I Am Baker

froggy business

If you can agree to any of the statements below, just stop reading this and move on with your day.  Trust me.

1.  You passed high school Biology.  (The frog dissection part).

2.  You have basic knowledge of how frogs procreate and give birth.

3.  The idea of seeing frogs being intimate does not gross you out.  Likewise, watching frogs have babies is not gross.  Because really, I don’t actually know what I have captured a picture of.

pond life: frogs

 If you happened to have answered yes to the above statements but are still here, don’t say I didn’t warn you.  The sheer stupidity that I am about to admit has sent me lurching down a shame spiral.  To this day I still do not know what I saw.

It all started innocently enough.  I was working inside last Saturday and the kids came running in.

“Mom, mom!  The leeches are taking the frog down.  They are killing it!”

Well, that sounds lovely.  Why don’t I head down to the pond with you and check things out.

So we all venture down to the shoreline, me with camera in tow.  In my mind I had conjured up an image of a poor sickly frog being slowly sucked to death by dozens of ravenous leeches.  I was prepared for gross.  Or, at least I thought I was.

There was one little froggy hanging out on a branch so I snapped his mugshot.  But as I looked into the water, things got weird.

pond life: frogs

 

There were a lot of frogs.  I want to say at least a hundred just in one of our ponds. And they seemed to be mating.

I stared at them.  I mean, as a city girl I had never really seen a lot of frog mating and honestly I was a bit fascinated.  Grossed out, but fascinated.

The kids were asking questions and I was pretending I didn’t know, because having a “birds and the bee’s” discussion wasn’t in the cards for that day.

I mean, there were frogs humping everywhere.  It was like amphibian smut.  Explicit frog art.  The “birds and the frogs”.

 

pond life: frogs

But then I looked even closer.

There was this stuff everywhere.

Black strings of stuff.  EVERYWHERE.

MASSIVE amounts of it.

pond life: frogs

All around in the water there were globs of it.

pond life: frogs

 

Turns out its frog babies.

That is not the technical term (and since I am not planning on looking it up anytime soon I will just stick to that), but I will hold fast to the wild assumption that it’s babies based on the little I do know about the birthing process.

That and this picture.

pond life: frogs

 

Where it seems that the babies are being ‘laid’ or ‘born’ or excreted from a frog.  Is it coming from the top frog?  So the female frog is on top?

Oh,  ok.  I get it now! 

Um, no, no I don’t.

So as I stood there in complete disbelief that I could be so entirely clueless about the frog mating and birthing process, I noticed the blobs of black frog babies were moving.

Pulsating.

pond life: frogs

That’s when I noticed the leeches.  There are three that I can see in the picture above.  They were feasting.

Ugh, that word makes me shudder.

They were writhing and rolling and feasting on the unsuspecting unborn.

It was a horrific.  It was nature.  My husband got excited at the prospect of fat leeches for fishing.  I declared myself incapable of comprehending the frog baby murders occurring right before my eyes.

The kids got hungry and went inside for snacks.

My disbelief froze me.  I stood there, camera poised but not taking any pictures.  Just watching.

After some time a lone frog made his way over to me and started croaking.

It was so loud it hurt my ears.  Was it a mating call?  Was he warning his fellow comrades of the brutal leech feast occurring on his potential offspring?  Was he just sick of me standing there?  I will never know.

But.

pond life: frogs

 

I did manage to capture this moment of that sweet little frog croaking so loud his vocal sac was about to burst.

It was so still in the moment leading up to his song that the water reverberated with his chorus.

pond life: frogs

That was cool to see.

So while I am  fully scarred from the days events and will never fully understand what we all witnessed that day, at least I can look back and appreciate the frog song.

And when I say appreciate I really mean not appreciate.  It is SO loud and annoying!  My brain was hurting.

Moral of the story: Frogs are weird.  I do not understand frog sex and baby making.  They are loud. Leeches are disgusting.  Having ponds is not as cool as you would think.

The end.

I Am Baker I Am Baker

chocolate chip pancakes with chocolate butter glaze

I made a mini-resolution to myself.  Start getting real on my blog.

Which is weird because no one told me to stop being real, but I have been slowly morphing into “safe” mode.  Just get by.  Don’t ruffle feathers.  Not consciously mind you, I think it was a subconscious act of preservation.  Blogging ain’t for the weak ya’all.

Mini Chocolate Chip Pancakes with Cinnamon and Chocolate Butter Glaze! #pancakes #chocolate #breakfast

So I normally wouldn’t post this recipe.  It’s just too… indulgent.  Too weird.  I mean… chocolate buttery sugary GLAZE poured over chocolate pancakes?

Insanity.

Mini Chocolate Chip Pancakes with Cinnamon and Chocolate Butter Glaze! #pancakes #chocolate #breakfast

 

But my all time favorite way to eat pancakes is with butter.  Lots and lots of butter.  Syrup I can give or take… but butter is a must.

So, I melted some butter.  Added some chocolate chips.  Then some sugar.

And it was sweet and fabulous.  But I needed a hint of bitter in there, to heighten the sweetness of the glaze even more, so I added raspberries.

Perfection.

Mini Chocolate Chip Pancakes with Cinnamon and Chocolate Butter Glaze! #pancakes #chocolate #breakfast

 

I have not specified the fruit in this recipe at all, but I highly recommend adding something with a bit of acidity in it, or at the very least a fruit with a little tang.  Oranges would be ah-mazing, lemon, some apples, some blueberries or blackberries.  You can really (and you really should) test to your hearts content.

Mini Chocolate Chip Pancakes with Cinnamon and Chocolate Butter Glaze! #pancakes #chocolate #breakfast

chocolate chip pancakes with chocolate butter glaze

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, stirred or sifted before measuring
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4-1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • Chocolate Glaze
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon mini chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar

Instructions

  1. Sift together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. (Do not skip this step! You do not want lumpy pancakes.)
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk; add to flour mixture, stirring only until smooth.
  3. Add in melted butter. If the batter seems too thick to pour, add a little more milk.
  4. Lastly, add in mini chocolate chips. I prefer less, but you can add as many as you prefer.
  5. Cook on a hot griddle (about 300 degrees).
  6. Recipe serves 8.
  7. Chocolate Glaze
  8. Melt butter in microwave safe container, a small bowl works well.
  9. Immediately after melting butter, add in mini chocolate chips and stir until mostly melted.
  10. Add in sugar and stir until incorporated.
  11. Serve immediately. As the butter returns to room temperature the glaze will harden, simply re-heat to reach liquid again.
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Chocolate Chip Pancakes with Chocolatey Butter Glaze and Raspberries! #breakfast #pancakes #chocolate #bestpancakes

 

I prefer my chocolate chip pancakes to have less chocolate chips.  Sounds weird, but I love pancakes so much, I like to be able to taste them!  When you have too many chocolate chips the only thing you can taste is chocolate.  (I know, I know, it’s like I have lost my mind.)

The glaze for these pancakes is really, really focused on the butter flavor.  There is that hint of chocolate and sweet, but (as I mentioned above) really wanted to make sure the buttery deliciousness I crave was dominant.  If you wanted to use syrup instead that would work great too!

I Am Baker

what makes a kitchen the heart of a home

My kitchen is all at once the messiest and most cleaned room in my home. It causes me stress and joy simultaneously!  I stress over dirty dishes, moldy bread, crumbs on the floor and stains drying and setting in my table cloth as we speak. he Kitchen is the Heart of the Home!   But then there is the joy. We embrace the joy on weeknights especially, since those are the times when it’s easiest to get caught up in the stress of the week and overlook those special moments.
The cathartic process of baking a cake, in preparing meals for my loved ones, in laughing over the weekdays’ events and helping young minds meander through schoolwork. he Kitchen is the Heart of the Home! Seeing four busy little bodies making themselves far too comfortable in front of the open refrigerator doors trying to find something that will most assuredly ruin their dinner.
The wails and cries of disappointment when they learn they can’t have marshmallow fluff for a snack, and then the 7 seconds it takes them to recover from the massive disappointment only to then fight over who gets to fill the water glasses for dinner. (Arguably my 3 year olds favorite thing in the world to do).
It’s a vicious cycle of mess making and mess cleaning.  The never ending hum of my GE Appliances dishwasher, which has now become a familiar (and dare I say soothing?!) background noise.
he Kitchen is the Heart of the Home!   A splendid cycle of the family coming together in anticipation of cookies, slow cooked chili, or game night.  Learning new tricks, new processes, new ways to appreciate the foods we crave.
he Kitchen is the Heart of the Home!   So what is it that makes the kitchen the heart of the home on weeknights?
The kitchen is the heart of the home!   It’s a reflection of the hearts of its inhabitants. We come here to eat, to laugh, to play, to pray, to learn, to have fellowship, and to grow.
Where discipline and reward exist together.
The kitchen is the heart of the home! Where every sense is heightened and delighted. We learn what we like, discover what we love… and create the lifelong trust in the relationships that enrich our hearts.
The kitchen is the heart of the home!   And eat.  We do lots and lots of eating.
The kitchen is the heart of the home!
While I will never enjoy the mess, I will always enjoy that the mess was made.
Blueberry Cheesecake with Shortbread Crust

 (To make this Blueberry Cheesecake click here.)

shortbread crust

Ingredients

  • 1 package walkers shortbread (8 cookies)
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

Instructions

  1. Place cookies in food processor and pulse until cookies are a fine crumble.
  2. Pour into bowl and add in melted butter.
  3. With a fork, mash the cookie and butter together until mostly incorporated.
  4. Press shortbread into a 7 inch springform pan. (Can use 8 inch or 9 inch as well) Pour cheesecake over top and bake as the cheesecake directions indicate.
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Blueberry Cheesecake with Shortbread Crust   
What makes the kitchen the heart of your home?

I Am Baker

perfect rainbow pancakes

My original Rainbow Pancakes have been quite controversial, but hopefully that is all done.  I am sharing a slightly less technicolor version of them today, AND sharing tips on how you can great the Perfect Rainbow Pancake, just in time for Easter!

Tips for the Perfect Rainbow Pancake! #pancakes #rainbow

 

Here are a few tips!

Have lots of bowl on hand.  By far the most time consuming part of rainbow pancakes is creating six batters in six different bowls.  I suggest enlisting the little ones in the entire process, and then allow them to help with clean up afterwards.  I have found that this helps them understand that this is a “special” event and not something we do everyday.

Tips on how to make the Perfect Rainbow Pancakes! #pancakes #rainbow

Cook low and slow. I often cook my rainbow pancakes at 250 degrees F on the griddle.

Do not use butter to grease pan.  I do not use anything to prepare the pan, I simply use a a griddle that is non-stick.

Tips on how to make the Perfect Rainbow Pancakes! #pancakes #rainbow

Make all of one color at once.  I prepare all of the pink, then the orange, then so on.  I place finished pancakes on a warming plate in the oven, and that way I can serve all of the pancakes hot and in rainbow color order!

If you want to make shape you can place batter into a pastry bag and cut off a tiny bit of the corner.  Make an outline and then quickly fill the shape in.   This can be esepceially fun with you have so many different colors!

I do not recommend using cookie cutter to get the designed shape you want.  The average person (like me!) does not have 5 of one shape cookie cutter, so this means you are making one pancake at a time.  You also need to spray the cookie cutter before each use and be careful because it gets very hot!  I have yet to find a way to make this method  be efficient.

Use a “good” recipe.  I put good in quotations because what I really mean is use a recipe that is ideal for creating beautiful looking pancakes.  The following recipe is one that tastes delicious, but is slightly runnier.  When you are making colorful pancakes you do not want them to get too brown, so having a pancake that will cook faster (and therefor allow you to flip sooner) is ideal.  This recipe uses a lot of baking powder so it still fluffs up nicely.

If you want to make sure your pancake is done, let them cook on one side a bit longer.  It is just fine if one side is more brown, just serve that side down.

I slightly adapted this recipe from Allrecipes.com, but any basica recipe will do.  Simply add more liquid to achieve better results.

perfect rainbow pancakes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  2. Pour in milk, egg and oil and mix until smooth.
  3. Pour the batter onto the heated griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake.
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Tips on how to make the Perfect Rainbow Pancakes! #pancakes #rainbow

Use a good food coloring.  With this recipe specifically you can use liquid food coloring with great success!  It’s also a great time to get your teacher hat on with the kids, and help them to figure out what colors you need to combine to achieve orange and purple and green.

Enjoy the process.  Most of all, enjoy this time in the kitchen with your little ones.  They grow up so fast!

 

 

I Am Baker

paper thin walls {a response to a response to a response}

I recently had an email in my inbox.  It was from care.com and read:

War Of The Hotel Rooms: Should Babies Be Banned?

Recently, an anonymous letter berating a set of parents who brought their baby to a ski resort went viral. People were quick to pick sides — and a heated debate began: “Are there certain types of vacations that simply are not appropriate for kids and babies?” Two Care.com employees (one a parent, one a former service industry manager) have different reactions. What are your thoughts?

Now, I was pretty sure what the two lines of thinking were going to be.

One would say that babies shouldn’t be allowed on vacation and the other would say that they should.

Olivia Crying

I clicked over to the article and started reading.

And kept reading.

And the more I read, the more disbelief set in.

BOTH opinions agreed that babies should not be taken anywhere.  And one suggested that

(and this is the part that gets me)

a crying baby should be brought down to the lobby to be quieted.

Just as a family with a crying baby should leave a restaurant when it gets too bad, so should parents at a resort. They should have gone to the lobby to soothe the child. No, it’s not convenient, but we all need to be more considerate of each other, especially when people around you are eating or sleeping.

olivia

 

Um, what’s this you say person who does not have any kids?  Surely you jest.

Let me just jump right in and share my biggest issues with this drama.

1. If it’s such an upscale ski resort, why are the walls so paper thin?

2. Since when is “should babies be allowed” EVEN A DEBATE?  Next thing you know there will be “BABY ONLY” sections of hotels.  Or restaurants.  Or malls.  Or planes. (That last one is not a bad idea… )

3. Who on earth would bring a screaming baby from your private hotel room to a public lobby to try to sooth?  I would never dream of telling the party goers to take it to the lobby.  Or the loud ‘intimate’ people.  I mean, can you imagine?

Banging on the door. “Can you folks please continue your escapade in the lobby while I am trying to sleep?  You are ruining my vacation!”

I am completely dumbfounded by that line of thinking.

Here are five really important and technical and educated reasons that I find this to be phooey.

1. I have more than one child.  I simply cannot leave my other children alone in a hotel room while I go hang out in the lobby.

2. I nurse my babies and often try to nurse to sooth them.  There is no way I would feel comfortable nursing my baby in a public lobby.  Why hello Mr. Night Shift Manager!  Yes I am desperately trying to force my child to latch on to my nipple and they keep refusing but I keep trying because I know once they do they will calm down and feel better!

3. I happen to think bringing a crying baby to a lobby is rude.  More rude that attempting to deal with the situation in a private room that I paid to be in.

4. Crying babies are more stressful for the mom than the baby!  Not only are we worried about said child, but we are worried about the other kids, the disruption,  wether we will ever sleep again, if we remembered to shut the garage door when we left for the vacation… you get the idea.  It’s stressful for all involved.

5. It’s stupid.

sleeping baby

Trust me oh-complaining-ones, I want my little cherub to go to sleep just as much as you do.  And I promise, I am doing everything in my power to make that happen.

But you know what?  The suggestion of not leaving home with a baby ever is just plain rubbish.

Sometimes travel is inevitable.  Sometimes circumstances are more important that potential annoyances.  Sometimes plans are made and money is spent before you even realize you are pregnant.  (And yes, that has happened to me, twice.)

Sometimes people need to have compassion instead of being so darn judgmental and rude.

Here, let me solve this whole big overinflated ridiculous dilemma for you.

Change rooms.

Accept that babies are here to stay.  (Especially in hotel rooms:  Don’t discriminate against the baby unless you are going to discriminate against the act of making a baby. #word)

You’re welcome.

I Am Baker

three happy years

Mister Edward (or Eddie as we call him) woke up bright eyed and with a hungry belly this morning.

His request on his very special day?

Waffles!Sprinkle Waffles

These are just simple waffles with a bit of whipped cream and sprinkles, but definitely something new to him.

Birthday Breakfast

 

He was in disbelief.

He didn’t know if he could eat it.

He wanted to eat it, but hesitated.

Birthday Breakfast

 

I told him to dig in.

Really?

YES!

Birthday Breakfast

He did!  And only at the whipped cream and sprinkles.

But is one very happy three year old.

Happy Birthday Eddie!

 

I Am Baker

life

Life has been crazy.

I have been stressed and calm and happy and sad and excited and dejected and that was just today.

Since updating my mommy blog has been something I have been wanting to do forever but have been woefully negligent in doing so, I am just going FULL BOAR on it tonight.

eddie

 

This little man is growing up.  In less than a month he will be 3 and I cant handle it.  He is my snuggle bear and so stinking cute and makes us all laugh on a daily basis.

I have started taking our sweet Eddie to speech therapy once a week.  It was a tough choice because he is so small and because it’s quite expensive and our deductible is very, very high so we pay for most everything!  But he is worth it and I am hoping to see some improvement soon.  He seems to have a hard time with “sm” words and “pr” words.  He also drops words and doesn’t care to identify ‘he’ and ‘she’ correctly.  All fixable, and the prognosis is very good.

audrey-sassy

 

This sassy malassy is a stinker winker bear.  My sweet Audrey.  Full of spirit and words and energy, I find that she is my greatest challenge everyday.  Not only does she love to get dressed up as a princess (every.single.day.) but she is now obsessed with Elsa from Frozen and is constantly asking for us to tie blankets around her so she can have a long cape.  Not that the cold bothers her, that is.

parker-image

Cookies on Blue Plate by Parker

colton-image

 Cookies on Red Plate by Colton

I have been trying to teach Colton and Parker photography basics.  So far we have started on food photography, and they are LOVING it.

The above assignment was for the kids to pick any props they wanted and they had to “style” the shoot.  Once they got everything laid out they way they wanted, we put the camera on a tri-pod and talked about lighting.  How light bounces and reflects and shadows and natural vs. artificial.

This has been challenging because I am always learning as well!, but youtube has some great tutorials.

Secretly I am hoping one of them really has a passion for photography and I can start asking them to take all my blog pictures for me!

Intentional Parenting

 

I started writing a series on Intentional Parenting.  I have two weeks done now, and its really making a difference in my life!  Just hoping to do some more research and get some life experience before I share it.  Hoping it will help others as much as me!

I have also started running.  As in, running.  I know that is hard to believe as anyone who knows me knows I HATE RUNNING.  One day I just woke up and said, “I think I need to like running.”  And I did.

treadmill

 

This was the first time I ran over 2 miles.  I think I had a permagrin that whole night.  It felt SO good to reach that goal!

Tonight I ran 4 miles in 52 minutes.  That actually equals out to be a slow jog, like a 13 minute mile, but its a big deal for me.  A BIG deal.  The night before last I ran for one hour straight.  No stopping.  An hour!

I look forward to my run everyday and have thankfully avoided injury thus far.  My biggest challenge to date is mental.  I get bored.  I get distracted.  I get tired. (da)  So hubby downloaded The Biggest Loser and I watch that.  It’s been REALLY helpful and inspirational.  (I tried running without it and was only able to go a mile… that goes to show how mentally weak I am!)

Just hoping I can stick with it and get healthy (er).

Surprise Inside Cakes Cover1

image credit susan powers

Last but not least is this guy.  Officially on the book store shelves in 2 days.  Talk about a labor of love!  I have developed such a huge respect for the people in this industry.  The literary agents and publicists and publishers and editors and copyeditors.  Wow.  Those folks are such a talented and creative and AMAZING bunch.  I hope to have the opportunity to know them more in the future.

That being said, if you have not purchased the book do it NOW! (please)  I want to share this experience with you and read it with you and bake cakes together!

Amazon: http://goo.gl/zX1V9k

And with that I am headed to bed.  (And I didnt even talk about homeschooling!  I have some big changes to report on that front.  Hopefully soon!)

Be blessed!

I Am Baker

Red Velvet Chocolate Milk

So I posted a picture on Instagram and asked people what they thought of Red Velvet Chocolate Milk.  Based on the picture I posted (darn my love of filters) , 99.99999% of them said NO.  No.  Not ever.  Just… no.

Based on that awesome response you would think that I would scrap the recipe huh?

Red Velvet Chocolate Milk

 

I just couldn’t.  It was too fun and the kids were totally enthralled by it and it was a special occasion and I promise I will only make it once a year and never ever make anything with red food coloring in it ever again.

That last part is a lie.  #justsayin

Red Velvet Chocolate Milk

 

You can see that this is more pink than red, and I am ok with that in this case.  Since the red color is achieved primarily through the gel food coloring, I think it’s ok to skimp.

Red Velvet Chocolate Milk

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/4 tsp vinegar
  • 3 drops red food coloring (more or less depending on your tastes)

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and mix for about 1 minute.
  2. Serve immediately.
  3. The cocoa will start to separate from the milk right away, so I do not recommend storing. If you do chose to prepare ahead of time, just put in the blender for 15 seconds prior to serving.
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Red Velvet Chocolate Milk

 

With the addition on the vinegar, I think this really does taste like red velvet.  And if you wanted to make it healthier you could use India Tree all natural food coloring.  Switching out the ingredients for all organic would be even better.

I liked this drink and really like the suggestion of making it into a milkshake.  Just need to head to the store and get some ice cream!

My BEST Homemade Chocolate Milk is always a good way to go if you like traditional yumminess. :)

I Am Baker

today i will

Some days are just easy to enjoy.

kids-homeschool

 

This day was one of those days.

When I woke up to a clearly defined plan of attack, and set about sticking to it as the sun crept higher and higher in the sky, it was easier to enjoy the little moments.

Why I don’t stick to a defined schedule everyday is beyond me, as it is clearly something I benefit from!  But what is even more important, my kids benefit as well.  They perform so well when they know what is expected of them.

On this day our homeschool time and requirements were very clearly laid out.  Like clockwork, the kids would complete a task and move to the next.

It was refreshing and encouraging. (And totally not something that I expect everyday!  I just wanted to appreciate THIS day.)

So, it seems to me, if I want to find joy in my daily routine and set the tone for our home, I need to be intentional about it.

Intentional living.

Better write that on my to-do list.