"Healthy" Baking

Daniel and I did some baking this morning. I say Daniel and I, but he was not really interested. Rather than participating, he instead played with his “Choo-Choo-Tommy” pop-up play train that my mom got him for his birthday. She found it at a yard sale for cheap and finally decided to buy it for him once she discovered it folded up nicely, thus making it easy to store and keeping it from constantly being in the way. This is a good thing, for it is quite large when unfolded. Being that I was in the kitchen, Daniel wanted to be as well, so I had to work around “Choo-Choo-Tommy” and my son all morning.

In attempts to satisfy my sweet tooth and yet stay moderately on the healthy side, we

opted to make these “healthier cupcakes” that I saw in a magazine (sorry, I can not remember which magazine it was). They had three options: good, better, and best. My taste buds really wanted the “best”
option, so that is what I had planned to make. According to the magazine, “Cake itself isn’t terribly fattening, but 2 tablespoons of frosting tack on 140 junky calories and 20 grams of sugar.” The best recipe called for you to swirl in Nutella chocolate-hazelnut spread into the batter. I could not find it at the grocery store, so I just bought the Krogers version. When the cupcakes are finished, they have 17 calories and 2 grams of sugar. Not too bad, especially if you are officially tracking that sort of thing. I think that mine have a little bit less calories and sugar because I did not put an entire ½ tsp as called for. I just swirled in a little with a knife.

Being that I had run out of cupcake papers, I decided to use the rest of the batter to make the better option as a small round cake. After
baking, you are to drizzle on homemade glaze= 1 ½ cups powdered sugar, 1 ½ tbs milk, and ½ tsp vanilla. I had to add more milk because it was just a messy clump when I added the exact measurement of milk. These have 32 calories and
7grams of sugar when completed. I, however, did not “drizzle” the glaze, I just poured it on the top. So, this most likely has more than the estimated amount, especially varying due to the size of cake you cut. The magazine suggested topping with a blueberry or raspberry, but I do not have those, so I outlined the edges
with strawberries.

Once they were done, we, of course, had an almost immediate taste test. I thought the chocolate-hazelnut cupcakes were great! And Daniel seemed to agree. I think though, after his effort in the kitchen, I am going to start telling him the story of that chicken that made bread. No one would help her make it, but when she asked “Who will help me eat the bread?” everyone wanted in on the action.

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He asked for more, and I wanted another, but we stopped with just one each, even though they are “healthier options.” I am sure dinner will be followed up with another. As of now, I have not tried the cake with the glaze, so I am not sure of its outcome. In all honesty, I do not really want any of it. I guess I will take it to work tomorrow or try to send it to work with Thomas. I am leery though because I am not sure of its taste. I would hate to offer it to others when it is not very good. Perhaps if the glaze tastes bad, I will just blame it on the fact it is “healthy.” :o)

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the “good” version called for a specific type of non-trans fat frosting on each cupcake, yielding 82 calories and 13grams of sugar upon the addition of 1 ½ tbs of the frosting applied to the top.

As for now, I shall go and use the rest of naptime to clean up the kitchen and be officially productive. When Daniel wakes, we’ll go for a run and play outside, for the weather has been clearing up as the day has evolved. After that, it will almost be time for Daddy to be home!

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Don't Judge a Book By Its Cover

Damien, my world traveling engineer brother, tends to bring
back neat little souvenirs to us once he returns home from his travels. As a
result, Daniel has a closet sprinkled with shirts from foreign countries. Along
with clothing, our little man is spoiled by receiving neat and unique toys from
the places his uncle visits, such as a toy fire truck from Poland and a detailed wooden horse from Germany. Books
are also a neat gift that Daniel receives. He has a picture book that is all in
German, but the German words are right next to everyday beach and ocean
objects, so if Daniel chooses for this book to be read, we can say each thing
in English. Most recently, after returning from a trip south of the border,
Damien brought Daniel a very neat picture book that has English and Spanish for
each picture. These books we can work with, and we are always very grateful for
the sweet blessings from our loving family. There is one book, however, that
Thomas and I have begun to dread seeing Daniel choose at bedtime. Nothing is
worse than when Daniel happily chooses this book for us to read:

It looks innocent enough, right? Well, the old adage, “Don’t judge a book by
its cover” applies here, for your assumptions of it being a great read would be sorely wrong.

For starters, it is from Brazil and completely in Portuguese.
I know that this language has many similarities to Spanish, which I am familiar
with, yet I can not decipher many words in this book at all. Being that the
words are of no help, it would be logical to build off the images to help tell
the story, using some simple inferring skills. It is at this point we encounter
another issue: most of the pictures give you nothing to work with (see the horse and rock & chicken with book pictures), not to mention they
are creepy (just look to your left!).

So, the story then has to come completely out of your head
on a whim. Daniel has developed a new skill where he is aware of the amount of
words on a page, and he can calculate how long you should talk in order to be
reading all the phrases. If you appear to be cheating him of words, he will tap
the page with his finger until you finish. Demanding isn’t he.

Another flaw: the book is l….o….n…..g… 111 pages to be exact. Typically, with such a long story, we would
admittedly flip a few extra pages with each turn of the page. However, a new
part of little man’s bedtime story routine is that he holds the book, not you. You must, therefore, read each and every page, for absolutely none are
to be skipped.

Recently, Daniel has been choosing this book each and every
night, and we have endured its “reading.” As Thomas was taking him to bed a few
nights ago, he made a comment about not wanting to read that book again. I,
being the great wife that I am, quickly made it to Daniel’s room and procured
the book in order to prevent the extended read for Thomas. Silly ol’ me just
took it into the living room and placed it on the couch. Guess what I had to
read the next morning :o).

A few more things that I do know about this book, beyond the
frustrating things already stated:

  1. The girl puppet finds a roach in her oatmeal and she and
    the boy puppet keep it, taking it to various other locations, for some odd
    reason.
  2. A horse plays in a pile of trash that is stacked outside.
    The boy puppet collects a cup full of the trash and keeps it, for some odd
    reason.
  3. Daniel really likes it,  for some odd reason.

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Simple Gifts

I love to give gifts. I think part of that love might be shopping for the gifts to give and hoping for a deal, but, in the end, I think it is fun to buy, wrap, write a card, etc. and give it to someone else. So, when I checked my GoggleReader over the weekend and discovered Jessica (a fellow deal searcher and gift-giver) had found a deal to get a FREE Thomas toy from Toys.-r-Us, I knew that my little boy would love this gift, and boy was it at a deal! The hubby and I had plans to go and get him one during a little date we were enjoying without Daniel, but it turned out that everyone else had the same idea and none were left. It made me so sad. I had not told Daniel he was getting one, and even if I had, he would not have remembered that I was suppose to come home with one. I could have just bought him one and I would have had something to give, but it was the whole free part that was really important. I mean, if you have checked the prices, these particular ones cost between $11-13 dollars, so free is very good! On Sunday, after church, I put Daniel down for a nap and then headed to grade papers, for if I do not leave the house sometimes I will just occupy myself with laundry, dishes, the computer,  my husband, or my son, ultimately getting little to no grading done. As I left, I realized that I could easily get to another store, so I called to make sure they still had some trains left. Turns out, they did, but only 6 and all of Thomas. I was fortuantely able to get one of the reamining few, without letting my hubby know, so he was a little surprised too when I presented it to my little precious boy after bathtime that night. Yes, it was a little out of my way to get there. Yes, I graded fewer papers than I would have otherwise. Yes, I know I could have just bought one the day before and not worried about it, but just look at this little guy’s face as he enjoyed his toy, as well as the brochure that shows all the other toy options. Tell me how I could have resisted that?


And that, my friends, is why I love to give gifts.

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Much in March

We’ve been busy in the month of March, and more is still left to come. The busyness has been balanced with rest, so that has been nice.

For starters, Thomas has celebrated a birthday already this month. Being

adults with families in different citiesbirthdays have turned into longer celebrations rather than just one day of fun. For the birthday person, this makes the commemorating extend for a week or more, which is always nice. On his actual birthday, Thomas took off for the day, which has begun to become a ritual for him.ically he does whatever he chooses on that day. His birthday fell on one of my teaching days this year, but being that the college I
teach at was on Spring Break, I was able to join in on the fun, sans Daniel, because
we took him to caretaker’s the two days I was off, just to keep him in the same
routine. We had a mid-day date, complete with lunch at Thomas’s favorite place and a movie he had been wanting to see. He and I accounted for 2 of the 4 total people in the theater. All in all, he had a very enjoyable birthday!

I was recently able to participate in something out of the normal daily routine. My cousin’s church had a Ladies’ “Spring Fling,” and she invited me to attend. There were elaborate tables decorated in style (and these pictures are just from a few of the beautiful tables). I am not a crafty person, so seeing these cute, themed tables made me happy. There was a great turn-out and everyone was able to enjoy delicious food and quality conversations, as well as a great speaker……ME! When I was told about the event, I was thoroughly excited to just be in attendance, and then I was asked to be the guest speaker, which added to my enthusiasm. Anytime I get to talk about what the Lord is doing in me, through me, and around me, I can’t help but be pumped. I truly hope the words I shared were absorbed with attentive hearts. Since the event, I’ve been decorating a table in my mind with all the items in my house. Who knows, I may have a mini-Spring Fling at my own home, just so I can use some of my beautiful items that have not seen too much use…….or daylight for that matter.

My SpotSpring Fling Table 1Spring Fling table 2Spring Fling Table 3Spring Fling Table 4

I took Daniel to get his picture taken recently as well. I have been putting this off for too long. He had not had an official photo shoot since he turned a year old, so this was long over-due. Upon calling for an appointment, I was able to secure a morning appointment for the next day. When we walked through the doors of the studio everything for Daniel’s photo shoot was ready. There were also these adorable twin girls that had just completed their session. They had just turned 2, and their parents had brought along balloon bouquets to add as props. Needless to say, the balloons were the first of many distractions for Daniel. Eventually the girls’ daddy took the balloons out to the car, and all kiddos erupted into tears. My little man completely refused to be happy with the staging done by the kind photographer, Matt. When we showed up, there was a rock wall of sorts in front of a spring backdrop. Daniel wanted to have a white rocking chair instead. In an attempt to get just one picture worth printing, I was willing to let him have about anything in the photo, which I soon discovered would include a mini-soccer ball, a stuffed cat, and eventually the rock wall from the start. Fortunate for me, the pop and blink of the flash bulbs made Daniel laugh, hence a few photos of good quality. Before I could even take Daniel to the potty, pack up his wardrobe, and call Thomas to tell him about the experience, my pictures were ready! After that experience, I will not go anywhere else other than Portrait Innovations. To top it all off, they were very appropriately priced.

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Add in to the mix some play-dates with friends, trips to the park, the submission of student projects for me to grade, visits with loved ones, a few days for me to be with gal pals, and other such events, you can see we’ve been up to much in March!

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"Springing Forward"

Recently most folks lost an hour of sleep, due to the time change of daylight savings. I

have been hearing some  complaints about the loss of sleep, but I am perfectly content to have given that 60 minutes away to gain the beauty of extended daylight. No longer will I watch the sun set as I teach. This now means that on the two days I work, I will be home with daylight to spare! Also, this puts us full force towards spring and summer, which make me very happy, for I am all about warmth and sun. I just read a friend’s blog and she mentioned being “tired of the cold.” She does, after all, live in Michigan, so it is logical that the continuation of winter would begin to drain her…..they just got 4 inches of snow over the weekend–sorry Dana :o(.

As for us, we are beginning to relish in nice weather. Daniel and I went to “play” today, which always means we are leaving the house and heading to a park. He was overflowing with excitement as we headed out this morning. It was a good time, minus the fact he wanted me to follow him each and every step of the playground. I am not really in the mood or condition to hunch over and crawl through tunnels. It began to get a little annoying with his requests for me to “come mommy,” especially since I just wanted to sit and watch him play, not play myself.

When we got home, I noticed the cows across the street were out grazing. The view was captivating to me. I liked how their sable hair contrasted with the vibrant yellow buttercups. Once Daniel was down for his nap, I went outside to take a few snapshots. The camera did not capture the colors as well as they truly appeared to my eye, but I think they give a marvelous sign of spring none the less.

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