Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Summer Home Improvement Project - DONE!

When I moved into my cape cod
two years ago,
my plan was 
"one big home improvement project per year."
This year's is all finished!

This is how the house looked "before."
(Notice the screened porch, 
which was last year's project.)

This year's plan 
was for a reworking of the front outside entry,
which included:
***A new front door,
(accomplished  earlier this year.)
***Reshaping the covering over the porch.
***Removal of the two side lights 
and replacing them with a new hanging one.
***Removal of the old wooden railing,
(one good push and it would have been gone anyhow)
and replacement with a new one. 

The work actually got started during a time
in May when I had to be away for a while.

 Unexpected problems should always
be expected when dealing
with an old house, right??? 
The wood underneath the 
original brick floor was rotten.
So, that floor was removed and replaced.

Next came the new covering.
The plan was for it to mimic the
two upstairs' dormers.

Here is the view of the underside,
with its newly installed bead board,
all ready for the light to be installed.

Note all the old floor bricks.

The painting started...

...and completed,
as well as the new pendant light 
in place.
The end is in sight!

While the heavy lifting was being done,
I was doing some fun things,
such as looking for a new doorbell.
I found this one on Etsy at 

There was a bit of a challenge with it,
since my doorbell was electronic and
the cover I choose was for a wired one.
I had just had the doorbell installed when 
I renovated the house two years ago,
so really did not want to replace it.
Luckily, I have a very creative builder named Jim.
He was able to cut an opening in the facing
to house the workings of the bell.
The cover fit over my original button perfectly!

New mailbox!

The metal railing was installed as the final step.

The project was finished in June.

I found the decal on Etsy at

...and even found a cute one for the back door!

All finished
and I love the final results!

Now my mind is abuzz 
thinking about next year's project...

Monday, June 24, 2019

Another Lane Cake!

My sister Nancy has submitted her
Lane Cake 
entry for this year's bake off.
She wrote such a first-rate post
for her own blog,
I have lifted her pictures and text
to share with you.
Consider Nancy our "guest contributor" today!

"Yes, it's that time of year again. 
 The annual
 Davidson Family
Cake Bake Off."

"This year my sister in law, Pat picked the cake, a deep south
tradition, The Lane Cake."

"Lane Cake was new to me so I went to Google.
When I read it was mentioned in Harper Lee's
"To Kill A Mockingbird",
well, that's all I needed to be

favorite books and defiantly my favorite movie."

"Miss Maudie Atkinson baked a Lane cake so loaded 
with shiny it made me tight"
Scout Finch."

"There are many versions the
 Alabama State Cake,
I went with a traditional version.
When I printed off my recipe and found it was
four pages long,
I knew I was in trouble.
My recipe states this cake gets better the longer
it's stored in the frig, hence the shiny.
I used bourbon."

"Day one was about baking the cakes.
Mine called for three layers.
It is a sponge cake and called for eight egg whites."

"Day two made the filling.  
Eight egg yokes, sugar, raisins, nuts, flavoring, coconut,
and of course the spirits,
only a half cup."

"Quite tasty, but even with just half a cup...
pretty strong."

"Now into the refrigerator to do its thing
for at least two days and up to two weeks.
After that the frosting."

"Day four...I couldn't wait any longer.
Today I made the boiled frosting, something
I've never done before."

"I've also never used a candy thermometer
in fact I had to borrow this one from Susan.
This cake has been fun to make, I've had to step up 
and learn some new skills.
I'm not so sure about this boiled frosting...not sure how it 
should look or what the correct thickness is but
it is what it is."

"The Lane Cake.
You can find this recipe here.

Father's Day is this Sunday and that's when I'll cut this beauty.
I'll let you know what everyone thinks."

Thanks Nancy!
Now an update.
Yes, the cake was cut on
Father's Day
and I happen to be visiting
so I got to enjoy the cake too.

The cake had "seasoned" in the
refrigerator for a few days
before cutting 
and we were
surprised to discover
the boiled icing had ...
maybe waited longer 
than it wanted.
When Nancy took it out of the refrigerator
she discovered the icing had begun
to "drip" down the sides of the cake.
Nothing much to do except
scape off the excess icing,
which gave the cake an interesting
new look!

It certainly did not detract from the taste of the cake.
Nancy's assessment was that
the cake was too dense and a bit dry,
but "tasted okay."
She had never done many of the processes
used to make the cake so did not know
exactly what to expect for its
look, consistency and how it should taste.
And although it was fun,
she probably will not make the cake again. 

Have you ever made a Lane Cake?
If so, I would love to hear about it
and share some pictures!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Rick's "Lane Cake"

We have our second cake in the
Here's the proud baker, my brother Rick,
who makes his home in Germany,
with his wife Terry.

Although he insists it's "still a Lane,"
he used "real butter cream between the layers."
(Does that qualify as a Lane,
which is a vanilla butter cake
with a fruit rich custard filling?
Asking for a friend.)
He DOES get extra points for creativity
because he did not use a recipe,
but rather "looked at a whole lot of
recipes and built my own."
Rick is a devotee of
The Great British Bake Off
and used Mary Berry's
boiled icing.
Rick's assessment of his cake,
"Really good. Really rich.
Between the frosting
and the butter cream between the layers,
we are talking two cups of butter."

How could it not be good???

from Google Images
I have just finished an excellent book,
by Martha Hall Kelly.
About one third into this book
it kept reminding me of
which I read last year.
So I checked the author and yes, 
she wrote that one too.
It deals with a real historical figure, Eliza Ferriday,
the mother of Caroline Ferriday from LILAC GIRLS.
Although considered a prequel
to the earlier novel,
both books stand very well on their own.

This week in the garden
I cut back the iris.
They were magnificent this year
and I hated to see them end.

This is how they looked a few weeks ago.

It's June!
It's summer!
Hope you're enjoying it!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

What's Blooming at Buttermilk Cottage this May

Beautiful iris are now gone, but bloomed gorgeously in early May
I consider myself a
"reluctant gardener,"
because I have never 
really had a huge interest 
in gardening.
However, when I bought the current
Buttermilk Cottage,
I also bought several established beds.

This calla lily was in a bed in front of the house,
but was moved to a side bed when it first started peeking up
and is looking lovely in its new spot.
Since these established beds...
* were already there,
* I am not one who likes to waste things,
* I care about the appearance of my house,
inside and out,
I have spent the past two years
learning about gardening.
I have discovered that...
* gardening is a process
* if something isn't working (pleasing) in one spot,
dig it up and put it somewhere else,
* perennials are my BFFs in the garden,
* there is ALWAYS weeding to be done.

These three small azalea bushes
were bought on impulse last spring
when they were blooming.
They ended in a new bed along the
backside of the house.
I watched them with anticipation
during April
when all the other azaleas in the 
neighborhood were blooming.
I got nothing.
But now late in May
this is what they give me!!!

One of my favorites
that comes back beautifully 
each year is Coreopsis.
Also known as tick seed/tick weed,
 that name does not do it justice.
I have been thrilled to discover
it attracts finches,
which look too exotic
to be just flying around!

Speaking of "exotic,"
this lily was purchased last spring,
again because it was blooming,
to be used as a container plant
on my deck.
It did fairly well,
but at the end of last season,
I found a spot for it in the ground
and look what it is doing now!!!

Although the hosta are not yet blooming,
I had to show them to you
because they are HUGE!
Once they started poking through 
the earth in early Spring,
you could almost see 
them growing by the hour.

To conclude,  
the daylilies are beginning to bloom this week.
They have almost outgrown this spot
and I am anticipating
thinning them out
and transplanting a few
to other spots in the yard.

I'm not sure I can really call myself
a reluctant gardener any more.
Although the work can be hot,
dirty, and sometimes backbreaking,
just look what can happen!
April showers really do
bring May flowers!

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Our First Lane Cake Entry!

It was my sister in law, 
Pat's turn to choose the cake
for this year's
Davidson Cake Bake Off.
Remember, this is not really
a  competition.
For the past several years
a cake has been chosen by one of us,
then my sister Nancy, brother Rick,
sister in law Pat and me
bake the cake, 
using a recipe of our choice.
(We all live miles apart,
so this has been a fun way
to "do something together.")
We then share our thoughts and pictures.

Pat's choice, 
was first baked more than 100 years ago 
for the annual baking competition
at the county fair in Columbus, Georgia
by Emma Rylander Lane
of Clayton, Alabama.
It was the first prize winner!

Pat baked her choice,
one with a strawberry-pecan filling
and cream cheese frosting,
using a recipe from
It was a birthday cake for her husband, my brother Wade.

In Pat's words,
"The filling for this cake was a challenge,
but this was the first time
I had attempted making a filling.
I don't think I got it quite right,
it ran out the sides
when I was assembling the cake.
Overall, I think it turned
out pretty well.
It tasted good!"

Looks good to me Pat!

Come bake with us.
Bake your version of
The Lane Cake
and then share your
pictures, recipe and thoughts with me.
I, in turn, will share on my blog!

Bon app├ętit!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Catching Up

Is it possible?
Is Spring almost over?
I have let SO much time pass 
since my last post.
It has been a busy time at 
Buttermilk Cottage.
That's my only excuse.

In March I hosted two dear friends from college days.
Virginia, my roommate for three years,
who now lives in Texas,
and Marie, who lived across the hall
and now makes her home in Alabama.
We had a lovely visit of several days,
talking ourselves silly,
eating and visiting a few points of interest
near here.

 We made a trip to Abingdon, Virginia 
where the Barter Theatre
was doing CAMELOT.
What a treat to see the show,
which we had all seen together 
when it came out as a movie
all those years ago!

The challenge has been made for this year's
This is an ongoing and yearly
friendly baking competition between
my sister Nancy, brother Rick,
sister in law Pat and
anyone else who wants to join us.
It's not a real competition because
we cannot taste each other's cake,
but we all bake the same cake,
and share our thoughts on it.
This year's cake choice was Pat's.
She has chosen the Lane Cake,
a traditional Southern cake
that has numerous variations.
Think about joining in with us.
All you need do is make the cake
with a recipe of your choice,
send me a picture or two 
along with your thoughts on the cake.
More about this later.

I have recently finished this book 
by Delia Owens.
It is a first novel,
a coming of age story of
Kya, the "marsh girl"
which takes place in North Carolina.
Her prose is lovely and lyrical.
I enjoyed it a lot
and you might too,
especially if you have an
interest in the natural world.

Finally, I am in the midst of this year's
home improvement project.
I think I'll tell you about it when the
job is completed.
The picture above
is a hint of where the work is being done.

Enjoy your May,
it will be gone all to soon!
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