Growing Out On A Limb


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Flying solo

Yet another reason we love summer around these parts:  Ice cream! 

Sunday marked Oliver’s first solo ice cream cone.  He really was not sure about it at first, being accustomed to just licking off our cones, but he was all over it once he got the idea. 

Of course we went right before bathtime because the ice cream river down the belly is inevitable, right? 

 

Silly Nana… thinking you’re going to get a bite! 

Oliver actually stopped and posed with the ice cream up to his mouth for a few seconds.  What a comedian, just like his Papa! 

An older Oliver will probably throw a fit at losing his ice cream on the sidewalk but this Oliver had an expression that said, “meh… it’s still good” as he munched away on the soggy cone.

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Reason #4732 that summer is awesome…

 … mommy lets me play in puddles! 

This huge puddle sits in front of my parents’ camp, despite the fact that it hasn’t rained in weeks.  I’m sure there are plenty of parents out there that spend their waking moments keeping their kids out of the dirt and mud but … well, I guess I figure that it’s a little boy’s job to explore and get dirty.  

Add to that one trip to the swimming hole scheduled for later that afternoon, zero desire to shadow his every move, and even less than zero desire to fight to keep him away from it and you’ve got a mommy who would have watched him do the backstroke in that puddle!


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A little gift for a little girl

My neighbor just had a little girl a few days ago.  I don’t really know her but I don’t get to shop for girl things so naturally I am jumping all over the idea of pink and purple.  Now, you know I’m not a pink-and-purple type of gal but it is nice to go there for a change. 

Here is a wee striped onesie with a daisy (freezer paper stencil from the other day).  There are pants too but not in the picture.  Then I whipped up a quick burp cloth last night with fabric I had laying around – a fabric scrap and a new hand towel I found at the second-hand store one day.  The picture doesn’t show it but the terry cloth underneath is a lovely purple – not grey. 

Lovely and quick and inexpensive too!  And maybe it’s old-fashioned, but I plan on making a dish of something to take over with it.  Hey, I remember those first few sleepless nights and it sure was nice to have something to just pop into the microwave! 


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Freezer Paper Stenciling – Take One

Freezer Paper Stenciling is something I’ve seen on a bunch of crafty/mommy blogs that I read and I finally got around to buying the items and trying it out. 

This is so easy and fun and full of possibilities!  It is really one of those crafty ideas that will take as much time as you want to put into it – as simple as the car shape in the pic below or as complicated as a portrait of Captain Kirk (crazy!).  Thankfully I am loving on the simpler shapes that I’m finding online. 

Yeah, I can see this becoming really addictive. 

The shirt on the left is one of Oliver’s.  His thing is cars right now and I loved this simple one that I found in a flickr group (isn’t the internet great for inspiration?).  The onesie on the right is a gift for my neighbor who just had a baby girl a few days ago – $2 onesie, $2 pants, and a one-of-a-kind daisy design = easy and cute!  

Cute, right?  My mind is literally spinning with the possibilities… Oliver’s clothes, my clothes, Brian’s clothes, pillow cases, tote bags, the curtains for Oliver’s room, Christmas presents… and on and on! 


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Apricot Upside-Down Cake

Dried apricots are great, but admit it … they’re always the last thing to go in that bag of dried fruit, right?  I was so naive to the deliciousness of the fresh apricot until the local grocery store started carrying them more this year. 

In keeping with the season I wanted to try a dessert, particularly a cake, to showcase them.  I found lots of recipes for upside-down cakes that looked delicious and gorgeous so I finally decided on this recipe at epicurious.com and set to it. 

I love that this is made in a cast-iron skillet (I’m not sure why but it seems old fashioned to me).  It was really easy … melt butter and sugar, place in the halved apricots, and pour a simple batter over it … and looked really impressive on the plate.  Best of all, it was scrumptious, especially served with a little sweetened whipped cream.  The cake was so good that I used the same recipe a few days later but substituted peaches (sliced and fanned out to be all pretty-like). 

The only thing I’ll note is that I didn’t run out to buy a carton of buttermilk that would just spoil in my fridge.  I just used regular milk and added a tablespoon of vinegar, which I found on an ingredient substitution site. 

INGREDIENTS

For topping

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 10 or 11 small (2- to 2 1/4-inch) fresh apricots (1 1/4 lb), halved lengthwise and pitted

For cake

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature for 30 minutes
  • 3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk

 

  • Special equipment: a 10-inchwell-seasoned cast-iron or heavy nonstick skillet (at least 2 inches deep)

 

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Make topping:
Heat butter in skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides. Reduce heat to low and sprinkle brown sugar evenly over butter, then cook, undisturbed, 3 minutes (not all of sugar will be melted). Remove skillet from heat and arrange apricot halves, cut sides down, close together on top of brown sugar. 

Make cake batter:
Sift together flour, baking powder and soda, and salt into a small bowl.

Beat together butter, sugar, and extracts in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes in a standing mixer or 3 to 4 minutes with a handheld. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then beat until mixture is creamy and doubled in volume, 2 to 3 minutes.

Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 batches alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, and beat just until combined.

Gently spoon batter over apricots and spread evenly.

Bake cake:
If your skillet isn’t ovenproof, wrap handle with heavy-duty foil (or a double layer of regular foil) before baking. Bake cake in middle of oven until golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes.

Wearing oven mitts, immediately invert a large plate over skillet and, keeping plate and skillet firmly pressed together, invert cake onto plate. Carefully lift skillet off cake and, if necessary, replace any fruit that is stuck to bottom of skillet. Cool to warm or room temperature.

This is a terrible picture but maybe better than none at all?  I need to figure out how to take good pictures indoors at night.