Monday, December 27, 2010

Food & Pictures

I have just a few more photos to share from our holiday celebrations. These are the kids with some good friends at our Christmas Eve dinner. Posing nicely of course.

Santa brought Porter a skateboard for Christmas, and Bryce took the kids to the skate park the next day to try it out. He is acting the part, but discovered that standing up on a skateboard is not as easy as it looks.

Molly thought the skate park was a fantastic playground too.

And here we are, decorating Christmas cookies for Santa. And us. And maybe eating a little frosting along the way.

Along with all the celebrating, I have actually been cooking a lot! Just not posting about it. So here goes:

Christmas Day we had Cinnamon Rolls and boiled eggs for breakfast. Yum. For dinner, we had a Venison Pot Roast (I modified this recipe a bit as my roast was small) with Potatoes, Buttered Cabbage (oh how I love cabbage, cooking it this way leaves a little crunch and is so, so good), and Cooked Apples. It was lovely.

We've also been working on our freezer supply of seafood lately, and I have to admit to getting a little tired of salmon fillets. Poor me, right? Anyway, we've had a couple of new salmon meals that have been good for changing things up. Grandma Allison made a Salmon Risotto while she was here that was absolutely delicious. I don't have an exact recipe, but it involved white wine, chicken stock, lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, and stirring in the cooked salmon at the end. I'll have to experiment with that one again. And last night I made Southwestern Style Salmon Cakes. They were great for dinner, and tasty again today as a lunch time sandwich.

Southwestern Salmon Cakes
adapted from a Cook's Illustrated recipe

4 cups flaked cooked salmon
1/2 large red bell pepper, chopped fine
1 cup frozen (and thawed) or fresh corn
1 4 oz can chopped green chiles
1/4 cup onion, minced
3 tablespoons minced cilantro
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 eggs
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup panko (or more breadcrumbs)
vegetable oil for frying

Mix all ingredients (except oil and panko) together in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. You can add more (or spicier) chiles if you like, this is very mild. Amounts are approximate, depending on the fish, you don't want the mixture too wet. Form the mixture into patties, and carefully coat with the panko or extra breadcrumbs. Heat oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat, and fry the patties on both sides until browned and crispy. Drain on paper towels and serve hot, with lemon wedges if desired.

And as a final note regarding the guitar cake. I got this awesome tutorial for it here. I make my own cake and frosting, but otherwise just follow the directions. I have made three of these cakes, and they always turn out. I have no skills in cake decorating without some serious help, and this site has been great.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

I am feeling very lucky and blessed today with my small (but expanding) family here in the Far North, our generous and much missed family Down South, and our fantastic friends near and far. We have had a wonderful holiday, and I am hoping that all of you can say the same. Merry Christmas from our family to yours.

Friday, December 24, 2010


On Wednesday Porter turned five years old. My sweet baby boy, my first born, my only son, I can't believe he is growing up so fast. We had fun celebrating at home with tacos and a guitar cake (his request). Happy Birthday P-man! We love you.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cowee Meadow

During the past few days, we've had a short but very sweet visit from Grandma Allison. She was graced with some fantastic winter weather here in the Far North (cold, but lots of sunshine), so we decided to spend the night in another public use cabin way out in the woods. Grandma was a great sport, and we really had a great time. The trail was not too long (2.5 miles to the cabin), and relatively flat, but it was still a gargantuan effort with two small children and all the needed camping items. We had to reconfigure different combinations of kids on skis, kids in sleds, kids in backpacks, walking kids, unwilling dogs pulling sleds and the like before we got there.

There was definitely some of this...

And with me being pregnant, Bryce had to shoulder a vast majority of the burden.
But we made it! And we got the cabin warm. And we spent a lovely night playing Uno by lantern light and eating hot dogs and marshmallows cooked over the wood stove. A good time was had by all.

And a small side note, that I know Bryce finds as funny as I do: When we arrived home the next day, we all showered and prepared to go out for pizza. As we were leaving, Bryce couldn't find his wallet. We spent the night and next morning searching through all of the camping gear, the car, all over the house, recounting the wallet's last moments, etc. We finally decided that he'd left it at the cabin. Ugh. He went out there the very next day, skied all the way back, didn't find it, and skied home again. A nice 4 hour trip (it's a little faster without kids). He came home very tired and bummed that he really wasn't going to find the wallet. And then? I found it. In a craaaaaazy place. On the table by the front door. But hey, Bryce is really getting in good shape.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Slightly Better

So it wasn't all horrible after all...

Even if Molly found something much more appealing to focus on off camera every time.

And an update: We gave her back the pacifier. For the love of God. I couldn't take it any more. As far as I'm concerned, she can suck on that thing until she goes off to college. We all need some sleep right now while we can still get it.

Grandma Allison is here visiting, I took my final exam for my online class (so that's over, thank goodness), Porter had his last day of school before the break, we had his 5th birthday party (a smashing success), and we are almost all geared up for Christmas. We are also camping out at a forest service cabin on Sunday night, and there is going to be a lunar eclipse (with predicted clear skies). Excitement and holiday cheer all around.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Round Up

I've had all these things I wanted to post about, and I just feel like time is getting away and I'm not going to make it in any detail any time soon. So to recap...

The other day Molly pulled a dresser down on herself. This is one of those childproofing things you read about in What To Expect When You're Expecting. And you think, oh right, that's awful, I'll totally do that. Except I never really thought about it again. Until, ugh, I was in the bathroom and heard one of those WAY too loud to be good noises. Heard Bryce running up the stairs. Found Molly pinned underneath my toppled over dresser. Scared me half to death. Luckily, she is fine, not even a bruise. It's sort of hard to believe that something that heavy wouldn't hurt her, but she does have a really hard head. And I'm hoping this cures her of the need to climb furniture.

Also, on the topic of Molly and awful things. We finally took away her pacifier. She had only been using it to sleep, but man was she addicted to it. She loved that thing. When we took Porter's away long ago, he had a couple bad nights, but overall it went well. I think it's been almost two weeks now, and she is still screaming when you put her to bed, needing to be rocked to sleep, waking up in the middle of the night (again with the rocking), taking short naps, and generally being over tired and driving me insane. Yikes. I don't want to give her the pacifier back, but this just sucks. Both Bryce and I are sort of regretting this parenting choice. Why did we feel this need to take it away? Why?

Porter's 5th birthday party is on Sunday, and he is way too excited. This is the first time he's had a party with friends, and he knows what it's all about. Which is friendship and camaraderie, right? Ahem.

Tonight the boys are out camping, and after Molly (finally) went to bed, I had a crazy chocolate craving. With which we had nothing to satisfy. I thought about making brownies, but it was already late. And then I remembered this email I got forever ago about chocolate cake you could make in a mug in the microwave in 3 minutes. I googled. It. Was. Awesome. Especially the bottom, where I think all the chocolate chips sunk to. There are a ton of recipes out there, but I went with this.

And now I will leave you with two Santa photo outtakes. There are good ones somewhere, and I will post those soon. But these are really better. The second one was taken at a local newspaper, they were free and the way you access your photo is to go online to their website (where all the Santa photos are posted). So this photo is on the internet forever now. Thanks a lot Capital City Weekly. I figure my dignity is already gone, so I may as well post it here too.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


The fever pitch of Christmas has descended upon our house. Last weekend, we ventured out in awful weather to procure our holiday tree. We have no short supply of trees around these parts, so we continued our tradition of finding a tree in the forest. We trend toward the Charlie Brown style usually, and this year I think we found a great specimen. Success! You can also tell by the look on Porter's face that he almost can't take the anticipation anymore.

I'm Cooking: I've made two halibut chowders over the past couple of weeks. They are very different, but both excellent. Halibut Bisque from the Fiddlehead Cookbook, and Halibut Sweet Potato Chowder. Great dishes for a cold winter night.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Bryce, that is. Because, it's a GIRL. I'm so excited.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

And then...

Life has been busy, again, still. We had a fabulous Thanksgiving with friends that I have absolutely no decent pictures of. I brined my turkey this year, which is definitely the way to go. I wrote my first paper in about a decade for my online Lifespan Development class. I was kind of intimidated at first, but it really wasn't that bad. I did all my Christmas shopping over the weekend and got to go to a fabulous local craft show with two girlfriends and NO kids. We received our first decent snowfall (a bit late this year), and everything is beautiful and white and looks a lot like Christmas.

We even managed to get a holiday card picture with the timer setting on the camera, and everyone (even the dog) is looking. Even if I do have a big forehead hat mistake. I'll take it. Work on the tree house continues. Next up is the hanging bridge.

I'm 20 weeks pregnant now. Halfway done! The big ultrasound is scheduled for this coming Monday, and the debate is still raging on whether or not we will find out the sex of the baby. This morning I got out of the shower, and Bryce had dressed Molly. I don't have much to say about it. Really.

And I made these fantastic ginger cookies. Yum. My kids don't like them much, so it just means more for me.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Happy Birthday sweet girl! You came into this world going 100 miles per hour, and you haven't stopped since. We can't wait to see what the next year will bring. We love you.

P.S. I really suck at getting good photos on birthdays and holidays. When there's a lot going on, I always forget to take pictures.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


We had many a project going on at our house this weekend. Bryce has been building the doll cradle for Molly's birthday (tomorrow, eek!), and the last coat of oil is drying on it now. It isn't finished in these pictures, but I'll post more once I can get some good light. He didn't use any metal hardware at all. It's beautiful.

And I finished the blanket and pillow to go inside. I'm happy with my first real solo project, although I will admit this picture hides the totally messed up corners (if anyone can show me how to do the mitered thing, I'd be grateful) and the weird spot on the pillow where I closed it off by hand. But still. It was easy and I had fun. I used this tutorial for the blanket.

Lastly, there is a tree house going up in our backyard. It is in the very early stages right now, but I've seen the plans. It's a behemoth, complete with a hanging bridge and a zip line. I'm hoping the kids survive.

I'm Cooking: The other night I made Potatoes Au Gratin with a new recipe. Kind of time consuming, but damn. They were good. I used the Dubliner cheese again, and halved the recipe since it is enormous. Also covered the dish with foil in the beginning so it wouldn't brown too much. Yum!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Potty

The potty pretty much rules our lives these days, and I have mixed feelings about it. When I did this with Porter, it was tough, but it felt like do or die. He was older, and Molly was due to arrive soon, and I felt like he really was ready. I wasn't going to give up until it was done. But this time? Meh. Molly is so much easier in many ways. She likes using the toilet and is willing and doesn't need a bribe to do it. But she's just young. She doesn't poop in her pants, and I'm not too worried about that, but good Lord, I change her pants like 16 times a day and we spend hours in the bathroom. I find that if I remind her about every 15 minutes, then she is okay. But that just doesn't happen, like ever, so we have a lot of wet pants. She will go on her own sometimes, but I often just find her with wet pants. It's not the end of the world, but I'm wondering if it's worth it. The other day, I actually ran out of clean pants for her and had to put her in shorts. In 30 degree weather. And this girl has a lot of pants. I'm sort of tempted to just put her back in diapers and let her go when she wants. Any opinions? Is this just how it goes for awhile and I'm blocking out all the memories from two years ago? Or should she not be having accidents all the live long day if she is ready? I really don't know.

I'm Cooking: I made this pasta again last night with bacon and greens. This one is a favorite at our house, and it's so easy that I tend to make if often. Last night instead of Parmesan I used this cheese though. And it was superb.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Good Place For Kids

You know how some things just linger in your head and bother you? Way past the time that you should have forgotten all about them? Well, I've been pondering something since the summer that I can't get rid of. It's really no big deal, but I'm curious what other people think. So...

We were at a barbecue, at the house of someone that Bryce knows through work. I had never met these people before (they were really nice), and didn't know anyone there. I spent most of my time chasing the kids around, trying to get them to eat, but at the end of the evening I wound up sitting next to a bonfire with a group of people that seemed to be already acquainted. One of the couples had a young boy about Porter's age. Everyone was discussing the town we live in. Some good things. Some bad things. Normal stuff. And then the woman with the son declares that they are moving soon, because she doesn't want her child to grow up here. The reason being that there isn't anything for kids to do.

Now, I had previously been kind of silent, not knowing anyone. But I couldn't help it, and said (probably too loudly): What are you talking about? There is a ton for kids to do here! This was followed by some silence and general backpedaling, but I could tell she was annoyed. And I didn't mean to be rude or so outspoken at all. But I sort of couldn't believe it. I mean, I'm a bit biased, because I love it here. But we have much of the "normal" stuff: libraries, playgrounds, a swimming pool, summer camps, sports, gyms, dancing, movies theaters, etc. Plus we have this huge backyard full of trails and mountains and oceans and rivers. There is skiing and fishing and camping. And I just have a hard time understanding how your kid couldn't find anything to do.

And I have to say that I really do understand how you could not want to live here. There are a ton of reasons why this wouldn't be the place for your family, just like I don't want to move to New York City or Arizona. Even though I know some people really love it there. But. It's not because there wouldn't be anything for my kids to do. I'm of the opinion that kids don't need a whole hell of a lot to entertain themselves, and that there are very few places where you could actually claim that kids were deprived of activity.

So it made me super defensive that someone could claim this was a bad place to raise kids. Because we don't have a zoo? Or Chuck E. Cheese? Or Taco Bell? I guess I don't really know what they thought they were missing. And I'm curious what my friends that live all over the country (and the world) think about the places they choose to call home. Have you ever been worried about your kids there? Does any of this even make sense? And my local friends, what do you think? Do you love where you live? Because that seems like the most important thing to me.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Bits & Pieces

I know that all kids eventually wind up using the toilet like grown people. It is a good place to be in life when you no longer have to be associated with the intimate details of their bowel movements. But getting there is basically a hassle. At least for awhile. At least to me. Porter was difficult to potty train. He resisted, and made messes all over the house and it took months of sticker charts and m&m rewards before I could count on him. And he was just about three years old at the time. So I've been in no hurry whatsoever to go in this direction with Molly. Honestly, it's a lot easier to change diapers than deal with the potty, and I'm all about easy these days. But she is telling me loud and clear that she is ready, and I don't think I can avoid it too much longer. She is taking off her diaper, climbing right up on the seat with no toddler insert and going herself. Sometimes without telling me first. Without making a mess. Even once at someone else's house (thanks Amy). I don't know how much longer I can justify putting a diaper on her, and I feel like I may as well take advantage of her initiative. Not even a single m&m. Today I bought size 2 Hello Kitty underwear, and tomorrow we will see how it goes. Wish me luck.

As far as sewing projects, I am working on some baby blankets. Really tiny ones. Bryce is making a wooden baby doll cradle for Molly's birthday (which is really creeping up on me), and I'm going to make some blankets and a pillow to fit inside. I have this huge pile of stained and old baby blankets from my babies, and I am hoping to reincarnate them into something more suitable for a doll. This is also possibly the world's easiest sewing project imaginable, so a good one for me.

And then, here are some pictures we took when my mom was visiting. They are more like outtakes, but are the best ones we could get. I can only imagine how impossible it will be to get everyone looking at the camera when there are three of them.

I'm Cooking: The other night I made Poached Salmon in a Cream Sauce from the Fiddlehead cookbook. Rich and yummy, although I just used whatever white wine I had, not the Riesling. Served with Sauteed Brussels Sprouts, Brown Rice and a Salad with White Balsamic Vinaigrette and Persimmons. Molly went nuts over the persimmons. And I think Brussels Sprouts are about my favorite thing ever.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Last of the Domestic Arts

When my mom was here last week, she gifted me with a sewing machine. My mom made all of our Halloween costumes when we were kids (among other things) and is generally awesome, and my sister took up sewing, and a ton of my friends are into it, but for some reason I've been putting it off for years. I dreaded even having to sew a button back onto a shirt. No longer though. And I'm excited. I'm not exactly a crafty person, and I foresee blankets and sewing patterns in my future. But also maybe a poodle skirt for Molly, and I can't wait. This is a hard place for clothing (I mean, really, the best place for clothes is the grocery store or possibly Costco), so at least Molly will get some cute things. Bryce is also happy that I can now (maybe) patch up his work pants instead of just throwing them away.

So, my mom and I bought a pattern and made a little dress for Molly, and it turned out adorable! It's fleece and comfortable and she loves it.

It's a good start.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

No More Tears

So. Yesterday. I had this great idea to quit buying the Aveeno baby shampoo that I've used on my kids since they were born, and try a more earth friendly, organic version. We've been trending that way with our food lately, and this seemed like a good idea to add to the mix. Plus, my grocery store has a little natural foods section that has all that stuff, making it easy.

After looking around I settled on a nice bottle of baby shampoo with ingredients like coconut oil and aloe and nothing I couldn't pronounce. It even smelled good. Kind of expensive, but I figured on that. You get what you pay for, right?

Later that night, the kids were in the bath, and we broke it out. Both of the kids love to wash their own hair, and are moderately good at it, so I usually let them. Life was good. Until Molly started screaming bloody murder. I looked over, and she had a few suds from the shampoo lather in her eye. She's not exactly adept at the whole self-grooming coordination thing, so this happens a lot. Except that normally it doesn't bother her, and tonight she's dying. I rinse it all out of her eye (which she loves, of course), and she's okay, but all red and disgruntled. And then I look at the bottle and see something I missed earlier:

"Mama wants you to know: this is not a no-tear formula and it has no anesthetizing ingredients. So use extra care around your angel baby's eyes!"

I really had no idea that regular baby shampoo had to have anesthetizing ingredients in it. I guess I always thought that it was just made of gentle ingredients so as not to irritate eyes. Strange. But I think I'm going to have to go back to it. In my mind, baby shampoo = no screaming freak-outs when it gets in a baby's eyes. I thought that was the whole point. Also, I have to add that while the shampoo smelled lovely last night, kind of like grapefruit, this morning my kids hair smelled a bit like vomit. Aveeno, I apologize, and here we come running back. Unless anyone has a better idea.

I'm Cooking: I keep messing around with a brown rice/smoked salmon salad recipe, and I think I got it right the other night. No exact measurements to follow here, but cooked brown rice mixed with wilted spinach, carrots, smoked salmon, white balsamic vinaigrette, soy sauce, and Parmesan cheese. Yum!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Halloween and Everything Else I Forgot

Okay, I am behind. You know. My mom was here for a week. It was great, and the kids had a fantastic time. But it went waaaaaay too fast. It seems like we did a whole lot of running around and errands and dentist appointments and dressing up and not enough relaxing. I have pictures to post and stories to tell, but first things first.

Halloween. Porter was Anakin (or Luke, depending on the day) Skywalker. My mom made the costume, and it was perfect. It was also warm, which is sort of important here. Molly was a cow, which surprisingly, she fully embraced. She even managed to moo at a couple of people. This picture was taken right as we were heading out for trick or treating, and even though they both look totally bored, I swear they had a great time.

They got to wear their costumes at Porter's preschool costume parade, and then again at a Halloween party hosted by friends, and then again on Halloween itself. Molly is still waking up every morning and saying "costume???" And I'd probably let her if it wasn't smeared with chocolate in the laundry hamper.

Anyway, much fun was had last week, and my mom left on Tuesday. I even got to vote that morning with no kids. Porter loves his grandma, good-byes are hard, and he sobbed his little heart out the whole way home from the airport. Some days it is very hard to be so far away from family, but I'm grateful that we can visit as often as we do.

So, life has been pretty busy, and this morning I decided to just relax with the kids and take them to the library, which we hadn't done in a long time. Right. Relaxing. Porter was fine, but Molly, now I remember why we don't go there. It ended with me yelling and everyone crying and by the time we got home, the first snowfall of the year was dumping on our house. We miss you Mom!

And everything else will have to wait until next time.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Life has gotten busy here, and I haven't posted in a week. My mom is visiting, which has been much fun for the kids, and (I think) a little exhausting for her. But I have a backlog of pictures that I've been meaning to share, so here goes. Last week we went on a field trip to the fish hatchery with Porter's class, had some gorgeous weather and played at the beach, then took the boat out and saw a large group of humpback whales all feeding together. The picture does it no justice (of course), but we were able to get very close.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


When Porter was three years old and started preschool, I noticed on the first day that some of his classmates could write their own names. Porter wasn't anywhere close to being able to do that, and I figured we had better work on it. And I tried. We practiced writing the letters, but honestly, he didn't care. He was bored. He wanted to be Superman and ride his bike. So after awhile I just gave up and kind of forgot about it. And then a couple of weeks ago, he brought a piece of paper to me, out of the blue, with his name written on it. He was so proud! He'd done it without any help, I suppose because it finally seemed interesting. And now he does it all the time. And then he figured out how to spell Legos (only so he could google it and play games on the computer without waiting for me to help him). And suddenly I feel like he's on the verge of reading, but certainly not due to much help from me.

We have workbooks, and he'll do them for awhile. But it feels like whenever I push (come on, what's the opposite of empty???), he just pulls back. I'm sure it's different with every kid, but if I set out to deliberately teach Porter something, it doesn't seem to work. But if I just ignore him and do our usual stuff, he comes into it on his own. Which is exactly what his preschool teachers have been telling me every time I do the paranoid first child worried mom thing.

It also makes me wonder about school, at least at a young age. I mean, at the higher levels, kids probably aren't going to pick up Revolutionary War history or Algebra on their own. But in the young grade school years? They're likely going to learn as much just doing interesting things and asking questions as sitting in a classroom. I saw a friend today who has two boys older than Porter, and with her oldest, he knew so much from preschool that Kindergarten was just a total repeat and he was bored. That's a lot of hours every day to just be bored. Sigh. I know I'm going to send Porter to school next year, because I think I might go insane if I didn't. But I really hope it can be a positive experience. And that once again, I'm completely over thinking it.

I'm Cooking: Last night I made this Tomato Basil Crab Bisque again. So good on a rainy fall day.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Brothers and Sisters

Bryce and Porter took a bit of a father and son trip over the weekend to visit some old haunts and old friends.

They had a good time, and I realized that it was the longest I had ever been away from Porter since he was 6 months old. It's probably good for him to do his own thing on occasion! It was quiet here in the house with just me and Molly. I found it relaxing, and we both slept a lot. She, however, was not such a big fan of the girl's weekend. She had never been without Porter before, and I think it made her uneasy. She kept asking for him, and developed a new and totally insane fear of the bathtub drain.

The boys got home late last night, and when Molly and Porter got up this morning, there were big hugs and smiles all around. It was so sweet. And it lasted all of two minutes. And then they fought and screamed at each other all morning. Such is the life of siblings I suppose.

Also. I am now 14 weeks pregnant. It has always been unclear to me exactly when the second trimester starts, but 14 weeks is most definitely there. I am making progress! And not feeling so totally horrible all the time is nice too. I've actually been baking a bit in the past few days.

I think I've blogged about these overnight cinnamon rolls before. But yum. The kids and I ate 2/3 of a seriously huge batch of them this morning for breakfast.

Then the other night we had some friends over for dinner. We had crab cakes and this wonderful risotto that my friend Julie made with some seriously good cheese. And I baked up some savory cheese muffins. You should really make these. They go with everything. And they are crazy good.

Savory Cheese Muffins
adapted from a Cook's Country recipe

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese*
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1 1/4 cups milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 large egg
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, cayenne, and pepper together in a large bowl. Mix in cheese and chives, breaking up any clumps, until cheese is coated with flour. Whisk milk, butter, egg and sour cream together in another bowl. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just combined (batter will be very thick). Divide batter among greased muffin cups. Sprinkle Parmesan over batter in each cup.

Bake at 350 until light golden brown, and toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Cool in pan for a few minutes, then remove muffins. Serve warm. Makes 12 big muffins.

*You can also substitute a cup of crumbled blue cheese. I've never done it, but it sounds like they would be really good with steak.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chocolate Cake

Yesterday was my birthday. The kids didn't really appreciate that I wanted them to be extra good, but they tried. Well, maybe Porter tried. Maybe. In any case, it seemed that I wanted a big piece of chocolate cake more than well behaved children, and decided to try a recipe I've been meaning to try forever. It's a local recipe, originally from a restaurant here (the Fiddlehead) that doesn't even exist anymore. But it seems to pop up all over town at potlucks. The North Douglas Chocolate Cake.

And oh my God, it was so worth it. Nothing fancy, just a chocolate layer cake. But it turned out so moist and perfect that even Bryce was impressed. And he's not really a dessert person. I think it's going to be my birthday cake recipe from now on, and I highly recommend you try it. It's not hard at all. I made it just as directed except that I needed a little more milk in the icing to make it spreadable. That could just have been me though.

Another beautiful thing also made its way into my birthday celebration.

I have a thing for this cookware. It is so lovely. But again, that might also just be me.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


For more (and much better) pictures of our camping adventure last weekend, check out my friend Jennifer's blog. Good stuff.

My kids are the most awesome dancers ever. Of course. I mean, aren't they all? Molly prefers Madonna while Porter is more in tune with reggae or the Beach Boys. And they like to perform. But the very second I get out the video camera (even if I try to be sly), they completely refuse to be cute and either stare blankly at the wall or try desperately to get behind the camera to see what I am filming. It drives me nuts! All I want is some cuteness to remember this age by!

My phone auto-corrects spelling when I'm typing emails, and the other day while I tried to type 'mail' it auto-corrected to 'email.' That struck me as kind of funny and sad.

Three people that I don't know very well have commented on my pregnancy in the past couple of days. I think that means that I've "popped." Or that they are really forward.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A 15 Inch Rock

This weekend we summoned up some energy and took off for a rustic forest service cabin with six adults and six kids. The cabin sat right on a gorgeous lake, with a deck looking out over the water and the mountains. There was fishing and hiking and bonfires and hot chocolate and a (very) late night canoe ride. Although everyone was exhausted by the end, we had a great time out in the woods. Even though I hardly took any pictures, I promise it was beautiful.

We did, however, have to hike 3.5 miles each way with all our stuff to get there. This was made more difficult by the three young ones that couldn't walk the whole way and the other kids that were just a little slow. I'm pretty sure that was by far the farthest that Porter has ever gone, and he wasn't altogether happy about it. At one point he looked at me and said "Mama, I'm as tired as a 15 inch rock." And I think I got it.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


On Saturday I was having a bad day. Bryce being busy all weekend gave me no break from the kids, and we were all grumpy. I decided to go to the grocery store at 9:30pm, which is something I never do. It was late. But there was just no way I wanted to take Molly, and we were out of milk, and at least Bryce was home with the kids at that point (even if they were sleeping). So there I was, and I decided to linger a bit, given that I finally had some alone time. I was perusing the ethnic food aisle, and look what caught my eye!

If you remember, last St. Patrick's Day, I was lamenting the total absence of all things Irish in the Far North. And now my local grocery store has MY TEA, the stuff I have to buy down south and bring back in huge boxes. That my mom has to send me on my birthday. This may not seem like a big deal, but it completely made my day.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Embracing the Fail

I have to say, it's getting a little old complaining about Molly. She's just doing her thing, even if it drives me nuts. I love her to pieces. These early weeks of pregnancy have been hard and tiring, and most days I feel like I'll never be able to handle a third child, because I'm doing so poorly with just two right now. It's been a bit disheartening, and it's probably rubbing off on her and making everything worse.

Last Thursday, Bryce stopped by home to pick something up mid-morning. He so rarely does this that I never expect to see him here during the day. It was around 11am, and I was just getting out of the shower. The breakfast dishes were still on the table, toys were everywhere, Porter was still in PJs watching TV, and Molly had taken a poopy diaper off while I was in the shower. She'd tried to clean up the mess herself, and you can imagine. Super yuck. Everywhere. So he came home to that, and I was upstairs, sort of oblivious, like "what?" He left pretty quickly. And I thought, of course. Sigh. Super mom.

But you know what else? I'm really thankful that these are my stories to tell. I'm glad that I get to stay in PJs with my kids until embarrassingly late hours and do a bad job cleaning up the house. They throw tantrums in stores and whine and throw up on me (that one happened last night, oh the joy). But I'm still glad. And excited for what's to come.

I'm Cooking: I made my friend Jennifer's tomato soup the other night, and it was delicious. And super easy. The cheese really makes it.

Tomato Cheddar Cheese Soup

3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
28 oz can whole tomatoes
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup chopped onions
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Bring the broth to a boil in a saucepan, add the tomatoes, carrots and celery. Cover and simmer 30 minutes, or until the veggies are softened.

In a separate saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions, and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the flour until absorbed. Stir in the veggies and broth, and cook, stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil.

Puree the soup with a handheld immersion blender, or do it in batches in a regular blender. Stir in cheese and Worcestershire sauce. Cook until cheese is melted and soup is heated through.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Yesterday with Molly was one big ball of frustration for both of us. She threw a huge tantrum while we were at Porter's swimming lesson. The laying on the floor big fat tears nothing will make me stop kind of tantrum. A girl who often comes to swim at the same time told her that every time they saw each other, Molly was crying. She was trying to get Molly's attention to get her to stop, but it just made me feel embarrassed. We came home, she took a great, long nap, and then woke up to another awful mood. I had to put her in her room and close the door while I was finishing dinner, because I just could not listen to her scream and whine any more. I don't even know. I guess I'm not really looking for advice or ideas, because I'm all done with trying. I'm just sort of waiting it out at this point. And venting.

Then today, we went to nursery school, and she was actually pretty good. Playing nicely, no tantrums. I even left her there for awhile (grocery store by myself, thank goodness!), and she didn't even notice, or really seem to care when I returned. She was peaceful getting in the car (one of her big triggers), ate a good lunch, and is now still napping. So. Yay. I'm not really sure what gives. But I'll take what I can get for now.

Yesterday evening, after all of Molly's theatrics, I had a total failure of a dinner too. Just so you don't think I cook great food for my family all the time. I tried to make some kind of four cheese pasta, and the cheese all clumped up in the bottom of the pan while the sauce was all runny. We ate it, but yuck. It's a good thing today is going more smoothly. I think it reflects in my cooking.

Monday, September 27, 2010


We had a busy weekend here filled with friends and food and activities and rain. It looks like fall is here to stay now, but I'm actually happy to stay inside and nest.

Last year we were a little flaky with the ice skating, but on Saturday Porter started some more serious lessons. He had a blast! I think maybe he was just a little too young before (for him anyway), as there was a lot of laying on the ice and snacking and not a lot of skating. But this time he lasted for an hour, and was sad when they made him quit. Maybe I'll be a hockey mom after all. Or maybe not.
We also got the chance to ride the tram, which is a normally expensive tourist attraction. But at the end of the season they let locals ride for a much better price. We were treated with a halfway decent morning, and lovely views of downtown and the channel. Molly was actually a little bit scared, but Porter had a blast.

Included in the weekend's festivities was a small dinner party at our house, now that Bryce's work is finally slowing down, we are getting social again. There was the usual chaos of small children, but it was fun, and nice to see friends. I made a smoked salmon lasagna, and it was a hit. I've been making it for years, and it really is a crowd pleaser (and super easy).

Smoked Salmon Lasagna
adapted from the Best of the Best from Alaska Cookbook

1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
4 cups milk
4 cups smoked salmon (or more!)
freshly ground pepper to taste
one big container cottage cheese
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
one box no boil lasagna noodles
3-4 cups grated mozzarella cheese

Saute the onion in the butter until soft. Blend in the flour, and gradually add milk to make the sauce. Bring it to a boil for a minute until it has thickened. Off heat, add smoked salmon and pepper to taste. In a bowl, stir together cottage cheese, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, and Parmesan cheese.

Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray, and put a very thin coating of sauce on the bottom. Then layer (uncooked) noodles, cottage cheese mixture, sauce and mozzarella cheese. Repeat twice, so you'll have three identical layers, having used up all the cottage cheese mixture. Then lay the last layer of noodles down, spoon the rest of the sauce over, and top with mozzarella.

Cover with foil, and bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Uncover, and bake 15 minutes more or until lightly browned.

**Note: This makes a really big, saucy lasagna. You can totally scale back the sauce and cheese, and use one layer less noodles, and it will still be a lot. This is helpful, especially if you don't have a lot of salmon.