Sunday, July 31, 2011

Speechless Sunday

I am a huge fan of the work of Katie Daisy of The Wheatfield. So vibrant and fun and flowery. This Land of Ampersand print is definitely a must for my future gallery wall.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The One With Little Liam

I went to spend the afternoon with my sister-in-law, Emily, the other day and we took some pictures of her precious baby boy, Liam. Isn't he just the cutest?
I love his wary, one-eyed suspicion about the world. He was quite unhappy with the idea of being unwrapped at all, let alone unwrapped and put on his tummy. He definitely had the feeling something sinister was going on.

More pictures coming next week!

Friday, July 29, 2011

The One With the Beach Trip Recap

We had such an amazing time at the beach this past weekend. We met up with my grandmother, aunts, uncle and cousins. It was so wonderful to play in the waves all day and roast hot dogs over bonfires on the beach in the evenings. Because most of my family lives in Idaho, we don't get to see them much, so it was great to catch up. They are all such fun to hang out with!
It did, however, become a little confusing hanging out with Ellie's namesake, her great-grandmother Ellie. We had to differentiate between "Little Ellie" and "Big Ellie." So people would say things like, "I gave Ellie our room key." And I would think, "Why would you do that? She's just a baby and quite likely to lose it." Of course, all problems were solved when Grandma Ellie came back with the room keys. She's much more responsible than Baby Ellie.

And I took a lot of pictures.

 Ellie became extremely attached to the water. She kept running towards the waves so much that eventually we had to stick her in a little hole so that she could dig and play while still being barricaded from escaping towards the ocean. And Olivia enjoyed all the attention she got from being doted on by aunts and cousins.
We stayed at the Surfsand Resort in Canon Beach, Oregon, and it was very nice. They had a cabana service that provided towels and beach chairs and umbrellas. And in the evenings they supplied our firewood and even built the bonfires for us. I must, of course, mention the incredibly soft and cozy beds in the rooms. I think I slept better in two nights than I have cumulatively in the last two years. And the halibut fish and chips from the Ecola Seafood Restaurant and Market were amazing. Just thinking about it makes me want to go get some more. And, as is required by law when visiting Canon Beach, we tucked into some lovely candy shops and stocked up on sea salt caramels, chocolate-dipped Oreos, fudge and salt-water taffy.

It's really a good thing I don't live there. I would try to subsist on fish and chips and candy. It probably wouldn't work out too well. But it sure is a fun way to vacation.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The One With the Cinemagraph

Behold my first attempt at animated gifs. It seemed cooler in my head. But it didn't turn out too bad, huh?
 I have seen these around blogland for a while and was excited to see this post by Say Yes to Hoboken about how to make my own. Now that I've figured out that they're pretty easy, I am eager to try some more in the future. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The One With the Pink Hat

Olivia got a new pink hat while we were on vacation at Canon Beach. She was enjoying it and I was enjoying her while everyone else enjoyed a bonfire on the beach. It was pretty wonderful.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The One With the Pancake Sort of Day

It was a pancake sort of day today.
And Ellie was very helpful about her request.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The One With the Pink Almond Party Cake

Perhaps the most popular cake at the cake day party was the Pink Almond Party Cake. I first made this cake for Ellie's first birthday party. It's another fancier version of a cake mix that I found in a Betty Crocker magazine. It's very simple and lots of fun. I like to dye it pink, but I suppose you could really make it any color you want.

Here's the recipe.
  • Betty Crocker Extra Moist White Cake Mix*
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 6 drops red food coloring
*Do not substitute a different cake mix - the amounts may be different and could ruin your cake.
Mix it altogether like you would with any cake mix. Poor in to pans prepared with butter, flour and parchment paper. Bake at 350 for 23-28 and cool on wire racks.

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 shortening
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 4-5 tablespoons milk or water
  • Red food coloring
Blend butter, shortening and almond extract until combined. Add powdered sugar, beating on lowest speed. Add milk or water and food coloring. Frost cake as desired. Add sprinkles for festivity's sake.

My cake looked a little funny. It was so hot in our kitchen that the icing was melting and the cake layers were slipping all over the place. It may not have been the prettiest cake ever, but it is very, very good.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The One With the Carousel

I think community art projects are the coolest. Someday I hope to be a part of one. If I lived in Albany, Oregon, I would be a part of their Carousel project.
We took Ellie to see the art in progress. Each of the animals are in various stages of development. A while back, donors could pick the kind of animal they wanted and be a part of the design process. The one Ellie is riding is a cocker spaniel donated by a family. Around his saddle, each of the family's member's names is engraved. How awesome is that?

Here's a drawing of a frog and then the frog that has been carved and is almost completely painted:
Once the creature is painted it is covered in a lacquer that makes it all shiny and durable.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The One With the Chocolate Mousse Cake

In my cake day post, I promised to let you in on the secret Chocolate Mousse Cake recipe. Ok, it's not really very secret at all, but here it is:

First of all, I'll let you in on a little helpful hint. Cake mixes are A-mazing. Yep, that's right. I love cake and I love to make cakes by dressing up cake mixes. Case in point: The Chocolate Mousse Cake, which was a spectacular hit, is made from Pillsbury Devil's Food Chocolate Cake. You could actually use any cake mix you like, this is just my personal favorite. So moist and delicious. After baking it in two 8" cake rounds, I frosted it with my mother's chocolate mousse recipe.

To make the mousse:
  • 2 cups chocolate chips, melted
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 cups whipping cream
First, melt the chocolate (in a double boiler or in a microwave safe bowl in 30 second intervals, stirring between each). Beat the egg whites until they are stiff. Beat whipping cream until it forms stiff peaks when you lift out the beaters. Add sugar and vanilla. Fold melted chocolate (which should be slightly cooled, but still liquid) into the egg whites. Gently fold this mixture into the whipped cream mixture. Allow the mixture to cool so that it is frosting consistency. Once the cake is frosted with the mousse, let it set and solidify. I made the mistake of not leaving enough time to let the mousse set. Of course, it was still delicious, but if it had time to set that would have been pretty great, too. 
Keep in mind that the cake must be refrigerated when it is not being thoroughly enjoyed. 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The One With When Little Liam Arrived

You may recall I took some maternity/family pictures for my sister and brother-in-law a few weeks back (seen here and here). Well, their precious little one arrived one week ago today! Liam is a very sweet little boy. See?
On my way to visit my own family in Idaho, I stopped by to see them. They were getting all ready to head home themselves. And of course, Emily's looking no worse the wear for having just given birth and missed some sleep since. Yes, I'm jealous. (You will notice there are never going to be any pictures of me in the hospital/directly after giving birth).
Gosh, such a cutie in his fancy digs. I can't wait to do his newborn portraits in a few days. :-)
Congrats, Tom, Emily and Cyril!

Friday, July 15, 2011

The One With the Things I Love About Ellie (21 months)

Today, Ellie is 22 months old. I can't believe how quickly she is growing and changing and becoming a person all her own.

So, to recap her 21st month, here are some of my favorite thins she's been doing lately:

1. I love her obsession with water. On bath nights, while she's finishing up dinner, I'll sneak to the bathroom and turn on the water. Immediately, I hear a squeal of delight from the dinner table, "BATH!" It's all she can do to contain herself for the five minutes it takes for the tub to fill up.
2. I love how much she loves her new frog kiddie pool. Even when it's still cold in the morning, she likes to stand ankle deep in the freezing water, grinning with sheer joy. 
3. I love her new-found love for bananas. We have Allison to thank for that.
4. I love how she likes to cover herself with her blanket and then ask, "Go? Go?" When she pops out she says, "Boo!" giggling with delight at herself.
5. I love how easily she is entertained by empty cupboards.

6. I love her obsession with flashcards. And how much she wants to teach Olivia her new vocabulary.
7. I love how proud she is of herself whenever she learns new words and can point them out to me. 
8. I love how much she loves shoes! First thing in the morning, she needs her shoes on, even if she's still in pajamas. And she won't take them off until bedtime. If she's sad, all she needs is a shoe change to cheer her up.
9. I love how much she looks forward to playing with her friends Addie and Jake and Cyril.
10. I love how meticulous she is when it comes to eating, and thoroughly enjoying, cake. She doesn't wolf it down, but instead sits very quietly and concentrates very hard, savoring every bite. 
11. The thing I love the most about Ellie right now is how much she adores her little sister. I just got back from a trip where I took O and left Ellie behind with her daddy. Whenever I called to say hi she would just say, 'Hi Wivia," over and over and over again. Every morning, Wivia is the first thing on her mind. Then, she spends most of the day giving her kisses and hugs and trying to show her the toys and reading her books. She's a very sweet big sister. I hope this lasts. :-)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The One With the Cake Day

I never pass up an opportunity to make some cakes. So, we had a cake extravaganza just for the heck of it! Well, and for Mallory to show us all her cool Scentsy stuff. I made three cakes: A Lemon-Blueberry, A Chocolate Mousse, and a Pink Almond Party Cake.
I'll be sharing the recipes to the Pink Almond and Chocolate Mousse Cakes later. The Lemon-Blueberry Cake was spotted on one of my newest daily reads, Sweetapolita.

If you're interested in the recipe, it can be found here. I made the cake without the white cake layer (seriously, how does Rosie have so much time?). I used the recipe linked from Martha Stewart for the lemon curd filling and used cream cheese frosting with yellow food coloring and lemon extract (about 1 1/2 tablespoons) for the icing. It was very good. And also very rich.

And Allison found these adorable little cake boxes at Michael's and added sweet embellishments so we could send cake home with guests.
It was a pretty sweet day (pun totally intended). I think I am going to make cake or dessert-themed parties a regular occurrence now.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The One With the Passion Lemonade

For our Fourth of July barbeque, my friend Allison and I wanted to try out a recipe we saw for Hibiscus Lemonade in Real Simple Magazine. We ended up doing a very simple version that turned out deliciously.
 Our super simple version simply requires:
  • 1 can of frozen lemonade
  • 3 bags of Tazo Passion Tea
Prepare the lemonade like you normally would and seep the tea bags in it for 20-30 minutes. It turns the lemonade a lovely bright pink color and adds a hint of passion flavor that is very tasty. And it really couldn't get a lot easier.
If you try it and decide that the passion flavor isn't strong enough, you can make it stronger by boiling 4 cans of water and seeping the tea before adding the frozen lemonade. Obviously this must cool in the fridge before serving.

P.S. Apparently, Starbucks has a blended version of this! Yummy. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

The One On My Mother's Birthday

 Happy Birthday to my wonderful mother who is beautiful and courageous and wonderful and caring and who instilled a love for chocolate and desserts in me at a young age. Love you, mom! Hope you enjoy this Dark Chocolate Espresso Bar from Moonstruck!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Speechless Sunday

Wanna know what made me speechless this Sunday?
Strawberry Stuffed French Toast.
Mallory came over and treated us to this amazingly scrumptious breakfast goodness. Here's her recipe. It's so wonderful... you should totally try it!

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Other One With the Swaddling Blanket

You may remember that way back here I made a little swaddling blanket for Olivia before she was born. It has since become one of my favorite handmade projects - I have used it every single day since her birth. So naturally, I was thrilled when my sister-in-law, Emily, found a cute flannel and wanted me to make it into a thicker blanket for her son Liam, whose birth is imminent. And so I did!

Isn't it so cute? The patterned side is a snuggley flannel and the green polka-dot is a cotton, both available at Joann's.
Now, the truly great thing about this blanket is in the size and materials. It measures about a yard square, which makes it the perfect size for swaddling newborns (I always find that anything smaller is hard to tuck in). And it is still big enough to wrap Olivia up at four months and keep her cozy. Because it isn't too thick, it doesn't take up much space when folded, making it easy to transport (I take it anywhere she goes). And the best part is that the cotton side helps regulate temperature. That means it keeps any baby warm, but not too warm. Which is especially perfect for say, babies born in the summer. Most other materials would make a baby too hot when it's also hot outside. But this blanket allows Olivia to be all cuddled up like she likes to be, without getting uncomfortably hot.

Why the pitch? you might ask. Well, I plan on making these available in my (pending) Etsy shop very soon. Getting Liam's done reminded me how awesome they are and I want to share them with the world. If you are interested in commissioning a custom order for a special baby in your life, feel free to comment on this post or contact me directly.They will be delivered to you all prettily wrapped up and tied with a bow, like so:

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The One With the Fourth of July

We had a lovely fourth of July celebrating with a barbeque at our friends Stephanie and Ryland's. Ryland's mom - who is a reader (Hi, Ellen!) - came over as well and got to meet Olivia. And, of course, Mallory and her sisters and niece Addie were also there. (You've heard of them before. Especially Addie. She's mentioned  here, here and here.)

I made a little cake with a patriotic banner. And we had mango salsa, salad, brauts and passion lemonade (I'll post the how-to later).
Despite all the cake-decorating that's been going on lately, I wanted to go for a simple cake with a little surprise inside. 
Addie loved feeding some to Ellie. She thinks Ellie is a baby that needs lots of assistance. Ellie doesn't normally think so, but she was eager for some cake anyway. 
Ryland was the master chef at the miniature barbey.
Here's the whole family dressed up in red, white and blue. 
And me and Mallory (read about her adventures here). Somehow we always seem to end up with these glowly, ethereal photos. I like them.
And Steve with our wonderful hosts, Steph and Ryland.
How was your Independence Day?

Friday, July 1, 2011

The One Where Olivia is 4 Months Old

Olivia is four months old today!

She is such a happy, healthy little girl and we love her so much for coming into our lives. She is so sweet and gentle - not to mention tough enough to withstand the torments of her big sister.
And she loves her little mouse doll.

And finally, my favorite picture: such a quintessential Olivia expression. She is always wide-eyed, taking in everything around her.

Her sweetness is quite infectious and she has this high pitched little squeal of a laugh that is the cutest thing ever. And not to brag, but she sleeps most nights straight from 8pm to 5am and then goes back to sleep until about 8am. It's a pretty sweet deal... if I do say so myself.
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