Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Birthday Action Sequence

A belated but necessary look at the action packed
6th BIRTHDAY (!!?!!)
in honor of Leo Howard.
I have never been completely brave enough to throw a real little boy party on my own until this year. As in, 4 extra boys getting dropped off by their moms for two hours of the world's spazziest little boy fun. The party theme was "indian" but more specifically northwest coastal native american. Everyone was in character, each with a "Button Blanket" of sorts, which I could not have made without my powerhouse of a crafty mom (thanks mom!). She cut out the animals and I sewed them onto the blankets. Everyone picked out their own animals and gathered round the table for some pizza and apples.
After pizza, the blankets had a predictable super power effect on the boys who were flying up and down the stairs, through the kitchen and up onto the living room furniture, over and over, like monkeys running laps. I had Erika, my mom, and Ben for back-up, but after only a 1/2hour I really started to question my original thinking that two hours would be the perfect length of party time. We pow-wowed and as Erika stood by giggling, I pounded a beer and took control of the situation. I really got into my character of ring-leader, and could not help but giggle too, as I managed to get 6 boys to jump through most of my hoops.
We made up games. We took lots of pictures. We crafted totally awesome shell and bone bead necklaces. We read a forest story and talked about animals and sasquatches.
We raised a Totem Pole.
Seconds later we kicked it down.

And then it was finally time for cupcakes and presents. Phew!
Leo had a blast. He was probably the biggest spaz of all for most of the afternoon, but he was truly in party mode.

Monday, November 22, 2010

6 Years Old

The arrival of snow is like the icing on the cupcakes from an action packed birthday weekend.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Autumn at The Beach

Such a pretty place to be for the grand arrival of rain and blustery weather. We are on pumpkin pie numero quattro. MMMMmmmmm.
Of course, the fall leaves and fresh country air beckoned for a walk with boys and camera.
I got a new app for my camera phone called hipstamatic! Look how fun the pictures are.
I love the way that these pictures look like all of the photos from way back when at the beach. Sometimes the beach house seems like a perfect little time capsule from 1975. The wood paneled walls, the lazy boy recliner that has rocked so many babies, and of course the wild wallpaper in every bedroom and bath.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Best Damn Pie Ever!

I swear it's true, but more about that later.
You know, when I first started writing the blog I really did imagine writing words about my favorite cakes and sweet recipes. How appropriate that these little cooking notes would be tucked in between baby posts just like a sugar fix should be.
I've never given up on the motherhood pipe dream of being able to pull off the occasional afternoon spent simultaneously baking and tending to three boys, and looking good and talking nice while doing it. I do love to cook. But sometimes it is really hard to cook when three small people need you at once, right then, while you're trying to cook! I make myself do it and then I love it. I am inspired by a homemade approach to life and I want my kids to recognize that not everything can or needs to be purchased. I dont want them to expect instant gratification. The funny thing is that it is my kids who inspire me to take the slower route, but quite often I observe them thwarting my attempts to accomplish even the simplest of my daily business let alone an attempt to give up most canned foods and make all of our own Halloween costumes. Sometimes I find myself standing at the stove stirring a big pot of something, so pleased with myself, dreaming up my next project, while a baby making a noise like wild monkey tries to climb my leg so that I will pick them up so that they can squirm out of my arms to the floor where they lay face down in a rage. But sometimes one boy is at school while another is asleep which only leaves me with one pretty agreeable four year old to entertain. Being a natural opportunist, I recognize these moments as my chance to make a bit of sugar into something bigger. In short, I can totally bake and color at the same time, but with that being the mellowest moment of the day, I never get to actually blog about it.
With that having been said, when I do stay up past nine to tell you about a recipe, it must be something special.
We've had two sugar pumpkins sitting on our counter since Saturday when Ben's dad picked them from his garden and made a special delivery. I am MAD about pumpkin and today I finally got around to tossing one into the oven and having a go at fresh pumpkin puree for pie, scones, cookies, and soup. Ridiculously easy and delicious and SOOOOO much better than canned. Ben announced last weekend after baking our first pumpkin pie of the season, that he would be making at least a dozen more. I hope it's true, and I hope at least 10 of them are this recipe from my new favorite food blog 101 Cookbooks.
I made mine with 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 white flour traditional crust and I didnt even get around to the hazelnut layer or the fancy fresh spices, didn't even have any cloves! But I am telling you sincerely, this is the best damn pie ever! And if you dont like pumpkin pies, we can still be friends but please dont tell me about it so that I dont think differently of you. xo
*in Heidi's words below
* cut and paste is so wonderful

Spice-kissed Pumpkin Pie Recipe

As I mention above, freshly ground spices, make all the difference in a recipe like this. For the filling, you can also substitute roasted sweet potatoes or other roasted winter squash as the base ingredient. If you are pinched for time you can also use canned pumpkin puree (but I really prefer the flavor that comes from roasting my own). If you used canned puree, be sure it is pure, non-spiced pumpkin puree. You can certainly use a store-bought crust if you like, for a pie like this I use a standard pie dough recipe (pate brisee). I use whole wheat pastry flour in place of all-purpose flour - pictured above. Alternate crust option:you can make a simple pat-in-pan graham cracker pie crust by giving 2 cups well-crushed graham cracker crumbs, 1/3 cup melted butter, and 2 tablespoons of honey a whirl in a food processor. Then press (intensively) into a 9-inch pie pan, and proceed with filling.

You can use the filling in tarts, or for individual pies/tarts as well. I love to use deep, dark Muscovado sugar in place of standard brown sugar for its flavor, but some people are turned off by the darker color it lends to the filling.

1 pie crust (of your choice), see head notes for pat-in-pan option
2 cups hazelnuts (divided) , toasted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice blend*
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon arrowroot (or cornstarch)
1 1/2 cups of roasted pumpkin puree*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 extra large eggs PLUS one for glaze, lightly beaten
1 cup coconut milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, racks in the middle.

Puree 1 1/2 cups of the toasted hazelnuts in a food processor until they turn into a hazelnut paste, past the 'crumble' stage. Set aside. Chop the remaining 1/2 cup of hazelnuts and set aside seperately, these will be sprinkled on top after the pie is baked.

To make the pumpkin pie filling, whisk together the brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice blend, salt, and arrowroot. Stir in the pumpkin puree, and vanilla. Now stir in the eggs and coconut milk until just combined. Set aside.

Before filling the pie crust, crumble the hazelnut paste on top of the pie dough into the pie plate, quickly and gently press it into a thin layer across the bottom creating a layer of hazlenuts that will sit between the dough and the filling. Using the last egg gently brush the decorative edges of the pie dough. Use a fork to prick the pie dough a few times to prevent air bubbles. Fill the pie crust with the filling and bake for about 50 minutes - the center of the pie should just barely jiggle when you move the pie - the edges should be set.

Let the pie cool a bit, this makes slicing less messy. Serve straight or with a dollop of bourbon-spiked, sweetenend whipped cream or creme fraiche, and a sprinkling of chopped hazelnuts.

Makes one 9 or 10-inch pie.

Kathy's Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend

1 tablespoon freshly ground cassia cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground allspice
scant 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger (pre ground)

Use a coffee grinder to separately grind each of the following: cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. Smash the cinnamon a bit before grinding it. The spices should be powder-fine, and sifted into a bowl together. Stir in the ground ginger, and use in any recipe calling for a pumpkin pie spice blend.

Roasted Pumpkin Puree

1 3 lb. sugar pie pumpkin
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Carefully cut the pumpkin into four big wedges - get rid of the stem. Scoop out the seeds and pulp (you can toast the seeds if you like), drizzle then rub the pumpkin wedges with olive oil, sprinkle generously with salt, and then bake on a baking sheet (middle rack) until tender throughout - about an hour. Scoop flesh out of the skins and puree with a hand blender or mash well by hand.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Bunch of Birthdays

And a lot of cake!
Party, party, party. Will, Finn, and Abe. The October birthday boys.

For Finn's birthday celebration there was the pumpkin farm with lots of 4 year old friends and cousins, apple fritters, two bee stings, and one goat bite. Later there was one much adored stuffed animal wiener dog, a dinner of "meat with chicken skin", lots of underwear clad super-hero boys, and pumpkin cake. I should note that I can no longer get away with whipped cream frosting rather than gross sweet frosting from here on out.

And so the kookooroonie has turned 4.
AKA Mr. Handsome or Muffinn.
He loves his brothers.
He loves wiener dog puppies.
He loves all dogs actually.
He loves to play.
He loves to chillax.
He loves his gray cashmere sweater.
He loves the cat and feeds her whenever she wants, I now have a solid excuse for why she looks like a footstool.
He loves my cooking, and the things I make, showering me with compliments like deeeeelicious and gorgeous and delightful.
And I feel the same way about him and the things he does and the things he makes and the things he says.

And then a couple of days later Baby Abe turned 1!
What can I say about the babe? He's dreamy from head to toe, inside and out. Just look at him! I could just gobble him up whole and I bet he would taste like a big marshmallow.

Friday, September 17, 2010

And then there were two

Loving the school days routine.
We have been walking to and from school, it is so nice to get out first thing in the morning for a big breath of fresh air. We pick apples, find treasures, and watch the leaves turn a bit more everyday. This morning, in the misty fog we looked for dewy spider webs and found them EVERYWHERE. The spiders are amazing this year building their webs in every nook, cranny and pathway of the yard. The other day I ran out to my car to grab something and one had built a giant web from my steering wheel to the passenger door. A startling surprise that kind of freaked me out until I quickly assessed that the spider was not actually on or near me. It was right in the middle of it's big beautiful new web of course! The daytime duo and I even sprung for some orange, green and purple spider lights from target. Never too early to start celebrating halloween, as it is one of my top 2 favorite holidays.
Leo is liking school some days. I think he likes it much more than he lets on. Best words from him were:
"school is pretty good. half bad, half good. Is the year almost over?" and "today was better. I didn't have to ask about you because when I say your name it makes me cry." But this was all said during week 2, and now we have just wrapped up week 3. I still hear "school is the worst!" more often than I would like, but at the end of the day I think he is glad he went.
We skipped Monday and hit the fair. It was awesome if you love scones, ice cream, animals, pumpkins, and watching the boys have a blast on 3 tiny rides. I do. My favorite thing besides all of that stuff was mutton bustin' for sure. It was so fun to watch. Finn was totally down to ride the sheep, but Ben was not down to pay $10 to watch Finn eat dirt and get trampled. Next year! Two days later we were back to the fairgrounds to see Willie Nelson. So fun.

Friday, September 3, 2010

So Brave

Leo survived his first day of Kindergarten like a champ. He was so brave. He says he hates it of course, and tried everything to get out of going back. But I think he will come around in a month or two. A short recap of his day:
-Everyone got superstars except for him.
His teacher is not as nice as he expected.
She didn't pay attention to him or talk to him at all.
All of the kids made fun of him.
It's actually the worst ever, as bad s bad can be.
His stomach hurt all day. -
Sounds torturous, no? It is hard to imagine the shock to his small beingness, going from hanging at home all day in his underwear, to hanging at school all day with a bunch of strange people and rules. But he is strong and smart and I know he will make his place. It's a neat school with all different kinds of people. The montessori curriculum allows a little more freedom and creative learning. And I cant wait to hang out in his classroom.
Drop off was so fast, there was no time for tears or protest, like ripping off a band-aid, he was in a nervous sort of daze. Here we are on the playground lining up to go into school and below is my last glimpse of him as I headed out the door.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Summer Is Dwindling......

There are moments
that make you wish summer would last forever.
Also tastes, unconditional warmth, and lots of day light.
If I could pick and choose what it would take to make me feel summer's love all year round:
Salt water swims
the Sprinkler
Farmer's markets
Backyard parties
Honey bees
Naked boys
But we have had a lovely summer.
We made a list of fun stuff to do at the start and have managed to jot satisfying little x's next to most of that fun stuff.
And now here we are, two days til Kindergarten and feeling a little stirred up with emotions that run the gamut. I could go on...and on....and on about that!
But instead, how about a list of things I love about fall and winter:
3 little boy birthdays
puyallup fair
pumpkin farm
shit! writing this list of stuff I actually love is making me feel depressed and 90 yrs old, moccasins and soup? yes. fuck. who am i kidding? i sort of hate winter. i may as well admit that i spend a shit load of time watching or looking forward to watching survivor and NBC thursdays. also fantasizing about a closet full of cashmere pajamas. but this winter i am going to PAINT and WRITE and READ NON-FICTION. Also see one live music show per month. it wont be so bad.
I will post a photo recap of summer to lift my spirits back to their proper place, after all, there are still 2 whole days left to pick berries and stroll the market and run naked through the sprinkler.
So here it is...summer2010 in chapters

Chapter 1: Abe's Busy Summer

Everybody LOVES Abe.

Leo: "Mom, I really miss taking a bath in the sink. Please can I get in there with Abe?"

His summer activities included tiger wrestling and cooking.

A rare evening alone with mom and dad in the backyard

Brother love can be intense. Fights have broken out amongst those vying for his attention.

He does love a good party. He recognizes the beauty of enough loving arms to keep his toes from ever touching the ground. The good life.