Thursday, August 29, 2013

Another birthday


I celebrated my birthday at home in Texas this year. This is the first time I’ve been able to do that since we moved here,usually we are on a job somewhere at my birthday.
We had a community potluck at the clubhouse since it was mine and Becky’s birthday the same week. Becky also lives here in Retama Village. We have such a terrific community of people that love any excuse to get together and eat!
Becky and me our birthday
Mike gave Becky and me these beautiful roses!
Becky and me Roses
I made Red Velvet cupcakes and this wonderful Red Velvet Poke cake. This is one of the best cakes I’ve had in awhile.
Red Velvet poke cake
I got the recipe from The Country Cook
Red Velvet Poke Cake
Ingredients:
1 box Red Velvet cake mix
ingredients needed to make cake (eggs, oil & water)
2 (3.4 oz.) boxes instant Cheesecake-flavored pudding
4 cups milk
1 (8 oz.) tub frozen whipped topping, thawed
10 Oreo cookies, crushed (optional)
Directions:
Prepare cake mix according to package directions for a 9x13 cake.
Once cake comes out of the oven, allow it to cool for just a couple of minutes.
Then, with a wooden spoon handle or some other similarly-sized object, begin poking holes in the warm cake.
You want the holes to be fairly big so that the pudding has plenty of room to get down in there.  Be sure to poke right down to the bottom of the cake.
In a medium bowl, whisk together dry pudding mix with 4 cups of milk.
Whisk until all the lumps are gone.
Pour pudding over cake. Taking care to get right into the holes as much as possible.
Spread it all out and using the back of the spoon, gently push pudding down into the holes.
Put the cake into the fridge to set and cool (about 2 hours).
If you have anything hanging out in your fridge that is stinky, be sure to cover your cake.
Once your cake has completely cooled, spread on whipped topping.
Spread it out evenly over the pudding layer.
If you haven't done so already, crush your Oreo cookies.
I just place mine in a ziploc bag and crush them with a rolling pin. Leave some of the pieces big. It's nice to have a bit of a crunch when you eat the cake.
Spread crushed Oreos onto the top of the cake.
You can do this part immediately before serving the cake if you like.
This will ensure the cookie bits are crunchy when you serve it.
Everyone really seemed to enjoy the cake!

Phil’s mom gave me this Fresh Tec Jam and Jelly maker.
Fresh Tec Jam and Jelly Maker
I’ve been wanting one of these since I saw it online, to make my jams and jellies.
I made my Jalapeno Jelly in it this weekend and it turned out perfect!
Pepper Jelly 4
 
It hasn’t all been about my birthday, though. I also did a guest post on Birding is Fun about one of my favorite birds, you can read and see the pictures here
Plain Chachalaca BSP
Plain Chachalaca

A lot of the birds around are molting.
All About Birds from Cornell has this to say about molting.
http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/studying/feathers/molting
A feather is a "dead" structure, somewhat analogous to hair or nails in humans. The hardness of a feather is caused by the formation of the protein keratin. Since feathers cannot heal themselves when damaged, they have to be completely replaced. The replacement of all or part of the feathers is called a molt. Molts produce feathers that match the age and sex of the bird, and sometimes the season.
Molting occurs in response to a mixture of hormonal changes brought about by seasonal changes. The entire process is complex and many questions remain regarding how the process is controlled.

All I know is that the birds look very unattractive during the molting process, as you can see with this Orchard Oriole that I saw over at Bentsen State Park.
Orchard Oriole Bsp