Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Beer Bread. bread.

My mom used to keep cans of beer under the kitchen sink to make beer bread when I was a little girl. I remember feeling a wee bit naughty for eating it since it was made with an adult beverage.

A friend recently brought over a loaf from a mix she had. It reminded me of how good it was.

So I decided it was time to bring it back again.

When I looked up the recipe I couldn't believe how simple it was to make.

Easier than whipping up a batch of biscuits.
Why have I not been making it all these years?
I have a fridge of leftover beer from Micah's R&R just begging to be used.

And my trusty little kitchen destroyer assistant.

And plenty of hours between wake-up and bed-time to be filled.

So I opened the test kitchen, and we made three different batches until I found the winner.
This may be the quickest of quick breads.

So easy a three year old can make it.

No really, she really did make it.

She measured all the ingredients herself.

I just had to open the beer for her and keep her from chugging it.

If you use a little assistant, just be prepared for this.....
And this.....

And a little dusting on the nose too.....

But it's okay because she said it was the best day ever and even though she says that almost every day, I think she means it every time.

The original recipe is as follows:

3 cups of self rising flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 can or bottle of beer
2 Tablespoons of melted butter (to brush on top of the loaf)

Bake in a loaf pan at 375 for 40 minutes. A few minutes before it's done, brush the butter on top and return to the oven.

Seriously, that's IT.

Except that I don't have self-rising flour. So I had to adapt it to this:

3 cups of all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
1 can or bottle of beer, plus 1 ounce of liquid
2 Tablespoons of melted butter, brushed on top a few minutes before baking is done.
Bake in a loaf pan at 375 for 40 minutes.

Adding 6 extra teaspoons of dry ingredients made the dough too dry, so you have to add a little extra liquid. You can either open a second bottle of beer, use a little and pass it off to an eager beer drinker, or you can just use water. I tried both and they worked equally well. You want the dough to be really wet and sticky.

Also, I didn't think the dark beer was a good choice for this when I tried it. Some of the recipes advise against a light beer. So something middle of the road.

(And for all my Southern Baptist peeps out there--go ahead and sneak that beer in the bottom of your cart and hope you don't run into anyone. It'll be worth it!)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Focusing on the happy things.

Bear with me as I have a teeny tiny pity party......

With one month to go in this deployment, I am weary. The solo parenting is wearing thin. The teething baby has been fussy for weeks and wakes up every two hours screaming. The worrying about "what would I do if (insert terrible thing) happened....." is getting old. The cars that ran perfectly before Micah left have been in and out of the shop--6 times between the two of them. (On Sunday I was home bound with not one, but two broken down cars. How is that even possible???) All of the maintenance required to run a home starts to feel overwhelming when you are doing it alone.  

All this to say, I am trying to remember that I have two healthy children. And at least I HAVE two cars that usually work and are paid for. And my husband is safe. And we are all in good health. And I have a beautiful place to live, however temporary it may be. And as Micah says "Time will pass, it always does". And you want it to pass quickly so that you can have your family back together, but you don't want it to pass too quickly because your children are growing up too fast and you want to soak up every second.

---End pity party---

An eternal optimist I am not, but I am trying to keep things in perspective here. I live a very blessed life. So now for a few things that make me happy, in no particular order.....

A table (or two) full of friends. We like dinner parties. A lot. I'm going to miss the regular dinner rotations when the husbands all come home.

Crabby little sweet cheeks. He can't help that it hurts:(

Just another day of doing crafts in a princess dress....

Love fresh flowers, love the silver tray from my mom, and love my trifle dish.....a trifecta of pretty.

Jenn sent me this wooden bowl from Hawaii and it's my new favorite.....square and wooden...awesome.

I had to smile when I was doing laundry today and counted six tutus on the drying rack (yes I realize how excessive that is). Skylar has dragged out every tutu in the house size 18 months-4 years and wears them at some point every day and to bed most nights. They get stuck in her bike tires. Tutus are to Skylar what jeans are to other people. I'll miss this phase when it ends.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

On having two...

Twice the work.

Twice the fun.

Twice the cuteness.

Twice the love.

Worth every exhausting second.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

S'mores Cups

I recently discovered that Pampered Chef has some great free recipes on their website. (I don't sell or endorse Pampered Chef --they do have some fun gadgets though). I highly recommend trying their tropical fruit salsa (using fresh pineapple not canned) and spicy thai noodles.

But when you have an army of kids coming over for dinner, these are the perfect dessert. All the greatness of a s'more in one convenient bite.


7 whole graham crackers (1 cup finely crushed)
1/4 cup powdered sugar

6 tbsp butter, melted

4 bars (1.5 oz each) milk chocolate candy, divided

12 large marshmallows

To make:

Crush up the graham crackers and mix with the powdered sugar and melted butter. Put a small spoonful of the mixture into each cup of a mini muffin tin. (I used a mini scooper I had and a tart shaper to push it all down--convenient but not necessary--I just wanted to use my tart shaper for something).
Bake the crust for about 5 minutes until bubbly. Remove from oven and place one square of chocolate in each cup followed by half of a marshmallow. Return to oven for 1-2 minutes. Allow to cool before removing from pan. Melt remaining chocolate and drizzle on top and let harden.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Whose that Spartan in my tee pee?

This started out as a very simple post with a link to an SNL skit.....and then I got all nostalgic and ran up to the attic to dig out some old photo albums....and it became a saga from Spring Canyon in the late 90's.

What started it all was Skylar's Chihuahua pajamas (so, so ugly).
There is also a Chihuahua that jumps maniacally in a window of a house that we drive by frequently and we always watch for him.
And then our neighbor across the street gave us a stuffed Chihuahua that didn't sell at her yard sale (not sure why that wasn't snatched right up!) and now Skylar sleeps with it at night.

And all three of those things take me back to my summer camp days when Marie, Betsy, Sarah and I would do "The Perfect Cheer" Chihuahua style on skit nights. It was an ongoing series, and let's just say we were kind of a big deal.....
Pictured here rehearsing our #2 greatest performance of all time: "It's Raining Men" lip sync.
We were a fearsome bunch, mud wrestling in our free time, which thankfully we didn't have much of.

One of our many successful midnight raids against various people groups at camp. We took many captives in the wee night hours and spared no one. Other staffers slept fitfully, fearing our ambush.
Not only were we incredibly talented performers, we were also having the time of our lives. And it didn't hurt that we were really, really ridiculously good looking. And modest of course.

Hey! Speaking of ridiculously good looking, whose that guy in the wife beater? Is he cleaning a camp bathroom? No wonder I married him!
And oh look! There's my sister-in-law Kristy and Angela Haddick. They haven't aged a day.
So when I see Skylar in the Chihuahua PJ's....the cheer starts up. And when I tuck her in at night with the stuffed's cheer time again. I just can't help myself. The cheer lives on.

Obviously Skylar picked it up. I've completely nerdified her.

I heard her in her room today holding her dog and chanting.....

"Chihuahua, small dog,
Chihuahua small dog,
 ARF, ARF, introduce yourself....
My name is Finwee, I like to toot, but that's okay, cause I'm so cute! ARF".

I guess some things are important enough to be passed on to the next generation. (We've also been working on John 3:16, but it hasn't taken yet--maybe I need to make it into a cheer).

And while I'm at it, I may as well post the inspiration for it all. SNL just hasn't been the same since Will left....

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The last of summer.

I hate to see summer waning. It's my favorite. Today was a perfect late summer day.

While Skylar was riding her bike down the street I saw two trees losing their leaves, and then as if on cue I detected a hint of a chill in the air. Fall is just about here. Normally I would internally scream "NOOOOOO!!!!" But this Fall there is a lot to look forward to. 

In the meantime, we are enjoying the last of the warm lazy days. I've been making Skylar take naps this week with the hopes of being really productive. But the little guy has thwarted my plans every single time, refusing to nap more than 20 minutes and fussing unless I am looking straight at him. He's teething with a vengeance and has already cut two teeth--one being a canine.

So Jowls McGee has been my little companion. And if Jowls doesn't like it, it hasn't happened. He doesn't like much right now.
He helped me make some cookies (the ones my sister-in-law Margaret shared awhile back). I was tasked with making a wheat-free, dairy-free dessert, and this recipe came to mind. If you omit the chocolate chips there is no dairy, and they are gluten free anyway. I've made them at least five times, and this is the first time they have actually made it out of the house. They are just too good to share. So I don't. But I did this time.
We also did some flower picking. The Coneflower bushes behind the garage are heavy laden these days. I cut them daily and there are still tons left. So I've been sharing the love. We've have dinner plans 4 nights in a row which means flowers for everyone! My new motto: You feed us, we flower you.
My inspiration to craft comes in waves, and after an extended dry spell I finally got my mojo back. Right now there are a dozen projects rattling around in my head. I ransacked a newly acquired pile of fabric (my friend was getting rid of hers...score! Like I needed more fabric.) and made some plans. Then I thought about organizing the craft closet. Changed my mind. Took a picture of the mess instead.
I've had this fabric for at least 9 months. It was supposed to be curtains. I was feeling motivated to knock it out this week. By the time Finley is done getting his vampire teeth I will probably have lost my motivation. And then it will be time to move again.
But such is life. And really, there will never be enough time in the day to get it all done, teething baby or not.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What NOT to do.

Yesterday I put Finley down in his bouncer and ran to the kitchen to make Skylar and her friend a snack.
I didn't strap him in.
I came back and he had.....moved.
He wasn't the least bit upset and my camera was right there so of course I took a picture before I rescued him.
Because I'm Mom of the Year.
When I did pick him up he started giggling. He seemed pretty pleased with himself--not at all traumatized like his sister would have been.
Except that it never would have happened with his sister.
Because she was a first child and first children are always strapped in.
But second children live dangerously.
Just look at that drool spot. He's a wild man.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Chapstick bandit.

Three year olds are from another planet.

It must be a nudest planet because our three year old absolutely, positively does not want to keep her clothes on. It's a planet where you eat pancakes in your birthday suit.

And you pour sand in your underwear to see what will happen.

And pick every.single.dandilion on the way to the park, thereby ensuring it takes an hour to walk 2 blocks.


Skylar was gifted chapstick for her last birthday. She applied it 100 times in as many minutes, and then took a nibble off the top. By the end of the day there was a little stub of chapstick and teeth full of petroleum. At some point she stopped applying it and just started eating it.

She thinks chapstick is delicious.

Last week I was putting her in the carseat when I saw this:

Just for reference, it's supposed to look like this:

She had pulled it out of the diaper bag and eaten my chapstick. Again. She knows it's wrong. So we had The Chapstick Conversation....again.

"Skylar, why did you eat my chapstick?"

"But Mom, I liiiiike it".

"It's for your lips, not for eating".

"But Mommmm, it's okay"

"NO, it's NOT okay"

"But it's okay mom. I still love you even when you do bad things".

"I didn't do a bad thing. You did".

"But I still love you mom"


"I still love you when you yell at me mom"

"I'm not yelling at you. I just don't want you to eat my chapstick".
"I love you mom"
"I love you too. Stop eating chapstick".
"Soooorry mom.......Can I have some gum?"

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Bear Mountain.

This past week we've been in Highland Falls with the family. Bekah, Nicole and Margaret were all here for part of the time. We had one full day with all three of them here, so we headed up to Bear Mountain to do a little hiking.

The weather was perfect.
I think this is one of the prettiest parts of New York.

After enjoying the view from the top, we drove down to Bear Mountain Lake and did a couple of laps around it.
If Uncle Thomas had been there, he would have said "Hydrate or Die". So Skylar hydrated.
Jack isn't used to that much exercise and he was getting warm, so I thought he'd appreciate a little swim to cool off. Margaret gleefully offered to throw him in (she's not his biggest fan).
Except at some point while he was in the air, he flipped...probably because he's so round and top heavy...and landed on his back. Whoops. We all let out a collective gasp as he hit the water and went under like a brick.
In all the excitement, I forgot to prep Skylar and let her know that Jack is a good swimmer and he would be just fine. So she freaked out. "I'll miss him! I'll miss him!" She was sure her "puggy pug" was gone forever. Just look at the anguish on her face.
But Jack is a survivor, and being a Colorado dog at heart, he is no stranger to cold mountain water. He got himself right out, no problem.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Rit it.

So what does one do when there is nothing left to spray paint besides your children and dogs?

Pick up some Rit Dye, that's what. Then start going through your closet and drawers. Surely there is something in there that can be revamped.

I had a college roommate who talked about this stuff and I'm ashamed to say it's taken me all these years to give it a try.

It all started with this $3 grey sundress I picked up at Old Navy last fall. (I buy all of Skylar's clothes a year in advance when they go on clearance). I remember thinking "this is a really cute play dress in a really boring color, but it'll probably just get stained anyway and it's a bargain" and I bought it. Except that little girls aren't supposed to wear grey. Which is probably why it ended up being $3. It's so drab I found myself never putting it on her. But the ruffles and buttons were cute, it had potential. So I picked up some Rit in Teal.
I figured while I was at it, I would get some black dye as well and fix all of the bleach splattered black yoga pants I currently own. Why I always wear black yoga pants when I am pouring bleach or cleaning, I cannot say. It must be my mom uniform--yoga paints (or in the winter my beloved $5 sweats from Wally World--I miss them, oh how I miss them) and a Target t-shirt in some form or another.

That's what happens when you've been out of the workforce for 3 years. All your clothes are from Target. Or if you're feeling fancy, Old Navy. Maybe for a hot date night--The Gap. But let's not get carried away.

Speaking of Target tee's, I grabbed one of my dozen whitish ones and tossed it in with the sundress. And an olive green knit skirt while I was at it, just for good measure.

I did the bucket dye method: 3 gallons of hot water + dye. I did not remove the existing colors from the fabrics first as they suggested. I wanted them to be varying shades so I left them as is. Plus I was curious to see what would happen to olive green in teal dye. They soaked for 25 minutes. Then I threw them in the wash.

Of course the white t-shirt was the truest shade. The olive green skirt is now a dark green and I like it much better.
And as for the grey dress that started it all? Much improved.

Next up: I'm going to start on Micah's 25 faded black t-shirts since he will never, ever part with them.


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