Monday, April 18, 2016

Texas Pecan Cakes

Two of my favorite things:  roses and cake!
As I said last Friday on my Facebook page, you know it's going to be a good day when a package from Collin Street Bakery shows up on your doorstep.

What made that delivery even sweeter was that we were scheduled to have dinner with some friends on Saturday night and I was going to bring dessert.  So instead of a messy kitchen and a bundt cake that didn't fully come out of the pan (does anyone else have this problem?) I had a clean kitchen and a rock star dessert for everyone to try - a Texas Blonde Pecan Cake.

Of course that also meant that for 24 hours I had to continually swat the hands of my people who really really wanted to cut into the cake, you know - just to make sure it was acceptable.  Mmmhmmm...right...

Why were they so eager?  Because it was a Collin Street confection!  Enough said.
We are fans of their cheesecakes, their fruitcakes, their cookies, their breads, and now, we can add Texas Pecan Cakes to that list.

Please believe me that our affection for Collin Street Bakery is legit and deeply rooted.

In fact we like their baked goods so very much that we sent a fruitcake to England this past Christmas (it was received to rave reviews) and we're thinking about sending Texas Pecan cakes out for Mother's Day.  Shhh...don't tell our moms...

Back to our dinner party and the introduction of Collin Street's cake to our friends:
Everyone loved it!
One of the guys said, "I took a bite just to be nice, (I don't like fruitcake) but I ate the whole piece because it was delicious!"

I found myself in the company of a photographer, an artist, and an interior designer so yes, there was some amount of fiddling to get the photos just right. 
While we were photographing the cake, us girls were nibbling on the sliced piece.
Not one person disliked the cake and everyone thought it was the best fruitcake they had ever had, even though it technically is a pecan cake and not a fruitcake.*  

There are actually five different flavors of Texas Pecan Cakes:  apricot, pineapple, apple cinnamon, strawberry, and blonde. Each one is moist and dense in the best possible way and chock full of native Texan pecans. 

I'm sure Collin Street has nothing against brunettes, but this Texas Pecan Blonde Cake sure was tasty.  The Blonde is a fun if not decadent mix of pineapples, papayas, golden raisins, cherries, and of course, pecans.

Maybe an idea for the future?  A Texas Brunette Pecan Cake...perhaps with chocolate chips?  Collin Street, you are welcome to my idea for a new flavor. 

Right now, some of Collin Street Bakery's most popular items are on sale (with code from mailer) until June 20, 2016 - perfect timing for Mother's and Father's Day!
Look them up at to find your perfect treat. 

I received a pecan cake in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions, ideas for new cake flavors, and fabulous friends are my own.

*Collin Street Bakery uses their same honey batter for both their fruitcakes and their pecan cakes.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Winter Hats 2015-16

Last night I won a gift certificate to a local Mexican restaurant for wearing the most fabulous hat at Diva's school's banquet.  So it seemed fitting to post the winter hats that have been worn this season.

These are all vintage:

That is it.
I'm out.
These photos are the last of my winter hats.
It's very upsetting, I know.
I'm just going to have to console myself with a hunt for more...

This is part of WIWW.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Were you There?

The sign in our mudroom entrance

Easter is my favorite holiday.  Oh sure, the holiday season between October 31st and January 6th is my favorite time of year but Easter reigns supreme as my favorite holiday.  No, it's not just because it means a new hat.

I do very much enjoy the beautiful and colorful Easter dresses, the seersucker suits, and the chocolate.  It's a joy to see the Easter Lilies being dedicated at church.  The palpable excitement of children as they ready themselves for an Easter egg hunt is invigorating.

But it is the meaning and the music of Easter that I love most.

Growing up, I would visit my grandparents' church on Easter Sunday.  Never was there a better day for a life-long hymn lover like myself to visit First Baptist Church.

If we were lucky, Dr. Alan Cox would play a phenomenally rousing rendition of "Because He Lives" on the hand bells and a older bass/baritone soloist would sing "The Old Rugged Cross" for The Special (Baptists, y'all know what I'm talking about).

However, when Dr. Jerry Payne on saxophone, Dr. Cox on trumpet, and someone playing trombone would stand at three points in the sanctuary and play "Were You There" antiphonally, that was the highlight of the Easter service for me.

Nothing epitomizes the three days of events more in my mind than that hymn, "Were You There."
The words are incredibly simple as is the tune; yet, the weightiness of what happen at Calvary is felt in every word and with every note.

Vs. 1  Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Yes, I was.  It was because of a sinner like me that the God who spoke stars into existence humbled himself to become a baby, live among His creation, and have to be unjustly tried and sentenced to death on a cross.

John 3:16 - "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." 

Luke 22:19 - "And He took the bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, "This is my body which is given for you:  this do in remembrance of me."

Vs. 2  Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?

Yes, I was...and still am.  Each time I doubt His promises, fear for the future, or think I know what's best for me, I drive those spikes into His hands and feet.

Romans 8:28 - "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." 

Psalm 23:4 - "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:  for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."

Vs. 3 Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?

Yes, I was.  All my shame, guilt, and inadequacies were buried with Christ. 

John 10:10 - "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy:  I am come that they might have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." 

1 Peter 5:7 - "Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you."

Vs. 4 Were you there when He rose up from the dead?

Yes, I was.  It was in that moment that death lost its sting and that He gave me the gift of a choice to accept everlasting life with Him.

John 14:3 - "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."

Philippians 3:7-11 - "But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.  Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:  that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead."

Chorus Sometimes, it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.

The Creator of every living thing thought of us when He put His plan in motion to sacrifice His only begotten son so that we might have the choice to live with Him in paradise for eternity.  He thought of all of us.  We are all sinful and have equal opportunity to repent and turn away from those sins.

The Almighty God that set the universe in motion endured unthinkable torture, ridicule, and pain for you.  The only truly innocent person to ever walk the earth was falsely accused, convicted as guilty, and put to death in the most gruesome and shameful way for you

The Prince of Peace suffered, died, and was buried for me - a short, slow-driving, cookie monster with an astigmatism.  2000 years ago while in unfathomable pain, God Almighty was thinking of little ol' me.

How can I sing those words and not physically feel the stirring in my soul?
Not sometimes, but all the time, it causes me to tremble.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Madly in Love

Diva snapped this pic

Last weekend, Engineer and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary.
That's a long time y'all.
Engineer would say how much he likes the number 17 since it is a prime number; that man loves him some prime numbers.

We celebrated pretty much all weekend.  Saturday we went to the Houston rodeo and after an exciting round of events saw the Billy Currington concert. 
After church we celebrated with Diva by having a lovely lunch downtown at a place called Artista before going to watch a high school friend perform with the Houston Grand Opera. 
Monday started Engineer's vacation week and Diva's Spring Break so we headed back into to town and met up with some friends at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

My best T-Rex impression.  It must be pretty good since the other folks in the photo look quite scared of me.

The rest of the week was spent doing projects around the house and a whole lot of playing in the dirt.
We had a fabulous anniversary week.

Going back to thinking about numbers, here are a few more.
In that 17 year year time span we've:

  • Been through 6 moves in 2 countries and 2 states 
  • Bought 4 houses
  • Gotten 3 degrees from 3 different universities between us
  • Had a child and have kept her alive and well for 14 1/2 of those years
  • Loved 5 dogs, 3 cats, and a rabbit
  • Lost 2 dogs, 3 cats, and the rabbit
  • Collectively been employed by 6 companies
  • Lost 6 grandparents
  • Had 2 nieces and a nephew as well as gained a step-niece and nephew
  • Gained and lost and gained an indeterminate amount of pounds between us, ah-hem...

We have also grown older, wiser, goofier, and closer through those years. 
And I believe with all of my heart that we are better people because of each other.

I am so very thankful every day for my Engineer. 

1-4-3 EM for 17 wonderful years and I can't wait to see what lies in the many more years ahead.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Madly in Love

There is no doubt in my mind that good girlfriends are essential to a great quality of life.
And not to brag, but I have amazing girlfriends.

Everywhere I've lived I have been so blessed to have women around me whom I admire and learn from and love deeply.

These ladies in various states and countries have been my guinea pigs, my encouragers, my sounding boards, and my encyclopedias of knowledge springing from vastly different experiences.

Perhaps the quality that I most appreciate in all of them is their total acceptance of me - warts and all, so to speak.

I have asked them to do some pretty random and wacky stuff over the years and they've done it - without question and without fail.

This past week, I sent out a text to some of my sweet girlies that just said something like,
"Good morning!  Could you please give me an adverb?  Any old one will do."

I received a response from every last one of them.  Not one lady asked what it was for or why I was asking.

I did however have one friend say that I got the award for the most random text first thing in the morning, one who assumed it was blog fodder (it wasn't at the time) and another say that if it were from anyone else, they would have asked if my autocorrect messed up my text.

That photo up top is why I was asking.

I had found this fun little wall hanging at Dillard's on clearance last year.  About the time I procured it, I found out we were moving so it was never hung.  Then it was in a box.  After unpacking it, it did have a place on my wall but was blank.  This week I decided to remedy that.

My plan all along was to have a party and have my girlfriends give me words as they walked in the door.  Although texting them wasn't as fun as a party, it got the job done...well, almost.  I was waiting on one last word to complete it.

All of this took place in the morning and we exchanged funny texts and I giggled at some of the words and it was blissful. 

Then I checked Facebook and my mood instantly changed.

The first three posts in my feed were tributes to a little boy who had been battling brain cancer from Diva's school in Marshall.  Marshall is a small town y'all.  The death of a child is felt by everyone.  I know this family, although, admittedly not very well.  Devon went to school with the child and his sisters.

When I saw the news, I broke down in tears.  I cannot fathom losing a child.  I prayed for his family, his little school, his parents' marriage, and mostly for his Momma.  His Momma who still has to run a company and be a wife and be a mother to her two girls and live her life. I prayed for her girlfriends to be a barrier and a soft place for her to land.

As I prayed I couldn't help but think of this Easter season.  God sent His son to be fully man so that He might experience all that we do.  So that He has felt what we feel.  God Himself has grieved the loss of His child.  I can only hope that John David's Momma will turn to her faith and know that the Creator of the universe intimately knows her pain and wraps her in His comforting arms.

My girlfriends were already aware of the situation and yet they didn't chastise me for being silly with them that morning.  They gave my ignorance grace.

And then the last word came in for the mad lib.

That's when I sent them this text:

"...Thanks for being silly with me today. Little did I know that when I started this nonsense this morning, I would need some levity this afternoon after finding out about John David and weeping over his mother's broken heart. Thank you girls for being a bright spot and good therapy even though we are miles apart. Lots of love."

I am madly in love with and so very thankful for my girlfriends because they don't question my insanity, they just come along for the ride. And because they give me a wide berth of grace and are a sweet balm to a sore heart even if sometimes by accident. 
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