Wednesday, January 4, 2012

On the Needles and In the Oven

Things are settling back into our normal routine again and I'm pretty happy about it.  I enjoyed the break and visits with family, but now I'm enjoying our regular routine again.   I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one.

Little G was happy to go back to school yesterday.  He chattered about his friends (we caught a couple of their names, including the teachers) and was in a great mood when we told him it was a school day.  When I picked him up after lunch he was grinning from ear to ear and didn't want to leave!  He was also as proud as a peacock because he had two stickers on his shirt from using the toilet twice.  The teachers made a big deal of it and he was literally running in circles with his chest puffed out, he was so proud of himself!  I was proud too, since we've been using the toilet successfully at home for a very long time, but he'd been making a liar of me with his preschool teachers. :) 

Showing off his stickers!

In more mundane news, I've been doing a little bread making and knitting.  I attempted the challah bread from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  I ran into a couple of problems with the bread, but they were my doing, so I'll give it another shot. 

The first loaf I made, I didn't photograph, and it was an apple strudel bread I found at the authors' website.  I allowed it to rise too long and it sort of exploded out of the pan in the oven.  That didn't affect the taste though and we still ate some of it.  It wasn't what I was going for as far as the filling, so I decided to try another variation when the mood strikes me again. 

I still had a few pounds of the dough in the fridge after the apple bread.  Since it only lasts five days (due to the sugar I speeding up fermentation, I think) I needed to use it more quickly than I do when I make the standard artisan bread recipe.  I waited until the sixth day and I think that is partially to blame for the lack of spectacular results on those efforts.  I made caramel pecan sticky buns and a loaf of regular challah bread (both recipes in the book).  I did remember to take pictures of those.

The sticky buns were pretty good, but I think they would have been better with fresher dough.  They had a bit too much tang for my taste.  The challah didn't rise quite as much as I'd have liked, but again I'm sure it was from the dough being past its prime. 

I ended up using the challah to make french toast sticks to freeze for Little G.  I sliced it normally and then sliced the pieces in half and soaked them in the usual egg, milk, cinnamon sugar mixture to which I also added pureed butternut squash baby food.  Then I baked them on a cookie sheet, turning halfway through.  They turned out pretty good and froze well.  You could make them with regular bread too.  I did a few pieces that way to use up the rest of the egg mixture, actually.  Here is where I must confess that Gabriel hasn't eaten any of this yet, but I've had it for breakfast twice.  I'm pretty sure he'll like it too. 

On the crafting front, I've been knitting a scarf for myself.  I found a very simple lace pattern on Ravelry that seemed simple and it has turned out to be just what I was looking for.  I'm an extremely slow knitter so I don't like projects that are too big or complicated.  I usually make baby hats, but wanted to make something for myself this time.  I used yarn from my stash and I think it will wear well and it's a pretty color. 

Now the question is whether it will be done in time to wear this winter or next.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 in Review

2011 was a busy year for our family.  Here are a few lot of highlights:

Little G turned one! 

He wolfed down the cupcake and would have eaten more if I'd given it to him!

"Official" 1 Year Photo

He mastered the art of getting around - even if he couldn't walk yet. 


We taught him to start contributing around here!

Playing with the vacuum

He had his first plane trip and boat ride when we visited south Florida.


Taking a passport photo.  It turned out great!

In the spring we undertook our biggest adventure yet and went to Paris with Little G for 10 days!  The flight was miserable and by the time we arrived, I was ready to permanently relocate to Europe to avoid a return flight.  Fortunately, I had 10 days to compose myself and get my mind right about the flight home.

We saw some of the tourist highlights.  From the outside.  Fortunately, this wasn't our first trip to Paris, because we didn't go inside very many attractions and museums were a no-go.  We enjoyed the slow pace, good food and adventure of getting around an old, big city with an almost-toddler.  We spent lots of time in parks, taking walks (the Eiffel tower was walking distance to our apartment) and enjoying the neighborhood around our apartment that was a true Parisian family neighborhood.  We went further afield a couple of times to take a guided tour in another arrondissment (district), which we loved.  We also went to visit a small amusement park that was fun for Little G.  We even got to see the finish line for the Paris Marathon and ride the Metro with thousands of marathon participants and their friends and families.  It was a special surprise bonus!

Eiffel Tower

Double Decker Bus Tour

Crusing Around at Notre Dame


Summer found us going to infant swim lessons.  Little G was a trooper and after a rocky start he picked up on it and was soon swimming and floating around the pool. We highly recommend ISR for infant swimming and safety training! 

We went to the beach a few times and enjoyed spending time with the ladies and Little G enjoyed impressing folks at the pool with his crazy swimming skills. People would literally go get their family to come back and watch him swim. We were a teeny bit proud of him. :)

July 4th

My side of the family

 We capped off the summer with a trip to the lake with Big G's side of the family. It was great to have all three cousins together. They were all born within a few months of each other and are old enough now to play together.

Bouncing on the bed after bath

Getting in the lake with Sug and A

Big G's side of the family


Little G started preschool two morning a week in September.  He loves it!

Next on our calendar was a trip to Chicago to spend time with friends!

Enjoying the view from our high rise apartment

Baby J - sweetest little heartbreaker!

Playing with Baby J

Walking around the Lincoln Park Zoo with Mr. Lucas

Next Up... Halloween!

Chillin' in the sweet ride at the pumpkin patch!

Our Little Lion

I was a terrible photographer at Thanksgiving and don't have a picture to show!  We had a fun time visiting my side of the family and eating way too much.  We have so much to be thankful for!!


Here is our Christmas card photo from this year: 

We celebrated Christmas the weekend before Christmas with my side of the family and then on Christmas Day went to Big G's family.  The three cousins were united again!

Opening Gifts Christmas Morning at home

P is a Pony!

"Airpane" as G says

Our all-three-babies-in-front-of-the-tree photo

dancing followed

A was feeling the music!!

All the fancy Christmas presents and they find an old bin to play in.

The Aftermath

As you can see from the last picture, we have some cleaning out and donating to do with the older toys.  I'm also going to put away some of the new toys so I can rotate them in later.  I've found that Little G plays better with smaller groups of toys.  Maybe because he can focus more? 

That brings us up to date.  Almost.

I have one other bit of news to update.  I hope it won't change the way you think about me.  Big G and I had a fundamental shift in one of our long-held beliefs this year.  Something has happened that we said we would NEVER happen.  I'm not proud of it, but I'm working on swallowing my pride and embracing it. 

We bought a minivan.  Or as I prefer to call it, a car with sliding doors.  Shocking, I know.  It was a sad day when I parted with my beloved Infiniti sedan for a more sensible mom vehicle.   I finally came to the realization that the time in my life for zippy, fun cars is not right now.   Right now, I'm in it for the sliding doors and extra back seat leg room for those huge baby car seats.  It is the smallest minivan on the market since I wanted to be able to park in the garage and my stall isn't very long.  Also, it isn't very cute, but as I said above, I'm working on embracing it.

Here is our little swagger wagon .... please try to contain your envy!

Mazda 5

Happy New Year!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Well, the past two months have flown by in the blink of an eye!  I had every intention of posting regularly and even thought about posts I would like to compose.  Alas, my sidekick and life in general have conspired against the blog. 

It is hard to believe we are only a few days away from Christmas.  In fact, we've already celebrated with my side of the family, who came up to visit and exchange gifts last weekend.  It was a lot of fun seeing them and Little G loved seeing KK, Pops and Aunt Sessa (Sarah).  They brought him (and us!) some fun loot too! 

I've made a few crafty projects in the past couple of months.  Most recently I made some felt jumbo crayon and notepad wallets for Little G's five preschool classmates.  I need to make a couple more for the cousins.  They turned out pretty cute and weren't difficult to make.  I'm a slow cutter and sewist and I could make one in 20 minutes or so.  The materials are also inexpensive, with the costliest item being the crayons.  I had a difficult time finding the jumbo crayons in stock and ended up paying $3.99 per package, which was annoying since I bought the last ones on clearance for fifty cents.  I was happy to find them though, so I ponied up the cash.  I'll post a pic when I make the next batch, since I forgot to do that before giving away all the others. 

The other project that I'm still working to complete is those darn training pants.  I have ten pairs completely cut out and all are at least partially sewn, but I still have a way to go to complete them.  They are the project that won't end.  I counted the number of pieces in each pair and when multiplied by ten I realized that I've cut out 150 separate pieces to make the 10 pairs of pants.  No wonder I'm tired of them! 

Since I'm loaning a few pairs to my sister in law when she trains her daughter and she's starting next week, I've got to buckle down and finish. 

G is doing pretty well with training too.  He sometimes stays dry for multiple hours now, but not consistently enough that I can just put him in underwear anytime.  He never makes a dirty diaper, which is wonderful!

I've done a little cooking since the last post.  Nothing too exciting, but I recently made my usual cranberry orange nut bread for a little Christmas treat for our friends and neighbors.  I also tried a recipe for microwave peanut brittle I saw over at Made that turned out great!  It has been raining since the day after I made my initial batch, so I haven't made more yet. 

Back to the salt mines sewing room so I can get some stuff accomplished while my little boss is asleep!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pear Butter

As part of my ongoing cooking kick, last week I decided to make pear butter.  I'd never really had much to do with apple butter, or any other "butters" for that matter. 

As you probably already know, there isn't actually any butter in these preserves, that are just a really thick smooth fruit spread. 

I made a small batch using 2 1/2 pounds of pears. 

Please forgive my pitiful photos.  My kitchen is dark!

I cut them up and added a little water and lemon juice cooked them down on the stove until they thickened and were very soft.

Then I used my stick blender (one of my very favorite kitchen tools!) to blend them to my desired consistency.  I wanted it to be completely smooth, but that's personal preference and you could leave it chunky. 

I added my spices and flavorings - cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla - and returned it to the stove to continue to cook down.  Once it reached the consistency I wanted I cooled it a bit and put it in my jar. 

Since this only made one jar I obviously didn't can it, but you could do that if you make a large batch. 

Little G has taken it to preschool for his lunch on a sandwich, we've had it on toast and I made biscuits one night and it made a tasty dessert!  I'd love to get a bigger batch of pears to make more.

Warning!  Random cuteness moment coming up:

Contrary to appearances, Little G isn't throwing a gang sign here.  He using sign language to say I love you!  Awww... melts my heart.  Especially when it's spontaneous and I don't have to beg him to do it. :)