Tuesday, February 23, 2010

PB Granola Bars

I've been looking for a good granola bar recipe, one that holds together well. This one is pretty good. I used flaxseed for the "chaser" and almonds as the "additive." They're pretty sweet... I'll definitely leave out the sugar next time and maybe swap the honey for maple syrup. Toasting the oats and almonds added a nice flavor.

Update: Don't swap honey for maple syrup. Tried it today, did not work. (Sad face).

Latest Sewing

A couple bib and burp sets for a little friend who arrived last month.

Catching Clark contemplating the snow in our yard. Every time he looks outside, he freaks out that his basketball net is covered with snow and we have to remind him every time that he will be able to play again when the snow melts.

Him catching me catching him.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Baking Monday - Chocolate Cupcakes with PB Frosting

On the agenda today: Hershey's Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting. I'd never made this cake recipe before and was a bit nervous that the batter was really runny. I dumped it into my giant measuring cup, which made filling the cups very easy.

Ready to go! Wait, something's missing ...

Ahhh. Much better.

Recipe: Makes 30 cupcakes

Me: Bah! Those measurements don't apply to me and my two cupcake pans. I shall make 24 cupcakes instead!

Whoops. So, my dreams of perfectly shaped cupcakes went out the window but lesson learned: follow the recipe!

Verdict: Mmmmm. I'm not a big cake eater, but these cupcakes are very good. The frosting however ... well, I could sit on the couch and eat it by the spoonful. But I would never, never, do that, especially not on a night after the kids have gone to bed and Jeff is at pool. Never.

Friday, February 19, 2010

New Work on Etsy!

I took the day off yesterday (with the help of tv and dad) and updated my Etsy shop. I've had a new stash of fabric ready to go since November and was happy to add some new items. More to come next week!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

As If I Weren't Excited Enough Already ...

... about the next Baking Monday, look what I found at Wegmans yesterday:

SO PRETTY! And look at the magic word on the label - PARTY. Guaranteed. Use these wrappers and you will have a party. I cannot wait.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Baking Monday - Peppermint Patties

Which did not actually involve any baking!

Homemade Peppermint Patties.

Kneading the centers.

Little circles, ready to go.

The recipe came from here. I used plain dark chocolate melting wafers, but will try with a better quality chocolate next time. I have two grandparents and many relatives who are expert chocolate dippers, but I did not inherit that skill. I'm pretty sloppy, good thing it still tastes good.

Verdict: Um ... yum. Yeah, I'll be making these again. Not only were they super easy, they were fun to make, too.

Blog Love

Sherri over at Families are Fun! has nominated me for a Beautiful Blog Award. While I don't feel that I've logged enough time in the blogosphere to pass it along, I thought I'd take this opportunity to share a little blog love and a shout out to some inspiring women. These are my daily reads:

Dooce - the queen! She consistently cracks me up.

Finslippy - Alice won my heart the day she blogged about her son's picky eating habits and I've been reading ever since.

Suburban Bliss - I started reading Melissa's site during the cocktail playdate controversy. I love her mix of crafts, cooking and family life and how bravely and honestly she shares her joys and frustrations. And I will be forever grateful for sharing that chicken taco recipe!

Amalah - Brilliant, funny. Check out Advice Smackdown, too.

Kirsten Can - Perfect mix of kids and crafts.

Forty Two Roads - Anna is a sewing genius and the queen of repurposing. Exhibit A.

Notes from the Trenches - Hysterical.

How About Orange - Daily craft / design inspriration.

Just Something I Made - Cathe is an amazing craftswoman.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

More from the Kitchen

First birthday cookies.

A little Valentine love for my family.

Strawberry lollipops for the kids. I haven't made chocolate in years .... I loved this! This mold is from my mom, she has a big collection of chocolate molds which I will need to raid next time we visit. I think the kids would really get into painting chocolate, maybe we'll make our own for Easter.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Dora's Artwork

Dora is a wonderful artist. Drawing is her favorite activity, she could do it all day long. I've always admired how fearlessly she draws, when I can barely make a mark on the page without overdoing it, though I see that her work is definitely becoming more rigid as she gets older. Her best projects are typically done spontaneously ... no direction, no purpose, when she's just having fun. When asked to do specific artwork, it can go one way or the other depending on her mood. If she's not into it, it's not going to happen, an experience I can relate to! Every once in awhile, the stars align and she really knocks it out of the park, like this business card she helped me design as a birthday card for her cousin.

We spent part of Wednesday's snow day working on her project for World Thinking Day tonight. Her troop is researching Poland. I printed out some pictures of Girl Scouts from Poland and she worked up this illustration.

It's hard to see in the photo, but she included small details like the arm badges, braid on the kerchief, and a tiny flag of Poland on the pocket.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Baking Monday - Peanut Butter Pillows

On the agenda today: Peanut Butter Pillows. Which I think is kind of a silly name, though they do look very pillow-like. Alternate name suggestions, anyone?

It's a vegan recipe, so they're made with oil instead of butter. The outsides are very crunchy. I'm guessing you could probably substitute, but didn't want to mess around on the first try. I did use regular milk instead of non-dairy (shhhhhh).

These were super-easy to make. The recipe makes 24 large cookies, they could probably be made much smaller. I rolled the dough into tubes and then sliced into 24 sections which made the assembly go very fast. I think it was 30 minutes from ingredients out 'til cookies were in the oven.

Verdict: They're good. The centers are very rich, so you can really only eat one, which could be a good or bad thing. Eating just one cookie at a time makes me a little sad.

The recipe came from this site, if anyone's interested. Look at that awesome photo! I would love to learn some food photo tricks. At least my cooling rack is shiny.

A little gift for a reader who admires but never gets to sample. And who is coincidentally having a birthday today!

Valentines #5

In typical Dora fashion, she did not want to be "told what to do" regarding valentines ... she always prefers to do her own thing. We talked through the idea first, just to make sure we had the right supplies and worked in a way that she wouldn't get frustrated. She wanted to paint hearts and write each kid's name with glitter glue. Luckily, she was very agreeable to suggestions on how to get started and they turned out exactly how she wanted them.

She liked using the corner rounder, and when she was done, figured out how many corners she punched (x number of valentines times 4).

On a side note ... this girl has memorized her entire class list in alphabetical order by last name. I am constantly amazed by how quickly this girl picks up and retains information. She had to memorize the Act of Contrition for her first Pennance last weekend. After sulking about it for a week, we kept a copy on her nightstand to practice at bedtime, and on the third night of reading it, she already had it committed to memory!

Valentines #4

This is for Theo's class party next week. I'm in charge of the craft, and decided to make Valentine Fortune Tellers, aka Cootie Catchers. I made up a sample yesterday and Theo found it on my desk. "What's this? Can I have it? Can I bring it to school today?" and then spent the rest of the morning reading our fortunes. So, clearly the target audience is interested, I'm just hoping that the folding won't be too complicated for first graders. My plan is to move from group to group and help a few kids fold at a time.

I'm including my template for printing and included some simple folding instructions. For more detailed instructions with pictures, visit here.

Download Valentine Fortune Teller here.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Baking Saturday - Almond Sugar Hearts

Clearly, I'm a fan of Valentine's Day, as we've been working on many projects this week and there are more to come. I was thinking about it today, and besides my love for hearts and all things red and pink, this is the month where I finally have the energy to put time and love into these kind of projects. You know, the kind of things I intend to do at Christmas time, except December is so freaking busy I can barely keep everyone bathed and fed. So, YES! I'm loving February this year.

Ever since I made the almond cookies on Monday, I've been thinking how sugar sprinkles would make them so much better. Obsessing might be a better word. I actually DREAMT about these cookies last night, I was so excited about making them today. Guess what? I'm in LOVE. They look and taste amazing. These are for our Sunday school Valentine party tomorrow. Aren't those kids lucky to have me? Yes, I think so.


Just out of the oven.



I'm sharing the recipe below. It originally came from this website. I added a tsp of red food coloring with the almond and vanilla, which was probably more than I needed, they turned out a very intense shade. Obviously, use much less if you're going for something more subtle. They are good iced, but the sprinkle sugar is my hands-down favorite.

Almond Butter Cookies

3/4 cup butter (room temp)
1 cup sugar
pinch salt
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 beaten egg
2 1/2 cups flour

• Mix the butter and sugar till fluffy and light.
• Add the salt, vanilla and almond and mix for 30 seconds.
• Mix in the beaten egg.
• Put in all the flour in one go, and gather together to make a firm dough.
• Chill for at least 30 minutes in wrap.
• Roll out on a floured surface to 3/8" thickness and cut with cookie cutters.
• Bake at 350 for 12-14 minutes, watching closely so that they don’t get too brown.
• Remove from oven, move to racks to cool.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 5, 2010

What I Love This Week

I bought these for my niece a few years ago and they are so much fun. I don't know why it took me so long to get a set for home - I guess I had it in my mind that Dora was too old for them, or something. But when they were on super sale at Target after Christmas, I picked them up thinking that Clark and I could have fun with them.

They were stashed away in a cupboard, and apparently Dora and Theo had found them last night, because I found elaborate pop bead chains strung all around Dora's room this morning. Jeff said that they played with them for about an hour last night ... and another hour again tonight! Moral: fun is fun, no matter how old they are. Anyhow - Pop Beads, highly recommended for boys and girls, no matter the age! (Over three, of course, since they are quite swallowable!)

* * *

Clark Brag of the Day

I was hurrying everyone along this morning and found Clark in the living room, halfway through a 24-piece puzzle, one that he just got for Christmas. We needed to go, but I really didn't want to disrupt his work, I snuck his coat and hat on while he was finishing. We did make it to school on time and he was proud of his accomplishment ... me too! I had no idea he could do that!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Valentines #3

Ack! Alien attack!

I am just tickled with Theo's valentines. We took this idea from Family Fun and decided to use googly eyes instead of drawing the alien faces. I LOVE all the different combinations that he came up with and he had a lot of fun making them. (When he wakes up in the morning and wants to work on more valentines, I know the project is a hit!)

How much do I love this guy?

... and this one?

So cute!!

And I love that he wanted to put personal messages in each one. AND put x's and o's on the inside or back of all of them, for the boys and the girls. Dora started to tease him about putting x's and o's on the boys' cards, to which he replied: "They stand for VALENTINE'S DAY, duh!"

Gosh, I love that kid.

I also love that he doesn't care if he makes mistakes ... just crosses it out and moves on. Unlinke someone else for whom mistake = catastrophe, but I'm not naming names.

I made up a heart template for him to use and also printed greetings that fit within a 1 3/8" square punch, or can be trimmed out with scissors.

Download Alien Valentine here.