Saturday, November 29, 2008

Daring Bakers, November 2008: Caramel Cake with Caramel Frosting

This month we're back into CandyLand with Shuna Fish Lyndon's recipe,
which may be found at
The "Hosts" for the month are Dolores ( with co-hosts Alex (Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie duo:, Jenny of Foray into Food (, with Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go ( to assist us in alternative baking matters.

This was my first time making caramel from scratch! I knew of it, that heat, sugar and water in the right amounts for the correct time would result in caramel... but Bunny was very skeptical. Here it doesn't look like much.

But, just one or two minutes more, and it was almost too dark! I had hoped my intrepid photographer would get the 'volcanic' moment when I added a cup of water to the caramel to 'stop' it from cooking. But the spattering scared her off and this was as good as we got.

Then Bunny got her turn stirring and stirring. She's excellent at stirring. :)

She does become bored of it quickly, though. Notice the pained expression! Ha!

So she got to sift the flour and baking powder together as we prepared to make the cake. I like this photo, how it looks all 'active', but I also wish I'd cleaned the lens. ;)

The batter was very fluffy -- deceptively so. The cake itself was dense and moist, though if I'd had to guess I'd have said it'd be like a foam cake by the batter.

All done, ready to be eaten at the Pie Party the night before Thanksgiving. Only I would bring cake to a pie party. Oh well, I never did do much the 'normal way' now did I?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Let there be pie (party)

And it was good.
The Wilsons were sorely missed as "Pie Party" was their 'deal' every year, which we really loved -- almost none of the stress of Thanksgiving, and the kids get to run amok after dark and hopped up on sugar. So, I was super happy Christi took on the mantle of hosting the party. I was too happy sampling 4 small slices of pie to take more than this photo. :)

Little Commuter

Yesterday I took the boys to the Children's Discovery Museum via Light Rail. It was a lot easier than I had feared it would be! Parking at the station I chose was free, so I suppose technically it was a wash costwise, since any money saved on parking probably went to the gas to get to the station. However, it was nice that the train station is by the door to the museum--closer than the parking lot!--and Carter loved the train rides.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Meanwhile, on the sidelines, Mama and Carter crunched through the leaves.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Menu Monday, 11-24

This week is going to be a busy one in the kitchen... do you have your plan?
For over 200 ideas, click the image at the top o' the post. :)

Sunday: Sausages & Lentils
Monday: Chicken Parmesan, salad, acorn squash
Tuesday: Greek Burgers, creamed spinach
Wednesday: CORN (clean out refrig nite) and going to PIE PARTY @ friends house
Thursday: Ham, fauxtatoes, green bean casserole, brussells sprouts gratin, homemade bread, pumpkin pie
Friday: leftovers
Saturday: split pea soup

Yeah, no turkey. We don't like it. So there. ;) I love stuffing, but no one else in my family will touch it, and it's not exactly a health food, so I am skipping it. So, someone have a second helping of some yummy stuffing for me, okay? ;)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Like Riding a Bicycle

My poor sweet child has all the grace of her mother. Meaning, none. But she's slowly becoming more confident on her bike.

She can't 'start' yet, needing help to get moving, but once moving she's generally pretty good.

She used to fall more than not when stopping, but a seat adjustment and some practice has paid off. Soon enough, with more practice, she'll be off all on her own. Despite running into some improbable things at the park (the basketball poll--TWICE IN ONE DAY!!, a garbage barrel), she is sticking with it, and showing what she lacks sometimes in innate coordination, she can make up for with persistence.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fuzz Buster

How I know when it's time to wax my lip: my sweet 6 year old asks me if I am growing a moustache. Thanks twerp! ;)

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Just showed this video to Bunny and Carter, as they were playing on the sofa, sitting somewhat upside down, saying, you guessed it, "Dancing on the ceiling!" over and over.

Bunny mainly commented that the clothes were terrible.

Garlic Lentils

I feel these would not lend themselves to photographing, but trust me, they're good. And healthy.

Garlic Lentils
serves 4
1/2 lb dried lentils
1 small onion, halved and chopped
1 bay leaf
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped/minced/pressed
salt & pepper
1/4 c chopped flat leaf parsley
  1. In a medium saucepan, add the lentils and enough water to cover by 2 inches. Add the onion and bay leaf, , bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 20 mins. Discard bay leaf.
  2. Meanwhile, in shallow bowl, combine olive oil and chopped garlic; let stand for 15 mins.
  3. Toss the hot lentils with the garlic oil and parsley.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

So funny

Snoop Dogg Gives Martha Stewart An Educizzle

This was hilarious. I might just watch Fine Living network's rebroadcast tonight for more giggles. (FLN shows the prior day's show each evening couple of times).

I think jail helped Martha hold her own (ish) in this clash of worlds.

FYI, speaking of FLN, there is a show that Martha's daughter and friend have, called Whatever Martha!, that is really pretty funny to watch in a pinch. Apparently it was Martha's idea, as she was up late one night watching Mystery Science Theater, that show where they watch a crappy movie and talk over it, mocking it. They really do skewer her old segments.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Menu Monday, Nov 17

Sunday: out
Monday: sausages & lentils
Teusday: Greek Wedding Soup
Wednesday: Salmon
Thursday: Mandarin Glazed Chicken
Friday: Taco Salad
Saturday: CORN (clean out refrig nite)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

What makes a rule?

Star Wars: The Clone Wars, originally uploaded by MyCine.

You always hear the phrase that exceptions define rules. Generally it's some lame excuse for why English is so complicated to master or something like that.

In our home, we have the Star Wars Exception. Most any rule is voided by affiliation with Star Wars: movie violence (with exception of end of Episode III for Carter's eyes), bed times, appropriate toys (can anyone say blaster guns?)... Anyway, we're all enjoying the Toon network series The Clone Wars a lot, bed times be damned. My 3 year old also delights in shooting people around the house. You never know when an ambush may hit. Even the bathroom is not exempt apparently. ;)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Proof positive boys are idiots.

This afternoon I got a phone call from Bunny's principal. She was fine and not in any trouble, but had been witness to some shenanigans on the playground. Apparently two boys who are not in her class were being goofy and pulled down their (own) pants. Bun says that everyone was playing tag and she's not sure why they pulled down their pants (probably seemed like a good idea at the time). So anyway, her friend M alerted the person on yard duty and the boys were taken into the office for interrogation, parents called, etc. Bunny was asked to relay what she had seen, and the principal called me to make sure I knew before I heard from Bunny and possibly got a wrong idea about what happened.

The principal said Bunny rolled her eyes when telling the story, as if to convey she thought they were damn fools. Which was pretty dead on. Those poor boys are probably not loving life tonight. Poor dummies.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Change is good.

My desktop sometimes stays the same for a year, but sometimes I change it a couple of times a month. Depends on if I really find myself liking an image or if I just need a change of pace.

Uploaded on November 5, 2008 by detzelpretzel

Right now I have a pretty daisy from an interesting perspective up. I think it will stay for a while. But this tempts me to make a swap, even though I only changed last week or so.

The Desktop Wallpaper Project.

Many different artists and designers have contributed to this project, which puts up a new, free wallpaper weekly. Something for everyone, I suspect. And far from boring flying toasters. ;)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Picked this for you Mama, originally uploaded by Kristianna.

about 3 years ago...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Don't know much biology...

Bunny has a new cool book. She's been really interested in anatomy for the past couple of years, but I had yet to come across a book that seemed both level appropriate and not overly dumbed down while still providing a good sense of how the human body goes together.

This book seems to finally meet what I was hoping for.

It's a nice size: not huge, but large enough to do its job. The figure inside is smaller than a Barbie... about 8 inches tall. Looking closely you can see that as pages are turned, 'layers' of structure are removed. I'd liken it to an onion, but really the layers are more front to back.

This book is marked as for ages 8 and up, but I think a 6 year old can handle the subject just fine. Even if you have not yet broached the subject of reproduction, no worries--there is no male or female specific coverage.

It's nice that the figure is fully detailed on front and back. See the hamstrings? ;)

Bunny was both interested and grossed out when I showed her the intestines. They are kind of oogy...

It's no Gray's Anatomy, but it's pretty good for a small child who wants a cursory understanding of the body. I picked this book up at Costco, and there were also ones on a few animals and even a dinosaur anatomy book that I am considering picking up and keeping for Carter (but out of his reach--little hands would probably wreck this book trying to disassemble it).

Sunday, November 09, 2008


dscf2998, originally uploaded by Kristianna.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Lost Tooth

Lost Tooth, originally uploaded by Kristianna.

Finally had time to upload photos... so here is Bunny and her missing tooth. I think this gap will be here for a while--no sign of any tooth growing in to replace it anytime soon.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Lunchbag Art

Generally Bunny uses her zippered insulated lunchbag with all washable containers, both because I believe in reducing waste and to support her school's 'Go Green' program, where they encourage responsible lunch packing, and also use compostable trays, etc., to serve their hot lunches -- and they compost food scraps, too!

Once every week or so Bunny gets the hot lunch. Those days I just pack a paper sack with a small snack. To me 'decorating' the bags involves writing her name and putting a sticker on it to make her smile.

Well this mom has taken it to a literal art form. Lunch Bag Art is a blog with a photo of the art she draws on the bag daily for her children. I am neither talented nor quick enough to pull off these feats. Check it out!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Indian Summer

It has been so nice here the past two days. Today it was 78, but also crisp at the same time. Leaves are colored, and the recent rains have made little grasses begin to spout. All in all, a great time to be in a wonderful place. Sometimes you gotta count your blessings.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Unrest Alert

From WorldCue, which supposedly advises travelers of risks in various areas of the world. Example: going to Iraq now poses a risk of 'being blown to hell', etc. Well, here is what they posted about this week. In the U.S.

"Worldcue® Alert
Severity: Warning Alert

Security:: Civil unrest possible late Nov. 4-early Nov. 5 after U.S. election results are announced. Avoid demonstrations.

This alert affects United States.

This alert began 28 Oct 2008 16:51 GMT and is scheduled to expire 06 Nov 2008 23:59 GMT.
Event:Presidential election
Date: Nov. 4
Location: Nationwide
Impact: Heightened security; possible civil unrest

Security forces are preparing for outbreaks of civil unrest after the results of the Nov. 4 presidential election are announced. Thousands of police officers will be deployed during and after polling for the election between Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama, which will see either the nation's first black president or first female vice president take office. Mass protests are likely should Obama, who is leading in the run-up to the election, lose the final vote in a controversial manner. However, postings on dozens of Internet Web sites have also warned of violence should Obama win.

Small-scale political unrest is likely before, during and after the polls. Clashes at party rallies and small-scale attacks on party offices are possible. Record voter turnout could overload polling places on election day, further raising tensions. Violent unrest is most likely in Chicago, Detroit, Oakland, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. but could occur anywhere in the country.

Expect increased security leading up to and during the election. Avoid political gatherings."

I don't know what to think of this, but I personally am pretty amazed that 50 years ago someone who would have been segregated out of many social situations is our president-elect. I hope no one goes all Lee Harvey on him. I think MLK would have been astonished and proud. And, it speaks to the character of our nation, ultimately. We're so far from perfect it's not even worth trying to assess. But we continue to evolve, and I believe our fundamental asset is a goodness that I hope will carry us through troubled times.


The girlchild lost her first tooth. FINALLY. I am so glad to not ever wiggle that thing for her again. :)

Went to pick her up yesterday and she came sprinting at me, clearly sporting a jack-o-lantern smile a bit too late for Halloween. I took a photo, but have not yet uploaded. Will do that very soon!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

30 in 30

nablopomo08.jpg, originally uploaded by dorydorydory.

Since participating in these things makes me take the time to slow down and post, I'm participating in NaBloPoMo. Today is Day 4 and I believe I posted everyday this month already...

Random Observations from My Daughter about Voting

Bunny requested that she come with me to the polls this morning. So, I woke her at 6:45 and we headed over.

  1. There is no POLE when you vote. Not even one. Liars.
    I think perhaps she expected something far more 'extreme', like perhaps an obstacle course.
  2. Neither Obama nor McCain were there. Big disappointment.
    Again, she did not ask about this in advance, but did ask me where they were, and was not impressed they didn't even come to try to get me to vote for them.
  3. Standing in line at the polls--which have no fun poles anywhere--is not more fun than other lines.


VOTE! , originally uploaded by treasureup.

This morning I woke Bunny at 6:45. Normally I'd let her sleep in until 7, then she would have had a leisurely breakfast. But this morning is Election Day, and she wanted to go to the polling place with me. Since I didn't want her to be late for school and figured the lines would only increase in length with time, we headed over at about opening time.

It took 35 mins to wait in line and get back home! Normally I literally walk in, hand over my ID, sign the register, then mosey on over to a partition. Not this morning--today there was a line. One of the poll workers said they're estimating a 85% participation in California this year.

So, civic duty: check. Now to avoid watching meaningless blah-blahing on TV for the next 15 hours. ;)

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Rock on

I didn't get a photo of Carter's cake this year. Hopefully someone took a photo or I can grab a scren shot from video...

This cake was a toughie, I tell you. Carter is really into robots and specifically the Iron Giant. I decided to bake a robot cake for him, and that I would use the kitchenaid mixer bowl, which is somewhat bullet shaped, and make IG's head, continuing with my tradition of having us eat heads for birthdays (monkey head for Carter's 2nd, tiger head for Bun's 6th).

Lemme tell you: there is a lot of volume to one of those. Took 2 hours to bake. TWO HOURS. Amazingly it was moist--I was afraid the outer half would be like a rock. Then when I had the cake out and cooling (with a whopping 45 mints until party time) I realized it was really too squatty to look right. I had a little extra batter and baked a layer quick-like to heighten the head. With fresh buttercream sitting at the ready I realized there was no way I would be done in time to be at the pizza place by the time guests arrived.

So I shoved my husband and kids out the door and told him to hold down the fort, that I would be there as fast as humanly possible.

Frosting it was a miracle. You can't put what is basically butter onto a hot cake. I take that back--you totally can, but you can NOT expect it to stay on the outside of the cake where you wanted it. Sooo, I had the layers in the freezer, and would slather on some grey icing, then put it back in to cool and hopefully set up. After a bit of this boogie, I threw some very vague face features--bright, absinthe colored eyes, black mouth and a 'ridge' on top of the head that went down to also form the anthropormorphic nose-ish area. Bam. Gotta be done, since being there is more important than being perfect.

Thankfully I live 3 mins from the pizza place that served as our rain date party location. I was only 18 mins late! Kids were all having a blast playing on the play area structure, climbing, crawling through tubes and sliding. Pizza was ready about 15 mins later, and the rest of the party went off really rather well. The 24 blue, green, and yellow balloons I bought that morning as combo decoration and party favors really made the kids happy--thanks to Norbert for untangling that mess, by the way. OMG--the strings all wove around each other in the car, looking like a maypole when it's all braided.

The cake? Delicious. It was still warm and possibly the freshest damn cake ever served at a birthday party.

Carter was so happy when everyone was singing Happy Birthday to him. It was finally *his* party! HIS song, with *his* name. His cake. Carter was a very happy and content birthday boy, quietly enjoying that part of the party, with that little smile he smiles when he is happy and taking in what's happening.

I asked him later how he liked the cake. He said he loved it very much. I asked if he thought it looked like a robot. No, Mama. I asked him what he thought it did look like. A rock.

Too funny!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

All Hallow's Eve...

Here are my three little goblins right before we walked the streets begging door to door for candy. Bunny had a great time being scary -- no girlie costume for her this year -- and this was the first time Carter 'got' it. He had a wonderful time and was so excited, telling children we came across 'that's a great costume!' and running up to doors to knock and yell 'tricky treet!'. They both got a big haul, and Grandma and Gramps were at our house to hand out candy so that both Paul and I were able to walk with the kids for the first time.

As you can see, Carter opted out of face paint. I got the kit, but he said he wanted to 'be Carter' and not scary. Fine by me! Cole was mostly unseen and fell asleep on Paul's back about halfway through, which was good, because he was upset by all the ruckus at first.

Now to put up with all that candy in the house--and kids begging for their daily 1-2 pieces--until I get tired of it and chuck it all out sometime in about 3 weeks. Generally all that's left is the stuff they have no true desire to eat anyway. ;)


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