Thursday, May 26, 2011

Test Kitchen Thursday - Cake Debacle

Ah - cake!  Have you ever had a love/hate relationship with a particular food?  Cake is mine.  I love to eat cake, I love to mix up cake batter, I love to search for new cake recipes; however, somehow more often than not my cakes end up looking like this:

OK - this may be a bit of an exaggeration!  This was the lump that leaked out of my stand-up train pan.  The upside - at least I get to taste the cake to make sure it's OK ;)

And I somehow overfilled the cupcake liners and ended up with a mess.  I have learned 3/4 full does not equate the same across all cake batters.  Sigh!  I'll have to make a new batch of cupcakes tomorrow morning.  I happen to have a very happy family tonight though when they found out the cupcakes were not off limits.

Unfortunately my stand up cake for the boys is going to end up as just a regular plated and decorated cake rather than a stand-up.  I tied the wire as tight as I could but it still exploded out the smoke stack.  Oh well - the boys still think it looks cool so I'm not going to strive for perfection.

Don't get me wrong - the cakes taste fantastic!  I tried a couple recipes from the February 2011 issue of Better Homes and Gardens.

The first was the Classic Vanilla Cake (my husband is a vanilla cake lover and couldn't stop devouring little cupcakes so it was a very good recipe - I added in red, white and blue sprinkles to appease my 2 year old's love affair with all things sprinkled!).

The second was the Double Chocolate Cake recipe.  As a chocolate lover I can attest to this being a really good chocolate cake.  However, it still doesn't beat my mom's chocolate cake.  Mom - your cake is still the best!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Day of Insect Fun!

Today we decided to fix a picnic lunch and head for Reiman Gardens.  
We wanted to check out the new insect exhibits.

We started in the butterfly wing.  
Clark and Grant loved pointing out all the different butterflies. 

We headed outside to see the BIG insects!

I think the ants were the favorites of the day.

Although the Children's Garden maze held lots of attraction.

And of course the big Gnome was a hit too.  
Although by this time Clark was no longer into posing for photos.

It was great fun to watch Grant practice his balancing skills throughout the day.  
He has definitely hit that "I do it!" 2 year old stage of life.

After eating a picnic lunch under a nice shade tree the boys found another part of the garden to explore the fountains.  Water fountains have always been some of Clark's favorite things.  Today I spent lots of time explaining how a fountain and it's pumps work.

One last outdoor shot with the giant mosquito. 

Inside once more to go to the conservatory and see the ant invasion!

We all liked the little rock/metal ants throughout the conservatory!  

After all that the boys were ready to head for home.  So, according to plan I wore them out.  Unfortunately this backfired on me when Grant fell asleep on the way home and refused to wake up so nap time (and therefore wake up time) was VERY early today and I did not accomplish quite as much as hoped for this afternoon.  Oh well!  Clark meanwhile has decided he's too old for naps - humph - we'll see about that.  
He did mention tonight that his legs were very sleepy (tired).

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

To My Boys - Greetings From L.A.

Dearest Clark and Grant,

Mommy sends you her love and greetings from L.A., California!  I thought you might like to see what mommy has been up to since she boarded the plane on Sunday.

Yesterday the group from Iowa went to the convention center and mommy helped all of the finalists from Iowa set up and clear their projects.  No problems - all went well.

We walk by the Staples Center every day on our way to the Convention Center.  I'll let daddy explain it's importance.  Basically it is where a basketball team plays.

Today was our tour day.  Many of our Iowa group decided to take the subway train to Hollywood.  When we got there mommy and some friends headed to Grauman's Chinese Theatre.  This is a very big deal.

But I thought you might like the dragons that guard the doors so I took a picture for you.

This is a picture of mommy next to the pavement where Roy Rogers and Trigger have their foot/hoof prints.

When mommy gets home she and daddy will need to find the photo of the day Roy Rogers and Trigger actually stepped in the cement.  In the picture will be your great-grandpa (daddy's grandpa) standing right behind Roy.  Great -grandpa Alfred Sloey used to sing in a group that sang with Roy Rogers.  This was long before your mommy and daddy were born.  In fact, your Grandma and Grandpa Spencer were very young at the time - maybe just a little older than you.

We also saw John Wayne's autograph.  John Wayne is from Iowa and was a very famous actor.  In fact, both of your grandpa's like John Wayne a lot (so do mom and dad)!

And I couldn't resist a shot of Gene Autry and Champ's foot/hoof prints.  Again another great cowboy singer/actor and his horse.

After sight seeing we stopped at the Disney Soda Fountain for a chocolate shake.

On our way back to the subway station I saw this dinosaur that I thought you both would like.

Finally we took the subway back to the convention center and went to the Nobel Laureate panel.  I know this probably won't mean much to you now but I hope someday you will be excited enough about science to appreciate the contributions made by these scientists.  My favorite each year is always Dudley Herschbach.  He won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1986.

The one thing all of these distinguished men agree on is that their family has always brought them the greatest and happiest moments in their lives.  Greater even than winning such a distinguished prize.  I think that says a lot.  So I want you to know how much you both mean to me and how very much I miss you!

Mommy loves you both so much!  Take care and be good boys for daddy and grandma!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

That's My Boy

Yep - pj's and boots; that's my boy!  I'll admit it gets a little crazy around here when daddy's gone for the week.  Welcome home daddy (we all missed you)!

Meet Fred

Meet our new puppy - Fred!

Fred is a Rat Terrier (the same breed my husband had growing up).  He was born on February 16, 2011.  He was about 9 weeks old when we brought him home on Maunday Thursday.

He smelled a bit like pig (yes, he came from a hog farm up the road a ways) when he came home so he was treated to a bath.

He took the bath amazingly well.

Grant thought this was great fun to watch.


A close up shot of Fred done by our fine little photographer - Clark.

Fred has been living with us for over a week now and we think he is a good fit with our family.  He listens well, he doesn't stray far from any of us when outside, he treats the chickens and goats with respect (probably because they are bigger than he is and let's just say his curiosity towards one of the roosters ended not as Fred expected), he doesn't chase the cats (in fact, Purple scares him - Purple just has to come into visible range for Fred to dart behind my legs; then again, Purple takes on bobcats so this new little creature isn't going to have the upper hand in that relationship) and he only barks when it seems well deserved.  Plus, we are well on our way towards being completely potty trained!  Only a couple little accidents last week.

Finally and most importantly he LOVES to play with Clark and Grant.  There's nothing like watching the boys run and run and run with a little dog following close behind.