Sunday, December 23, 2012


There is no substance to this post, but for many hours a day, I stare at my daughter and marvel at her amazing eyelashes. My brilliant and talented sister B took this picture (when we dumped the baby at her house and ran off to watch a Bond movie. Weee!). It's no secret that I wanted a blue-eyed baby. Not that they are in any way superior to babies of other eye colors, but I'm a sucker for blue eyes, and it was sort of a genetic long-shot since there aren't a lot of blue eyed genes running around my side of the family, but we won the luck of that draw it seems. She has the same blue-grey eyes as her daddy. Those eyelashes? Those are all J too!

Reindeer Brownies

I'm blogging a recipe. Again. Like I think I'm some sort of food blogger. Except food bloggers take better pictures. Oh well.

But ok, seriously. I'm a little bit proud of this. It's not just some recipe I found. Well, I did find the recipe. In a cookbook I've had since I was 18 and is always useful. The other night, hanging out with KammahPants and someone said brownies, so I made brownies. From scratch. Which I've never done before, because honestly, a box of brownies is so easy! But I didn't have a box of brownies. I did have a ridiculous amount of flour* and some sugar though. And cocoa. That's important too. Anyway, I made the brownies and they were... ok. Not bad at all, but not really all that great. Certainly not chocolatey enough for me. So I thought and thought and thought and thought and thought** about what to do to make them better. I tweaked the recipe, tested it, then doubled it, stuffed it in some mason jars that I decorated, and TA-DA! Christmas crafts!

So, Reindeer Brownies (Adapted from the "Where's Mom now that I need her" cookbook)

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used milk the first time, and a mix of semi-sweet & white when I made the jars)

Melt butter. Mix in sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating well. Mix flour & cocoa together and add slowly to the sugary butter mix. It won't be super stiff but that's ok. It's good. Trust me. Fold in the chips. Put it all in a greased & floured 8x8 pn. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

Here's the beauty of it--these brownies hardly have edges. The edge pieces are almost as soft as the center. The edges are cake-like. The center is fudgy and you could easily eat the whole pan before it cools. Just warning you.

*My husband went on a bread-making bender when we inherited a bread machine. Yay! But now we have all purpose, self rising, whole wheat & two different kinds of bread flour. That's a lotta flour!

**Ouch! (Shiloh, he didn't think that hard)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Smore Chow

Ever since I discovered cookie butter--or Biscoff spread, as they sell it in my grocery store--I've been wanting to substitute it for peanut butter in a number of dessert recipes. My friend Kathleen remarked that it tasted like graham crackers. I think it's the love child of a graham cracker and a ginger snap. Regardless, it's delicious. But the graham cracker comment got us thinking of smores, because everything is better with chocolate and marshmallows, right?

First, we took a spoonful of cookie butter and stirred it into a mug of hot chocolate topped with marshmallows. It was lovely.

Then, I decided to make puppy chow--that stuff with chex mix covered in powdered sugar.

Oh, Internet. Forgive me my arrogance. I thought puppy chow was easy, like Rice Krispie treats. I thought you just melted stuff, stirred in other stuff and it was idiot proof. Well, I managed to mess it up.

First of all, and I'm not passing the buck here but it must be said, I think I found the WORST recipe for puppy chow on the whole internet. I suppose it could have been worse if it didn't include measurements, but I didn't realize that I needed such specific instructions until I was already elbow deep in Chex. (Apparently there's a recipe on the box? But I had chocolate Chex, and I didn't even think to look for a recipe there.)

So, The Ingredients:
9 cups Chex cereal (This is the first part of the dumb--my box only had 8 cups in it)
1/4 cup butter (I used margarine)
1/2 cup peanut butter (and I used Biscoff spread, and this is beginning to look like I'm blaming a recipe that I didn't even follow, but just stick with me, ok? My real complaints come later, and have nothing to do with my numerous substitutions)
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

The Instructions:
Melt chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter in sauce pan.
Remove from heat, add vanilla.
Stir in cereal.
Put powdered sugar in large ziplock bag. Add cereal mixture, shake until well coated.

Seems straight forward, yes? Even substituting margarine and cookie butter, things couldn't go too wrong, could they? Oh, but they DID! Maybe cookie butter doesn't melt as well as peanut butter. I will admit that could be part of the problem in this formula, and accept the blame accordingly. However, "melt" isn't very specific. Melt over high heat? Medium high? Not quite so medium high? Low? What temperature? I guessed--and oh did I guess wrong. First things started to boil before everything was melted, so there was much stirring and turning down the heat. Then I had a lump of slightly cooked chocolate chips and cookie butter and a mess of un-melted stuff. So I turned the heat up, but it was useless. The mess just sort of...congealed. It was the consistency of peanut butter, but grainy--like unsolidified fudge, which sounds tasty but was totally ineffective for my purposes.

I forged ahead. I removed from heat and added the vanilla. It...didn't improve things any. I added the cereal. I stirred for all I was worth. It sort of worked. Some of the cereal got coated. And it was chocolate Chex to begin with, so there was that. Then I had the brilliant idea to make this into S'more chow by adding marshmallows (about 1/2 a cup for those who might care). It sort of helped things get meltier and more like a dessert instead of a jumble of ingredients. I was feeling mostly defeated, so I dumped the lot into the ziplock bag with the powdered sugar and shook well. I shook and shook and shook and... Well, the result was edible.

Which is to say that in 2 days a gallon-sized ziplock bag was demolished in about 24 hours courtesy of one birthday pot luck and an afternoon watching Supernatural with Captain Kammahroo.

I'm still not impressed with the recipe, but I will take the blame for not knowing how hot to have the pan to melt the things. Live and learn, eh?

8 months

The Vitals
I don't know. She's napping at the moment, but she's big. 20lb ish? Tall-ish? (She woke up. 27", 20lb 3oz) She's still wearing mostly 6 month size stuff though, except for pants. Those are 9 month pants in the picture. 6 month pants are pretty much capris--which is fine as it's been mostly 80 degrees here in TX.

The first Thanksgiving!
Getting to meet her Great-Gram!
20 days in Weatherford!

Sitting up--I mean, getting from her belly to sitting all by herself
Standing--still while holding things, only once did she let go, and like a cartoon stood there looking quite shocked until she realized what she was doing, and then promptly fell down.
Getting out of the Bumbo!
Pulling up (her favorite is in the bathtub--I KNOW!)
Pincher grip-which she has perfected by picking up (and sticking in her mouth) every bit of flotsam, jetsam, detritus and fluff on every surface everywhere.

Works In Progress
Standing by herself.
I don't think she gives two figs about crawling in the traditional sense. I think she's figured out the crawlooching and will go from here to terrorizing the animals on two feet.

She likes
All the food
Banging her spoon around
Chasing the animals around
Putting everything she can pinch into her mouth

She dislikes
Falling down. Man, learning to be mobile is hard and so are floors. No time like the present to learn that gravity sucks.
Leaving headbands on her head

I like
Knowing what will make her laugh
Seeing her learn new things everyday-- I watched her figure out that her hands were full the other day. I was on her right side and handed her a toy. She grabbed it with her right hand. I handed her another toy. She reached for it with her right hand, saw that her hand was full, transfered the toy to her left hand, and then grabbed the NEW toy with her right. Later that day, I did the same thing. This time she turned to grab the toy with her left hand. FASCINATING!

I dislike
The tears that come when she falls down
The sleeping thing. It's still hard.

It was a good month overall. I got some very sweet compliments from my sister-in-law and J's grandmother about how well behaved Eleanor was at Thanksgiving and that did my heart good. She smiles and laughs at everyone--well, most everyone. She's sort of figuring out that there are strangers. I'm seeing the beginnings of separation anxiety but it's not too bad yet. She chases me when I leave the room. Oh! And there's this thing with loud noises. They don't scare her--I mean, she doesn't run away from them. Of course, she can't run, but she crawlooches TOWARDS them. Which is to say she crawlooches towards me, when I'm vaccuming or drying my hair. She used to sleep right through those things, now she's fine as long as I'm holding her while doing it.

And here's the monthly "look how big she's gotten" picture.

for comparison, this is her at 8 days:

Saturday, December 1, 2012

And then...

The past 24 hours have not been very good. They haven't been terrible, horrible, no good or very bad but they have not been very good either. That being said, there is humor and smiles to be had too.

Eleanor is learning about a million new things every minute*. This is wonderful and entertaining. What she is not doing is sleeping very well. So, of course, neither am I. The lens of sleep deprivation makes everything grainy and gritty and sometimes cranky.

Yesterday, I went down to clean the pool filters, since it's fall and there are leaves, well, FALLING everywhere but mostly in the pool. My parent's pool. I do not have a pool. Down to the (fabulous salt-water) pool to do the thing with the places where the leaves gather so the motor to the pump/filter/thingy doesn't burn out. Emptying these things is a Sisyphean task but you do what you do, right? This time it went pretty smoothly. An earthworm had gotten in the Velcro bag of the crawler dodad and that was kind of icky, but not as bad as the half-drowned spiders from a few days ago. Then comes the very satisfying part--I get to throw the crawler back into the shallow end of the pool. Hooray! Toss! Splash! But the cord part was still mostly on the side of the pool, so I went to kick it in. I missed. Try not to be surprised. My athletic prowess is... admirable. But! Wait! Not only did I miss the hose/cord completely, my shoe also flew off my foot and... yep. Right into the pool. Thankfully it floated long enough for me to retrieve it with the crowbar I use to fish the crawler out of the pool in the first place. Floating shoes are good for clumsy people.

Today, I wore lace up shoes. I wasn't going to make that mistake again. But this time, when I went to empty the basket of leaves, the basket was mostly empty. All the leaves were puddled up BESIDE the basket. Not in the basket. Just near it. This meant I spent some time with the net-on-a-pole scooping the leaves out. It was actually quite soothing in a Zen gardening kind of way. But what was in the basket? Not a spider. Not an earthworm. A mouse. A tiny mouse. A wee, morbidly cute mouse no bigger than my thumb. A mouse that upon closer inspection turned out to be a possum. A BABY possum. Now, there are lots of things to say about Darwin and the circle of life, rodents, pests, blah blah blah, ok? Tiny baby possum. Sad.

I went Christmas shopping today and was very successful. Eleanor was all decked out in her cutest polka dots. I love this outfit. I love that headband. I am a rookie who wasn't paying enough attention to the baby strapped to my chest as I shopped and that headband is now lost to the Kohl's in Weatherford. I am irrationally upset. I know it's just a headband. I know babies drop things and if I want to keep them, they should be attached to cords. I know this isn't the last thing that will go missing randomly while out and about. And yet, I'm bummed. It was so cute! Navy with white polka dots and a bow. It matched the pants!

All that aside--enough whining for one day, right?--there are some definite perks to staying at my folks' house. A fully stocked fridge/freezer/pantry. A giant bathtub. A marvelous shower. (And Eleanor is content to crawl around on the tile playing with her bath toys, the Bumbo that she can now get out of, and any random thing she finds. She will play long enough for me to take a shower or bath AND put on makeup. Not at the same time. One after the other.) A BMW X5 with satellite radio. The world's most patient cat, Bandit, who lets Eleanor maul her, manhandle her, try to eat her tail, paws, face and whiskers, and does it all without a growl, hiss, or swat.

I'll be working on Eleanor's 8 month update just as soon as I get more picture storage so you can see how cute this little girl is being!

*Slight exaggeration
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