Five in Five

This Summer, I decided to join the boys in the Summer reading program and while I do love a good prize, the real incentive for me was reading five books in five weeks. I can’t say I’ve ever attempted, much less completed the task. This year I did. Here are my five books (with commentary and affiliate links if you click the book photos).

Yellow StarYellow Star – This book is actually from the juvenile reading section, but a quick and interesting read to kick off the program. This would be a great book for younger readers who are interested in or to start the conversation about the Jewish ghettos. As always with this subject matter, it boggles the mind that people can be so cruel to one another.

Red TentThe Red Tent – This came up with my Island besties a week or two before the reading program started. It is a fictionalized and entertaining tale, based on the wives of biblical Jacob, with themes of duty, history and the strength of women. This took more than one week to read. Thankfully I had extra days given the length of the first book choice.

three daughtersThree Daughters – Given the title and my childhood as the middle of three daughters, not to mention high ratings in the Kindle lending library, this seemed an appropriate selection. This book is LONG. Thankfully I was reading this the week I flew to California and back, otherwise I wouldn’t have finished it in one week. The three daughters are actually all from different generations within the same family line. It’s a real page turner with one bit of caution…it gets pretty racy towards the end as the generation gets more, um, liberal, shall we say.

Yellow CrocusYellow Crocus – Set in the South, dealing with slavery and the growing unrest of the next generation of slave owners, the book provides a unique twist on a story we’ve all read a time or two. Engaging and easy reading made the book a quick read.

All JoyAll Joy and No Fun: the Paradox of Modern Parenting – This is NOT a parenting book. Another selection from the Kindle Lending Library, this provides a compilation of numerous writings, studies, theorists and actual interviews of parents, to showcase how raising children effects parents. Focusing on the middle class, it chronicles the loss of autonomy, the life and times of toddler hood up to adolescence and even young adult hood. The very end of the book talks about the Joy factor that can’t be measured in studies and questionnaires. This is a MUST read if you have children or even considering having a family. I have been at odds with some of my parenting choices coming back to haunt me with my oldest recently and darn if they didn’t touch on these very same things! Can’t say it justified any of my parenting behaviors, but it did allow me to realize there is always room for change.

The over-riding theme of the book is how much work children are, how we willingly over extend our children and ourselves in the process, well beyond what previous generations did, but in the end we almost can’t help ourselves, as parents. Oh and the author reassured parent readers of the younger set, we will in fact be fun again one day. One day….brings to mind for some reason an old favorite of mine: Someday Never Comes.

Bungie

The much anticipated Bungie the Clown. Brendon has been asking to see her since we started the Summer Reading Program five weeks ago. Today she came to close out the whole program, just as she did last year.

Rainbow Cake

Shortly after Brendon’s first birthday, five and a half years ago, I stumbled across a rainbow cake. It was probably in a Martha Stewart magazine since I’ve been subscribing to them before the Enron debacle, but honestly I don’t remember exactly where it was. This was pre-pinterest era. I do remember telling my SIL about this and suggesting she make one for my niece’s birthday that same year. In my mind I remembered her making one that didn’t turn out well. My memory is unreliable at times and she reminded me this year it was a pink cake (ombre, before the term was commonplace) and its problem was not maintaining color intensity.
cut cakeSo here I am six years later, still thinking about this cake and then what does my soon to be four year old request? A Rainbow Cake!! **This kid has been such a blessing.** Ha! After much pinteresting, blog and recipe research, I found an easy recipe to try, along with discovering the key ingredient to keep colors bright: VINEGAR. I heart vinegar! So useful, versatile and inexpensive. This also solved the mystery of why there’s vinegar in red velvet cake recipes. I’ve wondered about that for years, but alas, too forgetful or lazy to research.

cake batter

Batter Up!

The cake: Recipe found here, at Divas Can Cook. I think the buttermilk was providing the vinegar in this recipe, but I did add one extra teaspoon of vinegar, just to be safe. No use going through all the trouble of research and construction to have it turn out in muted tones. The cake, on its own, was really delicious.

cake layerAs always I made the cake layers the day before, wrapped and froze them until the next morning when I made the frosting and assembled the cake. It really helps with the crumbs. As the recipe suggested, I bought a third cake pan to do the cake in two batches. It didn’t really work out that way in reality and I’d suggest sticking with two or going for four pans if you really wanted to cut down some time. In another attempt to alleviate troubles, I used parchment rounds in the pans along with a heavy dose of baking spray.

cake slice

This was taken the same day I frosted it. The next day, after it had been in the fridge all night, the layers were even more distinct.

The Frosting: Was from a funfetti cake recipe, found here. It’s a no fail buttercream frosting. The cake recipe calls for a cream cheese frosting; I assume to cut the sweet since you use so much frosting with all the layers. However, cream cheese frosting is hard our vegetarian systems these days. Overall the cake was very sweet!, which works well if you’re feeding a crowd – a small slice goes a long way.

cake candles