Saturday, February 28, 2009

Cupcake Fever

I've got a FEvah, and the only cure? More cupcakes! My neighbor, Wendee brought over some cupcakes, so I've been doling them out to Jimmy, when he's good and eats his meal. He does not dislike them.




This boy doesn't just eat a cupcake, he DEVOURS it. He investigates each aspect of the cupcake, appreciating all its complexities. It's all very scientific. Then, of course, he smears the frosting all over his face and smashes the cake part into tiny bits. I think he actually EATS maybe a third of it, which is probably for the best. :)

Friday, February 27, 2009

I Kiss

I recently put on a little weight. Not too much, and not so's you'd really notice (according to James, anyway), but I'd like to take it back off, so I added some running to my walks. Apparently, I was not meant for running. My shins felt like they were exploding. I ignored it and kept running. James bought me some new running shoes, which completely took care of the problem. I kept running. My lower back started spasming, sending pain shooting down the backs of my legs. I ignored it and kept running. Then, I started to feel as though someone had taken a baseball bat to my back, just below where my spine curves. I tried to ignore it and couldn't. I can take a fair amount of pain, but this was a bit much and wouldn't let up. Long story longer, I went to my chiropractor who told me I've torn and pulled some ligaments in my lower back. So...it hurts. When I went in to get Jimmy out of his crib this morning, he wanted to play the "pretend I'm still asleep so you'll pick me up from a lying position" game, and I told him I couldn't, because my back was very ouchy. He said, "Ouch?", and I said, "Yes, very ouch.". He thought about that, then sat up and said, "I kiss." (Mama has "magic kisses", you see. Whenever he's hurt, it has to be ME who kisses the boo boo - too cute). He kissed my back and then very agreeably stood up to make it easier for me to pluck him out of his crib. It's little things like this that make me feel that, in spite of his very "typical 2" (I don't think they're that "terrible") occasional tantrums, we must be doing something right. He's such a sweet, sensitive, loving little guy. Sometimes, I adore him so much, it almost hurts - but not as much as my back. Ha.

Wilton 1 Final Project

I did make a cake for my last week of cake class, but it was specifically to experiment with techniques for Jimmy's Sponge Bob birthday cake next week (which will either be completely boss or a total disaster - you KNOW I'll be posting photos, either way). It had a KU Jayhawk on it, just for fun (another reason not to post it - my poor father-in-law might melt. He's a Missouri Tiger, you see, and they react to the Jayhawk the way vampires react to the sun - hee hee. Love you, Jim :) ) and a lot of gorgeous red and blue striped icing. Then, I took it in the car and it slid around and got fairly wrecked around the edges. Which is fine, because it will still taste completely awesome (homemade white cake with REAL buttercream icing - NO CRISCO), but I'm not going to photograph it, because...well, because it's wrecked. For my final project, I did this:


This is just on my practice board, but I'm happy with the way it ended up looking!






I started out with a color striped bag to get variegated roses, but the icing was a little too soft, so I had to remix...




Getting plain pink roses, but I think they're pretty too. 'Berly and I couldn't believe we were actually making roses - such a cool technique and so fun!!





We learned how to do leaves and bows in the last session, and I added some writing too, just to suck up to the teach. (I keed, I keed...) :)

All in all, if I had it to do over again, I would totally still take this class. I had a blast and learned a lot, got to know 'Berly a little better, and Jimmy learned that he can live through Daddy putting him to bed, instead of Mom Mom. What a deal! In addition, I was reminded what a phenomenal man I'm married to. He very patiently and gently helped Jimmy learn that lesson (leave us just say - Jimmy and I are quite attached to one another, so there was some very plaintive and slightly over-dramatic crying on the part of my little dude) and has encouraged me to take another class and to take advantage of this short time between babies, when I'm comfortable going out and doing something on my own. Snagging James was one of my all time smartest moves, I think :).

Thursday, February 26, 2009

In Addition...

Jimmy has started negotiating. When I say "All done", he counters by raising one finger and saying "Wuuuuun mow" or "Uuun time". If I agree, he says "Sure! OK, awwight, gwate!" Why is that so hilarious to me?

I Think It's Cute When

Jimmy pretends to snore, so I'll think he's asleep. He does the whole *honk-shu* routine, and I start giggling. I can't help it. He's doing so MUCH now, and he talks non-stop. The other night, as I was rocking him before bed, he put his hands over his face, then took one off to point to me and said, "You say 'boo'". A command game of peek a boo. :) He suddenly calls me "Mom Mom"(?), and when he's ready to get up in the morning, I hear his sweet little voice over the baby monitor saying, "Mom Mom? Mom Mom? Moooooom Mooooom!" And, he tells me these very long, elaborate stories, of which I catch about every third word. Two days ago, he was telling me all about how Daddy was a froggy and that then a dog rode in a car on Blue's Clue's. James told me later about the show, which did, indeed have a dog riding in a car. Cars all have sound effects too, of course. Brrrrrrrrrr, ERR!! (brakes) and honk! honk!! And, of course, there are my favorites - "Whoa dude!" and "Aw MAN!". I'll give you three guesses where he got those.
(Thanks to Kathleen for the photo, which I swiped off your Facebook :) )

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Day With A Toddler

It starts out cute and fun. My little whippersnapper likes to wake up and hang out in his bed for awhile. He talks and reads and sings. If I go in to get him before he's ready and starts calling me, he adamantly refuses to get up, even though he's not actually sleeping. It's sweet. When he's ready, I go in and get him dressed. As I was changing his diaper this morning, he informed me that his "peendis" says "HONK!!". I can honestly tell you that I have no idea where he got that. Once he's up, he eats breakfast. I sit with him and drink my coffee, and sometimes we do numbers flashcards. Then, he plays for awhile while I check my email.


This morning, he was peeking through the back of this chair saying, "Hello? Love you!"






Then, he played "drop the car off the cliff" for awhile.





It was fascinating. After Mommy's email time, we usually go for a walk/run. Today, it was raining, so it was a short one (just a mile). When we got home, I cleaned out the garage, while Jimmy had his mid-morning snack and watched me work. We ate lunch, played for awhile, and then he took a great nap, while I cleaned out the downstairs coat closet and baked a cake for my cake class tomorrow. Once he got up from his nap, all bets were off. My sweet little darling was in a cwanky wittle mood and decided to dig in his heels about EVERYTHING. We battled through supper and then moved on into our evening.





This is a pretty fair representation of a) our evening and b) how potty training is going so far. Sigh.





And this here is what happens when you leave a partially frosted cake anywhere near the edge of the counter top. Did you know that toddlers have go-go-gadget arms that give them a reach of roughly ten feet? Yeah. Next up, bathtime and BEDTIME. And then, I'll go feel bad that I'm kind of glad to see him go "nigh night" tonight. Ah, motherhood. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

This Was Just A Moment In The Woods...

I don't usually put a lot of thought into things like this, but I had a moment today - one of those, "whoa, dude" moments that kind of wash over you unexpectedly. I had Jimmy in the stroller and was walking really fast through the rain, headphones in, iPod singing me some tunes, and I saw this progression of memories - myself as a little girl: this vivid memory of sitting out in the sun on my front lawn in Newton, wearing a dress my mom had made me, long, white blonde hair brushed and perfect, just feeling like the whole world was bright and beautiful - myself in high school at about 16, riding in a car, late at night after "Moonlight Serenade" with the marching band (going to the band directors' houses and playing the fight song in the middle of the night), listening to whatever music the current boyfriend had playing and just feeling like a teenager - myself in college: sitting in my room, listening to some other music while it thunderstormed outside, listening to my roomate in the other room. No current drama. I can still see the way the light came through the curtains in that room. And then, I could see myself at 30, pushing a baby carriage through the rain, just so happy. I had that feeling of being in one moment in a progression of ordinary moments that are making up my whole life. I've had an overwhelming majority of wonderful moments, and that makes me feel so fortunate and glad. The bad moments haven't twisted me or ruled me for too long, and I've learned something from each one. I got over them, anyway. I may not be a seriously remarkable person or be leading a truly remarkable life. I won't be in any history books or anything, and I'll be forgotten once I'm gone, and that's okay with me, because I'm so happy with what I have. I love every second of my own little adventure, and I think that counts for something. The whole thought process lasted a couple of seconds at most, and I know it's probably silly to even mention it, but it kind of impacted me. It made me feel wrapped up in joy and love, and it made me wonder what's next, you know?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Zoobalie Zoo

Our friends, the Flints from Sacramento were in town for Buffee's wedding this weekend, and they stayed over a little to hang in Portland. Jimmy and I met them at the zoo yesterday for a fun, rainy time. There are critics of any zoo, and the Portland Zoo has its detractors, but we love it and go frequently. Jimmy's a HUUUUUUGE fan of animals, and the older he gets, the more fun it is to take him.



It was raining fairly hard, but I have this stroller cover that worked perfectly on his wagon. He could see through the mesh, but he stayed high and dry. It was great!






Looking at the duckies. It cracked him up to see them under the water, then on top of the water.





Checking out a snake (I think) with Kathleen.





Enjoying the elephants - especially baby Samudra, the new addition.




Cake Class

Last week was the third of four, two hour sessions in Wilton cake decorating, the class I'm taking with 'Berly. We mainly learned detail stuff, so I don't have a whole cake to display, but we did learn how to make a clown and some flowers, and we learned step two of the "Wilton Rose" (not pictured, since mine all looked like horrific mistakes of nature).


The head of the clown is plastic. The rest is frosting. That would be a LOT of frosting to eat, but I wanted to learn how to "stripe the bag" - a technique where you use a brush to paint stripes of gel food coloring onto the inside of a pastry bag before filling the bag with icing. When you pipe it out, the frosting has variegated color from the stripes. Pretty neat!




We also learned drop flowers. Our class buttercream icing is made with shortening, rather than butter, so it won't melt from the heat of our hot little hands on the pastry bags as we pipe it out. It looks pretty, but it feels greasy and gross in your mouth. Remember my Sponge Bob cake? Yeah...James, Jimmy and I each ate one piece and then the cake got thrown out. The cake part was good, but the frosting was icky. Anyway, this week, I iced my cupcakes with ganache instead and just put little drop flowers on them. Tastier, and, I think, pretty. I would serve these for sure.

This next Thursday is our final class, and we're supposed to bring a cake again. I think I'm going to try a tiered cake, because I have ambitious plans for Jimmy's birthday cake, and I want to practice. I'll let you know how it goes!

Back Blog

I have kind of a backlog of photos and things to post - I need to get on it!!


This beautiful arrangement was a Valentine's Day gift from my parents. I love getting flower deliveries! It always makes my day.







These are pretty long lived, but I have a craft project I'll post with them when they start a-droopin'. Thanks Mama and Daddy!

Monday, February 23, 2009

James is Cute

James: "I think I need to become proficient in a trade job."

Me: "Like fixing air conditioners?"

James: "Well, but fun."

Me: "Like fixing water slides?"

James: "YES!!"

I love my husband. We have the most ridiculous conversations. :)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Lovely

When we lived in California, I got involved with a theater company called Runaway Stage Productions, and while I was there, I vocal directed some shows. The first one I did was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and the girl playing the Narrator was named Buffee. She was delightful and we became friends. We didn't communicate a lot after James and I moved to Oregon, but then I heard from her that she was dating a guy who lived a few hours from here, and that they were coming into Portland. They stopped by the house (shortly after Jimmy was born) and spent a few hours so we could reconnect with Buffee and meet her Eli, who is a very nice man. After they got engaged, Buffee asked if I'd take their engagement photos, which I did, and then, today, the big day arrived. Buffee specifically told me to bring Jimmy, so I got him all duded up and the three of us headed out to the church. We had a nice time! Jimmy did as well as I'd expect an almost-two-year-old to do. Of course, when the organist stopped playing after the processional, Jimmy pointed to the front of the church, where Buffee was standing in her GORGEOUS white dress and very loudly said, "TUNES?!?!?!" Yes. He likes music. I took him out after that. :) He enjoyed the reception though, and I was really proud of him. Have I told you how cute he and his father are? Here's some evidence.






Saturday, February 21, 2009

College Kid's Delight

"James, this is gourmet."

"It is?"

"Yes. It's TOP Ramen."

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bustin' a Move

I've been a little blue lately - something that happens occasionally. My fairly recent plan for dealing with the blues is to get very busy and active - "raise my serotonin levels", as my Mama would say. I needed to go to the Post Office this morning. It's three or four miles away, so I'd normally drive it, but I got a little ambitious today, and before I could think about it hard enough to change my mind,

...Jimmy and I bundled up...




...and hit the open sidewalk.




We hoofed it to the Post Office, then, since it was lunch time, we stopped into Maggie's Buns, a little place we love and shared half a roast beef sandwich, a tiny bag of chips and some juice. He also enjoyed a tasty graham cracker. :) Then, we hoofed it home, stopping occasionally to photograph some of the random things we saw. Also, I needed to stop occasionally so I didn't fall over in a dead faint from walking somewhere between six and eight miles.









Jimmy enjoyed his chariot ride, I think, and I broke in the new shoes James bought to help me with the shin pain I was having. The shoes are great! And now, though I realize you are probably fit and fabulous and mocking me for being so tired, I'm going to go collapse on the couch and never move again. Henceforth. Goodbye.

Jimmy's Invention



It's the innovative new way to drink your chocolate milk! All the toddler set are raving about the "spray bottle top inserted into the straw cup".




Until they shoot themselves in the eye with a blast of said chocolate milk. Then, the fun stops.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cake Crumb Cookies

I like hobbies - creative hobbies. I draw and paint and sew and cook and bake and garden and scrapbook. Hobbies are fulfilling and fun. So...I'm taking a cake decorating class at Joann's Fabrics in Hillsboro, with my friend, Berly. This last Thursday was our second week, and we needed to bring a cake for class. Long story short, in the process of making this:


I ruined one whole cake (tried to tip it out onto a cooling rack before it was ready, thus destroying it forever.) It was a sad moment in the Houx kitchen. That gorgeous, delicious smelling homemade cake, a heap of gorgeous, delicious smelling rubble as I tried REALLY hard not to cuss. I didn't really want to throw it away, so I went searchin' the old internets for recipes using cake crumbs and found a cookie recipe I thought I could live with. Here she is:

3 & 1/2 Cups Chocolate Cake Crumbs
1/2 Cup Cocoa
4 Egg Yolks
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
6Tablespoons cold water
1/2 Cup shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 Cup sugar
A dash of cinnamon.

You pretty much just stir it all together, drop it on a cookie sheet in rounded spoonfuls and bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes.






Here's how they look, baked and cooled. I, of course, decided to jazz them up a little, so here's how I make chocolate ganache. It's obscenely easy.






You need twice as much chocolate as cream. For example - two cups of chocolate chips to one cup of cream or milk. I generally eyeball it.





Put the milk or cream (in this case, I used milk, because I didn't have any whipping cream. It works just fine, though cream gives a richer flavor and texture) in a saucepan and place over medium-high heat.





Until it does this. Then QUICKLY remove from the heat (before it boils over and gives you a fantastic mess all over your stove)...





And pour over the chocolate. Let it sit for a few seconds...





Then stir. A whisk works best, in my humble opinion. Whisk away, until it looks...





Glossy and dark and thick. If it seems thin, add more chocolate.





Don't lick the computer screen.





I dripped some ganache on each cookie.





Then dusted a little powdered sugar on top. I gave some to our new neighbors. I also spelled out "Be Mine?" with them for Valentine's Day, using red piping gel - one letter per cookie. But that's another story. These are very dense, heavy cookies and very good.