Wednesday, March 31, 2010

olivia loves "butts"

It's true, Olivia LOVES butts. "Butt" is Olivia language for elephant...go figure! It's literally the first word that comes out of her mouth every morning, I'm not kidding! Clayton explained to the kids, "Olivia thinks she's saying 'elephant' but by the time it travels from her brain to her mouth it comes out as 'butt.'" So of course we all think this is hilarious and we show her elephants every chance we get just to hear her exclaim, "BUTT!"

Surprisingly we have more "butts" in the house than I thought possible. She can spot them anywhere. They decorate her high chair cover so while she's eating she turns around and points, "Butt!" She spots them inside of lots of books, "Butt!" On wall posters, "Butt!" Her crib bedding (which we got before this fetish), and we also have a few toy "butts." Who knew they'd be so popular?

Her language has evolved, because she used to say, "OOH-butt" which was a combination of the sound the elephant makes (a low "OOH") and it's name (a high pitched "butt"). So she has simplified it.

I can't wait to take her to the zoo when the weather warms up. Clayton said, "Olivia, you're gonna love the zoo! There are lots of 'ooh-butts' there!"

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easy easter decorating

My Easter decoration box consists of these three caged rabbits (which I found a few years back at Robert's), and that's pretty much it. So I decided to improvise with what I already have around the house to make it more Easter-esque around here. (Do you like that word I made up? Easter-esque?)

I pulled out these little pots of imitation grass, and topped them with plastic eggs, then I dusted off my egg cups and filled them with either sprigs of green or fabric covered eggs (made by hot-gluing strips of fabric around plastic eggs...easy!).

I think my favorite thing to decorate with for holidays is books, so I took the Peter Rabbit books from Olivia's room, along with a couple others that have bunnies on the covers. And there you go! We are ready for the Easter bunny without spending a dime.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

easter egg nest cake

Chocolate cake, chocolate cream topping, and Cadbury Mini-Eggs. Need I say more?
This is a recipe I found in Feast by Nigella Lawson.


For the Cake:

· 8 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped

· 1 stick unsalted softened butter

· 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

· 6 eggs: 2 whole; 4 separated

· 1/3 cup plus ½ cup superfine sugar: 1/3 cup for the yolk mixture; ½ cup for the whites

For the Topping:

· 4 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped

· 1 cup heavy cream

· 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

· 1 cup of robin’s eggs or other small sugar-coated pretty little East eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan with parchment paper or, better still, Silpat but do not grease the sides of the pan.

Melt the 8oz chocolate with the butter in either a double boiler or a microwave and then set aside to cool slightly.

Whisk the 4 egg whites until firm, then gradually add the 1/2 cup of sugar and whisk until the whites are holding their shape and peak gleamingly – but not stiff.

Remove this bowl (if you're using a standard mixer, as I do, though a hand-held job would do fine) and set aside while you whisk, in another bowl, the 2 whole eggs and 4 egg yolks with the 1/3 cup of sugar and the vanilla extract, and then gently fold in the chocolate mixture. Lighten the mixture with some of the egg whites – just dollop a large spoonful in and stir briskly—and then fold in the rest of the whisked whites gently, in about three goes.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the cake is risen and cracked and the center is no longer wobbly on the surface. Cool the cake in its pan on a wire rack; the middle will sink as it cools and the sides splinter. You want this to look like a cake with a crater in it, so do not panic at the vision of imperfection in front of you. That's one of the reasons this cake is so unstressful to make.

To finish the cake, carefully remove it from the pan and place it on a plate or cake-stand, not worrying if bits fall off here and there. Put them back in a loose fashion.

Melt the chocolate for the topping and leave it to cool a little. Whip the cream until it is firming up and aerated but still soft, and then add the vanilla and fold in the melted chocolate. Fill the crater of the cake with the chocolaty cream, easing it to cool a little. Whip the cream until it is firming up and aerated but still soft, and then add the vanilla and fold in the melted chocolate. Fill the crater of the cake with the chocolaty cream, easing it out gently towards the edges of the cake with a rubber spatula, and then arrange the little sugar Easter eggs on top.

Monday, March 29, 2010

nyc goodies

Just wanted to show you the cute hot pink onesie for Livi, the Chinese style shoes, and the felted wool necklace I found on Canal Street for Nina. Shopping for kids' souvenirs is my favorite!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

the big apple!

I can finally say that I've been to New York! What a fun, crazy trip. So much to see and do it's overwhelming. I flew out on a red eye with my friends Natalie, Kerrie, and Angie last Thursday at 11:30 pm, and we arrived at JFK at 5:45 am New York time (so 3:45 am at home). None of us could fall asleep on the flight, so we were beyond tired! Lucky for us, the hotel had a room for us early...upgraded too at no extra charge! I think they were jut trying to find a way to get us out of the lobby where we were laying around like a bunch of homeless people! What an amazing surprise when we opened the curtains in our room and saw the Chrysler Building. "It's just like in the movies!" Kerrie said.

We decided to go explore before we took a nap, so we grabbed some bagels and headed up to Rockefeller Center to see the Today Show. We spotted Meredith Viera and Matt Lauer (who looks like a combo of a grasshopper and Mr. Rogers I decided), then we walked to Times Square where we hopped onto the red bus tour. We were so tired, so it was perfect to get an overview of the city without having to walk anymore. We sat on top of the double-decker and enjoyed the sunshine! We took a nap in the afternoon, then ate dinner at an Italian restaurant near the hotel. The bread and salad were AMAZING but the pasta wasn't that good, dang it! Kerrie and Natalie had tickets to see Wicked that night, so Angie and I did our own thing and went to see the new Tim Burton, "Alice in Wonderland." The theater was five stories up in a building at Times Square. After the show, we tried make-up on at Sephora until about 11:30 much fun!

Saturday we slept in until 11am (gasp!). So we had to hurry and get ready...after all, it was our shopping day! We spent the first part of the day just grabbing some pizza and shopping at H&M, and later we headed downtown to Canal Street. I wasn't as good at bartering for purses as Kerrie was, but I still got some cute bags at decent prices. I had never been so scared in my life until that evening as we were trying to find our way out of Scaryville...especially on the subway when the doors shut and two big guys announced, "Ladies and gentlemen, we apologize for the interruption..." At this moment I thought they were going to pull out the guns and tell us to toss them our wallets and then we would all die. I squeezed Natalie's arm and we all stared at the ground. They went on, "But we are homeless and haven't eaten today, we would appreciate any money you give us." I never felt so vulnerable in my life, trapped in a moving subway. Kerrie whispered, "We are getting off on the next stop, I don't care where it is." And we did. At one point that night, we had hot dogs for dinner at Gray's Papaya, along with some yummy coconut drinks. Then we had a Michella Obama sighting and Kerrie yelled, "Tell your husband to stop ruining this country!" or something to that effect. Haha! And we eventually made our way to Serendipity for Frrrozen Hot Chocolate! Well worth the one and a half hour wait.

Sunday morning Angie and I walked up to the Museum of Modern Art, and passed St. Patrick's Cathedral on the way. At the Museum there was a Tim Burton exhibit going on, and this was one of the main things I was excited to see on the trip...which is why I'm sick to my stomach that I didn't actually get to see it! The museum was absolutely packed, and the tickets for that exhibit were like Disney Fast Passes. We got there at about 12 pm, but our tickets for Tim Burton were for 3 pm! And that was the same time we had tickets for Mary Poppins on Broadway. I wish now that I'd stayed at the museum, even though I really liked Mary Poppins. It's just that I'll probably never get a chance to see that exhibit again. It's moving to Australia after April. So I'm sad. After I got home I read online about the amazing! The original costume Johnny Depp wore in Edward Scissorhands is there, the puppets from The Nightmare Before Christmas, handwritten letters between Johnny Depp and Tim Burton, and all of Tim Burton's sketches, paintings, and sculptures from the last 40 years, etc. Ugh.

So that was the saddest part of the trip. But I think my favorite part was just being with my friends, having a long weekend of sleepovers, laughing, and girl talk, and just having a little break from my usual routine. But I was so excited to get home when the time came. I couldn't wait to see Clayton and the kids, and driving into Herriman was so refreshing after being in such a big city! My house felt extra nice and big, after seeing all the apartment buildings in NY. Clayton did an awesome job taking care of things, and even made Swedish pancakes, brown sugar bacon, and Orange Julius on Sunday morning. He's so cute, he said, "Heath, you have a hard job!" after being in my shoes for a few days.

I'm so happy I could go on this trip, make some closer friendships, explore a new city, and finally come home to a big hug from Olivia!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

baby you can drive my car

Grocery shopping with the two littlest...Olivia had never been in a "car cart" before and she had never been so happy! We topped it off with free cookies at the bakery (and a bag of Cadbury mini eggs for me...shhh...).

Saturday, March 13, 2010

coconut macaroons

1 pkg. (14 oz.) shredded sweetened coconut

2/3 c. sugar

6 Tbsp. flour

1/4 tsp. salt

4 egg whites

1 tsp. almond extract (can substitute vanilla or coconut extract, or use a little of each)

Mix coconut, sugar, flour and salt in large bowl. Stir in egg whites and almond extract until well blended. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a parchment-lined (or greased and floured) cookie sheet.

Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes or until edges of cookies are golden brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheets to wire racks to cool completely. Dip cookies halfway into melted chocolate, if desired.

Makes about 3 dozen.

P.S. I recently saw a great idea in a magazine where they made cookies like these, then put an almond on top, then covered the whole thing in melted chocolate...homemade Almond Joys! I think I'll try it next time.

Friday, March 12, 2010

perfect for spring

With spring right around the corner, we have been loving this one. The little root children sleep all winter underground, but when Mother Earth wakes them in the spring, they put on their new clothes and go out the door to dance and play in the sunshine. Even the beetles and bugs join the celebration, until at last the leaves blow off the trees once again.

Another vintage find by Sibylle Von Olfers (1906), yet it's still in print, so hooray for us! It's rare to find such a sweet story these days. Plus, the illustrations are frame-able, if you ask me.
It's a perfect "seasons" book for little ones, yet my 8-year-old is the one who has been reading it the most. It's fun to imagine a magical world beneath our feet, isn't it?

Also, check out the quilted version of the same story (who had time to do that??). It's amazing.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

when the kids are away the mama will play

Once a week I have a rare opportunity for complete and total solitude. That one day a week, Nina has preschool in the afternoon (the other two days she goes in the morning), and Olivia usually takes a nap at the same time. I look forward to that little snippet of time so much that I almost panic as to how I should best spend it! It's not that I don't love being with my kids (I do) and I know that one day I'm going to miss all the craziness of having little kids at home...but you know, it sure is nice to sit down by myself once in a while.

So here's a peek into this week's "Mama Time." I decided to get productive after the last few months of feeling so blah and tired. It was exciting to pull out a bunch of unfinished projects and chip away at them, even just a little.

I decided last week to get my paints out. A HUGE step, let me tell you. I haven't painted in so long I feel like I'm relearning everything! But it makes me so happy, holding a brush in my hand, swirling it in the jar of water, and mixing up some pretty colors. Why haven't I done this in so long? So the paints are now sort of a permanent fixture on the kitchen table. I'm so much happier when I can do something creative everyday. And one day I WILL get my books published! Right? So here's a little sample of what I've been painting this week.

I also decided to start writing new story ideas, since I have a little project I'm working on with my brother and sister...more on that later.

What's "Mama Time" without something chocolatey? Try this, you just have to.

Chocolate Sandwich

2 slices of good, rustic bread
a small handful of semisweet chocolate chips,
(or a few squares of your favorite chocolate bar)
a smidge of butter

Put the sandwich together as if you are making a grilled cheese, only with chocolate instead of cheese. Spread a thin layer of butter on top. Grill it in a sandwich press or on the stove until the bread is toasty and the chocolate is melty. Let cool before diving in, the chocolate will be like hot lava! Don't forget a glass of milk alongside.

Last of all, I pulled out this quilt that's been in the works for about 2 years. My sweet mom-in-law gave me all this fun fabric awhile back, and I meant to have it finished for Olivia for Christmas this past year, but hey, she'll never know the difference, right? So I made a little progress by getting it all ironed. Maybe next week I'll actually put the front and back together (but don't quote me on that!).

tate's tortes

Hey, all of you Utahns out there, I just wanted to spread the word about my sis-in-law's cakes. She makes some really amazing treats, don't you think? And they taste every bit as good as they look. Check out more of Tatum's creations here.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

fun library finds

I discovered Polly Dunbar books a few years back and it was so fun to stumble upon this series of hers at the library. The illustrations alone make me happy, and combined with the simple stories they are collection-worthy! Nina loves these, and I can't wait to add these to our bookshelves. Make sure to check out others in the series (Happy Hector, Pretty Pru, Where's Tumpty?, Goodnight Tiptoe, and Doodle Bites).

Friday, March 5, 2010

sunshine on a snowy day

I can't tell you how happy I am that it is March! Even though it snowed today, it is a comfort to me just knowing that February is behind us (plus it's my birthday month!). Here are a couple sunny little things to brighten your day until spring actually gets here.

If you grew up watching Sesame Street like I did, you are gonna love this DVD. I borrowed this from my brother for the kids to watch since they have never really seen the show, and Clay and I both found ourselves sitting down watching it with them and saying, "I totally remember this!" You know, the "one-two-three-four-five-six-seven-eight-nine-ten-eleven-twe-e-e-e-elve" pinball animation, Teeny Little Super Guy, the Ladybug Picnic, and Newsflash with "Kermit the Frog here." You know, all the good stuff from times before Elmo ever existed and the Cookie Monster was the Cookie Monster, not the Veggie Monster. We didn't bother watching the second DVD, which was from 1989 and on, because I think the old school stuff is best.

And here are treats you can make while you are singing about the "People in Your Neighborhood." Lemon bars from scratch, nothing better! Fresh lemon juice makes all the difference here. Also, remember that lemons are easier to zest before you juice them.

Lemon Kisses


2 sticks butter
1/2 c. powdered sugar
2 c. flour
pinch of salt


4 eggs
2 c. sugar
5 T. flour
pinch of salt
6 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1-2 T. grated lemon rind

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cut butter into chunks and place in food processor with sugar, flour and salt. Process until well combined. Pat evenly into bottom of lightly greased 9x13 pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until puffed and lightly browned. Remove from oven and turn temperature up to 350 degrees.

2. For the filling, in the same processor bowl, mix eggs and sugar together. Add flour and salt and mix well. Add lemon juice and rind. Pour over crust. Bake for 25 minutes.

3. Allow to cool and sift additional powdered sugar over the top.