Wednesday, July 3, 2013

I'm baaa-aaack!!! And Fourth of July cake ideas when it's 107F

Hello everybody!! The Fresh Pioneer is back and she's not feeling so fresh.

 There's a heart wave in these here parts and I'm thinking 107 is just plain too high. As someone said on twitter, "I don't mind sweating in certain circumstances. But just standing around is not one of them."
 Yup. That sounds about right.
Anyway, we had a great time camping and saw lots of great little buildings like this.
                                             I wanna ring the bell like Quasimodo, baby.
I am not a happy traveler (I'm an okay camper). I HATE being in the car an I can't read without getting sick so I tried to write a sentence and stare out the window, write a sentence, stare out the window, write a sentence... You get the picture. URRRG.
But the kids had a great time in the new car, which had several movie screens that drop down an wireless headphones. It was shockingly exciting. I mean, this family so low tech.... We have one cell phone, one small TV with no cable, and one stereo. When we bought this SUV I mostly was looking at number of seats and safety.  I had no idea that I should have been looking at DROP DOWN MOVIE SCREENS. Happy kids. For hours. And silence for me.
That charming caretaker's cabin with all the room? The one that slept ten? The one next to the old electrical station? The one that had insulators and other odd pieces of pottery from last century scattered all over? It had these so very charming double hung windows. So, so very charming. So, so very not easy to open. It took an act of God and all His angels to get a breeze in that place.
But you know, heat stroke doesn't really mean much when you get memories like this.
To be honest, I wasn't even here for this moment. My sister and her husband, Jim,  and my husband took the kids to Olive Lake for a fishing trip. The adults were kept busy untangling lines and putting on bait and handling poles... And the kids caught a lot of fish. Me? I was at home in the quiet cabin in the middle of the forest, writing. How awesome is that??)
They came back happy, exhausted and sunburned. My sister then organized dinner over the fire, ending with s'mores. (No, you can't have her. She's mine.)
Anyway, as I mentioned, it's hideously hot here. Fourth of July is coming and I wanted to make a cake WITHOUT raising the temperature in my kitchen. I may just not survive that. Not even with the promise of cake. So, one store-bought cake. It's flat. Vanilla, I think.
One tub of Cool Whip, on packet of blueberries and one of strawberries. My kids thought that was a tub of Mayo. They'd never seen Cool Whip. I know, I'm a terrible mother. Don't call CPS, they're all introduced now and are big fans of... whatever it's made out of.
Slice the cake in half, lengthwise, with a long, serrated knife.
Fill with a layer of Cool Whip, lay on the top. Have dainty-handed child place blueberries along the seam. Scold said child for eating lots of berries. Sneak a few of your own.
Cover the top with the white stuff. It helps if you start with a frozen tub, since it's 107F outside and 140F in the house.
Artfully lay on blueberries and strawberries. I would say like the American flag, but hey, we're not picky. Whatever floats your boat.
Fourth of July is a special day for this family because we have a naturalized citizen. A long time ago, a teenage boy came to a country where he didn't speak the language and had no official papers. All he knew, was that he could pick fruit for more than a teacher was paid in his country. For a family that didn't get enough to eat on a daily basis, it sounded like heaven.
He was the second oldest of eleven and although he didn't get the chance to go to school, he desperately wanted his little brothers and sisters to have that chance. He also had a sister who was very sick and the medicine was more than they could possibly borrow. He and his brother talked it over, and he volunteered to leave his home. His mother cried for weeks.
He traveled through California, then Oregon, then Washington. He sent his mother almost every penny he earned picking apples, trimming grape vines, harvesting onions. It was a hard and lonely life. He wanted to go home. He felt lost. One day a friend invited him to church and he went, because he was tired of being one young man in a group of young men.
The service was in his language, the music was familiar, the people welcomed him. For the first time in years, this young man felt like he was home.
His new friends encouraged him to study. He told them he had never gone to school, but they said here in America, it was never too late. Here you could get permission to sit in the back of the night classes at the community college. You didn't get credit, but it was free. So, he took classes. English first, then science, then history, and all the other classes he'd missed when he'd been working to help the family.
He started working at the church as the youth group leader, along with his farm jobs. The director told him about the naturalization process, how he could apply for legal status. It was a scary thought. he would have to walk into a government office and admit that he was here without permission. He decided he loved this country enough to take the risk. And he was approved to apply for citizenship.
That day, the day my husband took the oath of citizenship, a mutual friend named Sr. Kathy invited me along. She knew I had lived over seas and had struggled to adapt to other cultures. She though I would love to see this ceremony first-hand. Even now, fifteen years later, it moves me to think of those people standing there, from all corners of the world, and pledging loyalty to my country.

So, I made a special dish for hubby and called him out of the garden where he was moving sprinklers. He wasn't  happy about getting his picture taken when he was covered in water and dirty, but we're all friends here at the Yankee Belle Café. And I wanted you to celebrate this Fourth of July with us, natural born citizens and naturalized citizens alike.

  Have a wonderful Fourth!!

P.S. Remember you can download my new book 'Leaving Liberty' for FREE this week!


  1. Loved your hubby's story! It isn't easy to become a naturalized citizen. You must be so proud of him!

    Glad the camping trip was enjoyable, but so sorry about the heat. We're expecting hotter weather here over the next week, but that's only relative. Still nothing above 90.

    The 4th is pretty special in our family, too. Our dear daughter was born on the 4th - our miracle baby after multiple miscarriages and a difficult pregnancy. She was born 3 weeks early, but healthy as a horse and rarin' to go.

    We'll be spending the day sightseeing to celebrate her birthday, so this cake looks like it will be perfect for a quick, easy birthday cake!

    1. Happy birthday to your daughter, Jan!

    2. Happy Birthday, Jan's daughter!!

      And yes, I'm glad I can say I was there because I didn't even know him yet! Weird how life works!!

    3. Happy Birthday, Jan's "rarin' to go" daughter! :)

      Ginny, "nothing just happens". You were there and now look at your life and his years later! :)

  2. Great story, Ginny! And he shouldn't have worried, he looks great!

    I held off on getting that car with the drop down screens for a long time with my one and only, but it does work wonders......

    Are you sure your sister isn't available? Even when you don't need her?


    1. Very sure!! She just may like someone better than me and then I'll be stuck!

  3. What a wonderful post! Love the kids. And tell hubby he looks great! We're inspired by his story, so it wouldn't matter anyway. :)

    Happy 4th everyone!

    1. I should day, as a follow up, he's put every one of his siblings through school! I love that!! The very last one graduated 4 years ago and now has a good job.

  4. Sniffle -- beautiful story and tell your husband his picture is perfect! You are one blessed woman!

    Hey -- here's another great Dream Whip frosting recipe. You need a tub of Dream Whip and about 4 or 5 crispy crunch bars. First you pulverize the bars in a ziplock baggie. Perfect job for your tribe. Then you stir the crumbs in with the Dream Whip and frost your cake. Let it sit in the fridge for a bit so that the flavour seeps in. It just keeps getting better day after day. Yummy! I think I'm going to add that and an angel food cake to my grocery list!

    1. OH, YUMMY!!!!!! That sounds amazing!! I'm definitely trying that!

  5. Well, he's stinkin' adorable!!! Which only makes sense because you deserve the most adorable of adorables.

    And I love berries/cake/whipped cream so that's looking mighty good to a gal who's been low carb mixin' it up for 7 weeks....

    And I'm not a camper, I'll never be a camper, I decided camping was way too much work for the mother of six children and vowed that a couple of times was PLENTY....

    But I do share a love of great desserts, cute hubbies, gorgeous kids and the heart of gold within us.

    God bless Sister Kathy for her invitation and God's vision! Love this story, Virginia!

    1. Yes, Sr. Kathy is quite the woman! She jokingly said, "Well, if I'd known you were going to steal away my youth group leader. I never would have introduced you!"

      I'm pretty sure she was kidding.

    2. I dunno.

      Nuns are wretchedly honest. :)

  6. The cake sounds yummy, but no sugar for me. (I feel so deprived...but being prediabetic, I have to stop with all the goody-eating... *sob*) And son and d-i-law are going gluten-free and dairy-free for the month, so it's interesting, to say the least. Whoever makes this cake--or has anything else that is not-so-good-for-you--please have a piece or ten for me!

    Love your hubby's story! Oh, my goodness, what a generous, unselfish man he has been to his family. Hope you write that one into a book someday...

    Did you take more pics of the "cabin"? Sounds like a nice time, but I would have melted into a puddle and wouldn't have been able to return because I would be GONE. Seriously. I cannot handle heat and humidity.

    Happy 4th, everyone! Be safe and cool! :)

    1. I put up a picture on the blog before this... or was it the one before that? Anyway, it wasn't humid because it was up in the mountains, but we packed for cold nights and it was HOT. So, yeah, little people in shirts and shorts all the time, no need for the coats we brought!!

      Could you have berries and sugar free whipped topping? I went off sugar a few months ago and felt much BETTER for having kicked that habit!

    2. Melanie, I've been no sugar and no white flour for seven weeks and I feel so much better. Partially because I wanted to chuck a few pounds, but mostly because I become dependent on cookies and cake because I love it so much!!!

      But once I got through the first week, okay, AND THE SECOND... it was good. So the weight is coming off and my innards are happy!!! And I don't' have that bogged down in the afternoon feeling any more.

      Carbs slow us down, when they're the wrong kind or too many, and I know that... I raised a bunch of jocks and I coached soccer for years, but it's not easy to practice what we preach!

      The good thing? I looked wonderful in my little dress from Dress Barn for Matt's graduation from business school! :) Yes, I'm that plastic.

      Laughing in upstate!

    3. Hey, there's nothing wrong with looking good!!

      I would wear a hair shirt under that cute Dress Barn dress, but that's just me. *looks saintly*

  7. What lovely photos these are Virginia! Thank you for sharing.

    1. The camping photos? I'll have more on my facebook page, Tina, if we're friends over there. My camera died and I don't know how to send them to myself, so I'll just post them!

  8. Love your hubby's story. What a wonderful guy (mine's pretty wonderful, too). I like the sound of that no-bake cake. It's way too hot here, altho' not anything like you've had. It was 35+Celsius at one point earlier in the week, which I think is about 100 F, but today was more tolerable.

    I'm too old to enjoy the 'roughing it' part of regular camping but do like getting away in our fifth-wheel trailer. Hoping to go next week but I think I'll be taking along store-bought cookies if I don't find time to make your cake before we leave. I'm not turning the oven on!

    1. It's cooled down here, too. Thank heavens! When it doesn't cool off at night, life isn't really worth living, hahaha!