Monday, July 5, 2010

Sweet Home Alabama

I know I've been pretty quiet on the blog front, but let me tell you, I have been a busy bee, and one with only limited access to a decent wireless internet connection. But I haven't hardly noticed, because we've been having such an amazing time.

By the way, you can really see how my new hair cut looks in this picture, what do you think of it straight?

So, on to the meat of the post.

At one point, I thought I was from the South.  I thought I'd experienced a Southern summer.  I have just discovered that I was wrong.

The town where I grew up is right on the eastern coast of Florida, so we were spoiled by the ocean breeze.  And even when we ventured "inland", Florida is a peninsula, and one that is riddled with rivers, lakes and ponds.  You can't escape the water.  For the most part, Florida is not part of the South; it's part of the Caribbean.  

I have visited almost all of the Southern states, but we always vacationed in the fall when I was a kid, and in the past, we've only visited Brandon's family in Alabama in the fall.  In short, this is the first time that I have ever truly experienced a Southern summer.  It is blazing hot, with only a few wispy clouds, and no afternoon showers or ocean breezes to cool things off a bit.  The ground here is so dry that the dust swirls around our feet with every step.  My only other experience with this kind of dry was the summer that we had a drought in Central Florida; fires swept through the desiccated brush and burned acres of land in my area.  Perhaps it's just that time has dimmed my memories of that summer, and nearly 3 years in Germany has reduced my tolerance, but this seems worlds hotter and drier.

We have had an absolute blast catching up with Brandon's family, many of whom have not had an opportunity to meet Elora before.  The first morning we were here, Elora and I went out with Staria (Bran's mom) and Mommom (his grandmother) to pick blueberries from the bushes out front.

Elora soon learned that she could eat the berries right off of the bush.  The child loves blueberries, and we let her eat way too many.  (I won't be doing that again.)

The focus has been the Fourth of July family reunion organized by Brandon's grandmother, Mommom.  The days leading up to it were spent in getting ready, and we spent a lot of today cleaning up afterward.  My contribution, in addition to documenting the whole affair with my camera, was a pair of cakes for the fete.  These were the finished products.

The one with the chocolate frosting was easy enough to do.

But the carrot cake?  Oh man.  Both layers fell apart when I took them out of their pans, and the second (top) was worse that the first (bottom).  This is what I was looking at when I started icing it.

I had to get creative in decorating it, and I had to let go of my perfectionism for a while.  There were a lot of deep breaths taken in the course of frosting that cake. Staria wanted it to have rows of vegetables, in honor of Mommom's farm; I think I did a pretty good job, all things considered. 

I topped it with crushed walnuts for the "soil", and I made the little rows of growing vegetables (don't ask what kind, I was just making it up as I went).

I put a fence around the whole thing, to try to mask the places where I couldn't get the frosting spread.   That was Carrie's idea --she's my sister-in-law-- and it was a good one.

 And here, where the cake was just falling to pieces and even my homemade cream cheese frosting couldn't hold it together, I tried to make it look like the fence had broken, where the farm was just bursting its seams.  I know I've devoted a lot of post to this cake, but darn it, I'm proud!  The girls were telling me to just toss it, but I made it work.  (Anyone want to rub my shoulder?  I'm sore from patting myself on the back.)

The party itself was a complete success.  Mommom bought this piece of property last spring, and has been working tirelessly ever since to clear the land, renovate the house, clean out the barn and get some crops planted.  She's named her place the Lucky "B" Farm, and to me, this whole shindig was the grand opening.  She went all out.  In addition to my cakes, there was brisket, pulled pork, roasted chicken, fresh corn on the cob (locally grown), homemade coleslaw, potato salad, and pickles, baked beans, and I can't even remember what what else.  We made enough food to feed the 80+ people who showed up, and had enough left over for us to have dinner tonight. Did I mention that "us" includes about 20 people??  We even had our own, professional fireworks display.

It was awesome.  The best thing, though, was that we surprised Mommom by dedicating the whole thing to her, and turning it into a much-belated celebration of her birthday.  (Hence the birthday cake.)  We'd surprised her first just by showing up--the whole family was in on the secret--and then by making it a party for her.

She was floored.  It was wonderful, and I'm proud to have been a part of it. 

I have so much more to share --I haven't even touched on our visit to Florida-- but I'm sure I'm pushing my luck with this post as it is.  I will post it later,  I promise.


  1. So glad you had such a wonderful day. You were very persistant with that cake! Good for you. Keep having fun!

  2. I loved this post and I love your hair! You guys are having fun and creating great memories :-)
    I do think you've gotten wimpy from being in germany, aside from this weekend, its been in the 90s with a real feel of around 104 ;-) Its true that the breeze makes it better, along with the ability to get in the ocean!!

    As for the cakes, its like grilling a bunch of steaks on a charcoal grill.. Anyone who has ever done it knows its not easy and anyone who complains has probably never done it lol!
    Glad you're taking such a great vacation!

  3. Ok, I was laughing out loud at the cake story! I had a {special} cake for a party too. We didn't eat it, but it looked amazing! Why didn't we eat it? Cuz it weren't no good! Haha!

    Yeah, southern summer. mmm hmmm. 110 in the shade, dust storms, baking cookies in your car. Thems the days. But hey, that's what ac is for right?

    Love your hair! I personally prefer it way poofy and curly, but you can wear it however you like. Glad you're having a blast! We miss you!

  4. The hair looks great- looks like the cut really helped add body to it.
    I agree about living here and then going to the south during the warmer montths- totally different from how I remember it!
    It's very sweet what you all did for your G-Ma, and glad y'all had a great 4th!

  5. Looks like you guys had a blast! I am sweltering over here right now! I probably should just give up getting anything done and go to the pool... haha
    I love your new hair cut. And good job on the cakes!