Posts Tagged '#dailylife'

Everyday Cake

Yesterday when Luke asked (using the power of his magical dimples) if we could make a cake together, how could I say no? It was a sweet afternoon; we walked to the store in the sunshine for eggs and buttermilk and then got to making a mess in the kitchen, just the two of us.

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We had such a good time. Sometimes I struggle to let go and let my kids REALLY help me with baking or cooking projects. The mess and energy and just overall chaos of little kids with spatulas and measuring cups (yelling ‘I can do it!!!!’ at the top of their lungs) can be overwhelming not to mention I might be a tad bit over-controlling when it comes to how I want things done.

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But yesterday we got it right. Lu was helpful and listened and followed instructions and I was calm and patient and took a deep breath and LET him do it on his own.

And the best part? We made a cake. And it was delicious. One layer of buttermilk vanilla cake with a lemon cream cheese frosting and strawberries. It tasted like spring.

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Buttermilk Cake:

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Generously spray a ten inch round cake pan with cooking spray or butter and lightly flour it. You could also use a 9×9 square cake pan.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Set aside. In a mixer cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Mix in vanilla. Mix in flour mixture in three parts alternating with the buttermilk. Mix together until well-combined. Pour batter into pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes, then turn it upside down on a cooling rack and pop it out of the pan to finish cooling.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • splash of milk
  • the zest of one lemon
  • pinch of salt

In a mixer, mix the butter and cream cheese until they are well-combined. Add the vanilla, salt and lemon zest and continue to mix. Slowly add in the powdered sugar. If the frosting is too thick, add a splash of milk to get to desired texture.

When the cake is cool, liberally frost the top of the cake. Garnish with fresh strawberries.

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Chocolate Chocolate White Chocolate Cookies

It’s officially February. January is gone for another year (oh thank goodness) and I need a break from green smoothies, salad and constantly feeling hungry.

Besides, February is the month of love and all that mushy stuff and what goes better with romance than a big plate of chocolate goodness? Nothing, I tell you.

Make a double batch of these treats. Trust me. Put some in the freezer. You’ll be so glad you did the next time your husband comes home grumpy from work, or you need a treat to take to a friend or your day just blows up in your face. Not that I would know anything about any of that…

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This recipe is a bit of a mash-up between a cookie recipe from The Pioneer Woman and The Farm Chicks.

Triple Chocolate Cookies:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. In a mixer, cream the butter for 1 minute. Add the sugars and vanilla until creamy and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Lower the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. With a spatula mix in the chips until well-combined. Bake for about 8 minutes. It’s easy to over-cook the cookies because its hard to tell how brown they are getting. Err on the side of undercooked. Allow to cook on a wire rack and try not to eat a dozen in the first hour you bake them.

Enjoy!

Taking Stock

I’ve been fighting the winter blues for weeks. January is notoriously hard but this year probably takes the cake. Lots of looming questions about the future, short days, cutting out sugar; it can make everything feel terrible so quickly. The fog and damp cold gray days feel like a wet blanket clinging to everything and my tendency to brood has obviously gone into overdrive. After yelling at EVERYONE this morning, even the poor dogs didn’t escape my fury, I realized I need a new perspective. As soon as possible.

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So I cleaned my carpet and washed my windows. Two things I really didn’t want to do, but when I finished it felt like I’d scrubbed away a little of my bad attitude.

I went to bible study. I didn’t really want to go. But I went and I was encouraged and listened to and I noticed I felt a little better.

We talked about being grateful. About saying thank you and making that the focus of life…not all the stuff that makes us feel bad or consumes us with worry or draws us away from the truth. And the truth is that God is love and He never changes that way.

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So I’m wrestling with that, wondering how to change the way I think and drinking a cup of tea and listening to Mumford and Sons. Little by little my life is coming back into perspective. Just a little.

Today I’m grateful for a clean slate to start over. For random phone calls from my husband and texts from friends. For the peace lily on my kitchen counter and the sweet toddlers sleeping cozy in their beds.

When I take stock in my life, I am overwhelmed by its goodness. And I feel sheepish for being so cranky. Here’s to holding onto a simple truth: gratitude beats out brooding every time.

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On Being Quiet and When It’s Time To Push Through

I’ve let a whole year go by, full to the brim with memories and meals and friends and kids who just keep growing and growing. We are two weeks away from a whole new season around here: kindergarten. New school shoes have been purchased and just today a ‘big-kid’ lunchbox and water bottle.

I have resisted documenting the day to day because I’m hyper-sensitive to the criticism that blogs aren’t an authentic representation of a person’s life. Also, there’s a lot of navel-gazing and it’s as obnoxious to write about as it is to read sometimes.

But I just read about how when you tell a story, you have to narrow the big picture down to one tiny corner. Just describe that little spot in the upper-left hand corner and then go from there.

So here is a tiny corner, a little tidbit, that hopefully someday will jog my children’s memory and cause them to smile:

We are deeply entrenched in summer living. The house is almost always in some form of disarray. It’s cold cereal for breakfast and peanut butter for lunch. It’s too hot to play outside in the afternoon and Legos can literally be found on every surface in this house. I found some in my bed yesterday and stepped on one in the shower. How this happens is beyond me.

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The boys are deeply tanned from a summer at the lake, riding bikes and swimming in friend’s pools. Scarlet’s baby-fine hair is bleached out and her cheeks are perpetually sun-kissed.

The wrestling is constant. So is the eating. But when I can step back from the chaos (which I’m not always very good at) I really relish at what good friend’s the kids are. They are happy and robust and so so loud. I beg them to sit down, to chew with their mouths closed, to pick up their shoes. But then they spend hours building legos or making forts or having some sort of complicated war/adventure in the backyard and I just love them so stinking much.

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Isn’t that the crux of family life? It can be so constant, so totally taxing yet its the very best thing and when even one of your people is missing, it’s almost like you’ve lost a limb.

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We took a day trip to Mount Rainier last weekend. We needed trees and fresh air and a break from the heat. So we loaded the car with water bottles and sandwiches and headed west. In the 9 years we’ve lived in our little Valley, we’ve never ventured there and now we regret every day we DIDN’T go because it was so stunning.

We chose a 1 mile each direction hike and set out. Luke and Scarlet climbed in and out of the stroller. We got in people’s way. There was a fair amount of whining. Aaron and I looked at each other silently wondering if this was worth the 2 hour drive. And then, all of a sudden, the kids spotted a snow field off in the distance and they pumped to see snow in August. And suddenly our little hike turned into a way bigger one but everyone was happy and energized. We made it to that snow, tossing soggy snowballs at each other, cooling down from our hike. We dipped fingers in glacier run-off and scooted back to the lodge for much-deserved ice cream cones.

It was a good good day. One of so many. I just need to write them down more often.

 

 

A New Day Rises

A post sitting in my drafts for two weeks and finally the words came. Little glimpses of the kids, what they are doing, talking about, the things I want to remember.

And when I go to grab a few photos to add to the post, the computer shakes and smokes, freezing up and forgetting those precious words.

Grrr.

Stupid technology. Stupid me for taking two weeks to write a dang post.

And now the baby cries from her crib, because that’s how it works. So much has happened this winter, packaged up in the regular everyday. The kids growing and changing and I want to remember. So for today, just pictures, and hopefully hopefully when I look back a few years now they will remind me and I will laugh. Luke’s first trip to the doctor for glue on his forehead three days before Christmas, Jack’s never ending love for all things Cabelas, an unbelievable family vacation, Scarlet’s infatuation with shoes and jewelry and babies. The sweetness and the chaos.

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Instagram is My New Blog

Instagram kind of took over my blog this year. I love sharing little snapshots of our days. I love seeing friends and family and all the little mini stories and photos they post.

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But Instagram is just a tiny piece. A singular moment. And blogging is a fraction more than that, but still,  it’s a little bigger. It forces words and thoughts. It’s storytelling. And I want more of that.

***

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I’m fully embracing my love of indie pop. Regina Spektor, Mumford and Sons and Of Monsters and Men are my Pandora stations of choice. I’ve been making a concentrated effort to eat less carbs and more vegetables the last couple weeks but then I make a batch of cookies ‘for the kids’ and eat the dough straight from the freezer when no one is looking. Ridiculous. In trying to fight the winter blues that chase me all through January and February, I cashed in a gift certificate a dear friend so generously gifted me for some hot yoga. The stretching and warm room are divine. I wish I could do it every day.

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***

The holidays feel like months ago when in reality they were just a few weeks ago. I took down all our Christmas decorations including the tree the day after Christmas in anticipation of our trip to Hawaii. It was so NICE to come home to a clean fresh house, but all the hustle and bustle this year combined with our travel really changed the feeling of the season. Maybe I’ll get around to posting some pictures one of these days. My computer just told me I uploaded 227 pictures from my phone, so I’m sure there’s something worth posting eventually.

 

 

This and That

I wake up on Mondays and think ‘this is the week I’m going to get organized…slow down…set time aside to read, cook, finally build that marble run for Jack…’

HA.

Even though none of that is happening, other really good things ARE.

Game after game of Spot it. Bike riding in the driveway (because we’ve had exactly one skif of snow this year). Chocolate chip cookies. Trying out hot yoga. Attempting to pitch crap from the garage, my closet, the ridiculous amount of toys in the basement.

Just regular life stuff.

I have a regular column in our local magazine and before the archives get so old I can’t reference the recipes anymore, I thought I would link to a few of them:

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Balsamic Roast Beef

Cinnamon Rolls

Cheese Tortellini Soup (which I think is posted somewhere on the blog already…)

 

I’m also reading a really good book. Actually, I guess technically I’m re-reading it. It’s called Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist. I loaned it to a friend and she ended up ordering me a new copy because she splattered so much stuff in her kitchen cooking recipes out of it. The pages are dog eared and starting to stick together. A small group of my girlfriends started a book club/dinner club based on the book and it has been SO fun. We cook the recipes from the book, drink wine, talk late into the evening and even though we are as different from each other on paper as can be, we are finding so many lovely connections.

 

We had our first lazy weekend in months and I actually woke up this morning refreshed. We went to Lowes and Costco as a family, watched football (go Seahawks!), the boys skied a half day on Sunday and Scarlet and I vacuumed out the car and went to the library. Seriously, it was awesome. We need more of that margin in our life. I know we do and I know I am responsible for creating that space in our family, but it just doesn’t come easily.

If I had any new year’s resolutions this year, it would be to create margin. To learn to say no. To be ok with home and the occasional bout of boredom. To turn off the TV, Instagram, Facebook more often and open a book, the window, my own brain on a regular basis.

So that’s what I’m thinking about these days…more food (duh), more books, more time as a family. Less other (even the good other).

How about you?

 

 


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