Saturday, December 19, 2009

Peppermint Bark

We were walking through Costco the other day, when Chris stopped at a table laiden with holiday treats. My husband is the exact reason stores set up these tables. He picked up a half pound tub of peppermint bark priced around $8.00. He gave me the sad puppy eyes, and I said, "No way! I can make that for cheaper." Chris said, "But can you do it with both kinds of chocolate?" Oh, you bet I can!

This turned out way easier than I even thought, and in less than an hour, we had peppermint bark! I made two and a half pounds for less than $7.00. My husband is well pleased.

roughly 1 pound milk chocolate
roughly 1 pound white chocolate
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
12 candy canes

Place the candy canes into a Ziploc bag and use a rolling pin or metal frying pan to crush into tiny little bits. Set aside in a bowl for later.
Line a jelly roll pan with a sheet of wax paper, and use the butter to grease the paper. This will help free the chocolate later.
In a double boiler (or a heat safe mixing bowl situated over a pot), melt the milk chocolate. Pour onto wax paper and spread evenly. Shaking the pan a little will help spread everything out. Place in refrigerator for 20 minutes.
Pull the milk chocolate out of fridge. Using the double boiler, melt the white chocolate and mix in the peppermint extract. Pour over the milk chocolate and spread evenly. Sprinkle crushed candy canes on top and gently press into the chocolate. Place in refrigerator for 20 minutes, or until hardened.
Remove bark from fridge and let sit for 15 minutes. Flip upside down onto another sheet of wax paper, and peel the paper off the bottom. Break the bark into bite size pieces.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Monkeys need to eat, too

I enjoy baking for my family. Pies, cookies, and cakes are packed full of love, then shoveled into their faces to go where love really belongs: their bellies! One of my favorite items is banana bread. I keep a freezer stocked of bananas that have ripened beyond the casual eater's likening. Every now and then, I'll pull out 3 or 4 bananas and make a loaf of bread. There's nothing quite like a warm slice slathered in butter!

Benjamin now enjoys eating with us. Correction: Benjamin stalks us for food. The kid is a bottomless pit! I much prefer to offer him homemade solid foods rather than the store bought prepackaged kinds. I know exactly what goes into it, and it certainly saves us money. So when I opened my freezer today and saw a shelf of bananas, I knew that I had to make him a treat. Afterall, our fridge is full of pumpkin cheesecakes! I thought about trying to turn my bread into a biscuit for him to eat. He is teething, and it helps ease the pain.

Monkey Cookies!

3 1/2 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
3/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup softened butter
3 eggs
3 mashed bananas (you can use frozen or overripe bananas; they provide a more intense flavor)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Comine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well.
Cut in the butter. The dough should be crumbly.
Add remaining ingredients, and mix well.
Drop by teaspoonfuls on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 13-15 minutes.
Makes about 3 dozen. These cookies can be frozen.

These are very cakelike cookies, rather than hard biscuits, but as you can see, Benjamin enjoys them!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cleaning Up

There is something so luxurious about using handknit items while doing household chores. There's also nothing quite so satisfying as actually completing a project!

I have about one hour of dedicated time to myself everyday while the boys take their afternoon naps. It doesn't leave me much time to get everything accomplished that I used to get done pre-baby, but it does help me to feel as if I can breathe on my own again. I pulled out my knitting bag, and emptied it of all complicated projects: my sweater will have to wait until I have the time to count cables and rows and stitches; my socks will have to wait until the pregnancy short-term memory loss is cured (when does that go away?!) and I can remember what kind of heel I was turning; and my shawl will remain in the design stages. Instead, I stuffed it with cotton yarn and the intention of making several 8" squares to use as dishcloths.

  1. Garterlac Dishcloth in Sugar 'n Cream (Rosewood)
  2. Grandma's Favorite Dishcloth in Sugar 'n Cream (cream)
  3. Pawprint Dishcloth in Sugar 'n Cream (yellow)
  4. 4 Corners Dishcloth in Peaches 'n Cream (shades of green) in progress

My husband says we don't need anymore dishcloths. I beg to differ.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Laundry Closet Update

This is going to be the most tricked out Laundry Closet when I'm done!!

I decided on a wall paint color, and it just happened to be the same color that I used on my kitchen cabinets: Lima Bean green from the Martha Stewart collection. I had a whole gallon left, so I had plenty to do this small space. I ended up needing only one coat, which was a real treat when compared with the rest of the house!
It was a bit of a pain to pull the washer and dryer out because of the unmodern (and newly discovered, not up to code) hook-ups. We were a little too scared to completely disconnect everything, so I had to work around them in the very small space. As long as the laundry closet always remains a laundry closet, I don't think anyone will ever notice!

I picked up this 36" wire shelf from Target for around $10, and it's just large enough to fit all of our laundry detergents on, plus a little garbage can for dryer lint.

There are a few more things I want to add to this closet to make the most of it:

I need someplace pretty to dry my diaper covers. Right now, they're clipped onto the cabinet door handles with clothespins. I found this drying rack on Ballard Designs, but I don't think Chris would allow me $90 for such a small space! I have lots of ideas as to how to create one, but I'm still working out logistics.

I would love to be able to fit in a fold-out ironing board too, but the wall that has the outlets is the same wall that has the lightswitch. I don't know where I would position the board. The total length of the closet is 6 feet, so would it be too far of a stretch for the cord to place it on the opposite wall from the outlet?

Also, I want to hang a shower curtain rod right behind the bifold doors. This will give a place to hang coat hangers when the doors are open.

Now...if only updates to a laundry room would add $10k to our home value! :-)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Sick Bay

Last weekend, we were all exposed to the H1N1/Swine Flu. I've been carefully monitoring my family for signs of the Sick, but nothing showed up. Phew!

...until Friday afternoon. At about 2pm, Benjamin and I were hit with the Bovine Express semi-truck, and quickly developed fevers and aches and pains. I seem to be the only one with the cough and sneezing though. My throat is killing me and I can find no relief. Benjamin seems to be doing well with the help of some Tylenol and extra, extra, extra cuddles from Mommy. Chris, though, appears to be unhuman and has yet again escaped any form of discomfort. It's not fair.

There's no testing though around these parts unless you're admitted to the hospital and I don't even think we warrant doctor visits. After all, this could just be a cold. It's often so hard to tell the difference between colds and flus. Well, here's hoping no one gets worse!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Forward with a plan...

Although I no longer work at the Bank, I still do work outside my home. In order to help make up for the loss of my salary, I now take care of 2 young toddlers, as well as my son, at their house. I know the boys' mother through my employment at the Bank, but her husband works second shift and there is a good 6 hours of overlap when they're each at their respective jobs. This means that I get to spend my mornings at home, cuddling with my baby, and doing my housework.

I used to wonder at the people with piles and piles of dirty laundry, asking myself why they didn't just set a day each week and get it done. When it was just my husband and I, we sat aside Sunday afternoons for our "house time." We went to church, then to the grocery store, then did 2 loads of laundry, and finished any other errands we had for the week. Add a baby into our mix, whom we have chosen to cloth diaper, and we just added another 3 loads of laundry per week! We don't have a very efficient washer or dryer, so clothes take 2 hours to complete and diapers take 3 hours to complete the wash cycles. We didn't really have 12 hours to set aside for laundry on any given day. We've slowly been adding to the pile of "someday I'll get to that" dirty laundry.

There's something about babies that inspires one to be a better person, to lead a better life, to bring the focus back to the home. I have been trying to persuade myself to do a gigantic sweep of my house and fix everything I don't like. This has proved too daunting of a task for me. I need to start small and concentrate on the small victories. I will be prideful of what I accomplish and not focus on how much I have yet to do.

My prideful moment? I set a schedule for doing laundry. This is the only addition to my morning routine in a VERY long time, and I'm excited at how smoothly it fits in! It also frees up some of our weekend time.

Monday: wash diapers
Tuesday: wash my clothes
Wednesday: wash Benjamin's clothes
Thursday: wash diapers
Friday: wash Chris's clothes

Now, to continue on my YAY! LAUNDRY! moment, I want to clean up and decorate my laundry closet. Really, that's all it is: a closet. The washer and dryer take up all the floor space, and I have 2 hanging cabinets, only 1 1/2 of which are useable as they conceal heating duct work. There used to be a shelf attached to the wall, but it fell down and I've never replaced it.

Here's what it looks like now (obviously it's diaper day!):

So what should I do with it?
I love the canvases that my friend Jenny painted here.
I'm totally going to paint the walls (and the cabinets????) like they did here.
Any other ideas for me? Colors?

Sunday, November 1, 2009


A friend told me I needed to be a grown-up and get a blog like the rest of them.

I've had this blog set up for awhile, but never posted anything to it. Why? Because I have an 8 month old son, and that's a pretty darn good reason! However, this week he came down with an ear infection, and I'm giving him the luxury to sleep as long as he pleases. Just so happens he's taking a 3 hour nap today!

I recently left my promising career at a national bank in order to be able to spend more time with my family. I never thought I would want to do this, but one can never foretell how they'll feel about being a mother until they actually are one. Obviously, this is going to create a gaping hole in our finances where my paycheck used to be, but I am confident that everything will work out for the best.

I will be a happier, more fulfilled person with this path in my life. Please join me as I enter this new dimension!