When the tough get going…

I feel like my family lives by the mantra, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” It’s how I’d describe my pa, who lived and farmed for decades with Parkinson’s. It’s how I’d describe my glorious aunt, Jane, who’s battled RA since her 20’s and powered through two knee replacements about fifteen years after she needed them. It’s how I’d describe my nanny, who had two toddlers and was 6w pregnant with my uncle when my grandfather died from an aneurism at age 31. There are others, but these three just exemplify it. The Lord won’t give you more than you can handle, and complaining gets you no where.

When I started this blog, it was to share my love of farming and food. Well, food, farming, and two more “f’s” (family and friends) have gotten us through the last month. At the bottom of this post, there’s a recipe that’s always helped me feel better.

So, here goes…

A couple months ago, I excitedly posted about welcoming our son this coming January and poured my heart out about an earlier miscarriage. I talked about us as humans going out of our way to NOT talk about infertility and miscarriages, and being scared to say the wrong thing when it happens to someone we know. I talked about not being ashamed.

And here we are again…

After a long month of trying to piece our world back together, a leave of absence from work, tons of support from our family and friends, a lot of crying, a social media break, and a bazillion appointments later: now I post about the day our world collapsed.

You see, we buried our baby on September 10th, 2018.

We’ve hurt more than I ever imagined we could. We’ve experienced being on the shit end of the “this happens less than one percent of the time” stick. We’ve prayed more than ever. We’ve had to explain to our precious munchkin why we don’t need that special onesie for see his brother. We’ve had to hide his big brother shirt.

I’m not sure how we’re even still standing.

So what the heck happened?

I went for an appointment all by my miss-independent-self at 16.5w. We laughed about not being able to pick a name, about the fact that my farming husband didn’t come to “normal” appointments, and that I really needed to pee. And then the ultrasound started and I immediately knew something was TERRIBLY wrong. My doctor held my hand as tears slid down my cheek. I walked out of the office and called my husband, unable to speak coherently, as I sobbed in agony in the hospital hallway. All I could get out was, “baby…. gone…. can….”

Hubs didn’t need me to finish. He was on his way.

I sat and waited for a second ultrasound in radiology. Alone. Silently crying, praying. I knew we were past asking for a miracle. I prayed for strength. A sweet lady went and asked for tissues; I wish I could’ve told her thank you.

Angela, who does my doctor’s “big” ultrasounds, took me back. She doesn’t know it, but it made me feel better that it was her and not a stranger that day. It was even more obvious that there was no heartbeat. I said I didn’t want pictures, but then I saw his sweet face and quietly told her I needed to change my mind. She gladly listened, and managed to be professional yet compassionate.

Hubs got to the hospital. We immediately went back upstairs to meet with my spectacular doctor. With tears in his eyes, our doctor explained what he knew we could do (induce and deliver) and what he hoped we had as an option (a surgical procedure called a D&E). We talked with the specialists at Roanoke Memorial in his office and they told us they were able to do the latter procedure – I just had to choose.

So on our worst day… when we were landslided, having no idea this would/could happen….we now had to choose the best option out of the worst options.

I can’t tell someone what to do in this horrendous situation. I only know that after we prayed and talked, we went with the surgical option. And the next day my best friend shared her co-worker’s nightmare (also 16w), who had only been given the first option….then four days of labor later, the doctors agreed to do the surgical option she’d never been offered.

I. Can’t. Imagine. I just can’t.

So, it put me at peace with our decision. We wouldn’t be able to look at our son, but we would be able to bring him home.

(There are some that I know would choose, and have chosen, to deliver…some who will probably not understand how we could make the decision we did. All I can say is, the choice we made was the best we could come up with for our family – and that’s all anyone can do. Neither option was part of our fairytale.)

So, two days later we drove more than two hours to get to the hospital in Lexington, where the doctor who would perform the procedure placed rods in my cervix to force me to dilate. It was excruciating.

The next day, Hubs drove us to the hospital. It should’ve taken less than an hour for the procedure. It took almost three. And I walked out with a flat stomach and a complete feeling of loss.

That’s him.

Our precious, wanted, loved son.

And this is where he’s buried… along the fence, within sight of our bedroom window.

And that night I cried more than I can ever remember.

**************

It’s been a month.

And the tough get going.

It doesn’t mean I don’t still cry at night while Hubs holds me. It means we’re choosing to embrace this path we’re on. It doesn’t mean my body doesn’t literally ache for what should have been. It just means I’m having to take better care of myself. It doesn’t mean we’re ever going to forget. It just means we’re choosing happiness.

So, so, so many people have reached out. We’ve talked with others who have shared similar losses, and it makes us feel less alone. Some have been too scared to reach out. I get that too.

There have been joys, like our quick family getaway to Pigeon Forge.

And there have been lows: going back to work, CAREFULLY choosing which clinics I visited, so I wouldn’t have to explain why I’d been out for a few weeks, then getting asked the “why were you out on medical leave” question at the VERY FIRST place. (I actually don’t mind talking about it with the people who already know, it’s having to start from scratch with a new person that gets to me for whatever reason.) Or having to explain to Munchkin why he can’t see his brother and watching him get angry because he just doesn’t understand.

But during the lows, we’ve continued to feel enormous support. Cards with sweet notes have come at opportune times. My work team sent me an acorn and a pot. Funny at first, but now that it’s growing and the first leaf is about to bloom, it makes me happy.

I can’t allow myself to drown, but I do allow myself to cry. Only when I’m alone:)

My wish for those that have never gone through this is this: I hope you never do. And I hope this helps you understand what it’s like.

My wish for those that have, or will, go through this: that you know you’re not alone, and you use the tough opportunities to build you…not break you.

And when sadness overtakes you…try Nanny Texanna’s pineapple upside down cake. It’s my great-great-grandmother’s recipe, and it makes even the saddest moments a little more joyful.

Love,

Stilettos

Pregnancy loss: Saying all the wrong things when you mean all the right things.

I’ll admit to going a little deep tonight.

But before I do… there’s THIS important detail;)

Munchkin’s getting a peanut…aka we’re adding to the herd with another two-legged baby. Due in January and I’m FINALLY feeling like a human again.

I’m excited, now…finally.

****

I am an only child…the product of a 40+ year marriage, where they’d been married for 11 before I was born. You do the math on why. Sometimes things just don’t happen as quickly as you pray for.

When Hubs and I first got married, I wasn’t certain I even wanted a kid. And even if I did, I figured it would be a struggle. So imagine our surprise two years later when I unexpectedly turn up pregnant. We weren’t trying and I was 6w along before it ever dawned on me. And it might not have if someone hadn’t flipping asked me if I was pregnant…while I was drinking moonshine. True story.

When I took the test I cried. Almost passed out. I was TERRIFIED. (I poured out that drink when I suspected it, just FYI!)

But pretty quickly we were both stoked. It couldn’t have been timed better if we had planned it, and neither of us would change a thing if we could.

There was one hitch.

A couple we love very much had been trying, and now we’re pregnant and they’re not. Why did God bless us before them? How is that fair? I knew they’d be excited for us, but I couldn’t help but be sad for them.

Over the course of my pregnancy and the following year, that same couple had multiple miscarriages. I always tried to bring comfort and would say really stupid, yet well-meaning, crap like, “There was probably something wrong…don’t worry…you’ll be pregnant again before you know it!” And I couldn’t understand why loved ones that had miscarriages would be mad at God. Aren’t they appreciative of all the other blessings in their lives?!… as I sit there holding my perfectly adorable son that we didn’t even try for and I carried to term with absolutely no issue. #insensitivea-hole

See, if you’re not in the miscarriage club…you have NO IDEA how to handle it. But you want to say the right thing, you just don’t know what it is. I mean, you’re not a total a-hole! You mean well, you’re just clueless.

Several months after Munchkin was born, we were in church one Sunday when our minister preached a sermon I’ll never forget.

It was basically titled, “Crap Happens!”, it went something like this, and it was meant for me…

Crap happens to wonderful people. It doesn’t mean God doesn’t see you. People who want a baby so bad they’d do anything, can’t have one. Meanwhile, people who have no business having a baby pop them right out. Parents bury children too often. Terrible things happen to wonderful people.

If you’re a loved one: don’t rationalize it, don’t say God has a plan. God doesn’t plan for babies to be killed in awful accidents, or for couples to go through years of infertility. Sometimes you don’t need to say anything, just BE THERE. Don’t rationalize it, try to justify it, or make light of it. Just be there.

If you’re the one going through a tragic time… God isn’t out to get you, sometimes there’s just no good reason for awful things that happen. Use it as a time to strengthen your relationship with Him and allow Him to help shoulder your burden.

That’s over simplifying it, but…

As I sat there that day, I realized I hadn’t been the person my loved ones deserved. I was so guilty of “God’s got a plan, chin up!” that I wanted to puke. How could I mean well, and be so thoughtless?

If you’ve never had a miscarriage or pregnancry/infant loss, and you’re confronted with a loved one going through it – you’re probably clueless. How do you understand their needs, when you have no idea what it’s like?

You don’t need to know what it’s like. In fact, I pray you never do!

Listen. Be a shoulder to cry on. Make them laugh when they want to cheer up. Tell them about your own experiences, so they know they’re not alone. Above all, quit telling them “God has a plan.” God doesn’t plan on babies dying. What sort of loving God could possibly want that? And no matter what you believe, it’s not helpful to give the “God has a plan” speech.

****

So, we bit the bullet and decided to add to our family. Not gonna lie, I figure one more kid to take care of my butt when I’m old and decrepit is a good plan:) Ya know, offset the burden for Munchkin. And I wasn’t crazy about being an only child as a kid.

We started trying the end of January and got pregnant in February, but I immediately knew something wasn’t right. No matter that I did everything by the book, I joined the miscarriage club in March.

I took it like a champ. I told myself all the things you’re supposed to tell someone, and although I was admittedly disappointed…I was good. Or so I thought.

Not many knew about our miscarriage at first, but because I wasn’t ashamed and I was handling it “so well” I started to talk about it with friends. I didn’t mind opening up, but the sympathy made me uncomfortable. It’s not something I’m use to. It was well meaning, but I’m tough… I didn’t need it, right?

And then in April I got pregnant again. Having no idea I’d get pregnant that quickly, I was shocked when that pee stick lit up like a flipping Christmas tree. But I was anything but excited. How could I be? It’s too early to be excited, I’ll just be disappointed when I lose it again.

And that’s when it hit. Oh, I handled the miscarriage “fine”. But I didn’t handle what followed well at all. And nobody knew it.

I’ve always been pretty private about my deepest feelings. In my family you don’t whine, you suck it up and deal. Which serves me pretty well…usually.

First appointment comes at around 6w and despite offers to go with me, I go alone. Why? Because if s*** goes south I want to be alone to pull myself together. The ultrasound tech is super sweet and congratulatory… I’m less than excited or convinced this one’s going to stick.

Second appointment comes at 9w and Hubs goes with me. Doc is saying how cute it is, don’t I think it’s cute? I’m a rock. I try to smile and laugh. I’m not convinced it’s going to last.

Third appointment, I’m at 12w. I’ve been in the hospital twice with a rogue ear infection. I’m on my seventh antibiotic. What is all this doing to the baby? Have I hurt it? Is it ok?! I bled the week before, and not like I did with Munchkin…this was way worse. So basically I’m a mess, an absolute MESS. But only on the inside.

But….Peanut’s good. Strong heart beat. Genetic tests have come back clear. And suddenly I feel the first twinge of excitement. Finally. I can breath a little. I made it out of the first trimester…which doesn’t completely take you out of the woods, but it does make you feel better.

*******

You see, I handled the miscarriage like a champ. But I’ve suffered the affects with this pregnancy… more than I ever imagined. Not being excited, but feeling like I needed to be, acting like I am, when I’m secretly scared s***less. This chic, who is normally cool as a cucumber, has been a wreck – but a secret wreck.

I’m at almost 14w now. Im feeling good. Im trying not to worry. But being in the miscarriage club has forever changed me.

So, for you loved ones of people that have had miscarriages and infant loss, understand when we’re busting with excitement about subsequent pregnancies. And understand when we’re holding it in because we want to rein in the disappointment if things don’t go well. Respect it. We all grieve differently, handle it differently, and what we need from you is just YOU. Leave the cliche speeches unsaid. No drama. Just love. We just need to know you’ve got our backs. And that you’re praying.

Love,

Stilettos

PS: it’s another boy;)

Recipe for De-Stressing

My full-time gig is in animal health sales. I LOVE my people, but let’s face it – we all have goals we have to meet in our professional lives…and it’s not always easy. The close of each quarter, and even more so the close of the half and year-end (Jun./Dec.), is stressful. Period.

But I finished, did what I needed to do, and topped it off with an on-and-off stress-induced migraine for the last two days. It’ll probably last a few more days… oh the joys.

Friday night I lucked out and didn’t have to cook. Bright and early Saturday morning involved making Hubs (and Munchkin) help me with some work organizing/moving I’d been putting off, followed by cooking, a kid birthday party, and a field party to kick off the 4th of July celebrations (which is why I was cooking earlier). No rest for the weary – except the two hours I was down with the migraine waiting for drugs to kick in (aka we were two hours late to the first festivity).

But, today was a blessing. Slept in. Hubs made Spicy Breakfast Burritos (which I’ll most definitely include on here sometime). Made it to church, ate lunch with family, napped off another migraine this afternoon, and finished the day fishing and playing in the creek.

Now? Hubs and Munchkin are playing in a “fort” in the living room, while I type away…

Cooking is a way for me to let loose. I knew I had to take something on Saturday and this is what I came up with. Pinterest had tons of recipes, and given more time I would certainly have tried – but I didn’t have the time and they didn’t have a recipe to suit me…. so here goes:

Cheater Cheater Blueberry Lemon Cupcakes

1) Lemon/Blueberry is a spectacular match made in heaven.

2) You can never go wrong with a butter cream based icing.

3) I cheated with a box cake mix and nobody believed me. And then canned pie filling…

4) There were no cupcakes this morning.

What did I do? I mixed a lemon cake from a box, exactly as the box said. Then put it into two cupcake pans.

Then I coated 1.5cups of fresh blueberries (after rinsing and checking for stems) with enough flour to cover. FYI this helps keep the berries from sinking to the bottom.

I dropped ~5 berries into each cupcake and baked them in a 350* oven for 15-20 minutes. (Do not ever follow the time suggestion on a box cake mix – it’s always tooooo long and you end up with a dry cake.) Just check on them as they bake, when the center is firm – take them out and place on a cooling rack.

Meanwhile, I needed to make a kick a** icing to top these divine summer cupcakes. Since it was hot, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go with a cream cheese base. But I did see a bunch of recipes that did. Instead I turned to old faithful…butter cream.

I creamed two sticks of softened butter, with half a cup of blueberry pie filling. Yes, I cheated again. I’m sure I could’ve made an extra step and cooked down the remaining blueberries – but I just wasn’t mentally prepared to do that, nor did I have the time.

I splashed in about a tablespoon of lemon juice for a kick, then added powdered sugar one cup at a time until this beauty was created. I ended up using about 30oz of a 36oz bag, but you’ll have to play with that part. My rule is it’s got to be thick enough to easily hold up when it’s time to ice, but soft enough it spreads easily.

I put the icing into an icing bag, with a plain tip, then quickly piped the icing onto the cupcakes with a spiral motion. Voila!!!!

Obviously, I had some extra batter – so I cooked a single layer 6in cake and told Munchkin it was his special giant cupcake;) and that solved two issues: 1) extra batter didn’t go to waste 2) not having to fight a 3yo over why he can’t have a cupcake prior to the event. I am BRILLIANT.

So- I loaded these beauties into my cupcake carrier, and off we went! (P.S. I have no idea where my momma scored this beauty, but it’s GREAT.)

So, they were a hit, but I did have a few left when I was ready to go. However, I am completely unwilling to leave this carrier – so my cupcakes had to come with. We swung by Hubs’ best friends on the way home… the remaining cupcakes didn’t survive and my job was done;)

So, ya need another easy, delicious, perfect summer desert recipe – this is your girl!!

Enjoy!

– Stilletos

Ingredients:

1 box lemon cake mix (with whatever ingredients it calls for), 1.5C fresh blueberries, 1-2Tbs flour, 1 Tbs lemon juice, 1/2C blueberry pie filling, 2 sticks butter, 36oz bag powdered sugar.

Directions:

Make the cake mix as called for on the box. Fill 24 cupcake wrappers 2/3 of the way full.

Mix blueberries with flour, completely coating, then spoon onto the tops of the cupcake batter – about 5 berries per cupcake.

Bake at 350* for 15-20 minutes, or until firm in the center if each cupcake. Place on cooling racks to cool.

Icing: cream butter, blueberry pie filling and lemon juice. Mix in 1 cup of powdered sugar at a time until desired consistency is achieved – I used about 30oz this time. Be prepared for more or less… it’s a bit of a game;)

(Too thick? Add a Tbs of milk until you get it right.)

Fill an icing bag with a plain tip – or a gallon bag with the corner cut off – and pipe in a spiral motion onto the fully cooled cupcakes. ENJOY!

Farming, but definitely not in stilettos…

Oh, hay season…

It’s really a love-hate relationship:

Love the smell, love the full bellies it will provide this winter, love the family time, love being outside, and for whatever reason I really love to rake hay.

Hate the allergies, hate the LONG days, hate the stress (more on that later), and I especially hate grouchy Hubs.

For those of you that don’t know a lot about farming, hay season is critical. For cattle producers, it’s what you rely on to feed cattle through the cold months when grass doesn’t grow. But it’s not an easy process. You cut, then you ted (it’s like a fluffer so the hay dries better/faster), then you rake, then you bale… and the whole time you pray to God that it doesn’t rain – AT ALL. If it does, it could ruin every bit of hay (sometimes HUNDREDS of acres). So you plan the best you can and try to time when you start cutting the best you can, but the reality is – weathermen aren’t great at their jobs.

Why so stressed?

The weather is completely out of your control but totally dictates your success and ability to feed your animals.

And that means grouchy Hubs.

But when it goes well, it’s rewarding. It’s good to know your cows (our girls) will have what they need. And it’s even better to get it over with.

So I promised funny farm adventures…

Let’s talk about the last 48+ hours:

Monday @ noon

Hubs: You cannnn help tomorrow, right?

Stilettos: I mean, yeah, but it’s not ideal.

H: I really need you.

S: Ok (duh… I tryyyy to be a decent human)

Monday night

S: I’ve got supper ready, want me to bring it to the field?

H: Too busy. Not hungry.

S: Umm, ok?

Anger issues occur.

Tuesday at 5:30am

H: GET UP!!! Lot to do today!

S: ughhhhhh ughhhhhh moan moan moan

6:30am

Moving cattle around, getting equipment to the field.

9am

I start raking. Life is good. Hubs starts baling with brand new shiny baler. It’s not adjusted correctly. Life not so good.

11am

We’re up and running!

12pm

Sandwich/Outdoor pee break

12:10pm

Raking hay, enjoying life.

3pm

S: I’m done!!! Whewwwwwwww!

H: Good, I’m going to need you to get in the skid steer and wrap the hay!

S: 1) I’ve never driven the skid steer 2) I’ve never operated the wrapper 3) You want me to do this ALONE?!?!?

**sometimes you bale wet hay then wrap it (looks like giant marshmallows) and it ferments and turns into what I like to call cattle-crack**

In my head I know this is a terrrrrrrible idea, but as Hubs said…”who else is there to do it?”

Touché Hubs, touché.

So off I go. I’m getting the hang. I’m managing ok. Hay is turning into giant marshmallows. Life is good!

And then my evening began…

5pm

S: Hubs, ummm I need you. I’ve got a bale cocked up in the wrapper and I can’t fix it.

5:15pm

S: The bale won’t push through!!

H: Did you push the lever?

S: Yes! (No, I didn’t, but I’m clearly not going to admit that so I push it.) Um, it’s magically working now! We’re good!

5:18pm

S: I think we’re out of gas…

6pm, the fun continues –

Do you know what rule #1 in wrapping hay is?

It’s don’t run out of wrap, but when you do – stop the wrapper and reload the wrap.

That’s not quite how it worked out…

I definitely ran out, didn’t realize/more preoccupied with trying not to wreck anything and I definitely put FIVE WHOLE FLIPPING BALES through with no wrap. #wifefail

Shoot me now, my husband almost did.

Do you know what this mistake does to grouchy Hub’s grouchiness? Amplifies it.

6:30pm

We’re done, Yayyyyyyy!

Nope. Not even close.

Spoiler alert: Hubs is going to wish we were!!

6:45pm

H: Ok, I’m going to need you to take the skid steer to the next farm to help them wrap hay.

S: Ummm, ok?! What about Munchkin?

So in we go, and by we I mean me and Munchkin. We’re making it. Life is good. We’ve even got the skid steer in “rabbit” mode!!! Cooking with grease, folks!

We pull out onto the road…

I push the throttle down.

Do you know what’s next to the throttle? The joy stick that controls the loader, which currently has a hay spear on it.

Did you know that when you push the throttle down, it’s super easy to move the joystick to the right? Do you know what happens when the joystick goes to the right?

No to all of that?

Here’s what happens: It tilts the hay spear down, like directly down, into the ground…or in this case, the road.

Yep, I managed to tilt the whole flipping spear directly down INTO THE ROAD while driving in rabbit mode (aka fast – or as fast as a skid steer goes) Hay spear = mangled mess. Not salvageable. #hesgonnakillme

Munchkin: Mommy?! What you do that for?!

Out of the mouths of babes, right?

S: I thought it’d be fun, kiddo…

So, I pull in at our driveway to assess damage. Life not good.

And to top it off… Hubs friends are in our driveway. Hubs ironically calls them at that exact moment. Perfect.

They’re giggling like school girls.

Me to them: Just let me tell him…

7pm

Hubs shows up…

S: I’m soooooo sorry! Why did you let me drive this crazy thing?!?! You realize this is actually your fault right? And Where do I buy a hay spear? Can I buy one now? (I know the answer is no, but I want to sound remorseful AND a little clueless.)

H: I just don’t see HOW you could’ve done this…

S: It’s actually QUITE easy! Want me to show you how? 😉 (Snickering)

H: (shakes his head…no words)

LUCKILY, because the friends saved us by letting us borrow their spear attachment, the evening activities continued uninterrupted….and I didn’t have to drive that gosh darn machine another inch!!!

Moral of story: don’t put a virgin skier on a black diamond slope. Lesson learned, Hubs? I hope!!!

PS: Someone’s getting a hay spear for Father’s Day!!!

Summer Strawberry Fridge Cake

So we’re not all blessed with siblings, and some who are…wish they weren’t. But when I married Hubs I gained the sister I’d always wanted and tomorrow is her birthday!!

We tend to be opposites in just about every way. I over-schedule but rarely plan anything in advance – and she doesn’t understand why I don’t know what I’m wearing to a party two weeks in advance. She’s organized. I am NOT. (I can’t walk in my closet about 95% of the time.)

But we get along on the important things and somehow both know how to put up with Hubs – who certainly knows how to give us a run for our money at times:)

So this cake started as Hubs’ birthday request, and this year it’s Sis’.

I once saw a recipe for a strawberry refrigerator cake and thought, this sounds different AND yummy!! But it was a sheet cake and I’ve just never felt like I get my icing fix with a one-layer cake:) So here’s what I came up with a few years ago!

And it’s so easy you even get to use a box cake mix!!

So get yourself a box of strawberry cake mix, throw it in the mixing bowl with eggs, oil (I like to sub a strawberry applesauce cup), and water. I usually split it into three 8in pans, but today I did just two pans and was going to make four layers out of the two – totally not worth it:(

Anyway…

Bake the cake like the box says, but our oven always bakes faster so keep an eye out!!

While it’s baking let’s talk icing…

In your mixing bowl whip 2 cups whipping cream with sugar, in another bowl mix instant pudding with a cup of milk, then combine the two – voila! Fridge icing.

Then onto the strawberries aka the star of the show –

Wash and slice these little strawberry gems!

Mix in some sugar – because it makes EVERYTHING better…

And now it’s time to construct…

Put down your first layer, and spread out icing over the layer, then add a spoonful of strawberries and evenly spread over the layer. Repeat until complete!!

So I was rushing, I tried adding an extra layer, and this is not the prettiest fridge cake I’ve ever done, but I can assure you there won’t be any left in a few hours;) And I’ve never thought food had to look perfect to taste perfect!

Enjoy

– Stilletos

Ingredients:

One box Strawberry cake mix, 3 eggs, 1 cup water, 1/3 cup oil or strawberry applesauce, 2 cups whipping cream, 1 box instant vanilla pudding, 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 lb strawberries

Directions:

In a mixing bowl combine cake mix, oil/applesauce, eggs, and water. Evenly distribute into three round 8″ cake pans and bake at 350 for 15-25 minutes or until done. Don’t over-cook!!

Wash the mixing bowl and add whipping cream and 1/4c sugar, then whip until thick peaks form. In a separate bowl mix the pudding and only 1c milk. Then whip that into the cream and set aside in the fridge for it to wait and set until icing.

Thinly slice the strawberries then mix in a 1/4c sugar.

After the cake has cooled, put it on a cake stand or in a travel container. Put down the first layer, ice it, add 1/3 strawberries. Repeat until complete, then keep it in the fridge until time to serve. You won’t be disappointed!!

Mom life of a former horse girl…

When both sides of your family are made up of horse people, it’s really hard to escape it. Luckily for my family, I never tried. Horses were just part of life.

(That’s my great grandmother, Nanny Myrtle, on my mom’s 16th birthday – Ginger was the first horse I sat on many years later.)

As I got older I started to appreciate the things I never had to beg for. I never had to fight for lessons, fight to get a horse, or another, or another. I never had to fight to go to an event. Hell, half the time my mom drove me to a track meet and we would meet Daddy with the truck and trailer at a horse thing later. My parents raised the bar on “supportive”.

Now, I don’t want you to think my ‘rents were rolling in extra cash – they weren’t. I didn’t come out the womb with a silver spoon, but that’s totally cool if you did. My parents just made our “horse life” a priority. It was something we did as a family. It taught me skills, kept me busy, and gave me an identity. We had nice horses, not fancy ones. And they usually came about in some strange way that ended with Daddy getting a good deal – problem horses with potential.

But eventually college happened.

And while I rode for Virginia Tech, the Daddy/Daughter late nights in the arena ended.

Then I went to work.

Then I moved away and got married.

Then I had a kid.

Even though I’ve continued to ride, judge some shows here and there, and root on the hubby at events – Mommin’ and horsin’ is tough.

But today was a good day. Sorta…

Munchkin and Momma went horse showin’!

And it didn’t come without its trials. Get ready…

First, I had to get ready by myself with a recently-turned three year old. Are you kidding me?!?! I’m trying to wash the horse while Munchkin’s taking a bath in a mud puddle. Thank God I packed extra clothes.

Back in the day I had a mommy AND a daddy getting me ready. Where the heck were they today?!?! Do they think their adult daughter has it together? She doesn’t. Pageant Moms – try being a Horse Show Mom. Got that covered? Try on Horse Show Mom that’s showing too…. Then we can talk. (PS my mom was once a pageant mom…she failed BIG TIME hahahahaha – but that’s for another time.)

So we’re ready. Horse is braided. We leave. We get to the grounds. I go to tack up….I left the freaking girth at home. Ya know, the thing that holds the saddle on… Kinda important. Had to load the horse BACK on the trailer and go back home to get it. I swear the horse looked at me and said, “You’ve gotta be kidding me…”

Get home. Grab girth. Drive back out the driveway with dust blowing in the wind and my mother-in-law trying to figure out what the heck is going on…

Return to show grounds. This time I didn’t have to pay money to enter, just pay with my pride as I sheepishly admit I’m a flipping idiot. Who goes to a horse show without their girth for Pete’s sake? (Side note: this may or may not be the only time this has happened to me…)

We unload. Journey’s braids have come out.

Good Lord in Heaven, are you trying to kill me?!?!?! I’m starting to regret this whole idea. I mean, here I am BY MYSELF trying to horse show. What an idiot.

I’m also thinking…At what point did my parents think it was acceptable to retire from show-parenting?!?!?! I mean COME ON. Who gave them permission? Can we revoke it?!

Anyway. I did have some help. Mommy-in-law showed up. My sis, with my precious niece on her FIRST BIRTHDAY! Hubs showed up too.

And Journ (the horse), oh how blessed I am to steal him from my father-in-law. And suddenly I’m no longer regretting my decision to be a Show Mom and a Horse Girl.

You see Journ is 21 now, but in his glory days he won a Reserve World in cutting. He has points in Hunter Under Saddle, can hop a fence, and is probably the most show-broke horse I’ve ever backed…and I’ve ridden some cool ones. Too cool for me to own, but crazy nice nonetheless. Journ still takes the cake. If you don’t win on him, it’s your own fault. (Aka, we didn’t win our first class and it was definitely my fault.) This horse is a machine. Even now.

He’s a little older, a little rounder, a little shaggier, but he’s out there showing you he’s still got it. And so do I. My horse girl is still in there, just buried a little deeper than I’d like.

Maybe we wouldn’t be successful at a big show now, and that’s ok. But when the judge comes up to you to tell you how fancy your guy is – you take the compliment and run. Somebody recognizes the old you.

Maybe it’ll be different when Munchkin is older. I hope so.

But for now, I’m good.

I’m good with going to a little show and coming home feeling like I must have just returned from World’s. I’m good seeing Munchkin refuse to be led in the leadline class – because he doesn’t need help. I’m good with ribbons. And fun. And having family there to watch.

One day, it’ll be different. And one day I’ll miss this chaos.

– Stilletos/Helmet Hair Don’t Care

PS, I backed the trailer into its tiny freaking home in my father-in-law’s barn on the FIRST TRY. I deserve a medal.

Momma’s Crab Cakes

In my family there were no birthday parties. On your birthday, you got to pick your birthday dinner and what kind of cake you wanted. We ate with family, usually at Aunt Jane’s house, opened presents and enjoyed good food and company.

In a world where parents drop hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars on birthday celebrations – I’m ok with sticking to family tradition on this one.

So, what’s my pick?

CRAB CAKES. Every freaking year.

It’s my favorite. And in honor of posting my first recipe on here, there was no other choice.

My mom makes great crab cakes. Over the years I’ve made some changes, but I’ll be sure to give you the original recipe too.

Back to the story-

My pseudo great grandmother, Bernice, lived next door to my family forever. She passed less than two years ago and was 102. It was Bern who first taught me to cook, just as she had my momma. Bernice’s dad, Brooks, was my own momma’s pseudo great grandfather – so I guess that’s a bit of a family tradition too.

Bern was an only child, and as wonderful as her daddy was…her momma was rumored to be mean as a snake. The story goes that Brooks once wanted an ice cream cone from my real great-grandparents store. He dropped the nickel it would’ve cost on the way there, and Bern’s mom wouldn’t give him another. Bless her penny-pinchin’ heart 😉

Bern was a child of the depression, with a mom who took “fiscal conservative” to a totally new level. There was no fresh seafood for Bern growing up, or at any other point in her life. The woman would eat salmon cakes (from a can) any day of the week, but ask her to eat a crab cake and she’d turn her nose up.

So, when we sat down to my Pa’s birthday dinner many moons ago – Bern was in for a surprise herself…seafood and a lot of it. When the crab cakes got passed, sure enough Bern turned her nose up. Momma put one on her plate anyway.

She ate a bite to be polite.

And then she polished off two more cakes. Bern was a believer in the power of a crab cake from then on!

How to:

Empty 1lb of crab into a bowl. Carefully separate the crab, and pick out any remaining shell. (I actually prefer claw meat, but I’ll use lump for special occasions!)

Add the Dukes, yogurt, egg, seasoning/herbs, and bread on top of the crab. Gently mix it together on top, then fold it GENTLY into the crab. Don’t mix, you’ll break up the fragile crab.

Mom’s original recipe calls for only Dukes, no yogurt – but the yogurt will save you some calories and it turns out great. Aka Hubby couldn’t tell the difference.

Mom also uses 1 Cup Italian bread crumbs from a can instead of actual bread – I like the stale bread better, but either works.

If your mixture is still too liquidy, add more bread.

Feel free to play around with the seasoning, but do not skip the Old Bay. That’d be like trying to sell a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without the jelly. No joke. Not the same. When my herbs come in better, I’ll be using those – for now I’m stuck with dry. Increase to a tablespoon with fresh herbs.

Use a spoon to heap out a handful, and form it into a cake placing it onto a cookie sheet. Continue until you’ve made all the cakes. One batch should make 8 medium cakes, but feel free to adjust size.

So, Momma has always fried them in a skillet with a vegetable oil/butter mix over medium heat… and they’re good, like really good.

But about a year ago I decided to try baking them. It’s a little healthier, and it was soooo much easier than standing over the frying pan. Both are great options, but for now I’m going with the baked version. So…put the cakes in a preheated oven at 425, for about 10-12 minutes or until they’re pretty and golden brown. They will change your life.

(I love them just as they are, but Hubby loves it with some creole sauce.)

Enjoy, y’all!!

– Stilletos

Ingredients

1lb Crab

1/2 Cup Dukes Mayo

1/2 Cup Plain Greek yogurt

1 egg (beat)

1 tsp each – Old Bay, dried chives, parsley, and onion

2 cups stale bread pieces (I used hotdog buns this time hah)

Directions:

Put crab meat in a mixing bowl, gently separating it apart. Add all other ingredients on top of crab. Mix the ingredients above the crab, then gently fold the combined ingredients into the crab. Once adequately combined, spoon a heaping amount into your hand and form a cake. Put cakes on a baking sheet. (I cheat and use some non stick foil.) Bake at 425 for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve immediately.