Thursday, October 23, 2008

My Little Photographer

My two-year-old took these "pickers" (that's what he calls them). I think I'm gonna let him do the photography for my blog from now on!

Impression: Mommy and Daddy

Impression: Nana

View from the Back Seat

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


When my mom said she was worried she wouldn't be able to finish my son and nephew's birthday cake last week, I must admit I was pretty excited. I yanked my sprinkles out of my suitcase and exclaimed, "We can make cupcakes!"

I've been waiting for an opportunity to make cupcakes for weeks since Pam made her beautiful ones for our sons' party. Hers were topped with vibrantly-colored frosting and the kids decorated them with sprinkles. They were yummy, too.

Pam's Cupcakes

My sister Tara and I went to work, and here are the results (Tara was the bug sculptor--I'm better at sprinkling things!):

Fall Sprinkles

Pumpkin and Leaves
(I desperately wanted to make this one when
I saw it on the cover of a magazine)

Spider on a Web

Mommy Spider and Babies

This was an accident, and we laughed hysterically about it.
I think we'll call it, "Take that, you very hungry caterpillar!"

Friday, October 17, 2008

Oh, nuts...

Have you ever seen a real walnut? One that's still on the tree or has just fallen off? It looks very different from what you find on the grocery store shelf.

I'm sure there is a philosophical blog article I could write about the lesson to be learned on inner beauty when beholding the walnut (yada, yada, yada), and feel free to leave your own ideas in the comments section, but honestly, I just thought they looked kind of funny and interesting and I wanted to show you.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fall Fun

We're in western Kentucky this week visiting family, and today was full of fall fun. This morning I awoke (a little too early--my internal clock is still set to Eastern Time) to see the sun creeping through the back yard.

The leaves are ready to change, and some of them are already turning beautiful shades of red and yellow.

We visited a farm today where we went on a hayride...

picked apples...

played in a sandbox full of corn...

explored a pumpkin patch...

and gathered walnuts.

Today's fun was a welcome change from yesterday's fast food and interstate driving!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Snack Time!

We're on the road this week, and in our car, the choice of snacks is almost as important as the gasoline in the tank. (I guess that's a bit of a metaphor, too.)

Here's our list of munchies for this trip:

Trail Mix made with freeze-dried fruit from Just Tomatoes
Sun Chips
Juice Boxes
Pizza-Flavored Gold Fish Crackers
Triscuits Thin Crisps
Candy Corn (Mommy Emergency Food)
Marshmallows (Toddler Emergency Food)

What do you like to eat when you travel?

I should be arriving at my destination later today, so be sure to check my blog this week as I hope to blog from the road!

Monday, October 13, 2008

On the road...

Today my son and I are beginning a journey across four states to visit our family in western Kentucky. I learned a few trips ago that I travel much better by car when I have good audio books in the CD player. This time we are going to have a Nicholas Sparks marathon:

True Believer
At First Sight
The Guardian

What do you listen to when you travel?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Just Too Good...

I'm blogging right now to get away from the box sitting in my kitchen. I ordered an assortment of freeze-dried fruits and veggies from Just Tomatoes, and it finally arrived today. I was expecting something good, but I had no idea how addictive it would be...

I heard about these in my favorite toddler cookbook, The Toddler Cafe, by Jennifer Carden. She uses them in homemade trail mix and I decided to give it a try. We're going on a fairly long road trip in a few days, so we need snacks and I would prefer that they be somewhat healthy.

I ordered the following: Just Cherries (WOW), Just Grapes (thankfully not as good as I'd hoped, but good enough to eat them all anyway), Just Veggies (corn, peas, peppers, tomatoes, and delicious), Just Strawberries (just like the kind you pick out of cereal), Just Raspberries, Just Blueberries, and Just Blackberries. The first four came in little easy-to-open bins, and they are what I'm having a hard time avoiding. My son is, too--my two-year-old keeps circling the table saying, "Box, box, please, please!" He really likes the cherries. So do I.

The last three on the list came in non-resealable plastic bags because I ordered smaller quantities of them, and that is the only thing keeping them from being devoured--my perfectionism will only allow me to open a non-reclosable bag at the perfect time so that they can be enjoyed perfectly. At least it's working for me in this case.

So, do I recommend Just Tomatoes? YES, particularly if you live near me and we can order together. The more you order, the cheaper the unit price, and if you order more than $100, shipping is free. Any takers??? Please???

OK, I've gotta go. My son just nabbed the strawberries and he's waving them in front of's healthy, right?????

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Pumpkin Muffins

It's October 1st, and in our house that means it's also time for pumpkins! I tried this muffin recipe for breakfast today--I had some new silicone muffin pans that were just begging for something yummy! (The recipe is courtesy of King Arthur Flour--if you love their flour, visit their site. They have tons of great recipes!)

(Note: I opted to use only the whole wheat flour for these muffins, and they were great!)

Pumpkin Leaf Muffins

These muffins can be baked in our autumn leaf molds for a special seasonal touch, or as a regular muffin. You can customize their flavor with grated carrots, raisins, oatmeal, or 3/4 cup chocolate chips, chopped nuts or apples, or cinnamon chips.

On their own, they're wonderful with a dab of Maple Cinnamon Butter (recipe follows).

1 cup (8 ounces) pumpkin (about 1/2 of a 15 ounce can)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (4 ounces) packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons (2 5/8 ounces) vegetable oil
1 tablespoon molasses
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon)
1/2 cup (4 ounces) milk
1 1/2 cups (6 3/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose or King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

In a large bowl whisk together the pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, oil, molasses, salt, spices, and milk. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and baking soda together. Add all at once to the wet ingredients and mix until all ingredients are well combined. Drop about 3 tablespoons (or a scant quarter cup) of the batter into the greased leaf molds, or the wells of a prepared muffin pan. Bake for 16-18 minutes, until firm to the touch for leaf molds; 18 to 20 minutes for regular muffins. Yield: 16 to 18 leaf shaped muffins, or 12 regular muffins.

Maple Cinnamon Butter

1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) butter
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) brown sugar

Beat all the ingredients together until the mixture is smooth. Serve with Pumpkin Muffins.

**Here are the pics of my finished muffins. I actually like the leaf-shaped ones the best!**

In the Kitchen--Organization

What I find to be the biggest hurdle to organizing my kitchen is not the cubic footage of the cabinets, but the surface area available in the cabinets.

I add shelving layers whenever possible to my cabinets (it is much easier to remove plates, bowls, and glasses this way):

I organized my bake ware and cookware in one cabinet using two chrome adjustable shelves:

My laundry area is actually a closet in my kitchen with the plastic-coated wire rack style of shelving. Before, I had to stack everything, and it always ended in an avalanche of foil and plastic containers. I took some pieces of the cubic closet organizer I have in another room and repurposed it to hold my boxes. (Instead of using the clips that came with organizer for the shelves in the middle I used cable ties to hold everything together.)

(By the way--I'm not a Ziploc hoarder nor am I an employee of the Ziploc company! I'm storing all of those bags for our Once A Month Cooking group!)

This is what works for me! How do you organize your kitchen?

Check out other ideas at Rocks in My Dryer!