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January 2013

January 30, 2013

How to Make a Beautiful Cake

Today I'm going to show you how to make a beautiful cake.


It all comes down to this little tip, the 2D. Don't worry, if you're not a cake decorator, this isn't an intimidating or difficult thing to do. That's not The Farm Chicks way. I promise.


First, you'll need to bake yourself two same-sized cake rounds so you can make a double layer cake.


Once the cakes are cooled, cut off the rounded tops so the cakes are nice and flat. (A large serrated bread knife works best).


Next, layer and thinly frost the cakes.

(Cake is sitting on a tiny wooden cakestand).

Now comes the fun part. Place the 2D tip in a decorating bag (or a gallon-sized ziploc bag with one of the corners snipped off for the tip to poke out of). Fill the bag with your favorite THICK buttercream frosting. The frosting needs to be thick so it doesn't sluff off the cake. Starting on the top of the cake, make frosting swirls, like a pinwheel, starting in the center and circling around until you have a rose.


Make them in varying sizes. If there are holes, simply squeeze in a star. Like this:


Once the top is complete, move on to the sides. Swirl, swirl, swirl.


You don't need to be perfect. In fact, imperfect is homey. Imperfect says, Eat me! I'm a delicious, approachable cake!


And there you have it. A beautiful little cake.


2D cake decorating tip: Wilton, purchased at Carolyn's

Vintage cooling rack: Silver Suitcase

Tiny wooden cakestand: ABC Carpet & Home, NYC

Large wooden cakestand: William & Sonoma



Post Edit: A reader commented, sharing links to another cake done similarly, using a different tip. You can find it here.


Between posts on my website, I document my life on Instagram. You can follow along with me there, Username: thefarmchicks



January 28, 2013

Give Love

Good morning and happy day to you, sweetie pie. I've been thinking of Valentine's day and love lately. Here's my message this year. Feel free to share and spread the love.


January 25, 2013

This Week

We've been plugging along in freezy Spokane. Finals week ends today. Hooray!

This morning I told the boys, three times, that the walkway was icy. Next thing I knew, one of them was flat on his back. Sometimes I wonder if my words are heard like the adults in Charlie Brown. Just saying.

Cody set out on his his band's first tour. His smile makes me cheery.


Last night my friends and I celebrated a dear friend's birthday. It was a sweet and happy night. Friends are like sunshine, aren't they?

And Colin's birthday is just a few days away. We're looking forward to a fun weekend celebrating, with the boys.

Next week, I'm getting ready for Valentine's Day. I think I'm going to sprinkle the house with hearts. We'll see...

January 17, 2013

Meeting Ken and Seeing the Light

I was on a flight heading out of New York City. Just before takeoff, a gentleman boarded and sat down in the middle seat next to me. He began making small talk with the man sitting in the aisle seat beside him. He was returning home to Wisconsin after a visit to the Middle East. The man who he was visiting with was a middle school teacher. You're a teacher? I'd like to send you some books for your students, he said. Instead of asking him about the books, the teacher changed the subject. He clearly wasn't interested. Friendly, but not interested.

As they chatted, I closed my eyes to take a nap, partly to rest and partly to avoid conversation. I drifted off to sleep having made the assumption that my seatmate was a minister who was interested in sharing his beliefs, and that the books he was offering must be related to his religion. And honestly, that thought made me uncomfortable. Who knew what his beliefs were?

At some point, I was awakened by sunlight beaming in through the window. My seatmate was sitting forward in his seat, staring straight ahead to avoid the blinding light. The teacher next to him was fast asleep. I pulled down the window shade and apologized that he'd been having to sit uncomfortably for all that time. He just smiled and said that it was no problem. We began to chat. He'd barely caught our flight, which was the connecting final leg for him on a long trip home from the Middle East. He'd been traveling for something like 24 hours at that point and was looking forward to seeing his wife.

He asked me if I worked outside the home and I tried to explain what I do. He asked if I had children and we talked about his own. And then he told me that he'd love to send me a book for my children. Oh dear, I thought to myself. Here it comes, he's going to preach to me. About something crazy. What is the name of the book? I ask.  A Gathering of Eagles, he replies. Oh no, oh no, oh no, I'm thinking. What's it about? I ask. He describes it as a book of stories and advice from 117 Medal of Honor recipients. I was taken aback and feeling bad that I had made an assumption about him and what he was trying to convey.

I learn that he's retired. What is your connection to the book? I ask. I'm a Medal of Honor recipient he replies. I'm Ken. Ken Stumpf.


You know how you feel when you realize you've been judgemental, and even worse, wrongfully so? I of all people should know this and speak of it often. You never really know someone's story. 

Ken and I go on to have a lovely conversation, much of it with me wishing I could magically teleport my father-in-law Pete into my seat so that he and Ken can talk. They both served in Vietnam and I know they share a brotherhood that civilians like myself can't possibly understand.

After we land and stand to deplane, Ken and I say our goodbyes and I thank him for his service to our country. The teacher looks on quizzically and I feel sad that he slept through learning he was sitting next to an American hero, a man he could have talked about with his students on Monday. I could have missed it too, but fortunately, I saw the light.

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The After Story:

I'm happy to report that my boys now proudly own their own copy of A Gathering of Eagles, a gift sent personally from Ken. And my wish came true: Pete and Ken are now in touch with one another.

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There are 79 living recipients of the United States military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor. The Medal of Honor is bestowed to any member of the United States armed forces who distinguishes himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States.

Ken Stumpf is a retired United States Army soldier and a recipient of the Medal of Honor for his actions in the Vietnam War.

Stumpf joined the Army from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and by April 25, 1967 was serving as a Specialist Four in Company C, 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. On that day, near Duc Pho in the Republic of Vietnam, Stumpf rescued three wounded comrades despite heavy fire and single-handedly disabled an enemy bunker. He was subsequently promoted to Staff Sergeant and awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the battle.

Stumpf reached the rank of Sergeant Major before retiring from the Army.

Staff Sergeant Stumpf's official Medal of Honor citation reads:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. SSG Stumpf distinguished himself while serving as a squad leader of the 3d Platoon, Company C, on a search and destroy mission. As SSG Stumpf's company approached a village, it encountered a North Vietnamese rifle company occupying a well fortified bunker complex. During the initial contact, 3 men from his squad fell wounded in front of a hostile machine gun emplacement. The enemy's heavy volume of fire prevented the unit from moving to the aid of the injured men, but SSG Stumpf left his secure position in a deep trench and ran through the barrage of incoming rounds to reach his wounded comrades. He picked up 1 of the men and carried him back to the safety of the trench. Twice more SSG Stumpf dashed forward while the enemy turned automatic weapons and machine guns upon him, yet he managed to rescue the remaining 2 wounded squad members. He then organized his squad and led an assault against several enemy bunkers from which continuously heavy fire was being received. He and his squad successfully eliminated 2 of the bunker positions, but one to the front of the advancing platoon remained a serious threat. Arming himself with extra hand grenades, SSG Stumpf ran over open ground, through a volley of fire directed at him by a determined enemy, toward the machine gun position. As he reached the bunker, he threw a hand grenade through the aperture. It was immediately returned by the occupants, forcing SSG Stumpf to take cover. Undaunted, he pulled the pins on 2 more grenades, held them for a few seconds after activation, then hurled them into the position, this time successfully destroying the emplacement. With the elimination of this key position, his unit was able to assault and overrun the enemy. SSG Stumpf's relentless spirit of aggressiveness, intrepidity, and ultimate concern for the lives of his men, are in the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Army.

Staff Sergeant Kenneth E. Stumpf receiving the Medal of Honor from President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Image: Scott Stumpf, via mishalove.

January 16, 2013

Glamorous Glamorous

I was feeling glamorous so I decided to do a little nail shop, just for me.

I gathered all the essentials. Cuticle pusher, cuticle clippers, files, nail buffer and polish.



Since I was feeling glamorous, I decided to add a little sparkle. Nail stickers!


Just stick, press, and file down tips.

IMG_3665 IMG_3668


G - L - A - M - O - R - 0 - U - S .  Glamorous Glamorous.


Sources: Nail supplies, Loreal nail polish and Loreal Nail Stickers from Target.


January 11, 2013

The Farm Chicks Antiques Show - 2013

January 07, 2013

Asian Quinoa Salad


The first time I tried Quinoa was on a work trip to New York City. We were at the beautiful new Hearst building having lunch with Country Living Magazine colleagues in their amazing cafeteria. I tried a bit on top of a green salad and was instantly hooked. At the time, Quinoa was fairly new to the U.S. and was hard to find. But now, it's available in most supermarkets. Quinoa is pronounced: keen-wa and is a seed that seems much like a grain and is really high in protein.

Asian Quinoa Salad

1 small piece fresh ginger (about 1 1/4 inches)

4 cups vegetable or chicken broth (1 32 ounce carton)

2 cups quinoa

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

4 teaspoons peanut butter

2 teaspoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons honey

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup diced red bell pepper (1/4" dice)

1/3 cup diced yellow bell pepper (1/4" dice)

1/3 cup sliced green onions

Roasted, unsalted peanuts. chopped, for serving (optional)

Cook the quinoa: Peel the ginger and grate enough to equal 1 teaspoon; cover and set aside. Then place the remaining whole piece ginger in a medium-size saucepan. Add the broth and quinoa, and cook according to the quinoa package directions. Discard the ginger and transfer the quinoa to a medium-size salad bowl; set aside to cool.

Make the dressing and salad: Meanwhile, whisk together the oil, vinegar, peanut butter, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, garlic, and reserved grated ginger in a small bowl until combined. Add the peppers and green onions to the quinoa in the salad bowl; pour the dressing over the top and toss to thoroughly combine. If you wish, sprinkle some peanuts over the salad just before serving.

Images by John Granen

This recipe and many more can be found in my first book, The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen.

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Between posts on my website, I document my life on Instagram. You can follow along with me there.

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