Saturday, May 28, 2011

Chocolate Stout Cake Fail

I don't know what made me decide to bake a cake on the hottest day of the year so far (and when I say hot I mean 100 degrees in the shade). Well, yes I do. It was the beautiful pictures and descriptions of Leila's recipe and the fact that we had a stray bottle of beer in the fridge that had been languishing there for months.

I happened to have all the ingredients on hand so out came the KitchenAid.

I baked it in a heavily buttered bundt pan (bundt pans always make me nervous).

It fell a little in the middle (not sure what causes that).  I was disappointed, but I figured that part would be on the bottom once I turned the cake out, so it wouldn't matter all that much.

Well, guess what?  The cake stuck even though I took all the precautions like letting it cool before trying to turn it out!  The bottom (top?) part stayed in the pan.  Not cute at all!

But I decided to forge ahead and make the ganache frosting anyway and hope the cake would be edible.  I didn't have any heavy cream so I used this instead and left out the coffee granules.

The cake isn't exactly presentable, but it actually tastes good!  I feel redeemed!

My girls said strawberries went really well with it too.

So I guess the moral of this story is that even someone who bakes often, like I do, can mess up a cake. And sometimes it tastes better than it looks.

Friday, May 27, 2011

School's Out!

A little nest got blown out of one of our trees. We looked all over the yard for eggs but didn't find any. Nests are amazing when you look at them up close.

Even though today was the last day of school, Marcia suggested we take the nest to her science teacher. Apparently he loves things like that.  One of her brothers had a science teacher whose classroom was full of  all sorts of animal skeletons, live animals, plants and fossils.  It was a very interesting and educational classroom, but sort of stinky too. :)  I'm glad I never had to stay long.

Have a wonderful weekend with your family and remember those who gave their lives in service to our country and their families.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Stress Management

As much as I would like it to be different, I have a fairly low threshold for stress. That's not a good thing in a family as busy as ours. My first instinct when faced with stress is like the old poem says:
"When in trouble, when in doubt,
Run in circles, scream and shout!"
Not exactly productive is it?

So I have to be very intentional about busting stress before it busts me!  Here are my favorite ideas for managing stress (in no particular order):
  • Watch a funny movie or read a funny book.  Laughter always makes me feel better.
  • Do something creative.  Bake something delicious, paint a picture, make a scrapbook or a necklace...anything that you enjoy and that gives you a sense of accomplishment.
  • Clean the house.  OK, it's not the cleaning itself that makes me feel better, but the end result.  A messy house stresses me out.  Preferably I can find a time when I am home alone and I listen to my favorite music or a great podcast while I clean.  It makes it go by so much faster and then I can relax and enjoy the shiny floors and dust free furniture.  Sometimes that's a quicker and less stressful route to having a clean house than trying to get hubby and the kids to pitch in.
  • Sing.  I'm not a singer by any means, but I love to put on some old gospel songs and really belt them out when no one is listening.
  • Exercise.  The very last thing I want to do when I'm feeling stressed is to exercise, but if I can talk myself into it, I always feel better and sleep better.  It doesn't have have to be anything seriously strenuous.  This is one of my favorite workouts that doesn't leave me feeling exhausted afterward.
  • Talk to another mom and be honest!  It's likely that's she's felt the same way.  At the very least she'll help you feel more normal.
  • Read the Psalms
  • And last, but not least.  If you think you might be depressed, there is no shame in getting help!  Talk to your pastor or someone else you trust.  You may also be able to get free or reduced price counseling through your local university if cost is a concern.  Don't put yourself last!

"Always leave enough time in your life to do something that makes you happy, satisfied, even joyous. That has more of an effect on economic well-being than any other single factor."
- Paul Hawken

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

Flowers sent to me for Mother's Day by my oldest son.

Happy Mother's Day to you! 

I have a messy kitchen from the extra "help" and I'm typing with lanky teenage arms and legs all over me as we attempt to squeeze together on one couch (with some of the owners of those arms and legs insisting they should lie down on the couch and put their feet in their sibling's faces).  I wouldn't have it any other way!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Little Snack

My youngest took this picture of her afternoon snack today. Clearly, all the bloggy food photography is rubbing off on her. Somehow a snack tastes even better when it's arranged on a cute little saucer and you take a picture of it before you eat it. :)

Happy snacking (and photo snapping) my friends!