Just Keep Swimming

To sum up how we have been since my last post in two words: extremely busy.

Between finishing my Master’s degree, working, juggling everyone’s schedules and the holiday season it feels like I am finally just starting to be able to come up for air. Here’s hoping that our 2014 will be a little more stress free and full of amazing adventures.

Things that we have been able to squeeze in during our free time:

  • Attend three super cute kids birthday parties
  • Took the cutest trash can and ladybug you’ve ever seen trick-or-treating
  • Ran another 5k that benefited the Woodland Park Zoo
  • Had a nice visit from my Mom and step-dad Gary for a long weekend
  • Took Jimi and Cecilia to their first movie in the theater
  • Celebrated James turning 30 years old with a jam session and an old fashioned house party
  • Take Jimi and Cecilia for a trip on the Santa Train on the Snoqualmie Railroad
  • Had a nice surprise visit and dinner with James Aunt Ali and her boyfriend Dan
  • Celebrated and early Thanksgiving with my family
  • Had a date night via Jimi’s preschool’s parent’s night out
  • Stated taking Jimi to speech therapy once a week (hopefully I’ll get to another post on that soon)
  • Had a fun and delicious Thanksgiving with James’ Dad, step-mom Karen,  his Jennifer, and Grandma Dorothy
  • Traumatized Cecilia and made Jimi’s dreams come true simultaneously when they both met Santa
  • Enjoyed a lovely Christmas Eve with James’ Mom, step-dad Jamie, and Jennifer
  • Spent Christmas with my Dad, his girlfriend Ann and my sister’s family

know there is more but my brain is fried. If I forgot anything super awesome that we did with you, please forgive me.

And just because I love looking at pictures of my cute family over and over here is a little slide show of the last few months. Enjoy!

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Pregnancy Stole My Baking Mojo

I love to bake. I’ve been told I’m a pretty good baker. I’m not very accomplished or creative but I do know my way around a box of cake mix and can throw together some yummy cake pops. However, as my pregnancy progresses my baking abilities decline.

James’ is in the final days of the school year so he asked me to make some guinea pig shaped cake pops (because it was his first year teaching choir, so the students were his little guinea pigs). I told him that wasn’t possible but I searched the internet – side note Pinterest has gotten out of control, I searched guinea pigs on there and people have pinned actual pictures of guinea pigs. That is not what that website is for- and found directions for guinea pigs cupcakes on the Nick Jr. website.

I decided to go for it and make the cupcakes for James’ class even tough I was a little unsure if I would be able to pull it off. I baked the cupcakes in the morning so I would be able decorate them quickly after Jimi went to bed. Fail #1: I over baked the cupcakes and they were dry. It was hard getting the timing right with a cranky toddler tugging on your leg.

These cupcakes had about a 1/2lb of sugar/candy on each cupcake. It took almost an hour to prep all of the candy pieces and make the frostings.

As I attempted the first cupcake things did not go as planned. The frosting was too soft and the noses didn’t look right. This first one did not look like a guinea pig at all and I was pretty frustrated but I decided to give it another shot.

What in the world is this thing? An ant-eater, maybe?

As I started the second cupcake things fell apart quickly. It was actually a warm day here yesterday so the room I was working in was just too hot to keep the frosting firm. The frosting just continued to get softer and softer as I piped it on the cupcake. It was getting late, Jimi hadn’t napped all day which meant I hadn’t napped all day, so I just threw in the towel. There was no way I was going to get these cupcakes to work without staying up all night to keep cooling down the frosting. Fail #2.

The second cupcake. I may or may not have squirted some of that extra frosting on out of frustration.

Instead of dried out guinea pig cupcakes, James class got dried out regular cupcakes with green sprinkles (one of their school colors).

Today I planned on making rice krispie treats on a stick, dipped in chocolate for James’ guitar class. I put the rice krispies in two small pans so they would be thick enough to stay on the lollipop stick. This was another big fail. The rice krispies were still pretty thin and I knew there was no way they were going to stand up on a stick. I should have doubled the recipe and put the larger amount in the smaller pans. Instead I just threw some green sprinkles on those too because I was too worried about messing them up and starting over. Fail #3.

Another failure was some peanut butter oatmeal cookies I made a while ago that sounded delicious but got as hard as a brick as soon as they cooled. And I’m sure the banana bread that I need to make will have something wrong with it.

The further along I get in my pregnancy the less patience and creativity I have with baking and I’m just too tired to take the time to fix my mistakes. I hope I get my baking mojo back after Cecilia is here, I miss making yummy treats.



Day 17 of 25 Days of Christmas Baking

Cookie of the Day: Rainbow Cookies

I’m officially calling this project dead. I once again did not make the cookie of the day. I could list the reasons, but I won’t bore you. For some reason we just seem to be getting busier and busier the closer we get to Christmas and I’m not even sure with what.I will be spending the next week baking but I think that will mostly be filled with cookies I’m familiar with, because they’re much faster for me to make and I wasn’t really overly impressed with most of the cookies on Epicurious list. I’m really glad I found the biscotti recipe on there and the brownie thins recipe.

Tonight I made three batches of cookies.

Raspberry Jam Shortbread Bars

My all time favorite Christmas Cookies

No Bake Cookies

And, More Peanut Butter Blossoms

I ran out of Hugs so I had to use some "candy cane" kisses



Day 16 of 25 Days of Christmas Baking (and why I didn’t bake)

Cookie of the Day:  Chocolate Roll-Out Cookies

Once again I did not make the cookie of the day, but I do have a good reason this time. James got a wisdom tooth removed this afternoon, so I was busy helping him (although he doesn’t remember anything after the elevator ride up to the dentist office) and taking care of Jimi.

Here's James taking a little snooze in my car post surgery.

I did make a batch of Chex Mix and Muddy Buddies. They are delicious. There are about four other delicious sounding variations of Chex Mix on the box that I think I’m going to have to try out once we get through this batch.

Chex Mix

Muddy Buddies

Next Up: Rainbow Cookies

Day 15 of 25 Days of Christmas Baking

Cookie of the Day: Grasshopper Squares

I actually got these cookies made! However, I have yet to taste them as they’re still in the 2 hour (!) cooling process in the refrigerator. These cookies (bars?) take a LONG time to make so make sure you have plenty of time on your hands when doing them. My only complaint about making these, other than the time, was chopping 30 ounces of chocolate. It probably would have gone faster if I had a nut chopper but that’s on my list of needed gadget and gizmos.

I did not do a very good job of taking pictures of these as I was also trying to make dinner at the same time, so I was rushing through everything. I’ll update the blog with a picture of the cut squares in the morning.

Brownie Layer

Finished grasshopper squares chillin' in the fridge.

Next Up: Chocolate Roll-out cookies

Day 14 of 25 Days of Christmas Baking = Failure

Cookie of the Day: Raspberry Chocolate French Macaroons

Did you ever have one of those days where you just want to sit around in sweat pants all day on the couch doing nothing? Well I was having one of those days today, except I have a toddler so I can’t just sit on the couch all day and we had a busy day. Phone meetings, doctor appointment and running errands. Add all of that with a lack of sleep because everyone in the house is sick equals a completely exhausted household.

Basically that was my laundry list of excuses for why I did not bake cookies today. I attempted to bake the cookies but as I got out the ingredients I realized I did not have enough almonds and I was not about to drive 30 min (both ways) to go pick some up.

The closer Christmas the busier we get and the harder it becomes to bake these cookies everyday. I’m starting to feel like this project is getting the best of me.

I haven’t completely given up yet, I do want to finish it but my hopes aren’t that high…

Next up: Grasshopper Squares

Day 13 of 25 Days of Christmas Baking

Cookie of the Day: Moravian Crisps

Well, like I thought would happen, I didn’t make these cookies either. I didn’t have time to make the dough in advance yesterday and I didn’t want to spend the extra money on the things I didn’t have to make these.

Instead, I made Buckeye Balls from the Southern Living Cookbook. I’ve tried to make these in the past but they turned out horrible! So I decided it was time to give these another chance.

Here’s the recipe:

1 (16 ounce) jar creamy peanut butter

1 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 1/2 (16 ounce) packages of powdered sugar

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate morsels

2 tablespoons shortenin

1. Beat peanut butter and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating until blended.

2. Shape into 1-inch balls; chill 10 minutes or until firm.

3. Microwave chocolate and shortening in a 2-quart glass bowl at HIGH 1 1/2 minutes or until melted, stirring twice.

4. Dip each ball in chocolate mixture until partially coated; place on wax paper to harden. Store in an airtight container.

The candies turned out OK this time. I did have some problems. First, I did not add enough powdered sugar (I keep it stored in a container so I was guessing how much I needed). Second, there is no neat way to dip the balls into the chocolate.

Buckeye balls before dipping them

Chocolate hands

Next Up: Raspberry Chocolate French Macaroons