Monday, December 8, 2008

Contest!

Steph at Adventures in Babywearing is doing it again! Staples has given her a digital photo frame to give away. I would love one of these for Jason. He would love to have more pictures on display, well, except that one of him in his band uniform in high school.

You can enter by leaving a comment here.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Oh, my poor sweet husband

Last night we had to run into town to get a new battery for his truck, and my MIL watched John for us so we could spend some time together. It was lovely...it was't as if the lighting at NAPA was romantic or the grocery store oozed charm, but we got to spend time together and that was the BEST. He even took me out to the grill for fries and wraps. Yummy!

When we got back to pick up John, we were sitting around watching HRH make the cuteness rounds and visiting. Jason was laying on the floor and took John for an airplane ride. John loves to fly, but apparently got a little airsick...

in Jason's ear

and I couldn't stop laughing

but I kind of did, and cleaned the up the barf

and laughed some more

and wished I had my camera (and Jason was glad I didn't)

oh, my poor sweet, jewel of a husband!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Caramel Cake heaven and hell

This was my first challenge with The Daring Bakers, and I was sooooo excited to get my secret recipe...until I read it. Oh, I LOVE.LOVE.LOVE caramel, so I was bouncing in my seat as I read the title, but as I read the actual recipe, I bounced less and less...until I was ever so slightly slumped in front of my computer as I printed out the three pages of tips on how to actually make the cake turn out, in addition to the three separate recipes that actually composed the challenge cake. This was EVERYTHING I HATE ABOUT BAKING.... my favorite recipes consist of a bunch of ingredients followed by a temperature and baking time...this looked fussy...ask my sister how much I love fussy...

Stay tuned, though folks, because I'll actually be making this again for all of the crabbing and whining that swirled through the kitchen, this cake was absolutely delicious, with the most luxurious crumb and delicate flavor of anything that has ever come out of my oven!
The process and what I learned:
Lesson #1) when you make caramel sauce, you don't stir...unless you want to spend twenty minutes making sugar into....

sugar.
After two tries of combining ingredients and then very carefully and constantly stirring the "caramel sauce" that I was affectionately calling "caramel sand," I called my sister (who knows almost everything about cooking/baking, and LOVES fussy recipes), and she set me straight on NOT STIRRING caramel sauce. Ahh, yes. Well, I added some water (water with homemade vanilla, actually...rum makes everything better), strained out the crystals, and tried again with satisfactory results:


Lesson #2: Following a recipe exactly doesn't actually kill me. Maybe it was a character building thing, and if it was, Lord, I'm so sorry about all of the bitching.

I didn't have a tall 9" pan, so I decided to use my new bundt pan,

and used a technique I learned making one of my favorite new cakes [Carmin's Plum Cake: scrawled on a scrap of paper...list of ingredients, 350, 1 hour...lemme know if you want it].

I sprayed the pan and then coated the inside with sugar. The result was a crunchy, easily removed exterior that was absolutely amazing.




Lesson #3: Multitasking while baking a new, fussy recipe on a pre-holiday day is just, well, a recipe for frustration. ;-) I had been letting John play with whatever wouldn't be destroyed/would keep him happy and out of my hair while while baking bread, cleaning house, and baking this cake. He had been playing happily with some mixing bowls and paper bags I had in the middle of the kitchen, and since he wasn't clinging to my pant legs asking for my attention, I let it wander to what I was trying to do a few feet away. I hadn't put away some margarine that I'd bought for some cookies later this season (that was in the paper bags) and, well, John took advantage of my lack of attention...


It was just so dang cute that I had to take a picture before I cleaned stuff up. It was a great laugh break.

Lesson #4: Take time to taste the frosting as I go. It is actually possible to have frosting too sweet, and I should have added milk to the powdered sugar instead of caramel sauce (even though I LOVE.LOVE.LOVE caramel). It was pretty and sweet, but after eating our test piece and taking a photo (I added the cinnamon to the top picture for looks...not for favor), it sits in our 'fridge waiting to be added to cream cheese for a topping to some cinnamon rolls I'll make this week. Otherwise it was delicious. I might try the technique of browning the butter again as it gave it a delicious slight toffee flavor.
Lesson 5: My husband is HOT!
And although he'll eat pretty much anything I make, he actually really liked this cake. Next time I won't be so uptight, and I'll make it with some coconut sauce I have in the pantry, which will make it SO MUCH EASIER.
Am I cut out to be a Daring Baker? Not really. I don't like fussy, don't need fussy, and would much rather make Carmin's Plum Cake for my next party (which I'm actually going to try as a pumpkin cake this next time). Pretty daring, huh. It was fun to try, and exciting to have a secret recipe for a month, but no thanks.
I'm sure my husband will be relieved. :-)
RECIPE SOURCE
Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon (http://eggbeater.typepad.com/), as published on Bay Area Bites (http://blogs.kqed.org/bayareabites/).
Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich, Artisan Press, Copyright 2007, ISBN: 978-1579652111
If you’re looking for additional guidance on the cake, Shuna’s got some great information posted here as well (http://eggbeater.typepad.com/shuna/2007/11/caramel-cake-a.html) and here (http://blogs.kqed.org/bayareabites/2006/12/24/caramel-cake-the-recipe/).

Friday, November 21, 2008

Conspire!

It is right around this time of year for the last couple of years that I start kicking myself. You see, even though I'm a tremendously disorganized (well, not reeaallly "disorganized"...maybe more like "overwhelmed by organization"), I like to get my Christmas shopping done early. So by this time of year, when the Advent Conspiracy rolls out, I'm almost done assembling my little pile of gifts, and already have a few wrapped.

NEXT year I'm going to do this in spades, but as I was adding myself to their mailing list I realized that maybe someone would want to be a Conspirator THIS YEAR! I think EVERYONE should do this. (My, I'm using a lot of caps today!) My sister and brother-in-law are making gifts and making Christmas more about what Christmas actually is about and less about what it isn't: Christmas should change people's lives...not be a big hassle, get us into more debt, or add to the junk in the back of one's closet (which none of MY gifts are, of course...at least I HOPE not!)

What got me fired up about it today? Check out this project. [Except my husband: Jason, I know how much you like surprises. I'm totally going to do this for you next year, so don't click on it. But you know how hard it is for me to keep a gift a secret, so if you do figure it out, PLEASE PLEASE tell me so that keeping a secret from you won't make me so twitchy...but don't look just so I won't be twitchy because you know me--I'm always a little weird about something and it might as well be trying to keep from telling you this fantastic idea for a gift Thank you for loving me so much] [Okay, everyone else: Not that you actually leave comments, but if you do, don't mention THE GIFT.] This is the kind of project that embodies the heart of the AC, and if you are a mom, you should do it.

If you aren't a mom, or even if you are, consider becoming a Conspirator...you can even take back my gift, if you want :-)

Just something to think about.

Love,
Me
video

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I try.

I didn't have my coffee before I got to work, so John was at the mercy of my regular, sluggish, uncaffeinated brain as I rushed to get to work early this morning. I'm a bit behind on getting the laundry up from the dryer (it is sitting there clean, but unfolded), so as I reached into his still-ample supply of clothes for a pair of pants that matched the so cute orange and brown onsie that I had already wrangled him into, I was feeling pretty good about actually getting him dressed this morning (he's a baby of leisure and gets to wear his sleepers most days). It was even better when I found a pair of pants that would match. They were way too big around the waist, but being the clever mom that I am, I was congratulating myself as I figured out how to cinch in the elastic band inside. Okay, out the door. We both had clothes, I had my purse, diaper bag, and kid. Check, check, check, and check.

When I arrived at work I bragged to my mom that I had figured out these new pair of pants and didn't they just look so cute on him? I can't remembered if she gave a little laugh or just smiled, when she asked if they weren't the ones that she'd bought for him this summer. I guessed that they were, and she commented that they were for a much older child. Hmm, I mused....the legs fit just great, though. Um, except that they're shorts...size 4. For my 8-month-old.

Right.

I guess this is were I decide to accept that I may never have my act together, but acknowledge that I still got both of us out the door, he doesn't care what he wears, and look how much LONGER he can wear these cute little shorts/pants/whatever! Okay, I'm a mom, and mom's are brilliant....even when we aren't quite perfect. Maybe I'll get the hang of this eventually.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Babywearing

Before I was even pregnant, I was interested in babywearing (even though I didn't know it by that term). I guess it was living in Africa and wearing my friend's kids, and visiting Guatemala. It just seemed so natural. Even after I came back from Cameroon when I was 18, I would chuck the kid of the people I lived with on my back when I needed to finish chores (and Charla was away...I was sure she wouldn't approve...it seemed so "Native" and I was already weird enough). But I never saw anyone carrying their babies that way while I was back in the States...until I moved to Portland...and then I found out it had a name.

Fast forward to 2008...I have a kid. In Montana. Yeah. I've seen approximately four people in the last year wearing their kids. No matter...that's what the Internet is for! I downloaded patterns for a sling, and practiced carrying around sacks of flour and #10 cans before I gave birth. Yeah, this would definitely work for me... And then I gave birth to the crankiest baby ever...at least for his first month. I kept trying the sling (and probably if I'd had a cool one like the ones at Nonny & Boo* I probably would have been cruisin' in style), and then bought a different type, before someone turned me on to a Moby, which worked better because of a previous neck/shoulder injury. While I haven't mastered throwing my kid on my back and wrapping it African style, I can put him in the Moby (although I've only been successful with the front-carrying methods). It soothed him when he was a cranky wee-baby, and keeps him happy and out of mischief now that he's a strapping almost-walking 8 1/2 month old.

For more babywearing stuff, check out this blog: Adventures in Babywearing!

[Okay, I included the links to Nonny & Boo and AIB to enter a contest, but that's okay, right, because you can enter it too! Sorry I haven't posted any pictures lately...I've been forgetting to wear my camera, which that and a pair of roller skates are pretty much mandatory for keeping up with John these days. More later...I promise]

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sunny Autumn Day

I've been at the Parental Units all week working.

[For those who don't know, the three of us have an adult foster care home. My parents have two senior women who live there with them, and I come in and give them a break. It is a fairly ideal working situation for me, since John gets to hang out here, too. In some ways he makes my job easier (something about babies that brings out the best in people), and some ways makes it harder (for example, his internal clock that moves him from content to cranky right just as I'm trying to put meals on the table...which isn't unusual or new, but hard when trying to do it on a schedule), but overall, I'm thankful for the opportunity to bring income in while being with my son.

The weather the last couple of days has been clear, and the crunchy leaves and the beautiful sunshine have been calling to me. My grandma came over to watch John for a while yesterday and I was able to sit just outside the door and work on a bible study I've been trying to do while he's sleeping (which doesn't work so well now that he's decided that naps aren't quite necessary, so it was a special treat to have 15 minutes to focus on just one thing). It was wonderful to be able to enjoy the sun. A little later, when one of The Ladies was out with a friend, and the other was snoozing in her chair, I grabbed John and I introduced him to crunchy leaves. It was the stillest I've seen him in a long time as he sat in the pile and explored the textures and sounds (and tastes) of autumn. It was so fun to lay on my belly (in the sun!!) and watch my son enjoy on of my favorite things in God's beautiful world. It was one of those moments in time I hope to remember as the days get shorter and when the snow starts to fly.

video

Monday, October 6, 2008

Teeth Aplenty

Here are some pictures we took tonight. John has four teeth as of today (the right top one has barely popped though, but we're countin' it)


Okay, that last one was taken when we went out to get wood in July.


CUTE STORY ALERT
Just now I was uploading pictures and feeding John applesauce from his highchair (he is in his highchair, I am at the table typing...just to clarify). As the pictures finally popped up, he got a huge grin on his face. "I know that kid!....and there's my mom!" He grinned and gave a giggle and looked back and forth between the computer screen and me. He's starting to really figure things out.



Friday, September 19, 2008

Holy Time Warp, Batman!













John's 6 1/2 months already, and have we been busy!! I just got an e-mail from babycenter that warned that my baby would be turning over by now, so I should be ready. Whatever!

John's been busy getting ready to walk...he's pulling himself up and standing at every opportunity, crawling like crazy, ready to pop out his second pair of teeth, exploring his world and play with anything he finds within his reach...especially if it is paper or an electrical cord. We have a great time rolling around on the floor, and when I need to be extra busy, he enjoys standing and chewing on the top rail of his pack 'n' play (Thanks again, Walt and Kim!)

Here are some more pictures of his antics over the last while:

This was taken at the mall in Kalispell. John and Jason came up with me while I had a booth at their Baby Fair to sell my toys. John and I hung out while Jason ran errands and came back to check on us. While I was taking down the booth at the end of the day, John started getting fussy, so Jason, like the Superdad he is, whipped out a bottle and fed our little man. What a guy!



This was taken awhile ago, but is just so cute, I had to include it. He's my Mini Cooper!! (Thanks for the adorable shirt, Carmin!)


My grandma came up to visit...John loved it!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Swing Baby

John had such a good time trying out a friend's swing.




I didn't post the video...what was I thinking in even taking it?!? Made me a bit queezy watching it. You'll have to settle on John's big smile (which is so brilliant it is impossible to feel like one is just settling...but I'm biased). It is so much fun watching his world expand.



Coming very soon...crawling!



[That sound? Oh, that's my knees knocking together. I'm not ready for infant mobility!]

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

My guys


Jason is on a fire in California right now, but I realized that I haven't posted many pictures of my good lookin' husband. Well, today I'm not just going to show you one handsome guy, but, get this....if you look at this picture in the next fifteen minutes, I'll throw in an extra (albeit shorter) tall drink of water. That's right folks, that's how convinced I am that this is something you're going to love as much as I do (well, maybe almost as much).

Remember, this is a limited time offer. Look today...don't delay!



Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Check out this blog!!

In a moment of complete randomness, I stumbled upon this blog. This family from Walla Walla, WA, is biking across the US (WITH kids!!)

How cool is that?!?!!! They update daily or so. Join me in following their progress! Talk about a great experience to share as a family. The kids seem like they're having a ball.

http://shut-up-and-pedal.blogspot.com

Happy Birthday Grands!

Somehow we have been blessed with two family birthdays today!

Happy Birthday to Grandma Lori (who needs to schedule a photo shoot with her grandson!)!!



And Grandpa Hugh!

[And Sir John is 5 months-old today]

Yay everyone!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Too cute!!



Props to Grandma Lori for this adorable photo!




Everybody was Kung Fu fighting...

Hei-ya!
Ninja Cora takes on Emotional Display Intolerance one eye roll at a time.
"Whew, this chick sure does cry a lot!!"



"Take that back, mister!!
I'm small, but can whip your diapered fanny faster than a flying nunchuck at a geek rally!"

Family

Family is such an important part of our lives, I thought I would post some pictures of my favorites pictures.

My dad and mom on the back porch...

Grandma Sheldon and John at church




Great Grandpa Don and Great Grandma Alice and Belle Cooper last weekend



Benjamin and John in B's fort under our table when the kids came over for a super fun sleepover! (John was just saying goodnight...)



Doug and Benjamin on our couch. "Baby John" is a favorite of B's. Everyone else is dubbed "him" (including girls), but "Baby John" gets his own name. They're going to be quite the pair.



Doug and Lori coaxing smiles. I love it when they stop by after work for a grandkid fix (and so does John!)






And on our trip down to Oregon a couple of months ago...

Grandma Griffiths met John for the first time



My cousin Wanda and her two of her beautiful daughters




Aunt Doris absolutely doted on John...and he soaked it up like a sponge!





It was fun to see Uncle Walt and Aunt Kim during our leisurely afternoon visit.



While John and I were staying at Clarks, we had Jennifer, Kristen, and Scott (cousins) over for a meet and greet of the newest second cousins. I got pictures of Scott and Kristen holding Miss Coraline, and Jennifer holding Sir John.



The sleep deprived moms tried to disuade them from procreating in a hurry (sorry, Walt and Kim!).


It was so fun to spend time with the Clarks.




Okay, all for now. I'll keep up with the pictures instead of saving them up into one MONSTER post.


[If you are feeling photographically underrepresented, lemme know so I can schedule a photo session with HRH.]