives on her own and works TWO jobs made the Dean's list.

8.  Opportunities are coming from everywhere to provide work for my hubby, and he hasn't even had to advertise.

9.  I talked to and laughed with every one of my kids face to face or on the phone.

10.  A wonderful neighbor watched as a rainbow formed and looked to be touching down in our backyard. He snapped the photo and made the effort to share it with us.

... And now I'm more convinced than ever. That "pot of gold" everyone talks about at its end? ... It's REALLY there!

♦ Hope you'll let me share your stories and photos here at my new residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at

Friday, July 26, 2013

Homemade remedies ...

Marlene Terry
I've tried my share of them ... homemade remedies that is. Those that promise the answer to whatever problem you might have, including mayonnaise as a substitute for furniture polish, lining the door frame with white cotton balls to prevent flies from coming inside, and swallowing teaspoonfuls of plain old sugar to cure hiccups!
Almost always it's been a waste of time for me. But there have been a few instances when the remedy really DID work and left me awe-inspired and a true believer.

Want you to know that a solution of 1 teaspoon of Dawn dish-washing detergent, 1 tablespoon of rubbing alcohol and a half gallon of hot water poured over your outside steps and walkways will not only melt ice, it will also prevent refreezing for the entire season. ... At least it worked that way for me. ... And yes, I'm talking about the winter season.
Actually when I tried it, it was late October. No ice in sight. I'd misread the directions that came by email from a friend, and completely missed the part where you were supposed to wait and apply the solution after ice was present.
I reported my success back to my friend the next spring in a return email. That's when she informed me I'd done it all wrong and should follow the instructions more closely the next winter.
... And all I can say to that is: "If it's not broken? Don't fix it!

I mean, I really didn't know we were experiencing a homemade remedy breakthrough. But I promise, there was not one speck of ice on our walkways that year or the following year either!

One more try at a homemade remedy still has me wondering if that spot on my carpet will reappear someday!
Early in the morning one Saturday, I did my impression of a juggler on my way to clean the bathroom just off our family room. It was a classic "trip, stumble, struggle to keep from falling while throwing everything in the cleaning bucket into the air" move.

To my relief everything landed pretty much upright. Everything that is except the bottle of toilet bowl cleaner which was on its side ... LEAKING!
Just couldn't give into my instincts on that shopping day and purchase the bottle of "no harmful chemicals," and colorless bowl cleaner. Had to have the double duty, extra strength version in bright, bright blue!
And trying to rub it out of the carpet didn't help either.

Days later and after exhausting several solutions, including placing a large flower pot over the stain, I opted for advice from my "Dawn dish-washing detergent and water" friend. And the next day armed with a spray bottle filled to the top with equal parts of plain old hydrogen peroxide and water, a damp white towel and my steam iron, I proceeded to the room with the stain.
"It'll never work," I thought, remembering a previous experience with peroxide, that when I was a teenager turned my bangs ORANGE, of all things.
I sprayed the stain over and over again to saturate it. Then placed the damp towel over the top and the hot flat iron on top of that.
"Wait about 20 seconds," my friend had advised.

I actually waited a little longer, not wanting to pull up the towel and see that I'd been correct in my assumption that the stain would still be there. But when the time ended I was blown away by the results. ... Honestly! NO STAIN AT ALL. ... Not even a faint blue hue!

... As I said, I am a little hesitant to recommend the process because in the back of my mind I think that someday the stain might reappear. 

... Guess that's why any visitor needing to use the family room bathroom has to walk AROUND the flower pot. ... It's there ... just in case!

♦ Hope you'll let me share your stories and photos here at my new residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Monster Truck ...

Marlene Terry
Had a sweet reminder recently of how it is to live in a child's world. And my hat's off to them and to their wonderful moms as well. ... Those who take their kids into their lives and hearts and incorporate each one (or all at once) into the routine of every day life, trying very hard to make each experience happy AND normal.

I remember well the shopping trips I took with my children in tow. As they grew older those times became easier and more pleasant for all of us. But when they were small? ... Suffice it to say my annual jaunt through the neighborhood to apologize for what some of them MIGHT do that year, says volumes about what free spirits they were. ... "Out of control" was another description.

I never understood back then why they couldn't be content walking along side of me or riding in a shopping cart looking at all there was to see. That is I never understood, until the day I fell off my shoes ... being a clutz, something I still do from time to time ... landed on my backside mid-aisle in a department store, and took the time to recoup. It was then I noticed what someone about three feet tall would see. And it's not a pretty picture.

First of all there are the counters. The tops where adults do business are most generally wiped off and at least semi clean. From the floor on up it's an entirely different story.
You'll see gum of every color and texture stuck every few inches underneath the ridge of the counter top, streaks from every kind of liquid refreshment you can imagine, that have been left to run down the front and sides in meandering rivulets, and other unidentifiable wads and gobs of stuff I really don't want to talk about.

Of course floors are always a disaster too, being home to at least a gazillion scuff marks of varying lengths. But there are also those dusty, linty corners, bugs — dead and alive, muddy, oily footprints and the gum that fell off the counter tops and has been trampled into flat gooey circles by hundreds of passersby.

The other thing I noticed was how huge everything looks from down there. ... Ever look up at the bulging belly and multiple chins lady, ... I swear this really happened ... who sees you on the floor, ignores your plight and leans over you anyway, in order to get to the candy display? ... The sight is ENORMOUS. ... And the shoes of those giants walking by? Size 35, minimum!

... It's true. The world is not only dirty at three feet it's also REALLY BIG!

Probably why there was no hesitation at all when my darling little 3-year-old grandson happened into our garage recently and came face to face with his Pop-Pop's brand new, medium size four-wheeler.
Running into the kitchen wide-eyed and out of breath to tell me about his discovery he shouted at the top of his voice:
"NANA! Pop-Pop's got a MONSTER TRUCK!"

♦ Hope you'll let me share your stories and photos here at my new residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Giant Stride ...

Marlene Terry

For our most recent anniversary I and my hubby decided to get back to our roots.
It's been years since we revisited the place where we first met. 
Then he was a cute college boy. And I, who had lived in the same place my entire life, was still at South Cache High.

I have to admit I was a little surprised to find my school, Wilson Elementary, still standing. But because it has been added on over and over again throughout the decades, it hardly resembled the red brick structure of my memories.

During those years I could hardly wait for the school year to begin. 

... The best part of Wilson? The playground.
When recess came it offered swings we could bail out of (getting up as high as possible and then on the count of three, you and the friend you were swinging with, would jump out).
The only object of the game was to propel yourself farther away from the swing than your friend. ... If you did, you were the winner and the feeling was wonderful. ... Don't know why.

There was also a Jungle Gym, an apparatus that was much like the Monkey Bars of more recent times.
I always thought the correct spelling was "Jungle Jim," because of the actor Johnny Weissmuller who  played that character in the movies and later on TV. ... And no. I never did get a handle of spinning around up high and on one of those bars with just one knee. Shari Redling did and was the envy of the school.

My most favorite place to be during recess however, was on the Giant Stride. 
By the time I came along that particular playground toy had been in use for years. The rule at Wilson was, kids from kindergarten to second grade age, weren't allowed. So it was always a scramble for the older bunch to see who could get there first and secure one of those trapeze-like bars. There were eight on our Giant Stride.

It was very, very difficult to wait your turn if you had to, and even more difficult to give up your spot so someone else could enjoy first of all, running as fast as possible around the center pole in unison with the other striders, while lifting your feet now and then to glide carefree as you hung on. 
... And if you were "stride" savvy, you could pull back at just the right time and for a few seconds, the momentum would fling you out high and above everyone else. ... I can still remember the feeling of the wind blowing in my face as I soared.

Call me old-fashioned but I think it's a little sad that none of that equipment or those actions exist today at Wilson Elementary or for the most part any other school across the country. ... Just too unsafe for the kids, it was determined.

... And even though I really never want our children to be hurt or compromised in any way, I think there are times when we just need to relax a little and allow some of life's experiences to happen. ... The fun kind, that for sure will result in a bruise or two, but will be remembered happily, forever!

♦ Hope you'll let me share your stories and photos here at my new residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

"Over the Hill" ...

Marlene Terry
Life goes by so fast that for most of us getting older is hardly noticeable. That is it's hardly noticeable until we see a photo of an extremely aged person and suddenly realize it's a photo of us.
Or the hints we get that something has changed when we try to repeat an action we've done many times before and it's much more difficult than we remember or impossible to do.
That's when we begin giving in a little, and succumb to things like riding ONLY the bikes that are outfitted with those over-sized (comfortable) seats, hanging on more frequently to railings and willing arms that help to stable our progress up and down stairways and watch others participate in favorite activities instead of participating ourselves.

The truth is being "Over the Hill" is a given for every one of us, like it or not. And no matter how fit we keep ourselves or how young we feel we are, there is going to be the day when we are reminded in a "in your face" way, where we are in life and we'll have no choice but to adapt.

Take the trip we took last summer to a nearby amusement park.
Back when they were young, it was always a tradition in our family that every year our kids got to go to Lagoon. And I took them, not only because they looked forward to it and could hardly wait to go, but because I felt the same way. (Click on Under the Nut Tree tab to see a "blast from the past" photo and tale).

I'm one of those "ride the rides" geeks. My entire life it's always been a favorite thing ... and the scarier the better! And along with the cheers and encouragement of my kids, I even bungee jumped one year. That's why the humbling that took place that day, came as a big surprise.

Granted it had been years since I enjoyed the rides at the park with my now grownup kids. But in my mind nothing had changed.
So for the first part of the day I amused myself riding the mini roller coaster, merry-go-round, etc. with my grandchildren, and waited for the afternoon to come and the BIG rides ahead.

By then it was no secret that the rotation, bumps and up and down motion of even the kiddy rides was more severe and troubling than I remembered. But I paid it no mind and went along with the group toward the Flying Aces.
"Great place to start" I thought as the sight of those large mock aircraft came into view.

Now it's important for you to understand that the Flying Aces is a wonderful ride. Not scary at all but a soothing, fly high journey around a center pole, that allows you to steer with a rudder and obtain the height you desire at will. ... Nothing at all to worry about.

Or so I thought!

Here's the problem: The Aces are up off the ground a few feet.
Piece of cake, right?
All you have to do is open the door, grab hold, place one foot inside and pull yourself into the seat.

... Suffice it to say the most embarrassing part was when the ride operator, seeing my inability after several attempts to even get my foot up that high or propel myself through the door by a "jump up and crawl in" method, rushed to my side with what is called (and printed with big letters on the side) "The Grandma Stool."

... Oh I survived the humiliation all right, even when an much older man (in his 80s) jumped into his craft with hardly any trouble at all. I also loved the fact that my kids pretended not to notice the struggling old lady who was definitely over the hill and maybe even on her way down the other side. 
... Made it a lot easier for her to realize where she was in life and ... sometime in the future, of course ... I'm just sure she will adapt!  

♦ Hope you'll let me share your stories and photos here at my new residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at  

Monday, July 22, 2013

Sea Ranch Chapel ...

Marlene Terry

Pretty unique skate board course, wouldn't you say? At least that's what I thought when the photos of that very strange building came in.

You might remember that weeks ago we asked for your ideas on simple, fun vacation destinations. A reader in California complied, and now we know that travelers finding themselves smack dab in the middle of Sonoma County on Highway 1 in the Golden State, may if they wish, stop and take the time to tour the Sea Ranch Chapel.
That's right. That curvy roof stained glass conglomeration is a chapel, non-denominational in intent and a gift from two Sea Ranch residents who dedicated the structure to the memory of a young man, Navy aviator, artist and zoologist, Kirk Ditzler, who believed that art was a visible link between the physical (nature) and the spiritual.

... Easy to see the physical link to the natural elements of the area with the chapel's cedar roof and the local stone used in the walls and surrounding areas. I'm also told that there are beautiful redwood touches everywhere inside. It all helps to ensure that all those who happen upon Sea Ranch Chapel will find it to be completely in harmony with nature, and a sanctuary for prayer, meditation, and inspiration.

Here are the facts: The chapel is open to the public from sunrise to sunset every day. That is every day except for the times when couples have chosen it as the place they want to be married, renew their vows or celebrate a special anniversary. ... You know sacred events.
... And if that's the case during your visit there, it might not be a bad idea to take along with your camera, a wrapped gift!
... Happy traveling all!

♦ Hope you'll let me share your stories and photos here at my new residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at

Friday, July 19, 2013

Being startled ...

Marlene Terry
Being startled happens at different times and in different ways.
It wasn't all that long ago that my hubby, thinking it was the funniest thing ever, jumped out of the dark and yelled "Gotcha," as I passed through my laundry room from the garage.

Was I startled? Oh yeah ...  along with being scared to death, breathless and not amused.

And then there are the times when being startled isn't scary, but a pleasant thing. Like the year my sweet son drove hundreds of miles in order to surprise me on Mother's Day.
He called from his cell phone, chatting as he walked to the front door, all the while explaining why he couldn't be there, and how much he wished he could be.
Then the doorbell rang! ... That day being startled meant tears of joy, laughter and love.

Despite the occasional "wonderful" happening though, "startled" has never been my favorite emotion. And that's  because it comes quick and without warning and leaves the recipient at the mercy of impulse. Really! There is nothing that undoes reason and the ability to function in a normal way, more than being startled.

Ever come upon a mouse while you're looking through a drawer? A snake slithering through the grass just ahead of your lawn mower? Or better yet a snake that appears suddenly in the basement while you're vacuuming. ... I have!
... And I want you to know that I still feel remorse for some of my impulsive solutions... like wondering, after the snake had rotated several times around on the roller bar of the vacuum, whether or not to turn off the machine. And if I did how in the world I ever be able to remove that flip-flopped serpent?

So with that in mind, please don't judge me over what happened a few days ago.
Chatting to my hubby as we sat on our deck, I informed him of my intention to cutback the petunias in our hanging baskets before I watered them. We had let them bloom out for several weeks and they were now, although still colorful and lovely, "long and gangly,"  I told him, "and attracting seed-eating birds" from a nearby tree.
The biggest problem? The birds were choosing to sit on the edge of one particular basket while they relieved themselves. 
... Needless to say because the basket was adjacent to the patio doors the glass was covered with poop!

"OK," my hubby agreed sleepily. "Go ahead and cut them back."

... And everything went well ... until I took that very last basket down, and suddenly saw it ... a BIRD'S NEST with two eggs of-all-things!

The scream I'm sure was heard for miles. And maybe even seen, was the sight of the basket being flung high into the air while I ran away as fast as I could, losing a sandal in the process while shaking and uttering obscenities.
... Also startled was my napping hubby, when the realization hit him that the basket was coming his way and he had better catch it ... which he did and saved the day as well as the nest.

... As I said there is nothing that undoes reason and the ability to function in a normal way, more than being startled.

♦ Hope you'll let me share your stories and photos here at my new residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

"Barn quilts" ...

Marlene Terry

"Barn quilts" ...

I think I have an old soul.

That's why the sight of old homes, barns and some older people make me happy and get me thinking about the olden days and things that happened back then.

The best part is I'm not alone in those feelings.

Before the column that I was writing for a local newspaper came to an end, I and several of my readers were on a search to find and photograph old barns.  You know the type. Those that you pass by every day and never even notice. Those that have obviously given in to gravity and are leaning (some very precariously) but somehow continue to hang on. There are also those of such unusual design that it gives you a headache trying to find out not only how old they are and who built them, but also what purpose they served.

Really hadn't thought about barns for awhile and then a letter from sweet Barbara Curtis arrived.
Barbara's interest in old barns was rekindled recently while she was on a visit in Iowa. There she became privy to an article about "barn quilts" in the area and also those in nearby states.
The "barn quilts" referred to here aren't soft and cuddly comforters we think of with the mention of the word, "quilt." They are actual old barns used to display a unique type of folk art that has taken off, so to speak, throughout the country and in my mind, is Americana at its best. 
The process includes an artisan who is willing to spend hours and hours painting a large (usually at least a six-foot square) piece of metal, with an actual quilt block design. And after the design in transferred to the metal and completed, it is then attached to the outside of an old area barn.

... The result? Stunning!

The most wonderful news is the "barn quilt" movement isn't by any stretch of the imagination indigenous to the Midwest or any other part of the country for that matter.

In fact I've now heard about similar displays in Iowa, Missouri, Ohio, Illinois, Utah, and Montana just to name a few. And I have seen myself, many of those that are located near where I live in Idaho.

Guess it's time for me to get out my camera and go looking again. And if you've seen or see anything similar, please share a photo and a little information and we'll chart the American Quilt Barn trail together... one block at a time! 

♦ Hope you'll let me share your stories and photos here at my new residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

It's the crew ...

Marlene Terry
I've seen it multiple times and before I'm through I'll have a lot of the lines memorized and be walking on cloud nine at "warp speed."

Absolutely LOVE LOVE the new Star Trek movie(s) and its ability to offer the viewer "time travel" so to speak!

It's a no brainer that someone like me would be critical. I do after all, drive around with a Star Trek symbol on the back window of my car. I've also been a "Trekkie" since the original TV series aired one day after my birthday in 1966.

Back then, space really WAS the final frontier. We hadn't been to the moon yet. And the new civilizations that Captain James T. Kirk (those of us who knew him well just called him Jim), Spock, Sulu, Dr. McCoy — better known as "Bones," Scotty, Chekov and the only girl on the team, Uhura, boldly took us to where dreams came true.

We happily cruised along on the star ship Enterprise for three seasons, through encounters with Romulins, Vulcans and those nasty Klingons, we all loved to hate. And we blushed at Jim's romantic escapades with female species in every galaxy — all who strangely had morphed into the '60s earthling go-go style, with big hair, Cleopatra makeup, mini skirts and boots.

We learned to love Spock's logic and the way he took care of his enemies with the Vulcan nerve grip that rendered even the most menacing monster helpless. And we all practiced until we mastered the finger contortion required to be able to say with sincerity, "Live long and prosper."

Scotty was seemingly the worst engineer in the federation, and could never guarantee that the Enterprise would hold up at any speed —especially warp. And Sulu and Chekov drove us through deep space  from one adventure to another, always warning the crew whenever there was a cloaked ship hiding in the nebula ahead.

Dr. McCoy ("Bones")  spent hardly any time at all in sickbay, and hung out on the bridge where he razzed Spock about his "green blood" and cursed!
I really do think it was a requirement that "Damnit Jim," was uttered by Bones at least four times during each episode. ... And when it was, it was respected and revered by fans.

Communications officer, Uhura, with her poky-outy ear pod, kept the crew in touch with everyone and anything, and made the bridge sensitive, stylish and sexy.
My point IS ... despite the great stories, the success of Star Trek has always been the crew and their relationship with one another and of course ... us. 
And even though they say "you can't go home again," that's exactly where the new crew of the Enterprise takes us. Back when we were all young, excited about the future and more than enthusiastic, in spite of the dangers and the unknown, to explore what was ahead for us. 

... And all I can say to that is ... Beam me up Scotty!

♦ Hope you'll let me share your stories and photos here at my new residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Creative Cakes (part 4), a rose is a Rose ...

Marlene Terry

Many methods have emerged throughout the years for making edible roses for cake decorating. But the easiest most user friendly way I've found, is what I like to call the "Play Dough, method."
I know, I know I said the roses were edible and no one in their right mind would consider a diet that included Play Dough. I just call it that because it's something any woman, man or child, who ever played with Play Dough, is either already proficient at or can learn to master in a few tries.

First step: Purchase a package of white rolled fondant (the play dough). Granted it is a little pricey and you can make your own if you insist (click on Under the Nut Tree tab for the recipe). But believe me when I say, a pre-made package that is wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and bagged, will last for months. It will also produce flowers, leaves, bows, and almost anything else you might need to decorate SEVERAL cakes in the future.

So wash your hands and let's get started.
Begin the process by adding the desired paste food color to a handful of the fondant. Knead the color in until (1.) the color is bright and uniform ... or (2.) you have the color marbled beautifully through it. ... Actually it's nice to have a handful of both color types for roses or any other flower you're making. It'll add  variety to the bouquet.
When your dough is colored and ready, don't forget to place each handful in a plastic sandwich bag to keep it from drying out.

... Here's where the fun begins:
Take a nickel-size piece of colored fondant and by rolling, pinching and squishing, form a cone, just as you have done hundreds of times before working with Play Dough. Place the cone on a cake board or plate or other work surface, pressing down slightly to attach it so it will stand up by itself.

Next form the bud:
Take a nickel-size piece of dough roll it into a ball, flatten it out thin between your fingers and then roll it tightly around the cone. The fondant attaches easily with just light pressure.
Three petals will now be needed. Use the same process as you did forming the bud, except flatten the petals to a "not as thin" upside down triangle, being sure to round the top. Attach each petal, equally spaced around the bud.
The last step requires five more petals, made exactly the same way as the previous three petals, equally spaced and attached.
... After the rose dries a little, you can safely pick each one up and with an ordinary pair of scissors cut off the bottom to a nice flat surface (makes it easier to attach to the cake).

Just one more tip: Although the roses will be drier and more firm with time, they'll remain chewy and delicious to the taste. And you can insert a toothpick through the bottom for easy attachment to the edges and sides of a cake.

Just have to share a photo of that finished SIMPLE wedding cake we've talked about for the past several days. It took four full days to bake, level, seal, frost, and decorate, weighed in at about 30 pounds, and is responsible for several sleepless nights, a sticky kitchen floor, and THE VOW ... which happens every time I make a cake. That is to never do it again! ... And then after a few months I WILL do it again because the look on the bride's face always makes it worth it,

As for the "family affair" story I promised I would share. One memorable rose making night starred me and all my kids seated around our giant snack bar. They each had  their own handful of "dough"  and were producing absolutely incredible roses. ... In fact I used most of them  on the cake I was making at the time.
... Used most of them that is, except for the one my oldest son created.
"What's that?" I asked him as I looked at the thing he was molding. "That doesn't look like any flower I've ever seen. It looks more like the face of a really old person."
"Well, he said laughing so hard tears were forming in his eyes "You said to make a rose. And this is Rose from the 'Golden Girls'."

Happy cake making everyone. And may all your memories be every bit as SWEET!

♦ Hope you'll let me share your stories and photos here at my new residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Creative Cakes (part 3)

Marlene Terry
I love how easy it is to ice a sealed and frozen cake. Also this step requires just two tools. First is a rubber spatula, so you can scrape out and use to the very last ounce, the frosting in the mixing bowl, and a metal contoured (bent) handle spatula used when you're ready to apply the final touch to the frosting — making it appear as smooth as glass.

I like to begin by roughly applying the frosting (plenty of it ) to the sides of the tier, making sure things are covered to the excess. Then I place the tier on a turntable (great to have, but you can complete this step without one if necessary) next to the sink.

And why?

The icing process is a running water over the metal spatula to keep it free from built up frosting, applying pressure to the frosting on the tier while rotating it and removing the excess, method.
Sounds difficult I know. But it isn't. The most important thing to remember is water is your best friend. And as long as your spatula is clean and free from frosting, you'll be successful.

Every few seconds you'll need to think, "clean spatula, press in on the frosting, rotate the tier and remove excess." And you'll need to do that over and over again until you achieve the look. Then move on to the top and do the same thing.
... There is nothing like the feeling you get when you're finished and the tier you've been working on is frosted and smooth and ready to decorate. ... One of my most favorite "Aha" moments in life!

Now if you're making a wedding cake, you're going to have to figure out how to stack the tiers one on top of another without a disaster. And that involves cutting wooden dowels just the right length in order to support separator plates, columns, and the cake. But to reduce stress and because most creative cakes we make during our lifetime will be of the one tier variety — birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions, we'll just skip to the fun stuff, making beautiful, realistic edible roses from dough!

I know, I know. What about silk flowers (very light and realistic) and even more realistic, fresh flowers? The problem is this time our bride wants roses ... purple ones, of-all things!
Best method?

Tune in tomorrow and I share the tip that will make you (if you so desire) the King or Queen of the edible rose. 
I promise anyone can do it. ... In fact when my kids were all still at home, Mom being involved in making another cake and needing a lot flowers for it, always turned out to be a family affair. And while we're making all those lovely purple roses tomorrow, I'll share the fun details.

♦ Hope you'll let me share your stories and photos here at my new residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at