"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." ~ Benjamin Franklin

Fab Food Friday

>> Friday, March 30, 2007

I planned to get this up earlier... But you all know how my life can be some days...

Anyway, I know you all wish you were going to be wherever this Chocolate Pound Cake with Chocolate Buttercreme Meringue Frosting and chocolate curls is heading tonight. Well, everyone but Meritt...



Yep, it's made from scratch. Yes, it took a while. But, oh! If the finished product tastes half as good as the batter it will be decadent! It's a recipe from the chef at Cake Love.

Update & Recipe:

We were gathering to celebrate my dad's birthday- unfortunately he couldn't make it. My SIL's birthday is today and dinner - out, at a restaurant and sans kids- is tonight.

This cake is SO GOOD! The cake is rich and fudgey and the buttercreme melts in your mouth. Chocolate bliss!

Chocolate Pound Cake
Makes 1 Bundt cake; total time 1 1/2 hours

Cream together:
3 cups extra fine granulate sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

Add One At A Time:
4 eggs
3 egg yolks

Whisk together:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 c. Dutch process cocoa powder
2T turbinado sugar
1t potato starch (I used corn starch & it worked just fine)
3/4 t table salt
1/4 t baking soda

Combine; add to butter with dry ingredients:
3/4 c whole milk (I used 2%)
1/2 c sour cream
2T brandy, optional (I didn't use it)
1 t vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in center

Cream the sugar and butter together in a stand mixer with paddle attachment on low for 5 minutes.

(Note: I do not have a stand mixer. I used a hand held and everything was fine; no special attachments)

Add eggs and yolks one at a time, letting each fully incorporate before adding the next

Whisk dry ingredients together in a bowl

Combine the wet ingredients. With mixer still on low alternately add the dry and wet ingredients to butter mixture, beginning and ending with the dry. Scrape the sides of the bowl to the bottom, then mix on medium speed for 20 seconds to develop the batter's structure. (It's gonna be thick.)

Coat the pan with non-stick flour spray, fill to 3/4 full and bake 55-60 minutes or until a skewer comes out nearly clean. Cool in pan for 5 minutes then invert onto a flat surface and cool to room temperature.

Can be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature for one day or frozen for a month.

Italian Meringue Buttercream

Boil:
1 c extra fine granulated sugar
1/4 c water

Whip; Add:
5 egg whites
1/4 c extra fine sugar

Slowly pour syrup into meringue; Beat in:
4 sticks unsalted butter, cut to tablespoon pieces, at room temperature

Mix in:
1/2 c melted and cooled semi-sweet chocolate and 1 t vanilla

Boil sugar and water over medium heat until it reaches 245 degrees (I don't have a candy thermometer so I just watched it very closely and when it started to boil I took it off the burner). As it cooks begin meringue so it will be ready)

Whip whites with a wire whisk in a stand mixer on high until they reach stiff peaks, 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle in 1/4 c sugar; beat to incorporate.

Slowly pour hot sugar mixture into meringue in a steady stream with mixer on high. Pour between bowl and whisk.

Continue to beat the frosting for 10-12 minutes until the outside of the bowl has reached room temperature and the frosting is thick and glossy white.

Beat in butter by tablespoons; should take 2 minutes. Don't worry if the butter is cooler than the batter and causes separation, just continue to beat and it will come together.

Mix in 1/2 c melted chocolate (I used the dipping chocolate that you can find in the store now. Melts easy and doesn't harden as it cools)

To Build:

Split the cake in half horizontally with a long serrated knife using a gentle sawing motion. Cut into the center and continue around the cake. Swirl frosting beyond the edges so it spills out, set top layer and swirl with more frosting.

Chocolate Curls:

Use a solid milk chocolate bar. Using a vegetable peeler, run it down a narrow edge from about mid-bar. Use a toothpick or skewer to pick up curls and place on cake. They are fragile and will melt in your hand.

Enjoy!

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Not For Lack of Trying...

>> Thursday, March 29, 2007

Can a baby scream herself to death?

This is 40 seconds of audio from 40 minutes of torture. My daughter would be of great help to the military as a means to get terrorists to talk. She can do this for hours.



She is exhausted... She falls asleep almost immediately when I hold her and then when I lay her down this starts almost immediately.

I love my kid...
I love my kid...
I love my kid...

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Zero Balance

>> Wednesday, March 28, 2007

So I went by the bank today to pay off the $0.04 balance on the loan. Usually I pay it online but because it was under $1 I couldn't do that. And I wasn't going to waste a check and stamp to mail it. The bank is local, so it wasn't a big deal to drive through and take care of it.

I put 4 pennies on the tube, along with the bill. The girl opened it and I immediately saw her begin searching the floor. She dropped 1/4 of my payment! Which isn't so funny until you realize that both she and the other girl at the drive up window searched almost five minutes to find that penny.

Seriously, I had more pennies. It would have been quicker.

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Sleep?

Honestly, I'm sure Meritt is awake and sending me vibes... Which would be fine if she lived next door and we had a kitchen-window-light-blinking-code or something. One blink- "yeah, I'm up", two- "c'mon over", three quick- "I'll bring the pastry". But, no, she's 30 minutes away and I'm only guessing.

Brenna woke shortly before 3- second night in a row- crying. Luckily I was able to settle her down quickly. Caelan woke briefly after that. Iwent back to bed and tossed and turned for half an hour or so. Damn. My brain turned on. I had a couple of things to add to my shopping list and I was sure to forget by morning.

So here I am. Grrrr...

Doug got a bill the other day for $0.04. Yep, 4 cents. The paper is worth more than the bill. It's from the bank for a loan payment. Four cents. And since the amount is less than a dollar I have to pay it in person. Four cents. I am really tempted to make them break a twenty dollar bill to pay it- giving them pennies just seems too easy.

Since my dad doesn't "do" the online thing I feel safe posting the card I made for him with my Wishblade. "No big deal", you say?


What is that saying about judging cards by their cover? Nifty little pop-up, huh?
No, it's nothing fancy but the machine not only made cuts - it scored the fold lines as well. I'm pretty pleased, I must say.

OK, it's 4:12am. Now that I have done what was on my mind, and some that really wasn't, I'm gonna try to go back to sleep.

TKW- I am waiting for the goodies to make the bathroom polka dots. As soon as I have it done I'll post photos.

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So, It's Monday Again?

>> Monday, March 26, 2007

Caelan woke me at 5:30- too early to take her out of bed. I nursed her for 5 minutes- just long enough to give her decent sustenance, changed her diaper and put the happy baby back in bed fully intending to return to mine. Which I did. And I realized that I would just toss and turn until 7am and that if I wanted ANY time for myself today I should probably take it... Now.

So here I sit at 6:14am with a cup of tea waiting for the sun to rise.

So... Monday. Hunh. Not that it really matters. One day is really alot like the next around here. Doug works, the girls demand attention, I clean something, cook something and do laundry. Once in a while all goes smoothly and the girls actually nap at the same time and I can enjoy reading or other pursuits that are really not small-child-friendly- like learning to use my Wishblade. Yep, still learning the thing. Endless possibilities.

I actually have a home-improvement project planned. Last summer (I think. Really, could have been 2 years ago... time means nothing to me lately) TKW shared the decorating she did in her daughters' bathroom. She painted polka dots on the walls. So cute. Well, I'm not one for painting. But I am one for polka dots. So I am gonna use this nifty new cutter, buy some sticky vinyl in fun, bright colors and stick it on the walls in my daughters' bathroom. Ta-Da! Wall decals! No mess! And much cheaper than retail. I could do letters... Numbers... Shapes... Oh, the possibilities!

Doug had the day off yesterday. "So what?" thinks you, "It was Sunday." That, my friend, is where you would be mistaken. Doug's last day off - complete day off- was sometime in January. That's sometimes how it is when you're a contractor. Work when you got it because you just don't know when you will be without a job. It was a treat for us to have Daddy an entire day. Brenna even napped with him. She is her Daddy's girl.

Ah, well, Monday. Lots to do. Blogs to visit (yes, I do visit. I'm lurking lately, but I visit), news to peruse. Laundry to do. Floors to vacuum. Just another day, really.

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Must Be Time For A Vacation

>> Friday, March 23, 2007

I turned the TV on this morning fully intending to immediately switch to the Disney Channel. I paused just long enough before the switch to see Bunratty Castle on the Travel Channel. Ooohhhh, a travel show about Ireland. I can't turn away from that. So as Brenna enjoyed her strawberries and Caelan refused her rice cereal we took a TV tour of Ireland. I would tell Brenna if we had been someplace and she would "ooh" and "aah".

Then the show ended and I switched the TV to Dora the Explorer without much thought.

Shortly after Brenna said this:



No prompting from me- I swear! Of course I had to call Doug and have her tell him.

Our next trip "across the pond" has been tentatively penciled in for next April/May (we usually go in the fall and I thought spring would be nice). We had kind of decided on northern England but Brenna & I may have to override that decision!

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6 Months Already?

>> Sunday, March 18, 2007

It hardly seems possible, but Caelan is 6 months old. She is beginning to actually eat food from a spoon (she really enjoyed her first sweet potatoes today!) and her -very strong- personality is becoming more evident every day.

Still perfectly average at 16 lbs, 5 oz and 25 1/2 inches tall.

And even though mommy did a very bad thing and scheduled pictures during naptime she cooperated (for a few minutes).

Our C-monster...

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Icky

>> Thursday, March 15, 2007

The last few days have been a blur. Somehow Brenna picked up an intestinal ick and, ever so kindly, shared it with me. I haven't been able to eat since yesterday morning. I've been drinking a lot of tea. And whenever I do decide to put something in my mouth to keep up my strength I am rewarded by an immediate trip to the bathroom.

I fought the exhaustion and hunger to take Brenna to the gym this morning- she needed to expel some energy. I, brilliantly, thought a fruity frappaccino might help my weariness so we stopped quickly at Starbuck's on the way. Bad idea.

Brenna has been very helpful with Caelan today. I had put Caelan in bed and had gone to mine while Brenna was in her room having her "quiet time". I hear Caelan wake up and shortly after I heard Brenna's little voice in her room, singing her songs and talking to her until I came upstairs. Such a good big sister.

Now we are watching Brenna's current favorite movie, Aladdin and I am drinking more tea and nibbling on a Panera shortbread cookie- something Doug brought home last night to tempt me. I'm sure I'll regret it soon.

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Product Reviews

>> Monday, March 12, 2007

A while back I mentioned a few things I was going to try and I thought I would let anyone who actually cared know how they worked out.

About a month ago I bought a Zeno. The main reason for the purchase? I remembered how my skin reacted as Brenna dropped off her nursing. Never before in my life had I had zits like I had then. And nothing seemed to help. I'm talking about those nasty, cyst-like pimples that just get sore and red and don't ever seem to go away. So I spent the money and am thrilled to say that it works! I had two nasty spots try to surface and hit them with 3-4 Zeno treatments and the nastiness never surfaced or got sore. I am sold. Disclaimer: if you have very bad acne this probably won't work. Check out the website before you invest.

Also related to post-baby topics, I needed new jeans. I heard about Zafu and thought I would give it a shot. I input all my info and it returned a laundry list of jeans. I was able to narrow down the list by requesting only 100% cotton jeans with no spandex. I ordered the jeans that were deemed "best" (they were from Newport News and under $30!! A big plus!). I was actually prepared to be disappointed- I can never find jeans that I like. They arrived a week ago and I have to admit that the website works! A perfect fit!

I am still learning how to use my Wishblade but as I understand more I am thrilled with it. Yes, it's spendy (and I got mine almost $150 less than SRP) but I can already see the savings. If you want to see what it can do scroll down a couple of posts (or click here. It has a BIG learning curve and I feel like I'll never be able to use it to it's full potential but the things it can do are endless. Endless. It's an amazing machine.

Ah, I hear that Caelan is awake. For cute pics of her just go to the next post.

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Sometimes She's Just So Cute

>> Saturday, March 10, 2007

And other times I think I may lose my mind.

Caelan has reverted to not sleeping through the night. I'm pretty sure she's hungry. And she's not wanting anything from a spoon or bottle. Cereal, which would fill her up, is flat out refused and veggies or fruit end up as much on her as in her. And let's not even delve in to the whole bottle issue.

Caelan does,however, enjoy a good cafe mocha ala Daddy. Doug would take a drink,leaving a bit in the lid of the cup and Caelan would slurp until it was gone. I think we may skip bottles altogether...



Who's the cutest little cuddly on the bed?
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Yep, sometimes she's just so cute...

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Lookie What I Did!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Well, there it is- what I was able to do with my new machine last night. I downloaded some free files and played. Brenna was very impressed. So much so that I attached a basket, an egg and (her favorite) the bunny to paper for her.

Everything is just a single cut out except the bunny and the basket. Those are two color layered paper pieces. I think that will be the most fun- the paper piecing. I joined a group on Yahoo and those are some talented people. I can't wait to use some of their creations.

Someday I may be able to design things like this myself. Right now I can do words and weld them together (so the letters are connected) and I can put them in a mat. Someday my talents will know no bounds!

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It's Here

>> Thursday, March 08, 2007

My Wishblade arrived yesterday. Holy software, Batman, does this thing have a learning curve! It is amazing all the stuff I could potentially do with it. I say potentially because it may take me years to master all the techniques.

For TKW a bit of explanation: The Wishblade is like a printer- except it cuts. So you make your design, word, card, whatever on the computer software and then it cuts it out. Or you can print with your regular printer and the Wishblade will cut the picture how you want it- frilly edges, silhouette, shapes. It'e crazy, I tell ya. It will also do perforated fold lines and pop ups. Insane!

Of course all I have mastered is cutting out letters inside of circles. But how cool is that? It would have taken two different machines for me to do that BW (before Wishblade).

Caelan is napping and Brenna is entertaining herself with shoes, Cars and a blanket. I'm gonna get back to learning about my new toy. Hopefully soon I will have some really cool stuff to share.

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I Wish, I Wish

>> Monday, March 05, 2007

Well, I got it. It took all my allowance, the money I made selling my Coach diaper bag on eBay and I still "owe" Doug, but I got it. The new Wishblade. It previewed on HSN last night and they had it on their website shortly after 9pm. I ordered it just as soon as it hit the web. I should have it before the week is out.

I gotta say that I am really excited. Yes, it was expensive but after doing the math of other cutting systems -which require you to purchase "plates" or additional software- this one, despite it's initially scary price tag, is actually more economical. Yes, really.
So now every time I think about how nice a trip somewhere would be I'll cut something. And every time I think a new top would be nice I'll cut something. And every time I think I should buy more diapers... Well, I'll buy more diapers. Some things are priority.
I figure it should have itself "paid" for in 6 months. D'ya hear that, honey- 6 months. smirk


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So, How Have You Been?

>> Sunday, March 04, 2007

I've had the blahs. The blahs that would, if I didn't have two young'uns, a husband and a big dog to care for, make me crawl in bed for days to sleep, eat chocolate and watch Law & Order reruns.

What brought that on, you ask? I'm gonna blame the weather. You see, a little over a week ago I was wearing spring-y clothing, taking the girls outside to walk every day and enjoying the sun. It was glorious. Then, last Saturday, a blast of winter weather blew in. Snow coated ice. Icky, icky, icky. We got that cleaned up and then the blizzard warning appeared. We didn't get hit as badly as the meterologists said we might but it was bad enough.

So, long story short, no sun for a week and cold, cold, cold weather. My body was preparing for spring and I think the jolt of winter sent me into hibernation mode. It wasn't a pretty sight.

But the sun has returned. Yesterday Brenna and I were standing in the big south facing windows, throwing back our arms and yelling "SUN!!" Caelan celebrated by rolling over for the first time.

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