Knitting and Enzo Update

Chuck told me yesterday that I should describe what I've knitted because the photo doesn't even show everything. Included in the photo is a feather and fan baby blanket in a chunky cream-colored, corn-flower blue (like the crayola crayon) and rusty rose multi-colored yarn. On the left, there's a pair of fingerless gloves that I'm wearing one of and the hunter green (forest green?
What's the difference?) is the start of a sweater for Enzo that I'm nearly done with. I have to make another sleeve and sew it all together - I'll be sure to post a photo when I finish. I hope it turns out alright!
Here's the link for the sweater.
Not in the photo are a shorter pair of pink fingerless gloves for my littlest sister and a baby cuddle sack in a warm fuzzy black and white yarn. Here's a link to a pattern for one although I didn't use it for the first one I plan to make more and will try out various sizes and yarn weights.

I'll have more time to work on the sweater because I'm now on stricter bed rest - as in actually laying in bed, only allowed to go to the bathroom - but since I'm still 90% effaced and now 3cm I may not have
that much time. Kathleen told me that I'm a "generous" 3cm and followed that by telling me who will be on call this weekend. That doesn't mean that I'll be having Enzo this weekend, of course, but ya never can tell.

So that's where I'm at. In bed. I'll keep y'all posted. Thatfully it's almost the weekend and my sister and Mother-in-law have already assured me they'd stay with me next week so I don't have to worry about Ruby getting taken care of. Thanks to everyone that  has offered help and for all your prayers.

Oh, and Happy New Year!

The fruits of my Not going into labor

This is the most knitting I've ever completed. I can directly
contribute my increased knitting time to my modified bed rest or
"recliner rest" as we're calling it.

Merry Christmas

I wish you a Merry Christmas and pray that you can be surrounded by
friends and/or family and meditate on the ultimate gift.
God gave us Jesus Christ to save us from our sins. Freedom is a gift
that's pretty hard to top. Communion with God along with that goes way
beyond any selfless giving that I can strive for. I have love and can
love because He first loved me.

Christmas Crafts

I've gotten most of my Christmas decorating done and while there are still a few crafty things I'd like to do and some lights I'd like to hang outside I'm really just looking forward to relaxing and spending time with family.

Oh, and I finished my last final so I'm all done with school until the summer or next fall! (I have to take the spring off because I'll be having a baby!)

Here's one of the decorations that I got done in time for Christmas this year. I have a feeling I'll just have to keep adding each year. I got our stockings made last year (thankfully I made a few extra so there's a matching one for Enzo!) and the nativity scene done this year so that's a project a year - not bad. It's a start anyway.

Here's a terrible photo of the stockings but it gives a better idea of the type of decor I'm going for.




I've also put some photos/links to other ideas I have, maybe I can still get a few whipped up before Christmas!



Here's my nativity set. I'd been searching for the perfect one ever since Chuck and I got married and finally just made one. It's based on (copied from?) a beautiful set by German artist Oliver Fabel.
I plan to get/make a set for Ruby - and Enzo! I'm still not used to saying two kids names - in the next few years that they can interact with/play with and recognize the figures of. I'd also like it to not be made up of middle aged white people.




Here are a few of the other decorations that I like and may get around to doing:


This little pine cone tree made by Etsy seller NH Woods Creations is very cute. I'm not sure where I would put something like this it but I like it!

These Recycled Magazine Trees are a bit more modern and could be recycled and remade each year!



I really want to make a few wall hangings with embroidery hoops but haven't decided on the images to embroider. Here's December's free pattern from Andrea Zuill. I'd like to stitch them on a linen colored fabric I have and make a bunting to match but I need to get some red fabric to make a bias tape for the bunting. I don't want it to be too "Christmasy" as in being covered with candy canes or Santas but I do love red and green this time of year.




Here's a free printable festive garland! There are a few designs to choose from even! I think I'll have time for one of these.


Speaking of free printable things - how about this adorable little winter house?!



I am certain that I will finish this next project because I think it's so very sweet. I got the idea from Soule Mama's blog but it's originally a Martha Stewart creation. Gingerbread Mobiles. Here's the page she ripped out of the Magazine. I love the room too!


We don't have a Christmas tree but if you do you should consider making a few of these - aren't they cool?!


And just in case you have more time than I and are in need of some more crafty-holiday-ideas check out these links!
Living Creatively (.com)'s Christmas Projects - it's a great site for everyday projects also

Have a great day and happy crafting! And remember, we've only got a week until Christmas!!!

Better

Better?

Working on Ruby's Room

Suzanne was thoughtful enough to save me some tissue paper flowers
that were leftover from her sister's wedding. They hung them all over
from the ceiling and it looked great.
I decided that a few would look good in Ruby's room. I think I may
need to add a few more or hang them differently but it will do for
now. What do you think?

I'm going to do some fun paint treatments and possibly a mural in her
room also. Eventually. I have to keep in mind that Enzo will share
with her for a while, though, so it can't be too girly. Tissue flowers
are probably pretty girly, huh? Hmm...

Another Dishtowel Curtain

I need to add a border of some kind so it fits the window better but
this dishtowel that Suzanne gave me for my birthday is perfect for the
window in the door that leads to our garage. Don't you agree? If not
please give constructive feedback! :)

So about those decorations

Yes folks, that's snow on the ground. Granted it's still raining (not
snowing) but as long as the snow sticks for more than a few seconds I
count it as a win for winter. The decorations will start going up today!

Seasonal Decorating

The problem with decorating for the seasons in Texas is there aren't
clear deliniations between them. For example, how do I know when it's
winter decorating time? The leaves haven't all fallen yet, there's no
snow on the ground and the grass is still green! However, it may look
the same at Christmas and I most certainly want to have my winter
decorations up by then!
Maybe I'll start the switch next weekend.

In the mean time here's one last photo of one of my free Autumn
decorations: my paint chip wreath.
I have to confess that I already have plans for a winter wreath but
I'll talk more about that later.

When do you decorate for winter/Christmas?

Happy Thanksgiving Baking

I woke up with Chuck this morning so I could make him breakfast and pack a lunch for him. He's got a big day at work today. I was really hungry and not as much sleepy after he left so I decided to make muffins.
It's 6 am and I'm making muffins.

Part of the reason for my insane desire to make muffins at all costs is the horrible disaster that my last batch of muffins ended in. I began with an idea to make some healthy muffins that Ruby and I could snack on when everyone else was eating cookies and brownies or cocoa puffs for breakfast. The only problem was I could think of where to find a good recipe. There were a lot of limitations: I wanted to use fresh roasted pumpkin, no chocolate of any kind, I didn't have oatmeal, bran or raisin bran cereal. Surprisingly that knocks out most online recipes! So I winged it. I tried to blend two different recipes and it just didn't work. They're eatable but not so enjoyable. Have you ever had that baking powder not enough sweet taste in baked goods? Yup. That's it.
Good news is that Ruby will probably eat them but I certainly can't pass any along to anyone else.

So... last night I had fitfull dreams about pumpkin bread, muffins and all sorts of randomness - thank you pregnancy hormones - and woke up with a renewed desire and drive to find a better recipe. And I did.
Where? On my own blog. Yup, I'm going to make Peanut Butter Pumpkin Bread and Rye Pumpkin Muffins.
I don't know why I didn't think of them before?!?!

I'm also going to add blueberry muffins to the list and decided that America's Test Kitchen is the way to go with those. I don't have any yogurt so I'm going to substitute sour cream (and applesauce if necessary) but I'm sure their recipe can be trusted.

Well, have a wonderful day and a wonderful Thanksgiving. Remember that it's about being grateful for what we have not stressing out about what we don't whether it's because of finances or time.

Kitchen Curtain

I bought this towel recently with intentions of making it into an
apron but I think it may have found its home as my kitchen curtain.

Don't worry, I'm a professional.

You may not know this but there was a short time in my life when I was
a Kolache Baker. That's right, I was paid to make breakfast pastries.

Successfull Fall Decor

I finally made a seasonal banner! I've been wanting to make one for quite a while now, even as far back as spring of last year (I'm pretty sure I blogged about it if you'd like to check the archives). This one is pretty basic and definitely not top quality but as long as you don't scrutinize it I think it looks pretty autumnal and dresses up our kitchen/dining room nicely.

I really don't like decorating for holidays (and Chuck appreciates that) but I do like decorating for the seasons. I think mainly because the seasons don't change here like they do in MN.



I didn't spend anything on the banner as it was stuff I was given at different times. In keeping with the free decorations (and because all the stuff I've seen so far in the stores is rather cheesy looking) I decided to make some out of natural elements. On a few different walks Ruby and I gathered acorns and pretty leaves. Chuck actually put these adorable decorations together while I was sewing the banner. He's so creative. My only addition was the pine cone because I hadn't found the perfect one when he was creating.
We got the ornament hanger at Ikea and I love it because I can use it for all seasons, not just Christmas (although it was in their Christmas displays).

So the grand total for my new fall decor: $4 (for the ornament holder)

 

And don't my little salt/pepper birds look so cute!?



Next I'm going to attempt to make some autumn inspired throw pillows for the couch. I think that would be a nice addition and could go a long way to making our living space look for seasonal. 

How do you decorate for the seasons/holidays?

More Fall Baking

I did some more all baking last night and really love to do it. There was a short span of time when I felt that I couldn't bake sweet things because they weren't "good" for you to eat and I needed to focus on healthy things but then was reminded that there are more important things than health - like love, fellowship, enjoying life, and bringing joy to others lives. There really isn't an easier way to connect with neighbors than bringing them baked goods. I'm really excited about baked gifts for our neighbors this Christmas season.

I'd also like to add that I think I was making healthy eating an idol in my life. I felt that if I could feed my family the most nutritional things and the least unhealthy things other areas of my life would fall into place. I would be a better mother, wife and person. The only way I will become a better mom, wife or person is through Christ. I'm not even sure how it works exactly. I just know that I can't do it by myself. My best efforts will fall short of Christ's perfection and since He created everything and knows just how it should work I should ask for His help constantly. He gives me each day and each breathe. It's a pretty huge deal.

He's also given me a desire to love others and to share the joy of baking and eating wonderful foods. So bake I do. Here are the two recipes that I made last night and they were both given several thumbs up.


Almond Butternut Squash Muffins/Cupcakes (based on this recipe)
1 cup butternut squash puree
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup of butter, room temperature
2/3 cup of sugar (half brown sugar if you desire, I'd use even less next time, maybe only 1/2 cup)
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1 1/4 cups of flour
1/2 tsp almond flavor (or vanilla if you don't like almond but how can you not like almond?!)

1. Quarter and seed the squash. Place in a 9x13 pan with about 1/4 inch of water and bake for 40-60 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool and scoop out insides and puree in a food processor or blender if you desire. I didn't puree mine so there were some small chunks after I mixed it in. You could see the chunks in the final muffins but couldn't detect the texture or taste so I'll skip the pureeing again in the future.

2. In a large bowl, cream sugar, eggs, and butter. Add squash and flavoring.



3. Add dry ingredients being careful not to cover your kitchen in flour. I mix my dry ingredients in with a spatula before turning on my mixer but if you have a nice big stand mixer you of course don't need to worry so much. I'll admit I'm jealous of you fancy stand mixers - and even your not so fancy ones.

4. Divide batter evenly in greased or lined muffin tins, filling each cup about halfway. Bake at 350 F until tops spring back when touched, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18-22 minutes.

I made mini muffins and they took about 15 minutes to bake.


I was going to frost these with a chocolate buttercream but didn't have enough powdered sugar. They were delicious without the frosting but would have been quite amazing with. In case you'd like to frost them here's an easy recipes for you.


Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup butter, room temp.
1 1/2 to 2 cups powerdered sugar
2 to 3 Tbs. cocoa powder
a few splashes of milk to reach the right consistancy


Cream the butter until smooth, add the sugar and cocoa and mix until smooth adding milk as needed


If, like me you have lots of apples this fall that need to be used you should put some into these apple bars. The first time I made them I added a layer of almond paste and last night I added a layer of caramel instead. Both were quite delightful. Neither time did I put the layer of corn flakes as I didn't have any and wasn't going to buy them just for this recipe. If you try a different variation (or use corn flakes) let me know how they turn out!!

Visitor From MN

My good friend Elaine visited for a day from MN. She and I went to
highschool together and she's really the only person I keep up with
from that time of my life.

Our vice principal used to mix us up although we've never thought we
looked that much alike. I stayed at her house during Marching Band
Camp. We occasionally finished each others sentences, cut each others
hair and wore each others clothes.
She's great.

We had a good visit and somehow forgot to take a picture until she was
getting ready to leave! But here's proof that she was here! Not the
best photo but maybe when we're old we'll at least remember that she
visited when I was pregnant and living in TX. Maybe - this photo isn't
really that descriptive.
Oh well, I love her.

Thanks for visiting Elaine, hopefully we'll see you again soon!

Rye Pumpkin Muffins

I was baking in another pregnancy craving stupor - this time for a
party and with bizarre idea that I should add rye flour to baked
goods. Pumpkin baked good specifically.
I, of course, could find no mention of this ever having been done and
documented online so I had to let my baby addled brain do the work. I
should start a rye flour fan club...

Here's the recipe as close as I can remember. I originally halved a
large batch of dough so I could make cookies and muffins but that's
sort of silly so next time I make the muffins this is what I'll do.

Rye Pumpkin Muffins
2 eggs
Up to 1 cup sugar
1 cup (1/2 can) pumpkin purée
1/2 cup butter, room temp.
1/4 cup canola or veggie oil
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup rye flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
(or mixture of seasonings of your choice)
1/4 tsp salt

Mix dry ingredients. Cream eggs, butter and sugar. Add pumpkin and oil
and mix well. Add wet to dry. It should be thinner than cookie dough
but thicker than pancake batter. I used a small measuring cup to fill
mini muffin cups for the party.

Bake @ 350 degrees F for 8 - 10 min (or so) for mini muffins and 15 -
20 or more for regular size.

I made frosting for mine with marscapone cheese and powdered sugar and
vanilla. They were awesome. And eaten faster than I could get a photo.

Enjoy!

Fall playing and food

Things are going well around here for the most part. Ruby is growing every day and is very sweet, funny, curious, stubborn and a constant reminder of the depravity of man. It's daily that I think, "Wow, we really do need Christ." But I also often think about all the mysteries and miracles that God works and understands each day like how he creates life in the first place and how to grows babies into toddlers and gives them a wonderful thirst for learning and experiencing the world and joy.





I'm also growing (because Enzo is) and looking forward to the holidays. I've been doing a lot of baking and cooking lately and really enjoying entertaining friend. We had an informal cocktail type party last week and really enjoyed it. I love hosting, although I still have a hard time remaining calm and socializing, and plan to host more get-togethers as the weather cools. I have plans or pies (sweet and meat!), fudge, soups, spiced cider and other wonderful fall foods.


One of the dishes that I've been craving with the cooler weather is calico beans. I blogged about it already as it's my favorite food and have discovered recently that it's delightful with sauerkraut. I did quite a bit of reading about the health benefits of fermented foods and while I'm still in the early stages of experimenting I do like the sauerkraut that I made and we of course eat a lot of homemade yogurt.


One of the less healthy but wonderful foods that I've enjoyed lately are a variation of a recipe for "Cocoa Blocks" that I got from a friend. I made them for our party last week and they were a hit (as were the pumpkin muffs with mascarpone frosting but I'll post about those later). I've been wanting to add spice and more depth of flavor to everything lately so I decided I would add chili and cayenne to the recipe. I just added them "to taste" so don't have measurements to give you but here's the original recipe (based on a recipe by King Arthur Flour) if you'd like to give them a try. They're delightful melted in a cup of coffee as well!


Cocoa Blocks

  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk (1 1/4 cups)
  • 2 cups milk chocolate (chopped chocolate bars or chips)
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate (chopped chocolate bars or chips)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened baking chocolate (about 2 1/2 blocks)
  • wooden sticks or toothpicks


Directions

1) Line an 8" x 8" pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
2) Heat the cream and condensed milk over low heat until steaming. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate; allow it to gently melt.
3) After about 10 minutes, return the chocolate mixture to low heat to completely melt the chocolate. Whisk vigorously until the mixture is thick and shiny. Add a few drops of flavoring oil if you like; hazelnut, coffee, or vanilla are popular flavors.
4) Pour the chocolate mixture into the pan; shake the pan gently to level. Sprinkle with cocoa, if desired. Set aside overnight to slowly set up.
5) Run a knife around the edge of the pan and turn out onto a clean cutting surface.
6) Slice into 1 ¼" cubes. Heat a knife in hot water and wipe dry before each cut, for smoothest cuts.
7) Stick a wooden stick into the center of each block.
8) Roll in cocoa or crushed peppermint candy, if desired.
9) Wrap in waxed paper, parchment, or plastic wrap to store.
Yield: about 3 dozen blocks.

Recipe summary

Hands-on time: 20-45 mins.
Total time: 12-12 hrs 45 mins.
Yield: 3 dozen blocks

Finally - proof that my midsection is expanding



I suppose it's about time I posted a shot of my expanding midsection. This one isn't great but at least it's something! I so rarely get my picture taken (as everyone is taking shots of Ruby) so I snapped a quick one yesterday. Ruby and I are staying with Grammi (Chuck's mom) while he's away on business. You can check out his blog to read about his trip. He is in Chicago right now and will be back home tonight. Yay!
I'm about 25-26 weeks and everything is going great! I'm just starting to feel big and noticing that I can't move normally. For example, bending over to tie my shoes is becoming more and more difficult.
Hope your week went well and you're looking forward to the weekend - I know I am!

Cracker Phone

Ruby and I took Chuck to the airport yesterday after a nice morning together. Ruby slept on the ride up but then at 1pm when she normally would have been napping she felt she needed to be eating crackers. This was ok since I had packed some just in case. When we were just a few blocks from home she noticed by cell phone (I think I checked the weather at a stop-light) and wanted to see it. She is very interested in my cell phone these days. I told her my phone was not for playing but that she could have another cracker. After I drove a few more blocks I peeked at her to check on the cracker eating to find her talking on the cracker like a phone. Genius. Here she is pushing the buttons and telling Daddy all about everything. She won't talk to Daddy on my phone but she will on her cracker phone. Nice.




Special Snack Day

Ruby and I usually have pretty boring snacks like crackers and grapes or peanut butter toast. Today Ruby and I were both having a rough afternoon due to lack of sleep, another wet day and the trials of being a small person and a small person's mom. Because of this we decided that we needed a more special snack.
Today we enjoyed sliced bananas with spiced anglaise and softened carrots with miso dip.
I've been craving miso soup lately but haven't been able to find bonito flakes for the broth yet (traditional japanese miso is made with bonito broth - bonito is a type of fish similar to tuna) but I did buy miso because I figured I could try it with a different fish broth if I got desperate - which I'm not far from. I planned to have hummus with our carrots but my last batch had gone bad - we never eat it fast enough since I can't find Stacy's pita chips anywhere in Denton - but I noticed on the side of the miso container a recipe for a dip. I modified it and have since googled for another version that sounds good so if you like miso you should give it a try!

Special Snack Miso Dip - 2 small servings
1/2 Tbsp miso (I used this kind which I recommend beacuse it is organic and unpasterized)
1 Tbsp cream cheese (I used home made cream cheese from our raw yogurt - here's a quick how to on both)
about a 1/2 tsp or to taste of savory seasonings or in my case the "savory blend" from my spice rack
a few shakes of celery seed for a sweeter note
1 to 2 tsp rice vinegar to taste and to help stir everything together

Even Ruby liked it although she would rather have eaten another two or three bananas with the anglaise - she loves bananas.

I plan to do more with anglaise in the future. The first time I encountered it was last weekend when Chuck took me out to dinner and we had a piece of cake with chocolate chili anglaise. The anglaise was the best part in my opinion because it was not too sweet and I liked the way the chili complimented the dark chocolate flavor. I'm really excited about fall baking in general actually and will have to update soon about all the recipes I have in mind. Please let me know of your favorites!

It's October!?!

It's been too long since I've updated. I can't even recap all that's happened in the last month in one short post. I'll just give a few of the main points.

I'm a little over half-way with Enzo. I promise to get a picture up here soon! We're all very excited to meet him and I'm starting to think more seriously about clothes and sleeping arrangements and things like that. I'm also looking forward to swaddling and snuggling a baby while it's cold outside.

We finally took some "first year" pictures of Ruby. We'll take some more closer to Christmas and so we have some family photos. Our friend Chris took them (he took some when she was 5 months old and we used some of them for Christmas cards) and he's going to take some of me when I'm ultra pregnant (in only a few months!) as well as when Enzo is just a few weeks old. We didn't do either of those things with Ruby but I don't think that means we can't with Enzo.


Here's Ruby in the dress that both my mom and I wore in our first year pictures


I've done a LOT of researching, experimenting and near obsessing over the food I'm feeding my family and feel that I've hit a pretty good medium. We're eating primarily organic produce (largely thanks for the food coop which we're still a part of), I'm making whole grain baked goods at home (that I'm soaking but don't think I'm going to get too much deeper into it), we're drinking raw milk as well as making most of our dairy good at home with it (except hard cheeses like cheddar) and we're limiting our sugar big time. I'm trying not to feed Ruby any sugar and only eat it myself in sweets that I know will be really good and it's going pretty well. Most things are easy to substitute honey or dates or even just cinnamon but there are some (like chocolate cake, ice cream, etc) that need it and in those cases we get the most natural kinds or at least no corn syrup brands we can find or make them at home - which is still where we've produced the best chocolate cake so we're doing pretty well.

Speaking of Ruby and sweets: She's so sweet. Although we really have no comparisons to go by, we're pretty sure Ruby is advanced. I think she's even snuck into her "terrible twos" early. She's so smart, talking a lot and pushing whatever boundries she can. She's a ton of fun, though, and we're having a good time.

We waffled for quite some time about whether or not we'd get rid of The Dude or build him a dog house or get him some chickens to herd (getting chickens is still on the back burner) but we finally decided we'd give him a try as an inside dog. He really is a good dog and we'd like him to be a part of the family. So far (after about a week) he's doing really well and Ruby enjoys having him around. I just have to vacuum a lot more.

I'll leave you with another photo of Ruby and promise to get back here sooner rather than later and fill you in further on the daily happenings. Have a wonderful week!


Ruby is wearing a traditional first year celebration dress from Korea that some sweet Korean friends of ours gave her

Charles Enzo's Chocolate Cake

So we're having a boy. It hasn't fully sunk in yet. It probably won't until he's here and I can hold him but I think that's the feeling with having babies whatever the gender. I guessed he was a boy but I think in the back of my mind I was only guessing that because I really thought he was a girl.

Speaking of Charlie (or Enzo, we're still deciding what we're going to call him although we're pretty set on the name Charles Enzo) here's the recipe and appropriate notes for the most amazing chocolate cake ever created.

I started with a recipe that a blogger, Hayley, also known as Buff Chickpea, adapted from one that originally appeared in Gourmet Magazine in 1999. You can read all about that and see her version on her blog. I didn't have enough chocolate bar to do the ganache that it called for so I found a delightful blog with an equally delightful frosting recipe that I adapted/morphed into the icing. If you need a basic chocolate frosting recipe check out G'ma's Bakery.


Charlie's Chocolate Cake

 
3 ounces Ghiradelli dark chocolate (or other 60% cacao baking chocolate)
1 1/2 cups of your favorite coffee, the stronger and more flavorful the better (I used cold brewed toffee flavored coffee - Cookie Doodle from Sprouts for those of you who can get it)
2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup Guiness beer (you'll have to drink or find someone else to drink the rest in the bottle but it's worth it - don't leave it out)

1/2 cup buttermilk (add a tbsp of vinegar per cup of milk to create buttermilk)
3/4 teaspoon vanilla


Preheat oven to 300°F, and grease two 8 or 10-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms with rounds of wax paper and grease paper.

Melt chocolate using the double boiler method.

Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, melted chocolate, coffee and Guiness to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well. Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, about an hour.


Cool layers in pans on racks for several minutes and then run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove wax paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

I made the cake after Ruby went to sleep so I waited to make the frosting and assemble it until the next day lest I fall asleep with a mixer in my hand. I started with the basic frosting recipe and added melted chocolate, a little bit of this and that and more coffee and I ended up with a sauce that I could pour on top rather than frosting it. I also added some crushed Skor bar and hazelnut chocolate bar (from Ikea) between the layers. This was a specific element from my baby craving induced vision and it definitely added to the awesomeness.

I'm not a very talented cake maker so it turned out a little ugly (lopsided, cracked on top, etc) but I wasn't planning on selling it, just eating it. And eat it I have...


Alright. There it is. Now I can eat the last piece and forget this short chocolate filled episode of my life ever happened.

Watch This

video

All Charlie's Fault

My mother, husband and I'm sure others can attest to the fact that I
don't like chocolate cake. I've never requested it as a birthday
treat, I always choose white at weddings and I'll even forgo dessert
rather than eat it.

So no one was more surprised than I when I couldn't get the image of
the perfect piece of chocolate cake out of my head the last few weeks.
I knew I wouldn't find it at any restaurant and any bakery that might
make it would charge more than my practical chocolate cake avoiding
self would pay.

Therefore I finally caved and made it. I don't think I've ever made a
chocolate cake before. I don't make other cakes very often for that
matter. Obviously I was desperate.

I did my research and discovered that I would need to combine a few
recipes and use all the baking talent I possess to create this
masterpiece.

I baked until 11:30 pm and frosted the next afternoon. I then couldn't
bring myself to eat any until that evening when others would also
partake in case it wasn't exactly what I had been dreaming of.

Luckily it was. I think I would have cried had it not.

No picture could do it justice. It wasn't really that photo worthy in
the first place but it was delicious.

And Charlie must really like chocolate cake because I can't stop
eating it. I've tried.

I'll post the recipe details soon. I have to get them all typed up. In
the mean time, have a fabulous week!

Bread attempt 2


Chuck liked the bread so much that I decided to stick with the recipe.
Things were going fine but I had to pick up my chest freezer part way
through so I left Suzanne in charge. I forgot to tell her to turn the
gas to the oven on, however, so she "baked" the bread for the
appropriate time before realizing it. Here are the resulting loaves.
Notice how the extra rise time caused two of the loaves to fuse
together and one began to ooze out of the pan. I'm sure they will
still taste great they'll just be a little ugly.
For the recipe check out (google) A Year Of Bread - Farmhouse White

Firsts

Ruby had, and because she's the oldest, will have, most of the firsts. The new baby, however, will get some.
For example, Ruby is the first person to be photographed by and blogged about using my new Iphone but Charlie will be the first baby to have professional prenatal and newborn photoshoots. (at least semi-professional)

My wonderful husband reads my blog along with his usual thinking of my daily and surprised me this morning with my new phone. So I guess this means I have to blog more (or he might take it for himself).

We're still helping Unkie Jon move. Here's Ruby sitting like a big girl (for the first time) in Jon's beanbag chair.

Have a great weekend!





Once a month update!

Looks like I'm back to once a month blogging. Chuck promises that soon we'll be saved up and both be able to get new IPhones so then I'll be able to update from anywhere! The problem I have is that I don't have much time to spend online and I usually only make it through my email when I have to get onto something else.

We've been really busy lately getting sick, getting better, working on the house, raising a toddler (yes, Ruby is officially a toddler now!) and everything that goes along with having a house, a family and a life. You know what I mean.

The most recent happenings include but are not limited to:
-joining a produce co-op - we love it. The produce is wonderful and it's so nice to pick it up all at once, it saves time and money
-cutting out almost all the corn syrup from our diets, at least Ruby's and my diet, Chuck still likes Dr. Pepper -making yogurt and bread regularly - I just tried this new bread recipe and it was wonderful. I plan to try new recipes often and I'm even going to try making rye bread next week!
-drinking raw milk - we get it through the co-op form a local farmer and all love it. There's a lot of fascinating reading relating to it also
-and of course growing a baby - we find out the gender on Sept. 1st! I'm really excited about it. I think the main reason is that with Ruby I had no idea what to expect about the birth and new that it could be no fun at all so waiting to find out the gender left me with at least one thing to look forward to. This time around I'm so excited to experience giving birth again that I can't wait to find out the gender! That and I would like to be able to plan. I'm very practical after all.

We've got lots of new pictures of Ruby but I can't seem to find any to post right now. Not surprisingly. But we're going to get some "one year" photos taken soon (I hope) and I'll be sure to get a few of those up here.

I've been usuing my onling time to bake more, clean more and even rest more. I enjoy those things much more than sitting at the computer and although I miss reading friends and families blogs I don't miss adding projects to my never ending list of things I'd like to do but probably never will nor do I really need to. I've actually gotten some things done rather than just spending my time starting things! I do, however, have lots of sewing to do for the many (at least 10) upcoming births and don't know when I'll get all of that done. I've got lots of friends and family having babies!

I pray that your lives are filled with joy and good health and you're resting in Lord. Peace is a wonderful thing.

A few updates

It was/is a very eventful day today. Three very big things:

1. heard the baby's heartbeat. We'll be referring to the baby as "Charlie" until further notice. It covers the name bases (Charles Enzo or Charlotte).

2. I found and tested and approved (as did my family and friends) a One-Hour Bread recipe. Yes. One hour between the time you get the ingredients out to the time you take the loaf out of the oven. Awesome!

3. Three. That's also how many steps Ruby just took. Yes. She just walked from a chair against the dining room wall to her highchair. Also very awesome.

Have a great weekend!!!


*this post updated with a link to the bread recipe and a more accurate spelling of Charlotte*

I haven't been blogging. I've been napping.

I've been, well, vegetating lately. I don't really like it but I don't really like feeling sick and tired all the time either. I don't do very good at keeping my chin up when it comes to exhaution. Thankfully my parents have been more than happy to take care of Ruby while I nap or relax or simply sit and try not to throw up. I've only got a few more days of this luxury, however, and so I'm wondering if I shouldn't start to ween myself off of my current napping schedule so I don't go into complete shock when we get home. Maybe. Or should I take advantage of my last few days of freedom? Hmm...

On another note, this website was brought to my attention and I think it's great. Check it out. It's about sugar.

Liz is Famous

My baby sister (the older one - Liz) is famous! Or at least she's on the internet. Which, well... anyway, she's doing great things with her organization and they've made a promotional video! For those of you who know her check it out! Or if you're interested in Chi Alpha, click the link and see a promo for their All Nations Conference.
Proud of you Liz!

All Nations Promo Video

Playing with Papa Don

Ruby enjoyed playing with her Papa Don (my dad) today and I love how expressive she is. She's learning fast and growing all the time. I'm growing all the time as well and I wasn't prepared to do so this early. In fact I had to buy a few t-shirts today because I didn't pack with my expanding top and middle in mind. It is sort of exciting to be able to see a difference this early, though, and have another reminder other than the nausea that I'm part of a miracle.

The last few days in photos

Here Ruby is very excited about her birthday presents from Grammi and Big Daddy. We had a party for her at our house before we and Chuck's parents left for our vacations.

Unkie Jon pulling Ruby on her chariot when he and Chuck dropped us off at the airport.

Proof that Ruby and I were on an airplane together and having an okay time of it. You can see Ruby is getting some more teeth on the bottom. Soon she'll have eight.

Ruby reading the card from her birthday present from Aunt Tori.

Ruby getting settled with my mom's daycare kids. My mom runs a daycare in her house so Ruby has gotten to play with the kids the last few days and should be pretty warmed up to them by the time we leave.

Leave a Message

Hi, it's me. Can't talk long anyway, just wanted to let you know that I moved up my trip to MN so I'm here now. I'll be here until July 3rd but I'll update you on life while I'm here. Gotta go, talk to you soon! Oh, and it's 58 degrees here right now. Yeah... Bye!

Our garden

Here it is, an update on our garden! It's pretty amazing. God's so amazing for designing and sustaining all those green things. I'm so glad I'm not in charge of the rain and the wind and the sun. I'm so grateful that God put it all in motion and keeps it all going.


Here's the whole garden. On the bottom left you can see our basil going crazy and in the back our zucchini and squash and pumpkin are all flowering!


We've got cayenne peppers!


A green zebra tomato!
Peas! I made a trellis with stakes and string but it's not tall enough anymore! They're growing so very fast.

And here's one of our two zucchini plants that has leave the size of Ruby. We bought them at Dennis' Farm Stand. We're definitely shopping there next year!
And the zucchini that this plant produced already - that's right we've already got two zucchini! - are as big as Ruby as well!

She wasn't really interested in them but we tried to get a good size comparison picture.

I hope you're all enjoying the weather and getting veggies and flowers put in!

Whose blog is this?

My photo
Chuck grew up in Texas while Ginger was blossoming in Minnesota unaware that she would marry her brother's best friend and live in the South. They've been married 6 years and have two sweet babies. Ruby is 3 and Enzo is going on 2.