Thursday, October 29, 2009

First Blocks

In our quest for simple, planet friendly, open-ended toys we've been looking for a first set of wooden blocks for baby Q. At some point I'd love to invest in a really nice set of unit blocks for Q that he can use through his adolescence and pass onto his children but for now we wanted something simple, less expensive but still of good quality. Who knew there was so much info out there on blocks? We ended up with the Uncle Goose Classic Alphabet blocks.

I whipped up a simple denim drawstring bag for them to live in.

We're already big fans. This morning we've played two games with the blocks: give him one block, wait a few minutes, give him another, give him a few minutes to play and then when he has one block in each hand and is feeling quite proud of himself I put another block out for him. It blows his little mind. I mean HOW can he hold three blocks?! The other game we've played he wasn't as into - I was trying to show him how when the blocks are stacked up he can knock them down. I would get 2 stacked up and he would reach for one to chew on..... he knocked it down but didn't notice or care.

Besides the blocks having some 'new toy smell' we're loving them.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Latest and "Greatest"

The Fair has come and gone and we're back to "normal" around here. For a few days at least and then our California family comes for a much anticipated visit. We're spending this week sewing little projects, obsessing over baby carriers and trying to use up these damn apples. While I'm cooking with apples I've totally been neglecting Tuesday's With Dorie. Today is cherry brownie torte and I'm going to make it this afternoon - you can expect pictures tomorrow or maybe tonight if I'm really good.

I am on an apple cake kick right now. The apple cider pudding cake was the best so far in my opinion but I did make this fragrant apple cake with brown sugar glaze for a gathering this past friday

I made these apple pie bars yesterday and I am loving them so far. They're nice and crumbly and not too sweet and not too heavy. Yumm.

I made B's coworkers a simple and classic Apple Pie this week too but I have no pictures of that to share with you. I also made some muffins that I'll share with you a little bit later.

I've also been doing a bit of sewing and I'll share that with you tomorrow!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

State Fair

The State Fair was in town this past week and Q and I went. We chose Tuesday midday as the best time thinking it wouldn't be too crowded and boy we were wrong! Maybe the fair is always crowded....
I had a few things in mind in particular that I remembered from going to the State Fair when I was a kid. First, I wanted to pan for gems. I also wanted to find maple cotton candy and walk down the midway. The panning for gems wasn't there!? what a tragedy. The maple cotton candy was though and I got 4 bags! I've already given away 3 of them though. I also got some honey cotton candy.

I was really excited for "fair food" but didn't end up getting anything besides a six dollar lemonade. I think I was more excited by the idea of fair food than the actual food itself.

Some of it did look good though....

The boy slept on my back most of the time until he decided he was starving. One of the best finds of the fair was this:

There were 5 'mothers rooms' around the fair and it was quite a relief to have a quiet place with comfy chairs to go and nurse my distractable boy.

I just love the fair, it's so iconic and old fashioned in so many ways. It smells so good and has such a fun mix of rides, food, games and agriculture, local folk art and performance. I mean where else can you see 'Big Willie The Alligator' for just $1?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Umm Qais

is arabic for 'mother of Qais'

and it's also the name of a place in Jordan

Friday, October 23, 2009

8 Months

I simply can't believe my boy turned 8 months old yesterday, wasn't he just born?

I was just telling B tonight that in some ways I feel like mothering was harder than I thought and in a lot of ways it feels much easier. I still feel like me. most of the time at least. The hardest thing about parenting is that it never ends. I mean, that's great too, but there are no 'days off' and no sending the baby back to its parents, I can never ever walk away from the fact that I have a kid. It's frustrating because I don't want to be away from Q but sometimes I need to anyhow (for my sanity) and it just never ends. I miss being single sometimes, but I'm so incredibly grateful for an amazing partner and an amazing baby. I think I totally lucked out in both departments.

Q is as sweet as ever, and developing quite the personality! He's a very weird kid. He makes weird noises, does the funniest things with his body and really makes us laugh a lot. One of his new things is to get up on his hands and feet and walk his hands up as much as he can and then walk them back down, I swear he's gonna do a somersault one of these days. He's also really starting to show preference between mom and dad. Not in a bad way, it's actually really sweet how he'll reach for us and get insanely excited when B gets in the car when we pick him up from work.

He still isn't eating solids although we offer them occasionally. I figure he'll want them soon enough and I may as well enjoy the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding during this impending flu season. I would like to write another post about breastfeeding an 8 month old, more for my record than anyone else's interest but I need to read my last post to figure out what's changed. Mommy brain!

Q is so long and lanky these days, he weighs a lot though so I'm not sure where he's putting it, his hair has gotten longer and he's got teeth now too. What happened to my baby? Will I ever stop saying that? I can't imagine that I will

Our California family is coming into town next week and we're all looking forward to some cousin time. They'll be here for halloween too and we have plans for a big bonfire in the woods and some partying down. I've got a number of costumes that have come to me for the little one to wear so stay tuned for some cuteness during halloween week.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

More Apples!

I've been cooking lots of yummy things this week. I'm feeling like my house is a mess and things are a bit hectic but I'm trying to roll with it and spend a lot of time on the floor with my son and in the kitchen keeping good meals on the table for all of us. Of course I'm also trying to use up these apples and so here are a few of the things I've made so far.

Grandma's Apple Pie (from the North Carolina Apple Growers Association)
5 to 6 cooking apples
3/4 cup of sugar
3 tablespoons corn starch
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 tablespoons butter
dash of salt
double pie crust for a 9 inch deep dish pie

Peel and slice apples. Add lemon juice and toss. Sprinkle some of the sugar and cinnamon in bottom of crust. Add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. put half of slices of apples in crust; add half the sguar, cinnamon, nutmeg and 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Add rest of ingredients, piling apples high. Dot with butter. Top with crust. Cut vents. Sprinkle sugar on top of crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes.

Upside Down Southern Applie Pie (Elizabeth Deer Wake Forest, NC)
1/4 C butter, softened
2/3 cup pecan halves
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar, divided
pie crust for 9-inch double crust deep dish pie
6 medium apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced (romes are good but I used winesap and it was really nice
juice of 1 lemon, strained to remove seeds
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup chopped pecans

preheat oven to 450. spread butter in bottom of a 9-inch deep pie plate. Arrange pecan halves in pie plate rounded side down and gently press into butter. Sprinkle 2/3 Cup of brown sugar over pecans and press firmly onto sides and bottom. Place pie crust on top of pecan sugar mixture.

In a bowl, combine remaining brown sugar, lemon juice, flour, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and chopped pecans. Sprinkle mixture over apples and toss gently. Spoon apple filling into pie crust. Put top crust on. Press edges together, then flute and pinch to let steam escape. You may want to place the pie on a baking sheet, because the brown sugar may bubble over the side during cooking.

Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temp to 350 and bake an additional 30-40 minutes or until apples are soft and crust is golden brown. Cool 5 minutes. Flip on plate to serve upside down with vanilla ice cream.

Warm Apple Cobbler
I'm not even going to tell you this recipe because although I've made it before and enjoyed it quite a bit it has WAY too much butter in it and this time we made it, took a taste of it and threw it in the trash because it was disgusting. Maybe it would have helped if I'd doubled the amount of apples so the butter evened out or something but whoa - not cool. I love butter don't get me wrong, and most good things have lots of butter in them, but this totally crossed the line of being good and buttery and was just icky.

Apple Cider Pudding Cake

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rose Garden

I've completed #78 on
the list. Take B a picnic lunch at work. It was great, we brought sandwiches and a blanket and walked to the rose garden near his building and had a great family lunch. In the middle of the work week no less! It's such a joy to see how much Q loves his daddy and lights up when we pick him up from work, which made it even more special to see daddy in the middle of the day.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Apple Day 1

So here's the game plan:

I'm going to try to make as many apple recipes as I possibly can before my apples start to go bad. or as many as B's coworkers can stand. Once I've exhausted my baking supplies, bank account, taste buds, apple peeling muscles I will make Applesauce and Apple butter with the remaining apples and freeze, give away or figure out how to can.

Today I've made a few of my favorite apple recipes from years past and I've narrowed down my recipes from google reader and cookbooks to compile a long list of new recipes to try. I'll try to keep the blog updated on my apple efforts.

Here are the recipes from my google reader that I'd like to try out:

Fresh Apple Cake
Apple Cider Pudding Cake
Apple Dapple Cake
and yet another Apple Cake
Crockpot baked beans with apples
Volcanic Apples
Brown Sugar Apple Cheesecake
Vanilla Apple Crisp
Apple Pie Pizza
Spiced Streusel Apple Pie
Pumpkin Apple Muffins
Apple Crumble Bars
Candy Apple Pie
Crockpot Applesauce Chicken
Apple Spice Cookie Bars
Upside down Apple French Toast
Apple Pie Bars
Banana Apple Bread
Breakfast Apple Granola Crisp
Apple Cider Pie

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Apple Picking...

We spent the weekend apple picking and came home with a bajillion apples (this is just a small portion above). I've been pouring over my cookbooks (and my google reader starred items) looking at apple recipes to make this week. I've made an enormously long grocery list of items I need, lemon, sugar, flour, butter and BREYER'S NATURAL VANILLA. Mmmmm. It's a good week to be in my house. Do you want to come over? Do you want me to bring you some pie? Send me your apple recipes!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I've been making a boatload of taggies lately. Can you believe they charge $19.95 for these! Especially when they are so easy to make! I saw some good ideas online and this is how I made mine


2 12" square pieces of fabric (it's nice to use fleece or fun prints or anything really!)

a bunch of ribbons (mine are cut to 5")

cello (optional) for crinkly insides

with the right side of piece of fabric1 facing up pin tags folded in around the edges of the square

I put 3 on each side usually
then place fabric2 right side down and pin between the tags

sew with a 1/4" seam allowance

trim around the edges, especially the corners

the fun part! turn inside out!

I left the opening on the corner for this one so I could put a tag in a corner for a little link to go on

turn the corner in, place a tag in the middle and sew closed

topstitch around the whole thing

voila! taggie fun!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I love Allspice!

it's a very underrated spice in my opinion. This weeks Tuesday's With Dorie was chosen by Kayte over at Grandma's Kitchen Table. Thanks Kayte!

I thought the recipe was very simple and the batter came together very quickly with no issues. The crumb topping was super easy to make and actually came out very nicely crumbly - which isn't always the case. I had to add 5 extra minutes onto the cook time but they were perfectly done and nicely fragrant and I couldn't wait to try one.

The crumb topping rocked. Brown sugar, butter, a little allspice - what's not to like? but beyond that the muffins were a bit boring. I feel like they needed some sort of texture in them - maybe nuts? maybe some prunes? something....

I probably wouldn't make these again without adding something to the batter but they weren't bad by any means.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

How in the world...

have I managed to collect so many crochet needles?

These past few days have been gray and dreary and we've been spending lots of time on the living room floor with various projects. In preparation for our upcoming move I'm doing lots of consolidating and organizing and today it was my knitting/crocheting supplies.

I finally pulled all my yarn and put it one place.

I pulled all my needles from their various locations and put them together and realized I have 5 size G hooks and absolutely no F hooks, what's with that? and I have only 2 needless of my set of 4 double pointed knitting needles, uh oh.

I think I need to get started on some crocheting and knitting projects don't I?

TWD: Split Level Pudding

This weeks Tuesday's With Dorie was Split Level Pudding chosen by Garret at Flavor of Vanilla - a simple vanilla pudding on top with a hidden bottom of chocolate ganache. Dorie offered a lot of variations you could do to spice up the vanilla pudding (mocha, rasberry, etc..) but I decided to just do the vanilla/chocolate combo. The recipe came together very quickly and was the quickest TWD I've done so far. It was a very simple dessert and yet, I managed to mess it up! The pudding was fine, my husband loved it and I was like "eh, it's pudding, whatever" but the ganache (that I've made so many times before) didn't come out the right texture at all! It just didn't get that shiny melted ganache-ness about it and so it was a little grainy in texture. Oh well. As you can see we didn't mind too much I don't think I would make this again really, maybe I'm just not a pudding person. I am however a ganache person, when done right it's delicious!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Beanbag Alphabet... a start

Inspired by Ashley over at Lil Blue Boo I started to make a beanbag alphabet for Q, or Patrick, or Sophia or Mateo... maybe one set for each. I started with Qais's name to see how the paint I have would work - it definitely bled. hrrm. not sure what to do about that. I might just keep these for Q and make a full alphabet on a fabric that needs less coats of the paint so it will be less likely to bleed.

I started filling them with northern beans, then ran out and moved onto pinto beans, then ran out and filled the last one with black beans. So in addition to being a good learning tool, when you're done with them you can make a nice soup!

Sunday, October 4, 2009


This has been my weekend so far. Working on lots of sewing projects I'll show very soon with a baby on a quilt next to me and usually a dog under foot.

I'm loving the weather and all the doors and windows have been open for days.