Friends of Mine

30 Years with Jamie

30 years ago, school was letting out for the summer.  We had been in Texas for six months, and I had yet to make any friendships that would stick.  I was headed for daycamp at Evangel Temple, where I was pretty sure I would be miserable–I had been miserable at the Evangel Temple school, so what could possibly be different?

Jamie Anne, is what.

For the first few weeks of camp, Jamie and I were half of a foursome (rounded out by Moddy and Sheila) that was ultimately deemed to dangerous to be allowed to continue.  When the camp counselors broke up our “gang” (I’m telling you, Evangel Temple was a prison camp) Jamie and I went one way, and Moddy and Sheila another til the end of the summer.  Then, we were all scattered.  Moddy and Sheila back to their schools, Jamie to Evangel Temple’s 6th grade, and me off to Hockaday, where I would learn that there were fates worse than Evangel Temple.

But, summer came again, and Jamie and I were delighted to find ourselves at the same YMCA daycamp, where we wreaked our special brand of havoc once more.

We have gone to daycamps together, worked as Candy Stripers together, had a thousand sleepovers, gone to clubs, had family vacations, watched each other’s children…everything.  Jamie has real siblings, whose blood ties to her I have always envied, but she has always been sister-close to me.  I love Jamie.  She is better people than you will meet accidentally.

Jamie is and has always been the most generous person I’ve known.  She is kind and considerate, and careful with the feelings of others.  She is a true home maker for her family.  She is a great and gracious hostess.  She remembers important things, and is just naturally a good friend to anyone.  If anything happened to Bryan and me, she and Wes are the people I would trust with Thor.  You might not know, but Jamie knows the full meaning behind those words.  I trust Jamie with more than my life.  I trust Jamie with Thor’s life.

If you’re so inclined, take a gander at Jamie’s blog A Dash of Domestic.  She’s fantastic.


Jamie Anne (on the right) and me at age 13 in the 80s.


And us from the 90s (I’m pretty sure that was summer of 1990, given my retainer and hairstyle), and the 10s.


Here’s to 30 more years, Jamie.  And 30 more after that!

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:

Lancient History

You can take the woman out of her teens, but you can’t take the screaming teen out of the woman

Happy album release day, Duran Duran.

I grew up listening to Country & Western, almost exclusively. In our house, it was Willie, and Waylon, and Merle, Loretta, Dolly, and Patsy. Now and then I’d hear the Eagles or Elvis, but it was solid twang coming out of our stereos, with nary a hint of electric guitar. My mother loved disco, and she would play the Bee Gees and Barbra Streisand’s album of duets with Barry Gibb, but if I wanted to hear Chic or Elton John (and I did, oh, I did!), I had to wait until we went to the swimming pool and hope some teenager was already there with a loud transistor radio.

In sixth grade, a schoolmate came back from her winter break in London and brought a 12″ single by a band called Duran Duran. For whatever reason, our Spanish teacher let her play the album in class, and I was transfixed. Girls on Film. I was less impressed with the pictures of the band. Boys wearing makeup? Ew.

That attitude prevailed until the next summer, when Jamie and I reconnected at camp. She explained the beauty of the Taylor Taylor Taylor Rhodes LeBon quorum, and doled out Roger and Andy as my imaginary celebrity boyfriends. I balked. I didn’t want the short ones! I ended up with John and Andy, if I wanted him. Jamie got Simon, Nick, and Roger. A year later, I would try to pull the same stunt with Karen, for whose fandom I was responsible. She was my Duran Duran Padawan, and just as rebellious a one as I had been. She balked at Roger and Andy, too. I kept John, she got Nick, and we shared Simon back and forth.

Jamie actually owned pop music. I owned a Barbara Mandrell tape and got to play Blondie on the jukebox at the Waffle House. That was the closest to pop I had come. Jamie made me some tapes, and I cherished them like Gollum and the One Ring. (Then, a 7th grade science teacher –swearsies, the science teacher–convinced me that Duran Duran were devil worshippers and I would go to hell for listening to them, and I threw away my precious tape. A couple of weeks later, I decided I would risk hell and bought my very first cassette tape. 7 and the Ragged Tiger.)

The two of us spent our summer at Six Flags Over Texas, pumping quarters into the video machines to watch Rio and Hungry Like the Wolf, and buying trinkets to paint with, “Nick loves Jamie,” and “John loves Lane,” along with the biggest posters we could afford. Jamie made me a tiny photo album filled with pictures she had collected of John Taylor, and I carried it with me for good luck. We were silly, happy, baby-teens. We even figured out how we could tunnel under Reunion Arena to sneak in to see the band. All that was stopping us, in our thirteen-year-old glory, was not knowing how to get a bull dozer. (Wilier fans just hid under tableclothes on rolling tea trays. Wily, we were not.)

For Christmas that year, my mother bought me a casio mini keyboard, and I learned to play 7th Stranger. Badly. Repeatedly. I think my mother regretted that more than the Easy Bake Oven. She could fake eating the “cakes” I kept baking her until I ran out of cake mix (which she refused to replenish), but she couldn’t unhear me in my bedroom plinking away, slaving over the sheet music (I couldn’t read music then) and trying to hunt and peck my way into some semblence of melody. It was worse when I started trying to play Save a Prayer. I’m a vocalist, not an instrumentalist. That is well established. Like the fact that I am an eater, not a chef.

Aside from torturing my parents with my newfound musical tastes, and driving my father mad by wallpapering my bedroom in tear-outs from the magazines kept in business by my fandom, Duran Duran actually led me into some cultural awakenings.

I followed Simon LeBon’s lyrics into the school library, where I scandalized the librarian by checking out Candide and some dirty letters written by Voltaire–I wouldn’t have known they were dirty if she hadn’t told me. Kind of like when I read the Wife of Bath’s tale and just blinked and tilted my head a lot. Huh? Of course, reading Voltaire led me to Rousseau, and then I was off chasing after French Revolutionaries for five years. Interviews with Nick Rhodes sent me back to the library to check out Surrealism and sundry other art movements, and quite honestly, informed my whole outlook on modern art. John Taylor mentioned the books he was reading, so I read them. We have very different literary tastes, he and I. Roger never said anything, and Andy…well, Andy never said anything I thought worth following up on, so I can’t say that he was any influence at all. Also, Thunder stank.

I made friends who were also Duran Duran fans. Some were shocking in their balls out stalking-fanatacism, others practiced my milder forms of worship. In any case, just about every one of those friendships led to something else interesting.

Twenty years ago, you’d have found me at Sound Warehouse today, hoping to be the first to get the new album out of the cellophane, bouncing around with other Duranies. Since it is the age of the internet now, I’ve been hearing the first single for a couple of weeks and heard the whole album last week. Instead of meeting up with friends at the record store, I’m watching Facebook explode with the enthusiasm of my wasted youth.

Anyway, cheers to Duran Duran. I don’t care what anyone says, Wild Boys never lose it.



Leslieann, Renae, Wedding-Me, Sarah, Jamie, and Karen.

I’m feeling nostalgic tonight, and enjoying memories of the women who walked me down the aisle.  You’ve already met them, but just in case you missed anyone, these are Leslieann, Renae, Jamie, and Karen.  When Sarah-Mac is old enough for me to feel comfortable posting about her on the internet, we’ll add her to the mix.  Until then, she can be adorably anonymous-ish.

I am a fortunate woman.


Women Worth Knowing: Meet Jamie Anne

Jamie Anne was my first friend in Texas.  We met at daycamp in the summer of 1981, where we promptly formed a club with our photo negatives, Moddy and Sheila, and terrorized the administration with threats of bake sales and matching t-shirts.  Our puzzled parents were called about our “gang activities”, and we were forced to spend our nap times on opposite sides of the gymnasium.  We just thought it was weird that they were making 11 year olds take naps anyway.  That’s us, up there, in 1989 and again in 2009.

Somehow, though we never went to school together, we managed to make best of friends and keep best of friends for the past 29 years.  Jamie is my sister.

The best things about her:  She is, bar none, the kindest woman I know.  She has a huge heart.  She’ll help you with anything you need, she’ll give it to you if she’s got it, she’ll find it if she doesn’t.  She is generous with her life.  In all the years I have known her, she has never been afraid to share anything, and has never once hesitated to offer material goods, time, assistance, or just a kind word to anyone.  Jamie is good people.

Currently, she maintains a blog dedicated to helping people save money, by sharing deals, coupons, and specials running local to her.  Her link is in my blogroll to the right.  Frugal in Wonderland.  A domestic goddess, I bow to her superiority when it comes to running a household.  Frankly, I’m just a better person for knowing her.

Name: Jamie Anne
Age Range: 30’s
Preferred Job Title: Domestic Goddess, Momma, Frugalista
Industry:  I am a house wife and stay at home parent, I moonlight as a thrifty shopper….a coupon shopper.

Describe your family:
My family is 4 people strong. My husband, Wes. My kiddos A and S. A is a middle school student and my oldest, S is still in elementary school… We are boat people, we have a little boat and we really enjoy it. Wes is into robotics, computers and building things from scratch. A plays a French Horn. S is a song bird and I enjoy movies and books about Zombies.

What does the first hour of your day look like?
Zomg. I am NOT a morning person, not at all. I groan, I hit the snooze button, my husband would tell you I am quite difficult in the morning…Heh. I get up, get dressed, and get coffee. Coffee is essential. Srsly. Start breakfast, wake my daughter, make lunches, prod my daughter along, make my husband’s coffee and breakfast, kiss my husband goodbye *breathe* take S to school *breathe* come home, wake A, make A’s breakfast, prod A to keep him moving…take A to school…Oops I went a little past an hour. My bad. That’s my first 2 hours.

The last hour?
Chill. Wes and I usually watching something off the DVR. We sit on the couch and veg out. That’s about it.

What makes you feel successful?
My wonderful family. Being a wife and mother are the very best and hardest jobs I’ve ever had. Knowing that I do my best each day for those I love most make me feel like a success.

A successful coupon shopping trip also makes me feel very successful. I usually save 50% or more. That makes me feel very successful.

What brings you joy?
My family and my very good friends. An awesome cup of coffee. A new outfit.

What women do you admire?
The women I admire most are all women I know. There are a ton of worthy women out there, but IMO you have to know a girl’s dirt and how they succeed in spite of it to really admire them. I admire my Mother(s), my Sister in Love Michelle, my sister by choice(Lane) and my sweet friend Lashelle.

What advice would you give boys about girls?
We don’t always say what we mean, but we usually have good intentions.

How do you overcome adversity?
Is drinking an option? Kidding. I am not a quitter. I push through, I don’t like to fail.

How do you want to be remembered?
As a good and loving wife, a supportive and loving mom, a true and helpful friend and a frugal deal finder. ;0)