In the summertime I crave veggies and pasta and mayonnaise.  I'm guessing it has something to do with my midwest upbringing and the happy memories of summertime potlucks.  It wasn't until I was about 16 years old that I learned "salad" meant lettuce to everyone else in North America. 

Just a note, if you're wanting the greens in Iowa or nearby and you're eating at someone's house or a church potluck, you'd better ask for a "lettuce salad" or a "side salad".  Yep, you need to specify "lettuce" in there or you'll be getting something either jiggly or mayo-y.  Where I grew up, "salad" means vegetables or marshmallows (or both) suspended in Jell-o, or a vegetable or pasta (or both) suspended in mayonnaise.

Although Jell-o has it's moments, mayonnaise is truly king at all food-centric functions.  When my friends have a potluck together, sometimes everything we bring is just a variation of mayo or cream cheese: Reuben Dip, Pickle Wraps, Deviled Eggs, Spinach Artichoke Dip, Suddenly Salad- the list goes on and on.

Midwesterners wouldn't dream of not having a jar in the fridge (and usually a spare in the pantry).  Come to think of it, non-midwesterners would probably be appalled at the vast array of mayo choices at the grocery stores here. If the mayo section is under two feet long, you're probably not in the Midwest.

So, in true celebration of my wonderful, mayo-ridden upbringing, I give you the recipe for a delicious pasta salad.  And with this salad, you can eat it as a little lunch before bed, or even as a full-blown supper.  Heck, enjoy it like we do, at the supper table with a Spotted Cow from the Midwest's glorious beer and cheese-making state of Wisconsin.

(see below for definitions if you're curious)
Reuben Dip:  Thousand Island Dressing, cream cheese, sauerkraut, and chopped Buddig corned beef melted together in a crockpot.  Smells terrible, tastes amazing.
Pickle Wraps:  Buddig corned beef slices smeared with cream cheese and wrapped around a little pickle.  You can't eat just one.
Deviled Eggs:  Hard boiled eggs, cut in half.  The yolk is removed and mixed with seasonings and, you guessed it, mayo.  Ten points if they're topped with a sprinkling of McCormick's Salad Supreme.
Spinach Artichoke Dip: Basically hot cream cheese, sour cream, and mayo along with cheese, spinach, and artichoke hearts.  In other words, comfort food heaven.
Suddenly Salad:  A boxed Betty Crocker concoction that is the shortcut little brother to the glorious lineage that is the pasta salad.  You'll see it at nearly every function that involves bringing your own dish, mostly in the Bacon Ranch version. 
Supper:  What you eat when you're at home or a friend's or family's house at around 6:00pm.  Although this is also added to the end of mostly any word like "Soup Supper", "Spaghetti Supper", ect., which usually means it's some sort of charity or fundraising event, but it's still around 6:00pm.  You can also add "feed" to the end of some of those words and it's along the same fundraising/charity line: "Spaghetti Feed" "Pizza Feed", etc.  "Waffle Feed" is a popular one, but that takes place in the morning.  Lastly, there is the "Fish Fry" which is amazing and it happens for Lent every year at nearly every Catholic church, American Legion, Knights of Columbus or even townie bars.  If you've never gone to one- you're missing out!
Dinner:  What you eat at a fancy function or restaurant at around 6:00pm (or around 12:00pm, but usually it's the 6:00pm time).  If it's Sunday, though, it's what you eat at 12:00pm, and possibly again at 6:00pm, and probably followed later by "a little lunch".
Lunch:  What you eat around 12:00pm when you're at work, school, or at home on a regular day.
little lunch:  a light snack (ha, who am I kidding, it's going to be pretty much a full meal) that you eat when you're not eating your main three meals.  Usually after getting home from church or a late night high school sports game.
Coffee Break:  Midwesterners "brunched" before it was hip, but we called it a "coffee break".  At about 10:00am after a long Saturday of cleaning house, my mom would sit us kids down at the kitchen table and we'd all split a Coke and have cookies, some leftovers heated up, or some fruit and cheese.  Ah, the good old days.  Coffee breaks are also widely enjoyed by the retiree crowd, although theirs just kind of continues on from their morning coffee.
Pop: carbonated sugar drink mixture.  Some midwesterners have started to say "soda pop" or "soda" to try to be more "with it" but it makes them sound silly and we laugh at them behind their backs. 
Spotted Cow: amazing beer from New Glarus brewery that you can only buy in Wisconsin
Salad:  Any combination of vegetables, Jell-o, fruit, pasta, marshmallows, mayonnaise, etc.  Pretty much anything goes, except I've never seen lettuce in one.
Lettuce Salad:  Lettuce.  Probably with ranch dressing (can't forget the mayo!)
Casserole:  Pretty much hotdish, except, alhtough frowned upond, you can leave out the can of something condensed (i.e., condensed cream of mushroom soup).  Usually involves potatoes, preferably in tot form.  Generally beige, cheesy, and delicious.
Hotdish:  This is more of a Minnesota thing, but I know what it means- it's basically a hot casserole, but if you didn't use a can of condensed something in it, it's not a hot dish, it's just a casserole.  Oh, and don't forget the cheese!
Dish:  If someone asks you to bring a dish to their party, I guarantee you they will think poorly of you if you show up with a plate.  It means bring a main dish of food. Oh, and be generous with what you bring- we here in the Midwest show our love and respect for each other with gifts of food.  Oh, and one last thing, we also show our love and respect by eating other people's food.  Always clean your plate, even if you think you're going to die from it- we don't waste other people's home-cooked food.  Also, you're going to be offered seconds, thirds, or even fourths after you clean your plate.  This is the proper rigmarole for seconds being offered:

Host: "Here, have a little more of that hotdish, you look hungry"
Guest: "No, thanks, I'm stuffed, but that was delicious"
Host: Picks up dish and offers it towards you, "Are you sure, it's a long drive home"
Guest: "Aww, I really shouldn't, I've had two helpings already, but thank you"
Host: "Okay, then, if you're really not hungry, but it's all just going to go to waste otherwise" (if this is your mother or grandmother, they'll just put a scoop on your plate while saying this)
Guest "Oh, alright, just a bit.  Wow, that was really good!"
Host: "Here, let me bag the rest up for you for the road"
Guest: (button pops off of shirt in stomach area)


Yep, that's cake batter.  Despite it's resemblance to a kid's spin-art creation gone awry, it's a rainbow cake.  Wow.  Lots of color.

I'm not normally an advocate of such a blatant abuse of artificial food colorings, but every once in a while life calls for such an occasion.  This time it was for the album release party for the Man's band, Goodcat

I covered the cake with dark chocolate frosting and topped it with their CD cover art in buttercream, so it was a fun surprise to see the rainbow inside.  It was also going to be in a dark bar, so I wanted the colors to really pop.  And pop they did!

I was going to just wimp out and use one of the Cake Boss tie-dye mixes, but I heard a lot of negative reviews about how they tasted terrible, so I thought I'd just make my own.

The main complaint from a lot of people is that it takes so many bowls and spoons to make a rainbow cake.  My solution is a bit of an art-class experiment and could be a fun hands-on kid lesson in color mixing.  You're going to get four (or even up to six) colors and only use three bowls total.


Does anyone else ever have the problem of their flowers being torn apart by a dog and/or hose as soon as they're planted?! Yesterday my dog stepped right on a plant while it was still in it's pot, ready to be planted- it didn't even have a chance. 

The only things that survive are usually very tenacious mints or thorny roses, but not this summer!  I'm taking back my flower beds (except for the one that he dug a two foot by two foot hole in... those flowers might not make it).

Here is my solution, which is better than my first idea of stringing up a tiny barbed wire fence and patrolling the garden like a cowboy looking for a coyote.  I found a big box of vintage and new cast iron trivets at Goodwill for only $5 and knew I could use them for something. 

Er, I impulse bought them and had to think of a way to make use of them so my poor husband doesn't think I've gone full hoarder on him and really start to worry.  So, I made a little fence with them.  It's prettier than the cheap wire fences and cheaper than the pretty cast iron fences- win, win!

Normally, I shy away from "upcycling" types of things because it often isn't really "upcycling" (i.e., if you're turning a nice, unchipped mason jar into a lantern, you didn't "upcycle" it, you repurposed it- and don't even get me started on "upcycling" books- oh, the humanity!).  But, in the case of these, none were antiques and some still had the Ace Hardware stickers on the back of them- they aren't worth much money and they're not being ruined, so I was okay with it. 

In the event that there is a sudden shortage of cast iron trivets in the world, I'll pull them up and wash them off, but until then- hooray for no more crushed flowers!


This cake was made for Easter this year, I just never got around to posting it- things have been so busy!  The cake is a Dark Chocolate Stout cake from a recipe that I found here and tweaked.

The heavenly, almost gooey cake with its ever-so-subtle bitterness is a perfect contrast to a sweet peppermint buttercream frosting that sort of dances around on your tongue as it mingles together.  Deep, dark, bittersweet cake and creamy, sweet, minty frosting- what more could you ask for?  Oh, probably the recipe, huh?

Without futher ado, I give you the recipe for Dark Chocolate Stout cake with Peppermint Buttercream as a bonus to a mini tutorial on how to make your cake look as pretty as a picture.

Also, don't be scared if you're making buttercream for your first time.  This was my first time, too, and it turned out just fine.  Aside from the horrifying reality that it's just made of butter and sugar.


If you have dry, sensitive and/or aging/mature skin, this face oil is going to suit you perfectly.  I've tried all kinds of products for my dry skin and they all seem to be so heavy and not as deeply moisturizing as I'd like.

This combination is perfect and it works wonders for wintery, dull skin.  The rosehip seed oil is a "dry" oil, meaning it doesn't make you feel greasy.  I combined this with avocado oil for it's superior moisturizing properties.  You can use half macadamia nut and half avocado oil, as they both impart different qualities.  I've found that if your skin is not extremely dry, the macadamia nut is great, as it is a bit more of a "dry" oil than avocado is. 

I also added a few drops of rosemary for it's anti-aging and anti-bacterial properties (skip the rosemary if you have very sensitive skin).  Lastly, I added a few capsules of Evening Primrose Oil.  This is very expensive if you buy it in pure form, so I opted for the gel capsules that you can find at your local pharmacy.  These also have the added benefit of having Vitamin E oil in them, which acts as a preservative for the serum as well as a healing moisturizer.

All in all, this oil is great- it will keep you glowing and moisturized all day, even in the wintertime.  It can take about 10 minutes to fully soak in, but it's not greasy or oily on the surface once it does.  I usually just wait to put on any foundation until it soaks in.  Even once it's fully soaked in to your skin, it still gives you a nice, dewy glow.

Here is the link to the free printable labels.


My poor niece has really dry skin, despite all of the lotions in the world that my sister slathers on her.  Poor little thing- and her feet are worst of all.  After reading up on some really good moisturizers, I found that tallow is supposed to be a really good one, so I whipped up this batch of foot balm using some of my rendered tallow.  I've also made a free printable label that you can download to make your lotion look fancy and store-bought (I assumed that "beef fat lotion" scrawled across a tin in permanent marker would be a turn-off).