Sunday, January 31, 2010

Homemade Donuts, Bounce, Wishful Sewing

More donuts! We just can't get enough. Except these ones are from our own kitchen and they are baked, not fried. Just imagine how excited I was to find this recipe featured in the Register Guard this week. They look delicious, don't they?

Don't be fooled. These "donuts" are essentially chocolate rocks. I was so very disappointed. The recipe even says "And once you slather them with a chocolate glaze, you'll never know you skipped the frying." Bullshit. I'm going back to Holy Donuts for all of my future fried dough needs!

And I had been on such a recipe roll, too. I recently made this amazing (slightly weird, but very tasty) Butternut Squash Apple Soup and baked up a crazy good batch of these Double Chocolate Cookies with a group of seventh graders. I served the soup with homemade dinner rolls and poor Jack somehow misheard me and thought we were having cinnamon rolls with dinner. He was quite disappointed.

A rainy Saturday morning was spent at Bounce Gymnastics.

Now if only I could find the time to sew these pajamas already! I've been on a quest for the perfect pajama pattern and this just might be THE ONE. I just want a pattern that makes sense, has manageable instructions for the collar, and fits the proportions of a reasonably sized child. Fingers are crossed this time. I am hopeful.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Beer and Donuts

This weekend was a mixed bag- beautiful, warmish, and springlike on Saturday and rainy gloom for Sunday. The first half of the weekend was devoted to another round of homebrewing. Brent's dad came over to help stir the pot and chase kids. The first brew (Dank Nugget IPA- go ahead and laugh. I did) was done before Christmas and we thought it was a dud based on our first tasting a few weeks ago. The flavor was good but there was no carbonation. All was not lost, though. Frantic internet research was done and it turns out that it just needed a few more weeks in a warmer spot. Sure enough- we heard that telltale psssssht as the next beer was cracked. It is delicious. So now we've moved on to the Ninkasi IPA Clone. I have high hopes for this one, although if it does indeed taste like Ninkasi IPA it might be dangerous for us to have five gallons of it sitting around our house.


A rainy Sunday morning came along and while many families were heading off to church, we paid our respects to a little cafe called Holy Donuts. Close enough. Don't be all shocked and appalled that we feed our kid donuts. These are the healthy kind. Well, healthier at least.

I really love this little place. It's super cozy and the owner is really friendly. Plus the decor is funky and the donuts are totally wild. Bacon apple fritter, anyone? (Not me.) No donuts for Sawyer (Jack ate two), but I am happy to report that all of his drooling has finally produced a lone tooth. So yay for teeth, I guess. And yay for donuts. Oh, and let's hear it for beer, too!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

We Eat, I Sew, We Attempt to Photograph

Is it just me, or do these cheeks look positively delicious? You should see his thighs... this guy is one solid little baby chunk. Lately he seems to be eating more than Jack (and he still has no teeth!).

Speaking of eating, I recently concocted a new and exciting dinner dish that will surely become one of our old faves in no time. I adapted it from this recipe from Martha Stewart (yeah, that's right, I said Martha Stewart- don't be hatin'). So here you go:

Peanut Butter Noodles (AKA Sesame Noodles, if you are describing them to an adult. For the picky toddlers, stick with the original title)

1/2 box (give or take) whole wheat spaghetti noodles
1 pound tofu, cubed

1 red pepper, thinly sliced

1/2 yellow or red onion, halved and thinly sliced

2 heads broccoli, cut into florets

1/4 cup peanut butter

2 T soy sauce

3 T brown sugar

2 T rice vinegar

1 T sesame oil

2-4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 t red pepper flakes

Saute cubed tofu in vegetable oil until lightly browned and set aside. Cook spaghetti noodles until 3 minutes before al dente. Add red pepper slices, onion, and broccoli to the noodles and water and boil for 3 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Drain and reserve 1/2 cup water.

For the sauce, whisk together remaining ingredients. Add to noodles, vegetables, and tofu and toss to coat, adding reserved water to thin sauce if needed. Serve warm, room temperature, or chilled.

So easy and so delicious.

Anyhoo, aside from my culinary endeavors, I've also been doing a bit of sewing. Brent's mom just let me borrow this amazingly creative and super fun book called One-Yard Wonders, which is a book about- you guessed it- sewing projects that use a yard (or less) of fabric. Now those are my kind of projects. And so, I give you Elodie the Elephant, versions 1 and 2...

Elodie #1 took me a couple of hours to figure out. The ears were tricky and she just doesn't stand up quite right. Elodie #2 was a piece of cake. Her ears went on without a hitch and I sewed a handful of black beans into her derriere so she sits up just fine. I guess these ladies will be birthday presents for the boys (although I am tempted to keep one for myself!).

I'm not sure why I even bother trying to get decent pictures of the two of these yahoos together. Sawyer does not look quite so cartoon characterish in real life. Jack always looks this goofy.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sibling Rivalry

How annoying it must be to have a little brother roaming freely about your house and leaving a wake of destruction behind him. I mean here you are, making this great crane/block conveyor system in your room when suddenly nature calls and you come back to find that this guy has destroyed it all. Ruins! Rubble! Hysteria ensues!

And then! Then! He keeps showing you up at dinner time by becoming founder/president/divine monarch of the Clean Plate Club while you struggle over three measly peas. What is a two year old to do?

(He is eating black beans, by the way. Not that he wouldn't eat a bowl full of soil, though.)

I guess when the going gets tough, the tough start knitting. Or something like that.

The big payoff is coming, I'm told. Someday these two will be inseparable buddies and entertain each other for hours at a time while Brent and I sip wine from afar and regale each other with tales full of irony and wit. Until then I will continue to smile through clenched teeth as Jack makes comments like "Mom, I don't want a brother. Put him back in your tummy."

Friday, January 15, 2010

Growing Up

Preschool days are Wednesdays and Fridays. Jack has become obsessed with the days of the week ever since he started preschool a few weeks ago. He can't wait for preschool days and sometimes gets up extra super early on preschool days to announce to the sleeping house that it is, in fact, a preschool day. While his enthusiasm for preschool is charming, I wish he'd tone down his pre-dawn rejoicing. (Some of us are not as excited to get out of bed for school.)

Sawyer wants to be part of Jack's class. He so badly wants to run and play with the big kids. Again I find myself saying someday, little man (but not too soon!)

We celebrated Grandma's birthday at our house. Grandma and Great Grandma were thoughtful enough to bring dinner to us, thus sparing us the agony of attempting to dine in a restaurant with our two little monkeys. Jack spent a great deal of time methodically placing every single candle we had in the house on top of Grandma's birthday cake. She was a good sport about this. She is certainly not as old as this picture might have you believe.

Gah! My baby! He is becoming such a toddler. I had to force him into this baby-like pose so I could attempt to capture a fleeting image of his babyhood.

Where does the time go? Who are these kids and what have they done with my babies?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Chop Chop

Chopping wood must be a guy thing. I really can't understand why Brent seems to enjoy it so much or why Jack likes to watch. All I know is that I am happy to have plenty of firewood and glad I'm not the one wielding the axe, 'cause that would be scary for everyone.

We've been on a Highlights for Children magazine kick around here lately. Jack is now able to tell us what is happening in the stories that he reads. It's a refreshing change and his interpretations of the pictures can be pretty funny.

We're also on a comfort foods kick around here these days. To me, nothing is more comforting than a pot pie. And chopping vegetables? I can handle that. My brother Nick and his girlfriend Mishaun just happened to be passing through town last week when we were making a veggie pot pie. They knocked on the door just as I was pulling in out of the oven. Coincidence? Clearly they are stalking us.

Veggie Pot Pie with Whole Wheat Crust
This sounds healthy- but trust me- it is also delish (and probably not healthy)!

For the crust:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup shortening or butter (or half of each- get crazy!)
6-8 tbsp ice water

Mix flours and salt in medium bowl. Cut in shortening/butter then add ice water 1 tbsp at a time. Stir until mixture forms a ball then divide in half. Form into discs, wrap in wax paper and refrigerate.

For the filling:
2 tbsp butter
1 yellow onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
3-4 small potatoes (white or red), chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
1 cup corn
1 cup green beans, cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup peas
3 cups vegetable broth
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp soy sauce

Preheat oven to 425. Melt butter over med/low heat and saute onions, garlic, and potatoes for a few minutes. Add in the other vegetables and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until vegetables are tender, 5-7 minutes. In a separate bowl, combine cornstarch and soy sauce with a small amount of water (1/4 cup or so) and stir until dissolved. Add to vegetables and cook for a few minutes until sauce thickens. Salt and pepper to taste.

Roll out one disc of pie crust to fit your favorite casserole dish, pour in vegetables, then top with remaining rolled out crust. Seal and flute. Cut a few slits in the top for the steam to escape. Bake for 30 minutes or so. Best to let sit for 10 or more minutes before serving, if possible. As in, if you don't have a pack of ravenous mongrels drooling around your dinner table.

(One note about the corn. This year I tried blanching and freezing corn and OMG it is srsly the best thing evah! You have to try it. I swear you will never buy canned corn again. Srsly. It will make your pot pies TO. DIE. FOR. See how enthusiastic I am about this corn? It makes me write like an 8th grader- that is how much I love this corn. So in conclusion, once again, this corn rocks.)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

On the Move

I think sometimes we obsess (and maybe even brag) a bit too much about the eating and sleeping habits of our children. When I talk to other parents it often seems that we equate good eating and sleeping with good parenting.

One of my friends from work, who has three grown boys, once remarked, "I don't understand all this talk about babies sleeping through the night- my babies never did!" I found her honesty refreshing.

My experience has shown that sometimes your kids eat well and sometimes you are up all night and you just do the best you can with whichever scenario you are living in the moment. But still, I have to say that it is really, really fun to have a child who delights in every morsel of food put in front of him. Also, meal time is one of the few times of the day when Sawyer holds (relatively) still. Now let's just teach him some table manners already.

Since I am waxing philosophical about parenting- let's talk about strollers. I truly believe that it is worth every penny to buy your dream stroller, even if it costs as much (or more!) than your first car. We have put many, many miles on our double BOB and it gets used more than the car during the summertime. Also, the boys looks so sweet sitting next to each other, don't they? The stroller practically pushes itself while you are on flat ground, but once you hit the hills- watch out! Let's not forget that there's still 50 pounds of kid in this thing. Last weekend I was overtaken on the hills near our house by a rickety old lady walking an equally rickety old dog.

Sometimes the things around the playground are just as interesting as the swings and slides.

But the tire swing is still a novelty.

Jack is always willing and eager to do a lap around the track. This causes great amusement for the actual runners. Go Jack go!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


....endless pieces of art for the new "gallery" wall in Jack's room. He has finally begun to draw specific things- even if you can't tell what it is, he can and will describe to you in great detail his aesthetic visions. His creativity abounds.

... a new bag for Jack to carry his library books in. For those of you who might recognize it, this is my mom's New Home sewing machine (circa 1988) which was recently resurrected from my dad's basement. I was pleased (and amused) to discover that it is still under warranty.

... circles around the block with the new scooter and a giggling Sawyer in the stroller. You can just see how much he wants to be able to run and play with his big brother. Someday, little man, someday.

... daily trips to the chicken house for fresh eggs. Only one of our hens is laying, but we've found that an egg a day is just about right for our family. This is Jack's first foray into the world of household chores. He seems to be taking the responsibility quite seriously.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Pinata Time

How to Make a Pinata for Two Year Olds
(Note: this is different from making one for bigger kids. I'll explain...)

Blow up a balloon and mix 1 cup flour with 2 cups water. Cut newspaper into small strips and place the balloon in a bowl. Get out the craft smocks and a vinyl tablecloth if you have one, because this is going to get messy.

Let two year old dip newspaper strips into glue mixture. Try not to freak out as it gets all over the floor. Help him to plaster a layer over the balloon. Leave an opening where the balloon is tied so that you can fill the pinata after it has dried. Place the balloon in a safe place overnight. Repeat the process the next day and let the balloon dry again overnight. Most pinata instructions will tell you to apply 4-5 layers, but unless you want to watch your little ones beat down the pinata for hours on end, I'd stick with two. Also, you have a two year old- you don't have time for 4-5 layers.

Pop the balloon and patch up any holes with scotch tape. Paint your balloon (fish are super easy!) and fill it with random junk from around the house. Put a string through the top and stuff some tissue paper in the opening (or don't...). Attach to a broom, hand your kids some wooden spoons, stand back, and enjoy.