Saturday, February 28, 2009

Flower and Skye

The newest additions to our family.  They are so sweet, love to be held, and just cuddle up against you when you hold them.  They are sisters, and were the last two siblings of the litter (they were purchased from a family, not a pet store).
Skye (short hair) belongs to Sean

Flower (long hair) belongs to Erin.  Look at those puppy eyes!

Opening ceremonies and first game

We had to be at the field at 9:00am (yuck) for team pictures, and then opening ceremonies for the entire league were at 10:00am (nice).  Immediately following the opening ceremonies was the first game of the Red Sox against the Astros (11:00-1:00), and even though it was not a win for us it was still a good game.  
Just after we arrived-caught as he was yawning (it was EARLY)
No personal cameras allowed.  Yeah, ok.  

At bat in the first inning (the blur is the fence)

Making his way home for his first run of the game

Friday, February 27, 2009

5 Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

This may be dangerous, I know.  Why?  Because now you will be able to have chocolate cake in five minutes without buying it at the store.  It won't be the best chocolate cake you've ever eaten, but if you need a chocolate fix, give this a try.  Sean and I made one this afternoon, and it was good.  It will definitely satisfy a sweet tooth in a hurry.  I actually got this recipe in an email that was forwarded to me today, and I had to come home and see if it actually worked.  It did.   Another's all mixed and cooked in the mug so clean-up is minimal.

5 Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

4 tbsp flour
4 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp cocoa 
1 egg
3 tbsp milk
3 tbsp oil
3 tbsp chocolate chips (this is the best part of the whole thing-use whatever kind of chips you like, and roll them in flour to coat before you add them to keep them from settling to the bottom)
A small splash of vanilla extract

In a large microwave safe coffee mug add the dry ingredients, and mix well.
Add the egg and mix thoroughly.
Pour in the milk and oil, and mix well.
Add the chocolate chips and vanilla, and mix again.
Put the mug in the microwave, and cook for 3 minutes on high.
The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but do not be alarmed.
Allow to cool for a couple of minutes, run a knife around the cup to release from the mug, and then invert onto a plate.  

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Baseball practice tonight

Last practice before the actual games begin this Saturday.  It's opening ceremonies on 2/28, and the first game of the season, and we cannot wait.  The boys got their uniforms tonight, and Bren was so excited to put that Red Sox hat on!  Check out this picture of him catching the ball during practice.  I caught it just as he was about to catch the ball.  Pretty neat.

While he was practicing I was studying, and Erin was playing with another little girl at the field.  However, at one point she started hiding from me behind the trees, so I played along and started snapping pictures of her, too.  She even stopped long enough to pose for a few for me.  The last one is a bit blurry, but so indicative of her.  She has such a silly side, and it's so cute.  I love that she can be goofy, because I am like that with them all of the time.  She's the only one that gives it back to me!

Her favorite ball park snack is Airheads!

Sleeping beauty

Fast asleep in her car seat on the way to dinner last night.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Three little monkeys

A momma Macbook Pro and her two little Macbooks.  

Yep, we are an Apple family.  Sean and I also have iPhones, and Erin and Bren have iPods.  We ♥ the Apple store.

Coconut Cake

Makes 16 servings

Coconut Cake

1 cup butter, softened
2 cup sugar
4 large eggs
3 cup sifted self-rising flour
1 cup well-stirred canned coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Coconut Filling

3/4 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
4 tbsp milk
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut plus 1/2 cup for sprinkling on cake (I use a lot more)

7-Minute Frosting

1.5 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1/4 tsp cream of tartar or 1 tbsp light corn syrup
1/8 tsp salt
2 large egg whites
1.5 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350º.  Grease and flour three 9 inch round cake pans.

Prepare Coconut Cake: In large bowl, with mixer on medium speed, beat butter until creamy. Add sugar and continue beating 6 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add flour and milk alternately to butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour.  Add vanilla and beat until just mixed.  Divide batter equally among prepared pans.  Level batter in each pan by holding pan 3 or 4 inches above counter, then dropping it flat onto counter several times to release air bubbles and produce more level cake layers.  Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of layers comes out clean.

While cake is baking, prepare Coconut Filling: In medium bowl, with spoon, stir together sugar, sour cream, milk, and 1/2 cup coconut until well blended.  

Cool layers on wire racks 10 minutes.  With small knife, loosen layers from sides of pans and invert onto work surface.  Using handle end of wooden spoon, poke holes in layers 1 inch apart, until each layer is poked all over.  Spread one-third of filling on each layer.  Place 1 layer on cake plate; top with second, then third layer.  (Hold stacked layers together with skewers to prevent cake from shifting.)  Cover and refrigerate 1 hour or up to 3 days to absorb filling.

When ready to assemble cake, prepare 7 minute frosting:  In top of double boiler, or in medium stainless steel bowl, with handheld mixer on high speed, beat sugar, water, cream of tartar, salt, and egg whites 1 minute.  Place double boiler top or bowl over 1 inch simmering water, making sure water does not touch bottom of double boiler top or bowl.  With mixer on high speed, beat until soft peaks form and temperature reaches 160º on instant-read thermometer, about 7 minutes.  Beat in vanilla.

Use frosting to frost top and side of cake.  Sprinkle cake with remaining coconut.

Per serving 495 calories, 6g protein, 72g carbohydrate, 21g fat, 1g fiber, 92mg cholesterol, 455mg sodium

Birthday pictures

Sean requested my homemade coconut cake for his birthday, so I started the cake last night and finished it for him this morning.  It's a triple layer coconut cake with coconut filling, vanilla frosting and coconut on the outside.  Yes, Sean is a lover of all things coconut.

We had stromboli and calzone for dinner from a local Italian restaurant, and then celebrated Sean's day with his cake, a new camera, and a card from Erin!  

It's been a great day with my sweet boy.

Erin's new seat

Erin got her new car seat last week, and she loves it.  It's the Britax Frontier (pink sky).  It will keep her in a five point harness until she's 80 pounds, and then converts to a booster up to 100 pounds.  As you can see she's a happy camper in her pretty pink seat, and I am a happy camper that she is still in a five point harness!  

My first baby is 14

Just over an hour ago Sean turned 14.  It's hard to believe.  He is so much like me in nearly every way, so I can relate to and understand him in a way that is hard to explain.  

Sean is a highly motivated person.  He loves school, and his favorite hobby is reading.  In addition to his regular coursework at school he is taking additional online classes (one of the perks offered by our county public schools-love it).  He was voted the "Standout Student of the Year" by the teachers of his middle school this year.  This is awarded to one female and one male student in 8th grade.  In addition, he has maintained honor roll all throughout middle school, and has been placed in all honors classes next year in high school.  He is enrolled in the medical community of the high school (love the high school that he will be attending-it totally prepares the kids for the careers that they are interested in), and he is so excited about the opportunity that is ahead of him.  Starting next week he will be volunteering in the oncology ward of the hospital with me, and he is counting down the days for that, too.  

My first child is my rock.  At 14 years old he is 6' 2", 215 pounds, and he is wearing a size 16 in men's shoes.  He's a gentle giant with a heart of gold.  When I'm not feeling well or stressed out he's the first one there to give me a shoulder massage (and he's good, too!).  He's constantly asking me how my day was, or if I need anything.  He is a great cook and baker, and he has a creative side that is amazing.  

I have no doubt that Sean will be everything that he wants to be, and probably much more.  I'm so blessed to be his mom, and to share my life with him.  

Happy birthday sweet pea.


What do you do with a batch of one inch blueberries (and yes, the entire batch was this large)?

You make giant blueberry muffins, of course!

For the record, we didn't use all of them for muffins.  We eat blueberries on our cereal every day, and just on their own for snacks.  But these muffins sure are good.

Blueberry muffins

Makes 6 large muffins (or 10 regular size muffins if that's the only size pan you have)

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup plus 5 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp grated orange zest
1 cup fresh blueberries

Heat oven to 375º.  Coat a standard size muffin pan (we used a large size muffin pan) with nonstick cooking spray.

In large bowl, whisk flour, 3/4 cup of the sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Make a well in the center.

In small bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, oil and orange zest.  Pour milk mixture into well in flour mixture, then stir just until combined.  Fold in blueberries.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin pan.  If you have empty muffin cups fill them with water, so muffins bake evenly (if making standard size muffins).

Sprinkle each muffin with 1/2 tsp sugar.  Bake muffins at 375º for 23 to 25 minutes, until crowned and lightly brown.  Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Per muffin (standard size) 286 calories, 13g fat, 4g protein, 39g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 229mg sodium, 44mg cholesterol

Friday, February 20, 2009

I love you the purplest

Mom I love you the purplest.
Mom I love you the color of my pillow.
Like a tissue box.
Like a pretty pretty thing.
Like my dress.
Mom I love you the purplest.

(A poem to me from Erin using my favorite color-I made no changes)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I just love this picture of Sean carrying Erin.  The smile on her face says it all.  She loves being carried by her big brother.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Erin's newest fascination is multiplication.  She asked me about a week ago to teach her multiplication, and I followed her lead.  So Sunday evening she and I sat on her bed and started learning her multiplication tables.  She sat up against her pillows, and I was laying at the foot of the bed, and we started with the 1's (she said those were too easy), and then quickly progressed to the 2's.  After going through each set I would then quiz her (at her request) by writing a multiplication problem on her dry erase board, and she would write the answer.  We worked through the 3's before stopping for the evening.  

Now every night at bedtime she asks to "do the times tables".  I ask her the problems in random order, and she nails them every time.  Last night she asked me to start the 4's, but I was falling asleep, and I told her that we will start tonight.

She just continues to amaze me.  

Double chocolate brownies

We made these last night (courtesy of Family Circle magazine), and they are delicious.  We prefer fudge-like brownies to cake-like brownies, and these fit the bill.  Dense and loaded with chocolate-these will fulfill any chocolate cravings you may have.  An added bonus is that they are made in one bowl, so there's very little clean-up.

Double chocolate brownies

3/4 cup unsalted butter
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans (we used walnuts)
12 oz. chocolate chips (we used semi-sweet)

Makes 24 brownies

Heat oven to 350º.  Line 13x9x2-inch baking pan with nonstick foil, leaving overhang.  In large glass bowl, heat butter and chocolate in microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes; stir until smooth.  Let stand 5 minutes to cool slightly.  Whisk in sugar, eggs, flour and vanilla.  Stir in nuts and half of the chocolate chips.  Transfer batter to prepared pan.  Sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips.  Bake at 350º for 35 minutes, until top is dry to the touch.  Let cool completely in pan on wire rack.  Lift brownie from pan with foil.  Cut into squares and serve.

Per brownie:  279 calories, 17 g fat, 4 g protein, 33 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 14 mg sodium, 50 mg cholesterol.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

My Valentine's date

I had the pleasure of spending Valentine's Day with my three favorite people.  Sean, Bren, Erin and I had a late lunch/early dinner at The Melting Pot.  

Then we headed over to Dick's sporting goods to get a few things for Bren (for baseball), and then while we were at the mall we went to Godiva and each got a couple of truffles!  After all, there is no such thing as too much chocolate on this day, right? (Just agree with me so that I'll feel better about the large consumption of chocolate I had today)

After doing some shopping at the mall we came home, and played outside.  Bren and Erin rode their bikes on our street (this is not Bren's new bike-another one that he has),

and Sean sat in my car and read (not sure why he didn't sit outside).
I also got flowers from Sean.  Red Gerber Daisies that are just beautiful.  It was a great day with my babies, and I couldn't have asked for anything more than spending time with them.

Happy Valentine's Day

And a special greeting that Erin made for her family on her dry erase board/easel.

It says "to my special Family From Erin-Happy valintines Day".

Friday, February 13, 2009

Love is in the air

Erin's school had a Valentine's dinner and movie tonight.  All you can eat pizza and salad, and then Madagascar on a big screen.  There were several of her friends there, and she was all over the place with them...until Lucas arrived. From that point on she sat next to him (at the table next to ours).  She bought him a ring pop, and he bought her a cupcake.

Near the end of the night she came over and whispered to me that Lucas told her a few days ago that he wants to marry her.  Boy, oh boy.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Birthday with friends

Bren had his first drum lesson tonight (he's taking lessons at the same music store where Sean and Erin take piano lessons, and then afterwards we picked up his three best friends.  They had pizza, cake and ice cream before Brendan was surprised with another birthday present.  His phone has been out of commission for a few weeks (it broke), and he thought that he was going to have to wait until July to get another when the contract renewed. Well, he doesn't have to wait.  He got the new Quickfire, and he was beyond thrilled.  Now he's outside with Brandon, Chris and Amanda playing Manhunt.
(l-r) Brandon, Bren, Erin, Chris & Amanda
My 12 year old with his cookies and creme cake
Brandon and Chris checking out Bren's new phone

Happy birthday sweet boy!

Brendan is 12

My baby boy is 12 years old today (tonight at 10:19pm).  He got the treat of staying home from school on his day, and he took advantage of it by sleeping in until about 10:00 a.m. Tonight we are having a few of his best friends over for pizza and cake.  He already got his birthday present from me-a new BMX Redline bike (his is blue).  He nearly fell over when he walked into the house last week and saw it sitting in the living room.  I even got a few tears out of him (that is RARE for Bren).  

Brendan is a mommy's boy, and I love it.  Even at 12 years old, and in middle school, he isn't embarrassed to hold my hand, give me hugs and/or kisses in front of his friends, or tell me that he loves me.  He loves to come into my bed in the early morning and snuggle with me. He's very soft-hearted when it comes to the people that are important to him.  He loves to play outside, or just be outside doing anything.  The kid cannot stand to be in the house for more than a few minutes (unless he's playing Xbox 360, or other games on his Macbook). 

Brendan is not only a wonderful athlete, a good student in school, a loving big brother to his sister, and a constant battle to his big brother (oh, the arguments between those two).  He is one of the most loving boys I have ever known, and I'm so proud of him.  I feel blessed every day to have him as my son.

Not a great picture, but he was battling me for taking his picture right after he got up this morning.  I'll have more from his birthday dinner tonight.

This is a card that Erin made for Brendan yesterday (she has always called him "bub-bub), and she gave it to him this morning before she left for school. If you aren't able to tell that is supposed to be Bren riding his skateboard at the bottom.  

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sean and Erin

Bren had practice tonight, but they were on the far side of the field most of the time, and I was unable to get decent pictures of him due to the lack of lighting on that side.  He hit SIX home runs tonight-all the way over the fence.  He was hitting them so often that the coach finally asked him to stop hitting it so hard.  There is a lake with alligators in it on the other side of the fence, and he didn't want to keep sending other kids over there in the dark to get the balls.

While Bren was practicing Sean worked on his homework,

and Erin posed for pictures for me (such a willing subject).  

In just over 24 hours my baby boy will be 12 years old.  He's asked for a homemade cookies and creme cake (like I had for my birthday), so I'll be posting pictures and the recipe for that tomorrow.


I do a lot of baking.  It is something that I find relaxing, and I love to see the enjoyment that other people get from eating something that I've made.  

When I was offered the opportunity to start working from home back in 2005 it was with one stipulation-that I would continue to bake the cakes and bring them in for the monthly birthday celebration.  Back then we had less than 20 employees, and I was usually making two cakes (just for variety).  Now, almost four years later, when I bake for the monthly birthday celebration I average 7-9 cakes (and various other desserts) for the 100+ employees in our local office.  I get requests for certain things that I have baked over the years, and I always try to include something new, too.  

At home I bake at least 1-2 times each week for Sean, Bren and Erin (mostly for lunch and after school snacks).  They've been raised on homemade baked goods, and they are learning to love to bake, too.  Sean and Erin are almost always in the kitchen with me when I bake.  Brendan is just coming around to the idea.  I love that we all get in the kitchen together, make a mess, and create something delicious that we'll be able to enjoy.  

So I've decided to start sharing pictures of the desserts that we bake, and I'll include the recipes as well.  The first one that I'll share is a recipe that actually came in a forwarded email from my mom, and the kids and I made them this past Saturday.  They were listed as "Neiman Marcus" cookies, but this is not the recipe that they use (I checked their website).  However, these are quite possibly the best cookies I have ever eaten.  The full recipe does make over 100 cookies, and the amount of dough was way too large for even my Kitchen-Aid mixer, so either half the recipe or be prepared to mix the dough by hand in a very large bowl (like I did).
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups butter
24 oz. chocolate chips
4 cups flour
2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 cups sugar
1 8 oz. Hershey Bar (grated)
5 cups blended oatmeal
4 eggs
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups chopped nuts (your choice)
Measure oatmeal, and blend in a blender to a fine powder.
Cream the butter and both sugars.
Add eggs and vanilla, mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and soda.
Add chocolate chips, hershey bar, and nuts.
Roll into balls, and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees.
Makes 112 cookies.

Happy birthday to my best friend

Pam is celebrating her birthday today, and I wish that I could be there to enjoy the day with her.  She truly is the best friend that I could ever ask for.  I am so blessed to have met her six years ago, and to have her in my life.  

Pam, I don't know what I would do without you.  I love you.

Happy birthday!