Posted in boot camp best

What Is Sexy: Part Three


In just a couple of days, on May 22, you’ll see The Outside Lane featured on theNickelodeon Parents Connect Sexy Mama Boot Camp.  Leading up to that, I’d like to introduce you (and any new readers) to some things I think are sexy.

1.  Finding new ways to make old things beautiful is sexy.

Bridal bouquet made of brooches from The Vintage Texan

Oh my word.  Jennifer Green is another neighbor of mine who is the artisan behind The Vintage Texan blog and corresponding etsy store.  When she told me about her work, I got very excited.  When I saw her work?  I wanted to get married all over again just so I could have a brooch bouquet!  Jennifer says, ” I specialize in taking old thing and turning them into new. I try to bring back the old traditions of canning, and lately I have started selling my vintage brooch bouquets. Each bouquet is handcrafted by me by using items that normally people would just throw away. I use brooches, earrings, and just about anything shiny that people “love”. I am growing this to include several other items such as vintage brooch cake toppers, brooch boutonnieres, picture frames and other things vintage.”   You HAVE to look at her site, and if you know any brides-to-be, you MUST direct them Jennifer’s way.

2.  Getting a jump on the next Big Thing in Books is sexy.

Martha Brockenbrough’s new book cover!

I have been reading Martha Brockenbrough’s work since 1998, when her writing was the brightest spot in a dark space of time between 9-5 every day.  I cannot wait to get my copy of Devine Intervention!  June 1 people.  Check out the blurb below from Goodreads, and tell me you don’t want to read more.  No…don’t tell me that.  Because then we can’t be friends anymore.

There is a great legend of the guardian angel who traveled across time and space for the human girl he loved, slaying those who would threaten her with a gleaming sword made of heavenly light.

This is not that story.

Jerome Hancock is Heidi Devine’s guardian angel. Sort of. He’s more of an angel trainee, in heaven’s soul-rehabilitation program for wayward teens. And he’s just about to get kicked out for having too many absences and for violating too many of the Ten Commandments for the Dead.”

3.  Having a beautiful, brilliant, best sisterfriend for 30 years is sexy

Jamie and I have been friends since we were eleven-years-old. She’s more sister than anything else, and I am so proud to know her.

Since Jamie Anne Grimes, my lifelong friend and beauty/brains behind A Dash of Domestic has been teaching me about what it means to be centered in myself, and grounded in my own confidence for thirty years, I’m going to let her tell you what it means to be sexy.

What is sexy?

Sexy can be so many different things.

For me….

dirt underneath the fingernail of my index finger and smeared across my cheek. A ponytail, un stylishly near the very top of my head. Sweat across my brow, one glove on….where the other one went….no one’s quite sure.

This is sexy to me.

I have a vegetable garden. I grow food my family, neighbors, and friends eat.

Plants tended to and grown with love and care by me. Food grown from organic seeds, food that’s pesticide free.

Food I am proud to cook and share.

This is sexy….

being able to provide food for those I care about is sexy.

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To follow my garden exploits….click

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Posted in Chef Lane, Giveaway, holiday guest blog

Days of Christmas: Holiday Must Make–Truffles, Cake Balls, and Jars of Cake


I get 90% of my sweet recipes from Jamie over at A Dash of Domestic, including the idea for Jars of Cake and Cake Balls.  I saw this Holiday Truffles recipe on Facebook, and had to try it.  I figured it was a dessert I couldn’t bake to death or ruin in some other way.

I picked up the following at the grocery store, then Thor and I got to work tonight.

  • 2 bags of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 bag of dark chocolate chips
  • 1 14oz can of condensed milk
  • 1 box of Duncan Hines Red Velvet Cake Mix
  • 2 things of Duncan Hines frosting (1 cream cheese, 1 chocolate)
  • 1 half gallon of whole milk
  • Assorted Sprinkles
  • 1 tin of cocoa
  • 12 4oz jelly jars with lids

Following the Holiday Truffles recipe, I melted up the chips and condensed milk, let Thor do the stirring, then popped it in the fridge to chill while I went to work on the cake.  Once everything was cool, I rolled up my truffle balls and then covered them in the assorted sprinkles.  I found it worked better to warm the chocolate in my hands a little before sprinkle dousing, and I found it worked really well to just roll the balls around inside a bowl of cocoa to cover them with that.  Now they are sitting in the freezer, waiting to go to a Christmas party.

Holiday Truffles

I made the red velvet cake batter as directed, then poured in 2 cups of chocolate chips (1 semi-sweet, 1 dark) at Thor’s behest.  Half the batter I poured into the tiny jars (situated on top of my Pampered Chef stone baking sheet–I love that thing so much!  Thank you Emily Reese!), filling the jars about halfway, then baked for 26 minutes at 350.  I used a teaspoon to scoop off the muffin-y tops of the cakes, then stuffed my cream cheese frosting into a ziplock baggie and cut a tiny pinch from a corner for a makeshift decorating tip.

After the cakes were cooled, I frosted them, screwed the jar lids on, and decorated one for you to see.  Those are now refrigerated, waiting to be delivered to their lucky owners.

Cakes cooling. I set them in warm water to help cool them down without breaking the glass. Ask me about my glass breaking story sometime.
Icing on the cake.
When is a door not a door? When it's ajar. Ahahahahaha! This is a cake in a jar.
Festive, non?

I baked the other half of the batter as a sheet, then mixed it up with about a quarter of the chocolate frosting (and the cake muffin tops I had cut from the jars) and formed cake balls with that.  I rolled the balls in cocoa, and have them in the freezer with the truffles, chilling and hanging out until it is time to be eaten.  Soon, my sweets, soon.

I did melt down some chocolate chips and mixed with whole milk, then dipped about 6 of the cake balls into that.  I caught Thor sneaking them from the platter where they were cooling.  The cake-faced grin would have given it away if the chocolate soul patch he was sporting had not.  Or the stomach ache he ended up with later.

We had fun.  Next up is the gingerbread train kit we’re putting together tomorrow.  Woo-woo!

On the topic of cooking, remember that if you leave a comment on ANY blog entry between now and December 30, like The Outside Lane on Facebook, or leave a comment on The Outside Lane on Facebook, you can win a month-long Premium Membership to my favorite Personal Chef’s website: JulieAnneRhodes.com

Posted in holiday guest blog

Days of Christmas: Holiday Have to Reads–Bookmark These!


Unless you’re in retail, or one of Santa’s elves, business tends to slow down over the holidays, leaving you more time to spend reading.  Throughout the rest of the month, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite downtime reading sites, starting with:

Arwen Bicknell: Wordsmith, hack, scribbler

Why read Arwen’s blog?  First, because she’s hella entertaining (I know, I am an embarrassment to still be using “hella”.  Arwen never would.  That’s reason 1.a that you should read her.)  Second, because she is working on publishing a novel and is sharing the ins and outs of that arduous task.  There are really hundreds of reasons to visit her site, but I’ll let you find them in your freetime.  Here’s a tiny sample:

Today I read an agent’s wish list on Facebook. And I started wondering about what I’m writing.

Part of the hard thing about writing fiction is that there are so many different avenues you can take with a story.  I set out with a plot, a goal, a voice and an audience in mind.

And then I think, “But this story would be so much cooler if I could write it with some older, sexier, darker subtext. That guy should really WANT that girl, and not get her. Can I write that into middle-grade fiction? Pretty sure my kid doesn’t get the whole unrequited love concept. Nope, take it out.  Or should I just start writing the other version? Can I write the same book twice, from two different perspectives?”

And then I think, “Bah. I can’t even get one book published. Why would I write two of the same thing?”

And then I think, “You know, this story would be so much more saleable if I say they are all vampires.”

And then I think, “Perhaps I should stop writing and go eat some cake. Like, forever.”

A Dash of Domestic

I am quite fortunate to be a personal friend of Jamie’s, the writer of A Dash of Domestic, which means I get to sample many of the delectable wares posted–you will only get drool over them, unless you use her recipes and make your own.  From diet wrecking cake balls (falling off the wagon never tasted so good!) to homemade soap, Jamie recounts her successes and not-so-successful tries at all kinds of DIY home making.  Plus, she’ll make you laugh while you’re reading.

Check out this recipe for Cake-in-a-Jar Christmas Gifts.

And you have to check out author and television writer, Pamela Ribon’s site, Pamie

I started reading Pamie when she was writing for Television Without Pity, found her blog, and have been following faithfully ever since.  She posts sporadically, so don’t expect daily updates, but with the treasure trove of archives, you can stay busy for a couple of weeks.  Definitely worth wasting your time there!

Remember that you can be entered to win a month-long Premium Membership to JulieAnneRhodes.com by leaving a comment on any blog entry at The Outside Lane between now and December 30.  Go like us on Facebook and get entered again!