Friday, March 27, 2015

March 2015 Daring Bakers' Challenge: Tarte Tatin

This month's Daring Bakers' challenge was the ever-lovely tarte tatin... aka an upside down one-crusted pie.

I opted to make an apple tarte tatin using honeycrisp apples. Unfortunately, the apples were greatly lacking in flavor, which left my final dessert a bit flat in terms of flavor. I enjoyed making the puff pasty and the caramel, but the apples were so flavorless that the finished dish was "meh" in my humble opinion. I don't fault the recipe or instructions in the slightest ... just the apples that were not prime. I kick myself for not sticking to my original idea of using Granny Smith apples. Darn!

This summer, I plan on making a plum tarte tatin, so stay tuned!!!

For the March Daring bakers’ challenge, Korena from Korena in the Kitchentaught us that some treats are best enjoyed upside down. She  challenged us to make a tarte tatin from scratch.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Friday Fun in Tacoma

Last Friday, the kids didn't have school due to an archdiocese in-service day, so we decided to make a day of it. Originally, I thought we might head north to Mt. Vernon to see the tulips in bloom; unfortunately, the tulips wouldn't be in bloom yet. Instead, we opted to pile into my van and make the trek down to Tacoma for a day of fun and ... uhh.... more fun!

We went straight to my mom's house to hang out for a bit prior to meeting my best friend and her little boy for lunch and frolicking at the Tacoma Children's Museum. In the hour of frolicking, the kids mostly stayed in the back yard inspecting my mom's newly planted flowers and playing the recorder that she keeps on hand for the kids to play with when they visit. Conor got up close and very personal with just about every bloom in the yard and let us know which ones smelled the best. Impressively, only one plant wound up under his shoes.

Conor sniffing the tulips

Taking time to stop and smell the daffodils

Getting a good whiff of the purple ones

Annika modeling the yellow tulips

 During this visit, I channeled my elementary school music teacher and taught Annika how to play "Mary had a little lamb" on the recorder. It was really impressive how she committed herself to learning the song and played it over and over until she had it down pat.

Naturally, Conor wanted his time with the recorder, too. He wasn't quite as concerned about learning a song as making the recorder make the loudest sounds it could possible make. (My apologies to all of my mom's neighbors who happened to be home during the kids' concerts!) Not to be left out, Annika opted to put on her conductor hat while Conor worked on his musical medley.

The kids did a good job of sharing the recorder and conducting duties. After a bit, Conor put down his conductor's baton pencil and did a little freestyle dancing to enhance Annika's rendition of "Mary had a little lamb".

The final portion of our backyard entertainment was comprised of Annika on the recorder and Conor on the spoons. The spoons were played on each other, some posts, a couple of planters, and the brick patio. Nothing limits our family's musical expression!

Once the music was all played out (moreover, I said we needed to leave in order to get to the restaurant on time), we piled into the van and meet Kate and Daniel at The Old Spaghetti Factory. YUM! I loved that place as a kid and my feeling haven't changed a bit as an adult. Kate and I don't get to spend nearly enough time together, which makes the time we do spend with each other that much more special and cherished. We caught up, exchanged Christmas gifts (yes, we're always this slow!), and laughed our heads off.

At one point during lunch, Annika serenaded us with the "Make new friends" song (a Girl Scout classic); she was just wanting to share a song, but in actuality, she summed up the friendship that Kate and I share.

Make new friends,

but keep the old.
One is silver,
the other is gold.

A circle is round,
it has no end.
That's how long,
I will be your friend.

At the Tacoma Children's Museum, our kids went in every direction possible, making it tricky to keep chatting, but we did get a a few minutes here and there when the kids were occupied by the same activity. Just to be funny, I even texted Kate a few times while we were there, but not within sight of each other. The kids had a marvelous time exploring the new things to do at the museum and spending time at their go-to favorite activities, too. I was highly impressed with the new magnetic PVC segments activity that was added since our last visit and can see a scaled-down version being really neat in a classroom or Conor's room.

It was finally time to pack up and head back north. We said our goodbyes to Kate and Daniel, made a quick stop at Johnson's Candies (yum!), dropped off my mom at her house, and then spent the next 2 hours getting back home. Fortunately, the kids were pretty tired (aka mellow) and had tablets to keep them distracted as we sat in the rush hour traffic. It was a test in patience, but we were lucky enough to make it home without incident or any meltdowns.

Hurray for a fun day!!

2015 Photo Challenge: Week 3

I'm still plugging away at the March photo challenge put forth by the Mamas with Cameras photo group and am really enjoying myself. I've done well sticking with my 50mm prime lens and have gotten a few cases of the giggles while contorting myself to get shots framed as I want them. I think I've created a new mashup... yoga + photography = yotography!

What was in front of my lens this week? Take a peek!

Lemon Drop

Shoe tying cooperation

Neighborhood Watchcat

Cherry Blossoms

Good morning, Seattle

Coming in for landing

Taking some time to stop and smell the daffodils

Monday, March 16, 2015

2015 Photo Challenge: Week 2

I finished up week two of my Mamas with Cameras March 2015 photo challenge and am pretty excited that (a) I've kept it up so far ... especially considering how frighteningly busy the past few weeks have been and (b) that I'm getting a few worthwhile shots.

Without further ado, week two.
(Hey! That rhymes!!)

Sipping a sunset

Springtime blossoms

Oh the places we've been

Red white, and blue .. patriotic and yummy!

Dragon mural in the ID

Foot race
Attention to detail

Annika's 1st Grade Leprechaun

As she was sitting at the kitchen table working on her leprechaun trap for school, Annika (once again) expressed her excitement to find out what mischief her class' leprechaun would be up to in the days leading up to St. Patrick's Day.

She also pointed out that the class' leprechaun has a name. When I asked her what the leprechaun's name is, she replied "Damn it!" and happily continued gluing popsicle sticks and gold coins from the craft store to her leprechaun trap.

I'm fairly certain my eyes bugged out and my face contorted as I tried not to laugh at her recollection of the name. That said, I was pretty darned sure that her 1st grade leprechaun's name isn't Damn It.... especially at a Catholic school!

I explained to her that the name probably wasn't "Damn It" because those aren't nice words and that it was be akin to the leprechaun being called "Shut Up." Fortunately, Eric happened to be at his computer and was reading the weekly newsletter. He piped up, "Annika, your class' leprechaun is named Dominic."

Without missing a beat or looking up from her project, she said, "Dominic? Oh.... I was close!"

Damn It, Dominic
Tomato, Tomahto

Annika and her leprechaun trap

Monday, March 9, 2015

2015 Photo Challenge: Week 1

As I mentioned before, I'm doing a one-month photo challenge with some other members of the Mamas with Cameras group.

I've decided to structure my challenge as thus: every photo I take for it will be shot with my 50 mm prime lens. No zoom or macro. The only "zooming" is if I step back a bit further from my subject matter! (That at when Conor shouts "ZOOM" as he runs by me, naturally.)

I've become reliant on our all-purpose 24-105 mm lens, so this is a good challenge for me. It is forcing me to get back to the basics a bit, if you will. I have to move around to explore more options for each shot; I can't simply change the lens' zoom to get the effect I'm hoping for. Now, I need to adjust myself and how the camera is pointed at the subject.

Biker Dude

A dog and his girl, a girl and her dog

Mama, I don't sleep.... it is too boring

Cherry blossom

Bubble boy

I see the moon and the moon sees me


Friday, March 6, 2015

Annika's Malepropism

As we were driving to school, Annika started telling me a story and then got distracted by something.

After pondering for a moment, she asked, "What was I saying?" When I replied that I didn't quite know, she said, "Neither do I. I'm so forgettable!"

After biting my tongue and trying not to giggle at her mis-speak, I said, "I think you mean forgetful, not forgettable."

"Nope! Forgettable... I can't remember things."

After a few failed attempts at correcting her word choice, I decided to chalk it up to cute kid speak and left it at that.

This sweet girl is anything but forgettable, trust me!!!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Conor's Bubble Face

The photography group that I belong to (Mamas with Cameras) is doing a month-long photo challenge this month. It is akin to the 365 photo project I completed last summer ... just a lot shorter. There are no rules for the photos, just take 'em.

I snapped this one of Conor a few days ago and can't help myself from returning to it on a somewhat regular basis. There is just something about his expression and the look in his eyes that simply captivates me.

After I shot this photo, he started doing silly faces and some smiling faces, but this one was the winner to me.

So, I wanted to share it with all of you...

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Potlatch 2015 Cookies Are All Done!

In a recent post, I mentioned how a good chunk of Sunday was spent working on the cookies for the kids' school's 8th grade ceremony called Potlatch. Last night, I put the finishing touches on the cookies, i.e. putting them in cellophane bags and tying them with white bows. I'll deliver them tonight. 

While it was a really fun project, it'll feel wonderful to hand them off to the project coordinator. Knowing they're in my care and that anything can happen to them at any time is a little unnerving. I like looking at the final products, but I'll also like not being responsible for them any more. :)

I think Annika and Conor will also like having them out of the kitchen. Seeing all of those cookies right there on the counter and knowing they can't even touch them is probably their version of child abuse ... or, at least, sweet tooth abuse! ;)