Happy Birthday, Dad!

Happy Birthday to the main man in my life!

Still a Daddy’s girl!


questions in my head

What do the stars talk about during post-Emmy parties?  When “normal” people get together, they gossip about the stars. Do stars gossip about each other?  It seems that they would be so sick of work and the gossip that they would want to talk about anything else.  But what?  Do they talk about us?  Ha!

And do any of them just wander around with a drink in their hand trying not to look awkward because they have no one to talk to?

Just wondering.

a cake fit for the Stig

I don’t suppose it makes sense to post about something that includes references so obscure it will take the whole post to try to explain what the post is actually about.  This is probably a post that will make everyone’s brain explode as they try to follow it, like when I include lots of tangents inside of parentheses (which I’ve heard makes comprehending my paragraphs nearly impossible.)

And yet I’m going to post about my cake, regardless of the obscure references, because I was so proud of my creativity.

Quick, before you read any further — if any of my readers have any idea what I’m talking about (namely, what the heck is up with my cake as pictured and/or who the heck “the Stig” is) you get some sort of prize.

crickets chirping

Yeah, I thought so.

Well, I won’t bore you too much.  (I hope.)  I was commissioned to make my friend Dan’s birthday cake this week.  My friend Dan is the husband of my friend Darcy, and he loves cars and racing.  He also loves this BBC show called Top Gear, which is much more than a car show.  It’s a blend of cars, humor, celebrities, challenges, and news.  (I’m watching it “On Demand” as I type this, actually.)  

There are three guys who host the show, but there’s also a test driver called “The Stig.”  You don’t know who the Stig is — he has a helmet on and his identity is a mystery.  On the show, he completes a lap in a car they’re reviewing to gauge the performance of the car.  He’s an incredible driver and since no one knows who he is, there is a lot of mystery and personality swirling around him.  Various drivers have joked that they’re the Stig:

Mark Webber is the Stig?

… but his identity remains a mystery (for now.  But that’s another story.)

So Dan’s favorite cake is German Chocolate.  But this just isn’t any old German Chocolate.  It’s a Nurburing German Chocolate!  Nurburing is one of the most famous racetracks in the world. (Being from Indiana, I have to qualify that with “one of” …)  I know, we’re not talking about Daytona or Bristol – Dan has opened my eyes to a world beyond left-hand turns.  It’s a whole motorsports complex in Germany, and while they don’t use the whole track anymore, the track once looked like this:

Hence, the funny looking design on the top of the cake.

A German Chocolate cake fit for the Stig.  (Dan’s the Stig… but shhh, don’t tell anyone.)

P.S. I’ve never made German Chocolate cake before, and I always seem to try new recipes when the pressure is high!  But the cake turned out really well.  I used David Lebovitz‘s recipe, and it was fantastic.  Although I admit… I cheated and used a box German Chocolate cake, and used David’s recipes for the filling and the icing.  I had some issue with the icing, but not after Mom suggested I stick it in the fridge for a bit.  After that, it was so beautiful and easy to frost, although it was in the fridge a little long and it was really hard to pipe (hence, no pretty piping around the edge of the cake. But I think the Nurburing made up for that?).  It was delish!!

changing leaves, crisp air… and cardigans.

A lot of people have a hard time living in the present.  They either languish in the past or try to live in the future, and both of those just end in dissatisfaction.  I realize I fall victim to either of those occasionally, and it’s really something I’ve been trying to work on for the past few years.

But right now…

I really wish it was Fall.

I know that next March, just like this past March, I’ll be itching to break out the cute skirts and sandals.  But right now, I’m craving sweaters, jeans, and argyle socks.

It doesn’t help that I’ve been treating myself to some new Fall clothes, doesn’t it?  And shoes, although luckily you can wear ballet flats any time.

But my new cardigan?  Definitely a fall piece.   I cannot wear a long-sleeved, cable knit cardigan when it’s 90 degrees outside.  (although it’s been cool in the evenings– around 60 degrees– which is absolutely lovely.  It’s definitely the-beginning-of-high-school-football-season-weather.)

Ah, cardigans.  I love them.  It’s scary how many cardigans I own, although they are the quintessence of practical clothing.  So I can justify my obsession.

And my newest one has ruffles.  

And I want to wear it now.  So not only do I have to practice living in the present,  I have to practice patience.

…and I’m working on that obsession and attachment to material stuff thing, too.

just another day in Nashville

I’ve been to Mass with a variety of different people: Popes, Cardinals, and Bishops, the Papal theologian, ambassadors, politicians, and a Supreme Court justice.  This morning I added to that list: famous musician and an actress.

Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban, and Sunday Rose sat a few pews away from me this morning at Mass.  And yes, Nicole is really that beautiful in real life.


This is one of those stories that won’t be very funny in the re-telling, and yet the story-teller insists on still telling the story after informing you that it won’t be very funny.  Aren’t you excited?

To give you some background information, one of my friends owns his own gate business, and this being Nashville, he installs gates for some “stars.”  One of these “stars” is John Rich of “Big and Rich.”  John Rich has built a large modern house on the top of a hill overlooking Nashville, and has a nice gate installed by my friend.  My friend was always telling me how crazy modern the house is, surrounded by cute little bungalows, and how the neighbors must be so sick of the crazy people driving past his house and his crazy parties after the CMAs and things, and how John calls him when his gate breaks and is open, because crazy fans will walk up his driveway (isn’t that weird?).  John has a fondness for his last name, I guess, because he wanted “Mt.Richmore” on his gate.  My friend thought of a few different options for making the lettering and ended up making these cool chrome letters, and John really liked them.  So I’ve heard about this house for quite some time, but had never seen it (or the gate).

Fast-forward to tonight.  I went out with some friends, and one of the guys wanted to show us this great view of the city.  We headed up through a neighborhood, and I thought to myself, “I think this is where John Rich lives.”  Actually, I didn’t just think it– I told everyone in the car about John Rich and Mt.Richmore and Dan making the gate and the chrome letters.

When we finally found the top, not only did we find John Rich’s house (the gate is very nice, as are the letters — as classy and tasteful as “Mt.Richmore” can be — so nice job, Dan!) but we found some parked cars and a police car shining his big spotlight in them.  Justin (our driver) was starting to get nervous about the fact that the police were following us as we drove around and around the circle drive at the top of the hill (they weren’t), and Jeff wanted us to park so he could show us the view (it required parking and walking to the tippy-top of the hill) and the three of us in the back were laughing at the whole situation.

We drove around one final time, and Justin was trying to convince Jeff that the cop was writing all the parked cars tickets.  Jeff told him to park, and we parked right under a sign that said “No parking 9pm to 6am.” (It was 9:05)  Just then, the police man got out of his car (Justin was kind of freaking out at this point, and the backseat was getting a little more nervous and suggested we just leave) and then we saw he was talking to someone.

Joannie: “Maybe that’s John Rich.”

Bryan: “It is.”

Jeff: “Just go ask him if we can park here and walk to the top.”

So Justin drove forward and rolled down his window.

Justin: “Excuse me?”

John Rich: “Yessss?”

Justin: “Um, do you live here?”

John Rich: “Absolutely.  Do you?”

Hm. This wasn’t going well.

Justin: “Well, we were wondering if we could park here and walk to the top to see the view.”

John Rich: “Can’t you read the sign?!”

Hm.  Guess that’s a no.  He told us it was a nice view during the day, but basically to hit the road.

Joannie: “I can’t wait to tell Dan that I met John Rich!”

Bryan: (laughing) “You didn’t meet him!”

Joannie: “Well, I saw his gate.”