Monday, February 22, 2010



My mom was over last weekend and brought me an amazing birthday cake.   It’s one of my favorite cakes.   The cake is called Taytekakku; I always just call it Finnish cake because I have no idea how it’s  name is pronounced in Finnish.      She put it together at my house, which explains the fancy cake plate.

My mom is 100 percent Finn, which makes me half Finn and extremely happy about it every time I have this cake.   This cake is very moist, I eat it with a spoon and savor every bite.

Although the instructions I’ve copied below look very involved, this cake isn’t terribly difficult to make. 

This recipe is from our church cookbook.

The filled cake “taytekakku” is the crowning touch on the Finnish coffee table.   There can be great variations in these cakes but they are all make with sponge cake base.  The layers are split and moistened with juice and the cake is filled with whipped cream and fruit.


4 large eggs

1 cup sugar

1 cup all purpose flour

2 Tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

Beat eggs, gradually adding the sugar and beating until thick (about 10 minutes) Sift or mix well the flour, baking powder, and salt. Fold into egg mixture carefully. Pour into 2 well greased and floured 8 inch round pans (line pans with wax paper to make cakes easy to remove) Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Cool. Split each layer horizontally.

Moistening mixture: 1 -2 cups liquid - orange pineapple juice works well.


1 can crushed pineapple

2-3 bananas

Sliced strawberries or strawberry jam

1 pint cream, whipped and lightly sweetened with powdered sugar for filling and topping

Assemble Cake:

Place one layer of cake on a plate with cut side up. Moisten lightly with juice. Top with crushed pineapple and 1/3 of the whipped cream. Cover with second layer of cake; moisten and fill with cream and bananas. Cover with third layer of cake, moisten and top with sliced strawberries and cream. Moisten last layer of cake and put cut side down on top. To complete cake, frost with whipped cream and decorate with sliced fruit or other decorations. Chill and serve.

My mom topped my cake with dried apricots that had been soaked in rum.   So good.   Try this cake, you won’t be disappointed, it is delicious.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Chili Contest


There was a Chili Contest today at work.   Four coworkers made their best chili and brought it in to the break room.


Although I think I make good chili, I didn’t  compete.  I wasn’t working today but I did stop in  to work with my husband to taste, vote, and take some pictures.


I was surprised that all of the chili tasted different.

I had a hard time deciding between chili number three and chili number four.     

Chili number four was most like the chili I make ;  I thought it was good.   It was the spiciest of the chili.    I like spicy.


Chili number three tasted most like the chili my husband makes; it  was really good too.   It had ground beef, chunks of beef (which were very tender) and bacon in it.    It also had more than one type of bean.


Chili number two and one were less spicy but still good.    Chili two had nice big chunks of meat.


Chili number one had mushrooms in it.   I’ve never had mushrooms in chili before, they were a nice addition.  It was a mild chili.


Since I didn’t enter a chili, I couldn’t lose,and I got to try four different types of chili.

I did contribute something to the contest.  

Chocolate Cupcakes for dessert.


I think they were yummy too.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine’s Day

I made a table centerpiece for Valentine’s Day.    I don’t decorate for Valentine’s Day but this year I felt like I needed a little celebration in the middle of this long, very cold, winter.   It’s not fancy or expensive but it makes me happy to see it and brightens up my table.

The tootsie pops were already in the mug on my counter.   I set the mug on a silver tray my mom gave me;  it was a wedding present  to my parents many years ago.    I thought it was sweet to have something on my Valentine’s table that came from a celebration of my parent’s love.    I made some paper hearts for on the tray and put a few decorated Valentine’s straws in with the lollipops.  


My mother-in-law gave me the red beeswax candles;  she passed away in 2001.   I’ve kept these candles for a long time.    


My mom, my husband and I will share a Valentine’s meal of steak and crab.    My husband got me a heart necklace and some candy.   I’m writing him a poem.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Mount Munahana

When my kids were little they loved to climb  to and play on the tops of big snow piles.   My husband would often take them to a nearby parking lot and let them scale to the top of the snow piles.   

They pretended they were exploring a mountain, and this mountain was named Mount Munahana.    The tallest snow pile  always got this name.  




This memory came back to me today as I drove into the parking lot  at my work.   Snow is piled high, the tops of the piles really do look  a lot like mountains.   There is a whole mountain range over the fence around the lot.


This memory so made me wish I could zap both my kids back seventeen or so years to see them tackle these mountains.    I imagine how excited they would be  telling the story of climbing Mount Munahana.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Another Year

I remember when 40 used to sound old.   Now that I’ve been here for a couple of years, it doesn’t sound old and it certainly doesn’t feel old to me.

I’ve learned not to get too excited about my birthday.    My brother Randy, who is a year younger, also has a birthday in February and we always had our party together.   Our celebrations were often canceled due to someone in our family throwing up.  If it  wasn’t the flu,  it was a blizzard that canceled our party.     So,  it disappointed me, but didn’t surprise me, that my birthday plans were thwarted by the weather this year too.    Stupid Snow.

Since my husband knew that he would be out of town on my birthday, he took me out yesterday to buy me a fabulous birthday gift.  

41Xedpi5HFL__SL500_AA280_ This telephoto lens is going to be so much fun to use.    My husband bought me a new camera for Christmas and now I have this lens to play with too.      I need to take some classes to learn how to operate my SLR camera.    I’ve got the “For Dummies” book which I’m making my way through.   Some of it is quite confusing;  I must be dumber than the usual dummy.    Oh well,  I’ll eventually get it and when I do, I’ll post my best pictures here.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Morning Glory Muffins

052 I made my favorite muffins this morning for breakfast. 


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup coconut
  • 1 apple,  peeled and grated
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts

Mix flour, salt, cinnamon, baking powder and sugar together in large bowl.   

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In another bowl, mix eggs, oil and vanilla together.  Stir into the dry ingredients until just combined.








Fold in other ingredients.  Bake in cupcake liners for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees.


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I grate my apple and carrots pretty coarsely,  but you can grate them finely if you prefer less texture in your muffins.     I use whatever brand of apple is in my fruit bowl and whatever type of nuts are in my pantry.   I started using Watkins brand cinnamon and vanilla this fall and I think it tastes so much better than the store brands I used to buy.     I like to sprinkle the cinnamon on apple slices for a guilt free apple pie taste.

Yes, I am wearing my pajamas while making these muffins.


This recipe make 2 dozen muffins.  They freeze well.    So, you don’t have to eat a them all at one time. 


Friday, February 5, 2010

Let’s Go to Work

My husband spends a portion of every day working in his office in our home.004

Our dog, PD, spends a portion of every day working in his office in our home.


PD used to spend his time in the recliner in the corner or on my husband’s lap but he got in the way of the computer screen.  So, instead of kicking him out of the office, Jay gave PD a job and his own spot in the office and told him to get to work.  

One of PD’s  jobs  is to discus important issues with Jay.


He’s responsible for critter patrol.  PD lets Jay know if there is a rabbit in the yard.

013He’s also responsible to keep track of the traffic in the neighborhood.    He’s a great employee. 

He lets Jay know if the neighbor boys are outside playing.


Obviously, it’s a very important job.

He gets paid in doggy treats, walks and cuddles.  It’s really a win-win situation.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Duluth Memorial

An event has happened, upon which it is difficult to speak and impossible to remain silent.

These words surround a memorial dedicated to three victims of a lynching which occurred in Duluth, MN in 1920. A crowd of thousands lynched three innocent black men for a rape allegation, which was later found to be untrue. Until my daughter brought my husband and me to this corner memorial in downtown Duluth, I didn’t know anything about this horrifying incident. It is sobering and thought provoking.

019 The text on the side of the three bronze statues reads:

On June 15, 1920, following the alleged rape of a young woman, Duluth Police locked up a number of men who worked for a raveling circus. That evening, thousands of Duluthians gathered outside the city jail. The police were under orders not to shoot and they obeyed.

With timbers and rails as battering rams, the mob broke down the doors of the jail and staged a trial of six of the men. They convicted Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson, and Isaac McGhie, who had been held as a witness. The crowd dragged the young men about a block, beat them viciously as you may imagine, and hanged them from a light pole that stood diagonally across the street from where you are now. Some brave people spoke out in protest but they were few against thousands. On man took a photograph that was later distributed as postcards, this memorial is dedicated to the memories of the murdered here and everywhere.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Welcome Home

After a long day at work there is nothing better than coming home to an excited puppy.


And a husband baking caramel pecan brownies.


When I think about all of the decisions I’ve made in my life, marrying well, is by far the best.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Giant Snowman

Someone in my neighborhood must be very strong or have a lot of good friends.   Good strong friends.

Every year,  a huge snowman is built in a yard in my neighborhood.   He makes me smile when I drive by.      I’ve never seen him being built so  I don’t know how many people are needed to lift the gigantic snowballs on top of each other.    

I heard a rumor that one year some high school kids put  a chain around the him and tried to drag him down with a pickup.   I’m not sure how that worked.

This snowman is so funny to see as the weather warms up, he gets skinny!   I’ll take some pictures.   It might be a while if the groundhog is to be believed.