I’m a writer not a baker

First, please look at the image attached to this post. See the picture on the Swans Down flour box? It shows a chocolate cake. Second, I am not Betty baker. Though I can bake, I rarely bake and my baking supplies are minimal to nonexistent. And third, I am not good at math. Although it is not required to have math skills when baking, the ability to add is helpful.

My mother-in-law is a baker. In fact, my mother-in-law is an excellent baker. So as not to entice jealousy, my Mum is an excellent baker, too. My Mum makes THE BEST apple pies. And, she used to make Whoopi-pies, which were fantastic. Anyway, my mother-in-law passed along her pound cake recipe. Actually, it is not her pound cake recipe; it is her mother-in-law’s pound cake recipe. The recipe may go back even more mother-in-laws, but really, that word is a pain to type, so I’m stopping with my husband’s Dad’s Mom. [Are you following me?]

Pound cakes are both my husband’s and his Dad’s favorite cake.  I am baking a pound cake today, for a family gathering tomorrow. Today marks the fourth time I have baked a pound cake. The first time I made the pound cake, I started crying at the grocery store. Again, note the picture. The cake in the picture is chocolate. Generally speaking, pound cakes are not chocolate. My mother-in-law specifically stated I needed to buy Swans Down cake flour. The only Swans Down cake flour I saw had a chocolate cake on the front of the box. Cue the tears and panic.

Rest assured, I have cake baking experience now. I am no longer intimidated by the chocolate cake on the front of the Swans Down cake flour box. Unfortunately, my mother-in-law enjoys bringing up the fact that I was traumatized when I bought my first box. Thankfully, she’s a Southern lady, so she sounds nice when she is mocking me.

So, today I gathered my supplies to bake the cake including butter, cream cheese, sugar, eggs, flour and vanilla. Now I was ready to gather the instruments needed to measure, mix and bake. I don’t own a mixing bowl. Yes, I do have a stainless steel Farberware bowl (three different sizes), but those bowls are not big enough for cake mixes. And, the only mixer I own is a 3-speed hand mixer, so it’s not like I can use the mixing bowl that comes with a stand mixer. After looking around in various cabinets for something I knew did not exist in my house, I decided to use the crock-pot.

Next, I needed to locate a measuring cup. According to my mother-in-law’s directions, I needed to put the ingredients in slowly and a half a cup at a time. Ok. No problem. I’ll just pull out my half cup measuring cup. Hmmm …. yeah. Where is that measuring cup? Maybe it is this measuring cup that doesn’t have a handle. It fits in the one cup measuring cup, and the one third and one quarter measuring cup fit in it. Yes, I will assume this measuring cup with no handle or markings is a half cup measuring cup.

As I started mixing the ingredients, again following the advice of my mother-in-law, I was putting in the ingredients a half a cup at a time. I take you back to the fact that having math skills, which I don’t possess, is a nice plus, when baking. One needs to remember that 3 cups becomes 6 when using half cups. And, when one is talking to his or herself while using what they  assume is a half-cup measuring cup, well – it is easy to get flustered. I second guessed myself so many times, when mixing the ingredients. “Wait – was that a full cup, or was that the third half cup I just dumped in the bowl?” And remember, I am using a hand mixer, so I have to stop it every time I dump in the ingredients, which – for my small and math-challenged brain – flusters me even more when trying to keep count.

I am sure the cake will turn out perfectly. And, I am sure it will be enjoyed tomorrow at the family gathering. No, I am not worried about whether or not the cake will be good. I know it will be good. Still, as I made this – my fourth pound cake, I recalled my first attempt. I’ve come along way, even without a mixing bowl and proper measuring cups. I am sure my mother-in-law is proud. [Well, if she isn’t proud, at least she would sound nice in her Southern accent.]

Predictable Patterns

It’s that time of the month again. And, yes, I am writing about it. I am fairly certain I am not the only blogger going down this road. And, if writing about it makes me happy and less cranky, I’m guessing my husband would love for me to write about it every day. (Especially, if it keeps me from hounding him about the water ring on the counter, the socks on the floor, the radio blaring, the shoes … well, you get my drift.)

I am not here to tell you WHY we women get so ding-dang moody once a month; I’m just here to tell you that I am one of many. And, I am going to use this here blog to release the hormones that can ruin the moods of my family or increase the size of my waist. Seriously. Why do I crave ice cream more towards the start of things vs. any other time? It is crazy people, crazy.

Last night, while eating supper as a family (which we do every night), I was laughing with the boys. We were being very silly, giggling and telling knock-knock jokes. [Note: Knock-knock jokes with the boys (ages 3 and 5) are made-up and rarely make sense. Example: ‘Knock-knock. Who’s there? Tree. Tree who? Tree blah blah bloo’.] The three of us were having a blast. My husband was just smiling and watching us be crazy. Suddenly. The hormones hit.

Out of nowhere, I yelled at the boys and told them to be quiet and calm down. Ok. I didn’t really yell, but I did become a distant cousin to the chick from The Exorcist. PMS overcame me, and I was done. I couldn’t get the table cleared and the boys off to the tub fast enough. And by ‘off to the tub’ I mean, I passed – ok – threw them to my husband. He is in charge of bathing the boys. He lets them play more than I do; which means he lets them splash to the point that it looks like the toilet has overflowed. Ok. Maybe I am exaggerating a bit, but the floor is definitely wet after they take their bath.

So, the boys were in the tub, my husband was with the boys and I was left alone in the kitchen. I was able to clean the dishes, etc., losing myself with the running of water. “La La La La PMS! I can’t hear you with the water running!” I was able to keep the raging hormones at bay, though I admit I grumbled under my breath a few times as I had to wipe the table and place mats. ‘Grrr…. why are they so messy at meal time? Don’t they know to push their chair under the table when they leave? Seriously. Can you not take your cup to the sink . . .’

Once the kitchen was tidy and dishes were cleaned, I could hear the mayhem in the bathroom. Can you hear the chilling music building in the background?! It is ridiculous how quick irritability can take over during the monthly patterns. I knew it was coming, and I did my best to keep the little monster in the cage. I knew the boys were having fun, and I knew my husband had things under control. And suddenly, (because it is always suddenly, isn’t it?) I heard whining. UGH! Whining and crying while battling PMS? Yeah, um, that’s not a good mix.

I counted to 10. I counted to 10 again. I counted to 50. I counted backwards. I did the hokey pokey and I turned myself around . . .  And then I went in to the bathroom and demanded everyone get out of the tub. My husband was sad. It was his turn with the boat, and he was about to sink it. (Ha. Kidding. He wasn’t in the tub. And, I must tell you, it cracks me up to write about how I lost it last night. I know it is ridiculous when it happens. Still, PMS is a boogah of a boogah.) So, the boys got out of the tub, got dressed and brushed teeth. And, peace was restored in the village. I sat down with the boys and read two books. My oldest asked for a 3rd book and I said – are you ready? – I said, “Sure.” Take THAT, PMS!