Cheesecake Cupcakes and a Wedding

With the impending wedding less than two weeks away, final preparations are in full swing. Oh, what wedding you ask? Did I not mention, my son is getting married in mid August? Yes, exciting times for us around Arizona!

Although, Al and I had several reasons for not traveling outside of the state of Arizona this summer, the number one reason to stay somewhat close to Phoenix was the wedding. Being only an hours drive away from Phoenix has worked out perfectly, and I’ve been able to be included in any and all wedding festivities and preparations.

yellow rose

Even though the children live in Phoenix, the actual wedding venue is on a ranch in Skull Valley, just west of our RV Park in Prescott, Arizona. Thus, the location of the wedding is rather convenient for Al and me, but then again, we did plan accordingly ūüėÄ

I haven’t really had much involvement in the whole process. The bride seems to have everything under control, but I’ve been around to attend dress fittings, doing a tour of the venue, and a few other events. The one thing the bride did ask me to do was bake my son’s favorite dessert for the wedding.

dessert tray

This is a dessert tray I took over to a friend’s house last fall. All made by yours truly!

Instead of a wedding cake …

You see, the bride and groom don’t intend to have a big wedding cake. Probably just a little one for them to cut for traditional purposes. Instead of serving guests a slice of wedding cake, they’ve chosen to have a dessert bar for their guests so guests can enjoy a variety of desserts. For this, the bride has enlisted the help of several people.

easy cheesecake cupcakes recipeWith that said, I’ve been asked to make my famous cheesecake cupcakes for the wedding. My son loves cheesecake. It’s his favorite dessert.

I used to make him a yummy New York style cheesecake, but it was always a great deal of work and a tad more challenging to make in my little RV kitchen.

Then I discovered an easy recipe for cheesecake cupcakes, which my son enjoys equally as much. These are so much easier to make than a big cheesecake, especially in the RV.

I didn’t think twice about saying yes to the bride when she asked me if I would make my son’s favorite dessert for the wedding … until … until … until she told me around 90 cupcakes should be about the right amount ūüė≤ Say what?

Okay, I’ve adapted to working in my little RV kitchen and can put out some amazing meals and baked goods. Quite frankly, with a little organization, anything that can be made in a sticks and bricks dwelling, can be made in a RV, but now we’re talking about production … large quantities. No, the RV wouldn’t work. Sure, I could actually make them all in the RV, that’s not the problem. Cheesecake needs to be refrigerated, and therein lies the problem. You know how big my refrigerator is? Six (6) cubic feet! Yeah, that’s small. Let’s compare … how big is yours?

easy cheesecake cupcake recipe

production at daughters place

I needed to come up with another plan. That is, after trying logically to enlighten my future daughter-in-law on the wisdom of serving a chilled dessert like cheesecake at an outdoor wedding in the middle of August … I was met with a blank stare.¬†Ah, brides!!!

Cheesecake it is, and for plan B, I enlisted the help of my daughter. I still haven’t totally figured out how we’re going to keep these little cheesecakes chilled at the outdoor wedding venue, but I have a few possible ideas swirling in my head.

So, a couple of weekends ago, I took the 90 mile drive to the Phoenix valley to spend the weekend at my daughter’s place and dive into the baking production challenge.

She and I always have so much fun spending a weekend together. However, during this visit, we were on a mission and the baking task at hand took precedence. Oh, not that we didn’t have fun … we did indeed. There was plenty of laughing and shenanigans in the kitchen all the while binge watching “Nailed It”.¬†We had to keep motivated, and the baking show did just that!

Nailed it Pinterest fail

Happy birthday Daughter – my Pinterest fail – it’s the thought that counts – Nailed It!

My daughter recently discovered this Netflix original baking show and immediately thought of me. Seriously, if you have never heard of the show, I recommend you Google images of Nailed It, and you too will laugh your a*s off. She thinks I’d make the perfect contestant with my many a Pinterest fail … ah, my baking endeavors and failures¬†ūüėŹ

Whew! Five exhausting hours later – success!¬† We had the cupcake containers filled with the requested 90 cheesecake cupcakes. Now it was time to take them over to son’s house to be stored in his deep freezer. The decorating on top of the cheesecakes will be done the morning of the wedding. After all, I have nothing else to do the morning of the wedding other than decorate 90¬†80 cupcakes ūüėŹ

The cupcake container was so heavy that Ashton and I decided to weigh it. Oh my gosh, almost twelve (12) pounds of cupcakes!!!

recipe for easy Cheesecake cupcakes

We weigh the cupcakes – nearly 12 pounds!

While I lead the way carrying my pans and utensils down the outdoor apartment steps to load into the car, Ashton followed carrying the cupcakes. She had gone down maybe four steps, when I heard some very unladylike exclamations loudly uttered. I didn’t need to turn around to know what had happened, but I did need to know the extent of the damage. The cupcakes were so heavy that one of the container clips on the side gave way. (Note to self … in the future, do not carry by the handle but rather cradle in arms holding from bottom. Do not trust the clips to hold. Lesson learned!)

Although Ashton was on the verge of tears, I quickly calmed her concerns and gathered up the tossed cupcakes. We returned to her apartment to see what I could salvage.

what to bring to a social gathering

This plate of desserts made it successful to a social gathering!

Turns out about ten of the cheesecake cupcakes were not salvageable to serve to wedding guests. The main problem was the shape. Only two had actually touched the ground while the others remained in the container, but ended up either upside down or smashed to one side. The ones that were still slightly warm were now misshapen and not very pretty … tasty, but not pretty.

I gathered the rejects and placed them on a paper plate, and with a sharpie, I marked the paper liners of the two cupcakes that had touched the ground. This plate of rejects would return with me to the RV. The rest of the cupcakes eventually made it safely into my son’s freezer where they await the big day.

With the cupcake challenge behind us, next on our list was to go to the liquor store and purchase the wine for the wedding which Al and I, parents of the groom, had offered to do. With the wine loaded in my backseat and then dropped off at son’s place, Ashton and I returned to her apartment with a chilled bottle of Pinot Grigio for ourselves and a healthy take-out dinner order from Panera Bread. We were exhausted and needed an evening of fun and relaxation.

The rest of the evening was spent laughing, drinking, and eating while we watched a combination of Nailed It and comedian Ali¬†Wong. I’d say we had a very successful and entertaining day in spite¬†of the little mishap on the apartment steps.

Between Al and our RV Park neighbors, the reject cupcakes were devoured in short order with requests for more rejects. And to think, my daughter was going to throw them away! They may not have been pretty, but they were still very tasty as evidenced by their quick disappearance and request for more .

Recipe for my dessert contribution to the wedding

Easy Cheesecake Cupcakes

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Cheesecake Filling
2 – 8 ounce packages of softened cream cheese
1/2 cup granulated sugar
easy cheesecake cupcake recipe2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla

Crust
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 Tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons melted butter

Directions – Turn oven on to 325 degrees.
Crust – In a food processor, grind graham crackers into crumbs. In a small mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs with sugar. Add in melted butter. Using a spoon, combine until all crumbs are coated with butter.

Line a muffin tin with paper liners (do not use foil liners) – 18 cupcakes. With non-stick cooking spray, lightly spray paper liners then add about 1 Tablespoon (or slightly less) of graham cracker mixture to each liner. Firmly press crumbs down.

Filling – In a large bowl, using an electric mixer beat together cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until combined. Spoon mixture into prepared graham cracker muffin tin. Fill about 3/4 full.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until filling looks baked. Cool completely before decorating. This recipe makes about 18 cupcakes.

Decoration
Top with buttercream frosting and a teaspoon of strawberry or blueberry preserves or  instead of frosting, top with strawberry or blueberry preserves and whip cream.

Recipe by Ingrid at LiveLaughRV.com

Tips for making these cheesecake cupcakes

1.  Organization is tip number one, especially when working in a small kitchen.

2. Use a Tablespoon to measure out the graham cracker crust into the cupcake liners to try to get an equal amount into each well.how to make easy cheesecake cupcakes3. Use the top of a wine bottle to firmly press down the graham cracker crust. Of course, we washed the top of the bottle well before using. Perk … drink and enjoy when done using the bottle ūü§£
recipe for cheesecake for a wedding
4. Cool the cheesecakes completely before decorating or moving them to a new location. Do as I say, not as I do!

Final thoughts …

With the groom’s mother (me) doing her part for the wedding, let’s hope Mother Nature does hers and cooperates by giving us a reprieve from the daily afternoon thunderstorms that we’ve been experiencing since early July.

I don’t know why, but the bride and groom didn’t share my sense of humor when I told them my rubber muck boots and raincoat coordinate with my dress nicely and dad (Al) intended to bring his fishing waders just in case. Hey, when ya live in a RV, as Al and I do, one is always prepared for adversity … it’s part of the RV adventure!

Arizona wedding venue

Let’s hope the monsoon season takes a break for us to enjoy this setting for the ceremony! Photo taken during the winter … foliage is much prettier now especially after all the rain!

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Full-filling Dreams

June is always a time for Al and me to do a little celebrating. We have a couple of important anniversaries to celebrate. Sometimes I don’t know where the time has gone. Time can be fleeting. On one hand it seems like yesterday that I was preparing to walk down the aisle and marry my partner in crime and on the other hand it seems like a lifetime ago. The last thirty plus years have sure been one heck of a ride!

outdoor weddings

over thirty some years ago – where has the time gone

So not only did we celebrate another wedding anniversary, we celebrated our full-time RV living adventure. At the end of June, we completed four years of living in the RV full-time. Funny how what was suppose to be a year or two has now turned into five. As we enter year five, we have no immediate plans to change things up.

I was feeling a little nostalgic the other day and started reading some of my earlier blog posts about the transition of selling the house and moving into the RV. I thought I’d re-share a post I wrote back in April 2013 as we were preparing to move into the RV full-time.

outdoor wedding

let’s take a look back

¬†A look back……

Skirts AloftI came across a book titled ‚ÄúSkirts Aloft‚Äú.¬† I smile, sit down, and open the front cover.¬† On the inside of the book in handwriting it says, ‚ÄúIngrid, may all your dreams come true. Love, Mom‚ÄĚ. I had lost my mom exactly a year earlier and coming across this handwritten message brought tears to my eyes.

Ah, the memories ……

I was seven years old the first time I traveled to Europe.¬† It was the mid 1960‚Äôs and my parents had not been back to Germany since they immigrated to the United States in the late 50’s.¬† My mom had been¬†experiencing¬†twinges of home-sickness.¬† So after a year of hard work of¬†scrimping and saving, our family of five was off to Germany for a three-week vacation.

It never ceases to amaze me what memories my mind chooses to recall.  My mom, an excellent seamstress, had made matching dresses and coats for my three-year old sister, myself, and our Thumbelina dolls.  These were the years everyone dressed up to travel, white gloves and all.  Our outfits were the latest, most up to date fashion in Jackie O style.

We boarded a Lufthansa plane.  My three-year old sister sat at the window. My mom sat in the center and I sat on the aisle.  My dad sat across the aisle with my eleven year old brother.  I remember being bored and having trouble sitting still.   My mom was exasperated and embarrassed as the gentleman sitting in the seat in front of me had to repeatedly turn around and ask that I stop kicking his seat.  Come on, it’s a long trip to fly from Chicago to Frankfurt, Germany, and this of course, was long before any kind of technology for entertainment.

My mom thought traveling with a three-year old would be a challenge…..not….sister slept most of the time when she wasn’t eating.  What a good little girl.  The seven-year old, moi …..well, the kicking of the seat, the whining, and the frequent visits to the bathroom were just a precursor to the ensuing fun for mom.

Flight AttendantWith an hour left before landing, the crew came through the cabin taking care of last-minute clean up and paperwork.¬† I‚Äôm¬†mesmerized by the pretty gals in their navy blue uniforms adorned with bright yellow scarves.¬† This is when I tell my mother, ‚ÄúI‚Äôm going to be a¬†Stewardess when I grow up‚ÄĚ.¬† ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs nice honey‚ÄĚ, she responds, clearly exhausted.

As the plane starts the initial descent, that‚Äôs when I reach for the¬†first¬†barf bag.¬† Did I mention, I have a problem with motion sickness?¬† Not a big surprise for dear mom as she had plenty of practice with my car sickness.¬† Once again the three-year old sits quietly and is duly entertained by looking out the window while poor mom deals with the¬†puking¬†seven-year old.¬† Two barf bags later and an empty one in hand, we‚Äôre in my uncle‚Äôs car heading to his house.¬† That‚Äôs¬†when my mom turns to me and asks, ‚ÄúSo, you still want to be a Stewardess when you grow up?‚ÄĚ

The car is warm.¬† I‚Äôm sitting in the middle in the backseat.¬† I have my barf bag in hand.¬† Before answering mom, I dry¬†heave into the bag then respond, ‚ÄúYes mommy, I still want to be a Stewardess‚ÄĚ.¬† My dad chuckles and shakes¬†his head in total amusement, while mom clearly could use a break from this seven-year old.

Nine years later at the age of sixteen, I board a Lufthansa flight by myself bound for Frankfurt,¬†Germany,¬†for a summer abroad.¬† Hugs and kisses goodbye are plentiful.¬† Mom goes in for a second hug and whispers in my ear, ‚ÄúDon‚Äôt forget to¬†keep¬†one of ‘those’ bags within reach just in case you need to throw up‚ÄĚ.¬† ‚ÄúYes mom, thanks‚ÄĚ.¬† Yep, at sixteen I still needed one of¬†those¬†bags.¬† Oh, how embarrassing!

My summer in Germany was amazing and in many ways, life changing.  And although I still endured motion sickness, the dream to become a Stewardess did not falter.

Chicago skyline

In my early twenties I fulfilled this dream and¬†was hired as a Flight Attendant for a small airline based in Chicago.¬† My first day¬†on the job was a six leg flight schedule.¬† Each flight is referred to as a ‚Äúleg‚ÄĚ.¬† This was my flight schedule that first work day as a Flight Attendant‚Ķ..

  1. Chicago to DetroitChicago
  2. Detroit to Chicago
  3. Chicago to St. Louis
  4. St. Louis to Chicago
  5. Chicago to Detroit
  6. Detroit to Chicago

Sounds glamorous, doesn’t it?  Strap on throwing up eleven times!  No problem with next months weigh-in for this vomit comet.  Yes, those were the days of regular weigh-ins.  You had to maintain a certain weight or risk being fired. Heels, make-up, and nails done were also requirements back then.

My second day on the job went a little easier…..

  1. Chicago to Kansas City
  2. Kansas City to Chicago
  3. Chicago to Washington D.C.   Arrive in D.C. at 9 p.m. and spend the night.  The next morning check-in at Regan National Airport for a 6:30 a.m. departure.
  4. Washington D.C. to Chicago
  5. Chicago to Detroit
  6. Detroit to Chicago      Off for three days…..time to rehydrate.

The vomiting stopped after six weeks, but the headaches and occasional dizziness would still rear its ugly head from time to time, especially in the spring time when the cold and warm air currents were mixing.  To me, the movement felt like the gentle rolling of a sailboat riding the waves ….. NOT the kind of movement that agrees with me.

Trips to the Caribbean confirmed my lack of love for sailing.¬† I love the water but prefer a speed¬†boat,¬†jet ski, or even a canoe.¬† Cars?¬† I‚Äôll take a¬†Jeep over a Cadillac any day of the week.¬† When the airplane would encounter severe turbulence, I was fine.¬† It‚Äôs that gentle rolling motion I can‚Äôt handle.¬† I‚Äôll refrain from saying, ‚ÄúI like it rough‚ÄĚ for fear some folks might take this statement the wrong way¬†ūüėČ

It was during my third month on the job when I walked into Flight Operations to check in for a flight.   There standing at 6 feet 4 inches tall was a German-Norwegian hunk of a man in a navy blue uniform.  What is it with me and those navy blue uniforms?

outdoor weddingI¬†introduce myself, ‚ÄúHi, you must be new around here.¬† My name is Ingrid.¬† I believe we‚Äôll be working together for the next few days.‚Ä̬† I never imagined I had just introduced myself to my future husband‚Ķ. First Officer Al. And they said it wouldn’t last!

I was a Flight Attendant for five years and feel very fortunate to have¬†full-filled the dream of a once naive¬†seven-year old.¬† My mom always questioned my ability to be a Flight Attendant due to my motion sickness and encouraged me to go to school to be a nurse or a teacher. She’d say, “just in case, you know“, but she never discouraged or tried to squash my dream.

I have the fondest of memories of those years flying….the good as well as the bad.  Yes, there was plenty of bad like the Air Traffic Controllers strike in the 80’s.  A flight from Chicago to St. Louis usually takes about an hour.  We’d pull back from the gate and sit in line on the tarmac for one to two hours waiting for take off.  FAA regulations requires the Flight Attendants and passengers to remain seated at this stage….no drinks, no potty, no fun, and lots of complaints.  Not the fondest of memories.

Washington DC

Then there’s the travel benefits.  One year for her birthday, I took my mom to Washington D.C. for lunch.  We caught the first flight out of Chicago to D.C.  Several of the pilots I worked with had spent years working at the Pentagon and obviously were very familiar with the D.C. area.  A few restaurants were recommended and I chose one that was known for southern cooking, complete with black-eyed peas, and housed in a historical building.  Mom and I had a great day.

Another time, my folks joined Al and¬†me for a Boston layover and witnessed¬†us at work.¬† Al was the Captain and I the head Flight Attendant.¬† I was the one in the front of the¬†cabin doing all the talking‚Ķ..I love being in charge.¬† ‚ÄúLook, mom.¬† No puking‚ÄĚ.¬† She was proud.¬† Fun times‚Ķ‚Ķah, the stories are plentiful.

Life changes, we grow, and we move on.  New dreams are forged. With that said, time for me to get back to sorting the other boxes here in the basement …… I have a new dream chapter to get started on after all.  Here’s to all your dreams coming true!

*******************************************

That was then, this is now ….. So while Al and I toast to another year in the books, we discuss tentative plans for this next year of full-time RVing ….. plans that are written ‘in jello’ with lots of wiggle room. Although we’ve narrowed down our options, we’re still torn with choices….. our journey continues!

outdoor wedding venue

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Another Anniversary

Another year and another anniversary.¬† It’s hard to believe Al and I have been married for thirty years.¬† Yes, quite the accomplishment I’d say.¬† I’ll admit, it hasn’t always been easy, but it has been an amazing¬†journey, one¬†that I wouldn’t trade.My Wedding

anniversaryAl and I have been fortunate to have lived in some lovely houses over the years complete with plenty of room to spare and spread out….i.e. my space and¬†his space.¬† So when we embarked on our four-month¬†get away this past winter in the RV, we had our fair share of “moments”.¬† Hmm…. you know, the moments when you wonder¬†how you’ll¬†survive living in 250 square feet 24/7.

In the long run, it’s all about communication.¬† We’re able to talk about the things that work and the things that¬†don’t.¬† We still love hanging out with each other.¬†¬†We feel being able to¬†discuss past¬†faux pas¬†openly, honestly,¬†and with humor is important.¬† Contrary to popular belief, we’re not perfect ;-)Thirty years is a lot of history after all.

Full circle…….¬† Our journey together started off with just the two of us traveling in the Airline Industry.¬† It wasn’t uncommon to decide spur of the moment to¬†travel to the Caribbean for a weekend of snorkeling or to jet off to New York City for¬†a day¬†of shopping.

We’ve since raised two children, enjoyed the companionship of two¬†wonderful Brittany Spaniels, and we’re back to just the two of us.¬† Here’s to another thirty year’s of fun and¬†excitement as we ready ourselves for a new adventure…..an adventure full of travel and explorations.¬† Happy Anniversary to us ‚ô•wedding

Happy Anniversary….

Al and I have always had an interest in the “Wild West“.¬† We enjoy watching Westerns, and¬†Al is a huge John Wayne fan.¬†¬†Al grew up watching TV shows such as; The Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, Bat Masterson, The Rifleman, The Cisco Kid………note the common thread!¬† I reluctantly admit to reading romance novels, ones set in the 1800’s…….ya know, cowboys, Indians, horses, mystery, and love. ¬† Al and I will occasionally listen to these period romance novels in audio form on long travel days with the Rig.

Al and Ingrid get married…..many, many moons ago!

So when it came time to plan our wedding, our thoughts drifted to the perceived romance of times long past, BUT with a contemporary¬†twist.¬† You see, Al and I like horses but we’re not horse¬†people.¬†¬†Guided trail rides are the only way we¬†ride horses,¬†and we ride like typical city slickers.¬† Therefore, a truly¬†western style wedding was out of the question, as well as our venue was in a prestigious Chicago suburb, not conducive for a “western” wedding.

We hired a horse and carriage, complete with driver.  Prayed for good weather, not an easy feat in the midwest for an outdoor wedding.  We kept the guest list to a hundred.  Hired three violinists for the ceremony and a band for the reception.  Al wore tails while I went for something resembling turn of the century, complete with parasol.

As luck would have it, the weather was most agreeable…..in the 70’s, partly cloudy, with a light pleasant breeze.¬† We could not have¬†asked for a better day or more perfect setting.

Al and I did ALL the planning, organizing, scheduling, arranging, and paying.¬† A “wedding planner” was a relatively new concept in the 80’s, and since Al and I had been living¬†together (yes, living in sin – not as easily accepted back then as it is now) we paid for everything.¬† Somehow it seemed inappropriate to ask parents for any assistance.¬† However, our parents were rather generous and gracious with wedding gifts and had a fabulous time¬†being parents of the bride and groom.

the ceremony

It was a great day.¬† A day we’ll always remember, but it was just one day.¬† Marriage¬†is so much more than walking down an isle.¬† It’s not an isle, it’s more like a roller coaster.¬† There are fun moments, boring moments, moments of sheer terror, and moments that you think you just can’t take it anymore, but then there’s those special moments, moments¬†that you wouldn’t trade for anything.¬† Moments that make the ups and downs all worth it.

Here’s to many more years of a fun ride.¬† Happy Anniversary, hon, love ya!