Three Girl Pile-Up

…adventures of our homeschooling family

Month: February, 2009

Fudgesicles for breakfast

I had actually fogotten about posting this, but my friend Jennifer reminded me that I’d promised to share this recipe.

With the warmer weather has come regular shipments of cream, and while I had other plans, the girls wanted to send that first pint into something sweet and frozen.  So we settled on fudgesicles.

Having never made them myself, I started trolling my favorite recipe sites.  Turns out that the usual approach is to make instant pudding–which I didn’t have on hand–or cooked pudding–which was more involved than I had in mind.  Plus, it didn’t make use of my cream!  Finally, I happened on this recipe, which was both simple and very tasty.  Steve thought it a little too chocolatey, but neither the girls or I had that complaint.

In fact, we happily ate them for breakfast.

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While pajamas for Maggie and naked for Anna are no guarantee that it’s morning, in this case it was.

(And don’t tell the girls, but I think I ate more of these than they did!)

Sunflower House, step 1

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Although it’s a busy weekend, I was able to spend a couple of hours outside working in the vegetable garden.  In addition to the inevitable weeding and bed-clearing that happens this time of year, I was able to plant some onions, carrots, and a few peas.  (Yay, peas!)  There’s more to come, but it felt good to get some seeds into the ground.

The other project I started today was our sunflower house.  Inspired by Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots, I was inspired to try and grow a sunflower house for my fairy-obsessed children.  I mentioned the idea to Maggie, and she positively glowed with excitement.  So today, I laid out plastic to kill a big swath of grass for planting.  Stay tuned for updates.

I could get used to this kind of zucchini

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The truth is, I’ve never liked zucchini.  It’s the one vegetable my mother would make that I would refuse to eat.  I didn’t like its slime and I didn’t like its taste.

But for some reason, I am irrationally compelled to grow it in my garden.  I don’t know if it’s the way it grows so big and beautifully, but I can’t resist.  I did get lucky last year, planting it in the least sunny spot in the garden, resulting in only a mild overabundance of zucchini.

There are ways I enjoy eating zucchini as an adult, most of which involve shredding it.  I’ve made zucchini fritters and a casserole my mother-in-law called “Zucchini Expected” (because it’s no longer a surprise).  I love the zucchini orzo recipe from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. But I think my favorite culinary application of zucchini is really as an ingredient in baked goods.  Often we make zucchini chocolate chip cookies, but yesterday we made a really delicious zucchini chocolate cake, using the last of the shredded zucchini from last summer’s garden.

Anna had a great time with the mixing.  She spun a tale about Prilla the fairy (who visits the mainland from Never Never Land) being in the bowl of batter.

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I started with this recipe, which is zucchini chocolate bread, but let’s be honest here…this is not bread, it’s cake.  Or at least it’s really really sweet bread.  Once I did some tweaking (butter instead of oil, reducing sugar, subbing whole wheat flour) and made up for missing ingredients (cinnamon and unsweetened chocolate) , what I baked bore almost no resemblance to the original recipe.  Miraculously, it came out great–moist and sweet-but-not-too-sweet.  Here’s the recipe:

Zucchini Chocolate Cake

  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/3 cup flax meal (optional)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup Rapadura or brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 convection).  Grease and flour a bundt pan.  Mix together the flour, flax meal, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder.  Stir in the chocolate chips and set aside.  Beat eggs together with the sugars, vanilla, and butter; stir in the zucchini.  Mix dry and wet ingredients lightly and pour into pan.  Bake about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Yum!

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Anna makes valentines

Although there’s been some valentine activity around here this week, Anna has been only moderately interested in the making of cards.  Well, she was very interested in using a lot of glitter–no big surprise–but the actual cardmaking didn’t seem to hold much appeal.

Until Saturday night, that is.  I looked over and saw her intently involved in some cutting, writing, and maybe even a little gluing.

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Before too long, she brought this over to me:

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and then said expectantly, “Here’s your valentine, Mommy, read what it says!”  It took me a minute to figure out what she wanted, but then I said, “Dear Mommy, I love you, You are the best Mommy ever, Happy Valentine’s Day!”  Then, “Did I get that right?”  And she beamed up at me, saying in her Anna way, “Yes! That’s PERFECT!”

So she ran back to her spot, took up her scissors, and made another.  And another. One for Daddy, one for each of my parents. Then one for Maggie, although she had already received a valentine of the extra-glittery variety.

I think Steve is right.  The best gift really is a nice card.

Signs of Spring

They’re popping up everywhere.

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It seems impossible not to love it around here in February.  In fact, that’s my mantra in the never-ending heat of September….”February, February, February!”  Everyone is revelling in the warm breezes and the warmer sun.  Anna took her shirt off yesterday at the botanical garden yesterday, telling me that she needed to “soak up some sun.”  It seems everyone is breathing easier and smiling more as spring creeps in.

I think it’s time to plant some peas!

Making cookies

Okay, not literally.

My mom bought the girls a game called “Cookin’ Cookies.”  A fairly simple card game, it involves collecting the ingredients to make a batch of cookies.  Fun is added by picking up the cards with a suction cup spoon.  Drama is added by the inclusion of rotten eggs–if you get one, the game stops and you have to put your ingredients back.  The first person to finish their cookie by accumulating all the ingredients wins.

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The interesting thing was watching how the game played out.  To begin with, Maggie found the rotten eggs really frustrating–so we took them out.  And then, as they played, the girls’ natural inclination was to share the ingredients that they didn’t need.  I mentioned that they could play together, helping each other find ingredients for their recipes.  They immediately took to this plan, stacking up the ingredient cards and pretending that they were cookies you could eat.  This evolved into a game in which they were running a bakery (including a sign, of course: “Cookies, 10 cents”).  They took orders from me and my mom and my dad, working together to take our money, make change, and serve us.

I don’t really object to competitive games, but it does warm my heart to see that sometimes cooperating really is more fun than winning.

A Night in the Life of a Mommy

9:45 p.m. Crawl into bed with Maggie and read together (each of us reading our own books).

10:00 Lights out and snuggling with Maggie. We both fall asleep quickly.

11:30 Anna arrives to crawl into bed with me. (Maggie is in her own bed by now.)

12:00 While snuggling back to sleep, I start to worry that Anna’s breathing is a little irregular.  She had a pretty bad bump on the head the evening before, and I remember reading the irregular breathing while sleeping is a sign of brain injury.

12:05 Panicked, I get up and turn the computer on, and visit AskDrSears.com (my go-to source for emergency health info).  Yes, irregular breathing  is a sign of brain injury, but he specifically says that it is shallow, irregular breathing that looks different from typical kid sleep breathing–not really what I’m seeing, at least I don’t think so.  But he says if your mom alarms are going off, or if you’re worried, arouse your child.  If they wake up and look or smile and you and snuggle back to sleep, and show no other signs of injury, roll over and go back to sleep–they’re fine.

12:10 a.m.  I wake up Anna, standng her up and asking her how she’s feeling.  She looks at me (pupils even) sleepily and asks me why I’m asking.  And curls back into the pillows and goes back to sleep.

12:15 a.m. I wake up Steve, so that he can talk me down and reassure me that her head bonk wasn’t that bad.  He does all that, but I’m not yet calm.

12:25 a.m. I crawl back into bed with Anna, turing on the lamp to read for a little while.

12:45 a.m. I go find my cell phone so I can set the alarm to wake me at 2-hour intervals to check on Anna. (Dr. Sears suggests this.)

1:00 a.m. I turn off the light and try to sleep.  I periodically lay my hand on Anna’s breathing belly, and wonder if I’m right that her breathing is deep.  Are the irregularities really just due to a little chest and nasal congestion?  Did I feel a little twitching?  Was it on both sides or just one?

1:15ish I finally fall asleep.

2:25 a.m. Anna wakes up to nurse, and though sleepy is alert and talktive.  Normally not such a good sign in the middle of the night, but on this night it is reassuring and calming.

2:30 a.m. My alarm goes off, and I silence it.

3:00 a.m. Anna is still awake.  She asks for a tissue, and proceeds to ineffectively blow her nose about 25 times.

4:00 a.m. Anna is still awake.  Normally I would be a little out of my mind at this point, but my earlier worry has me rather enjoying this awake time together.  We are snuggling and chatting a little.  She’s still blowing her nose but not having much luck clearning her nasal passages.  “Mommy,” she says, “Sometimes the snot just won’t come out.”

4:15 a.m. I turn off the 4:30 alarm.

4:20 a.m. Anna says, “Mommy, I need to pee.  With you.” So we get up and go to the bathroom.

4:45 is We both finally sleep.

6:30 a.m. My d*mn alarm goes off.  What was I thinking?  I turn it off and Anna rolls over to nurse.  She seems quite herself.

8:00 a.m. Anna wakes up so of course so do I.  The sun is finally up, and that alone makes me feel better.  As is often true for her, she wakes up full of things to say.  “Mommy, ” she says, “I think I understand why they can’t use scripts on stage. [Maggie is currently in a play.] If they do that, it’s hard for them to seem like the characters.”  And so forth.

Phew!  I’m glad it’s morning!

Many pots on the stove

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So here it is, Sunday afternoon, and I miraculously have some time to cook.  A big batch of marinara sauce (recipe from this amazing book) and a pot of curry thrown together from several leftover curries that have been languishing in the freezer.  The pasta sauce is a money-in-the-bank kind of project…cooking ahead to make some sauce that can be quickly thawed for dinner.  Of all the things I canned, we ran through the pasta sauce first, and I’ve been really wanting another batch (even if it has to be made from canned tomatoes this time of year).  So that’s simmering on the stove right now.  Along with the curry, which creates a set of smells in the kitchen that are surprisingly harmonious.

I’ve been on a tare lately to replenish my quick-and-easy meal stores, which have been depleted of late.  Well, maybe depleted is a bit of an overstatement.  Running a little less than full, perhaps?  At any rate, I just seem incapable of making a small batch of anything when a big batch means a freezer full of deliciousness.  Which is probably why I embarked on the world’s largest batch of pizza sauce earlier in the week….what a great feeling it is to have pizza dough and sauce in the freezer!  A few weeks ago I bought a can of pizza sauce at the store and was appalled by the price and deprived of the satisfaction of using my own.

That won’t happen for a long time, now.  16 pints of pizza sauce later, I think we’re set for awhile.

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I wish I had a picture of all those beautiful jars, but I don’t.  And special thanks to my mom and dad, who tended the sauce all afternoon while we were out.  If you’re feeling like a BIG cooking project, take a trip to Costco and go for it–here’s the recipe.

Huge batch of pizza sauce

4 #10 (108 oz.) cans crushed tomatoes (or tomato puree)

16 cloves garlic, minced

16 bay leaves

1/3 cup dried oregano

1/3 cup dried basil

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine ingredients in a really big pot, preferably with a nice thick bottom.  Simmer until nice and thick–this will take a few hours.  Imagine all those tasty pizzas you’re going to enjoy, and pat yourself on the back for making this sauce from scratch.