Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fun Fall List

You who know me know I LOVE a list!!!

Trish over at WIP kits Blog has posted the most wonderful list I've found lately:

100 Fall Things to Do

Its a magnificent list...I'm happy to report...I can cross Make Pumpkin Bread off of mine!!!

Have a blast, and Peace, ya'll!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pumpkin Bread from Scratch

I have a friend – Amanda – who has expressed an interest in living like the Amish. She wants a simpler life.

Her wise husband said to her, “You know, you’d have to make your own clothes.”

She said, “I know…I could learn to sew!”

He said, “No….from the SHEEP!”

Alas, this is often how I feel about baking…like I could LEARN this stuff, but seriously, when it comes in a box, who wants to do more scratch than that?

Turns out…I do!

I started a few years ago, making cakes, cupcakes, frostings, and banana breads from scratch. My mom makes magnificent Banana bread, but I don’t user her recipe…I use a recipe from Art Smith.

Art, as a matter of fact, has inspired me a LOT. I got his cook book, Back to the Table a couple of years ago…it is DEVINE. And it sort of lit a fire under me to provide meals for my family…ok…not that BRIGHT a spark, but it lit something in me that wanted to cook and have a family dinner each day, to cook with my son and to try cooking in a way where I knew EVERY ingredient in the things I was cooking.

Its driven me to make my own taco mix (super easy, it turns out!), bake waffles from scratch, and to branch into previously uncharted territory for me…baking from scratch.

Lets not fool ourselves...I'm still the master of a 30 minute (or less) meal. But I love those creative moments in the kitchen, where I make something that didn't require me opening a box to get started.

So…in Walmart the other day, Jay noticed these bright orange sugar pie pumpkins…he wanted one. He said he wanted to make pumpkin pie. Being the purist that I am about holidays, there shall be no pumpkin pie in September - however Pumpkin Bread is not out of the question.

I’ve never roasted a pumpkin to make Pumpkin Bread from scratch before…but it seemed like something that could occupy both Jayden and I during the day on Saturday…so…we did it.

So…the pictures that follow aren’t mine. SHAME on me, I didn’t take ANY! I just enjoyed the moment with my boy. Those of you who know me as a scrapper, please don't ban me from the club. Think of the BREAD as my art!

First, you find a good pumpkin or two…One was enough to yield us two huge loaves of bread.

Then you quarter it (or half it, like I did) and clean out all the ooey gooey guts…Jayden LOVED that part.

Then you wrap it in foil and roast it for about an hour in a 350 degree oven.

When it comes out, scoop out the mushy flesh and Voila! Pumpkin for pumpkin bread with NO CAN…100% biodegradable waste. Go, me!

Turns out, pumpkin puree may not always be orange like out of the can. HMMMMMM...

I scoured the internet for a good recipe that would taste like Starbucks Pumpkin Loaf…I ended up using this one from SparkRecipes.

1 cup margarine
3 cups sugar
4 eggs
3 1/3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
4 teaspoons ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
2/3 cup water
2 cups canned pumpkin
1 cup nuts (optional-not included in nutritional information)

1. Cream together margarine, sugar, and eggs.
2. Combine all dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture alternately with water and pumpkin.
3. Beat well.
4. Pour into 2 well greased loaf pans or
makes 24 muffins.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minute (for loaves)or until toothpick comes out clean.

Number of Servings: 24

(Ok...I know the 3 cups of sugar are not that great for the kid...but it was SO GOOD!)

It looked like this…

Before we ate it.

I feel so like I’m channeling Martha…


Peace ya’ll!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Don’t Eat My Mommy!!!

Our little boy has been dreaming…he dreams…um…LOUDLY.

Its exhausting, to be honest…he talks or laughs or yells or groans or smacks into the wall…once I heard him jabbering away and went into his room to find him sitting on the floor next to his bed, with his head on the bed, eyes closed, just talking away.

No…I didn’t take pictures…I might have if I had been lucid enough myself to think of it.

I wasn’t.

Last night, he informed me from a seated position in his bed, eyes closed, and totally still asleep, “I want a snack.” Hmmmm…

The greatest one so far tho, was hearing him yell out in the middle of the night , “DON’T EAT MY MOMMY!” I was so proud!! My tot had the courage to yell down whatever monster was trying to eat me…and to be honest, just a little frightened that he could dream up a monster to eat me…

Last night was another fresh round of dreaming and making a racket…It’s the third night in a row…I’m exhausted, to say the least…

But it got me thinking…I am dealing with monsters in his dreams, a Tickle Monster themed bedroom and low, I found monster stickers, journals, pens, pencils and puzzles in the dollar bin at Target the other day to add to the art bin (more on that later in the week).

Monsters are not nearly as scary as they used to be…they are kinda cute. You could even say adorable…And for some reason – they are EVERYWHERE right now.

I’m all for a totally conquerable, really cuddly monsters instead of the scary-hiding-in-my closet kind…

So...being in the monster mindframe, I went on a monster hunt. The hunting was good.

Here are some of the MANY things I found that are totally cute…(click on images to be taken to purchase sites)

Who doesn’t know about the Monster at the End of this Book? Grover was my first monster and Jay has this book both as a board book and as a Little Golden Book. I think we may need to get some new copies for the new baby.

HUGE fan of Melissa and Doug toys…they have lots of cute monster things, among the other outrageously cool toys they make…This Monster Bowling Game is cool…

I wish these Monster Slippers came in adult sizes!

Another thing I wish came in adult sizes – this adorable Monster T-shirt.

This Monster Hat by Columbia is SOOOO on the baby registry for the next child. (it comes in blue and purple too!)

These little Monster Cards are so adorable. Love that they are handmade.

This Monster Throw so goes with the d├ęcor in the Tickle Monster nursery that I may have to get little britches one.

I have to confess. We already have these Monster Dishes. Jayden LOVES them.

And perhaps the cutest thing I found: Monster Take Out – when you just want to make your own monster.

Peace, ya’ll!

And sweet dreams to those of you who can sleep!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Domestic weekend…

I don’t have very many of these…weekends where the bulk of my time is devoted to being domestic.

It was such joy!

On Saturday I went to a Sip-n-see for my friend Heather who just had twin boys! I love how women can celebrate new life. I love how they gather to rejoice over the journey of 9 (or so) months, the passage of an infant from unknown into known, the utterly amazing existence of a new life (or two!) placed into our hands for care and keeping. Its one of the most amazing things that women will do – gather, celebrate, share, support and nurture new life.

In the afternoon, my boys were outside having just some fun in the beautiful weather. I intended to take a nap, but then couldn’t sleep. The list of things to be done before our little one arrives seems overwhelming…especially since I know that the final month will be spent trying to prepare for Christmas for a three-year-old as well as the birth of our son. Coupled with the fact that there is a general lethargy in my house lately around cleaning, changing, and getting important things handled in our limited time frame, the amount of tasks to be covered looms large and daunting. So, instead of taking a nap, I removed the wallpaper border from two walls the room that will be Jayden’s new bedroom. Just a side note: DON’T put up borders if you intend to EVER sell your house or change the look of a room. They are a complete PAIN IN THE BUTT to remove. The former owners of this house made VERY SURE that this border would never fall down…so…you can imagine why I only got two walls done in two hours.

On Saturday evening, Jayden announced to his dad “Its Saturday! You should take me to church!” Keeping in mind that he is still in the two-year-old room in children’s church and that it is largely about playing and exploring relationships with other kids his age, its still impressive that he wants to go. We should all have a two-year-old to remind us how we are supposed to behave. Scott and I worked in the nursery with the babies. Knowing that we are having one of those in a few months, it was a purely joyful experience. We had the CUTEST little girl, all smiles and blue eyes, an adorable little boy who wasn’t too sure of us at the beginning, but who warmed up and showed us just how clever and charming he was, and a little, little one who really just wanted to be held and have a cat nap until mama came back for him. It was an experience to be reminded of infancy – the fact that we could put them under the play gym and they wouldn’t move, the fact that they couldn’t talk, but could smile and intently investigate every object they got their hands on, the fact that they weigh something more like 10 pounds than 32! All a wonderful, and peaceful, reminder of what we have coming.

On Sunday, our little bug was up EARLY and he wanted to go downstairs to have juice and mini-wheats and a “show.” So…up I got…we had our breakfast, watched some “shows” and then we finished our pet rocks. It was a few very quite hours with just me and the bug. We don’t get much of that.

Then I made my favorite lasagna, only in the crock pot and made two loaves of banana bread. Some how the kitchen time helped me feel more in “control” although I’m fairly convinced that is a complete illusion. I now have a meal for later on in the month (a crockpot full of lasagna is way too much for the three of us!) AND had delicious banana bread with my coffee this morning. It seemed significantly fall-ish and satisfying.

Now…I’m off into another week…I have been considering a maid service for the next few months. I’m finding it difficult to keep up with housework and work and Jayden and Scott and…well…just the huge pile of tasks to accomplish. I cleaned the shower and the toilet this morning at 5:00 am. I was IN the shower anyway, so that was no big deal…and lets face it, toilets take less than 5 minutes apiece to get clean. Again – probably contributing to my illusion of control. BUT the oddness of cleaning a toilet at 5:00 am had me thinking – there has to be a better way to get this stuff all done and not go crazy in the process.

Have a peaceful day, ya’ll!!

Friday, September 04, 2009

A Mataphore – Open Windows

Its storming out. The wind is blowing, the rain driving, leaves and branches are being blown from trees and power lines are waving.

As you make the rounds of your house, checking locks and doors, you notice it.

Some one has left a window open.

The floors and window coverings are soaked, the storm continues to find its way inside, slowly, but certainly causing damage.

What do you do?

Do you know who left the window open? Or are you unsure?

Do you yell for the household to come and look at the open window, demand that somebody own up to leaving the window open, all the while allowing the storm to find its way into your home?

Do you sit down somewhere next to the open window and wait for the person who opened it to come by and notice their mistake?

Do you cry and complain? Do you yell? Or do you go in search of the person of responsibility?

While you are proceeding with your complaint or search, do you leave the window open, exposing your home to the elements? Or do you close the window?

Do you just get some towels and clean up the mess? Or do you make the person responsible for the mess clean it up?

What if, after dealing with the mess of this one window, you find that other windows in your home have been randomly left open to the outside?

What if you find out that ALL of them have been left open to the rains and damage of the storm?

What if you find out that the person who is opening the windows is doing it on purpose, knowing full well the damage that will be done and the consequences that will ensue?

What if that person tells you that they are a compulsive window opener and that they cannot help it?

What if they ask you to live with their compulsive window opening and do not make any effort to bring their compulsion under control?

What if they tell you that they are not capapble of closing a window because no one ever showed them how?

What would you do?

There are some in this world who will just close the window and clean up.

Some will close up and clean up indefinatey, as long as they are alive, not mentioning it, not bothering to deal with the cause.

Some will nail the windows shut, leaving no possibility that such a thing could ever occur in this house again. Of course, this leaves the possibility that a compulsive window-opener will just find another house of windows to open.

Some will allow the window opening to go on until they cannot stand it any longer and will suddenly inform the window opener that they must leave.

Some will attempt through love and patience to model good window behavior, closing windows and cleaning up in full view of the window-opener…hoping that the culprit will notice the appropriate behavior.

Some will calmly and lovingly confront the issue and trust that it will never happen again.

Some will confront the issue, but verify during the next storm.

Some will insist that the window opener get help if it happens often and with malice.

Some will watch the weather report like hawks and remind the window opener (repeatedly) that window opening isn’t allowed during storms.

And some will confront the issue in the most aggressive way possible – severing the relationship completely.

Which path would you choose?

And if you choose to confront a window-opener, how many windows will you close and clean up after before you make the decision to hold the window opener accountable?

Or are you the window opener?

Such are our relationships.

Windows get left open.

Or are opened on purpose.

Damage is done.

Things must be cleaned up and righted.

Those things damaged and cleaned up are somehow never quite the same again...never again brand new and fresh.

It is in how we deal with the open windows of our relationships that both our character and the character of the window opener are revealed.

What sort of character do you have?

Peace, ya’ll!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Heard at Our House – Star Wars Edition

(while spinning in circles)
Daddy! WOOK at my JEDI MOVES!!

(After seeing Star Wars T-shirts in Walmart)
Mommy! DAT’s Mastah Yoda! Wight dare! Its Mastah Yoda!

(In the bathtub with the squirty bath toys)
Mommy, da fish an da cwab and da octopuss is fighting.
They are? Is it a Kung Fu Panda fight or a Star Wars fight?
A Stah Wars fight! They got wight sabers! – Bwue, and gween and wed!

(In the driveway, after the “jedi moves” display, a conversation with Daddy)
Are you a Jedi, Jayden?
What’s your name?
So you are Jedi Jayden?
Who am I?
You are Darth Vader.

And in non-Star-Wars news:
In light of Disney buying Marvel, I have informed my son that Spiderman is going to go live with Mickey Mouse. He is ok with this. They are, after all, two of his favorites…I think he thinks that we will turn on Mickey Mouse Club House some day and Spidey will be hanging with Daisy, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto. It IS Disney…anything is possible.

Peace, ya’ll!