The Sun Returned, the Shed's Still Standing, So Let's Celebrate!

Good news!  The wind and the rain huffed and puffed on the new Garden Shed walls...but to no avail.  They're still standing after a long night of rough weather.  Whew!

And, today dawned bright and glorious.  Carolina Blue skies...red, gold, and orange leaves...clean and fresh breezes...just an absolutely beautiful Autumn day.  As Mr. T is still out-of-town, I'm putting away the hammer and nails and declaring this a no-construction zone day.  I decided to leave well-enough alone, as they say, and celebrate our good fortune.

A celebration calls for...cupcakes!

I have been craving a cupcake for the longest kinda time.  Devil's Food chocolate cake with creamy vanilla buttercream icing...and lots of it!  Hey, I'm making 'em, so I get to choose the flavors, right?

I checked the pantry and decided to do my best imitation of Sandra Lee...you know, the "Semi-Homemade" lady on HGTV?  "Keep it Simple, keep it smart, keep it sweet, and keep it semi-homemade."  I love her!  She advocates the 70/30 Semi-Homemade philosophy, which combines 70% ready-made products with 30% fresh touches, and she always plans the whole meal and a "tablescape" to match...along with cocktails and mocktails.  Of course.


Craving a cupcake
 I just wanted a cupcake...so I got a box of Devil's Food cake mix off the shelf (the ready-made ingredient), along with all the fixings for the buttercream icing (the "fresh touch").

I've gotten to where I don't always use my big ol' stand mixer...I revert to my childhood and the hand-held.  Since Missy M wasn't here to lick the beaters and the bowl, I washed 'em up after I got the muffin pans filled with the batter and all settled into my new oven on the "Cake" setting.

Did I tell you that I got a new stove?  I recall mentioning the refrigerator and the dishwasher that arrived, thanks to a little "stimulus" help from the state of North Carolina earlier this year:  they gave instant rebates of 15% for replacing your old appliances with Energy Saver models, and Sears matched that amount in savings.  Couldn't pass that opportunity up, now could we?  If you've been to our house, you know that the previous owners had a hodge-podge of mis-matched appliances in the kitchen...a couple of which probably pre-date the age of the house.


Cupcakes baking in the new stove

One of those would have been the stove.  Unfortunately, there is no such thing as an Energy Saver model of a stove (or a dryer, for that matter), or I would have gotten a new one when I got the fridge and DW.  Still, the more I thought about it, the less I wanted to cook another Holiday meal on the monster we had.  Then, it had a fit one day recently...heated itself up much higher than what I had dialed in...and burned yet another dish.  That had happened last Thanksgiving with the sweet potato casserole...and that did it.  I headed to Sears and pointed out the one I wanted.

Anyway, the new oven has settings for "Cakes" and "Breads" and "Roasts," oh my.  It is both convection and electric (I don't have a gas connection in the kitchen, unfortunately), and the cook-top has 5 burners, including a warming eye.  Woo hoo.  Now I'm cooking with gas  well, electric...!

While the cakes were baking, I whipped up the icing
  • 4 cups of powdered sugar,
  • 4 T. softened butter,
  • 1 T. real vanilla,
  • a pinch of salt, and
  • enough milk to make it creamy, but still hold its shape when spread.

Twelve cupcakes for now, twelve to freeze for later

I made 12 of the cupcakes for "now," and baked the other 12 in Christmas-themed liners to freeze for "later."  I imagine they will taste good with a cup of tea or hot chocolate on one of those really cold December days...when I don't have the time to bake something special.

As I was putting the ones I had frosted for "now" in the cake stand, which is on the low-boy chest in the bay window in the morning room, I happened to look outside at just the right moment.  There on the suet feeder was a fat Eastern bluebird!  I haven't seen much of them lately, but as I watched, I noticed another one on the bird bath.  Get the camera!


Eastern bluebird returns to the suet feeder

I took that pic (right) through the window, since I didn't want to take a chance on spooking the pair by stepping out on the deck to snap the shot.  Doesn't do justice to its colors, does it?  Still, it's so good to see them back in the back!

Tomorrow will be a busy day.  We have to get up early and dismantle N/M/E's bed because the Medical Supply store is delivering a hospital bed.  At the visit with her pain management doc last week, we received a prescription for a bed, hoping it will relieve some of the pain and pressure she has with her torn rotator cuff.  "Aging in place" means having to get just-the-right-mix of care, medications, and equipment.  Her beautiful cherry-finished Lillian Russell bedroom suite and double bed have served her well for nearly 60 years, so it will be like saying goodbye to an old and dear friend.  Still, she has a good attitude toward this change...and is hoping for good things to come from it.

Meanwhile, let's all have a cupcake!

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