Growing Out On A Limb

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A later-in-April hike

Gone are our winter boots and in come the rubbers and spring coats!  This past weekend the boys and I took a hike on a beautiful sunny (but still chilly) afternoon.  We just walked around home but it’s still fun to get outdoors and spend time with them.  They point out different things every time we’re out.

King of the mountain!  This is taken on a rock pile in the gravel pit not far from our house and is far less dangerous than it looks in the picture.  Oliver loves to climb the piles over and over again.


After we were done in the gravel pit, we walked through a field to get to the driveway back home.  Oliver and I had this exchange:

Oliver started screaming very loudly (happy screams).  

I said, “That’s your outside voice!  Let it all out, as loud as you want!”.

After screaming a few times, Oliver said, “That’s a gecko!”

Me:  “A gecko?  A gecko is a little lizard.  I don’t think a gecko would make that big noise”.

Oliver was thoughtful for a second, then screamed again.  Then he said, “Mommy, the sound – it comes right back to me!”.

Me:  “That is called your echo!”  (In hindsight, I should have caught on to where we went wrong at this point?!)

Oliver was thoughtful again for a second.  Then he said, “Oh, I thought it was an armadillo”.

I’m still not sure where the armadillo part came from but clearly I should have caught on earlier that he meant “echo” when he said “gecko”.  Ha… it was quite funny at the time!

I like these next two pictures because they show two brothers who love being outside, exploring together and sharing what they are finding with each other.  I do so love it when they get along.





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Spring crafts – umbrellas and caterpillars

This is a craft we did earlier in April in the hopes to persuade Mother Nature to quit with the snow and bring on the spring showers already!

I found this idea in Oliver’s Highlights magazine.  They are coffee filters colored with markers – that was the most fun part because Oliver and I liked being creative with our designs.  Then he sprayed them with water to make the colors bleed.  They were folded in half, taped to the window, and then Oliver drew the umbrella handle onto the window with a dry erase marker.  

It was fun but I’d change a couple of things the next time:  first, washable markers bleed too much so our designs were lost; second, the handles get kind of lost in the trees outside our window so I think I’d go with pipe cleaners next time.  

It’s always fun to spend one on one quiet time with Oliver though.


And they are a cheery pop of color for spring!  IMG_1447

This craft is an oldie but a goodie.  The best part?  I had nothing to do with it.  I got up from a nap and Brian and the boys had made these caterpillars from an old egg carton.  I love them!!  IMG_4202

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Early April Hike

I think we were feeling a bit stir crazy this particular day (April 7th) so we put on our hats and mitts and took to the hiking trail.  It was still covered in snow/ice in some spots so not the best for walking but it was still nice to get out and get fresh air.


When we got to the deep hole to throw rocks in the water, we were surprised by the crazy amounts of ice that had been deposited far up on the shore by high water!  No throwing rocks for us.

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Coconut Cupcakes

Another Easter dinner dessert.


I had a craving – coconut cupcakes.  I had a perfectly good coconut cupcake recipe that I used for Emery’s birthday and they were delicious.  But I stumbled on this one and it had rave reviews and I’ve never made an ‘Ina’ recipe I didn’t like so … here’s coconut cupcake recipe number two.  This one puts flaked coconut right in the cupcake which gives them a slightly crunchy texture.

What I didn’t count on was this recipe making like 28 cupcakes and enough cream cheese frosting for that many cupcakes and a dozen more pumpkin ones I had to make just to use up the icing.  I would have realized if I had read the ingredients list carefully ahead of time.  Fair warning for next time.


1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, room temperature

2 cups sugar

5 eggs, room temperature

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 tsp almond extract

3 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup buttermilk

14 oz flaked coconut


2 x 8-oz pkgs cream cheese

1 1/2 cups butter, room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

1 1/2 pounds icing sugar, sifted



Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cream butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition.  Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Beginning and ending with the flour mixture, alternately add the dry ingredients and buttermilk to the batter.  Mix until just combined.  Fold in 7 ounces of the coconut.

Line a muffin pan with paper liners.  Fill each liner to the top with batter.  Bake for 25 to 35 minutes.  Allow to cool for 15 minutes, then put on a baking rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and extracts.  Add the icing sugar and mix until smooth.

Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining coconut.  

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Fruit Flan

A good friend of mine gave me this recipe a few years ago and I had forgotten about it until I needed something for an Easter dinner dessert.  It’s not the best time of year for fresh fruit but I managed to find strawberries, blueberries, and kiwis that worked fine.  (The original recipe says you can use canned fruit but personally, I wouldn’t make it if all I had was canned fruit to work with).




1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp icing sugar, sifted

1/2 cup butter, softened


1 pkg cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup icing sugar, sifted

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup whipping cream

3 cups fruit

Glaze (optional)

1/2 cup apricot jam, filtered through a sieve (other jams can be used, making sure it goes with the fruit you have chosen)

1 Tbsp lemon juice



Combine flour and icing sugar.  Cream butter in a bowl and gradually blend in the flour mixture.  Use your hands to form a smooth dough.  Press evenly onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch fluted flan pan with removable bottom.  Prick well with a fork and chill for 15 minutes.

Bake on bottom rack of oven at 425 degrees for 7 to 10 minutes or until lightly golden.  Cool completely in pan on rack.


Beat cream cheese, icing sugar, and vanilla until smooth.  Whip cream until stiff peaks form; fold into cheese mixture.  Spread evenly in baked crust.

Arrange fruit attractively over filling.


If desired, melt jam and lemon juice together until smooth and brush over fruit.  I forgot this step for Easter dinner (hey, it’s easy to do with two kids running around) and it was very yummy even without the glaze.

Serve at room temperature.


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An old snow day…

It’s April and we’ve had only a few days of spring-like weather… it’s mostly been cold, it’s been snowing, and there’s even snow in the forecast for this week.

But I found pictures from early March that I had to get on here.  Mostly because I forgot to share our snowman… the one with glasses!


Hey… it was a snowman both my boys could relate to.

Oliver and Papa made their own snowman.  IMG_3917 We had huge snowbanks in our yard that the kids loved to slide down.  It’s hard to get a picture that gives the perspective of how large they really are, but this one of Emery in mid-slide does it pretty well.  IMG_3918 Aww… my little snow-lovin’ sweetie.  One of them.

IMG_3923Alright spring… it’s time.

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He’s so funny!


A few weeks ago, Oliver and I were reading stories at bedtime, laying on our backs like we usually do.  Out of nowhere, mid-sentence, Oliver reaches over, starts rubbing my chest (i.e. the bump that is my breast), and says, “Oh look!  I see where the baby’s head is in your belly!”.

I kind of chuckled and said, “Actually, honey, the baby is down here – in mommy’s belly” and I pointed lower to my stomach.

He thought for a second and said, “Oh.  Well… what’s this?” as he is still rubbing my chest.

“That’s mommy’s breast”.  (That’s it, that’s all.  I’m not going to call it anything but what it is but I’m not going to offer up more info than is necessary at this age either).

He thinks for another few seconds and says, “Huh.  Weeeelllll… it looks like the hump on a camel!”.

I chuckled a little but not too much.  Because … well, he’s not wrong!!


We were only back from our Jamaica trip for a couple of days and I was once again tucking Oliver in at bedtime.

He said, “Mommy, I don’t like to say goodbye”.

I thought he meant when we say goodnight at bedtime so I said, “We don’t have to say goodbye.  All we have to say is, ‘Good night!  See you in the morning!'”.

“Weeeeellll… maybe we could say something other than ‘goodbye’.  Like…. pickle!”, he said.

We giggled, decided that was a fine idea, said, “Pickle!” to each other and he went to sleep.

Almost two weeks later, I still say “Pickle!” at night or when I drop him off at Jean’s in the morning.


I love the way his little mind works!