The Goto Cake Recipe

This is a never fail recipe for chocolate cake.  I’ve used it for cupcakes and regular cakes and it’s never failed to deliver a tasty moist product.  It’s an easy recipe and you don’t need a mixer to make the batter.  I always double the recipe and get either 24 cupcakes or 2 8 inch cakes.

If I want to really have some fun with the cupcakes, I’ll make a Swiss meringue buttercream, however my standard American buttercream works as well.

The cake recipe comes from

The Swiss meringue buttercream comes from the Preppy Kitchen site.

Preppy Kitchen also has a recipe for chocolate cupcakes that I have tried.  It’s also good, but has a few more ingredients.  One change I have made to the wacky cake recipe is to use 1.5 cups of water and 0.5 cup coffee.  It helps bring out the chocolate flavour.

Here’s a video from Preppy Kitchen making the Swiss buttercream.

My Budding Art Career

Way back in November, a friend suggested we go to a “Paint Your Pet Night” hosted by Cassie Young Dog Training (Facebook) and Erin Stagg. (Facebook) I’m not an artist!  I have a hard time painting a wall!  However, the event did interest  me and I signed up.

We sent a photo to Erin, and she prepared the canvas for us.  The image was traced out and numbers were in the various areas of the image.  The numbers indicated the shade of the colour for that section with 1 being lightest and 5 being the darkest of the colour.  For my image, I sent a picture of Able.  One of my favorite pictures of Able, I love the lighting and how bright his face is.

When the evening came, we created our masterpieces.  I did need some help with some of the details, but I did complete the painting.  I was quite happy with the result.

A few months later, there was a second party.  This time it was Luka’s turn.  Wondering how to paint a white dog on a white background, Erin suggested I do the painting as an abstract.  I loved the idea and away I went.  By the end of the night I had an awesome painting.  At least in my opinion!

For the third party, it was Roxi’s turn.  For this image, I used an old picture where she had her “serious” look.  Like Luka, the painting was an abstract.  I was also pleased with the final result.

I’m No Buddy Valastro!

I like to bake.  I find it enjoyable and relaxing and face it, who doesn’t like a good piece of cake!  One of the more challenging aspects of baking is decorating.  I’ve never been much of an artist, but the nice thing about cake decorating is the cake still taste good regardless of how it looks.

A couple of years ago, a friend introduced me to Russian Piping Tips.  These made decorating much easier.  With one tip, you could create flowers, leaves and many other designs.  Needless to say, I ordered some for myself.

I’ve used them many times and some of the results are in this post.  I mostly use an American buttercream for decorating, however I’m becoming a fan of Swiss meringue buttercream.  I do enjoy the process and I’m always pleased with the final results.

So, go to Amazon, Ali Express or your favorite baking supply store and buy some tips!  Then watch some videos on their usage and try it for yourself.

66 In 14 Day 4 – A Bad Day

The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

Today was a quiet day.  The trip was a quick drive to Santa Fe to check out the historical plaza area.  Mostly an area populated by boutique clothing shops, specialty galleries and quaint cafes, there are some historical landmarks in the area.  The dominant feature is the  The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, commonly known as Saint Francis Cathedral.  A Roman Catholic cathedral in downtown Santa Fe, it is the mother church of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.  The church is open to the public to drop in and join in their services.  The whole area is a must see if you’re ever in he Santa Fe area.

The White House.

The return to Albuquerque was fairly quick since I wanted to visit some attractions in the city.  Museums? Nope!  I wanted to visit places used in the production of “Breaking Bad”.  Top of the list was the White residence.  With the address in the GPS, it was a quick find.  Turn out this is a very popular spot to visit.  There were two other people there for the same reason.  A couple of quick pics and off I went.

Candy Store
My name is Icenrye!

Next I returned to Old Town, where i had dinner the night before.  At that time it was after dark and I couldn’t see too much.  I wanted to visit the The Candy Lady which made the blue crystal meth used in the show.  A word of caution.  There’s two candy shops in Old Town with similar names.  Make sure you go to the Candy Lady.I didn’t meet the “Candy Lady” however the gentleman who helped me was great.  He provided samples of various fudges and after my purchase, offered to take my picture with the Heisenberg glasses and hat on.  One of my better portraits!

That’s about it for today.  As I mentioned, a quiet day.  Tomorrow.  It’s Amarillo, and I won’t be there by morning.  Stay tuned!

66 in 14 Tour Day 3 – Flagstaff to Albuquerque

Today was a day I was really looking forward to.  There were many attractions I wanted to check out along this stretch of road.  So, I was up early, packed and out the door to……….

You know the line.

-6C in Flagstaff with frost on the car and ice on the ground!  Ok.  It wasn’t that bad.  It just made for a good picture.  After breakfast, it had warmed up to about -2 and with a black car with a black interior, it didn’t take long to warm up.

So on the road with the first planed stop being Winona (Don’t forget Winona!).  Well as the guide book says “It looks like Winona forgot itself”  There was nothing to see.  Of well.  Off to the next stops which do have something to see.

Twin Arrows and Twin Guns are both abandoned service stations.  Both places use to be popular with tourist, however over time, they have been vandalized to the point where they are now off limits to tourist.  I was lucky at Twin Guns that there was a open gate that allowed me to get closer to the famous tanks.

The Meteor Crater Center is a privately owned area with the worlds largest preserver meteor crater.  The crater is over 2.5 miles wide and over 550 feet deep.   It’s an awe inspiring site.  There’s a museum on site and guided tour are available.  Worth the side trip if you’re on the area.

Winslow was made famous by the Eagles song “Take it Easy”.  There’s a statue on the corner of Second street and Kinsley Ave. dedicated to the song.  There’s even a mural showing a reflection of the girl in the Ford on the wall behind the wall.  It was quite a fine sight to see.

“Hare” it is?

Next it was off to the Jackrabbit Trading post to see the famous sign.  The store itself is a typical tourist trap souvenir store with generic “Route 66” shirts and coffee mugs.  Not much else to see.

My stop for the night.

Holbrook was the next stop to visit the Wigwam Motel.  A famous motel on 66, the Wigwam is usually booked months in advance.  On this day, it look deserted.  The parking lot has various old cars and trucks parked within and proved to be an enjoyable photo stop.

After Holbrook, there’s not too many landmarks.  66 is mostly highway that runs parallel with I-40.  There were a couple of places where I could venture off the freeway and explore.  It was along one of there stretches that I stopped at an old gas station for some pics.  There I met a caretaker who showed me a couple of hidden gems at the location including two paintings that were still in good shape and not faded.  A fun spot that isn’t listed in the guide books.

Albuquerque was reached just as the sun was going down.  Perfect timing.  The motel I’m staying at (Monterey Non-Smoking Motel) has a great looking sign and I wanted to get a picture.  The picture is on my Flickr and SmugMug site to see.

Dinner a a great Tex-Mex restaurant in Old Town then upload pictures.  Another great day.

Tomorrow.  Side trip to Santa Fe and checking out some Albuquerque attractions, including the Unser family museum and a house once owned by a school teacher who “broke bad”.

See ya later!

66 in 14 Day 2 – Vegas to Flagstaff

Sunday morning started off warm and sunny.  Perfect for a road trip.  The plan for today was to head south to Kingman AZ and pick up Route 66.  So off I went ignoring the prompts from the GPS to take Tropicana, and onto I-15 South.  Maps told me the I-15 to I-215 would be quicker than Tropicana to Highway 95.  Once we were in agreement and on Highway 95, it was a quick trip to Kingman.

See the USA in your Chevrolet.

In Kingman, it was breakfast and a picture of the car, then off to Route 66.  Before I headed east, I wanted to go to Oatman which is near the California border.  I’m glad I did.  This is a great road to drive.  Lots of corners, great scenery and on this Sunday, no traffic!  Best of all, any vehicle over 40 feet is prohibited from using the road, so no RVs or big trucks!

Once in Oatman, traffic was brought to a halt by the wild burros.  Story has it that they are descendants of the burros used buy the gold miners.  They are very tame and have the tourist trained to feed them.  If you have a carrot, you’ll have a new friend!

After Oatman, is was back to I-40 to Kignman to pick up 66 again.  From there, it was east to Hackberry where I stopped at the Hackberry General Store where there are many old cars in various states and a good looking Corvette.  A popular stop in the middle of nowhere.  A trend I would soon learn is quite common on 66.

A signpost at a rest stop before the final climb to Oatman

From there, it was through many more ghost towns until reaching Seligman.  There I wanted to have a look at a popular souvenir shop, however four busloads of tourist pulled up at the same time.  I only managed to have a quick look then got out.  Too bad.

After Seligman, it was onto Flagstaff.  I was looking forward to a quick trip on I-40, however Mother Nature had other ideas.  It started to snow!  Not just fluffy flakes, but hard driving, almost ice pellets.  The freeway was covered in white and the Cruze’s traction control even kicked in a coupe of times to stop wheelspin.  Traffic on the freeway dropped from 130 KMH (80MPH) to about 60 KMH (40mph).  Nobody spun out.

Finally, Flagstaff was reached and the day was done.  A quick dinner, then upload pics.  Another great day!  Even with the snow.

Giddy up!
One of the wild burros in Oatman.

Please check out my Flickr or SmugMug page (links in the header bar) for more pictures.  All pictures for this tour will be geotagged so you can see where it was taken.

See ya tomorrow!


66 In 14 Tour Day 1 – Off To Sin City

Well, departure day finally departed.  Bags were packed and I was ready to go.  Off to the airport I went, breezed through check in and security only to find out the flight was delayed.  There was some concern since the final flight from Friday and the first flight from today was cancelled.  So Westjet had to figure out to get three loads of passengers to Vancouver!  Somehow they did.

On the way to Vancouver
Above the clouds. Enjoying the snow capped mountains.

Once in the air, it was a quick and smooth flight to Vancouver where you get to go from one end of the airport to the other to clear US customs.  On a side note, I’m always impressed how friendly the US security people are.  They’re always welcoming when I visit.  Canada security, on the other hand, try to make you feel guilty for leaving the country!

Vancouver Airport
A Salmon Roll and Double Double!

Past US security, I saw what has to be the most interesting combination of restaurants.  A Japanese restaurant and a Tim Hortons!  I’ll leave it to you to come up with possible menu selections.

Finally it was on to Vegas.  This flight, as opposed to the flight from PG, was about 60% full.  I had the whole row to myself.  My entertainment on the flight down was the Pixar Classic “Cars”.  Since most of the movie was based on Route 66, I thought I would see what landmarks they used in the film.  Most of them, I hope to visit.

Sunset at 40,000 feet.

On the ground, it was off to the car rental center to pick up my vehicle and home for the next two weeks.  I rented with Alamo.  I’ve used them before and really like how they let you pick your car.  I also took advantage of their on-line check in to bypass the counter.  What a good move.  The line up at the Alamo counter was past the entry to the kiosk!  Because of my early check in, I was able  to proceed directly to the car lot and grab my wheels.  From previous trips, I was hoping to get a Chevrolet Cruze.  I’ve rented this model twice before and have gotten to appreciate the car.  Well, my luck was good!  Not only did they have a Cruze, it was a RS model with better brakes, tires and suspension then the standard model.  Perfect for a road trip.  Off to the hotel for a nights sleep and to get ready to “get my kicks”.

Come back for day 2!

Get Your Kicks……

So when I started this blog, the purpose was to show my photography and tell travel stories.  Well, as you can tell, I’ve done neither.  Oh, I’ve traveled and taken pictures, however this poor blog was left in the dust.

Well, time to wake it up!

As I write this, It’s Friday, October 31, 2014.  Halloween.  Tomorrow, I hop on a plane and fly back to the south west US from November 1 to 15.  The plan for this trip is “Route 66”.  I have guide books, maps and hopeful expectations for this trip.  I’m not sure what to expect, I know I won’t be covering the entire length of 66.  I’ve been on the California leg of the route and the idea of going to Chicago in November isn’t quite my thing.

I do have some landmarks in my sights that I hope to see.  Cadillac Ranch is one.  I’ve always wanted to check out this outdoor art piece.  I may even bring a can of spray paint to make my own mark.

So, I hope to take lots of pictures and may even shoot some video.  Most of all, I hope to chronicle the trip on this very blog.  I’ll be making use of various social media sites as well.  If you’re so inclined, the best way to stay in touch is to follow my tour account on twitter @icenryetour2k14.  This is where my instagram will link to and any geocaching finds I have.  My pictures will be posted to my SmugMug and Flickr accounts.

I’m looking forward to the trip.  It’s going to be fun!

Hello Blog!

Well it’s been 6 months since I updated this blog!  Yikes!  My bad.

Summer was pretty busy with agility and work so the camera didn’t get a lot of use.  Now it’s winter and we approach a new year.  But before 2013, there’s Christmas 2012!

The Motorcycle Shop.

That’s what this post is about.  I’ve started decorating and getting the house ready for the holiday season and I’ll be taking pictures along the way.  As usual, pictures will be posted to my SmugMug site.  Make sure to stop by often and see how things are coming along!

Frosty and the Tree.


Hopefully, this will get me back into the swing of photography and blogging.  I like this site, I just hope to use it more often!

Oregon Tour 2012 Days 7-9. Mid – South Coast

Day 6 was a travel day which ended up at my home for the next 4 nights the North Lake  Resort in Lakeside Oregon.  Simular to my summer agility home, Robert’s Roost  in Quesnel, North Lake has lakeside camping and a small marina catering to the fisherman.  Power and fast WiFi made it perfect.

A memorial bell in Trinidad CA.

Day 7 was California day.  In 2010, I made it to Crescent City, but didn’t have time to visit the redwoods south towards Eureka.  So with an early start, I was southbound.  Passing attractions I would place on my to-do list for the next day, I was in Cali in no time.  Redwood National Park, however would turn out to be a bit disappointing with a “no dogs” policy on the trails withen the park.  So it was a quick drive along the scenic highway.  A fuel and picture stop at Trinidad and it was northbound back to the camp.

I also took a side trip to drive the van through a tree!  At the narrowest portion, I couldn’t fit a finger between the tree and my driver’s side mirror.  It was tighter on the passenger’s side.

Day 8 was dedicated to the West Coast Game Park.  To say this is a classic tourist trap is an understatement.  The highlight were the animals that were allowed to roam freely among the people.  I lost track of the number of peacocks, deer, goats and even llamas that would follow anyone who had food.  Many times I had to fight the urge to return to the van and grab a clicker!

The Lion Doesn’t Sleep Tonight

Photography was challenging.  The animal cages were made of wire fencing and I had to shoot through the fencing.  Some cages had an area cut out to fit a lens through, however the holes would limit where you could aim the camera.  So, not many pictures were taken.

After the game park, it was off to a beach for the daily dip into the Pacific.  The weather today was very windy and the waves were larger than they had been earlier in the week.  A grabbed my Flip camera and shot some video.

Day 9 was a return to some of the places I visited in 2010.  First was Florence where I returned to grab another picture of the wooden statue in fromt of a seafood restaurant I ate at two years ago. The statue had since broke and part of Neptune’s fork was missing.  Opps!  I also visited two lighthouses and took a tour of Newport, checking out some places that caught my intrest earlier in the week.  After Newport it was a quick trip to Yachats then back to camp.

Just a reminder, the pictures above and video below are on my SmugMug set.