Friday, May 30, 2014

1 Pan (Summer) Brownie Bake!

The Headlines:

The start of summer means treats in our house!

This takes 1 pan, 5 minutes and some ice cream!



I call this a 1 Pan (Summer) Brownie Bake for one reason.  It's unofficially Summer right now and I'm making it during this time of year.  My kids are on Summer break yes… but, clearly, you could make this any time!  Here in Arizona, we're not that hot… yet.  It was like 95 degrees here yesterday and for us, during May, that could be considered chilly!  We get HOT here.  When we do, I try very hard to not bake too much - it's unavoidable at times - but we usually lean toward cold treats July, August and September.

The reason I share this one right now is simple - we're not at the heart of the Summer heat and for some reason it goes great with BBQ's, like the one we just held at our pad!  It's so easy, a 1 pan extraordinaire (that's right you make and bake the brownie in one "pan.." plus 2 little ol' bowls) AND there's ice cream involved!  When you're done… it looks like this!


Yea, these kind of treats pretty much floor my family every single time.  Stick ice cream on any WARM, gooey baked good and they are SOLD!  Simple and yummy, totally my style.

You need:
1/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 tblspns (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 heavy cream
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Alright, now do you have 5 minutes to spare?  If you don't, do NOT attempt this recipe as you need like a whole 5-6 minutes to do it.  Preheat your oven to 350.  In a large bowl whisk together sugar and eggs.  In another bowl, whisk cocoa, flour and salt.  Then in a medium, ovenproof non-stick skillet (have one of those?  If not, you may have to use 2 pans - sorry)  bring butter and cream to a simmer over medium heat and add chocolate.  Reduce to low.  Stir until chocolate had melted.  It's quick!  Remove from heat and let cool.  Add pan mixture to sugar mixture and whisk, then add flour mixture and pour back into the pan you just used.  It will be thick.  You have to kind of "style" it - if that makes sense.

Because what you see it what you get.  It bakes just how you leave it, i.e.: swirls and all!  Which, to me, looks cool!  It doesn't settle much, look below, see what I mean?

Bake for about 30-35 minutes.  I don't like brownies overcooked!

They always bake more when they come out of the oven too.  You can make sure they're done by using a toothpick - stick it in and out - clean means done!  Sometimes I take them out with just a little goo on the toothpick.  That's just the way I like them!  Anyways, then scoop and serve these babies right from the skillet!


Add some ice cream and caramel or chocolate sauce and you're in there like swim wear!  See, perfect for the start of our un-official Summer season!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Make Child's Art your Own!

The Headlines:

I love it when my kids bring home art.

They love it when I show it.

The kitchen fridge is not an option.




The other day was the last day of my son's first pre-school experience.  He started when he was two and came out a man!  No no no no.  But he is much better off.  He brings home art work from his school almost every week which he is so proud of!   He always asks me to hang it up.  I have a magnetic chalk board in the kitchen where I do display it from time to time.  Now, from this blog, if you're one of the 5-7 people reading it, you may know I am not the type to put school art all over my fridge.  No way, it's just not happening.  But because I am ever so proud of his work… I would love to display it in a more subtlety, cool, desert cottage chic way!

Therefore, when he brought home this:

Before
not only did I truly think it was super cool looking but it matched perfectly with my summer decor look!  Which is white with turquoise splashed everywhere.   I turned it into this:

After 
which is just a frame around the art and I love it!
Now it sits on our mantle and works perfectly with the summer fun look I created around the house!  No, the beach ball is not part of that… it just somehow landed there.


Clearly, this is something we can all do!  Take a particularly cool thing your child has done this last school year and highlight it.  Here's the deal:  we all know that kids are so proud of their school accomplishments.  Displaying their work makes them feel like it and they matter more.  My hope is, creating a special home for his will make him even more proud.  The goal, is to pick out certain "works of art" from his (and my daughters) repertoire during their school lives.  Then display them appropriately, throughout, yes, the seasons… and years.  (I already have my eye on something Savannah this year that is perfect for Spring!)  In the end, I believe they will remember this little "ritual" forever.  And frankly, so will I!

Here's to the education journey Hudson is beginning... God help us all learn something through the adventure!

Last Day of School with Teacher!


Friday, May 23, 2014

The Pear-tini

The Headlines:


School's out!

We (moms) are ready to Party! 

Make this yummy yum drink!



Summer.   Long lazy days.  Pool time.  Don't set the alarm clock.  Travel.  Movies.  Fun Cocktails!  For me, not the kids.  Yea, I'm ready for it.  If you are too - make this!

Pear-tini!

So, the story on this drink goes something like this… I just had my daughter.  She was a few months old and I found a drink recipe that looked soooo good!  Now, since I had been cocktail free for like a year I asked BP (my sweet husband) to go get the goods to make this drink.  He did it.  Bless his heart.  Then, on some unassuming weekend he made the drink I was so craving… and... I hated it.  Like it was so bad.  Way to much alcohol taste in it - I couldn't stand it.   Yes, I know, One Picky Chick!  Anyways, I didn't have the heart to toss it because he went through a lot of trouble to make the dog gone thing!  I put it in the fridge overnight.  The next day it occurred to me that I had an uber ripe organic pear in the fridge since I had begun feeding it to my daughter.  So I had an idea… why don't we mush that puppy up and throw it in the drink.  Add some ice, shake it, put some sugar on the rim, add some more ice and try it again.  Voila.  I was on to something.

So began my notion:  you HAVE to have fresh ingredients in order to take a cocktail from good (or in this case - just okay) to great!!!

I like to serve this drink in the Spring or early Summer.  For some reason, late mid to summer always just screams MARGARITA to me.  Yes, I know, I'm weird.  I truly do eat, drink, decorate and live my life according to the season.  It's kinda like the people who store their coats and boots for the winter and vice versa for the summer with their bikinis and shorts.  No one looks at them cross eyed!  Anyways, BP made this for me as my special Mother's Day time out.

Let's get started.

For one drink, you'll need:
Pear, that's pretty ripe, use almost half  - plus thin, pretty slices as a garnish
1 1/2 oz Grey Goose La Poire (or you can use normal vodka but this GG takes it up a notch)
3/4 oz Limoncello
3/4 oz Ginger Liqueur - we use Domain De Canton
1/2 oz Simple Syrup or Agave Nectar
1 oz Orange Juice (medium or no pulp)
Pear Sugar (yes, I found this, but you can use whatever type of sugar rimier you want)

Take your glass and use a lime to make the rim of glass wet, then dip into sugar.  Let dry for at least half hour before you fill the glass with ice.
Put pear into shaker and muddle.  Then add all the liquid ingredients and shake vigorously.


Put some ice into the glass that you previously rimmed.  Then pour and garnish!  Yum!


You will love it.  For the record, I only put stand out, kick butt recipes on this little blog o' mine.  I'll explain:  for Easter we had my parents over and made, what I thought was going to be a blog worthy drink.  This Honeydew Melon Martini.  Below.

Honeydew Melon Martini

It was not good enough.  We even used fresh Honeydew in it.  I love Honeydew!  But no.  It was okay… it just didn't pass my "Picky Chick Test!"  Okay, doesn't cut it around here.

This baby, on the other hand, is far above okay.   Make it, you'll love it!


Yep, I am ready for Summer.  Until next week, when I'm ready to send them back to school!





Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Majoring in MOM

The Headlines:


BP (the husband) was asked to speak at our local Alumni event.

I was asked to be the hostess.

Is is that OK?

You bet.



I am a stay at home mom.  I am a wife - a, cough, chef.  I am a decorator.  An occasional party planner.  I am One Picky Chick.  I am very important to the people who matter in my life.  But I am no longer bringing home a weekly pay check.  It is, therefore, a fact… in some worlds and some minds... I matter - not.  And today I can say, with pure certainty, that is totally okay.

This, I found out recently.

My husband and I met many years ago at a University in Southern California.  Loyola Marymount.  It's a relatively small private, Jesuit (Catholic) school that's pretty pricey.  My parents struggled to send me there and when they did they thought it was one of the best decisions of their lives.  They felt the school would do everything possible to make me successful.  I took full advantage of the opportunities they had available to me.  I did not squander my years there, living off my parents generosity, oh no!  Instead, I did work study on campus all 4 years, had multiple internships, made great grades (Dean's List) won some small scholarships, was captain of the cheerleading squad and I did NOT "party!"  I was there to figure out what I was going to do with the rest of my life and it was serious business to me.  Don't get me wrong, I had some fun but that was not my first objective.

It occurred to me, while at LMU, and doing an internship at the local NBC affiliate, KNBC, that I wanted to be a television journalist.  I loved telling stories, meeting people, speaking and listening - it all came natural to me.  The job covered those things and more.  It was perfect for me.  I am thankful to Loyola for helping me find it.  It was a true blessing.  But so was this… while at the school, during the same (Junior) year I met my eventual profession… I also met my future husband.

Now, of course, after spending such an exorbitant amount on school,  I was not going to whittle it away with an early marriage… so even though I met the man I thought I would eventually marry… I dove right in to broadcasting.  I worked, on air, for about 18 years-ish in Washington, California and Arizona.  Of course, it's the kind of job where people recognize you and yes, I've had my share of double takes, mean emails (your skirt's too short) and free appetizers along the way.  Through the years, BP (the husband) was always supportive of me.  I liked what I did but it became clear, after some time in the "biz" that I knew I only wanted to take it so far.  I did not want to travel the world or live in New York City.  I had more important business.  After  marriage, homes and kids - that became glaringly obvious.  So I made a choice.  I became a stay at home mom.

Now, during that time climbing the career ladder, BP (the husband) was also climbing his… he was doing rather well at it too.  Not to get too detailed but he's in sales.  In fact, he's now a Senior Vice President at his company and I couldn't be more proud.  But because of the demands of his job, he was dying for me to quit and I was right there with him.  When I did, after my second child in 2011, a weight lifted from us all and we took a huge breath of fresh air.  Hanging up the microphone was tough but to continue talking would have been more difficult.  I was good with my decision and I have not regretted it for one second.  I will never get this back and I'm having the time of my life.

Fast forward to 2014 and I get an email from my University.  It's the Alumni Association.  They are asking myself and BP if we will help with a local Panel Discussion and Networking Event entitled "View from the Top."  Wow.  Cool, I think.  But as I read on, I start to giggle.  Yes, indeed… they want BP (the husband) to BE on the panel and they want me…
to be the hostess at the front door!


I was cracking up.  How my life has changed!  I was no longer getting recognized the way I used to… at such an event.  Now, if I was still a working television journalist, I too, could have been asked to join the panel.  But no more.  I was not upset.  Not on the least.  These days, I know my audience better than ever.  It is no longer through the wide lens of a television camera.  It is in front of me at the breakfast bar every morning and beside me in bed at night.  It is an audience and a role I have been prepping for all my life.  Loyola Marymount made it possible to be a broadcaster but more importantly,  a stay at home mother.

Is that going backwards for "women's libbers?"  I think not.  I woke up this morning and turned on my old news station.  I saw a reporter at a forest fire (with my old photographer) in the high country.   If I was still working, I would be there.  Instead, I am right where I need to be.  You see, I, myself, made a choice.  No one did it for me.  That makes me feel more powerful than ever.   THAT is a true "View From the Top…"

Now, BP did take part in the event.  I, however, was unable to be a greeter at the door.  My new job would not let me have the night off… but he came home and told me about it.  He said, when he introduced himself, he talked briefly about me.  He explained (to me, at home) it made him a little upset that LMU wouldn't recognize the value of MY job.  But I told him - it's really ok - parents send their kids to a University of that cost and caliber - not to be a stay at home mom.  They send them so that they may find a path towards successful, high paying jobs.   He is a good example of that.  I am an example of what comes after that.  In my eyes, my job is a reward, that fortunately does not have to be earned via an expensive University.   Women everywhere can do what I do.  Thank God for that.


Now, ironically, in my case - I did go to an expensive University to find my current occupation.  Loyola Marymount, essentially, introduced me to my husband and television broadcasting.  So, in the end, my parents were right (as they almost always are)… LMU did everything they could to make me successful.  In more ways than one.



Monday, May 19, 2014

Sides to Savor!

The Headlines:


These are 2 recipes you can NOT ignore!

I'm putting them here for your benefit… and mine.



One of the reasons I started this blog, honestly, was purely selfish.  I wanted to take all of my best recipes, ideas, decor and put them in one place.  Where I could easily find them.  I'm probably not the most organized when it comes to storing my stuff… but here I can easily search and find.  Not to mention, when I'm old and decrepit… my children can look back and see what we did... through this blog.  It's like my diary.  But it's not private.

That's kind of for that reason I write this post.  These are 2 of my favorite sides of ALL TIME.  Neither of them original, I might add.  The Tuscan Kale Salad is from a local Arizona Restaurant called True Foods.  The other, French "Fried" Smashed Potatoes, a recipe my friend gave me years ago from The Pioneer Woman.  I think she has her own show on the Food Network now.  Anyways, you just can't go wrong with either of them so you're welcome in advance.  Best part, they're almost impossible to screw up (which is so very easy for me to do)!

First, the French "Fried" Smashed Potatoes.  Please note, this is not the best picture… I forgot to take pictures when the dish was fresh out of the oven.  Complete brain hiccup.  I have them all the time.

French "Fry" Potatoes

This is what you need:
small potatoes, any kind
EVOO
salt & pepper
chives or rosemary, oregano or whichever fresh herb is handy

This is what you do:
Bring a medium sized pot of salted water to a boil.
Stick in the potatoes (as many as you want).
Heat oven to 450.
Boil them until they're super soft (you can stick a knife through them).
Take a cookie sheet and dribble lots of olive oil on it.
Smash each potato with a potato masher.


Then take more olive oil and "paint" it on with a pastry brush.
Sprinkle LOTS of salt over them, a little pepper and those herbs.
Shove 'em in the oven for about 30 minutes.
Then switch your oven to broil mode for about 5 more minutes to crisp up the tops a little more without burning the bottoms.
They are major good.  Add ketchup and the kids can't get enough.  For adults, sometimes no ketchup is necessary!
Again, picture not doing it justice!


Next up, this Tuscan Kale Salad.

Tuscan Kale Salad
So simple and pretty and the taste is off the hook.  Heathy too!  And here's the deal:  I always make as much as I possibly can because if I have leftovers - get this - it lasts!  The kale is so tough, the dressing "wilts" the lettuce just enough (it's still crispy believe it or not) and it lasts for days!  Hello lunch!

This is what you need:
1/2 cup EVOO
1/4 cup lemon juice
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
large pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt
14 oz Tuscan Kale
1/2 cup of shaved parmesan plus a little more
2 pieces of wheat bread (optional)

This is what you do:
Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper flakes in a large bowl.  I usually buy 2 bags of Tuscan Kale which equals about 20 ounces.  But you want to rip all the tough/wide "veins" of the lettuce out which means, after that, I'm probably left with, about 18 ounces of edible kale.  So when I make this salad I usually inflate the dressing ingredients a tad.  Meaning, instead of just 1/2 cup of EVOO… I throw in another 1/4 cup of olive oil, another 1/8 cup of lemon juice,  2 extra cloves of garlic, another pinch of red pepper… and so on.  It just means I'll have those leftovers I told ya about!

Anyhow, once you're done ripping the lettuce apart you dump all of it in that large bowl where you made your dressing.  Add the 1/2 cup of parmesan and mix together!  Leave it sit for 30 minutes, then refrigerate.  During this time you can toast the bread.  If you choose.  Some prefer this dish without.  Up to you, it certainly makes this dish even easier if you skip the bread crumbs!  But if you're into it: spray olive oil or butter those babies and toast until they're pretty crispy.  Once they're done, crumble directly in the salad.  Add a little more parm before you serve and done.

The picture below was taken 3 days after it was made… but still a fresh, lemony burst of kale goodness in every bite!


I also love the fact that you can make this far in advance of your function.  When planning a dinner/party/BBQ... there's always so much to do, any relief is appreciated!

So enjoy - eat and be merry - these sides are meant to savor!

Watch my LIVE Periscope on this fabulous SALAD!



Friday, May 16, 2014

Don't say Sorry - Just Don't Do it.

The Headlines:

Words can mean nothing.  

Actions often speak more.

So in my house we have a saying.



Kids do things wrong.  If you have children, you already know that.  If you don't… I suspect you too are aware of that fact too.  But somewhere around, I don't know, age 2 or 3, when kids do something wrong they have been taught - by parents, teachers and care givers everywhere - to say… "sorry".  They think if they say that one little word… it will get them off the hook for whatever they did.  Hit someone: sorry.  Dump sugar out of a canister that was sitting on the counter:  sorry.  Ride a bike through the neighbors beautiful flower bed: sorry.  Go #2 in his pants because he didn't want to stop playing:  sorry.  Thank God most of those things didn't happen to me… but all real possibilities!   Yes, it was about that time when we started a saying here in our house:

"Don't say sorry, just don't do it."

It began with my daughter, when I grew incredibly tired of hearing the "I'm sorry" accompanied by the long, sad face and sometimes tears, over something that was clearly wrong to do.  She knew it was wrong.  She did it anyways.  Then she was genuinely sorry.   Or was she?  Maybe she had just learned the code word for getting off the hook.  I decided to teach her, through one phrase… just because you say you're sorry doesn't mean everything's okay.  I would rather they think about the behavior and stop it before hand.  Then, sorry isn't necessary.

I know what you're thinking... she was 3 years old.  A lesson somewhat lost on that age but a lesson that needs to be taught nonetheless.  In fact, perhaps not enough of us ever learned this… which has made us worse off as adults.  So why not start young?  How many times have you done something, as an adult, you wished you could take back?  I want to try to instill in my children that the actions they take speak miles - but the words, while powerful, can sometimes fall flat.

I have a friend whose currently going through a rough time in her marriage.  Her husband has done awful things which include, but are not limited to his psychological issues, abuse and affairs.  He has said sorry for many years.  He has made the sad face, cried, confessed and promised up and down.  But in the end, sorry wasn't enough. The words no longer held any weight but his actions were screaming very loudly.  She could no longer stand for it.  She and her children deserved more.  She has decided to leave him.  In the end, sorry did nothing.

These days, when my 3 year old son does something wrong, the big lip goes down and the tears start flowing… it is truly the saddest face you've ever seen… see below?  It gets even better than that too!



He woefully cries "I'm sorry mama… I'm waaaaay sorry!"  and, sometimes, most times, I calmly reply "don't say sorry…" while my daughter finishes…"JUST DON'T DO IT!"


It's a lesson that will take a lifetime to learn.





Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Tile Trauma!

The Headlines:


I love to remodel.

Sometimes I make mistakes.

It's fixing them that's the challenge!



Hold on… let me catch my breath.   I've been breathing in a bag off and on ever since we did the tile in our kids bathrooms last week.

Okay, got it… enough air to tell the story.  Remodeling is tough.  It's a lot of time, work and money.  SO screwing it up is not really an option.  If you have done it or are doing it, you know exactly what I mean.  Here's the thing: if you don't hire a decorator and it doesn't come out right, then you have no one to blame but yourself.  That's exactly what happened to me last week.

I had an idea of how I wanted the bathroom floors to look.  But since I do not have access to European Old World brick… I went to our local Daltile and they showed me their closest option.  I thought it would work.  It did not.  This is what my son's and daughter's bathrooms looked like before.
Before 

Before



















You know the look, that old white, creamy large 90's type tile.  That ship sailed a loooong time ago.  We were due into a new dock!

Sticking with my "Desert Cottage" style… I have wood floors in the rest of the house… however, I thought, for kids bathrooms, we need tile.  When I saw the tile I was concerned right away… it was darker than the samples.  The contrast was vast.  Not the look I hoped to accomplish.  Now, I  have had experience with this situation many times.  But I always forget: the samples rarely look like the actual product.  Why?  I don't know, time, different dye lots.  Whatever.  It's annoying.  In my first house I actually got complimentary garage cabinets out of the deal.  The kitchen cabinets were so non-representative of the sample I was ready to have them taken out.  Until they did full garage cabinets for me - for free.  I knew I wasn't going to die in that kitchen - I'd get the cabinets right in my next house  (and yay - I did)!

Anyhow, so back to the tile… I just said, go for it… maybe it will look better when it's on the floor.  I then started on my busy day.  On this day, I had multiple things, on many levels to do, classroom Mother's Day Party, exercise walk (priorities… better bootie!), grab my husband's car from the shop, pick up my son from school, grocery shop (this was imperative)… and all the while I was thinking… I need to get back to take a look at that floor!!!  When I did, I saw this:

Middle
Middle

my stomach sank to the top of my toes.
This was not at all how I wanted it to look.  Just as I suspected, there was too much contrast.  It was like a checker board on steroids.  I felt like I was in the middle of one of those Million Dollar Decorator shows.  Not that my remodeling is costing that much but they always have major traumas on that show.  It's a good one by the way, I hope they come back for another season.


So what was I to do?  I called the owner of the flooring company and he tried to talk me off the ledge saying whenever people put 4 colors together it always looks really cool.  Yea, I wasn't buying that.  I had made a mistake and I knew it.  Even though the tile/brick you see above was affixed to the concrete - I had to do something.  Myself and the lead guy went to work.  Using more, but not all, of the dark tile in one bathroom… and more of the light tile in the other.   We came up with this...

Middle Part 2
Middle Part 2

It was better but still not there.  Meantime, by the way, I was bugging BP (the husband) as he was swinging some sticks on a major golf course in North Carolina… thankfully he was being kind, helpful and calming.  But I was still walking around my house like a caged animal.

Until I made this decision… put all the dark tiles in the boy bathroom and all the light tiles in the girl bathroom.  That would work.  Especially since I have plans to get the rest of the bathrooms (cabinets, fixtures and countertops) installed… next year, I think?  Yes, the floors were first.  I held my breath, they scraped the tiles off the concrete and away we went.

Almost Finished



Almost Finished 


I knew, even though it wasn't finished, it was the right decision.  It went well with the dark woods floors just outside the boy bathroom and the light floors outside the girls.  Phew.  I started pacing less.







After the grout was put in and the baseboard went up.  I was happy.  It was going to be okay.  My plans are to do dark cabinets in here… (boy bathroom)

After
After
 White cabinets in here, girl bathroom.  It will all come together then...
After

After
Crisis averted.  But just barely.  If I had stayed away a little longer, it may have been too late to re-work anything!  Lesson learned.  Watch the work being done.  Make sure it looks like you want it to and if it doesn't SPEAK UP!  And don't EVER EVER screw up again.  Ever.

Monday, May 12, 2014

O-R-E-O Cookie. Cake.

The Headlines:

America's favorite cookie in cake form.

Enough said.



I'm sure all of you celebrated Mother's Day, in some shape or form, yesterday.  Be it receiving.  Or giving.  Some did both.  In our household, it's always about both.  Of course, we send the cards to our moms but since they live in California and we are located in Arizona, it's not that much of a shared day.  For that reason.  But for our family there is a different reason this mom has to share the glory.  BP (the husband) was born on Mother's Day.  Mmmmm-hmmmm.  He has spent many many years of sharing the glory with his mom.  He's probably a bit bitter.  Because now… he has to share it with me.  So, we try to separate the two, and we do our best, but it's hard.

For many - mom making a cake on Mother's Day weekend would seem… ironic.  But for me, it will always be…  no worries, I get to eat it too!  This is what I chose to make him this year.  Think of it as one gigantic Oreo cookie.


That is a cake. Cookie.  Cake. Cookie-cake. Anyways whatever you call it, if that doesn't have your mouth watering for milk I don't know what will!

Here's the thing.  I'm not super big on cake.  But give me a cake with an ultra light, whipped cream frosting and I AM SOLD!  This has that.  Yum.  By the way, this is not that hard or time consuming but there are a few steps to it.  You won't spend your whole afternoon on it… just some of it.

Here's what you need:
Cake:
1 3/4 cups flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs, room temp
1 1/4 cups buttermilk  (I always make buttermilk by adding 1 tblspn of vinegar to a cup of regular milk - it's cheaper)

Heat oven to 350 and coat 2, 8 inch round cake pans, with nonstick cooking spray and dust flour (shaking excess off) so cake won't stick.

In a medium sized bowl, mix flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt until well blended.  Set aside.  In a large bowl, with mixer on medium speed, beat butter, sugar and vanilla for 3 minutes until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time beating well after each.  Then, on low speed, beat a little flour mixture into butter mixture, and a little buttermilk, keep going back and forth - beginning and ending with flour.   Consistency will be almost mousse like.  See?


Divide batter between 2 pans.  Bake for about 30 minutes - test with tooth pick - should come out clean.  Once finished, take out and cool in pans.  Use knife around edges to loosen and when they come out, fully cool cakes on wire racks.

Filling:
4 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
16 oz powdered sugar
8 crushed Oreo cookies

In a large bowl, mix cream cheese and butter on medium speed.  Add powdered sugar and milk gradually.  When fully mixed and a creamy consistency… take cakes, if cooled, and cut each in half with a serrated knife.  One of my cakes was too precarious and I did not cut it in half.  Instead, used the while thing for my bottom layer.  It was fine.  Now, lay first layer down on the cake stand and frost.  Sprinkle some Oreo crumbs over it, not too many,  remember, you're doing this several times!  Continue to do this until last layer is on top, cut side down.  It will look like a gigantic triple stuffed Oreo!  Put it in the fridge to set for at least 20 minutes.  I left mine over night (in an airtight container so it didn't dry out) and frosted it the next day.


Frosting:
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
8 crushed Oreo cookies

This is the really good part!  In a large bowl, with your mixer on high… beat heavy cream, sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form.  Frost cake.  Like I said, I love this frosting, so I put a lot on but I still had some leftover (for my morning coffee) mmmmmmm is this stuff good!  Sooooo much better than that store bought spray crap!   Plus, it's so pretty and you don't have to get it perfect.  The messy look is "in" for this cake!

Once finished, sprinkle the rest of your Oreo cookie crumbs on top, on the side, or wherever you want them to go!  I also had some of these left over… perfect to top off an upcoming ice cream topper!!  Voila!


This is a good cookie.  I mean, cake.  Well,  cookie cake - cake cookie, whatever, it's going to make the people who eat it, happy!

BP liked it.  On his birthday.  Of course, he liked it again, on Mother's Day.  Another shared Birthday/Mother's Day weekend success.  You know, they say, the best things in life are worth sharing.  Wait, do they really say that?  No, I think I just made that up.  But… they are…

Happy Boy Who Shared!





Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Turn a Door into a Table

The Headlines:


I like to re-purpose. 

But I don't like lame re-purposing.

You won't see a bathtub in my yard as a planter.

But you will see this…



Yep, that's a door.  On its back.  With glass on top of it.  So we now call it a table.


It all started when we built our first house.  We had an extra door.  I think it's because we changed the original plan and added french doors to our office instead of this plain old solid core door that was supposed to be there.  But we kept the door.  Hmmmm what to do with it?

My idea was to turn it into an outdoor table.  It was real long (tall) so it could accommodate 10 people and I knew it could look cool.  Not your run of the mill "outdoor table."  BP (the husband) liked the idea too and knew it was a relatively simple task so it was off to work!  He went to Home Depot and they cut him the wood he needed to make the base.


He then screwed it together and attached it as you can see above.  Easy as pie, he said.  Wait, pie can be hard to make.  Easy as baking a cake from a box!  Which I really hate doing by the way.  Next, he painted it to match the white color of the door.  That's where I came in.  I started making calls to local shops to find who could supply me with the glass.  I found a place that did it for around $150.  They also came out and attached it with that rubber stuff.  See?
We did make one major mistake.  While we sealed the outer ledge, like you see above, we did forget to seal this…

The door knob space.  Which means little bugs have gotten under the glass and well, you know, they never leave.  Super appetizing to see!   But we overlook it and it's fine.  However, you may not want to make the same mistake!  

We've been using our door table for years now… and everyone comments on it.  The number one problem I need to address in the very near future is the lame chairs that "go with it"…. their actually just chairs that were left in a house that BP bought years ago!  I recovered them and stuck them outside.  They've been their ever since!  Seriously, under my patio for 10 years now!  It's really time to retire them.

Maybe this summer I'll try to look for some.  Along with finishing my formal living room, play/guest room, my closet plus remodeling my shower/bath, putting tile in the kids bathrooms and the 5 other things we still want to do in 2014.   Yea, I'll get on that soon.   

I know I didn't go into detail about the exact way we made the table so if you have any questions about it, make sure to ask!  Then, I'll ask BP and get you the answer!  



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Monday, May 5, 2014

Mother's Day is Everyday

The Headlines:


The official Mother's Day is this Sunday.

That means nothing to me.

Because every day means much more.





As I write this, it's 7:30 in the morning and my house is silent.  Not typical.  But sooner than later it will be.  It will be quiet every morning.  Because this precious time is so fleeting, in the blink of an eye it will be gone.

I am a mom.  That chapter of my life started back in 2006 when I was ready and up for the task.  It's a hard job and I don't get paid much in cash but I would consider myself one of the richest persons in the world.

Mother's Day is May 11th this year and while I know it is the designated day for sons and daughters, husbands and even pets to pay a bit more attention to the one who keeps their family fun bus running like a well oiled machine.. no fuss is needed here.

Why?  Because I love my job and Mother's "Day" is every day to me.  Some of them good ("dance with me mommy"), some of them gross (cleaning throw up all over my bed sheets last night) but all - worth it.

When my daughter was a baby I got stopped by people all the time because she had this porcelain skin with very dark hair - which meant lots of admirers.  It was about this time, that random people would also adoringly throw in "it goes so fast…"  If you're a mom (or dad for that matter), you know exactly what I mean because it's happened to you too, right?  Remember this scenario?  An older man or woman, looking upon you graciously, smiling and saying, "it'll be over before you know it…"  and then you spouting back some smart aleck comment like "that's the hope!" Yep, in that check out line it happens time and time again because people have nothing better to do.  So they watch, admire and remember.

It wasn't until years later that I no longer wanted to sarcastically comment back to those people.  In fact, I was starting to become them.  I now longingly looked at the newborns since my little lady had grown into a toddler.  It was at that time it began to dawn on me.  Those people were right.  It does go way too fast.  Your baby becomes a preschooler and then a third grader, high schooler and soon they're off to college.  You watched it all and may have even wished some of it away.  But now, it's just gone.  

Yes, I'm getting ahead of myself.  My days aren't gone for good yet.  My kids are still little for now.  But I do think about the years that already seem to race by.  I count the birthdays until my first born will no longer live at home.  And I think about how life will change when my son no longer needs me, exclusively, to take him to bed.  Because those days are numbered like all the rest!


For there is only one first haircut.

 Only one time your daughter will get her ears pierced (at least for mine)!!!


Hopefully, only one black eye from your 2 year old son (not on purpose)!  And by the way, it was even worse in person!

There is only one first snow fall…


And one first Halloween costume but, thankfully, many Halloweens to go...


There are still many sleepy car trips ahead...


There are lots of big smiles to make…


but keep them close to your heart.  Wish for longer days not shorter.  Play with your children while they still want you to and pay attention to small things.  They often matter more than the big… because soon enough bath time water fights will stop.  Your back will no longer hurt with the words "mama hold me" and you will no longer be asked "what's for dinner?" at breakfast.  Those days will be replaced with long, hot showers.  Back massages without having to schedule a sitter.  And actually eating dinner at breakfast, if you choose.  Once it's gone, it's gone for good.  So while it's here make every day your Mother's "Day."  That's what I intend to do. 

Ahhhhh… now, that's what I like to hear… the pitter patter of tiny footsteps heading down the hallway.  The start of a new adventure awaits.