Thursday, May 31, 2007

Finished Object these weren't finished when I wanted them to be, but that's okay. They got to the intended recipient soon enough. The pattern was as simple as suggested, so I'm sure I'll do more at some point. I do like the idea of ballband bibs, so maybe I'll try that. I ended up just using size 8 needles because it turns out I don't have sevens. The second one came out tighter than the first, I think because I was consciously keeping it tight. Not bad, but I do think the sevens would have led to a neater looking finished product.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Back from the Valley

We spent the holiday weekend visiting my family and have returned with a six month old. Finn's latest stats, as of yesterday, are 16 pounds 12 ounces and 27 inches. That's average weight and just greater than average height for a boy his age. I'm just hoping he doesn't outgrow his infant carseat too soon. It looks like Finn is about the same size as his 10 1/2 month old cousin Annie, although she has one more leg roll than he has.

We spent most of Finn's half birthday in the car, but we did get back in time to do some hanging out at home.

What you see in the background of that photo is this:

...some oversized debris in the back yard that was there to welcome us home. It's actually larger than the photo makes it seem, taking up almost the whole yard. Now we're just wondering how long before the next limb falls from that tree. The one that is likely to actually hit the house before it hits the ground. Guess it's time to call in some professionals.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Foto Friday - Little Gold Digger

Here it is Friday already and I had more to post about this week, but just didn't have the time. Since I was photo-less last Friday (due to no fault of my own), I am quite prepared today.

This little slice of cuteness is my youngest nephew, Ethan, who happens to be wearing the suit that his older brother wore as ring bearer in my wedding a couple years ago. Of course I had to capture this display. It's totally innocent... he's just doing a little personal grooming.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Mixing it up

I must admit I'm a minor snob when it comes to baking, because I almost always pass on any recipe that calls for a mix, let alone make something that is straight from a box. The most I've used cake or brownie mixes has been in an Easy Bake Oven. Don't get me wrong, if somebody else makes something from a mix, that's fine and I'll gladly partake. I guess I just like the baking process and have an appreciation for home-baked goodness. However, a little while back I came across this recipe that I thought sounded interesting so I finally gave it a try yesterday.

These are Cookie Dough Cupcakes and amongst the ingredients are cake mix, pudding mix, and prepared cookie dough. That's a whole bunch of pre-prep. Surprisingly, it did not call for ready made icing. I will admit, that it was an easy bake and considering I got them made while crankypants (the baby who decided that a day of half-hour naps was a good idea) sat in his highchair, I appreciated the simplicity. The result is pretty typical yellow cake mix cupcakes, with cookie in the center. Yummy, but not earth shattering. More exciting is the fact that, despite eating three cupcakes in the last...12 hours..., this morning my scale finally registered my pre-pregnancy weight. Just shy of the six month mark. At long last.

For the non-snobby, here's the recipe which was a blog find but comes from Cupcakes from the Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Byrn.

Cookie Dough Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
makes 24 cupcakes

1 package plain yellow cake mix
1 package vanilla instant pudding mix
1 cup whole milk
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 package frozen cookie dough ( I used dough from the dairy section then threw them in the freezer)

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare the cupcake tins with paper liners. Dump the cake mix, pudding mix, whole milk, veggie oil, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Beat a few minutes until well blended. Scoop batter into cupcake tins ( I used an ice cream scoop) to about 2/3 full. Cut the frozen cookie dough to make 24 pieces. Place a piece on top of each cupcake. Place pans in oven.

Bake 23-27 minutes, or unti lthe cupcakes spring back when lightly prodded. Cool in pans on racks for 5 minutes then remove from the pans and continue to cool for about 15 minutes before frosting.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

1 stick butter, room temp
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted (or not)
3-5 tablespoons milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Blend butter and cocoa powder in a large bowl using an electric mixer on low. When the mixture is combined, add the powdered sugar, about 3 tablespooons milk, and the vanilla. Blend on low for about a minute then increase the speed and beat until light and fluffy.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Big Sis Goodies

My eldest sister creates something for all of the girls in the family at both Easter and Christmas. Since I didn't see her for Easter this year, I received my goodie a bit later, but it was well worth the wait.

This is a pin cushion created from a spoon, a crocheted doily, wool felt and wool roving. I adore it and have yet to stick it with pins, but we'll see. Lucky me to be a regular recipient of her creations!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Hello Blogger

It is Foto Friday and blogger will not allow me to post a photo. Something to do with the new auto save feature, perhaps? I'll keep trying.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Cake Follow-up

Chocolate Chunk Coffee Cake
Topping: 10 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 c. chopped walnuts
2/3 c. sugar

Cake: 3/4 c. butter or margarine, softened
1 1/4 c. sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 c. sour cream
2 t. vanilla
2 1/2 c. flour
2 1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 10-inch tube pan.

In small bowl, combine topping ingredients: set aside.

Beat butter and sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy.
Beat in eggs, sour cream and vanilla until well mixed. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in bowl. On low speed, add flour mixture to batter, beating until smooth. Spoon 1/3 (about 2 cups) of the batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the topping (scant 1 cup). Repeat layering 2 more times.
Bake 55 to 65 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack for 20 minutes. Remove from pan. Makes 12 servings.
It is also recommended to have all ingredients at room temperature.

Now, for the Funny Cake. This is one of the much-loved treats from my Pennsylvania Dutch background. It is similar in form to Shoo-Fly pie, which is probably much better known (I think, although I don't think R really knew about shoo-fly pie until he had my mom's, so maybe not). Funny cake is actually a pie crust containing a layer of gooey chocolate beneath a dense, moist cake. It's Funny because it is traditionally made by pouring the chocolate over top of the cake filling, but in baking, the chocolate settles to the bottom. Perhaps I will have to make it soon and share the goodness with my lucky readers. Perhaps I'll have to feature shoo-fly pie as well. Mmmmm....good things to come!

Sleep, Cake, Insects, and Babies

Last night, we started sleep training for Finn. It's not that he is a terrible sleeper, but he was continuing to wake up multiple times a night to eat and he just doesn't need that any longer. I realize this is as much my fault as it is his 'cause, let's be honest here...if he woke up and my choices were to be up with a crying baby or feed him and go back to sleep, I was going with the latter option. Hopefully this training will also help him stick to more of a schedule, at least for night time. Sooooo last night... to bed at 7:30, 11:00 dream feeding, woke at 2:00am to eat. I didn't feed him and instead just comforted him... for an hour and 45 minutes until he went back to sleep. Then he woke at 6:45, nursed, back to sleep without much fuss and woke at 8. Despite the nearly two hour awake time in there, I think it went really well. He wasn't crying that whole time, and I wasn't holding him, so I wouldn't call it difficult. We're following the Sleep Lady's methods which require that I stay in the same position (in a chair by his crib for the first three nights) until he is asleep. What I learned that wasn't in her book is that I need to have a glass of water and some tissues nearby. I was looking for something to throw at R, asleep in the next room, so that he could get me what I needed. The reward came in the morning when I fed Finn and he looked up at me with the most wonderful look on his I am the absolute love of his life, which I guess I pretty much am at this point. He wasn't even all that interested in eating, but was just completely obsessed with me. I guess that shows that he didn't really need to eat at night but just liked to use me as his security blanket. His new security item is that little stuffed elephant from his cousin, Laura (one of many elephant lovers I know). Yes, I am a jerk who busted in on his nap today to take that photo and, No, I did not pose the elephant - either he got up on his own, or Finn stood him up like that. Seriously. He was lying down when I put him in there.

In the kitchen this week, I baked up some delicious Chocolate Chunk Coffee Cake. It had been on my to bake list for a while, just a simple recipe from the back of the Domino sugar bag. I made two large loaves instead of using a single tube pan, used dark rather than semi-sweet chocolate, and omitted the nuts. It reminds me a bit of Funny Cake (I'd be surprised if any of my readers knows what that is).

Earlier this month it was a bird's nest on the back porch. This week, it is a hornet's nest on the front porch. This is what spring is bringing me. Again, we were lucky to find it early and it has already been sprayed and will likely be removed tonight.
However, it also seems like 'tis the season for babies. This month I learned that two friends are each expecting their first baby and I am so excited. Ever since I had Finn, I've been wanting someone I know to go through it. I mean, I was happy for other women before I was a mother, but now there's just an extra element there that makes me even happier. Also, I want to make baby things for them, but that's nothing new.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Foto Friday - Mom

Since Mother's Day is this weekend, I thought I'd pull out a photo of Mom for today's post. This one is about 10 years old and the scan may not look too great, but I thought of this shot earlier in the week when I was posting about quilting. These days she looks a bit different and the curtains in the room may have changed, but you can still find her here working on the latest quilt. I'm anxious to see what's in the frame when I visit this weekend.

Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers, mas, moms, mommies, and mamas!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The Ballbandwagon

I'm on it. Yesterday I picked up some cotton, cast on last night and knitted just enough to see the first band. I can tell these are going to be fun. I started with size 8s and it does look a bit loosey goosey, so I think I'll probably start over with 7s.

I'm using hot pink and hot green, quite wild, but I hope to include them with a wedding gift on Saturday and I think the bride will appreciate the colors...if I get them done.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

New Endeavors

Over the weekend I got this wonderful book at the local library's book sale.

(R actually found it for me!) This comes at a wonderful time. Lately I've gotten the idea in my head that I would like to make a quilt. My mom is a quilter, so I know the amount of work involved (I'm talking all hand quilting here) and my sister, who recently finished her first quilt - a queen size with no piecing, reminded me that it took her seven years to make it. Seven YEARS. So I'm thinking I'll probably start with something small like a doll quilt just to get a taste. What really interests me is the design part, not so much the hand quilting which actually horrifies me a little bit. I think the urge must have started because I got to design a baby quilt that my mom made for Finn and that made me all giddy inside.
I also have the inkling to do some embroidery, which I've done before but with no real knowledge of proper stitches. This book has got it all, so I'm ready to go. As you can see, the book also has more wonderful things, like applique which I'd love to incorporate into quilting and other sewing projects. It will be a great additional resource for knitting, should I need it, and crochet, should I want to add that to my repertoire. I think I'll skip the macrame. And...rug-making. Which is my reminder that I must finish my hooked rug in progress before I start dreaming up some quilt.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Foto Friday

Admittedly, last week's pic wasn't really pretty and was perhaps even stupid (as R suggested in not so many words). is something nice to look at.

My quince is in bloom and it is lovely.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Double Tall Cafe Latte

Today, I'd just like to vent for a moment. While I am very happy to be wearing most of my pre-pregnancy clothes without issue, I have a problem. The boobs. It seems that the increase in chest size, due to breastfeeding, is just enough to cause most of my shirts to be really short and either show my stomach or at the very least make me look stupid. I've always had a long torso and now this has just put me over the edge. Add to this the fact that you can hardly find a stylish pair of jeans these days that are not low-rise and I've got a problem. And I can't spend $100 on jeans...I just can't. I just want to wear my clothes without flashing flesh! This is the only crack that I think is cute...

and even that I keep under wraps most of the time.

Now that that's off my chest (ha) I feel I need to mention that, despite the title of this post, I don't even drink coffee and if I did, I wouldn't buy it at Starbucks (no offense to you devotees, but they're kind of like Sprawlmart to me...Sprawlbucks?). I don't even know what a double tall cafe latte is, exactly.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

In the Kitchen

My Easter project this year was naturally dyed and blown eggs and it has finally come to a close. However, it was only partially successful and will be revisited next year. Here is what has resulted:

You'll notice that I am missing the ends of the rainbow in my color scheme. I had used beets for a pink dye (I followed Martha's recipes) which worked nicely, except that the color washed right off, so when I went to blow and then wash out the more pink. I also tried doing lavendar, but that again involved the beet dye so it, too, was a failed color. Next year I am going to try a blueberry dye. My other issue with the process was inferior eggs. Notice the unsightly stripes on my eggs.

Grrr. I'm attributing this to some part of the commercial egg processing. I sought out a different brand of egg, but the only other options at my local grocer were brown eggs or fancy eggs that have stamps on the shells (don't know if those stamps wash off, but wasn't interested in finding out at the time). I need to get eggs straight from the coop. I did actually have a source for that, but no longer. On top of my dying troubles, I've seen enough raw egg up close and personal to last me a little while. There is just something about it gloppily squeezing out of a little hole that's a little gross. Sorry. (And yes, gloppily is so a word.)

Just outside the kitchen, I made a startling discovery. As I was coming into the house through the back door, baby on hip, there was a loud fluttering and a brush across the top of my head just as I opened the door. I froze for a second, not knowing what it was or from where it came. Then I looked to my left and saw this...

...right at eye level. I promptly let out a little scream and ran inside. I guess I knew it was a bird without seeing a nest, but seeing it inches from my face just made it sink in. The strangest thing is that Finn didn't seem to be bothered by it - the bird nor my screaming and jumping. Good to know he can remain calm if we're ever fleeing from something scary. So, the nest is empty and although it would be cool to see eggs and babies (with awesome access for photos), we're going to move the nest before that happens. 'Cause I'd like to have access to my back porch without being attacked.