Saturday, January 30, 2016

Little Dude Turns One!


A friend who gave birth to twins the day after I gave birth to this cutie was stopped in the store earlier this week and was asked, "So... what's the theme for your girls' first birthday?"

Now, that's just a WEIRD question for a stranger to ask... don't you think? But what I loved was her response: "Uh... cake and ice cream and survival?"  Because look. We got through 365 days together, and not only did the wee one survive - but he thrived! Look at him munchin' on that train like Godzilla! He's great. And he don't need no themed birthday. Which is good. Cause he didn't get one.

He did get a trip to the children's museum...

and a few cards...

and, yes, he did get a cake.
video


Which he destroyed. Right proper like.
video


The cake was a gluten free, grain free cake made from garbanzo beans. And it was delicious!! (Contrary to what Little Dude's unceremonious dump on the floor implied).  I found the recipe on Kathleen's blog, Becoming Peculiar. She made this cake for her daughter's birthday and claimed that "no one could tell there was anything unusual going on. In fact, our guests raved about how moist and chocolatey it was, and asked for the recipe." Well, I wasn't going to believe that til I made it myself.

But here's how they looked when they came out of the oven...
Those *do* look chocolatey.
And here's how it looked after frosting and "decorating"...
Yup. Looks like a cake.
And yes, after polling my sister and brother-in-law - who are both self-professed "not really cake eaters" - they wouldn't have guessed that this was one of those gluten-free-tastes-like-sadness-wannabe-cakes. Win! You can try the recipe as I made it and see if you agree.

So, all in all, a happy birthday for the little dude. At least, I think so. :)


Print Recipe

Chickpea Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Icing


Course: Desserts
Serves: 10

Ingredients

  • 2 cans garbanzo beans or 4 cups home-cooked
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 13 cups orange juice (or pineapple)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup coconut palm sugar (or other granulated sugar)
  • 23 cup honey
  • 1 13 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • Cream Cheese Icing
  • 1 tsp milk
  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 2 12 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 12 tsp lemon juice
  • pinch salt

Directions

  1. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans, and line the bottoms with cut circles of parchment paper to make sure your cakes come out nice and easy. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Blend the chick peas and 4 of the eggs in a large blender or food processor until smooth. Then mix in all the rest of the ingredients until well blended. (They may not all fit in your blender at once. You may need to transfer to your mixer bowl and beat it with your mixer, after the beans are blended smooth.) Batter will be very runny, but don’t fret — it’ll fluff up like magic when you bake it.
  3. Pour batter into prepared cake pans.
  4. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes, or until top is firm and a toothpick comes out clean. Remove cakes from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting and assembling the cake. Carefully peel off the parchment paper.
  5. Put the butter and cream cheese to the bowl of your mixer, and beat with the paddle attachment until creamy and smooth. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl as necessary. Beat in the milk, powdered sugar, vanilla, lemon juice, and salt. Beat on medium speed until smooth. Refrigerate the frosting for 30 minutes before frosting the cooled cakes.
  6. Place one layer of cake on a cake stand or plate. Top with a generous amount of frosting and spread evenly. Place the other cake on top of the frosting. Top with more frosting. Work frosting onto the sides of the cake until evenly covered.
  7. "Thread" a toothpick with 5 or 6 cherrios, and use to add the cherrios to the cake. (It's very helpful here to have a second person who can do the "threading" of the cherrios and keep you stocked with toothpicks full and ready to go.)
  8. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving, to make the cake easier to slice.

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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Maybe I'll Actually Make It To 7 On This 7QT...

Lots of little ideas floating around today as I sit down to the computer...

- 1 -

Last week Kelly posted about spiritual books "too great to put down" and she mentioned that if we were offended that she didn't ask for our opinion that we would get our chance to share on our own blogs sometime this week. What a diplomatic move! (Ha! Isn't that what our blogs are for, anyway?) Well, I wasn't offended but I still do have a suggestion (or 2).

First up is Lauren F Winner's "Wearing God".

I had to post this picture from my Goodreads account because I wanted to be super honest: for a book that's supposed to be "too good to put down" it took me an AWFULLY long time to read it. But that is no fault of Winner's. It was actually an excellent, thought-provoking look at the names we use for God and what those names communicate to us about God's character. It was a book that I wanted to take notes on and read carefully, but last year was just not the year to do that; hence why it took so long to finish. The perfectionist in me kept saying "If you can't read it the way you want to, then maybe you shouldn't read it at all." But when December rolled around and I found myself at my parents with little to do, I said "Forget that! I'll read it anyway." And I'm glad I did. (I will go back and read it again though with a notebook in hand. I loved it that much.)

- 2 -

The other book that I would recommend for Lenten spiritual reading is a thin little thing that you could probably finish in a day (or 3).
This is so easy to blog about when I just do a screen capture! I don't even have to say anything more than what I said a year ago! (Laziness at its finest.)

- 3 -

Had a little chat last night on being Catholic and my friend brought up a very good point: when a lot of one's spiritual journey has been spent in the Charismatic/Evangelical camp, coming to Catholicism (with its more contemplative approach) can be quite hard. But also very rewarding. This certainly has been true for me. I'm (re)learning that everything we do in Mass is meant to foster reflection on the work that God has done for us and bring us to a place where we can respond to God with humble and contrite hearts. It takes some work to stay focused on that (especially with kids in tow)! But I find that as Sunday rolls around I'm almost "hungry" for Mass and, specifically, the Eucharist. It's the part I look forward to all week - and it's one of the reasons why I feel we made the right choice to return - why shouldn't I look forward to communing with Jesus in this very special, Real, way? He Is There, after all. (Thank you Jesus, for that!)

- 4 -

In a few days, Little Dude will be One year old!
"Hi Mom!"
If I'm being honest, I'm finding that I'm not as melancholy about it as I was when my little girl turned one. Maybe it's because as he's getting older things are getting easier (he's sleeping a little better... eating a little better... playing with his sister a little better), and that's just making me thankful! On the other hand, when he falls asleep while he's nursing and he's just nestled against me, I get a little teary eyed knowing that those moments are not going to last forever... ok, maybe I am a little emotional about it!

- 5 -

A look at my Evernote organization
OK, back to Liturgical living! What do you all do to organize your thoughts/ideas and stay on top of it? So far, I've circled all the days that we're going to observe in our free calendar from CRS (it was prettier than the free one from our church), I've got a little notebook going, and I'm also saving things in Evernote as I find them on the web. It feels like a pretty good system, but maybe you have some ideas to make it better?

- 6 -

Well, folks, the last piece of pumpkin pie has been consumed in this house. That means the holidays are offically OVER. No more pumpkin spice nuthin' till at LEAST September! (except that I do have one last jar of pumpkin to use in the freezer, so maybe I'll just make one more batch of pumpkin apple muffins before then... :) )

- 7 -

The 9 Days for Life is ending this weekend at the same time that I will be celebrating the imminent arrival of a couple babies! It just seems fitting to end this novena with a baby shower, don't you? (I love those kind of coincidences!)

Hey, look at that! I actually made it to 7! Find other folks to congratulate this week at This Ain't the Lyceum and thanks again to Kelly for the link up. :)

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Home Again, Home Again... (7QT)

Jiggety jig.

-1-
Happy new year! And welcome back to life at home (for us)! Today we celebrated "2nd Christmas" with pancakes and Michael Buble and opening gifts from Grandad and our UK aunties and uncles.  I loved every minute and I also couldn't stop smiling at the irony of it all. Which is to say, after nearly a year of trying to observe the liturgical calendar, here we are telling our daughter that it's "second Christmas" well after Christmastide is done. Oh well... she's 3 right? She won't remember a thing.

-2-
Other ironies: the liturgical new year began with Advent - but I can't bring myself to plan for it until the calendar new year. Maybe that's just because I didn't get The Carrots for Michaelmas cookbook until after Christmas. Or maybe it's because I also just got a lovely little new notebook for 2nd Christmas that I can do all my planning in. Either way, I'm going to take Haley's advice and only really try to plan for 2 feast days a month. (As well as the major seasons of Lent and Advent... that's do-able, right?)

-3-
So what did we get for second Christmas, you ask? Well, I guess Santa must have heard me complaining about how I can't use the computer in the office because the baby is there, so he sent us a new all-in-one computer that is now sitting in our living room. It's gi-nor-mous! But it only has one cord! So, really, it's like a very large laptop. That can't be moved. (Until the baby moves. Out of the office, that is.)

-4-
While I miss my family dearly, I would have to say that the best part of being home has been... being home. Not getting home, mind you... (because as super cute as Little Dude is, he is definitely *no* fun to be with on a plane)
This was the happiest moment of our trip home... for both him and me!
I've enjoyed the cleaning, cooking and shopping (to do the cooking and cleaning...). I guess it's because I had such a wonderful break from doing it that I enjoy getting back into those things. In any case, thanks Mom and Dad!

-5-
I've read a few posts now from bloggers who are planning their "reads for 2016" but none have impressed me so much as this one: Modern Mrs Darcy's Reading Challenge 2016
The one challenge that really moves me right now is the "book that intimidates you" because, hands down, there is only one that fits that bill: Kirsten Lavransdatter. Honestly, it feels like the Catholic-mommy-blogosphere has blown up with it. And at 1168 pages, I can think of nothing more intimidating in a book. My own personal challenge this year is to read 12 books, so maybe I will use the challenge list above to guide me (future post, forth coming?)...

-6-
I mentioned earlier that my word for 2016 was LEARN. Well, I had that put to the test this week when I attended my first ever Paint Nite with my sisters and mom.
Look at us go! :)
Oh man, what an exercise in humility! I have never painted (beyond kindergarten fingerpaints) in my life and it was *so* intimidating to put that brush on the canvas! I must admit, the wine here was helpful in getting me over myself. But I did also have to whisper "Let go and learn. Learn." to myself a few times.
The finished product!
 As I mentioned to Paul later, "I think it looks better in the dark." But that's just my misplaced pride speaking. :)  I had fun! And I loved being with these lovely women, who I'm so blessed to call my family.


-7-
Ah, I always get to #7 and seem to peter out. Well, get your full seven of 7QT at Kelly's This 
Ain't the Lyceum (and check out her new website spread!)