Category Archives: Friends


I have so many profound, weighty things to share with you. But I’m going to hold off. Give you a little breather. Throw in a little fun. Make this Saturday yummy!

Yesterday I whipped up two new desserts for a little party I had. They were scrump-dilly-icious, if I do say so myself.

I’ll provide the links and the recipes right here. The only thing I can’t do is air-mail them to you. Because…they’re gone! Well, almost, but I won’t tell you that in case you live nearby and decide to stop in for a sample. So, yes, they’re gone. (TeeHee)

Before I give you the recipes, though, I have to give one piece of advice. Feed your family first! I know it’s tempting to put out a beautiful, full tray of something-or-others or a complete cake. But you must, must, must cut some for your husband and children first. It shows them you appreciate that they are going to hide away in a room watching old VHS tapes while you cavort with your friends. It makes them feel special. And, incidentally, it makes them more willing to hide away the next time. Be kind to your family first.

Okay, now on to the recipes:

Tandy Cake

Nobody bakes a cake as tasty as a Tasty Kake. Except me. This was spot-on for those round little chocolate covered spongy cakes with a layer of peanut butter. I taste-tested it about half a dozen times, and I can say they are fab!


  • 4 eggs – beat to a lemony color
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 c. milk
  • 2 t. melted butter
  • 8 oz. milk chocolate bar (that’s 6 reg. Hershey bars)
  • 1 c. creamy peanut butter

Preparation –

Use a baking sheet/cookie sheet with sides. Grease lightly or spray with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside. Mix first three ingredients together. Add sugar. Sift flour and baking powder together. [Or mix with a large kitchen fork if you can’t find the sifter you put somewhere special so you could always find it.] Add flour mixture alternately with milk. Add butter. Spread batter onto the cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 20-25 mins.

Be very careful not to overbake! This layer should have a moist cake texture. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes; spread with peanut butter while still warm. [Let your five year old lick the spreading spatula and count it as lunch.] Continue cooling on a wire rack, then refrigerate for about an hour. [Strictly warn children and husband not to dip fingers in.]

Melt chocolate; spread melted chocolate over peanut butter. [Scrape out leftovers with finger and indulge before it hardens.] Refrigerate again to cool and set chocolate. [See previous family warning comment.] Cut into 2″x2 1/2″ squares. Store in pan, covered, or wrap individually in plastic wrap. Best if stored in refrigerator. [Still good if left out on counter overnight and enjoyed with chocolate blueberry tea.]

And while we’re adding a few inches to our waistlines, let’s go ahead and include the Brown Butter Toffee Blondies recipe here. I made this especially for my littlest sister, who doesn’t eat chocolate. Yes, we are blood-related and actually like each other, despite this major character flaw (wink wink).

Brown Butter Butterscotch White Chocolate Chip Blondies

[couldn’t resist making some changes]

Ingredients [my amended list]:

  • 1 1/4 c. (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 c. flour
  • 1 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 t. salt
  • 2 c. packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 3 lg. eggs
  • 2 1/2 t. vanilla
  • big handful white chocolate chips
  • big handful butterscotch chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350. Ready cookie sheet with sides.
  2. Brown your butter: cook in skillet over medium heat til it turns a pretty golden brown. This takes at least 10 minutes. You can step away early on, but don’t leave once the color starts to change. Scrape out all the butter and deposits (whatever the heck they are) into a small bowl and set in frig to cool. Go watch television or read a novel because this takes another 15 minutes and you’ll drive yourself crazy if you watch it.
  3. If you simply cannot walk out of the kitchen, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
  4. When the butter is finally coolish, combine it with both sugars in a big bowl and use beaters til it’s combined. Add the eggs and beat on med-high for 3 minutes, til light and fluffy. Add vanilla and beat for a few seconds to combine. Slowly add flour mixture, beating inbetween additions. Spread into pan.
  5. Bake about 30  mins, til knife in center comes out clean. Cut into small squares, because if you cut them big, you might  not get one unless you squirrel a few away from your family and guests.

These are hugely fantastic! A little dry on the outside, for whatever reason. But yummy to the tummy. I bet you could throw them into the microwave for a few seconds to get rid of that dryish texture on top. Oh, wouldn’t they be good topped with toasted coconut?! Bing! That’s exactly what I’m going to try next time.



Roller Disco Boogie

Years ago when I belonged to a tape club (remember those ancient pop culture things?), I got the album Roller Disco Boogie. We’d pop it into the player and jam out, old school style. (Yes, we looked ridiculous, but we were old enough not to care.)

My kids developed a fondness for the oldies, like “Working at the car wash…work and work…” So they were thrilled out of their heads when I told them we were going ROLLER SKATING! (For the first time ever.)

The old skating rink is just as dark as it was when I was my oldest daughter’s age. I think the booths might be the same ones my derrier graced on Saturday afternoons during Open Skate. And that lovely stinky-feet, sweaty palm smell only grew finer with time.

Now we can’t wait til next month’s date there. I might even put on a pair and lace them up tight, just for old time’s sake. I think this little daredevil just might triple dog dare me.


We live near a beautiful waterfall.

Today we braved the heat and hiked down to it with some good friends.

It was a pretty awesome day!

Strawberry Picking

Last year we missed it. This year we weren’t chancing it, even if it meant letting new little friends pick out of our buckets.

They called for rain, but we got a wonderfully cool overcast day.

The perfect day for sneaking in a few red ones.

Don’t be jealous, blueberries. We’re coming for you next week.

Behind the Scenes at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

Thanks to Molly for the following photos.

We toured our local symphony hall,  The Meyerhoff. Come to find out, this massive building has no post supports so that no one’s view is obscured.

The ceiling is made up of one huge slab of concrete set on strong walls. Really, two ceilings–a hollow concrete oval and a solid concrete oval spaced a little ways apart to provide a sound barrier. The whole facility is like a buildling within a building to keep outside noises outside. 

I’m thinking the next house we build should have a room within a room–just for me–where there’s no noise. Ahhh…

Did you know the musicians have a library of music to choose from? And that Disney won’t sell its music, but requires you to rent it? They’re so business savvy.

The children performed a beautiful rendition of Twinkle Twinkle onstage. (You know I got a little singing in, too…who could resist?)

I loved learning that big percussion instruments come up through an elevator in the floor backstage and a piano comes up the same way just under the conductor’s podium.

What fun to read all the stickers on the traveling instrument cases. This guy or gal sure has a sense of humorunless Precision Tune is a country I haven’t heard of.

Look at who recently guest-conducted the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Brilliance!

This irresistible blue crab sits in the second floor lobby. I dare say it (and the mirrored ceilings in the elevator) will be what the children remember most clearly.

Note: You can arrange a fee-free tour through the Education Office at the BSO.

Breadmaking with Children

I’m not a homesteader. I don’t make my own clothes or my own bread. I’m a typical suburban home school mom who enjoys living ten minutes from Target and Starbucks. So when our Patience KONOS unit presented a bread-making unit, I was intrigued.

I asked for tips on facebook, and my local home school friend Christie invited us to make bread with her family. She had everything laid out and labeled. (A true teacher.)

She walked us through her weekly ritual of making four loaves of fresh bread.

She allowed the children to watch the wheat berries being ground into flour

and the dough kneading in the machine.

Much to my surprise, the whole process took less than one hour!

She generously sent us home with two full loaves of bread. Only one of them made it home . The other disappeared into little bellies in the car ride home.

* * * * *

We’ve been trying all sorts of bread recipes since Christie showed us how to bake bread, but we don’t seem to have the knack of it. Our loaves turn out hard, dense, and pretty yucky. Brad says they’re stinky!

When I complain, a friend reminds me we are in the midst of the Patience unit. True. I was hoping for a short-term kind of patience–the kind I can anticipate and plan for. I suppose that’s not really patience, though. Patience seems to have to do more with weathering the unexpected. Seems I learn as much or more during our units as the children.

Today we finally found a recipe that actually rose and tasted good. It’s a non-knead, batter bread. It’s easy enough for the kids to make by themselves and tastes particularly yummy with Ikea’s Lingonberry Jam. I don’t have a photo because we ate it so quickly! Now you know that’s GOOD.

Our December

We’ve been baking cookies


playing with our many nativities

working through our Advent materials

and spending time with good friends.

Lord, as we celebrate your birth on earth, let us turn our every smile and sweet moment to you in glorious praise.

Merry Christmas from Sonflower Sisters!

A hearty holiday greeting from my Sonflower Sisters group.