Fly on the Wall, Yo Ho Yo Ho edition

Fly on the Wall

Every month you’re invited to Fly on the Wall Friday, where a group of bloggers show you what’s been happening in their homes. You’ll see and hear things that will make you smile, gasp, and shake your head. Little moments we share (wisely or not) with flies who are brave enough to hang out on our walls.


I’ve had an eventful month. Not necessarily in a good way, though it started OUT okay. Bear with me – this could get a little lengthy.

My birthday was the end of January, and was an absolute riot. The crazy group of gals I hooked up with (um…not sure that’s a good phrase) to share a group post of recipes each month on our blogs decided to bomb my Rowdy Baker Facebook page with hysterical posts. It kept me busy all day just keeping up with all of them. You should go there and scroll down. Seriously funny stuff. Lots of love from everyone. I think my favorite was a photo of a cake my daughter found…with Tom Selleck on it. It just doesn’t get better than that!!! That man makes my toes curl.

The girls call me "Eema", so that's close enough!

The girls call me “Eema”, so that’s close enough!


And then, a couple of days later, THE SEAHAWKS WON THE SUPERBOWL! I’m not a huge sports fan, but since I lived in the Seattle area for 50 years, there was no way to avoid getting sucked up in the excitement. Woo HOO! Here’s a shortbread cookie I made. Did you notice I said “a”? After a ridiculous amount of effort, I got one to almost come out right. I quit while I was ahead. gohawks


Here’s where things start to get a little dicey. My grandson Mack was having his first birthday, and I really, really wanted to be there. The last time I saw him he was a newborn. Keep this in mind when you’re questioning my sanity later, okay? A grandma’s urge to see her littles is very, very strong. To sweeten the pot, my daughter told me they were going the surprise the girls with a trip to Disneyland a few days later, and if I could get down there (Northern California) and back, they’d love to have me go with them.

Normally I wouldn’t even consider driving in February – in fact, we’re usually snowed in. But…it was a mild winter and the passes to California looked pretty good. I could have (SHOULD HAVE) flown, but if I drove there was the added incentive of saving a few bucks and being able to drive to my son’s for a visit too. The Man has a tendency to look on the dark side of things, and I’m a raving optimist, so as usual, I blew off all his cautions and concerns. If it snowed up north I’d just stay longer in California. Off I went, car spit-shined, oil checked, and dashboard sporting the GPS he bought me for my birthday.

I had my last physical therapy appointment that morning, and my PT and I did a last check of the weather. It showed the possibility of a little light snow, but pretty much clear sailing. Ha… HA HA HA!

I’d almost reached Oregon when it was obvious I was in trouble. Snow was blowing so hard around the cars and big trucks that I was getting disoriented. I had to cross my fingers and aim between two posts for an exit the GPS told me to take, because I couldn’t see where it was exactly. Gonna tell you right now, it was a white knuckle ride and there was no place to get off the highway.

I have a new pet peeve. Semi trucks should not be allowed to be white. Nope. I was behind a “ghost” truck – totally white, with its tail lights obliterated by packed snow. I would try to trail far behind it, but the next thing I knew it was right there. Scary stuff.

My plan was to get to Madras, Oregon for the night and continue in the morning, and I made it. Barely. I was a shaky mess when I checked in. Continuing in the morning was a no-go. The Oregon trip cameras were daunting, and I could stand in my motel window and watch cars in trouble on the street. I booked another night.

From my window, second night.

From my window, second night.

Now in case anyone was worried that I was starving, I’ll admit this: the first night I ate Triscuits and licorice that I had with me in the car. The next morning I gathered my courage and drove to the nearby grocery store, where I bought more nutritious foods. A salad, sliced ham, bread, peanut butter, jam, milk, cereal, hot dogs, chocolate covered raisins, Oreos. You know…just in case I was stuck there for a month. I had a microwave and a fridge in my room, internet, and a comfy bed. Not the worst situation. Yet.

Morning of day three. Yikes.

Morning of day three. Yikes.

This was more snow that this little town has seen – if not a record, it had to be close – so the snow plows were being run ragged. But even though the motel parking lot wasn’t plowed yet, there appeared to be a window of opportunity. After The Man checked the weather from home and I checked it from there, we decided that if I could just get onto the highway I should be able to get through the worst of it quickly. The snow was DEEP and even when I locked the car in 4WD, it wasn’t very cooperative.

That should have been my cue to book another night, right? Oh, Lord, I’m stubborn.

I finally got to the T where I could turn out of the motel lot. Right was uphill (the way I’d taken to the store) and my car was balking. Left was downhill…a more realistic option, except I couldn’t see exactly where the road went. I was directed to stay to the left of some posts and I’d get out to the road. Everything was white, and…well…I was looking at a completely different post. Let’s just say that I created a road where no road had ever been, and found myself down a slope in a wall of snow. End of my escape.

Wait. It gets better!

Soaking wet after climbing out of my hole and slogging the long way back to the office to call for road assistance, I was put on hold forever. Bless the gal behind the desk! She let me use their phone and drip on their rug. I finally hung up when I started shaking too bad to hold the phone. I had no choice but to go back to the car and bring up dry clothes and something to eat, because obviously I was there for another night. I got my room key back, and this is where things got bad.

My gloves were in the car. My snow boots with cleats were in the car. By the time I got down there and started digging through the suitcase for clothes, I think hypothermia was setting in, because I could not figure out what to grab. I got my computer because that was my only link to home. I got a change of clothes and a can of soup and for some reason the entire package of disposable bowls, and put them in a paper bag. Brilliant, huh? Snowing like crazy and I’m going to drag a paper bag all that way. I did not grab my gloves or my boots. My hands were freezing solid (it was 3 degrees out) and I just closed the door and headed back. Only I was panting and falling down and, just like in the pioneering books that I love, I wanted to stay down and rest, but I knew I couldn’t let that happen. Dropped the can of soup in the snow, and I know I dug it out, but I never saw it again. It probably fell out of the soggy paper bag! Half way back I knew I was in big trouble, having to rest every few steps. I knew I should let go of some of my stuff, but it was snowing so hard, it would be covered in minutes.

When I finally got back up to the motel parking area, my angel behind the desk (Tanya) saw me and helped me to my room. She had to pry my hands off the computer case and dig around in my pockets for the room key. Blue nail beds, palms, shins. A long hot shower and dry clothes helped, but if you’re wondering, it hurts like HELL when the blood moves back into frozen hands. And then I had to do it again, to show the tow truck guys where the car was. Their response? “Oh, my GOD!” and “NO WAY!” They said they wouldn’t even attempt to tow it until the snow melted some. Great.

I spent the next 14 hours in bed, getting warm, feeling very sorry for myself, and adding up the costs of this trip so far. I also a big bowl of homemade chili with the works that my new front desk best friend had her husband bring over for me. It’s a good thing, since that can of soup was under the snow somewhere. Now THAT is service. Shameless plug here: if you’re ever in Madras, I highly recommend the Econolodge. Not only do they treat you like family, there’s also a really good free breakfast with fresh waffles, sausage, and scrambled eggs. I can assure you I took complete advantage of that.

Okay, so I called the other towing company in town and coughed up an insane amount of money for a tow because even though the slope I went down wasn’t that steep (people walk up it to get into the parking lot) they played musical tow trucks for a while, and finally had to park the big truck waaaaaay back to be on an actual road. Lots of heavy cable used. The Man took exception to this, and apparently called to let them know of his displeasure. (It may have been insult to injury that I used his credit card number for this. Ahem.) They said it took 2 hours. Pffft. Not even close. But honestly? They were all tired and crabby from the unimaginable amount of tows they’d been providing, and I was lucky they did it, especially on a Sunday.

I made my escape on Monday and finally made it to my daughter’s that evening with little drama. Shaken, my confidence beaten to a bloody pulp, but so very grateful to have made it in one piece. And oh, so happy to see them all!

Greetings from my "other" granddaughter.

Greetings from my “other” granddaughter.


A day of rest, and we were off to the happiest place on earth! A baby who was developing a double ear infection made the 11 hour drive a little less than festive, but strangely enough he always calms down to Christmas music, particularly “Big Fat Santa”. Bless you, Peggy Lee.

What can I say about Disneyland? Sore feet, smiles, and souvenirs! I hadn’t been to Disneyland since our kids were little, so it all seemed new to me. I loved watching all the impromptu dancing my youngest granddaughter managed to do with some of the park characters. My oldest granddaughter was more interested in making sure Grandma didn’t get lost!


So. We had a suite with connecting rooms, my granddaughters and I in one, and Mom, Dad, and baby in the other. I’m starting to change clothes quickly to go back out when I see the youngest girl sitting on the bed with her shirt over her head. I ask her why, and she replies: “I DON’T want to see you naked!” Oh my. I guess there are some things that just can’t be unseen. Naked Grandma is probably pretty high on that list. I may have scarred her for life. Sorry, sweetie.

Which reminds me, did you know that it is actually possible to gain 5 pounds in 4 days when you are sitting on your butt on a motel bed eating junk food? Just sayin’.

Footsore and happy!

Footsore and happy!

We were on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride (my personal favorite) in the last area where the drunken pirates are trying to shoot the big barrels of black powder. Singing “YO HO YO HO, A PIRATE’S LIFE FOR ME.” Do you know why I put that in all caps? Because it’s freaking loud!!! It was even louder 15 minutes later when we were still sitting there because the ride broke. Every few minutes the voice would come on saying “we’ll be just a few minutes, thank you for your patience.” Crying baby, yelling pirates, and the same chunk of song over and over and over and over. The only good thing was that I was behind the poor people who had the big barrels hanging right over their heads. That would make me pee myself for sure. The ride jerked and started,(to loud cheers) then stopped again with (you guessed it) me under the barrels. It was a tense “few minutes” for me before they finally got us out of there.

I’ve got to admit, though – all you have to do now is start singing that song and we all crack up. It’s funny now.

Here’s an entertaining video (honest!) my daughter and youngest granddaughter made, hitting the highlights of a trip to Disneyland as clearly as possible. I laugh every time I see it!fly1gifcropped

The ride home was a little tougher. Sad to leave and come back to reality land, and they were dragging home a sick Grandma. Figures. Nothing is going easily for me on this trip! My daughter has been plying me with creature comforts and has valiantly shopped three times for boxes of lotion enhanced Kleenex. Sore nose much?

Pneumonia? Bronchitis? One of the two – both were listed on the paperwork from the walk-in clinic. Sigh. I can tell you right now, the antibiotics and the inhaler both seem like a good idea. The codeine stuff that only helps me sleep long enough to wake up disoriented and in a panic? Not so helpful.

And I sure hope the steroids don’t make me go home with a beard and deep voice, because this has turned into one expensive, stressful trip, and though I’m sure The Man will be relieved to see me, I’m certain to be in line for some “I told you so’s.” It’s pretty hard to pull off the “poor little me” bit when you’re singing bass.

And I still have the drive home to face.


Speaking of The Man, we send out Valentines every year instead of Christmas cards. Here’s the photo that was on the front of this year’s card. It shows him pouting because he’s left alone feeding the chickens, dog, and cats. I’ll bet after all the excitement I’ve had on the trip this far he’s starting to feel pretty lucky after all!

valentine card edited

If I haven’t made you want to beat your little head against the wall while you’re hanging there, please go buzz around these other blogs for a while, and see what THEY do and say when they think no one is there!

Baking In a Tornado
Just a Little Nutty
Menopausal Mother
The Sadder But Wiser Girl
Follow Me Home
Spatulas on Parade
Stacy Sews and Schools
Searching for Sanity
The Lazy Mom’s Cooking Blog
Dates 2 Diapers 2
Spinster Snacks

Chocolate Covered Cherry Pie

feb group postFor the month of February, nine bloggers got together for a group post called “Love and Food”. That pretty much says it all! I guess it’s true that I tend to show my love by nurturing – especially through cooking and baking.

chocolate covered cherry pieMy husband loves cherry pie. I don’t! (I picked cherries one summer long, long ago and have never felt the same about them since) At least, I didn’t like cherry pie.

But I found that an unbaked cherry pie is pretty darn good, especially when the cherries are enrobed in chocolate! The cherry filling sits in a rich chocolate pie crust and is covered with a layer of chocolate cream, then is topped with cherry liqueur-spiked whipping cream. Now that, I love! And I really love it frozen, too. I guess you can say I’m a convert.

The chocolate crust isn’t sweet like a cookie crumb crust. It’s basically a regular crust with a deep cocoa flavor. The cherry filling is canned. Yes, you heard me! I didn’t grow, pick, pit, and can these cherries, I went to the grocery store and bought two cans of cherry pie filling. Surprised you, didn’t I? You’ll need a deep-dish pie pan to hold all of this goodness. If you don’t have one, just use one can of pie filling, otherwise there won’t be enough room for the chocolate, and we can’t have that!

The chocolate topping is one-half of my filling recipe for Sumptuous Chocolate Cream Pie.

I bought a bottle of “Cherry Pie” liqueur this year and feel honor-bound to use up as much of it as possible (it’s been showing up in lots of recipes), so I flavored the whipping cream with some. It’s slightly tart, so it adds a wonderful touch to the cream. You can use a little cherry flavoring and food coloring or some maraschino cherry juice if you’d prefer.

I wanted the whipping cream to last for a day or two (there are only two of us eating this) so I stabilized it. If you’re serving this to a group of diners, you won’t need to bother; it’ll get demolished right away.

If you’re thinking this recipe looks hideously long, that’s because it really should be separated into three recipes…one for the crust, one for the chocolate layer, and one for the whipping cream. But the recipe widget will only let me create one recipe per post, and I want you to be able to print it out easily. It’s really not as complicated as it looks!

Here’s how the whole thing gets created:

Chocolate Covered Cherry Pie
A cherry pie, enrobed with chocolate! Chocolate crust, a chocolate cream top layer, and flavored whipping cream.
  • 2 cups flour
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup shortening, chilled
  • ⅓ cup buttermilk
  • 2 cans (21 oz each) cherry pie filling
  • ¾ cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups bilk
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped coarsely
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ teaspoon unflavored gelatin (if you are stabilizing your whipped cream)
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup cherry liqueur (or substitution...see below**)
  1. Heat oven to 375 F.
  2. You will need a deep-dish pie pan. If using a regular pie pan, reduce the cherry filling to one can.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa, salt, and sugar. Work shortening into dry mixture with pastry blender or two knives, until the size of small peas.
  4. Add the buttermilk slowly, stirring lightly with a fork. If the dough isn't coming together into a rough ball shape, add cold water 1 teaspoon at a time. You just want it to stick together and not be crumbly.
  5. Roll out approximately ⅔ of the dough between sheets of lightly floured parchment paper. This should be a little thicker than a normal pie crust.
  6. Remove the top layer of parchment and cut a circle larger than your pie pan, with an extra 1" all the way around.
  7. Slide a flat baking pan under parchment beneath the circle of dough. Place your pan upside down on the dough, centering it, and flip the pan, dough, and baking sheet over. Remove the baking sheet and carefully peel off the parchment.
  8. Ease the dough into the pan and fold the excess dough under. Flute the edge and poke a fork evenly all over the pie crust. To help keep the dough from collapsing, place in freezer for 10 minutes.
  9. Carefully line the crust with foil and fill at least one third full with beans or pie weights. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, carefully take out the foil and beans, and return to the oven to bake for an additional 10 minutes.
  10. Allow the crust to cool completely.
  11. Fill the baked shell with 2 cans of cherry pie filling. (One can for a standard pan.)
  12. Place the pie in the refrigerator while you make the chocolate layer:
  13. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks lightly.
  14. In a medium pot combine sugar, cornstarch, salt, milk, and unsweetened chocolate. Turn burner to medium-high and stir until it reaches a low boil. Turn the temperature down to medium and continue to cook and stir with a whisk for 2 minutes.
  15. Pour about ¼ cup of the hot mixture into the eggs, stirring well, and then add the egg mixture to the pan, whisking well. Cook for an additional 2 minutes, whisking continuously.
  16. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla and butter.
  17. Allow it to cool slightly, then pour over the cherry mixture in the pie.
  18. Chill the pie until you are ready to add the whipping cream. For best results, let the pie chill for 5 or 6 hours.
  19. To make stabilized whipping cream, sprinkle unflavored gelatin over water in a small dish. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes. (If you aren't using stabilized cream, just skip the gelatin and water step.)
  20. In a medium bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Slowly whip in the powdered sugar. Place the dish of softened gelatin in the microwave for 5-7 seconds, just until it starts to foam. While whipping, slowly drizzle the melted gelatin over the whipped cream. Whip until firm peaks form, and then add the liqueur.
  21. **If you don't wish to use liqueur, maraschino cherry juice will work well. Or you can add 1 teaspoon of cherry flavoring and a drop of red or pink food coloring, if desired.
  22. Spread or pipe the whipped cream over the pie and serve!

And, because I know that many of you have limited free time, I like to give you shortcuts. You could:

  • Use a pre-made chocolate cookie crust.
  • Use instant chocolate pudding for the chocolate layer
  • Spray on your whipping cream from a can.

The idea will be the same, though you will sacrifice a little of the flavor and texture.

making the pie crust

making the pie crust

Cut at least 1 inch larger all the way around pan

Cut at least 1 inch larger all the way around pan.

Flute edges, poke holes evenly around crust, add weights and bake.

Flute edges, poke holes evenly around crust.

Add foil and beans (or pie weights) and bake

Add foil and beans (or pie weights) and bake.

Add cherry pie filling.

Add cherry pie filling.

Adding butter and vanilla, then ready to spread on cherries.

Adding butter and vanilla, then ready to spread on cherries.

spread hot chocolate mixture on cherries.

spread hot chocolate mixture on cherries.

You've got to try a slice of this!

You’ve got to try a slice of this!

To see what the other passion-inspired bloggers have made, just click on the following links. Please show them some love back, and leave a comment. We all just live for comments.Well…nice ones.

Limoncello Cream Dream Cake by Crumbs in my Mustachio

Nutella Frangelico Love Cheesecake by Tampa Cake Girl

Cherry Blossom Chocolates by Hun, What’s for Dinner?

Cookie Cutter Chocolate Bark by Lemony Thyme

Chocolate Pound Cake with a Chocolate Glaze by Moore or Less Cooking Blog

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Fudge by Baking in a Tornado

Sex and Candy Cake by Cooking from a SAHM

Strawberry Cream Cheese Dessert

for blogIt’s February, and every breathing moment (including those times in the middle of the night when I have a stroke of genius that I can never remember the next day) is spent thinking about Valentine’s Day goodies. I spend a lot of time mentally creating and baking…thinking up new twists and embellishments. My grandfather was a professor of engineering and a woodworking genius who was a huge believer in the “measure twice, cut once” practice. I’ve learned that actually imagining myself making a new creation, step by step, helps me avoid a lot of mistakes. Not all…but a lot.

One of these ideas has actually come to fruition! And boy, do I have an easy dessert for you!

Seriously easy, not just easy compared to my usual fussing and experimenting and generally doing everything the hardest way possible. This is a “dump cake”, but it’s actually more like a pie, with a layer of cream cheese, a layer of strawberry, and a crunchy-buttery topping. I will give you the recipe for the topping, but if you want to use a boxed white cake mix, go for it. Personally, I like avoiding the preservatives, and it’s so easy to make the mix that I don’t mess with boxed mixes at all.

Eat this warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Sheer bliss!

Strawberry Cream Cheese Dessert
This is a "dump cake", but it's really more like a pie with 3 layers: Cream cheese, strawberry, and crunchy topping. Serves 9.
  • 8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 can (21 oz.) strawberry pie filling
  • 1 white cake mix (or see easy instructions below the recipe)
  • ¾ cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  1. Heat oven to 350 F.
  2. Prepare a 9-inch pan or casserole dish. (or a 10-inch heart-shaped pan) by greasing and flouring it or using an oil/flour spray like Baker's Joy.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, egg, vanilla, and flour and mix at medium speed until well combined and creamy. Spread into prepared pan.
  4. Spread the strawberry pie filling over the cream cheese mixture. It's easiest if you evenly distribute dollops of pie filling and then spread with a rubber spatula.
  5. Cover the strawberry layer with all of the dry cake mix.
  6. Drizzle melted butter over the cake mix and sprinkle with walnuts.
  7. Bake for approximately 50 minutes. The top should be golden brown. It will continue to darken a little while it is cooling.
  8. Cool on a rack and serve warm with a little vanilla ice cream.

To make the cake topping instead of using a boxed cake mix, simply sift together the following ingredients:
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/4 cup powdered milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Spread the cream ch.eese mixture

Spread the cream cheese mixture

Add the strawberry pie filling.

Add the strawberry pie filling.

Cover with cake mix and drizzle with butter.

Cover with dry cake mix and drizzle with butter. Add walnuts.

Don’t let the photo deceive you; by the time you drizzle on all the butter, it will resemble a lake of butter with a few tiny white islands poking through. Don’t worry…the butter will soak in and turn that cake mix into a delectable, crunchy topping.

Right out of the oven

Right out of the oven

It will darken and sink in a bit...that's OK!

It will darken and sink in a bit…that’s OK!

Have a bite...or two!

Have a bite…or two!

This recipe is very similar to one I posted this fall, which became one of my most viewed posts. It’s funny – I’ll spend days working on what I consider a great recipe, and yet a simple dessert gets all the action on Pinterest! If you like this recipe, you’ll want to check out my Pumpkin Cream Cheese Dessert too.

Now…chocolate! I need chocolate! Let’s see what I can dream up this time.