Sunday, August 30, 2009

Week's End Scribbles

It's Sunday night and my Gin and Tonic is long since finished - another busy week has come to a close.

We had a bowling party

Sarah & Jason at William's Party

and more cake (William's personal favorite!)

Black and White Cookie Ripple Coffee Cake
Click the pic for the recipe - Oreos - Yum!

Friday after school Evie and I went to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I have to say I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed the books - I want to go back and re-read the series - and we're both a little bummed that the next movie doesn't come out until November 2010!

After the movie we went to Kohls for some fall shopping and I was shocked to receive the following message on my phone around 8:30:

At least someone misses me ;)

Clever Edward, how he managed that, I'll never know.

Now that the first week of school, two cakes, and the box of wine left from the beach (NO comments, please!) are behind me (literally) it's time to get serious. I've been slacking in the exercise department after injuring my shin running back in July. I have self-diagnosed myself (thank you, Google) with what is essentially shin splints, probably from running on the concrete sidewalks around town. The cure? Rest. Which, of course, I didn't take seriously enough and ended up aggravating it again before our beach trip. Long story short, I need to get back into a routine that includes exercise & healthy eating so that I can feel my best - body AND mind. Because much to my horror my 39th birthday is approaching, and if I don't exercise I feel every year of it in my back and sciatic nerve. It's also a great stress-reliever - for example on the days your kids bring you to tears at the grocery store. Don't ask.

Black-and-White Cookie Ripple Coffee Cake

This recipe is for a fabulous pound cake tweaked with Oreo cookies. My sister made this from her Passion for Baking book 2 Christmases ago and William liked it so much he's asked for it as his birthday cake for each birthday since. It's a hit! Here's the recipe as I made it:

1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
6 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1-3/4 cups buttermilk
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
30 chocolate sandwich cookies, coarsely chopped

Glaze (as I made it, from the recipe)

1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 - 6 tablespoons water, as required
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Generously spray a 9-inch tube pan with nonstick cooking spray and place pan on prepared baking sheet.

In a mixer bowl, cream softened butter and sugar on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, 2 at a time, and blend on medium speed until blended, scraping bowl often to make sure no butter or sugar sticks to bottom. Add vanilla and buttermilk and blend well. Fold in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and blend until batter is smooth, about 2 to 4 minutes.

Pour 2/3 of batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle 2/3 of cookie pieces over batter, putting more on perimeter than directly in the middle area (cookie pieces are less likely to sink when dispersed this way). Top with remaining batter and top batter evenly with remaining cookie pieces.

Bake 45 minutes and then reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Finish baking until cake tests done with a cake skewer that almost comes out clean, another 15-20 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in pan before turning cake out onto a serving plate.

For Glaze, in a small bowl, whisk together confectioners' sugar, water, and vanilla to make a drizzly glaze. Drizzle glaze over top of cake with a fork or whisk; let glaze set.

I googled the recipe to see if I could find any better pictures and came up with the following link:

The Biscuit Pusher: Black and White Cookie Ripple Coffee Cake

Their cake looks DELISH! They also used a different glaze which sounds fabulous but I can't vouch for it b/c I didn't make it that way - yet. Next time, definitely. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cake and Presents

William's 6th birthday and first day of school has come and gone, and I must say he had a pretty good day. Any kid who gets off the bus and shouts "school was AWESOME!" must have had a great experience, no? He didn't really care for the fact that they made him run a lap around the playground at recess, but other than that he had a good time :)

After dinner we had cake

Checkerboard cake from the Cake Bible

and presents

William pestered me for this chalk rake ALL SUMMER

Lego Batman was the only thing he asked for

This was more for me, I always wanted one!

and a good time was had by all! One thing I dearly love about William? He didn't PESTER us every minute for his presents, he was very patient until it was time. One of my other children (cough - Evie) will nag you to death - and hop around - and drive you crazy with her excitement. Another thing I dearly love about him, he's genuinely happy with his gifts, and never looking for 'more'. William has always been very thoughtful with each one, he's never in a hurry to rip open the next package once one has been discarded. I realized one thing yesterday evening, though - Christmas with the four of them this year will be absolute CHAOS! Oy.

I do have one question, if anyone (Laura?) can answer this for me - how do cake bakers get their cakes to turn out so perfect? Or are these pictures photoshopped???

Image from

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

It's back to school and Happy Birthday William!

It's 2:15 on the first day of school and I just took Sarah up for her nap. That leaves me with one whole glorious hour of peace and quiet before Evie and William come home! I'd love to spend this hour napping on the couch, but today also happens to be William's 6th birthday. Happy Birthday Bubby! Poor boy has to spend his birthday at Kindergarten ALL DAY. I can't wait to hear how it went. Anyway - I will not be napping - or doing the bills or reading blogs - because I'll be wrapping his gifts and frosting his cake, and trying to get the last bits of vacation 'stuff' put away. An hour really isn't all that long, unfortunately. Time to go get busy.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Beach Trip Memories - Favorite Photos

After yesterday's post, you might have the impression we didn't have any fun at all - but we did. Here's the proof - comment free, straight out of the camera, and in no particular order. Enjoy.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Beach Days

We made it back alive from our beach vacation and I feel like I've been hit by a truck. I have to say this was not our most relaxing vacation. As I told my brother in law when he asked, I tell it like it is here at the blog, no rainbows and unicorns here - just the unvarnished truth. Let's do this Hi-Lo Style:


We were on the road by 6:50 am on Saturday, and in our house by 3:30pm. I was at the pool by 5! Jason fell asleep in my lap and it was heaven.

We had beautiful weather the entire week, although it was pretty hot there at the end.

The grocery store was 5 minutes away, rather than 25.

The house had a big beautiful pool that we all loved.

I didn't cook dinner ALL WEEK.


Jason woke up at 4:15am last Saturday with a slight fever & was out of sorts all week. Apparently I'm the only one he wants, and half the time he doesn't want me. Age 2 is approaching and I think he's sprouted another head.

We stayed in a different town this time, and it just didn't feel 'right'.

Mini-golf at the beach sucks. There is no good time to go, you either bake in the sun or get eaten alive by bugs at night. The courses are always terrible. No more beach mini-golf.

I managed to gain 2 lbs and 2% body fat. Beach houses do not have pantries so all the food ends up on the counter & you just snack all day long. Then your sister brings out the chips/queso/salsa/spinach dip. And you have 2+ glasses of wine each night after your stressful day. And Matt kindly purchases 3lbs of fudge (it was a deal!) after you purposefully stayed OUT of the fudge shop this trip because you can't help but eat it all.

I am embarrassed to take my kids out in public. We manage to cause a scene wherever we go. To all the people who say, 'It's alright, they're fine!' No, it isn't, and they are not. William is always 20 feet behind us (Matt says he takes 'half' steps instead of full ones); Evie is racing off ahead. Jason seems to constantly be throwing a fit these days. Sarah was fairly well behaved, all things considered. Really? It's the 4 of them combined that are doing me in.

We are seriously considering taking a break from the beach trip next year - which makes me cry when I think about not going. I really have mixed feelings at this point. We usually book a place sometime in January, so we have some time to think about it & see how things are going. Right now, I'm just very glad to be home and thankful we have no big travel plans anytime soon. Time to get back to a routine & hopefully enjoy the fall weather that's coming soon. In the meantime, I'll look at this picture and think about how wonderful our trip was - and all the frustration will fade from my memory. And I'll start thinking about next year! Maybe.

Our last evening on the beach!
Photo credit goes to my Dad.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The last piece

We're busy packing up the house of Harried Mom of Four in preparation for our beach trip and I wanted to quickly show you Evie's new chair. It's finished! I'm finished! Matt can now have the garage back :)

I picked up this little chair at a local antique shop for $15 on July 4th. It was painted yellow at the time. This picture was taken after I tried sanding the chippy spots & deglossing it. The deglosser (which worked great on other pieces) made the top layer of paint peel up & I didn't want to spend days sanding it so I moved on to a chemical stripper.

I had to apply the stripper and scrape it twice to end up with this result. There was some sort of 'antique' taupe finish on the chair which did NOT come off after 2 coats of stripper, and the top piece of the back was stained red so I opted to paint the chair rather than stain it. We'd already bought the paint (Evie's choice!) so at least that wasn't wasted. To let you know, this chair was originally an antique taupe which was then covered by a thick coat of what I guess was white primer; painted red with gold accents; then apple green, and finally the yellow it was when I found it. I wonder how many people owned it!

And here it is! After I sprayed on grey primer, and brushed on 3 coats of Lowes' Very Berry, Evie has a very girly new chair to go with her desk.

And here it is in its new home. I tell it like it is here at the blog, and this is usually the way Evie's room looks. Crap everywhere. Makes me crazy. Anyway. Now she has a chair to sit on at her desk instead of using the wheely cart with drawers from her closet she's been improvising with.

That's it for me. I apologize for not making the rounds to you all this week, but as you know real life must take priority; I look forward to catching up with everyone after our trip & hope you all have a fantastic week - enjoy these last days of summer before school starts :)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

One on one time

Two weeks from today we'll be home from the beach and the kids will be in bed after their first day of school - which also happens to be William's 6th birthday (poor kid!) He starts kindergarten this year, and it's all-day here - I hope he has a good experience & isn't too wiped out for cake & presents afterwords.

With that in mind, I try to do something one-on-one with each of them before school starts, and also at the end of the year - probably should do it more often, but that's when I think about it. Evie and I were going to get pedicures this evening before our beach trip, so last night I asked William what he wanted to do, maybe lunch or something. I'm thinking he'll say 'the Mexican restuarant' as he has a serious love of salsa. Not even close. He wanted to go to McDonalds. So he could get a Happy Meal, with a cheeseburger and french fries. And he wanted to dip the fries in ketchup mixed with mustard and mayonaise. Because it's really good (and surprisingly, it was!) But wait, it gets better:
He wanted to go to the McDonalds inside Walmart - because we never eat there. (I wonder why?) Thankfully, he changed his mind and we stopped at 'the green McDonalds' and had lunch on our way to run some other errands. He stayed with me and walked like a normal person the entire time we were out, and was a total pleasure to be with. It was a nice change - usually he's the one I want to strangle.

Evie and I then went for our pedicures after dinner, which she just LOVES to do (though this was only her second trip in two years) - she just wishes she were big enough to take full advantage of the massage chair (heaven!) I got a kick out of the amazed and curious look on her face as the Vietnamese ladies chatted in their language while we relaxed and enjoyed ourselves.

I love my kids to death - but I enjoy them so much more when it's just me and one of them, doing something fun together. No bickering, arguing, whining, fighting & crying because so-and-so did or did not do this or that. It's next to impossible to have any coherent conversation with any of them (or Matt) when they are all around; and I'm really over being 'that' Mom you see out in public, miserable and snarling at her kids because she's being tortured in a way only her own children can pull off. Will I miss Evie and William when school starts? Absolutely. The house will be so quiet during the day without them. Am I looking forward to the time with just Sarah and Jason? You bet. Jason's turned into a little talking person right before my very eyes and we're going to have lots of fun together this fall. I just can't believe it's almost here already.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Another day another desk

I don't know about you, but I feel like my control (as if I ever had any!) over the house/kids/anything is slipping away from me. Naps are getting shorter, kids are bickering more, the list of things to be attended to seems to be getting longer, and my ability to think seems to have dwindled away relative to the din in the house. Jason is leaving babyhood behind and getting into more and more things every day, which of course requires a lot more of my attention. My packing list for the beach is/was on the old hard drive - which is sitting in a ziploc bag on Matt's desk until a fairy leaves the money to have it recovered - so I'm sure there will be TONS of things I forget to bring - because I can't think. Also why I haven't blogged, or been able to get around to my favorites lately. BUT - the school supplies have been bought, William's birthday party is planned/invites are out, and in one week I will have my toes in the sand. So let me show you another desk!

Remember this? In all it's glorious Colonial American Pine? Ethan Allen circa 1976 has gone from this 'beauty'

through this interim step wearing grey primer and joined by a thrift shop chair (check out those legs - hah!)

To this

Now sporting a lovely satin black paint coat along with some wipe-on polyurethane and new knobs, it's now been moved into it's home in the boys' bedroom. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out - I only wonder how long it will take them to destroy it :)

The only piece of furniture left for me to deal with is this chair I bought for Evie's desk which I think may be covered in 50 coats of paint. Okay, maybe only 6. Seems like 50. Anyway, I tried sanding the rough spots & deglossing it, but that just made more paint peel up so I think I'm going to have to resort to stripping it. Yuck. I really don't want to go there. However, the one leg I've sanded down to the wood actually looks pretty nice so if the rest of it looks good I might stain it instead of painting it - which would match her desk nicer anyway (although Evie might be disappointed to not have her pink chair!) We'll see. Time to go strip. ;)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Today is ...

- a good day for hanging out all morning in pajamas,
because we have nowhere to be!

- a day for catching up on laundry while puttering around.

- perfect for snuggling up on the couch with the kids.

- a great day for reading some blogs while the little ones nap
because the painting is almost finished.

- a day to sit with my feet up, ice on my leg
(stupid running injury!)
and practice my knitting (did I tell you I'm learning to knit?)
I think I may have finally found my 'thing'!

Now if only Jason would stay off the kitchen counter.

Monday, August 3, 2009

You do NOT want to buy one of these. That said, ...

One early June day last summer, in a fit of the crazies (actually, it was b/c the weather was supposed to be 99 degrees and I did not want to take my 6 month old and 19 month old to the pool on the hottest day of the year!) we went to Toys R Us and bought a Bonzai water slide. Holy cow did the kids have a BLAST on that thing all weekend! It was super duper fun the whole time they played on it. We spent that whole weekend in the backyard while Evie and William, and even Sarah entertained themselves (and half the block!) with it. They were pooped at the end of the day and by bedtime were ready for some sleep. This went on for a few days until the weather cooled a bit, and it came time to try to put the behemoth away. Matt had the joyful task of trying to dry that damn thing off (nearly impossible to do) and then stuff it into the bag that came with it. (HAH! we ended up buying it it's very own enormous storage box!)

We used it a several times over the summer, with Matt getting more disgusted each time - water would get INTO the blow-up portion of it and you couldn't get it all out; as time went on, you could see mildew starting to grow on the inside, which completely grossed me out. We were both glad when the time came to store it for winter.

Sarah remembered the slide from last summer and has been asking about it for the last several weeks. We FINALLY have hot & humid weather here and yesterday looked to be the perfect day to get it out - and what fun they had!

Jason LOVED it when the kids came screaming down the big slide and SPLASHED at the bottom! He laughed and clapped & had a great time watching them all play. Sarah wore herself out climbing up the steps & sliding back down over & over, and Evie and William spent ALL DAY out there. I have to say it's nice to send them out in the backyard & still have all the comforts of home handy, rather than schlepping us all to the pool for maybe 2 hours. I think I'm kind of over that for this year. Of course, in our dreams we could step out into our backyard and enjoy this:

Maybe someday. If we win the lottery. Of course, you have to play to win :)

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