Saturday, December 28, 2013

Sweet Ellie Belle Cookies!

I'm on a cookie making roll!

I've started a Facebook page for my cookies.

Friday, December 20, 2013

New obsession!

I love cookies. I've loved cookies my whole life.  My parents will attest that cookie wad my first two syllable word. No joke!

I also love art. I draw everyday. I doodle when I talk on the phone, colour with Jakob very often, and always have a sketchbook in progress.

When I was making those snowflake cookies, I started wondering what else you could do to decorate cookies.

Holy moly! The internet has 846395827165 ideas!! I spent a couple hours, late into the night, researching royal icing, and cookie decorating.

Today, I bought a few supplies and cranked these out!!

I LOVE them!

Do you?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Merry Christmas

I've just finished my holiday baking. I intended to make a few more batches, but we really don't need them, and I made the perfect amount to thoroughly enjoy the entire process. 

This year, I relied completely on old recipes. I wanted to honour the recipes passed down from my grandmother,  and also found a couple old note cards of recipes I'd forgotten I had.

My mom joined me for a day of baking, and today I finished the rest.

We made:
- brown sugar shortbreads
- lemon cranberry bites
- amazing black currant window cookies (this year's favourite)
- Danish almond cookies
- dollar cookies
- the "best" sugar cookies.
Pretty, no?

I tracked my progress with the sugar cookies. They're a labour of love! Took me over three hours to frost 80 cookies.

The best sugar cookies recipe:  

2/3 cups butter , 3/4 c sugar, 1tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt, one egg, 1tsp vanilla (or peppermint!), and 1tbsp milk. 2 cups flour.

Cream butter in mixer, add sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. Add egg, vanilla, and milk. Mix til combined.

Beat in flour. If you have a stand mixer, I set mine to stir. It takes a little longer, but it all gets incorporated and I don't have to knead by hand.

Roll, cut out and bake at 375f for 7 min a batch until very lightly browned.

Add caption

Royal icing recipe:
-1 cup icing sugar
-1 egg white
-1/4 tbsp lemon juice
(For the blue I used one drop food colouring)
Beat in a mixer on low til combined, then beat on high til stiff peaks form.

Start by outlining, let dry for an hour or so.
(I have a really handy tool for outlining. It's a bottle that is folded like a spring. Hard to describe... I bought it at the kitchen store in town. It's fitted with a cap and adaptor for all the icing tips)
My frosting set-up. I rest my spoon on the spatula, and keep a toothpick handy on the handle of my bowl.

Drop a teaspoon worth of frosting on each cookie.

Use the toothpick to drag the frosting around the cookie, within the lines.

Once the background is dry, add detailing in another colour.
Ready for gifting. Merry Christmas!!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

December so far...

I’m so behind in writing, but miracles of miracles, I actually put together a REAL photo album of our first family trip with just the four of us!

We went to Disneyland for Jakob’s 5th birthday, and it was absolutely incredible. Jason and I had planned the trip a couple weeks ahead, and managed to keep it secret from Jakob until the morning of our departure. That was tough, I tell you! We were bursting at the seams to tell him, and as such, told Ellie repeatedly that we were going.

We sat him down on Saturday morning, and after we were finished our breakfast, we told him we had an early birthday gift for him to open. Placed in front of him was a small lunch bag, filled with Disney related things. He was so eager to look through everything! We asked him where he would take all these things, and at first he said something like School… We then gave him a card, that had a little Disneyland map in it, and a card that said “Enjoy your Adventure!”. He needed it spelled out, so we finally told him “WE’RE GOING TO DISNEYLAND!! TODAY!!”. He couldn’t believe it, and when it finally sunk in, he said it was “awesome”, and worried if we’d packed the right things. It was hilarious, and I loved every second.

We had already packed everything, so all that was left was to head to the airport (Thanks, Grandma and Papa for the ride!)

The trip was amazing. We rented a GREAT stroller from City Stroller Rentals, and we were in the park from open to close four days straight. We went on almost every ride.

Post- Matterhorn! So brave!
Mickey's Swinging Fun Wheel
The only surprise of the trip was that Ellie is terrified of the characters. She wanted nothing to do with Tigger, Pooh, Minnie, Buzz, Jessie, or any of the Princesses. The only person she went up to voluntarily, and with an intense amount of enthusiasm, was Peter Pan. He is, I tell you, her true love!
On the fifth day, Jakob’s birthday, we went to the California Grand Adventure hotel, for a character buffet breakfast.
Jakob loved the Critters! Ellie was hiding under the table.
Five days flew like the wind, and it was time to come home, and back to reality (Thanks, Mom, for the ride home!)

We celebrated Jakob’s birthday that evening, and he declared he was soooooo happy. On the weekend, we had a little family gathering, where he got his requested "Blueberry cake, with gram cracker sand, and a Lego pirate Jack Sparrow". I was rushed, but it didn't turn out too badly!

December has been so busy. I can’t quite believe it’s already the 12th of December. Less than two weeks until Christmas! But, we’re ready.

Ellie had her winter check-up with respirology, and there is no change to anything. Keeping the status quo, which keeps us (and obviously our nurses) happy! One day, I’m sure it will be nice to have Ellie off that bipap machine, but for now it is our normal. She’s 32.5” tall, and 25lbs! SHE’S HUGE! But, of course, she’s not actually huge. She’s solidly at the 0.4-7%ile for height. Getting there, centimeter by centimeter J

We had our first snowfall of the season the other day. Ellie has never experienced the snow before, she’s either been too small,  or too sick, so this time we wanted very much for her to be able to feel the snow. Since she gets cold so quickly (darn temperature regulation issues!), I wasn’t keen on having her outside. I scooped up a bowl of snow from the yard, lay a towel by the fire, and let her play. She loved it!

Another first, Ellie got to play in sand! This past week, the temperatures went to below -15C with windchill. For Vancouver, that’s completely unheard of! On the coldest day, we were invited to an indoor beach party! The building was warm, and the kids stripped down to barefeet, shorts and tshirts. Ellie was hesistant at first, but with a little peer pressure from her friends, she was soon running and digging, and having a blast! She didn’t want to leave!
So happy!

Phew, I think that has us mostly caught up. I hope you’re all having a wonderful holiday season!


Wednesday, November 27, 2013


November has been the hardest month we've had in a while. Lots of challenges, some changes, but ending with a bang, as we leave for Disneyland on Saturday for Jakob's fifth birthday.

DH broke his hand at work, which resulted in surgery, pins, and now lots of physiotherapy. He's been off for almost seven weeks, and adjusting to having both of us home has been interesting. We've come to find a great balance, sharing child duties as much as he can, and the kids ADORE having him around all the time.

Unfortunately, for some reason, our dog Phoenix went mental. He's always had aggressive tendencies, but recently it got to the point where he could not walk anywhere there might possibly be children without going on the attack. We took him to the best behaviourist around; her assessment resulted in us surrendering him that day to the shelter. Brokenhearted doesn't even begin to describe the loss we've felt in his absence. We tried so hard to make it work, but with kids coming and going all the time, he just wasn't safe to have with us. I'm so hoping that a great family with no kids decides to take him home :(

Ellie's food seeking has gotten more difficult to handle. She asks for food all the time, and has out-smarted us on more than one occasion, getting into food she isn't allowed. We're working with her amazing team of therapists, so hopefully we can all collaborate and come up with a well rounded plan for dealing with her new behaviours. Other than the eating, and associated weight gain which we're trying to keep in check, Ellie has been outstanding!

She's so confident on her feet, she runs practically everywhere. Her vocabulary is booming, although she doesn't use most of her words much. She loves to stack blocks, play with her babies, and absolutely loves bath time. Her hair is soooo fun, it's a big curly mess! We signed her up for preschool next year, and our six month goals are all very reachable. She continues to amaze us daily.

Jakob is turning FIVE next week. I am completely overwhelmed at the thought. He's been adjusting better to school, and I've come to realize that his teacher is actually on our side, so this is good. He loves French, and is picking it up like a sponge. That reminds me, little E is also picking up a few French words here and there. Yesterday, she said "Au revoir" clear as day, to Madame as we were leaving the school!

This hasn't been the easiest year for Jakob. There's been a lot going on with Ellie and with DH, and he's done so well at entertaining himself and understanding that he can't always have all our attention, much as we would love to give it. We found an awesome deal for a trip to the Magical Kingdom, so we're going to surprise him on Saturday with a trip for his birthday! We have our bags packed already. All that's left is to wait three sleeps, and tell him the big news. I can't wait!

So, some bad, some good! Overall, I'm eager to be done with 2013. But, my family is always saying I need to stop rushing everything. I'm going to try!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A glimpse of autumn's beauty

In the mornings, everything has been covered in a heavy dew...

...water beads seem to defy gravity.
perfect glass beads
I am grateful for the flowers that bring colour to my fading garden...

...for Ellie with her bright blue eyes.

I'm so excited about fall cooking, like this amazing kabocha squash with endless recipe options!

And, I remember my love of golden beets, especially roasted.

I <3 Fall!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

October Catch-up

Yesterday afternoon, Jakob and I decorated the house for Halloween.
At the mushy pumpkin patch

We already had a head start, having decorated for Thanksgiving last week, but it was fun to plan out our decorations together. 

Friends of ours have some AMAZING homemade window cut-outs, and Jakob BEGGED me to make some for our house. Wouldn’t you know, I had the vinyl sticky stuff I needed to make them. (We buy rolls of black vinyl at the dollar store, they're sold as shelf liners!) One one-eyed monster, two ghosts, and a half dozen bats later, our house is definitely getting into the Halloween spirit!
Easier to see at night!
Thanksgiving weekend was a bit of a blur. Between an incredible wedding on Friday, dinner at my in-laws’ on Saturday, and hosting dinner on Sunday, it went by fast!

Today, I’m making soup from the leftover turkey stock, and two huge pots are simmering away. Mmmm… perfect time of year for hearty soups!

Ellie passed her growth hormone stimulation test, which is the opposite of what we wanted/expected. So, battles with the insurance company will continue, and we get to look forward to paying lots of money every time the new insurance year starts. Ah, well.

It’s been a week of upgrades for the kids. Jakob got a bigger bike (finally!), and Ellie got a new (old) twin bed!
She's definitely growing up!

It’s sooo her, right at her level, and she loves it.  


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Staying busy with Ellie

We have so much time together, Ellie and I. I'm not sure if it's because she's my last baby, but I am so motivated to keep her active to show her everything I can possibly show her. She is adventurous. She faces life with fierce determination. To her, everything is interesting. Everyone is special. I love to explore the world through Ellie. This week, we went for lots of walks, went to the pool twice, tried ice skating , and went to the beach park.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Rainy days

If you don't live around here, you might not know that it rains a LOT in the Fall, Winter and Spring. A lot. My Jakob has started soccer, and that means we get to brave the cold and spend time outdoors, cheering him (and ourselves) on, in an attempt to convince him that he really does want to be there! We are three weeks in, and this morning was a great experience in deciding if we can tough it out for the season. We can! That is, if I remember to bring: a toque, gloves, proper raingear, an umbrella, hot chocolate, a change of clothes, and a blanket for the car! We were frozen this morning, and thank goodness Grandma was able to watch Ellie so that the little thing didn't freeze to death!
After practice, we were treated to an amazing homemade waffle breakfast, and Ellie and I went home to bake, while Jakob stayed and played at Grandma's.
I came home to discover that the dog had jumped the FENCE, and was hanging out at the neighbours'. Not exactly heartwarming, considering he destroys our house if he's left unattended, and he was doing really well in the yard for a couple hours at a time. Not entirely sure what to do about him, other than to keep him inside as much as possible...
Ellie's "Cold" Face
Ellie thinking she's funny, which she is
Phoenix staring out the window, not impressed by either Ellie or the rain
Jakob's on his way home, and we're going to finish one last recipe from my all day cooking marathon from yesterday (post to come). Movie night, and early to bed!

White Chocolate Cheesecake with Oreo Crust

Tomorrow is Bonne Fete a Liz day! My brother's girlfriend is celebrating her birthday, and I jumped on board the baking train. Liz likes cheesecake, so cheesecake it is. While looking online for ideas, I saw this:
on Pinterest. But no recipe, no instructions, no credits, nada. I liked the idea, and decided to come up with a recipe to approximate what I was seeing online.
{EDIT: I found the original recipe here!}

Voila,  White Chocolate Cheesecake with Oreo Crust and Red Berry Hearts :
2.5 cups Oreo Crumbs
1/4 cup melted butter
Mix, and press into a springform pan.

Preheat oven to 325F. Wrap bottom of pan with a ring of tinfoil, place on a baking sheet, and pour a cup of water onto the sheet.

In a small pan bring a cup of water to boil, put a heatproof bowl over it, and melt 1 cup white chocolate and 1/2 cup half and half until smooth. Stir lots...

Meanwhile, in a mixer, beat:
3 packages cream cheese, I use full fat... I only get cheesecake every few months, it's worth it!
add 1/2 cup sugar
add 3 eggs, one at a time
add one tsp vanilla extract
add in the white chocolate being careful not to burn yourself!

Pour over the chocolate crust.

In another small saucepan heat 1 cup red berries (I had frozen raspberries and strawberries), 1/2 cup water, 2 tbsp sugar and 2 tbsp corn starch.

Stir until thickened, and strain out the seeds. Pour into a squeeze bottle, and dot circles around the batter. Drag a toothpick through the dots to make hearts.

Carefully lift into oven, being careful not to spill anything or jiggle the cake too much. Bake for an hour, then turn off the oven and leave the cake in the oven for another hour. This is supposed to stop it from cracking, but as you can see it didn't work for me! LOL.

Remove from the oven, carefully open springform pan, and plate.


So there you have it; my take on the pretty Pinterest cake :)