November 20, 2015

I'm Not Crafty

For years, I've maintained the delusion that I'm a crafty person. I want to be crafty. Really, I do. I see things in stores or on Pinterest or in other people's homes, and I think, "I could do that." But the sad truth is, I probably can't. For years, whenever I pick up a power tool, my kids have, in effect, told me to put it down and back away slowly. Drills and things routinely get the best of me. Not in a disastrous way, but I struggle. I freely admit it.

And even if I can actually make the thing, I never know what to do with it next. Two years ago, I worked up a bunch of courage and decided to make a thing. I'm not even sure what you'd call it, but I saw some appealing knobs at a craft store and, with my youngest daughter's encouragement, decided I could make The Thing. 

In my imagination, it would be cute and it would be mounted on my wall, and I could use it for hanging bags. I'm a serious bag-a-holic--not purses or handbags, mind you, although with an unlimited budget, I could probably take my place in the handbag collectors' hall of fame. No, I'm talking about reusable shopping bags, cute totes, and bags collected from attending writing conferences over the years. I have a few. And by a few, I mean lots. And lots.

But I digress. 

I'm talking about The Thing. 

My daughter actually pulled out her power drill and let me touch it. I painted and I drilled and I screwed in the cute little knobs, and voila! The Thing was born. I actually made it. I didn't hurt myself or anyone else, and I don't think I even drilled a hole into my daughter's table. That's how successful I was. 

I packed The Thing up and drove it home across four states, where I carried it into my office and leaned it against the wall--and there it remains to this day. Because, having made the thing, I have no idea how to mount it on the wall so I can actually use it. 

So maybe I should stick to crafts that don't require wall mounting and other things that are beyond my capabilities. I saw these on Pinterest and thought they were cute, and even seriously considered making them. Two things stopped me: 

1. I would probably never actually use them, and 

2. I'm pretty sure they would require the use of a hot glue gun, which I'm perfectly capable of using, but not without significant globbing. If I'm going to hot glue something, it needs to be something much larger and more forgiving. 

So maybe I need to take on something bigger. Something more like this. I could probably handle this. I'm not sure what I'd do with it once I finished it, but I might be able to actually corral a heap of buttons into a rough heart shape and glue them in place. 

This is not to say that I'm completely inept. I can wield a mean crochet hook. Once the weather turned cool back when I lived in Utah, out would come the yarn and the hook and I'd make afghans for everyone. But crocheting here along the Gulf Coast ... well, it just doesn't cool down enough for long enough to get my crochet on. 

I'm pretty well adjusted most of the time. I take my lack of craftiness in stride. But there are some times of the year--usually as we start ramping up for the holidays--when te urge to craft rears its head and I long to hit the craft store with grandiose ideas and an unlimited budget. 

But first, I really need to get The Thing mounted on the wall. I need that space on the floor to heap my new crafts. 

November 10, 2015

A Game & a Giveaway!

There's a game with a giveaway today on my author page here on FB. Hurry over, like the page, pick a number, share or tweet the post, and you could win a signed copy of a Piece of Cake mystery!

Posted by Jacklyn Brady on Tuesday, November 10, 2015

November 06, 2015

Nice Girls Sometimes Finish Last...

...if they finish at all.

A couple of weeks ago, I was in Missouri, taking care of my granddaughters while their mother (my daughter) went to Texas for a friend's wedding. While there, I got to deal with a lot of stuff that happens in the life of a growing child, disappointments over perceived failures and the angst that comes from trying to make friends in a new school being chief among them.

At some point, I found myself sharing a story from my own youth in an effort to convince my oldest granddaughter (known as "The Princess") that I understood what she was going through. She had recently run for student council and lost the election, and now every time she walked past the annoying poster in the school hallway (right by the cafeteria, of all things!) sporting the cheerful faces of the winners, her little heart broke.

She told me that she hated that poster, and she wanted to sneak into the school and tear it down. Oh babycakes, I hear ya! I really do!

Years ago, as I was heading into my junior year of high school, I decided to try out for Pep Club. Being a member of the Pep Club was a huge deal for juniors of the female persuasion in those days. You got a pricey outfit. You got to sit with all the other Pep Club members at the games and walk around looking unbelievably cool on game days. If you were a member of Pep Club, you were ... well, cool.

Everyone who was anyone was in the Pep Club. In fact, just about the only girls who weren't were the unmentionable ones--the parking lot girls, if you know what I mean, and those who were simply too geeky for words. But, really, even the geekiest got in.

Even so, we still had to try out. It's how the game was played.

To try out, we had to come up with a concept for a Spirit Week and present it to the selection committee. I don't remember anything much about my spirit week presentation except that I worked very hard on it. I had a theme. I made posters. I made up new cheers and whatever else was required.

About that time, a new girl moved into our neighborhood. We'll call her Ann. Ann was nice, and new, and trying hard to make new friends in her new school. I was one of them. Ann moved in too close to the tryouts to put together a spirit week presentation, and the realization that she would have to spend her entire junior year at a new school not one of the ultra-cool kids made her sad.

In a burst of friendship and empathy, I gave Ann my presentation. She probably demurred. No doubt, I insisted. I do remember that part of my argument was that I could always just put together a new one. Mostly, the idea of being so magnanimous made me feel good about myself. Not exactly the best reason for doing something, but what can I say? I was young.

And I did put together another spirit week least, I tried. I did my best, anyway. But, alas, when the results of the tryouts were posted, Ann was part of the Pep Club and I was not. I spent the rest of my high school experience hurt and bruised and resentful and bitter. Every game was exquisite pain for me. Every day the members of the club got to wear their uniforms to school was torture.

It hurt. A lot. And the worst thing was, I knew that I had nobody to blame but myself. Oh, sure, it's possible that Ann might have been accepted if she'd thrown together her own campaign based on luck or a better personality, a cuter face, or just plain old sympathy. It's possible that I might not have made the squad, even if I'd used my original presentation. We'll never know.

Image Source
My story wasn't one of those feel-good stories with a great moral that would leave The Princess with renewed faith in life. It was just a story with feeling. Lots of feeling, designed to let her know that I understand how she feels every time she has to walk past that irritating poster celebrating the kids that won.

Hopefully, it will be enough for her to know that as painful as this might be for her right now, life does go on and things do eventually get better, and one lost election or not being selected for Pep Club won't ruin your life if you don't let it.

Even rejected girls can grow up to do cool things and have happy times. I'm living proof.

On a side note -- look at this cool cake made for my alma mater by Salt Cake City. I wonder if they could make one for me to look like the Pep Club uniform I never got.

October 29, 2015

Cakes to Die For

It's almost Halloween, and although some of you are probably over it, I can't pass up one more chance to share some holiday-themed cakes. I'm not going to post the recipes here, but I will post links to the recipes so you can find them if you're interested in baking one for yourself.

You'll find the recipe for this cute layer cake on Taste of Home. It's made using cocoa and orange extract, and it's perfect for a family dinner. Start your own Halloween tradition by making this one every year.

The recipe for this Boo-tiful Chocolate Marshmallow Ghost Cake is found on Make sure you click through to the recipe for the two kinds of frosting (Vanilla and Chocolate Cream Cheese). You'll need some marshmallows (large and miniature) for decorating, and a few chocolate sprinkles too.

Poke cakes are fun and easy to make, but they look great when you cut into them. For a little dramatic flair without a lot of work, try this recipe at Taste of Home. You'll need a marble cake mix (or make the batter from scratch) and two boxes of orange-flavored gelatin. Add some candy pumpkins or candy corn on top for extra flair and you're good to go!

This one isn't a cake recipe, but isn't this adorable? Whether you're entertaining kids or adults, everybody would love this. Complete instructions are on The Cake Blog. You'll need a cake, frosting (white), Oreo cookies, Mini Oreo cookies, Junior Mints and M&Ms. I'd make this one right now if I had the goods in my kitchen! 

Have a safe and Happy Halloween everybody! 

October 16, 2015

The Week I Had

As anyone who is following my posts on Facebook and Twitter probably knows, I've spent the past week in Missouri. Actually, I've spent the past two weeks here and have one more to go. My daughter is in Texas, helping prepare for and attending a friend's wedding as her Maid of Honor, and I'm here with my grandkids, getting them up and ready for school, helping with homework, dealing with the social anxieties that come with being a kid, and making sure they get to bed on time.

No complaints here. It's glorious work. I love, love, love spending time with my precious granddaughters and learning about what makes them happy and what makes them sad, watching the turn from babies to little girls and now watching the oldest morph into a young lady. I love being a daily part of their worlds. Since we now live so far apart, I miss it more than I can say.

But I'm not going to lie, I'm worn out. Keeping up with kids who still have a full tank of energy at all times is challenging.

We went to a parade last weekend, followed by a shrimp boil. We've taken walks with the dog and walks to find fall leaves for a school assignment. We've played four-square so the girls could practice and I could prove that four-square existed way back when I was a girl.

I spent yesterday with the oldest grand-girl and her school class on a field trip at a local corn maze. Those kids raced from a corn box (like a sandbox but filled with dried kernals of corn) to a 40-foot slide to a volleyball court, to a bouncy house, to a "hay" ride, to the corn maze without breaking stride. They could barely sit still long enough to eat lunch before launching themselves back into the fray.

They followed the corn maze adventure with time at a local university where they got to see a "ginormous" snake, a turtle, a few other exotic creatures, along with some other very cool things. And they followed that up with a dance. And they were up and at it this morning as if yesterday just created more energy for them.

I'm still trying to find enough oomph to look at the pictures I took.

Exhausted? Yes. Absolutely. But also filled with gratitude for the week I had and grateful, too, that I have one more action-packed week before I go home to my quiet existence in Florida. I'll be glad to get back to my own bed, but as for the rest, I'm going to miss it. But I don't want to dwell on that. I want to remain grateful for the chance to be here and enjoy every moment of the time I have left!

October 14, 2015

Meet Zoey Jergens

Zoey Jergens, a new employee at Zydeco Cakes (and Estelle's niece), is blogging today at Killer Characters. Zoey swears she's not saying a word--not a single word--about recent exciting events at Zydeco. But Zoey likes to talk, so who knows? 

If you have a minute, stop by and say "hey!"  

Rebel Without a Cake, book #5 in the Piece of Cake Mystery Series, is available at your favorite bookseller now! Book #6, The Cakes of Monte Cristo, (cover coming soon!) is scheduled for release Jan 5, 2016, and available now for pre-order.

October 09, 2015

Green Chicken Enchilada Meatballs

If you've been following me on Facebook and/or Twitter, you probably know that I'm in Missouri this week (and next) taking care of the grand-kids while their mom is away from home attending a friend's wedding. It's been a while since I had all the after-school brouhaha that comes with two school-aged kids, and the hours get away from me far too easily. Luckily, my son-in-law is in town, so once he gets off work and finishes whatever other commitments he has for the evening, he's here to do all the things a dad needs to do.

One of the fun things about visiting my daughter and her husband is that they always have new-to-me recipes on the menu. Tonight's was really good, so I decided to share. My daughter pinned the recipe from a blog called iBREATHE, I'm Hungry. You can go there for the recipe, the pictures, the detailed instructions, but the basic recipe is here: 

Green Chicken Enchilada Meatballs 

(Low Carb & Gluten Free) 

A low carb and gluten free Mexican-inspired meatball. Ole!
Makes 16 meatballs


1 lb. ground chicken or turkey (you can also use ground beef, which makes it a bit less healthy, I suppose, but it's still delicious ~JB) 
1 egg
¼ cup almond flour
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
2 Tbsp green onions, chopped
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp garlic powder
¼ cup queso fresco, crumbled (We used Feta. It was delicious! ~JB)
oil for frying

To Serve
½ cup salsa verde
¼ cup queso fresco, crumbled


Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix thoroughly. Form into 16 meatballs. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large, nonstick saute pan. Add the meatballs and cook thoroughly - about 3 - 4 minutes per side. Remove and set aside.

To serve:

Spread a few tablespoons of salsa verde on the bottom of a large serving dish. Place the meatballs on top, then spoon the remaining salsa over each meatball. Top with crumbled queso cheese. Serve immediately - or place under the broiler for 2 minutes until the cheese melts and turns golden brown. (Which would be amazing, but it's also great to serve the meatballs with the salsa on the side and let people dip as much or as little as they want. ~JB) 

Approximate nutrition information:
Per meatball: 85 calories, 7g fat, .85g net carbs, 8g protein
Per serving (4): 341 calories, 28g fat, 3.4g net carbs, 32g protein

Nutrition Information
Serving size: 4 meatballs