How To Screw Up A Plum Cake Recipe (I Was Able To Save It, Though)

INGREDIENTS:

10 plums

1 cup sugar (divided in half)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 stick butter (1/2 cup)

2 eggs

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt (this is the only change I made in the recipe)

EQUIPMENT:

9″ x 9″ casserole dish (or a glass 10″ deep pie plate)

Paring knife

Kitchenaide/Mixer (a large bowl, wooden spoon and whisk will do)

Rubber scraper

OVEN TEMP:

400 Degrees

COOKING TIME:

30 Minutes

This our good friend Diana. We've known her since before Fauneil and I were married (over 10 years). She brought us some plums from her plum tree and a recipe for plum cake. This should be fun. Here we go.

First, grease and flour a 9" x 9" casserole dish, and set it aside. We'll come back to it later.

Now, let's focus on the plums. Rinse 10 of them.

Her recipe says we need to stone the plums. I had no idea what that meant, but Diana is like my wife...much more intelligent than me. They know these types of things. Anyway, I figured it meant to remove the seed, so I Googled it to make sure. Here is how to stone a plum.

Slice the plum around the center with a paring knife.

Now, pull the plum apart, like this.

Finally, remove the seed. That wasn't too hard, now was it?

Set your plums aside.

Next, throw 1/2 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon into a bowl.

Mix it up and set it aside. (Geez. There is a lot of "setting aside" in this recipe.)

Take your mixing bowl and rinse it in hot water so that the butter will start to melt. (Dry it off first.)

Add 1/2 cup sugar, 1 stick softened butter and 1 large egg to your mixing bowl and mix. (Of course. What else are you going to do in a mixing bowl?). Anyway, I mixed it with this flat paddle, not the whisk.

Add another large egg.

Here I replaced the paddle with the whisk and beat in the egg.

Now pour your batter into the 9 x9 baking dish that you greased and floured earlier...OH CRAP! I forgot to add the flour. What a dork I am. I've never claimed to be an expert chef.

I dumped everything back into the mixing bowl...

washed the the baking pan...

and re-greased and re-floured it.

NOW I add 1 cup flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Now mix. (Wow, that batter looks creamy!)

Spread it in the bottom of the 9 x 9 baking dish. (I feel the need to lick that rubber scraper.)

Spread your plums on the batter, skin side down, like this. (Wow! That looks pretty. This is going to be good.)

Sprinkle your cinnamon/sugar mixture on top.

Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

While it's baking, you need to lick the batter off the rubber scrapper. It is some seriously good stuff.

Dang it! McCann stole it from me. Kids, geesh!

Here is what it will look like when it is all cooked and done.

Eat and enjoy.

Let Kids Be Kids

Tonight after the kids were all bathed, in their pajamas, and ready for bed, Lily asked Fauneil if she could run through the neighbor's sprinklers. Fauneil, being the awesome mother that she is, said, "Yes!"

Of course, McCann wanted to join in the fun. Needless to say, they got soaked to the bone.

We got the wet pajamas off the kids and hung them on the deck.

We then got them into dry, warm clothes, and fed them watermelon for a bedtime snack. They are, currently, in bed sleeping...with smiles on their faces.

10 Years Ago, Today, There Was A Party In An Orchard In Montana

Ten years ago, today, there was a party in an orchard in Montana. Friends and family gathered from all over the world.

There were mason jars, with candles, hanging in the trees...

Kids playing in the fields...

Blissful dancing...

and nectarous food.

The most beautiful girl, in the world, was wearing a white dress.

I was lucky enough to marry this girl. Let me tell you why:

She's intelligent. When we met, she was working on her second masters degree. Before that, she received her first masters degree from the #1 school in her field.

She's fun. There's never a dull moment with this girl!

She's brave. Fauneil shaved her head to support her mother, who had cancer. And she still shaves it today, despite the weird looks she gets in public. She likes it shaved and wears it that way, regardless. (And look at that snake picture above. That ought to tell you something about her bravery. I won't even do that.)

She's real. There's nothing fake about her. She can be herself 100% of the time.

She is beautiful. This is my favorite picture of her. (Although we don't display it, since it was taken with my brother and his "former" girlfriend. We still love Carly, but just don't think it wise to have photos like this lying around the house.)

Happy 10th anniversary, babe. I'm not sure how I lucked out and got to marry you, but I'm happy, all the same.

Cherry Lane Block Party 2011: Sneak Peak at the Behind the Scenes Preparation

Every year we throw a block party for our neighbors on Cherry Lane. There is a lot of prep. work that goes into our block party.

We needed to mow the lawn...

Water the lawn...

Sweep the patio, and pull out the tables (you can see one in the background)...

Then we went to grandma's house and hauled her tables and chairs over to our house.

Lily couldn't help us, because she was pretending to be pregnant. Gotta be careful about lifting things, when expecting.

Once we got the tables and chairs over to our house, we got them set up.

We set up tents for the kids to play in tomorrow.

And another tent.

Plus our Tee Pee that my sister-in-law Sheri made for Lily and McCann.

Since we are the hosts, we are in charge of all the deserts. McCann insisted that he help me.

We made orange cake.

Cheese Cake.

Strawberry Gratin.

Chocolate cake.

And, we had to make cherry pie. After all, this is a Cherry Lane block party. Can't wait for the fun to begin, tomorrow.

Mini-Vacation Days 6 and 7: We Continue Our Vacation From Our Vacation, Lily Has a Birthday, and I, a Muggle, See Harry Potter 7 Part II For the Second Time

Well, our vacation from our vacation continues. I'm still bent on making this as relaxing as possible. But before we start Mini-Vacation Day 6 and 7, I have some business to handle...

First Item of Business: Our MESSY house. I still can't believe how fast it can go from pristine to dump. I washed the dishes...

While Fauneil vacuumed. Then we both mowed the lawns.

Second Item Of Business: In this photo is my nephew Joseph. He is a huge Harry Potter fan, but on the night of the premier for Harry Potter 7 Part II, He had to go to scout camp. Now that he is back and wants to see it everyone else has already "been there done that" and he can't find anyone to go with him.

So I took matters into my own hands and took him myself. Since he couldn't make the the premier, we made our own premier. Here he is dressed as Scorpius, Malfoy's son.

Here I am dressed up as...well, a wizard of some sort. More importantly, I blasted those annoying Smurfs with the Cruciatus Curse.

So, I got to see Harry Potter 7 Part II for a second time- this time in 3D, and Joseph finally got to see it for the first time. Sounds like a good deal to me.

Finally, we got off on to the last leg of our mini-vacations- camping. Since I am trying to simplify things as much as possible, we just camped out in Grandma and Grandpa Purcell's front yard.

Once camp was set up, I read McCann some stories. More of my favorites.

We weren't too far into our story time when Grandma and Grandpa came home.

We made hamburgers.

And, we hung out on the front porch.

Then we started a small camp fire.

And roasted marshmallows.

Lily likes to eat hers burnt.

As we were gathered around our fire, a storm started brewing. The wind blew and blew and blew. So much, infact, that...

One of the fiberglass rods on my tent snapped and my it got flattened.

We moved the camping trip into grandma's basement.

Lily slept in her tent with Emma.

McCann fell asleep in the spare bedroom. (Yea, I know. We are really roughin' it on this camp out of ours.)

When Lily woke up (Tues. morning), she was eight. Happy Birthday Lily! Grandma gave her some birthday balloons.

Later that day, Grandma and Grandpa (and uncles and aunties) took Lily to Chucky Cheese.

Tam and Paul got their game on...

But Lily pulled out the BIG guns and...

Loaded up on the tickets.

1,313 of them to be exact. (That is a bad number. It is also the house number of of my parents house, who took her. Not sure what to think about that.)

Thank you Grandma, Grandpa, Aunty Lei, Gina, Paul and Tam for taking her.

While Lily was at Chucky Cheese, I took McCann to get ice cream.

And then to the library to get some books.

Well, that brings us to the end of our mini-vacations. This was our last load, and it is all put away now. Maybe we will do this again (much, much later).

Mini-Vacation Day 5: The Vacation From Our Vacation

Just like yesterday, when I went to wake up McCann, it was like trying to wake the dead. I think he is just exhausted from our several days of mini-vacations. That's when I made a choice. I canceled all of our plans for the remaining three days and officially declared it our "Vacation From Our Vacation time." It is our time to rest up from all the fun we've had.

So, I nixed our planned trip to Temple Square and replaced it with a simple, easy, quiet picnic in the mountains.

So we went to church in the morning...

Then had a relaxing little picnic in the mountains.

The kids had mac and cheese and hot dogs.

And Cracker Jacks for a snack.

I had a Sonoran hot dog.

And Greek yogurt with granola for a snack.

We then read stories. Here are the ones we read. Some of my favorites.

After stories, we even took naps.

While we were doing all this, Emma was playing in the river and chasing butterflies.

Speaking of butterflies, we caught one today.

We took it home with us.

We had just walked in the door, when our cousins, the Moultons, asked if we wanted to go on a picnic. We said sure.Why not? A second picnic can't hurt.

Lizzy tried to fish for ducks. It wasn't a successful venture.

This photo by Lizzie Moulton.

When leaving, these fire trucks and police cars were blocking the exit, so I went out the entrance, right next to a police officer who motioned to me and said, "You're exiting out the entrance. You can't do that." When I explained that he was blocking the exit, he felt very stupid.

When we got home, we ended the night with a few sparklers. Our friend Jill joined us.