Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My Baking Buddies

The fact that I love, love, love to bake is anything but a secret. I enjoy making cookies, cakes, chocolates, and much more. As Annika has gotten older, she's expressed an interest in helping me with my baking endeavors. Now, I'm not the tidiest baker, but adding a two-year-old "helper" to the mix (pardon the pun) definitely increases our required clean up efforts. Even with that in mind, I wouldn't change the fact that she likes to be involved ... especially in something I love doing so very much.

Annika and Conor helping make a cake (Kate - recognize the sifter??)
It is important to have quality control!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Grandma Nelson's Molasses Cookies

My grandmother was a pretty typical working-class woman of her era. She worked hard, raised her family, wasn't ostentatious, and basically led a rather quiet life. One thing my grandmother did was have cookies available whenever her grandchildren came for a visit. It never failed that she would have at least 3 or 4 varieties to choose from; each variety in its own round tin and each layer of cookies separated by wax paper. By far, my favorite cookie that she made was her molasses cookies. They were just perfect and wonderful in every way. They are now my go-to cookie and have become Eric's favorite, as well. I have no idea where the recipe came from, but because she's the one I got the recipe from, she gets credit for it.

Yesterday, Annika and I pulled out the handy-dandy Kitchen Aid (something my grandmother amazingly did without) and whipped up a batch of Grandma's cookies. They were perfectly tasty in every way. Grandma would be proud!

Grandma's Molasses Cookies
2 c. flour
3/4 c. shortening
1 egg
1/4 c. molasses
1 c. sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground clove
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger

Sift dry ingredients. (I don't do this, but the original recipe says to.) Cream shortening and sugar. Add egg and molasses. Mix well. Fold in dry ingredients. Chill 1 hours (covered). Form into small balls (approximately the size of a quarter). Roll in a dish of white sugar. Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment (this is my own method, not Grandma's). Bake at 350 F (original recipe says 375 F, but I prefer the cooler temp to keep the cookies from getting too crispy) for 10-12 minutes. Cool on a wire cooling rack.

A few notes: If you like chewy cookies, add 1-2 tablespoons of extra shortening and slightly underbake the cookies (definitely pull them out of the oven after 10 mintutes). Also, allow cookies to cool on the sheet for 2-3 minutes before moving to a cooling rack; if you don't wait, the cookies may break.

Cookie perfection! Don't you want to take a bite??

Mmmm.... yup It's goooood!

The second and third bites were just as tasty!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Oh, the things she says

This morning, Annika was watching an episode of "The Little Einsteins" cartoon that talked about how monarch butterflies migrate. At one point, a character asks the audience, "Can you say migration?" Annika relied, "Gration." I said, "No, Annika, it's mi-gration." Annika looked at me, pointed to the TV, and said, "No, it is HER-gration!"

Friday, June 18, 2010

New Photos

I'll think back on this photo when they hit the sibling rivalry stage

The March 2010 Trio - Grace (upper left), Conor (upper right), Liam (lower center)

Annika and her raspberry

Auntie Joan and Conor

Happy boy!

Annika's silly feet

Annika playing in the dress I made for her

Conor's first time in overalls (thanks for the hand-me-downs, Ethan!!)

Annika using chop sticks

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My surrogate family

I've been incredibly blessed to have quite a few surrogate family members in my life. The Platts were basically my local grandparents and their daughter, my mom's life long friend Joanie, couldn't be more of an aunt to me than if we were legally related.

Another portion of my surrogate family is the McEntee clan. My best friend, Kate, has generously shared her family with so many people that many of us are now known as "Schmcentees" - not quite McEntees, but close. Kate and I have known each other almost since creation began and her parents definitely took on the role of surrogate parents in my life. Yes, I have my own parents, but the McEntees definitely had a hand in influencing the person I've become. Kathy always knew exactly what to say to raise my spirits or encourage me in just the right way. The McEntee home was safe; in high school when I heard the 1st Gulf War began, I made a bee line for the McEntee home. I was scared because one of my brothers was in the Persian Gulf and I needed a place that was filled with faith, support, and encouragement ... that place was the McEntee home. Kathy and Dick McEntee personified partnership in life; they supported each other, shared and incredible faith, worked tirelessly raising their children and fighting for causes that were near and dear to their hearts. I admire the way the McEntees interracted with each other; I never heard a cross word between them. Instead, I only recall laughter, proclamations of faith, and mututal support. The McEntees are a true role model for my marriage to Eric, as well as my ongoing journey of faith. Kathy joined the angels in January 2008 and I'm incredibly saddened to know that Dick will most likely join her soon. I know my saddness is selfish - it will hurt when he's gone... it will be devestating to people I love and I hurt for them knowing the saddness they will have to endure. One bit of consolation is we couldn't ask for better people than the McEntees to watch over us from above.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Big girl bed

It's official. Annika has graduated from her crib to a big girl bed. The transition wasn't without a few tears and some resistance, but she is slowly wrapping her mind around the change. In order to ease the move, we decided to have her help disassemble her crib, which she greatly enjoyed. (Unfortunately, when it was time for bed, she tried to convince us to put the crib back together.)

She's now spent 3 nights in her big girl bed (and 2 naps). We still get resistance from her about the arrangements, but we expected as much. The only hitch in our plan is now she can wander around the house more freely than before...

My work buddy

Today, I officially started back to work. I'm incredibly fortunate that my employer is flexible and allowed me to work from home part time for 2-ish weeks to ease me back into work and to accommodate the fact we don't have day care for Conor until July 1. Here are a few pictures I took of my work buddy today.

Sneezing (my attempt at at action shot!)
He's such a flirt!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Ten Years Ago Today

Exactly ten years ago, I met the man of my dreams. Correction - he's a man who goes beyond the dreams I had as a young girl and younger woman. Eric is one of the most thoughtful, caring, entertaining, loyal, insightful, and loving people I could ever have hoped to know ... let alone, share life's journey with.

Ten years ago today, I began my career as a technical writer and saw Eric for the first time as I walked to my first desk at DCI. That morning, I couldn't help but notice the cute guy in glasses who sat 2 cubicles away from me. Little did I know that a short time later we'd be dating, a year and a half later, we'd be married, and a few years later we'd welcome our children into the world.

I feel incredibly blessed to have shared the past decade with Eric and look forward to the ones in our future. I love you, Eric - beyond measure, beyond time, beyond all else.