Friday, September 30, 2011

First Day of School - Kitty

And Kitty had her FIRST first day of school this year. She has a fun two year old class with great teachers. She enjoys it immensely, and loves it when her school day rolls around. She got purple sparkle tennies for the occasion.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

First Day of School - Boo

Boo's birthday missed the kindergarten deadline, so we got another year of preschool this year. She has a fabulous prek class, the teachers and the classmates are the best I could hope for. Boo was so excited to get back to school, and has had a great year so far.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

State Fair

A good time was had at the state fair again this year. The smoked turkey leg was as good as I remembered. The girls had their first cotton candy and it was a hit.

Boo had her obligatory sno-cone.

Kitty got up close and personal with the cows.

And the girls graduated.
Boo was tall enough and brave enough to try the fair rides. She loved them.

I mostly watched while she rode, but we went on the Tilt-A-Whirl together. Twice.
I used to love the Tilt-A-Whirl. And I still love it, it just makes me sick for the rest of the day.

And she went on her first roller coaster.
But my favorite part of the fair was this...
Watching a pet neutered (on the left) right next to a cooking demonstration.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Backyard County Fair

This was the year. We decided to have Boo's first big birthday party.

She has a lot of little preschool friends that have summer birthdays, so all summer she attended really fun birthday parties: a Halloween birthday party, a Fancy Nancy birthday party, a tea party birthday party, a swim party, bounce house parties. As August crept closer I became increasingly panicked about what we would do.

Boo has always loved the state fair, and talks about it all year, so we decided to go with a Backyard County Fair birthday party. It was flat out fun to plan, I was excited about it as Boo.

I will admit, however, that I got more than one gray hair in the days leading up to the party. Among other things, a big storm was supposed to roll in right at party time. We had 24 kids attending, and I spent the better part of two days staring at my downstairs rooms, trying to figure out how to have the party indoors.

But by some miracle the weather was absolutely perfect. Everything went smoothly and everyone had a great time, thanks to some great friends who helped with booths, took pictures, and took care of crowd control.

We started with fair food: corndogs, watermelon, and carrots/dip in a little cup.
Then each kid got a bag with tickets...
and we let them loose in the backyard to do the booths and win prizes. We had:


Bean Bag Toss

Knock 'Em Down

Guessing Jar

Art Table

And a bounce house.

Kitty was enormously disturbed that the bounce house was loud...
..and we're still hearing about it, a month later, in a pitiful little voice, "Bounce house loud" (or, "Buh-hus wuh" in Kitty-speak).

After an hour or so of playing games, we rounded them up inside to open gifts...

...and have cupcakes.
The cupcake tower was fairly easy to make. I was very disappointed in the cupcakes: the batter pulled away from the cupcake liners, and the sprinkles melted on the frosting. Oh well, they tasted good and with five year olds, really it only mattered that cupcakes were present, taste and looks are optional.

After cupcakes, we had a Marshmallow Race.
The kids ran from one side of the yard to the other, balancing large marshmallows on plastic spoons, and then earned a medal.

The party was over at this point, but the kids stayed and played. Things finally wound down around nine, and we noticed the threatening clouds rolling in. We packed everything up in a hurry, and five minutes later we got hit with the rain and wind. But it was a success, and I'm ready to do it again.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I wish...

I wish the past ten years had been different.
I wish we had not reacted to violence with more violence.

I wish we had showered our enemies with love,
as did the Amish community to their children's murderer's family.
I wish we had pushed deeper past our fear and hurt and anger,
and found something more.
Found that radical idea that Jesus taught,
to love your enemies,
bless them that curse you,
do good to them that hate you
and pray for them which spitefully use you
and persecute you.

But mostly I wish it hadn't taken me 10 years to wish this.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Lemon Cupcakes

I love lemon. Love it.

I made these a couple of times this summer for J's birthday and a co-worker's birthday. I would make them again in a heartbeat. The lemon cake and lemon curd are both good enough to eat alone, but put them together and add a whipped cream frosting...there's nothing better.

I used up all my lemon zest in the making of the cupcakes, but I think a little sprinkling of lemon zest on the frosted cupcakes would make these even prettier.

Lemon Filled Cupcakes

The Cupcakes:

2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 2/3 cup sugar
1 TB lemon zest (or 1 tsp lemon extract)
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk


In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy.

Mix in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla extract.

Stir in 1/3 of the flour mixture, then half of the milk, then another 1/3 of the flour, then the remaining milk, and finally the remaining flour. Mix just until incorporated.

Divide batter evenly into paper lined muffin tins. I did mini cupcakes. They're so much easier to eat than regular sized cupcakes.

Bake in a preheated, 350 degree oven for about 11 minutes (for mini cupcakes) or 17 minutes (for regular sized cupcakes), until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool completely on a wire rack.

I believe I got about 50 mini cupcakes from this batter. You should be able to get 24 regular sized cupcakes.

The Lemon Curd Filling:


2/3 cup lemon juice
4 tsp fresh lemon zest
10 TB sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract


In a small sauce pan, over medium heat, combine sugar and lemon juice. Add the lemon zest and stir until sugar is dissolved completely.

In a medium bowl, lightly beat egg. Whisking constantly, very slowly stream the hot lemon-sugar syrup into the egg. Beat for 2 minutes (only 1 if you’re using an electric mixer), then transfer back into the saucepan by pouring the mixture through a sieve.

Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the curd just comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Transfer to a small airtight container and store in the fridge.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

The Whipped Cream Frosting:

1 3/4 cups plus 2 tbsp. whipping cream
3 tbsp. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Beat all ingredients (use the whisk attachment on a stand mixer) on medium-high until the whipped cream holds stiff peaks.

Put it all together:

Once your cupcakes have cooled, cut a cone out of the top of each cupcake. I like a lot of filling in my cupcakes, so I generally also scrape more crumbs out of the hole to make room for more curd.

Fill the hole with lemon curd. You can use a spoon, but I like to use my mechanical pastry bag with a large open tip. It is super fast to squirt it in.
Top the cupcake with a swirl of frosting.

Adapted from:
Lemon Curd Filled Cupcakes
by Baking Bites
Whipped Cream Frosting
by Annie's Eats

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Raspberry picking

Time once again for our annual raspberry picking pictures. We went with some good friends and the kids had a great time running around together.

We went at the end of July and it was probably a little early, so we didn't get as many as I had hoped for.

But really I don't go for the raspberries anymore anyway. I go to get a big box of Anderson Orchard white peaches. And then I live on white peaches for three days. Oh how I love summer.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Canal Walk

One morning in July I decided to take the girls for a walk along the canal downtown. It ended up being a very short walk as it was unbearably humid.

Kitty did have some sad time...
But overall the girls enjoyed running around the sculptures and watching the fish in the canal.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Kitty at the zoo

Boo and her little friend went to bible school for a week in July. Boo loved it. And it was a nice change up in the middle of the summer.

One morning while Boo was bible schooling, Kitty and I braved the heat and headed for the zoo. We had a great time, and it was nice for Kitty to move at her own pace rather than Boo's.

We spent a long time at the monkey cage. I'd like to say it was because the monkeys were very active and entertaining, but really it was because Kitty was enthralled with the giant rocks in their cage.
I tried to take some pictures with both Kitty and the animals in the frame. Which means I got a lot of pictures of Kitty's back. But the cheetah one turned out great. The cheetah was resting in the shade right up against the glass. Kitty had her hand on the glass and it kinda looks like she's petting the cheetah.

Is it just me or is it crazy that there is a cheetah on the other side of the glass from my two year old?

The elephants, trying to stay cool.

And no visit to the zoo would be complete without time at the playground.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Vanilla Ice Cream Cake

We had some neighborhood friends over for the Fourth of July. Great company and great food, and a good fireworks show.

I was all set to make my vanilla pastry tart with berries for dessert, but then I came across this ice cream cake, and I knew I had to try it.
It was so fun to make. The berries against the whipped cream frosting were beautiful and festive for the Fourth. The cake was a little saggy, the berry sauce was a little icy, and let's face it, there wasn't any chocolate. But the vanilla cake was to die for, and it was still a really good summer treat.
I was going to post the recipe here, but it's pretty extensive, so I'll just send you over to Annie's Eats for the recipe. I used raspberries instead of strawberries, and used seedless raspberry jam for the sauce in between the layers. Breyer's All Natural Homemade Vanilla ice cream is the best store bought vanilla we've tried. Also, I didn't use a springform pan as the recipe suggested.

It's technically still summer, and berries are still on sale, there's still time to try it!

Saturday, September 3, 2011


So my camera cord has been lost for the last 2 months. I didn't worry about it too much until I ran out of room on my camera card. It finally turned up this morning (and by turned up I mean I reorganized the house til I found it), so I've got 621 pictures to sort through and blog.

Back to the Fourth of July. And I can't believe it was 2 months ago.
The girls don't have a great track record when it comes to fireworks. Or even sparklers. So we did some pre-sparklers to get them ready for the actual big day.

Boo loved them from the beginning. Kitty took a little bit of time to get warmed up,
but in the end decided they were acceptable.
We have the best spot in the neighborhood for watching the neighborhood fireworks. We sat in the corner of our side yard and had a great view of three different fireworks shows. Since they were all nearby, the pops were quite loud. Before the big ones really got going, the girls were running around, oblivious. A particularly loud one went off suddenly and scared Kitty so bad she fell completely over. She spent the rest of the show in my lap.