Friday, January 30, 2015

Seven Quick Takes Friday (vol. 9)

 Today I'm linking up with Kelly over at This Ain't the Lyceum for Seven Quick Takes Friday
If you know me IRL and we are Facebook friends, you've probably seen a bunch of these pictures before. The truth is, my facebook timeline is probably pretty evenly split between pictures/stories of my kids and pictures of my food. I love to cook and bake and I am always snapping shots of my food. I am trying to keep an on-line recipe book of sorts, but time always gets away from me and I fail to type up my recipes more often than not. Too many of these are scribbled on the backs of scrap paper and shoved into a three-ring binder in my cupboard. Maybe getting these photos up will motivate me to actually get the missing recipes typed up.

First, there's these...

Cake pops. Really, I had never gotten all that into them, but I tried them on a whim over the summer and I am hooked. These were some of my first attempts at creating little pieces of cake-pop heaven and I have to say...delish!

Hamburger Buns
Homemade hamburger buns. You guys, I can't even. Wait. Yes, I can. And I have many, many times. I use them pulled for BBQ chicken sandwiches, pulled pork sandwiches, French Dip sandwiches, fancy-schmancy hamburgers and sloppy joes. Just say no to the soggy grocery store buns and try these. You won't be sorry.

Spinach Balls
These spinach balls are so great. They freeze fantastically and are perfect for appetizers, snacks or a main dish on a meatless Friday. Just make a lot, they go fast. I made them for myself one day for dinner thinking  my kids would never in a million years touch them, but I barely got one at all because the two big birds ate them all.

I have a problem.
Chocolate Ganache Cream-Filled Cupcakes
Dark Chocolate Mint Cupcakes

Yellow Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Mint Buttercream Frosting
 And it's cupcakes. A couple years ago when Host.ess went under and their cupcakes were no longer available, I became obsessed with creating a cream-filled cupcake on my own so they would never hurt me again I wouldn't be dependent on them. 
Oh, mission accomplished, ya'll. Mission accomplished real good.

I also made these Dark Chocolate Mint Cupcakes for my mom awhile back. She liked 'em. Probably a little too much. Then I re-used the cake recipe and frosted them with a mint buttercream instead of a mint cream cheese frosting. And I decorated them for Advent by Candlelight. Boom!

Birthday Cake
Naked Devil's Food Cake with Old-Fashioned Buttercream Frosting
My father asks for one thing each year for his birthday - a chocolate cake with buttercream frosting. But it has to be his grandmother's frosting recipe, which is not a typical buttercream like it's made these days. This recipe takes patience and a pot of simmering water. Oh, and unless you want that simmering water splashed on your face, it also takes a steady hand to incorporate it juuuussssttttt so.

I am finally getting around to doing a review of our holiday season to determine what worked and what didn't. The goal being that I can drop the stuff that stunk up the joint in 2014 and stick to the good stuff, auditioning a few new "traditions" in 2015. Some highlights...
(1) Chocolate Chocolate Chip M&M Cookies; (2) Christmas Morning Cinnamon Rolls; (3) Triple Chocolate Cream Pie; (4) 7-Layer Cookies; (5) Black Magic Brownies; (6) Soft & Fluffy Chocolate Chip Cookies; (7) Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake
They were all keepers. Can you tell we like chocolate?

Friday night, pizza night up in here, up in here! We have a weekly Friday night tradition of pizza. We used to just order in, but those pizzas get expensive! So every Friday afternoon, I make enough dough for two pies using this recipe. One will be made into cheesy garlic breadsticks for the kids. The other, well, the other is for the grown-ups to have some fun. We've done Meatball pizza, BBQ Chicken pizza, Chicken Bacon Avocado Alfredo pizza, straight-up Pepperoni pizza, and Apple & Caramelized Onion Goat Cheese pizza. We like to try some fun and funky toppings from time to time.

Now that I've gotten that out of my system, click on over to Kelly's to find some new blogs to read and new folks to love!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Eleven Months and 2 Days Later

It has really been that long since I have checked in here and updated around here.

The kids are growing up too fast for my tastes. Elizabeth is walking. Alice is talking (non-stop). Junior is reading. The Mister is traveling all over the world. And I am...well, in a word, tired.
Elizabeth waiting for her pancakes

Miss E doesn't sleep through the night. She has done it a handful of times over the past year. But like all moms, I get up to check on her frequently when she does sleep through because it happens so rarely (maybe 4-5 times over the past almost year). I can usually get her in her crib drowsy, but not asleep and she will go to sleep on her own. She still wakes at least once a night for a feeding and because of the timing of her wakings, our pediatrician has suggested that she might be having some difficulties converting her fat stores into glucose to get her through the night. We've added starchy foods just before bed to try to get her through, but it doesn't seem to help. When she sleeps through seems to be totally random.
Junior and I on a Halloween train ride

I am suffering from a bit of insomnia myself. Even if I go to bed at a decent hour, I can't fall asleep until well after 4am. And with my Mister who wakes at 5:30am and leaves before 7am, and kids that are up at 6:30-7:00am, that leaves precious little time for this momma to sleep. I know I will survive, but the crabbiness overtakes me at moments. I used to be a 9+ hour a night kind of, well, I'm lucky to get more than 2 hours a night.
Junior sun-kissed on our summer vacation

We are homeschooling Junior for Kindergarten this year. He is reading and writing well. He frequently scribbles attempts to write in cursive and gets a little miffed when I can't read his writing.
"Mom, the 's' is silent. Try reading it again."
He likes homeschooling because he realizes how much more time he has to play than children who go to traditional schools do. And he gets to spend more time with his sisters, who he just loves.

Alice got her hands on a marker. And ate it.
This about sums up her personality
Alice is just a ball full of 2 year old lately. She is spunky, funny, sweet as a bowlful of sugar and sassy, naughty and downright stubborn. I just can't get enough of her. This child puts herself to bed each night, we never have to ask, she just gets up and goes to her bed when she is tired.
Mister and the big kids

My darling husband is gearing up to start his 2015 travel itinerary again. He's working incredibly hard at his job and studying for a work related certification. We were blessed last year that he had a light travel schedule - only six 3-week trips abroad. This year doesn't look to be shaping up the same way. He's already got 4 trips scheduled for February through May of this year. We are believing God for favor for him as his company is bought out by another large company with the deal expected to close in the 2nd quarter. Though the company will go private, the combined entity will still have internal auditors, but how his department will look after the close is a mystery.
Junior loves his baby vampire sister. Her upper teeth came in out of order - she has fangs.
These two yahoos are inseparable

I am busy, busy, busy. I have had some opportunities come my way lately to share my faith with others in really exciting ways. In October our family was featured in an article in the Michigan Catholic for National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. We told our story of pregnancy loss and we have had people reach out to talk about their stories as well. What a blessing to walk with others on this journey and to share the hope of one day meeting our children again!

I think we have enough apples for a pie or two
I am taking part in The 3:15 Project and having "my story" filmed next month. What a process and joy it has been to sit down and ponder how to articulate one facet of my faith story with people all over the world. My story is written and I am in the process of practicing for taping...which is really scary. I hope that someone will be moved by the story I share and take steps in their own life to build a relationship with Jesus Christ. I even got a haircut to get rid of those puffy eyes.

Life imitating art, Junior & Alice dancing at the DIA
Another big project I am working on is a 6 week evangelization series at our parish. I say evangelization, but I should probably say re-evangelization. We are really trying to re-engage adult Catholics with their faith and inspire them to delve into a deeper relationship with Christ. We are using the CHOSEN video series, which is a confirmation prep program. These videos are awesome! The scenery is breathtaking, the hosts are dynamic, the presentation of the faith is solid and we are excited to share it with the people at our parish. I'm the lead catechist for 4 of the weeks. It involves a ton of prep work and truthfully, I am doing the vast majority of that work in the wee hours of the night and morning. The Holy Spirit is in this and he is gonna need to show up in a mighty way! Please pray for the approximately 140 participants (!!!!!) who have signed up, that their hearts and minds will be open to hearing from God.
Mister & I at the cider mill earlier this year

There's so much more going on though. I have NFP related stuff on-deck; I have a few writing projects on my plate; I am getting involved with a new media project aimed at evangelization; I am working on trying to launch a small business venture later this year. We are discerning whether or not we (I) will continue homeschooling our son next year or if he will attend the local public school. There are so many moving parts going on in our lives at the moment, I would really covet your prayers for wisdom and strength to make the decisions we need to make.

All that said, I hope to be more present here and in the blogging world in general. Commenting from my phone is such a hassle (thanks auto-correct, fat fingers, and wonky mobile views), but I suppose a comment riddled with typos is better than no comment at all, right?