Tag Archives: cake

Summer Hiatus


IMG_0481Hi all,

Just a short post to let you know I am taking a blog break over the summer.  I will still be writing, but just not for my blog.  Which is sort of why I’m taking a break.

My day job gets intense in the spring and summer, and I only have so much band width.  One of my goals is to learn to write first and edit later, but I can’t seem to break the “edit as I write” habit with my blog.  I fall into a perfectionist cycle and end up with writers block and a severe aversion to my writing room.  And writing is as important to my sanity as walking in the woods with my dogs, riding my bike, and eating cake.  Sue not writing = Ungood.

To shorten what is certain to quickly become an 800 word very boring dissertation about my life – I need to retrain my brain.  And the only way I can think of to do that is to write with abandon – without worrying about making it sound pretty right out of the gate.  And I haven’t been able to do that with my blog.  I have tried – with varying degrees of success – but I keep going back to my old habits.

I’m going to keep a journal over the summer, and I’m going to practice writing fiction and dabble in some ancestry stuff – I’m thinking a Belgian time traveling German elfin princess astronaut who uses warp speed to sling shot the sun and bring back dinosaurs while fighting off Romulans and Darth Vader, while teaming with StarLord while riding trained raptors.  You know, the usual.

Most of you who read my blog are friends with me on Facebook, so you know where to find me if you feel desperate for a stupid story to laugh about.

See you in the fall,

Sue

PS.  This may be a smokescreen excuse because I really just want to ride my new bike more.

PPS.  You’ll find out for sure this fall.

PPSS.  Unless it’s a warm fall, then you might have to wait until late fall.

PPSSS.  Feel free to eat large amounts of cake to comfort yourself in my absence.

Keep-Calm-and-Eat-Cake

It’s All About That Cake


The first time Dave and I went to Costco, we saw it. The holy grail of cakes. It was huge, even by Costco standards – a Devil’s Tower of dark chocolate shavings over creamy chocolate frosting, covering what we assumed and fervently hoped was rich chocolate cake layered with additional chocolate frosting. It was called the All American Chocolate Cake. And by golly, it was our patriotic duty to buy it.

Except…it was, as I referenced earlier, gigantic. We bent over it for a better look, mesmerized, our breath fogging the plastic dome. Wondering. Dreaming. Drooling. It was just so BIG. Glorious, yes, but who was going to eat all that cake?

Granted, we don’t normally ask that question in our house. We know who is going to eat all that cake. But just because a person CAN do something doesn’t mean they SHOULD do something. I would not normally apply this rule to cake, but in this case, even I had to make an exception.

After about 5 minutes, Dave lifted the cake. “Holy hell,” he muttered. He set it down and it was my turn. Holy hell is right. It felt like it weighed about 10 pounds. We needed a family event to justify that bad boy, patriotic duty or no.

Reluctantly, we walked away. We went and grabbed our 50 pack of toilet paper (because, as you know, we are full of shit), a 20 pack of paper towels, a 100 pound bag of potato chips, an electric fireplace, a sofa, a 10 pack of 5’ x 7’ rugs, a 20 gallon jug of olives, a 500 piece set of pots and pans, a couple of lawn chairs, and a kayak. Then we circled back to the cake.

“I don’t think we can do it,” said Dave.

“Really? I think we can.”

“Can’t.”

“Can.”

“Nobody in our house needs to eat this much cake.”

“FINE!”

About once a month, we return to Costco and re-evaluate the All American Chocolate Cake. We lift it, gaze at it’s chocolatey beauty, and say things like: “Maybe we should just buy it.” “No, that thing is huge. It will take us a week to eat it.” “Yeah, maybe you’re right.” “Wow, it really is heavy. Here, feel how heavy this is.” “Wow – yes it weighs a ton.” “You’re drooling.” “Oops – sorry.” “So, are we walking away?” “Yes.” “For sure?” “Yes – for sure.”

Over the next year, we waited patiently for an All American Chocolate Cake worthy family event. Not Easter. Not Memorial Weekend. Not the 4th. Not Labor Day. Not Thanksgiving. Not Christmas. Not when Cousin Eddy had the plate removed from his head. Not when the raptors had babies in Grandpa Hammond’s sock drawer. Not the Festival of Shirtless Jackman.

Enter November 13th, 2015. My long-lost sister would be home from Arizona, and this was the night we were planning our main get together before sending her off again. We would have 12 people there, and one of those people was my brother, who has the cake capacity of 2 sumo wrestlers. It was the perfect storm.

I was pretty excited walking into Costco and grabbing that 10 pounds of chocolatey heaven and setting it in my cart. I floated to the check out and gleefully rubbed my hands together before setting it on the belt. Finally, it was mine.

The checkout guy acted like he had never seen the All American Chocolate Cake before. “Wow, this is a big cake! It looks delicious! Did you ever have it before? It’s so BIG! Who is going to eat all that cake? Do you need any help? I love cake! Wow, I wish I could taste it. It looks so good! Are you sure you don’t need any help getting your things to the car?” Suddenly I wanted to stab that cotton-headed ninny-muggins in the hand with a fork and hiss at him to get away from My Precious, dammit.

By some miracle, the cake made it all the way to my house and then all the way to my mom’s the next day, without the top “accidentally” popping off and “Gee, as long as it’s open maybe I should test it to be sure it’s not poisoned” happening.

But then, at my mom’s – disaster struck. My brother-in-law Pete was not coming. My brother-in-law Greg was not coming. And my brother had to work and so he was not coming. I was short 3 brothers and 2 sumo wrestlers in the cake eating department. No problem, I told myself. We’re professionals. We can handle this cake.

Then my mom put out snacks. And dinner was really really good. And everyone was getting just a tiny bit full. Still no problem. When the going gets tough, the Conard’s eat cake.

My entire family loves cake – it’s not just me. My mom and my sister Celeste are probably the only two who really have any sort of “cake limit” and will usually only eat a skinny slice (this would be considered a “normal slice” to the majority of the human race) and the rest of us belly up to the cake bar for a big corner piece, preferably with a giant frosting flower, or if it’s a round cake – a 2” slice with an ice cream chaser.

I cut into the cake, and removed what I thought was a very generous piece, only to see the cake literally meld itself back together. Okay, it didn’t really do that, but wow – it barely made a difference. So I kept hacking away – everyone getting a slice of cake the size of Texas including my mom and sister, plus a scoop of ice cream. We still had 2/3’s of the cake left.

The cake was delicious, and we all ate to bursting. But here’s the kicker. When it came time to divvy up the leftovers, nobody wanted to take any cake home. Not even me. Every bite of that cake was going to add 10 immovable pounds to our hips and Lord only knew what it would do to our thighs. I mean, it was a Costco cake – it did everything big and our genetically thunderous thighs did not need any help in that department.

Dave and I brought it home, our poor, sad, unwanted All American Chocolate Cake. We did our best to give it an honorary burial-by-eating, but in the end, we weren’t up to the challenge. It lived the rest of it’s life on the counter, slowly drying to death until we finally buried it in the trash.

It was a good cake. A chocolatey cake. It was heavenly and delicious and I failed it. Apparently even I have a cake limit. It was a crushing blow to my cake confidence and a sad end to our All American Chocolate Cake dream. A sad end indeed.

It took me a week of grieving before I was able to step foot in Costco again. I walked thru the bakery section and couldn’t bear to see the new All American Chocolate Cakes just waiting for a family to love them. I turned away and my eyes fell upon…

A Costco Pumpkin Pie. And it was huge.

Pietistically yours,
Sue

PS – Can you name all of the movies I referenced in my post? It wasn’t intentional at first but I seem to love movie references as much as I love puns.

PPS.  The pie was just as delicious as the cake.

PPSS.  Mmmmmmmm….pie….cake…pie….cake…pie…cake….

Come In Orson


holdontoyourbutts

It is now the end of my NaNoWriMo experiment. I did not write a novel. I did not write 50000 words. I did not pass Go. I did not collect $200. But I did write almost every day, and I tried to get at least 500 words in when I wrote. I came close enough to this goal to be happy, and to call this experiment a “win”.

As a bonus, I learned a lot about myself and about how I write.   I can tell you are all just dying to know, so in the words of the great Samuel Mo-Fo Jackson: “Hold on to your butts.”

I LIKE TO WRITE.

That seems less monumental now that I see it in print. I mean, “Duh”, right?  But I was getting to the point of dreading my time at the keyboard.  I wanted every line to be perfect and I wanted everyone to believe my writing was perfect and I wanted to fit my square-ass peg in a round-ass hole.  Over thinking and editing every line lead to slow and painful writing, and when I couldn’t keep up with what I thought my imagined pace should be, I wrote less and had less joy doing it.

NaNoWriMo, however, is all about writing without editing.  Just letting the words fly out onto the paper, all willy-nilly and higgley-piggley.  I about had a coronary the first few days.  But then I got into it.  It became fun.  Nothing made sense at first, but I didn’t care.  I was writing, and as I wrote, I found golden nuggets along the way.

My main golden nugget?  Writing is a whole lot more fun when I’m not being such an anal asshole to myself.

MY WRITING STYLE IS MESSY.

I write the same way I clean my house. I make a fantastic mess and then somehow, in between looking at old photos and reading long forgotten sales flyers, I organize it into place again. I also leave cupboard doors open while I am cooking. I don’t know if this is related, but it drives certain people in my life crazy. So if leaving cupboard doors open is a pet peeve of yours, feel free to rant about it in the comments. It won’t change anything, but I know it will make you feel better.

I am much happier and more productive when I make a big writing mess, and then go thru it all later and puzzle it into a single, flowing, beautiful, angelic document of pure bliss and perfection. It is absolutely just as time consuming as my old way of writing one sentence and then editing it to death, but I get to write a lot more and I am editing less. I believe speed and overall better writing will take place over time and if it doesn’t – who cares?  But it will. And you know why? Because of…

PRACTICE

Why am I so old before I am finally understanding the concept of practice and not perfection?

When I was a teenager, my friends and I were Steve Martin fanatics, to the point of purchasing banjos and taking banjo lessons. Serious groupie behavior. However, to play the banjo with the same skill as Steve Martin involves years of dedicated practice. YEARS. And I wanted perfection, and I wanted it yesterday. I still love Steve Martin, but I no longer own a banjo.  I sold it when I realized that I would never dedicate enough time and energy to being that good.  It was a desire, but it wasn’t a dream I was willing to fight that hard for.

Writing has been a similar experience for me – I believed I was supposed to be perfect right out of the gate. Except I wasn’t.  And my writing was all over the place.  And I kept switching my genre.  And writing became a chore.

But this WAS my dream.  And still is.  I refused to give up.  And still do.  I will be in Kristin Lamb’s 5% of 5% of 5%, even if it takes me until I’m 90.  Even if I suck.  Even if no other living human ever reads another word I write, although that would be terribly depressing.

Because my new attitude is practice.  I can’t get better if I’m not writing.  I can’t find open doors and opportunities if I am not actively learning and participating in the writing world.  And I now know that it will always be “practice” and not “perfection.  And I am so very okay with that.  Finally.

THE BLOG

Photography is a lot of fun, but it’s not my first love.  I have time to be either a really good photographer or a really good writer.  I have to pick one and commit (which also relates to genre).

So I am going to stop muddying the waters of my blog, and will be pulling away from photo challenges and instead focusing on humorous posts as they relate to day-to-day living. I will publish every two weeks. On a Monday. With a full elvish moon.  Carved into stone by Wolverine at high tide during the festival of Shirtless Jackman, while Steve Martin plays Foggy Mountain.

THE NOVEL.

I will write one. But not this year. This year, I will be focusing on practice, establishing permanent writing habits, doing a few workshops, reading books about writing – that sort of thing.  Oh yeah and maybe realize my dream of being the next Sue DeGroot.  Who is great, by the way.  In case you missed that.

Of course I will still be biking and hiking and rolling around in the dirt and picking wood ticks off the dogs and eating butt loads of cake, and then coming back here to tell you about it – humorously of course. But I think…I think it will finally all make sense.  At least to me.  You guys are probably screwed.

Writingly yours,

Sue

PS.  Thanksgiving was awesome and pie filled – it’s the one time of year pie is an acceptable alternative over cake.

PPS.  I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that you all gained as much weight as I did.  Because I’m considerate that way.

PSS.  I would like to thank all of you who have inspired me and encouraged me to keep writing.  Some of you know who you are.  Some of you have no idea.  I was going to name names, but chances are I will forget someone significant and then feelings will be hurt and wars will rage and all of mankind will cease to exist.  So instead, here are the letters of all the initials of all of you.  A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z.  And the entire Klingon alphabet, just for good measure.


 

Mork Calling Orson


  

My hat’s off to any and all participating in the full 50k word NaNoWriMo.  You are dedicated, hardworking, inspirational…and if I may be so bold and not too horribly offensive…mentally deranged.

I tried one day to hit 1700 words (the average word count needed per day to hit a 50k goal over 30 days) and my last paragraph read something like this:  Because I’m trying to find things to write about to get all my words in so I can stop writing. Ok really don’t need to get all my words in. Need to write for 5 more minutes. This isn’t very fun. Tomorrow I will actually write something resembling a blog post. I had the idea for 50 shades of brown – poop color coded underwear that hide skid marks depending on if you picked the right shade of brown for that day. This idea sounds like a Tommy Halvelford (Parks and Rec) idea. And I think I just spelled his name wrong.

I was supposed to be writing my “story”.  However, I came into this challenge with no characters, no plot, no ideas.  Oh wait – I had one thing – the name of my protagonist.  And you know how I picked out that name?  My name spelled backwards.  Yeah, because that’s the level of skill we are dealing with here:  Bits and pieces of weird and obscure information that randomly pop into my head.

On a side note:  I have noticed lately that I write in puns.  Usually unintended, although I will often notice them when I am editing and may point it out with a “see what I did there?” in case you aren’t Belgian and didn’t notice.  I just re-read my 1700 word travesty and found this: I wonder if I should try fleshing out my character more. Like, make her fat.  Really, Sue?  This is why mommy drinks.

My subsequent writing has been a mix of blog ideas, adding more to my “story”, such as it is, and journaling.  And I am keeping to my original goal of 500 words a day, 15 minutes per day except weekends, where I try to get in an hour so I can do editing on all the garbage I wrote earlier, because I almost had a mental breakdown the first day of writing without editing.  My OCD was on FIRE.

Even taking that into consideration, this has been a very positive experience so far.  Number One – I’m writing every day and Number Two – I’m having fun.  Now, how many of you who read “Number Two” instantly thought of poop?  You are my target audience for “Fifty Shades of Brown”.  If you think I’m not writing that, you are so very wrong.  That shit’s gonna be a best seller. <—- Pun alert for you non-Belgians.

And yes, I realize that if I have to point it out, it’s probably not that funny.  But then again, I think, “What if they miss it?  It’s so funny!  I’m so funny!  Sue is great!” so I always point it out.  WHEN I NOTICE IT.  If you see any I haven’t deliberately noted, please let me know.  You will be given a large reward of Nothing, but you will have bragging rights and I will respond to your comment with “_________ is great.”  allowing you a nanosecond of being greater than the greatest person in the universe:  Me.

Poopingly yours,

Sue

Squirrel!


It’s been a weird week and I’m not sure what to talk about.  Actually, I was sure, and then I sat down and now I got nothin’.  Not sure if it’s writers block or exhaustion or ADD.  Not that I have ADD, although sometimes I do wonder, especially when I can’t focus or sit still long enough to string a coherent sentence.

Because I don’t know where to start, I’m just going to start with today, and work backwards.

I had the lovely job this morning of scooping the cat boxes, which led me to discover doggie tootsie rolls that Mr. Lucky thought he had cleverly hidden behind the summer stack chairs.  A smart idea for a dog seeing as it may never be summer again and who knows when next I would be digging around those chairs except for one small detail.  My dog is a terrible poop hider.  All I had to do was follow his little poop trail to the poop jackpot.  Ding ding ding!  Why is this the only lottery I am winning?

I didn't poop on the floor.  Ok, fine.  I did poop on the floor, but look how cute I am!

I didn’t poop on the floor. Ok, fine. I did poop on the floor, but look how cute I am!

Last week, I was hanging out with my friend Geri, and we were talking about the woman’s retreat we are planning for our church group.  Just a small retreat – we do it twice a year and it’s just for a day, but we do seem to pack a wallop of spiritual growth in 8 hours.

This year, our theme is “mindfulness” and learning to focus on the present and find joy and peace in the midst of troubles and chaos.  Yeah – like I’m SO GOOD at that.  “Sue, can you please tell me how you have such peace and harmony in your life?” asked No One Ever.

So naturally, I volunteered to lead the meditation section.  After leaving Geri’s, I sent a panicked text to my sister (who really is an expert at meditation) and begged mercy.  After laughing for 20 minutes (I’m laughing WITH you, Sue…), she sent me a bunch of info and I feel a little less freaked out.  But now I have to practice at home.  Yeah, this should prove interesting, seeing as the only meditative states I have are over ginormous pieces of cake with 3 inches of frosting.  And we’re all out of cake.

One other thing happened at Geri’s.  She showed me a scrapbook/family tree she is working on, and I have to say it’s pretty cool.  She even has photos of headstones and newspaper clippings – a lot of which she found on the internet.  She showed me some sites she used and we started looking for people in my family and pretty soon I’m getting all jacked up about doing my family tree.

I spent most of this past week and weekend digging around the internet, reading old census records and birth certificates.  And you know what?  I LOVED IT. Possibly even better than cake right now.  Which is good, because did I mention we are out of cake? But, I know my personality so what I’m hot after today could be on the back burner next week, so we will see how long I last.  In the meantime, I am having a blast – this is like archeology without mummy curses and sand in your underwear.

In my family tree building excitement I thought “I should scan all my parents photos and my photos so I can add some to my project and have a digital copy of the rest and then put them all in photo albums but my scanner is slow so I should buy a faster one and I need more photo albums…”

And while thinking of this, I remembered our old family movies on 8mm and some on VHS and some on old reel to reel film, so those are now sitting in the middle of my new office because of course I am going to haul them in to Camera Corner and have them put on DVD, because I can’t just have one small family tree project.  I have to have a massive DO-ALL-THE-THINGS project.

Like when I pulled every single one of my photos out of my photo albums in my “Scrapbooking and stamping” phase because I was going to scrapbook EVERY SINGLE PHOTO IN MY POSSESSION. WITH STAMPS! AND WITTY COMMENTARY! AND ADORABLE PAPER CUT OUTS! AND FANCY SCISSORS! AND IT WILL BE A TOUCHING AND BEAUTIFUL GIFT FOR MY CHILDREN WHO WILL CHERISH IT ALWAYS AND SHOW IT TO THEIR CHILDREN AND THEIR GRANDCHILDREN AND IT WILL BECOME A FAMILY HEIRLOOM!

(*Hint*. I’m not done yet and unless I win the real lottery and not the poop lottery and can afford to pay someone to do it, Lindsay and Matt will remain frozen in time at age 5.)

After digging those all out, I found an old SD memory card which I think is from my old camera.  I popped it into my computer and everything froze and my mouse quit working and my photo memory stick I had in my computer fried and after a brief moment of freaking out that I busted my computer, I finally got everything to work again.  This made me realize I don’t have my photos backed up on anything reliable – they are just on my computer.  Which led to a panic attack in the shower and now I have “remote hard drive” on my “To Get” list.  Right there with the photo albums and scanner, and probably a big ass cake for energy because, as I said before, we are out of cake.

Did I mention I also have to do my taxes?

I’m going to need a bigger cake.

Until next time,

Your squirrely friend who is off to find something shiny,

Sue

 

 

5 Day Black and White Challenge – Day 1


I have been invited by my friend Helen at HHC Blog to participate in the “5 Day Black and White Challenge”.  The rules are: (1) Eat large quantities of cake and (2) eat more cake.

Okay so maybe that is my own interpretation of the rules.  The actual rules are:  (1) Publish a black and white photo every day for 5 days and (2) Invite someone else to participate each day.  But you can totally see how I got “eat a bunch of cake” out of that.

First, I want to invite you to check out Helen’s blog (HHC Blog – click it, you fools!).  She has a wonderful eye and a beautiful heart – a gentle and quiet spirit that shines in her writing and photography.   I love reading her stories about her family, and I think my favorite photo is now her header photo – a black and white lotus blossom.

Next I want to invite my friend Sue Slaght, from over at Travel Tales of Life, to participate in the Challenge.  Sue and I found each other about a year ago, and quickly became friends – she obviously has a high tolerance for weirdos.  Sue’s blog is primarily about travel (usually overseas bike tours – how cool is that?) but is laced with humor, love, and mouth watering photography.  Seriously, check out her blog, but be prepared to put on your traveling pants, cuz you’re gonna wanna go.

Without further ado, here is my first photo:

cake

Of course it’s cake!  What else were you expecting?  🙂

More fun tomorrow!
Sue

 

Go Fly A Kite


Man, I’m beat. I’ve been a big crab ass all week and wanted to tell several people to “go fly a kite”. Well, I really wanted to tell them to do something much ruder and much, MUCH, more acrobatic.  I could really use a beach, a beer, a cigarette and a big ole piece of chocolate cake.   Seeing as I won’t be getting any of those things in the near future, I decided to participate in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge instead.  A huge “thank you” and blog hug to Cee for sponsoring these challenges each week (you should absolutely go check out her site), and thus likely saving me from a life of lung cancer, alcoholism, and sun burn, although I’m too far gone to be saved from chocolate cake.

Interestingly enough, this weeks photo challenge theme is the song, “Let’s Go Fly A Kite” – (You see what I did there?  How I tied that all in?  BOOM!  That’s how it’s done.  Hell yeah.)

With tuppence for paper and strings, You can have your own set of wings, With your feet on the ground, You’re a bird in a flight, With your fist holding tight, To the string of your kite. Oh, oh, oh! Let’s go fly a kite, Up to the highest height! Let’s go fly a kite and send it soaring, Up through the atmosphere, Up where the air is clear, Oh, let’s go fly a kite!

Here are my entries:

Adorable cow kites at Neshota Park's Flags Over Lake Michigan

Adorable cow kites at Neshota Park’s Flags Over Lake Michigan

Flags Over Lake Michigan, Neshota Park

Flags Over Lake Michigan, Neshota Park

Up through the atmosphere!

Up through the atmosphere!

Until next time-

Crabby Sue

PS:  Found some weirdos on the beach…

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