Monday, January 17, 2011

The New Year's Resolution That Will Probably Fail. Alternate Title: A Healthier Approach to Carrot Cake (but not so healthy that it tastes bad!)

New Year's Resolution #1: Eat more yogurt. Simple, very doable, and totally unmeasurable, as far as goals are concerned. But seriously, yogurt is pretty important and I'd like to make it at least until 90 before I become a hunchback. Also, I am pretty clumsy and I won't want to be breaking my hip every time I fall down when I get old. So go calcium!

New Year's Resolution #2: Here's the tough one. I want to become someone that I'm not. I want to totally reinvent myself as a brand new person. I want to become one of those thoughtful people who always remember your birthday and send thank you cards without fail. Do you know people like that? Those thoughtful and considerate people of the world? Well, I want to become one of them. I have a lot of work to do.

We're now halfway through January and it turns out that January is actually a really big birthday month in my family. Who knew? (I"ll tell you who knew: my in-laws!) I married into a family of EXTREMELY thoughtful people who would NEVER miss your birthday and who are experts at wrapping presents. EXPERTS! (Have you ever seen me wrap a present? Pathetic. I once watched my sister-in-law wrap a present and it took at least twenty minutes of dedication, patience, and skill- I seem to recall that a ruler was somehow involved? But when she was finished it was stunning! The color coordination! The tying of the ribbon! The perfect amount of tape! My god I could never do that. Sigh.)

But I can at least try to acknowledge people's birthdays, so that's my goal. My resolution for 2011. I HEREBY PROCLAIM THAT I RESOLVE TO REMEMBER YOUR BIRTHDAYS! In other words, I will attempt to send you a card. Or a maybe a text. Or maybe a facebook message. I am a work in progress here, people. Let's not set the bar too high.

As I said before, January is a big one for birthdays, plus we're all coming down from the Christmas high and some of us have zero creativity left and/or are totally broke... Birthday number 1: my mother-in-law. That one would be easy, I thought. We would invite her over for dinner at our house. Piece of cake! But then I realized that I had already screwed this up because I had invited other people over that night. Curses! But everyone was flexible and it all worked out fine in the end. I even made a delicious cake that I'll tell you about later. I attempted to coerce Jack into making her a birthday card. He made her a birthday paper airplane instead. Whatev.

Birthday number 2: my sister-in-law. Hmmm. This one would be trickier. I certainly couldn't wrap anything and this birthday greeting might require a stamp and/or possibly a trip to the post office. Things were getting dicey. But I managed to pull it off! Birthday number 2 commemorated! (SPOILER ALERT- Tracie I remembered your birthday! Yes, that's right! Me! Your birthday! I did it!)

And I got really excited about this- I was two for two! Maybe this whole birthday acknowledgement thing wouldn't be so hard after all. I started to get excited about all of this- so many birthdays to celebrate! So much joy to spread! Where to begin? I needed a calendar, and then I needed a source. Ah, facebook, that creepy and yet wonderful tool of voyeurism. So I sat at the computer and filled in the calendar with birthdays, all the while humming a little birthday tune and thinking about all of the glorious ways I would surprise my loved ones on their birthdays. And then I realized a terrible thing. I had already forgotten Mishaun's birthday. DAMMIT!

(Mishaun is my other sister-in-law. Well, practically my sis-in-law. Soon to be my real sis-in-law? Nick?)

On the plus side, I did remember to eat my yogurt this morning. In other positive news, I handed the camera to Brent as we strolled through our neighborhood the other day.

Those are not wrinkles. They are laugh lines. In case you were wondering.

I'm super excited to tell you about my friend Sarah Sedwick and her awesome still life paintings that are currently on display at the Maude Kerns Art Center. We went to the opening reception and I was totally amazed by her work. Wow. Ugly confession- I thought still life would be boring- it's totally not. Jack was equally impressed and he even brought along a piece of his own artwork to show. He was clearly influenced by her work- the next morning he climbed up to the breakfast table announcing that he wanted to draw a picture and promptly drew his own still life rendition of an apple.

Check out her blog here. I am always so inspired when I see my people creating things. I have friends and family who are artists, chefs, seamstresses, writers, and musicians and I find the whole realm of creativity to be so powerful and motivating. I am constantly finding outlets for my creative side through sewing and cooking and writing, but seeing Sarah's artwork makes me want to try my hand at painting. But who knows if I will. I mean, I can barely wrap a birthday present.

After the art show we took the boys out on a Euphoria chocolate binge and made a family date night out of the evening. An evening which tragically ended in a leaky diaper and some serious past-our-bedtime grouchies. Oh well. It was still worth it.

The next day, long after I had encouraged and praised Jack with his apple still life picture, I caught myself saying no to Sawyer when he asked to paint. He's just so messy and spastic and really seems like more of a gross motor skills kind of guy so we rarely let him near the paints. But I then I wondered if perhaps he is just a Jackson Pollock instead of a Rembrandt, so I decided to give it a whirl. The paint lasted for about two minutes before he began to shampoo his hair with it.

And now back to my artistic side: Grandma's birthday dinner menu included broccoli cheddar quiche, seasoned red potatoes, green beans, and carrot cake.

It was all good, but the best part was the cake. I adapted a recipe from and it goes a little something like this:

Healthy is a Relative Term Carrot Cake

1 3/4 c all purpose flour
2/3 c whole wheat flour
2 t baking soda
2 t cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
1/4 t salt
2 large eggs
1 c brown sugar, loosely packed
1/4 c olive oil
3-4 c grated carrots
2/3 c buttermilk
1/2 c coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 c raisins

(Now I know some of you are wondering why I'd go and ruin a perfectly decent carrot cake by adding in those raisins. Trust me on this one. I'm not one for putting raisins where they don't belong- I would NEVER let a raisin even touch my cinnamon rolls, for example, but in this cake they totally work.)

Oven to 350. Butter your 9 by 13 inch cake pan. Whisk together the dry ingredients (except your sugar, raisins, and nuts, of course) and set it aside. Beat the eggs, brown sugar, and oil until smooth. Add carrots, mix. Add buttermilk, raisins, and nuts, mix. Now add the flour mixture in batches to the carroty stuff. Mix until fully incorporated. Bake for about 30 minutes and let the cake cool completely on a wire rack before frosting it.

I toyed with the insane notion of halving the frosting recipe. DON'T DO IT! Just run an extra mile this week and call it good.

Not Particularly Healthy Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 c powdered sugar
1 t vanilla

Whip it all up in your mixer. Beat the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla together first and then add enough milk to attain a spreadable consistency. I dare you not to lick the spatula. Pretty sure it can't be done.

Well, I have carrot cake to eat and birthday cards to make. Steve! I haven't forgotten you (yet). So here's to those New Year's resolutions. Ooh, and I am pretty sure there's a serving of calcium somewhere in that carrot cake.


  1. YOU are the thoughtful one Cassadie! I feel special just for being mentioned in your blog! You have inspired me to eat more yogurt as well! I love the photo of Jack inspecting the art work at the gallery opening- priceless!

  2. I second that, about feeling special just to be mentioned! It was great to see Jack's painting, and to see your family at my opening. And don't feel too bad, Cassadie - I can't wrap a present to save my life either.

  3. I haven't really checked out your blog before Cassadie but I am truly impressed! My mom's favorite cake in the whole world is carrot cake so I will definitely be sharing your recipe! You inspire me all the time!