Oct 31, 2011


We woke up to quite a bit of rain on Sunday morning, but that didn't stop us from enjoying our day. Since my son usually wakes around 7-ish, it makes for an early rise. We watched Back to the Future (one of our favorites) while letting my husband sleep in. When the movie ended, my son asked me if I would preach him... this is what he says when he wants to do a preschool activity :) So I 'preached' him for awhile, cause I never want to deny him learning time when he asks for it (even though we generally take Sundays and Mondays off). After that we all dressed and headed out to pick up his Halloween costume and lunch/dinner at a just opened burger joint in our neighborhood; we love going out for burgers and with it's retro surfer vibe this place is becoming a fast favorite.

enjoying a smoothie while getting 'preached'

I didn't make the bed; very unusual for me


 building a city of blocks 


he'll be a pirate this year! 

Lefty's - our new burger joint

husband waiting for order on awesome surfboard bench

enjoying their famous onion rings

Oct 30, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Cake

When I opened my pantry to find something to bake yesterday, there was a lone can of pumpkin puree.  I knew I wanted to make some kind of cake, and contemplated a 3-layer something from Country Living Cakes Cookbook, but then thought better of that idea.  Thing is, I love cake, especially from scratch; but I don't necessarily love a labored process every time.  I, nor my 3 year old son, ever really have the patience.  Tea cakes, cupcakes, and quick cakes like this become very appealing when we're in the mood to bake.  This one is so quick and easy (and truly delicious) a little one can do most of the work.  So without further ado, here's my son with a step-by-step instruction.

Disclaimer : I by no means forced my son into baking labor for this post.  When flour and eggs are involved, he just can't hold himself back... :)

1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 T pumpkin pie spice OR
1 1/2 t. cinnamon*
3/4 t. ginger
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/8 t. each allspice and cloves
2 large eggs
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 can (15 oz.) solid-pack pumpkin puree

1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, soft
1 bar (8 oz) cream cheese, soft
1/4 c. honey*

*see notes below

Step 1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a 9-inch square baking pan. 

Step 2.  In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.  In a large bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, butter and pumpkin puree until combined.  Add dry ingredients to mixture, and mix gently until smooth. 


For a moist cake, do not over-mix batter. 

Step 3.  Turn batter into prepared pan, and smooth top.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes.  Cool cake 10 minutes in pan, then turn out of pan and cool completely, right side up, on a rack.

Step 4.  Make honey frosting: In a medium bowl whisk butter, cream cheese, and honey until smooth.  Spread on top of cooled cake, cut into squares and serve.

*Notes : I did not have pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon, so I just added extra of the other spices; it was still delicious.  For the frosting, with no honey on hand I substituted maple syrup.  You can also use confectioners sugar and milk for a sweeter taste.

Oct 29, 2011

Rainy Day Rainbow

Our theme for preschool this week was rainbows. Yesterday was drizzly and overcast all day outside, so it turned out to be the perfect day for an indoor art project. I had a book of construction paper on hand and nearly all the necessary colors in it (although no indigo, and we had to improvise for violet with purple crayon) and helped Lars cut out the arches. He handled the glue stick with excellent precision, blowing through the whole thing by the time we finished. He really enjoyed this and is already pretty great with his colors, only confusing blue and green a few times. But those can be tricky! So far this has been one of his favorite themes of the week; he isn't ready to return any of the recommended library books that we've been reading all week.

Oct 28, 2011

A Costume Prelude

We've had a bit of a rough go over the last couple of days, so when my little guy wanted to get into the face paint, I let him have at it. He brought me to tears of laughter on the floor when he came out looking like this and said 'I'm Spiderman mom!'. When it comes to cheering me up, he knows just what to do.

Oct 24, 2011

Sunday Afternoon

In the city we live there is a park that resembles that of Central Park in Manhatten. Not as big, it's 27 acres in size, taking up 10 city blocks. It's full of big beautiful trees and among them is an arboretum. It's one of my favorite places to visit in the fall, and making it even more of an attraction is the newly built playground. We took Lars there on Sunday afternoon and the light was so beautiful that neither my husband nor I could stop snapping photos. Here are just a few we took of each other which I edited with my new favorite photo editing site. If you don't have an iphone with the latest Instragam feature (I don't), check it out; it's addicting.

my son and I 

one of the many slides at the new playground; he had a blast

Oct 21, 2011

Learning Letters

A little over five weeks ago I began a pre-school curriculum at home with my son.  Each week features a new theme and covers one letter and one number, along with shapes and colors being introduced bi-weekly.  There is always one special activity involving the theme, usually an art project or game.  I'm also working on including outings that tie in with the theme each week, such as visiting a pet store for kittens or the zoo during jungle week.  There is a reading list included as well, with sometimes up to ten different books that we get at our library and read throughout the week.  Occasionally I will find movies that fit the theme and we will watch those together.  So far he is enjoying the experience and responding with great interest.  We generally spend about an hour each morning covering the material for that day, and continue to include examples of it throughout our day.  This is all sort of a prelude to our decision of whether or not to continue to home school when he reaches elementary age.   I've always enjoyed teaching and am enjoying this experience beyond what I ever imagined I would.  Next month we'll be adding swimming lessons.

Oct 20, 2011

Sweater Fever

In my 20's I had a lot of fun with fashion. I mixed high and low, new and vintage, and topped it all off with thrifted treasures. When my son was born three years ago I discovered that although I was looking cute, it wasn't so comfortable taking care of an infant in some of my get-ups. I was more than happy to sacrifice comfort for style; that is until I had a thirteen pound baby hanging from my hip, and his doubly heavy, all-this-is-necessary diaper bag. Suddenly I was faced with a circumstance I hadn't even considered before giving birth ('I am not going to be a mother who gives up her style') and found myself in mourning for some time. Four inch wedges were traded in for flats; my favorite Via Spiga sandals were packed away after I nearly tipped over in them at a wedding (while holding my eight month old son); and saddest of all, vintage dresses were taken to consignment. Now after some time has passed and I'm no longer carrying my child everywhere the opportunity has risen for me to re-introduce some of my favorite pieces into my closet; only now my tastes have changed. I've actually become quite accustomed to these new modern, somewhat utilitarian styles. Where I used to shun brands like J. Crew and Gap for the more obscure boutique brands and less obscure vintage brands, I am now seeking them out more regularly. As a mother there is something to be said for an item you can make a snap decision with, knowing making a mistake is fairly limited. I can't spend hours and hours shopping like I used to and I never try anything on,  especially with my son in tow as he most often is. But with all these changes one thing has remained the same, my love for thrifting. I get almost as excited now finding these name-brand items as I did when I would find incredible vintage pieces, which is what happened this week when I came across two very cute, much needed sweaters at my neighborhood Goodwill (that to my delight is just a handful of blocks away, making it perfect for weekly walks in the crisp fall weather). I especially love the tan one with the brown yarn detail, and they both leave a little room for belly growth this winter.

thrifted Gap sweater

thrifted Liz Claiborne sweater

Oct 19, 2011

Labor of Love

As I mentioned before, last week was my son's birthday.  He turned 3 and I am amazed at how fast we've arrived at this age.  He is now very much a little person with his own personality, preferences, and personal interests;  one of them right now being trains.  For his first birthday I ordered the cake.  For his second we made cupcakes.  So when I asked him this year what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday and he requested a train cake, I felt I had to deliver (after all, I did watch my mom make wedding cakes all throughout my childhood - she even made mine - how hard could it be?).  After pouring over photos here and using instructions from Child Magazine's Book of Children's Parties, I set to work.  Over the course of two days I fretted and sweated and became very anxious over the outcome of this seemingly doomed cake.  I used generic food coloring and discovered I wasn't going to achieve the bright colors I had hoped for; the homemade fondant turned out too dry to roll out and I could not get it red enough; and I ran out of chocolate frosting for the engine part of the cake, therefore having to use red along the backside (where no one can see;  I made peace with this).  In the end it looks nothing like the photo, but turned into something maybe a little better that my son loved.  He understood that we would eat it, but all he really wanted to do was play with it.


(ta-da!  somehow I managed to pull this one off)

Oct 18, 2011

Black and White

Black and white photos are among my all-time favorite.  I don't have a professional camera, (just a point and shoot) but if I did color would be history around here for awhile.  Find all the images above here.

--My meager attempt at black and white editing... it's a good thing I have such a great model--

Oct 17, 2011

Music To My Ears

To my thrill and delight these latest words were uttered from my son's mouth... "mom, can I do some water paints?" 

We've been painting pictures and making artwork since his babyhood, but generally during these occasions a heavy participation from my end was always required.  Although he enjoyed putting in a few brush strokes, after a minute or two I am usually strongly requested to finish what he started.  So you can imagine my excitement when out of the blue he asks if he can break out the supplies and paint a picture.  I keep everything in a tote within his reach so whenever the mood strikes him, he can run with it.  And today, he did.

Oct 16, 2011

Cute Playroom

I do the best with the space we have, but to say I've never wished for an extra room would be untrue.  I love the adorableness of this playroom, and all the little spaces set up for creative and interactive play.  And the wood paneling gives a quirky vintage feel to the room that makes it warm and cozy.

(although I do have room for a scrap fabric garland)

images here

Oct 15, 2011

30 Min. Chili

When the weather turns cold, little is more comforting or satisfying than a big bowl of steaming hot chili. I like to keep a big pot around for quick and easy lunch or dinner, and find this recipe not only fast, but full of flavor as well. I also like to double it and freeze a batch for later.

30 Min. Chili

1T vegetable oil
1 med onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped
coarse salt and ground pepper
2T tomato paste
1T chili powder (add more for extra spice)
2T unsweetened cocoa powder
1lb. ground beef
2 cans diced tomatoes in juice (14.5 ounces each)
2 cups pinto beans


Heat oil over med-high heat in a large heavy bottom saucepan. Add onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste, chili powder, and cocoa powder. Stir until fragrant, 1 minute. Add beef and cook, breaking up with a spoon until no longer pink. Add tomatoes (with juice) and beans. Bring to a boil over high, reduce to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, 15 minutes. Serve topped with cheddar and sour cream.

Oct 14, 2011

A First Quilt for a 3rd Birthday

We celebrated my son's 3rd birthday yesterday, and although he watched me make this quilt through nearly the entire process, he was still thrilled when he unwrapped it last night. While this is the first time I've ever made a quilt, I've been exposed to the art by my aunt since I was young. A handmade quilt from her is a gift bestowed upon all her nieces and nephews for milestone events such as graduations, weddings and new babies. My son has been gifted two already. I've always admired her talent, but never felt I had what it took to make one myself. This was such an enjoyable experience, I can't wait to get started on another!

(don't mind the smudges; he got face paint for his birthday as well) 

Oct 7, 2011

September You've Been Replaced

September has always been my favorite month. Not only do I celebrate my birthday and wedding anniversary in this month, but I loved the promise of a fresh start in a new school year when I was young. Up until now I thought no other month could replace my love of this one. But with Fall being my favorite season and it truly not beginning around here until October, it seems my admiration of September is giving way. Another reason to love October? It's the month my son was born. So from now until the end of the month, we look forward to watching the leaves turn and fall, celebrating his birthday, and of course Halloween. Cause who doesn't love seeing little ones dressed up in adorable costumes while kicking through the neighborhood for a bagful of treats? But September, I'll never forget you.