Anyone who had the good fortune to grow up watching Disney movies (we’re talking before CG was even dreamt of) will remember that classic moment when Bambi, Thumper and Flower learn about being twitterpated from Friend Owl.

(just in case your childhood left you without the obscure vocabulary so inherent in mine)

I can’t help but think of this scene every time I think about the Twitter Trend.

Important preface to everything I say hereafter: I have had a twitter account for quite some time and, the many and various resounding voices heralding its usefulness have a point. Twitter is all about networking and has great potential as a networking introductory tool. (Also please note that all images were found via google image searches and and none of them are my intellectual property…)

That said, I harbor intense dislike for Twitter on most levels, from lexical associations to practical applications.

Let’s start with the shallow, shall we? With Friend Owl’s foreboding diatribe resounding in my nostalgic memories, the mere word “twitter” calls to mind the terrifying description of Twitterpation (seriously, if you haven’t watched the movie yet, it’s powerful . . . in a dark-side-of-the-force kind of way). Like Bambi and his friendly forest friends, after hearing about the Twitter trend, I’m wary and resistant.

Second negative lexical association? The root of the word Twitter is the word “Twit”. As in, “You are a stupid twit.” How ironic that a web-tool promoting pithy sentence-sharing should name-share with an actual insult to human intelligence.

Can we talk about the idea of “tweeting” and the little birdy logo for a second?  I’m sure it all started as a lovely tacit metaphor, likening the short little updates to the tweeting of pretty little songs by attractive little birdies from afar. Unfortunately, based on the “flighty” characteristic of birds, the historical/linguistic connotations are not so positive . . . leaving the outside-twitter observer to wonder if it’s any shocker that people with Tweeting constantly on their minds seem so bird-brained.

Case in Point:

(Can you believe she diss-ed GOOGLE?! The nerve.)

In fact, few bird-terms or idioms are flattering. Jailbird, bird-brain . . . Gosh, when you’re winged it usually means you’ve been shot and are going down. If something is for the birds, that means it’s utterly useless, and, let’s face it, to put a feather in your cap really only means that you’ve KILLED a bird and should be congratulated. Killing two birds with one stone is always better than one in the world of symbolism. So, tell me, why would I really want to be associated with a bird-related social networking site?

I know, I know. You’re probably shaking your head, having forgotten all about my little preface to this rant. I should probably have begun with my actual concrete reasons for disliking twitter, rather than the surface-level negative associations.

Let me backtrack.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love and defend social networking the same way I love and defend the second amendment. . . I see its utility and the significance in its existence even if I choose not to always engage in the various opportunities therein. However, I refuse to appreciate twitter as anything other than a necessary evil for four major reasons.

First, Twitter promotes brevity of thought. In a world where information is at our fingertips and technology is bursting beyond the seams of imagined capacity, I do not see the true value in shoving every thought into 140 characters. Eliminating unnecessary information is one thing, but boiling information down to that extent officially counts as dumbing it down in my book.

Second, Twitter detracts from the social “real world”. Too many people are spending significant amounts of time on their laptops, ipads or smartphones tweeting their shallow 140 character messages into the internet ether while ignoring the flesh-and-blood people they encounter on a daily basis.

Rather than actively engaging in their surroundings, individuals become preoccupied with passively socializing; People engage in twitter to the detriment of their own social, or even physical, well-being.

Having spent three fascinating high-school summers as a cashier, it is clear that human beings love to feel important (i.e. the recognition of “followers” online), but undervalue the small interactions of day-to-day life. The world would be a better place if people invested more time in social skills and less in how to fit everything they want to say into 140 characters.

Third, Twitter facilitates quantity over quality. Former Internet marketing specialist and current Internet strategy consultant Aidan Henry blogged about twitter abuse in June of 2009, saying (among other things) that “the uneducated have been let loose with tweet fever . . . 5 tweets a day (at most) should suffice.” The twitter populace has clearly caught some sort of bird-flu which causes them to tweet like it’s going out of style.

 A comment on this same blogpost reads “hahah, whhhhat? Where have you been? ‘…without a purpose or goal in mind.’, ‘…sea of thoughtless, frenzied tweets.’, ‘Twitter has become a true time sink.’, ‘…the uneducated have been let loose with tweet fever.’ , ‘It’s like giving a gun to a child – instant chaos.’, ‘…Twitter kills productivity.’ That IS what Twitter is for, all about, its CORE. The heart of the beast IS thoughtless narcissism time sink waste of life.” It appears that people are more interested in putting anything “out there” than worrying about what they put out there.

This is not even going to go into the discussion of people who tweet things and then subsequently must deal with the fallout of the stupidity of tweeting something important that was not meant to be shared.

Fourth, and last, Twitter has been monumentally outclassed by other social networking sites. While twitter is a simple interface that allows even the least intelligent of human beings to find some form of expression, I have yet to see it measure up to any other networking site for design. The various applications for Google alone have more than enough to keep the online social world happy and well-networked. And Facebook, for all the hard knocks it takes in the media, provides the twitter-like ability to share a thought at random in conjunction with a myriad of other online tools (e-mail, “note”/blogs, chat, etc.). Twitter is simply unnecessary in a world where there is so much more out there.

So, if you made it this far and you are a huge fan of twitter, kudos. For all my rant, please remember, I do have a twitter account and have . . . very occasionally. . .  found it handy for an introduction, a handy-dandy link or a corporate announcement, but it is only useful in the same way that a billboard, a coupon or a hotel wake-up call is useful; in its connection to something better.

The Truth Is I Never Left You!

Maybe its a little pretentious to identify with Eva Perón from Evita, but it’s about as far-removed as likening The World of Blogging to the people of Argentina, right?

But, if we want to take this metaphor a little uncomfortably far, one could say that I have neglected this darling blog to whore around with other blogs. In my defense, but with a large amount of apology regardless, I didn’t have a terrible amount of choice in all of it! I had to let it happen, to quote today’s song of choice.

Those pesky masters classes I’ve been taking (and when I say pesky, I mean wondrously educational) have made me channel all of my blogging into a ning. . . which is acceptable, but not the same.

It occurred to me today, as I frustratedly waded my way through not one, not even two, but THREE ning browser failures (not to mention numerous Chrome system crashes) that all my blogging efforts were being channeled into the work side of nings, to the detriment of . . . basically everything.

It would not speak well of my multi-tasking abilities as an educator if the only thing keeping me from posting on one blog was another single blog! I mean, any good teacher should be able to keep more than one blog in the air, right? But actually, despite my blogging-as-a-student, my ever-present fever/sickness and the whirlwindy beginning of the school year, I have also been caught up in a blog competition endeavor (a blogetition?) with my dear, infuriating and highly competitive older brother. And, let me tell you, nothing distracts a girl from her First Blog like a little healthy competition. . . which is a blatant double-entendre if you’ve checked out my other blog.

This brings us to my epiphany of the day. I decided that, who knows? Maybe you might be interested in my quasi-scholarly pursuits and my increasing fascination with technology-use in my classroom. With this magnanimous thought in mind, I will be sharing a smattering of non-DIY-related and occasionally serious-toned posts with you. . . and revitalizing my fun-only posts as well.

So, this is me, keeping my blogger’s promise through the wild days; my mad existence. Don’t keep your distance!

Glaring Questions on Daytime TV

#1: Did I miss the invitation to that party where they hand out diplomatic immunity like it’s candy on Halloween?  For that matter, this whole immunity thing seems to pose a very serious security issue. After hours of reruns of NCIS, Castle, CSI, Law & Order and Criminal Minds, it is abundantly clear that too many crooks have diplomatic immunity these days. . . it almost seems like a prerequisite for status as a diplomat. Concerning.

#2: Why do the Spanish Channels always look more interesting? I swear, the people are cooler, the colors are brighter, the news is more interesting. . . what the heck? Even commercials are more profound.

Why do I only speak English and French?

I even think the trashy talkshows look fascinating! Sometimes I put them on and just enjoy trying to decipher the gossip. . . somehow it’s more interesting and less obnoxious than the English-speaking counterparts.

#3: Who is buying all the jewelry, snuggies and housewares that are keeping informercials in business for HOURS of tv time? I mean seriously!? Where do they all go? Do the people that sponsor these shows also produce Hoarders?

How many knives can one person even need? (Even if they are available NOW for three easy payments of $29.95 a month?)

Okay: The Snuggie is essentially a backwards bathrobe, people. It’s not that earth shattering. Although it has EXTREME potential for Harry Potter Theme Party costumes, it should probably not be purchased for its sleeved-blanket capacities alone)

#4: What’s up with Soap Operas and Medical Anomalies? How much amnesia is really out there? And what about the excessive number of emotional, I-thought-you-were-dead-all-these-years Reunions? Does no one bother to verify actual death before assuming their loved ones are gone?

This isn’t even mentioning the other random and scary things that crop up. . . often amongst doctors!

I think Soap Opera Medical schools seem pretty darn dubious and might need some higher standards! And that’s not even touching the field of counseling and psychology, for crying out loud.

#5: (Last, but not least…) How do archaeologists and and animal trainers get funding to film all the digging and prowling that gets airtime? Truly, for every hour of HD leopard rehabilitation and every session debating which weapon bashed the unearthed indian skull there are HOURS or filming, editing, and production.

We’re not even talking about National Geographic programming or PBS. . . these are just your run-of-the-mill basic cable channels. . . Not that it’s really that bad, in the grand scheme of things, but I do find myself wondering how they came to be, don’t you?

So, there you have it. Those are the Daytime TV inspired Musings of my mono-induced “taking it easy” morning television experience. On to marathon-watching all those Buffy the Vampire Slayer seasons my sister dropped off last week. . . or maybe re-watching BBC’s Pride and Prejudice for the 6th time this month. Oy.

Belated Independence

Where did July go? I know, I know, it’s not over just yet, but I am shockingly behind myself on practically every front, which would be woefully embarrassing if I lacked a reason, but (thankfully?) my excuse is as timeless as a tacky 80s flick. Yessiree, I got mono.

Before you ask, NO, I have not been kissing anyone suspicious OR interesting. Unless you count the highly slobbery kisses I got from my one-year-old niece at a family reunion in early June.

I’ve learned, though, that you can’t let a little mono get you down. . . I mean, HEY, what’s a little four-week fever? Glands are just glands, even when they’re huge. You’ve got to keep living your life, right? At least, that was my reasoning for making the 7 hour ride to New York and hosting an impromptu Fourth of July Party for my parents and co. SO, without further ado, it is with belated excitement that I share my Independence Day Undertakings!

First up on the docket? Some DIY decor! 

These tea lights and bouquets were a cinch to make and looked so sweet scattered about the picnic! I just put some star-shaped stickers on old jam jars and rustled up an old can of white paint. With a few hours to dry in the sunshine and a couple of citronella tea-lights, theses star candle-holders were a perfect accent to the red polka-dot ribbon I found for 50 cents in a discount ribbon box. . . right alongside the navy ric-rac I used on the flowers! With a handful of small flags, a bouquet of baby’s breath and a few more jam jars, we were in business!!!

Done Decorating? No way! As cute as the candles and nosegays might be, we needed a little more clear communication of what exactly was being celebrated. . . armed with cardboard, a paintbrush, a stencil and a few colors of acrylic paint, my mom and I took inspiration from Etsy and did our part to let our Freedom Flag FLY!

Next up? Food Preparation!

Cold Fruit Stars and Stripes made with a star cookie cutter, watermelon, blueberries, frozen grapes and bamboo skewers!

Nothing makes for tastier summer desserts than no-bake treats! Piping cheesecake into these strawberries was quite a bit easier than pie (or at least easier than cheesecake) and then all there was to do was top it all off with fresh blueberries! This dessert presented beautifully . . . with Strawberries and Cheesecake for all!

The next dessert might be my favorite yet! I am an unabashed rice crispie treat addict, but the trick to this stacked Snap Crackle Layer Cake is making them with extra marshmallows, which you should probably do anyway, because it makes them so gooey and delicious! The reason why it is ESPECIALLY important with the cake is due to the servability . . . nobody wants to try to hack apart a brick of rice crispy treat! Extra marshmallows keeps the whole thing gooey and highly cuttable.

Our only baked treat was this luscious vanilla cake, made from scratch and chilled before it was covered with whipped cream and berries for a token representation of Old Glory. . . which is highly fitting considering how glorious it ended up tasting!

Not Shown: Heavenly Chicken Speedies, Enormous Hot Dogs, Deviled Eggs, Red White and Blue Coleslaw and Blue Chips with Salsa! Guests all contributed to the spread and we enjoyed some incredible potato salad, Tasty Quinoa and Flavorful Greens!

The only other true prep remaining was a chilly beverage to cool our guests down in aperitif! In keeping with our colors of the day, I whipped up a blender full of Strawberry Daiquiri, stuck marshmallow halves to the inside of serving cups and handed these lovely drinks out with blue straws to top them off!

Since our Independence Shin-Dig lasted the better part of the day, I kept our final crucial piece on standby for when the gigantic bonfire we had planned died into a manageable blaze for s’mores!

All in all, it was a pretty hot party if I do say so myself, although maybe it was just my steady temp of 101.4!

To tell the truth, the best part was just enjoying the fruit of all preparation with friends and remembering that we were not just celebrating an opportunity for good food and friends, but something of much greater significance. Although the freedom we celebrate is nothing to be made light of, it seems fitting that we make a true celebration of the fourth of July as a tribute to our Great Country and the gift it is to be a citizen living with the degree of Freedom we enjoy. But I digress. Leaving my patriotic soap box behind, I hope you all enjoyed the fourth as much as I did! Any fun traditions out there? What did you do to celebrate?

If “Ifs” and “Buts” Were Candy and Nuts . . .

. . . We’d All Have a Hell of a Christmas!

Has anyone else hear that expression? My grandmother used to say this to me when I was a kid and I recently threw it out in a conversation only to find that not a soul knew what on EARTH I was talking about! Suffice it to say, I metaphorically launched my way into a self-discovery epiphany. It turns out I am living a bizarrely anachronistic life. Let me explain.

Lets imagine you find yourself walking down the crowded hallway of Middle School in Anywheresville, USA during dismissal.          (Not your favorite fantasy, maybe, but work with me.)

To you, even if you’re only a few years past it, this is a strange new world. Nauseating amounts of smart phones extend from every hand, you might hear scandalously unfamiliar words like “sexting” bandied about and you would probably find yourself appalled at the get-ups some of these kids have the audacity to call clothing. . . and the scary come-back fads you thought were finally dead. Now as these short little gremlins mill about to the sound of Ke$ha and GaGa leaking out of earbuds and eensy-weensy speakers, lets say you try to strike up a conversation. I promise you, it wouldn’t matter how young and up-to-date you are, if you made a joke you might make with friends, referred to your favorite TV shows or even talked style with any of these kids, you’d be way over their heads in content and the proverbial sound of crickets chirping might just overwhelm you internally. Unless you’re Demi Moore, there is just no surmounting the age gap. THIS, my friends, is being out of your niche. None of your upbringing or life experiences prepared you for this moment and if you draw on any of them, you will only prove that you are woefully out of your depth and you just don’t fit into this scene. . .

(If you are mentally flashing to Drew Barrymore in Never Been Kissed, Good Job – you’re  getting the picture!)

So now that you know what I mean, take that feeling and apply it to me but with a funky twist. Apparently, based on my upbringing, I am culturally familiar with certain things that went out of the lexicon decades or even CENTURIES ago. Teaching high school has taught me a lot, but it’s thrown into sharp contrast how random my background knowledge is. SO, with only this much ado (since it’s already been a bit of setup) I would like to share with you:

10 Things I Always Thought Were Common Knowledge But Apparently Aren’t.

1.) Every Expression I Use.

The Other day I told someone I was waiting on tenterhooks and they looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language. Sadly, this isn’t the first time I’ve had to take quite a lot of time to interpret my English. Apparently the expressions I use are a little dated!

2.) Punch and Judy

I always thought Punch and Judy were part of the common knowledge lexicon. Who hasn’t heard of the little puppets who spend most of their time beating eachother over the head? Apparently, though, Punch and Judy origins are in the early 1400’s! What’s worse, when I finally looked it up, I had been arguing their relevance to this era and I may never live down making a cultural reference that precedes my era by 5 centuries 

3.) “Doing it Yourself”

Last week my roomates watched me wash walls, spackle, sand,  tape off  and paint the livingroom  a lovely green. THey are both capable, wonderful women who handle immense responsibilities on a daily basis . . . but every time they walked through and saw another step of the process they were in awe. After hearing “I could never do something like that!” and “Wow, Ab, You’re so intense!” countless times, I realized that people actually don’t know how easy doing things yourself can be!

4.) How To Follow A Recipe.

If I had a nickel for the number of times I have heard people say “Oh, I can’t cook.”, I would be a wealthy woman. I just don’t understand! Recipes are practically the only necessary savvy. If you can read, you can cook.

5.) Cat’s Cradle 

Okay, I guess I can see how this is a little obscure, but it’s not unheard of, right? I am no cat’s cradle expert, but I can make at least 5 or 6 basic set-ups…

6.) Why and how to wear a Petticoat.



I adore my petticoat and wear it frequently, but get the mickey taken out of me regularly for it. How do you explain to people that some dresses and skirts need a petticoat to look their best?

7.) How to be a Thrift/Secondhand Shopper 



8.) Classic Fairytales

fairy books


Little Red Riding Hood, The 12 Dancing Princesses, Anything from books by Andrew Lang! These stories are the broad base of a whole world of imagination and whenever I spend time with kids I am downright appalled by how little kids know the stories that are the bread and butter of my childhood!

9.) Specific Names

Call me crazy, but apparently I have developed an extensive vocabulary of the random! A few examples which leave people calling me quirky when I talk about them in regular conversation:

Milk Glass

milk glass





Dutch Ovens

dutch oven


Cameo Brooches



10.) Curling Hair with Hot Rollers 



I do it. It works. What’s the big deal? Aren’t there other people that use hot rollers on a daily basis?

Ten Valuable Facts I’ve Learned From Old Movies

I realized today that, unlike most 24-year-olds, I spent most of my impressionable years glued to Cary Grant classics. Even though this left me a little out of the loop when everyone was talking about Corey and Topenga (?) and someone named Zack Morris during Freshman year college orientation, I think I’m thankful. In a world where everything seems to take so much time and energy, sometimes I just wish we could all slip into an old classic.

Maybe you’re rolling your eyes right now. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t like these movies exclusively! I’m a big fan of every genre, from classic to cutting-edge and most in between!  Its just that, after a truly insane week, I just spent a perfect afternoon winding down watching Meet me In St. Louis . And I can’t think of anything that would’ve been better relaxation. SO: in honor of Judy Garland and Hayley Mills and Audrey Hepburn and Deborah Kerr and a whole multitude of others, I have decided to share the top ten valuable things I’ve learned from old movies. 

1. Fact: Bloom. It is real. Don’t underestimate it.

Rose: “Nice girls don’t let men kiss them until after they’re engaged. Men don’t want the bloom rubbed off.”
Esther: “Personally, I think I have too much bloom. Maybe that’s the trouble with me.”

A sisterly conversation from the movie “Meet Me In St. Louis”.

2.Fact: Everyone needs a break sometimes.

“The best thing I know is to do exactly what you wish for a while.”

Wise words from Dr. B spur Princess Ann to take a break from her too-hectic princess life in Roman Holiday.

3. Fact: Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Seven alphabetized and mannerless woodsmen brothers steal 7  girls from their homes, trying to shanghai them into marriage. . . and it all turns out juuuuuuust fine.

“There were no F- names in the Bible so Ma named him Frankincense because he smelled so sweet.”

Clearly their resourcefulness comes from their mother – this lovely introduction comes from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

4. Fact: It is possible to sparkle too much. But only if you are Mary Bennet.

Mrs. Bennet: “Oh, ah, Mary. Try to sparkle a little. . .”

*Insert Mary’s awkward smiling here*

Mrs. Bennet: “. . . Just a little!”

Pride and Prejudice ~1940

5. Responsibility occasionally supercedes love, but Integrity wins over prosperity any day.

Ann leaves Gregory Peck’s character (Joe Bradley) to be a good princess and Bradley gives up a moneymaking story to be a true romantic.

6.Fact: Never underestimate the value of witty repartee!

Terry McKay: “We were talking about the place where I was born… ”
Nickie Ferrante: “I can hardly wait for you to grow up.”

Terry McKay: “Being a woman, I’m more naturally cautious and I can think more clearly when you’re not around. So you go think in your room and I’ll think in mine.”

7. Fact: Being a “Pollyanna” wouldn’t be so bad.

Pollyanna: “My father said don’t let’s be gloomy. Let’s try to find something to be glad about. So we made a game of it, the glad game.”

Polyanna makes everyone’s life better with her sunny and constant positivity! But she also places a strong value on cake and ice cream. And steak. Smart girl. In fact, there is one particularly memorable scene with a cake that makes me wish I was her every time.

8. Fact: Sometimes  great hair makes everything okay.

Shirley: Oh! My goose can do something realy special, she can lay an egg!
Teacher: And just what is so special about that?
Shirley: Well can you lay an egg?

From the movie Curly Top . . . 

9. Looks aren’t everything. Sometimes starlets are squeaky and cake-top-poppers are quality.

Singin in the Rain

Lina Lamont: Gee, this wig weighs a ton! What dope’d wear a thing like this? 
Rosco: Everybody used to wear them, Lina. 
Lina Lamont: Well, then everybody was a dope. 

10. Fact: Sometimes your family is certifiable, but you can always hold out hope that you’re adopted.

Mortimer Brewster: “No, no. I’m not a Brewster. I’m the son of a sea-cook! Ha! Ha! Chaaaaarrrge!”

Arscenic and Old Lace

. . . And a final quote that didn’t quite make the top 10, but is highly true in any case:

“When a man is wrestling a leopard in the middle of a pond, he’s in no position to run.”

(Bringing Up Baby)

So: There you have it. Look at all the valuable life lessons I may never have gotten without old movies! I think I challenge everyone to find one thing in their life inspired by an old movie. . . and if they don’t have one yet, start watching!!

My Baby BUNDT-ing. . .

“Bye, baby Bunting,

Father’s gone a-hunting,

Mother’s gone a-milking,

Sister’s gone a-silking,

Brother’s gone to buy a skin

To wrap the baby Bunting in!”

A few weeks ago (already!?!) I co-hostessed a wonderful little baby shower for my wonderfully pregnant friend Natalie! I love food and fun presentation, but I also love Puns to an unreasonable extent. SO, when I saw a mini-bundt pan, I knew that this would be on the shower menu!

Apparently, back in the 1800’s when the Baby Bunting rhyme was popular, Bunting was another way of saying “Plump” or chubby, as I believe all good babies ought to be if they possibly can*. Glazed with a sweet drippy vanilla-bean sheen, I think my Bundt-ing may have done more than it should have in fostering a circle of friends bunting, but they were deliciously, miniaturely, worth it!!!

* Case in Point: My sister’s darling baby bundting at a children’s Faery Festival in Essex last year!

Let Them Eat Cake! No. Seriously. Let Them.

I never anticipated coming to this point, but here I am, taking posthumous advice from a decapitated (not to mention notoriously frivolous and insensitive) French queen. Not only that, but I firmly believe you should sit up straight and pay attention, because this advice is to die for. (Pun intended.)

Marie Antoinette’s extravagance may have been political (monarchical?) suicide, but in her own egocentric way, she had indisputably good taste. Historians even partially attribute peasant disillusionment with the French Monarchy to M-A’s clandestine purchase of a massive diamond necklace. . . a necklace commissioned to surpass all other diamond necklaces.  To put it in nerd-terms: One necklace to rule them all.

To most people in the late 1700s, Marie-Sauron-Antoinette’s advice was worthless. She might’ve been an innocent princess once, but she put on The One Necklace and sparkled her way right over to the dark side. . . proof-positive that diamonds are not actually always a girl’s best friend. (Try that one on for size, Marilyn Monroe.) Suffice it to say, all this is just hearsay from centuries ago; gossip they never would have printed in a 1780s French version of  People Magazine (it would’ve been the only one worth trusting . . . even back then).  Historians usually say that Marie was an obvious scapegoat. The Monarchy was going down regardless and poor Marie was merely left holding the bag . . . so why not a bag of diamonds? You can hardly blame the woman. If you are going to start a revolution, why not do it with style?

As far as I am concerned, anyone whose bling caused enough jealousy to bring an entire nation to bloodshed oficially has panache. . . or what some of my students might call swagger. Whatever the term, this quality is worth a little attention. Which brings us straight past diamonds to the really valuable trend Marie-A. seemed so anxious to set: Cake.

Like Marie, I promote cake as a solution to most problems. More than a mere solution, cake is a lifestyle. With this worldview firmly in hand, and supported by none other than the Last Queen of France, it is (clearly) my duty to communicate this vital knowledge to the greater population. . . and what better opportunity to do this than by submitting not one, or even two, but THREE different cakes to our monthly staff cooking contest?

 Cake number one was a classic . . . the little black dress of cakes. Cake number one was pure chocolate.

Just in Case You’d Like to Make It Yourself!


  • 3/4 c. cocoa powder
  • 1 and 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 and 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp.salt
  • 2 eggs (I used an egg replacer!)
  • 3/4 c. milk
  • 3/4 c. warm water
  • 3 Tbsp. oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract


Set oven to 35o degrees Farenheit.  Butter cake pans and dust with cocoa. Combine cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Add eggs (or “eggs”), milk, water, oil and vanilla. Beat together well.

Bake for 35 minutes. Cool.


Beat together 1/4 stick butter, coacoa powder, powdered sugar and milk . . .  until it reaches reaches its happy place.  This is the good part, really, because it means you’re going to have to taste it… a lot. It should be spreadable and rich and not too sweet.

 Cake number two tasted like Holidays and Coconut . . . this recipe never fails to make warm, moist cake flecked with sweet rich flavor. If you’re not a coconut person, don’t worry. Neither is anyone else . . . before they try this cake!


So that you can enjoy it, here is how its done!


  • 1 pkg. yellow cake mix (shhhh, don’t tell!)
  • 1 pkg. vanilla instant pudding powder
  • 1 and 1/3 c. water
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 c. oil
  • 2 c. coconut
  • 1 c. chopped pecans
  • Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • Any other favorite spices you might want to toss in (I usually throw in some vanilla bean paste, some nutmeg, and a  little ginger)
  • Another 3/4 c. coconut and 1/4 stick butter (for toasted coconut!)


Blend together cake mix, pudding mix, water, eggs and oil. Stir in coconut and nuts. Pour into a bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees Farenheit for 35 minutes. Cool in pan for at least 15 minutes then remove to cool on the rack while you make frosting.

Frosting: Mix a splash of vanilla, 1/2 -3/4 c. milk and powdered sugar together until it’s thick and drizzly, but smooth.

Meanwhile, melt the 1/4 stick of butter in a pan and toss in the coconut . Stir the buttery coconut every once in a while over low heat until it is beautifully golden brown. Careful! It’s easy to let this go slightly too far and burn the coconut!

Drizzle the frosting over the cake  and sprinkle generous amounts of coconut  over the frosting immediately. The result? Gorgeous. It looks impressive and tastes like heaven. . .and nobody needs to know that you used a mix as the base. Keep it hush-hush and you’ll be the most impressive baker in town!

Cake number three is the most complicated of the bunch as far as directions might go . . . but it also happens to be the official 2011 cake-off winner! Whenever I’m called to compete with a dessert, this recipe is my stand-by favorite.  With layer upon layer of meringue, cake, cream and almonds, the outcome is sheer fluffy, nutty  delight. If serving an award-winning, delicious and impressive dessert  isn’t incentive enough to make this cake, here’s the real reason why you should try this at home: This is technically a TOP secret recipe. Fortunately for you, I generally do not believe in secret recipes; good food should belong to everyone.

Without further ado, here is the breakdown of how to make . . .

Blitz Kugen!


  • 2 springform pans
  • tinfoil
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1/2 c. white sugar for cake batter
  • 1 c. white sugar for meringue
  • 3 egg, seperated
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 7 Tbsp. milk
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • sliced almonds
  • whipping cream


Line 2 springform pans with foil carefully and spray with cooking spray.  Set oven to 375 degrees Farenheit. Seperate eggs and set aside the egg whites for now. Cream 1/2 c. butter and  1/2 c. sugar. Add 3 egg yolks and 1 tsp. vanilla. Sift together 1 tsp. baking powder, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1 c. flour. Stir into wet mixture with 7 Tbsp. of milk. Split this batter into the two different cake pans.

Now, beat the 3 egg whites and 1 c. sugar until stiff. Split this meringue between two unbaked cakes, spreading it gently over the raw dough. Sprinkle slivered almonds over meringue layer. Bake at 375 for 35 minutes. Allow to cool.

Careful, this last step should really only happen a little while before the cake is served! Since the cake is layered with whipped cream, you’re going  to want to keep it cold and as fresh as possible!  When cakes are cool, whip the cream, sweetening it lightly with powdered sugar or stevia and maybe a little vanilla bean paste. Now, carefully (this is the really tricky part, to be honest!) remove cakes from springform pans. Turn one of these cakes upside-down on a plate. Peel off the foil and cover with whipped cream. Carefully remove the second cake from all wrappings, keeping it upright!

If you have bad luck with de-panning the cakes, don’t despair! Make a lot of whipped cream and you can actually cover the entire cake with it and garnish with more sliced almonds. It can still taste like heavenly clouds and be a bit crumbled.  BUT, if you keep the cakes intact, it is going to be prettier than uhn-uhn-uhn as well as luscious!

I like to think Marie would’ve been proud.

Now that you’re all equipped with my top 3, go forth and do likewise! There’s a great big world out there waiting for you to pull an Antoinette . . and let them eat cake.

A Frenetic Whirling Dervish of Exhuberance…

Beginnings are daunting, so in my typical fashion, I almost wish I could jump right to the next phase, rather than hem and haw my way through an introduction. Assuming that someone will actually (maybe, perhaps, someday, once upon a dream, in a distant future) read this, however, propriety demands some social niceties. If my short spitfire Italian grandmother were dead, she would roll over in her grave if I skipped any social graces, even on the internet, where any reference to politesse seems a titch ridiculous.  Regardless, like a pavlovian puppy, my training – and perhaps a hint of breeding – will prevail.

I will admit that shouting “Hello World!” (as suggested by WordPress) does seem a bit a propos at this point, since this will be my first ever true throw-down into the world of Blogs. . . at least since my initial discovery of (and subsequent procrastinator’s obsession with) blogging back in college. Maybe you’re asking yourself why I’ve come back now, after a good five years sans blog? It’s a valid question. After all,  stacking my overflow project ideas and pictures into shoeboxes in the attic has been a workable, if fire-hazardous, solution so far. What brought about the change of heart?

It was an epiphany, actually. Thismorning, while wrestling my recycling through the front hall towards the curb, I tripped spectacularly over a box of to-do-this-summer projects I’ve started to pile up in anticipation of the slightly-slower summer season. The trip was followed by a nasty fall (currently resulting in some even nastier bruise-development, I might add). The slow-to-react clutz that I am, especially at 6:30am, I stayed down for a heartbeat or ten, not wanting to assess the scattered paint swatches, Real Simple magazines and recipe clippings that would need to be reshuffled back into some semblance of organized chaos.  After a few choice words and a very grumpy sigh, I sat up and took  stock of the front hall. As I surveyed my insta-disaster (just add Abby), it hit me.  Lightning struck in the form of my very own groundbreaking realization. Shoeboxes just weren’t going to cut it anymore.  SO, to keep a long story from getting longer, I decided it was time to upgrade my shoebox system to something a little more modern.

It had been a while since I took a gander at the options available, actually.  Suffice it to say, the Blogdom has come a long way since my first peek into the realm! And that is what brings us to this moment – it’s a classic story, really – complete with recycling, bruises and recipe confetti.

It’s probably terribly gauche of me to explain the concept of Cakey Hankerson to you, since I think  the hipster bloggy-fab trend is to be a little more elusive, but I’m not much for pretense. I am about as difficult to read as a billboard. Cakey Hankerson was my very first nick-name. Back in the olden days of recordable cassette tapes, my Dad used to work away from home for weeks at a time. Spending a Sunday with him every other week was not nearly enough quality-time for a family that still believed in stay-at-home Moms, family read-alouds and dresses for church. The solution that my wonderful teddy-bear of a father found was storytelling. He would sit at his NYSEG desk and shuffle through papers and tell us story upon story via cassette tape. When they came in the mail it was better than pancakes for Saturday Breakfast. For good reason! My wonderful mechanical-engineer of a father is a closet master storyteller, probably an unknown descendent from the bastard child of a Grimm brother. After dinner, we would all sit entranced and listen to Dad tell all about The Search for the Great Cakey Hankerson. Since I was the youngest during those years, the stories told all about the fantastic and perilous adventures of Sarah, Bethany and Nathaniel (my older siblings) and their quest to find “The Great Cakey Hankerson” who was none other than yours truly.

cakey hankerson

So the secret is out, the aquaintance is officially made, and soon I’ll begin the first true step in this next era of Cakey Hankerson: The Great Shoebox Transfer . . . Stay tuned!