Nov 28, 2011

Baking In Anticipation

My husband's birthday is coming up, and every year we celebrate with his favorite flavor of cake, german chocolate. For the first five years or so, I ordered the cake, with one coming memorably from this bakery (amazing). Then a handful of years ago I got the brilliant idea of attempting to make the cake myself. The first year I attempted this, we ended up with cupcakes. But after some years, and time and practice, I managed to pull together this one here without completely losing my sanity. With his big day less than a few weeks away, I'm looking forward to trying yet another new recipe, this delicious looking one I found here.

Nov 25, 2011

Singing Thanks

Although we all woke up a little under the weather, the day went off without a hitch.  All my dishes turned out well, dinner was ready by 1pm, and afterword we had time for an adventurous bike ride in  the rain.  But the best part came when it was time to say our thanks; instead of a simple statement from each of us, my witty clever husband gave us a song right before carving the turkey.  I think a new tradition has been born...

Nov 23, 2011

Meal Prep

Last year on Thanksgiving I spent the entire day preparing food in the kitchen.  I'm talking from 6am until the turkey was done, which was about four in the afternoon.  Now don't get me wrong, I was more than happy to cook for my family and everything turned out delicious, but I felt a little sad when 30 minutes later we were done eating and the day was pretty much gone.  I didn't get to spend any time playing games or watching movies with my husband and son, and I was so beat by the end of it all even an after dinner walk was out of the question. 

This year, I knew one thing... I wanted it to be different.  I wanted be able to prepare the meal and hang out; to look forward to sitting down to eat without feeling like I was going to collapse; to actually enjoy the day with my family.  So I came up with a solution. 

Instead of spending all day tomorrow making dinner, I spent nearly all day today doing it.  After my son and I braved the crowds at the market, we came home and got to work.  I made everything but the turkey, including the stuffing.  Now the only thing left to do tomorrow is stuff and roast the bird and assemble some pies.  I probably should have made the desserts today as well, but I am looking forward to a little baking tomorrow; and a movie; and most of all spending time with my family.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone :)

Nov 22, 2011

Everyday Food Thanksgiving Menu

For the past six years, give or take a few, I have been preparing our Thanksgiving dinner using the menu from Everyday Food magazine.  The dishes are always slightly different, super easy to prepare, and absolutely yummy all-together.  The way the flavors of each one compliment each other is beyond delicious, and we have yet to be disappointed by the way dinner turns out.  My family and I look forward to it each year all month long.  If you're looking for some inspiration for your dinner this Thursday, find the menu and recipes here.

Nov 21, 2011

Teach Your Toddler To Put On His Coat

Thanks to this video, my son now knows how... becoming more independent by the minute!

Nov 20, 2011

Spontaneous Sunday

Sundays are pretty typically our family day. Whether we stay in or go out, we always do it together. It feels good to reconnect after a long week of work and gives each of us a break from our routines. But occasionally my husband or I will make a personal commitment to a friend or activity outside of our little trio. A few Sundays ago I headed to the city for brunch with a girlfriend, and today my husband woke up at 6am and went to the mountain with a friend of his. So my son and I were left to our own devices, and after such an early wake up call it was starting to feel like a long day... and it wasn't even 10am. I hadn't made any certain plans for the day since my husband's were somewhat last minute, but I knew we were going to have to do something fun or the day would drag by while we both sat missing him like crazy.

Always up for some time in the neighborhood, we headed out first thing for coffee (did I mention being completely out of coffee and not knowing this until our alarm was going off? Not good). After charging up on an Egg Nog Latte for me and hot chocolate for my son, it was still a little early for lunch so we headed to the park to kill some time. The air was crisp and quite chill, but the sun was shining and we kept cozy warm in our thick fluffy down coats. After a few turns on the swings, it was closer to lunch time.

We made our way over to a popular neighborhood diner (and favorite of mine) for a split plate of burgers and fries. Not needing to rush anywhere next, we spent a good hour eating and laughing and coloring. My son was remarkably good the entire time, and it was a relaxing, pleasant experience (which as we know isn't always so when dining with a three year old).

Next up was the neighborhood art gallery, recently voted best art gallery of the city and where we purchased our son's first art piece.  It's a tradition for us to give him a new piece of art for his birthday each year, and we are still looking for the right one for this year. It looks like he'll be getting it for Christmas instead. I did find a piece I really liked, a lithograph in primary colors of children playing. If my husband likes it we will hopefully have it under the tree in the next few weeks. On our way past the art gallery is the hobby store, and inside is a train table all set up for play. We stopped in and it took me quite awhile to pull my son away... I eventually lured him with the promise of a cupcake... where I found a new babysitter. Yay!

The counter girl was the sweetest and made all kinds of gushy remarks about my son. He couldn't tear himself away from conversation with her. She was very mature being a senior in high school and holding a somewhat managerial position; I'm looking forward to getting to know her better.

By this time it was nearly 2pm, so we began making our way back home. It had warmed up quite a bit and the walk home was relaxing. Once in our front door, we settled in for a movie and before we knew the day was nearly done. What a great day with my kiddo.

Nov 19, 2011

Stovetop Mac & Cheese

Like many kids, I ate a lot of boxed mac and cheese growing up; I really couldn't get enough of the stuff. But then something happened; my aunt had her first baby when I was nine years old, and I began to spend a lot of time helping her once he was born. I loved being her little assistant, taking care of little tasks like getting something she needed while giving her baby a bath, or vacuuming the carpet, or just entertaining him to give her a minute to herself. Since I was helping out so much, I would often be there for lunch, and what I remember her making most was stovetop mac and cheese. I thought it was the best tasting mac and cheese I ever ate, and vowed to make it for my kids once they came along. This recipe is slightly different than the one she used, but equally delicious.


4 c. uncooked elbow macaroni
3 T. all-purpose flour
1 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper
2 1/4 c. milk
2 oz. cream cheese
2 t. dijon mustard
2 t. worcestershire sauce
1/2 t. minced garlic
1 1/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

2. Place flour, 1 t. salt, and pepper in a large saucepan. Add milk, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Drop cream cheese by the teaspoonfuls into milk mixture; bring to a boil over med-high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat, and simmer 2 minutes or until thick and cream cheese melts; stirring occasionally. Stir in mustard, Worcestershire, and garlic; simmer 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add cheddar cheese, stirring until cheese melts. Combine pasta and cheese sauce in a large bowl and toss well. Recipe from Cooking Light

Children's Concert

On Thursday night I took my son to a children's concert at our local library. We arrived early and there was already a line nearly out the door. Kids and their parents stood excited and eager to get into the large vaulted meeting room where the concert was being held. The performers, known as The Harmonica Pocket, entered shortly after everyone was seated. Dressed quirky and theatrical, I knew we were in for a treat. The show was incredible, and after we returned home I discovered why; after viewing their website I learned they are an award-winning group who perform both nationally and internationally.  Their "thoroughly catchy, toe-tapping indie-pop tunes" were truly a delight. Check out the video with your little one below.

Nov 18, 2011

Play Series : Playmobile Racecar Found

Last summer one of my son's Playmobile toys went missing.  While he did noticed it was gone, I was the one who was devastated.  We still had the race car driver, but his race car was no where to be found.  So I mourned for a bit and then left it to the universe that it would show up again someday.  Which is exactly what happened one kinda pretty day while I was in the backyard raking leaves.  All the wildflowers were over grown and many needed pulling.  I began yanking a few out and low and behold, there it was - our beloved race car.  Having spent half of summer and nearly all of fall outside in the dirt, sun and rain, it was in remarkable shape... just a little dirty.  I cleaned it up as best I could and my son hasn't stopped playing with it since.

Nov 17, 2011

And I'm 15 Again

This morning my husband introduced me to Mac Miller...

...and something incredible happened - I was immediately transported back to high school, where I spent most of my time hanging out in my best friend's very awesome poster-covered bedroom listening to a combination of hip hop, grunge, and Bob Dylan. A time in my life when I had more freedom than I actually realized, with little obligation outside of my friends, part-time job, and dance. Aside from my mother's strict grip, each day was full of promise and anything truly could happen. At least that's how it appears to me now. Of course then there were many obstacles blocking my dreams, though somehow I think I've pulled through okay. That's why I love kids like this, so young and full of hope and energy and drive; an attitude that can be maintained through life but is just so strong when we're young. This post is going in a bit of a different direction than I intended, so let me finish it off with this... does he have mad style or what?! Oh nineties, it's so good to have you back.

Summer Wedding Hair and Makeup

Last summer my husband and I worked some weddings together, and one of the brides just gave us a disk of a few of the photos of her getting ready and the ceremony.  I'm always thrilled to see our work in the final stages and have been looking forward to seeing these for some time.  I don't get to work with my husband often, but when I do it always takes me back.  We have been working weddings together for over 10 years now, (including some of my closest friends from high school!) and each time we do I am reminded of the first one we did together, which is always so exciting.

That's my husband's hand

The beautiful bride and her husband are both clients of my husband; 
they are wonderful and we wish them all the joy in their marriage

Nov 16, 2011

Star Garland

Our theme this week is stars so this morning my son and I spent a little over an hour making this construction paper star garland.  After I hand-cut each one, he taped them (with a little help from me) to the string of yarn and chose where to hang it.  I wanted to put it over a window but he insisted this was a much better location.  Standing back, I had to agree.

Nov 15, 2011

Movie Monday

Due to my husband's profession, our weekends begin on Sunday and end on Monday; therefore Mondays often feel like Sunday to us.  We generally like to take it easy, and this last Monday was no exception.  The weather was especially stormy making it the perfect opportunity for an afternoon movie.  When my son picked this movie off the shelf at the library, at first glance I thought it was an older one, perhaps from the early nineties.  Upon a closer look, I noticed the star of the movie did not look as he did in the nineties, and became intrigued.  Actually filmed in 2009, this movie has a classic appeal, one you don't find much in modern family films today.  The pace and filming were equally pleasant, while the storyline is full of heart.  I was also delighted to see that it not only held my attention, but my three year old son's as well.  If you're looking for a quality family film released anytime in the last decade, this one is a sure hit.

Stitching Score

During the process of making my first quilt for my son's birthday, I discovered the part I loved the most was hand-sewing the binding.  I spent the better part of an evening doing this while watching the movie Stepmom, and found myself so enjoyably consumed that I was actually slightly disappointed when I sewed the last stitch and the binding was done.  Suddenly I began craving any opportunity to pick up a thread and needle; mending my husband's jeans held me over for a little while.  So imagine my excitement when I came across this kit during my latest thrifting.  It's full of cute iron-on patterns and also comes with a simple instruction book.  Unfortunately the floss and hoop were missing which I imagine were easily swiped out of the unsealed box.  But no matter; I can't wait to get started on these projects just as soon as I pick some up from the craft store.

Nov 13, 2011

Lunch Date

Every other week or so I treat my son and I to a soup date at our favorite neighborhood market.  This place is a local hangout for us and has some of the best soup I've ever had.  We especially like their spicy three bean chili, but on this day my son requested cheese soup so we had the broccoli and cheese.  We always sit outside so we can people watch, and if we're lucky, pet a few of the many dogs that pass us occasionally.

Nov 12, 2011

Room for Color 2011


Room For Color 2011 contest is going on over here, and so far these are my favorite entries.  I love seeing what people do with their personal spaces and always come away so inspired by all the creativity.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

A couple of years ago I went on the hunt for the best chocolate chip cookie recipe I could find.  I bake them often and since I do I wanted them to be the best-tasting they could be.  I found the recipe here, and haven't looked back. 

Be sure to read the troubleshooting notes in this recipe.  The first few times I made these cookies, they turned out flat.  I had to adjust the amount of flour used and added more to the dough; instead of leveling the cups, I just keep them heaped and then I get the results I want.