Friday, May 29, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
We like our cake around here. "Cake me!" is one of my daughter's favorite phrases (I'm supposing she's heard her dad joke one too many times, "Beer me!"). When we celebrated my husband's and my nephew's birthday on Saturday, my sister made the most decadent ice cream cake:Think Oreo cookie crust, a thick layer of chocolate fudge ganache, crushed peanut butter cups and crushed Oreos, two kinds of ice cream, more ganache, and topped with peanut butter cups and whipped cream. Oh my! So much better than any specialty store ice cream cake I've had. I will see about getting the recipe for it.
I'm by no means a brownie connoisseur, but I do know what a good brownie tastes like. The more dense, moist, and fudgy the brownie, the better. I'm not a fan of light, somewhat dry, cake-like brownies. When I googled brownie recipes, it was amazing how heated the battles are regarding which is better: cake-like or fudge-like. It is purely a matter of personal preference. But, since I like fudgy, this recipe falls in that category. I looked over half a dozen recipes, and sort of combined a couple of them together. They are beyond sweet and far beyond rich! My advice? Cut them into small squares. Small! You can always go back for seconds! :)
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Monday, May 18, 2009
I even waited to open the packages until after the children went to bed, just so I wouldn't feel rushed to look everything over while trying to also manage dinner and bedtime, etc.
I ordered 100% real wool (organic, plant-dyed and premium all-wool from A Child's Dream Come True) and a few pieces of a wool/rayon mix from Prairie Point Junction's Wool Felt Central. Everybody told me I would instantly notice the difference between wool felt and that thinner, cheaper acrylic felt that you find in the craft stores. Ooh, they were right. It's soft and thick and I am so happy I special ordered it.
I have two June bugs celebrating their 1st and 4th birthdays this year. I thought it was high time I made some birthday crowns for their special days. I also have big plans for some homemade felt characters for a flannel board I'm making as a Christmas present. Plus, I think I'm going to make some little fairies/gnomes and outfit them in some cute, wool clothes. Keep in mind, these are my plans, not necessarily what will actually be accomplished! Except for the crowns. I will be making those. I'll plan on posting the finished products here as incentive to complete them on time!
A stack of wool, ripe with possibility, is where I found my snippet of sunshine today, where's yours? :)
Friday, May 15, 2009
I always fly solo when it comes to messy projects and the children. My husband refuses to do anything that will require smocks, paint, glitter, glue, food, or a change of clothes afterward. He's kind of like that Steve Martin character in the movie Parenthood: "I hate messy. It's just so...messy!"
So, the next day, I spread out a huge waterproof play mat and gave her all the fixings a young, inspired cook could desire: flour, water, sugar, salt, pepper grinder filled to the brim, and dried pasta. Then I added an assortment of bowls, pie pans, measuring cups, measuring spoons, and a potato masher.
She set to work. There was pouring, mixing, and spooning. There was also splattering and spilling (more of that than pouring and mixing, actually).
Several times throughout the mad cooking experiment, she asked if she could put her water and sugar/salt/pepper/spaghetti and flour pie in her play kitchen oven upstairs. After countless attempts at negotiation, she accepted that I would most definitely not let her take that mess of a pie up to her wooden play kitchen.
While cleaning her up, I took many deep breaths and reminded myself that being messy is part of her job description as a little one. The flour and water mixture had turned to a glue-like substance and it was everywhere. That play mat is fired for not doing its job.
But, I remained cheerful and I bit my tongue. I did not chastise or lecture her about the mess and being careful. I just happily cleaned her up. While doing so, she said quietly, "I just love you so much, Mommy." I think she was so relieved that I kept a cheerful attitude regarding the mess. Lately, I have struggled to remain cheerful in the face of constant disaster around our house. I am ashamed to admit that she was probably bracing for a lecture about keeping the flour and water on the mat. Instead, she got just the opposite. My positive attitude made her feel so accepted and so safe and so okay to be herself. She is at the age where pleasing me is high on her list. And I hate to think I unconsciously put pressure on her to please me. I never want my kids to feel like they have to struggle to gain my approval. I love them, all sides to them (messy, neat, angry, whiny, happy, affectionate), always.
Then, after a change of clothes and a warm foot bath, she was clean and happy. While I was kneeling in front of her, drying her feet, she patted me on the shoulder and sighed, "You were right...we shouldn't gone upstairs." :) Music to a Mama's ears: "You were right." That phrase is a rarity with the preschooler crowd!
Thursday, May 14, 2009
I probably don't even need to point this out, as it is quite evident from my picture, but they didn't turn out as pretty as they were supposed to. I definitely had some issues.
My first issue was cutting them into squares. Even though I waited until they had cooled, I still noticed the coconut-caramel topping was peeling off the shortbread base as I cut. When I switched to using a pizza cutter instead of a knife, it was better (I think the up/down motion of cutting with a knife was dislodging my topping). Then, I had additional problems when it came to dipping each square into the melted chocolate to cover the bottom. There is supposed to be a nice thick coating on the bottom of each piece. However, each time I dipped one, the shortbread would stick to the chocolate and separate from the coconut-caramel topping when I lifted it up. I was left with a shortbread square stranded in a bowl of melted chocolate, and the golden brown topping in my hand. Frustrating doesn't even begin to describe it. I ended up spreading the chocolate on the bottom of each one with a knife and leaving them upside-down to set. Then, I turned them over and drizzled the remaining chocolate on the top. It was a lot of work.
You might be wondering if it was worth it. And, begrudgingly, I'll admit that they were worth it because they were quite tasty. And when the combination of flavors turns out this good, I'll put up with a little extra work. So, yeah, I'd make them again, but I would allow for more time to do so, and expect less-than-perfect results. On second thought, I think I will just buy extra boxes of Samoas next time the Girl Scouts make their rounds.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
I spent Mother's Day with my family. Lots of good food and good company. I marveled at the changes in my little ones and myself since my first Mother's Day several years ago. I feel so abundantly blessed to have these two precious people entrusted to me. This picture is of my oldest baby holding my youngest baby, almost a year ago:
(Note those fists, that seem so permanently clenched when they're so young!)
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Someday when my children are old enough to understand the logic that motivates a parent, I will tell them, as my Mean Mom told me: I loved you enough to ask where you were going, with whom, and what time you would be home.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Getting Roo's handprint was a piece of cake, but Rascal's was a little tricky. He's still in that baby stage where he balls up his fingers against his fist when you try to open his hand. So, with non-pliable fingers, I had to make the best of it and get his handprint any way I could. But, I think it makes it look almost cuter that way, because it's another reminder of how much he's still my baby boy.
This one below (and please excuse the horrible picture--I ran out of time and daylight to photograph the pillow on the couch), I'm going to keep for myself since yellow and green are more "me." For my Mom, I'm going to use two different colors for the flowers (one color for Roo's hand and one color for Rascal's) and a lighter canvas for the actual cover fabric.
For my sister, I made a sign for her garden. She is a skilled horticulturist and grows an amazing garden every year. I sanded and painted a plain piece of wood from Michael's. I chose a cheerful, buttery yellow. Then I used my rubber alphabet stamps and soft green paint for the quote (I've always liked this quote--I even used it in Roo's baby book on the page showcasing her growth from 1 month to 1 year of age). While stamping the words on there, I realized how much I hate my old-fashioned rubber stamps. They're the kind that are backed on wood, not the newer, clear version. It's nearly impossible to line up the individual letters when you are blindly stamping them on there. Ugh! Nothing says "homemade" like some seriously crooked letters, right? :) Oh well. All that's left to do is pick up a wooden stake at the home store and paint it too. Then I'll have my husband screw the plaque onto the stake and spray a water-resistant varnish over the whole thing so it can withstand the elements.
I think it turned out well. I'm most proud of the fact that I did the whole sign while Roo cooked in her play kitchen, just 3 feet away from me. I was tasting "food," spelling and plotting letter placement, painting tiny alphabet stamps, and responding 22 times to the question, "Are you finished yet, Mommy?" Sure, the play room/craft room was in absolute shambles by the time I was finished (letting her bring real flour from my kitchen, to use in her play kitchen, was a mistake of gargantuan proportions), but I'm thrilled that I was able to work on a craft while my girl worked beside me. I can't wait until she's old enough to do her "thing" while I do mine. Together, the two of us: creating and dabbling and just "being."
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Monday, May 4, 2009
For Today...May 4, 2009
I am thinking...about balance and how to achieve it. The children, the house, my husband, myself, blogging (!), and so on. If anyone has uncovered the key to this one, please let me know! :)
I am thankful for...my husband's support regarding the raising of our children. I am constantly running ideas and plans by him and he always demonstrates such trust and confidence in me as a mother. I think he believes in me more than I believe in myself.
From the kitchen...Meatloaf (one of my husband's favorites), baked potato fries, lemon-hazelnut green beans.
I am wearing...black yoga pants (with a hole in the knee, no less. Workout or yoga pants in black take a beating around here--I must go shopping for new ones); a brushed-cotton, turquoise top that is super soft and fast becoming one of my favorites; my hair up.
I am creating...a detailed to-do list for the next two months: celebrating many birthdays in our little family circle and planning a mini-vacation we just decided on this past weekend. Oh, how I love to make lists (things to buy, to make, to borrow, to confirm, to cook, to pack, etc. etc.)!!!
I am going...to work on a special gift for my Mom for Mother's Day. I hope it turns out.
I am hoping...to watch a movie with my husband this week. It's been sooo long since we've watched anything because our littlest one wakes so frequently during the evening (well, all night long and into the morning, actually). But I think we will just try and see if we can watch an entire movie in one night. That would be such an accomplishment!
I am hearing...the cheerful babble of my nearly 11-month old boy and the thundering footsteps of my nearly 4 year old gal running around the house.
I am praying...for God's guidance regarding some big decisions we need to make affecting our family's future. So I told my husband that we should be quiet and listen, wait for Him to point us in the direction we are to go.
Around the house...laundry is in full-swing; the recycle bin is overflowing; and the sewing machine is calling my name! :)
One of my favorite things...the giddy squeals and look of sheer pleasure when my daughter finds a worm in the garden (and how she will dig out there for hours, getting just as excited about the 20th worm as she did the 1st one!)
A few plans for the rest of the week...sticking with my weekly cleaning schedule (got off track with in-town company, and never got completely back on again); some sewing and painting; order a few items for some upcoming birthdays; a library run. Perhaps an early Mother's Day treat for myself: a trip to the bookstore to sip something yummy and browse around!
A picture thought I am sharing...probably one of our favorite morning rituals (other than snuggling in bed): waiting for our breakfast guests.
Be sure to swing by Peggy's Place for more Daybook viewings...