Sunday, February 28, 2010

A day in the sun

What a difference a couple of days (and a couple of states) makes! Instead of being stuck indoors due to cold, wet weather, today we had a great day with a bunch of sunshine-filled walking! We are in Florida visiting Saba and Savta (my parents), and we are loving the fact that there is no snow on the ground!! To celebrate, we had to go out and enjoy the warmth.

In the early part of the afternoon we decided to enjoy the fact that Little Girl qualified us to get into the Museum of Contemporary Arts for free. Great price for a good cultural experience! There was an exhibit about Marilyn Monroe which looked interesting, and we figured that one could never be too young to be introduced to a legend! The exhibit was well done. The artwork included photographs, sculpture and paintings done during Ms. Monroe's lifetime as well as after hr death. She really was a beautiful, fascinating, iconic woman. Here's hoping that we as a society can learn from her life and death...

In the latter part of the afternoon, when Little Girl decided that napping simply wasn't going to happen, we went for a walk to Whole Foods, where there is a farmer's market on Sunday afternoons. While there was nothing at the market that grabbed our attention, Whole Foods certainly had a great selection of yummy stuff! We got some treats for ourselves, as well as a nice assortment of things to bring to Hubby when we visit him in Central Florida in a couple of days (yes, he did finally get down there safe and sound!). It turned out to be a beautiful day for walking, so we took full advantage! It was so nice that Little Girl decided that socks were unnecessary... Her feet were a little cold when we got home, but she didn't mind at all! It is nice to have a child who loves to be outside, and we are lucky to have somewhere to go during the cold winter months where we can do so comfortably!!!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

On the road...

Every year at about this time, Hubby takes a trip down south to see his favorite team at Spring Training. This is a non-negotiable trip. I have gone with him a couple of times, and it actually is a lot of fun. This year we were scheduled to leave today. The only thing was, we were headed to different parts of Florida - he was going to Central FL, me (and Little Girl) to Northern FL. This trip has been on Hubby's calendar since... the end of the baseball season? Maybe even earlier. So, of course, the Mid-Atlantic was slated to get another monster snow storm. Great. Because we were headed to different locations, Hubby and I were on different flights out, different airlines, even. Hubby's flight was canceled last night, before a flake had fallen. And, from the weather reports, it really looked like that was a wise move.
Cut to this morning.
We wake up to no new snow on the ground. Sure, some is falling from the sky, but it isn't sticking. But, according to all reports, the worst is yet to come, and the afternoon - when my flight is still scheduled to go, is when things will turn ugly. I spent the morning calling the airline and checking the website, trying to figure out when the flight will be canceled. Around 11 am, when the ground is still only wet and the snow is thinning, I realize that I had better pack a bag for Little Girl and myself - this flight was not getting canceled... at least not before we got to the airport...
Cut to 3:35 pm - scheduled take-off.
I am in shock. We are on the plane and it is pulling away from the gate... Sure, we were a few minutes delayed, as there was the precautionary de-icing process, but we were off! Despite an exhausted baby girl who refused to sleep, the flight was easy - just as all flights should be! So she and I are in Florida, where, while it isn't as warm as we would like, there is no snow - not even in the forecast!
But there is snow at home now, where Hubby is still waiting to see if he will be able to leave for his trip. Good luck, Hubby! I hope that I see you in Florida before I see you back in H-Town!!

As for me, I am here for the week. I will still be crafting, baking and playing as much as I can, so hopefully there will be tales to tell from my temporary locale.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

You say potato, I say YUM!

I think that potatoes might just be my favorite food. They are so versatile, and just down-right tasty! It started out as an obsession with french fries. My grandmother used to say that I was going to turn into a french fry! As I got older, I learned to branch out and enjoy these tasty 'taters in almost any mode of preparation. French fries still do, and always will, hold a special place in my heart, but I have found another potato dish that gives fries quite a run for their money!

When I first got my slow cooker I was very excited about all of the soups and stews I would be able to make. Even being vegetarian, I knew there would be lots of options. I soon learned, though, that slow cookers are not for soups alone! In my searches for recipes I stumbled across a little piece of heaven - combining potatoes with cheese. This recipe (or one almost exactly like it... this was a few years ago when I found it...) looked absolutely perfect! Of course I swap out the chicken stock/broth, but other than that, this is one of the few recipes I trust as-is! But really, combine potatoes and cheese, and how can it be anything but delicious?!

This recipe was also a great chance for me to use my handy little vegetable slicer. I had never used a mandolin growing up, and was always frustrated with my efforts to cut thin, even slices. Well, with the slicer at hand, these potatoes were going to be cut so well! (I know, it is kind of sad the things that excited me...!) Kitchen gadgets ready, I was all set for potato and cheesy goodness!

The first time I made these potatoes, I was really impressed. They cooked up nicely, and were cheesy, gooey and delicious. And my husband? He thought he had gone to heaven! We have dubbed these "cheesy potatoes" in our house, and we have made them countless times and in countless varieties! I have added onions, peppers, zucchini, squash, beans, and soy "meat" crumbles to make what is an amazing side dish into a filling main meal. In fact, I made this dish with the soy crumbles for my meat-eating in-laws, and they have begun to make cheesy potatoes (with fake meat!) for themselves!!

Hubby likes these so much that I use them as comfort food when he's had a hard, long day. We are trying to get ready for a trip out of state, but things have been getting hectic and frustrating, as well as the chance of snow threatening to keep us grounded, so I thought tonight would be the perfect time to treat him to these.
For tonight, these potatoes were a side dish, so I made a smaller batch than I usually do. One great thing about this recipe is it is kind of foolproof - you can add to it, expand it, shrink it, adjust it in so many ways... No matter how you make them, they are worth having!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Play day!

I am not the type of person who sits still doing nothing very well. While I don't feel the need to have every minute of my life planned out, I do feel that I should have at least one thing on my schedule every day, preferably something that gets me interaction with other people. As of last night, I had nothing on tap for today, and no cooking or baking to do even, since I am not home for dinner on Tuesdays and we are supposed to go away in a few days. So I was happy when I chatted with a friend and invited her for lunch. Then early this morning (well, early for most people, not for a mom with a baby!) a different friend called to ask me a favor. She asked if I would mind taking care of her four year old son while she went to a doctor's appointment. This was great! She thinks I did her a favor? I think I got the best of this deal! This is a boy, Mr. J, who I love to be with, and who is a ton of fun to be around. He is very high energy, and loves to be doing things. And he was great with Little Girl! She loved watching him run around, he loved helping her... he even shared his lovey with her! If that isn't a great act of kindness from a four year old, I don't know what is!!

So for a completely unscheduled day, today was pretty full and lots of fun! I am so glad that I got to play with Mr. J! I can't wait to have a play-date with his big brother next! I loved having the kids play together. And they had such a good time, I think they wore each other out!

Miss L - we can do this again any time!!!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Baby breakfast bars

I was invited to a baby shower yesterday, and was quite excited to go. Me being me, though, I could not show up empty handed. I know, a gift is more than sufficient, but I like to bring food, too. (That must be oh-so-much of a surprise...) I was told that there would be plenty of egg dishes already, this being a brunch, but I could bring whatever I was comfortable bringing. Of course I brought a Challah, but I also wanted something sweet. I went to one of my Internet best friends for some guidance. I logged onto allrecipes and did a very specific search - I typed in "breakfast." I found a few recipes that looked good, but one in particular caught my eye. The Breakfast Crisp looked like it could have some great potential - oatmeal and brown sugar together, what could be bad? I did tweak the recipe a little, as well as doubling it to make enough for a party... I got rave reviews at the shower! I was quite pleased with the taste myself... There was only one little problem... There was none left for Hubby to taste! (I had also not had the chance to photograph them at all, either...) So today Little Girl and I went to Auntie Twin's house, and Little Miss helped me make a new batch. I brought most of the ingredients with me so that I wouldn't be too much trouble, but I forgot to account for my klutziness... Sorry, Auntie Twin!!

The changes I made included a touch of extra brown sugar, a splash of vanilla extract, a sprinkling of nutmeg, a generous helping of dried cranberries, and cinnamon sugar sprinkled on top. The dough is kind of pretty, at least in my opinion, but very thick and sticky. Little Miss was a big help getting it all into the pan!!

While I think I over-baked these a little, they came out great. Still nice and chewy, sweet and a little tangy. I highly recommend them for your next breakfast, brunch, or snack!!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

In the mix

As much as I prefer to bake things from scratch, I don't have anything against boxed mixes or the people who use them. they really are time savers, many of them taste quite good, and when they are on sale, they make having treats around very affordable!! A friend came over last evening and brought with her a mix she wanted to make. She is just testing her baking muscles, and knew I would be a willing helper/guide/taste-tester!!
The treat for the evening was this:
Looked good to me!! The package contained mixes for the cakes and the filling. So even with the box, I got to do something from scratch - I made a yummy fudge icing for the tops...
As the cupcakes were baking, I looked at my friend and asked innocently, "What do you think about making the filling chocolate?" Silly question, got the answer I expected. I added some cocoa powder to the meringue powder, whipped it up to nice stiff peaks, and filled the cupcakes. There was a lot more filling than could possibly fit inside twelve cupcakes! We decorated the iced cakes, we made some meringue cookies, and of course we tested the flavor...!
The end results were some very tasty cupcakes! Thy rose nicely, took the filling well, and were so delicious it was hard to stop at just one!!

Friday, February 19, 2010

A hill of beans

One of the staples of a vegetarian diet (ok, of our vegetarian diet) is beans. Great source of protein and fiber, and really, just yummy. While the canned variety are good, and I use them frequently, enjoy using dried beans whenever I can. Especially when I am making something in the slow cooker. One of the really good things about having the weekly meal schedule is that I can build in the time to pre-soak the beans. I love to see the small "hill" of beans I start with grow into a big, nutritious, filling meal.

Tonight's Shabbat dinner is chili. I got it all assembled last night and put the stoneware from the slow cooker into the refrigerator. All I had to do this morning was put the stoneware into the base and turn it on. Gotta love a meal that cooks itself!!

In tonight's chili we have five kinds of beans (black, pinto, great northern, pink kidney and black eyed peas), canned diced tomatoes, some grape tomatoes, squash, onion, garlic, split peas and texturized vegetable protein.

And, since it is Friday, we will of course have Challah... Thank you to my fellow mommies who came over and played with us and helped make two different kinds of Challah today! I can't wait to have our next play-date!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The long and short of things...

I love to cook and bake. Clearly... I do not, however, love cookbooks. I find that they take up a lot of room, and I only use a few of the recipes in them. I consider it a good cookbook if I can find five (or so) good, keeper recipes. I do, however love Cooking Light magazine. I get four or five great recipes every month. And that is without even looking at the ones for meat and fish. It is great! And the recipes are almost always easy to follow, made with realistic ingredients and healthy. What is there not to love?

I felt like I hadn't baked in a while, and I had some amazingly good vanilla beans sitting in my cupboard, so I decided to make a recipe from Cooking Light that I had tried once before - Vanilla Bean Shortbread. This is a yummy, eggless recipe that makes a nice, fairly plain cookie that serves as a great base for chocolate pudding, ice cream and other flavorful things. It also gave me a chance to get my hands nice and sticky pushing the dough into the pan!! I did substitute margarine for the butter, making this a nondairy treat, and I also used half brown sugar and half white instead of all white - I just love brown sugar!!

The bars came out of the oven at a beautiful golden brown color and cooled for five minutes until it was time to cut them. As I mentioned yesterday, I seem to be totally incapable of cutting in a straight line or making uniform, even pieces. Which is why I wanted to use cookie cutters. Which I don't have. So I had to use my pizza cutter, and have shortbread bars in a variety of shapes and sizes. They still taste good though, and luckily no one is judging my uniformity. (Please, don't judge my uniformity!!)

As much as I enjoy plain cookies, I wanted to have some variety in my dessert. So I melted some chocolate in my makeshift double boiler and dipped away... Quite a nice combination, that vanilla and chocolate... No wonder it is so popular!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

An astonishing discovery...

Well, maybe more surprising than astonishing, and maybe more of a realization than a discovery, but still...
I made a treat today, about which I will post tomorrow. Part of this treat, though, involved cutting into even pieces. This is not something which I do well. I seem to be incapable of cutting straight lines, let alone even pieces! I have tried rulers, I have tried guidelines, nothing helps. So I thought cookie cutters would be in order. Best way to make even pieces, right? Then came my realization... I do not have cookie cutters!! I have a single cutter - in the shape of my favorite team's logo. Love it as I do, it is a little big for what I wanted.
So that was my baking eye-opener for the day. It has taken me this long to realize that I must not make that many cookies, as I can't make them in fun shapes. This is something that absolutely must be fixed before too long... Little Girl will need to be able to make cookies - or at least cut out clay shapes...! Hopefully this "problem" will be solved soon... Until then, improvisation is key, along with tolerance for uneven cookies!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

The big 1

This weekend my beautiful cousin, Miss A, turned one. Such a big girl!! Hubby, Little Girl and I were lucky enough to join in the festivities, which meant seeing family members we simply do not see often enough. It was also great fun to see Little Girl and Miss A play together. They are only 3 1/2 months apart, and we all hope that they will get to be close not just as cousins, but as friends. Because it was her birthday, I had to have something for Miss A, and, knowing me, you know it had to be something home made. I was tempted to make a tagged lovie, but I thought that, at one, she might be a little old to be starting with something like that. Instead, I found some pretty fabrics in my stash and made her a pillow. She's a big girl now, she can soon start using a pillow in her bed. I loved the rainbow print, and wanted this to be something soft and comforting. I also wanted it to be something which was simultaneously age appropriate for a one year old, and not too babyish, so she might want to keep it around for a while.

I am still working on the closing stitch for making pillows and the like, but I think it came out nicely. It is a good size for a little girl, and would also work as a throw pillow or something decorative. And, if nothing else, it can be used for dolls to rest their heads on!

And, of course, I made one for Little Girl, also... Mustn't let her feel left out!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine Treats

Hubby and I are not really into Valentine's Day. I mean, we don't really feel like we need a special day to tell each other how we feel. (And isn't every day special when we are together? Gag...) Plus, with Little Girl being so young, we know she doesn't care one way or the other, and she also gets told how loved she is many times every day...

Despite the fact that we agreed on no cards or gifts, I did ask if he would like a special treat for the day. He, being a chocoholic, asked for chocolate pudding. No problem. But, since I make it somewhat regularly, I decided to jazz it up, make it special. But I didn't have time, or the creativity, to make much. Luckily, the supermarket had pound cake and whipped cream on sale.

Put them together, add some candy hearts, just for fun, and you have a yummy, lovey treat!
Happy Valentine's Day, to those of you who celebrate, Happy Middle of February to those who don't!!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Un-Challah day

Another Friday should mean another Challah, right? Well, not today. There are several reasons... One, I have SO much leftover Challah in the freezer, I didn't feel like I could justify making more. Two, I was supposed to get together with a wonderful woman who was going to teach me the art of the six strand braid. And she was going to give me a loaf for our Friday night table. Unfortunately, the timing just didn't work out for getting over to her home... Hopefully soon... But I still wanted to have two loaves for saying the blessing. I had one whole loaf in the freezer, but I am planning on bringing it, intact, to family this weekend. When speaking with my mother, though, she reminded me that the blessing does not have to be said over Challah. Just bread. So I decided to make a recipe I had seen on foodgawker some time ago. That way there would be a loaf to eat, and my Challah would be saved for our trip.

I have never made Milk Bread before. To be honest, I had never heard of milk bread before... But it looked fairly simple and fairly tasty, so I thought it was worth a shot. And it would add an international flair to dinner, right? Of course, for me it was soy-milk bread, but who's keeping track...

The interesting part if this for me (though, really, it shouldn't be...) was proofing the yeast in warm milk rather than warm water. I love to see the yeast foam and bubble when I make bread. Seeing it in the (soy)milk was just as cool. Here's the progression:

Once the foamy goodness was ready, I added it to the salt, oil and sugar, then mixed in the flour. I don't know why, but I was expecting the dough to be a lot thinner than it was. I shouldn't have, since the ratio of flour to liquid was 2:1, but I just did... Never-the-less, I got my batter mixed and into the loaf pan.
After the dough rose I was pretty excited. It was pretty and puffy, and looked like it would make a beautiful, non-traditional Sabbath bread. True, my loaf pan is bigger than the one called for in the recipe, but I was pretty sure that wouldn't be an issue. I figured I might not get the "muffin top" over the sides, but that's ok.

When the bread came out of the oven I was a little bit disappointed. It looked like it shrank back down from its pre-baked rise... The color was beautiful, and the smell was great, but it was a kind of flat loaf of bread...

Luckily, the taste didn't seem to be affected. Both Hubby and I liked it a lot. I think this will make a yummy breakfast bread with margarine and either jam or honey, or a decadent snack bread with Nutella spread on top. This is definitely worth trying again!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Well, I have been talking about them a lot recently, I figured it was time to finally make a batch of these famous marshmallows. Except I was a little low on my staples... So I was only able to make a half-batch... They didn't quite turn out as fluffy as usual, but that probably has something to do with having less "batter" to work with... Go figure...
This is actually Martha Stewart's recipe for Vanilla Marshmallows, and I was introduced to it by Auntie Twin. This recipe is yet another reason why I love my KitchenAid!!!
Since I only had one cup of (regular, granulated) sugar, I had to halve all of the other ingredients. Made half the syrup, used half the amount of gelatin, etc... Normally when I make these I use part vanilla extract and part vanilla bean, like the recipe calls for. Since I was only making a half batch, I was too lazy to scrape half of a vanilla bean. So extract alone. I did use some of my vanilla sugar, though, so that helps...

Letting the marshmallows set is usually the hard part for me... I am not very patient, and one of the reasons that cooking and baking are good crafts for me is the end product is usually ready pretty efficiently. But these need to set for a couple of hours... Turns out, I let them set for a day - snow days with Hubby and Little Girl are a good distraction!
While the cutting of the marshmallows isn't exactly fun (it isn't hard or frustrating, it just isn't the most fun thing in the world to do), I like tossing the freshly cut squares of sweetness in powdered sugar. Maybe is it because I am always messy anyway and there is no way to contain powdered sugar, maybe it is watching them go from sticky to individual treats... I don't know... I just like it!

While this batch didn't turn out as aesthetically pleasing as I would have liked, the taste was not affected at all! So I am happy to report that any upcoming marshmallow treats will be made and enjoyed with the real things!! Woohoo!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

An egg-cellent meal...

Today was another snowy day. I mean really snowy. A nice day to be inside all day. Which Little Girl and I did. Except for the part when we went out to play. Little Girl made her first snow angel... It was a TON of fun!! (I'll show you my angel's angel at the end...) It was also a good day for a nice, hot, slow cooked meal. On our weekly meal plan, today was supposed to be a breakfast for dinner night - eggs, potatoes and toast. Well, with the cold, and with my rekindled love of my slow cooker, I decided to play with the potato part. Usually I make some sort of oven fries. Tonight I wanted something more warming... I don't quite know what to call this dish. I think I called it some sort of potato hash. Whatever you choose to call it, it is yummy!

I cut up the potatoes I was going to use anyway, added a chopped onion, garlic and a can of diced tomatoes. I also threw in a can of vegetarian beans. Because I like beans... And it makes me feel like I am making a real hearty meal.

Now, I should have started this meal in the slow cooker a lot earlier than I did. I didn't get creative until after lunch, so I had to make sure this would be ready for dinner. That is why the potatoes and onions are cut quite so small. That being said, I think I like the small chunks, so it all worked out! After adding salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and basil, I set things going on high for three hours.

For the egg component of the meal... My stand-by is scrambled eggs. Quick, easy, no thought involved. But the other night Hubby and I watched the movie "Julie & Julia." In it, the Julie character extolled the virtues of a well poached egg. I was up for the challenge... Or so I thought... I think I need to learn a little more about proper egg poaching if I want to try it again... The whites didn't stay together, and I think I might not have cooked them quite as "hard" as I should have. I like runny eggs and all, but health dictates learning a little more.

The coolest part about making the eggs tonight, though, was the anomaly I found. I bought eggs from the wholesale club we belong to. Twice in the last carton I found this odd occurrence, and I figured it wouldn't happen again, and I was out of luck since I didn't have a camera handy. Well, it happened again tonight. I got a twin egg. Hubby says it is because I am a twin. Now, would these eggs produce twin chicks if fertilized? Have any of you encountered this before? It is really odd. Cool, but odd.... I promise, both of those yolks came out of that one shell. This is not trick photography, nor is it photo-shopped... I don't know enough technical stuff to doctor my pictures, other than to remove the red-eye!!

Despite the oddly poached eggs, dinner was tasty. This recipe (or, this mish-mash of ingredients) will be a keeper, and maybe next time I will have prettier eggs on top!

And, as promised, here is the snow angel made by my beautiful snow angel!!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Dinner and an acknowledgement...

I know, I never do two posts in a day... Maybe I should have saved one of these for tomorrow... Or maybe I will take tomorrow off... Who knows...
I'll start with the acknowledgement. Auntie Twin - thank you for your help, support and creativity!! It is from her that I got the recipe for "my" marshmallows, and she is the one who recently made amazingly rich, chocolaty cocoa that inspired me. I promise, you are fully appreciated, and I hope I can inspire some of your meals, crafts and activities!!

On that note, tonight's dinner was something which Auntie Twin told me about a while ago. She made it for her family, and I remade it for mine, only vegetarian. I remade it again tonight, still vegetarian, but different. Still yummy, and this is a keeper recipe!!

Let me start by saying how much I love my crock pot. Even when it requires a little more prep work, I love being able to throw a bunch of things in, walk away and come back to a home that smells amazing and a meal that tastes great. Tonight's crock pot creation is a Mexican dip/filling/pot of goodness. It starts with a can of black beans, a can of corn and a jar of salsa. I added to this mix sauteed onion, garlic, peppers and zucchini. I then added some sauteed soy chorizo. Cover and cook for a few hours. The house smelled amazing. I was so excited. Before this is ready, though, there is more to add. Cream cheese. Cubed up cream cheese. (I also added some shredded cheese, because I love shredded cheese.) Cook for another hour, and the creaminess factor is delicious.

The sides for this meal were just as important. At least in my opinion. Fresh guacamole, more shredded cheese, lettuce, tomato, chips and some black olives for hubby. We took this concoction and made it into burritos. Sort of... I am a notoriously messy eater... So while everything made it into the tortilla, I just had no confidence in my ability to eat it without wearing most of it... So I ate with a fork, knife and a bunch of tortilla chips. This is amazingly yummy, and I highly recommend it!!

Old school treats, new twist

Sometimes the mood strikes to have a treat from your childhood. For me, having an open bag of marshmallows was the spark that had me thinking about crisped rice cereal bars (no product placement...!). I don't often have marshmallows in the house, and since I discovered how easy and yummy the homemade ones are, I forgot that I had a bag. You know I found them the other day for our super de-duper deluxe cocoa. Now that the bag was opened, I had to do something with them, right? So cereal bars were a must.Now, I don't keep crisped rice cereal in the house.
We love our cereal here, but that one just doesn't seem to make it into our rotation. I do have multi-grain O's here. Those are a lot better than you would think! And using those makes these treats healthy, right? Whole grain is good for you, so these must be, too! I also wanted to incorporate more of the sweetened dried cranberries. Whole grains and fruit? Wow... theses are almost like health food!!

While I haven't made marshmallow cereal bars in a while, I did not feel compelled to look up a recipe... I thought I might be able to handle this one from memory. Looks like I did ok. I thought it was fun when Hubby couldn't keep from saying "Wow..." while I was pouring the gooey mixture from the pot to the cake pan. (Though maybe it should have bugged me, since this isn't exactly the most complex recipe I have ever made... Eh, no worries!)

This turned out to be my kind of health food! Sweet, a little crunchy, a little chewy, all delicious! These are not going to last long in our house!! Now I wonder if I can do this with the home-made marshmallows... (or maybe partway through the process - why shape them just to melt them again?) I guess I am going to have to make a batch of those one of these days!!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Craft Re-do

Remember this clever little last minute solution for keeping Little Girl's cup in place in her new stroller? This little thing has been used and reused quite a bit. And it has worked pretty well. But ever since I made it, I have been trying to figure out how I could have done it better. The band around the cup has always been just a little too loose, and the cup slips out - totally defeating the purpose of this craft! And, sorry to seem superficial. but I was not thrilled with how the band looked. Functionality got a B/B-, Form got a D. I wanted to do better.
So I tried again. I wanted to make something a little more adjustable, and a little less slap-dash. This time I planned ahead - I didn't wait until five minutes before we were heading out the door to try to figure something out. First, I gathered my supplies. I found my fusible velcro pieces, which I had looked for the first time unsuccessfully. This was going to be how I made this thing be adjustable. I also chose to make the cup loop out of elastic, but the strap out of ribbon. Not quite sure why, I just kinda thought it would work out better for me... who knows...

Next I cut my elastic and ribbon, and fused on the velcro. I wanted adjustable, remember? So I "measured" around both the cup Little Girl has been using and one other likely candidate for use, just so I could have a range. I also fused velcro to the ribbon on both ends - one to go around the elastic cup band and one to go around the loop to attach to the stroller. The only sewing I did was purely decorative - I sewed a button onto the end of the elastic band. Mostly aesthetic, partially so that a hurried Mommy would know which end to work with.

Finally time to put it all together. I like the way this looks more than the previous attempt. I also think this will hold the cup more tightly. I tried to shake the cup free and couldn't. But I am not a determined eight month old... We will see what happens when she gets her hands on this!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Got snow?

We here in the Mid-At;antic region got a little bit of snow last night into today. Not too much... Only 28 1/2" recorded at the local airport... Yeah, today was a nice day to stay warm and dry inside. Unfortunately for Hubby, someone had to go out and shovel... True, we live in a complex which takes care of snow removal, but we still have to dig out our cars, and clear paths around them. I happen to have the best husband in the world, and he was out there for a VERY LONG time taking care of this, without even a thought to letting me help... I was flattered, touched, and just a little guilty-feeling, being cozy while he was in the 20-something degree temperatures. So I decided that he deserved a special reward for all of his hard work. I decided to make "Super De-duper Deluxe" hot cocoa for him. Warm, rich, and super yummy. Something that would warm his hands and his spirits.

I started with chocolate. Not cocoa packets, not cocoa powder, actual chocolate. Bittersweet chocolate, 70% cocoa squares and some milk chocolate went into the food processor for a spin. That went into a pot with vanilla soy milk, vanilla extract, some sugar and some cinnamon (you know how I feel about chocolate and cinnamon!). Stir, mix, melt...

What would have made this even more super de-duper would have been some of my home made marshmallows. Unfortunately, that wasn't in the cards, as I haven't had the chance to make any in a while. Maybe next time... Despite the prepackaged marshmallows, the cocoa was pretty fabulous. Rich, creamy, warm and satisfying. The perfect way to cap off a cold day. (Even for those of us who never actually made it out into the cold...!)