Penguin Party!

Pegnuin Cake

Whew! The penguin party is over and I’m sitting down and still for the first time in days. Man do my feet hurt, but it was all worth it! Miss G had a fabulous birthday party, with family and friends and a grand old time was had by all. That’s my kind of party!

Last year, the afternoon of her Tinkerbell birthday party, just after everyone had gone home, Alexis turned to me and said “Next year I want a penguin birthday party!” When I told people about this they assumed she would change her mind sometime during the year, but Alexis much like me, is all about making a decision well in advance and keeping to it, so a penguin party it was!

This year the cake was very simple. It wasn’t anything difficult, but Alexis loved it and it took me next to no time to decorate. That my friends is my kind of cake!

Pegnuin Cake

I baked 4 – 13 X 9 inch cakes to make the ice shelf, 1 – 8 X 8 inch cake to sculpt into the hill the igloo was going to sit on and 1 cake in a heat proof round Pyrex bowl to make the igloo. I used the pieces that I shaved off the “hill” to make the terrain more “natural” and bumpy for the ice shelf. I placed the cake on a big board covered with blue cello paper to make the water.

I also cheated a bit. When I realized how many cakes I was going to have to bake to make the ice shelf and igloo and calculated that the recipe I was going to use was going to need 30 cups of cocoa powder I decided that I was going to go the cake mix route. I normally make all cakes from scratch, but you figure out how much 30 cups of cocoa is going to cost and you can see how expensive it was going to be to make this cake! I ended up using the chocolate variety from Dr. Oetker and it was really fabulous!

Pegnuin Cake

I also used the Wilton Buttercream icing recipe that I normally use. I used a 3/4ths to 1/4th cup ratio of shortening to butter since I’m not a fan of an overpowering butter flavor in my icing. I also use vanilla and almond flavoring in my icing. I sprinkled the top of the cake with a silvery sanding sugar to help the icing have that sparkly snow/ice look to the surface and it worked fabulously!

The penguins are all resin figures. I briefly thought about making fondant or marzipan penguins and then rapidly talked myself out of it. I treasure my sanity after all! ;oP

Penguin Cookies

I made penguin sugar cookies too. These were some of the best sugar cookies I have every had! I ordered some black sprinkles and things from Fancy Flours and they included some recipe cards in my order. One of them was for a “No Fail Sugar Cookie” and let me tell you these lived up to their title!

Penguin Army

I also made a little army of penguin appetizers! Black olives (jumbo and small), pearl mozzarella and carrots. They took bout 20 minutes to make and I got a lot of compliments about them! Someone I follow on Twitter recommended that I Google penguin appetizers and these were just too cute! I used mozzarella instead of cream cheese because Alexis isn’t a fan of cream cheese. Black olives are also one of her all time favorite foods, not to mention an adoration of “white cheese” as she calls it, so it worked out nicely!

Overall it was a very nice party. The kids ran around in circles and generally did their kid things, the adults sat/stood around and chatted, ate some food and enjoyed each other’s company. You can’t ask for better than that.

So now I’m going to take a few days off. I’m seriously wiped out! My parents have been at my sister’s house and are coming to stay with us for a few days. I’ll probably post What’s For Dinner between now and then but most likely I won’t post a recipe until Thursday. I’m going to sit (which I haven’t done in days!), relax and enjoy spending some time with my Mom.

Hope you all have a good week!

To Alexis on Her 6th Birthday

lextutu1

My dearest Alexis,

Six years ago, shortly after 1 am, you were born. In the past six years you’ve spent most of that time growing, changing and becoming the vivacious, free spirited individual that I love so well. You are spunky, fun, caring and most importantly you never shy away from being you. I like that about you.

As time has passed it has become more and more apparent that you are a people person. You have your father’s ability to go into any situation, or get up in front of any crowd and make things happen, coupled with my inherent ability to like people and make new friends. You got none of his cynical thoughts and none of my shyness. It’s the perfect mix! What has resulted is an amazing little girl that makes friends wherever she goes, wins over the hardest souls and just has fun with life. I like this about you too.

There are so many things that I want for you as time passes. And I know realistically that there are times that you will be sad, and even hurt because sometimes life deals blows that can not be avoided. But you are strong and I know that you will make it through whatever hills life throws at you. You will climb those mountains and once you on are on the other side you will be even stronger.

I wish for you a life filled with happiness, a life full of loving friends and family. I hope that you are lucky enough to find a best friend like your Aunt Darlene is to me, who is always there for you and would never dream of stabbing you in the back. I also hope that you find an adoring mate who worships the ground you walk on, that you enjoy spending time with, that completes you like your Dad is for me.

I also wish for you a life filled with adventure. At six you are one of the most adventurous individuals I know. You are ready at the drop of a hat to go and do things. I like that about you. (Have you noticed that there are a lot of things that I like about you? ;oP) I hope that this sense of adventure, this need to go and do things, to see things continues. I wish for you the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty and all the other things that you yearn to see and do.

Go out and do things.

Be what and who you want to be. Never let anyone put/keep you down, because in reality they are most likely jealous that you dare to dream/do.

Find good friends and keep them. If someone isn’t true get rid of them. Life is too short to worry about someone stabbing you in the back.

If you have a dream follow it. Life is too short to wonder what would have happened. You’re more likely to regret what you didn’t do, versus what you did.

And most importantly continue to love. You have an amazing, huge, open heart that welcomes everyone. I like that about you.

Also know that I will always be here for you. Now and forever. You are a part of me and I love you more than I could possibly ever tell you.

Love,
Mom

Originally posted on Daffodil Lane.

Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

A few days ago I stumbled across this recipe and knew that I wanted to make something similar for Jamison. I also knew he probably wouldn’t be completely thrilled and in fact he said they were “too chocolatey”. Too chocolatey? As a friend of mine and I discussed on FaceBook there is no such thing!

I decided to add some peanut butter powder to the cookies to try and cut a little of the chocolate taste. I think perhaps the addition of some peanut butter chips would be good too! Or how about some buttercream in the middle? Or a marshmallow cream mixture? Or how about a peanut butter center? Or leave out the peanut butter powder and put some of Rachel’s Blueberry Vanilla Frosting in the middle? However you make them though these are divine!

Now let’s get to the recipe because today is Miss G’s 6th birthday and I have some pancakes to fix for the birthday girl! ;oP

What You’ll Need:
2 1/4 cups of powdered sugar
1/2 cup of peanut butter powder
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 cup cocoa powder
4 egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Add dry ingredients to a glass bowl:

Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies: Dry Ingredients

Add wet ingredients and stir until “dough” is shiny:

Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies: "Dough"

Using a measuring spoon spoon by the tablespoon onto a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet AND sprayed with non-stick spray and then place in the oven:

Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies: Baking

When you scoop it out the batter will be slightly ball like, but it will begin to spread almost immediately and will continue to do so as the cookies bake.

Bake for 8 minutes and remove the pan from the oven:

Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies: Baked

Let cool completely on the pan and then store in an airtight container.

Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies: The Inside

Makes 16-18 cookies.

Notes: You could add in chocolate chips if you liked.

Pictures From Friday

On Friday Alexis and I ventured into DC to meet up with some friends from Tennessee. Alexis ended up falling twice and injuring her leg so we didn’t get to see them. I really hate that. But we had fun until she did fall!

Here are a few pictures I took. I so miss my DSLR. *SIGH* But they turned out ok none the less.

Capitol

Capitol

Capitol

Capitol

Friday morning was absolutely beautiful! In the mid 70’s with a nice breeze! Just lovely! I think I’ll wait until the fall to venture back over though…People everywhere!

Most importantly Alexis got to see “her ruby slippers” so as far as she is concerned all is right in the world.

If only it would stay that easy! 😉

Originally posted on Daffodil Lane.

Ready for Tomorrow

The presents are wrapped!

Presents Ready to Go

The tutu is done!

Tutu

Tomorrow Miss G turns 6!

A few days ago someone I follow on Twitter posted a “no sew” make your own tutu. Last year I tried to make Alexis a tutu, complete with bedazzling, but it ended up looking more like a tulle skirt and less like the glorious tutu I had in my head. When I saw this version I knew I wanted to try and see if I couldn’t make something a little better. This definitely fit the bill!

I choose a dark blue and a light blue since blue is Lex’s favorite color. I alternated them as I put them on the elastic. I cut the strips at 48 inches so that when doubled over it would be roughly 24 inches.

Cutting Strips for the Tutu

Once I had my strips cut and the elastic measured and put together I was ready to go!

Strips for Tutu

I also used two pieces of tulle on each color as I alternated. Cutting out the strips actually took longer than putting the tutu together itself. Adding the tulle to the elastic took roughly 30 minutes. Cutting the tulle took about 45.

Along with the tutu Alexis is also getting some books, an emperor penguin snow globe (she collects snow globes), a penguin mood ring and a butterfly garden. I will put the presents in her room after she goes to sleep and we’ll open them first thing in the morning.

Have I mentioned how it’s hard for me to believe that six years have passed?

More tomorrow.

Originally posted on Daffodil Lane.

Blueberry Chocolate Chunk Pancakes

Blueberry Milk Chocolate Chunk Pancakes: Ready to Eat

I have a confession to make….On Saturday’s I eat whatever I want. During the week I try to eat mostly healthy, and most days I do rather well, but on Saturday if something strikes my fancy then by golly I’m going to eat what I just can’t get out of my head! A couple of weeks ago that was pancakes and I couldn’t decide if I wanted to make chocolate chip pancakes or blueberry pancakes. What to do? What to do?

Now I’ve made pancakes and posted them on Dianne’s Dishes before, but these were different. This took three different cravings (blueberries, chocolate and pancakes) and rolled them into one! Obviously this is not an everyday sort of food, but if you want to splurge I HIGHLY recommend looking no further!

The really neat thing about these pancakes is that you sort of get a three in one taste combination as well. In one bite you get a blueberry pancake vibe, in another you get a chocolate chip pancake feeling and then finally in some bites you get a blueberry/milk chocolate combo that just hits the spot! So if you like a little chocolate in your pancakes, or a little blueberry, just think about combining them and you’re there!

What You’ll Need:
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour (Note: As always feel free to use white whole wheat flour instead.)
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/3 cup of organic cane sugar
1/8 cup of safflower oil
2 eggs
1 1/3 cups of buttermilk
Blueberries
Milk chocolate, cut into chunks (Note: You could use chocolate chips if you liked, or another version of chocolate.)

Preheat griddle or skillet over medium heat.

In a large bowl stir together flour, sea salt, baking soda, baking powder and sugar until well mixed. Add remaining ingredients and stir until thick batter forms. Set aside.

I like to line up my ingredients in a row so it’s easier to get to what I need as I go:

Blueberry Milk Chocolate Chunk Pancakes: Ingredients Ready to Cook

Once your pan is heated brush it with oil or spray it with non-stick spray and ladle batter onto the pan:

Blueberry Milk Chocolate Chunk Pancakes: Ready for Blueberries and Chocolate

Add blueberries and chocolate:

Blueberry Milk Chocolate Chunk Pancakes: Adding the Blueberries and Chocolate

Cook until bubbles start to form an then flip quickly:

Blueberry Milk Chocolate Chunk Pancakes: Flipped

Cook for a minute or two and then I like to flip them back over just to make sure everything is cooked through:

Blueberry Milk Chocolate Chunk Pancakes: Flipped

Remove from pan and repeat until you run out of batter.

Blueberry Milk Chocolate Chunk Pancakes

Serve with maple syrup and butter and then dig in!

Blueberry Milk Chocolate Chunk Pancakes: Dig In!

Notes: You could do this with any fruit and chocolate combo that you liked.

Daffodil Lane: A Little History

01/24/2017: I transferred this post, along with all of the others from Daffodil Lane, to give a bit of personal history of that blog. It was a bumpy ride, and ultimately I decided to merge the two back together here, instead of there. Dianne’s Dishes started on the original Daffodil Lane, way back when. I moved food to Dianne’s Dishes on January 18, 2007.

In June of 2009 I moved Daffodil Lane to a new server and started fresh. I have those other entries stashed somewhere, and I might dig out the Alexis posts at some point and post them here, but until then, this just gives you a glimpse in to the past. I’m keeping the domain name for Daffodil Lane. I have plans for that, you’ll hear about those later. For now…enjoy!

We started Daffodil Lane five years ago to keep family and friends updated on Alexis and to share pictures of her with family and friends. (Which we had to stop after a few scary instances involving picture stealing and some deranged people.) We also wanted a place to rant about life’s injustices, talk about things that interested us, including politics, and document what we were feeling about any given subject at any given time.

Sadly though things devolved into a quagmire of trolls and hateful comments and it quickly wore me down. I realized that having an opinion and being able to articulate those thoughts without resorting to hatefulness and spite was hard for some people to do. There are just some people out there who can’t disagree with you, and just agree to simply disagree, without being mean about the whole thing. So I began to withdraw and edit what I was thinking, instead of saying what I thought. This is never a good thing. After all a blog is what you’re thinking and feeling and if you can’t say what you think and feel what’s the point?

Over time I started shying away from politics, and to this day that is still the case, and just posted about things that mattered the most to me….Alexis, the environment, various thoughts and food. Ultimately food moved over to Dianne’s Dishes to an environment that was removed from what Daffodil Lane had become. Things had changed and I wasn’t sure how to bring it back from the brink. So I posted less and less, which was not what I wanted, but it was what I got anyway.

A few months ago our blog was moved to another server, but I didn’t realize it was going because I had never updated my e-mail address with our host. For a while now I had wanted to change hosts to the same one that hosts Dianne’s Dishes, but had never gotten around to switching over. Life happens. Alexis grows and homeschool takes place. Dianne’s Dishes kept me busy, not to mention everyday stuff that keeps you tied up like laundry, dishes, cleaning, family time. etc. Time got away from me and I never switched.

So what does all of that mean?

Well if you had been a previous visitor to Daffodil Lane and kept up with it over time all of a sudden when you tried to pull up the blog you got a blank page. Some hoped that meant I was gone, but not the case. I just hadn’t had time to sit down and move things over. Last weekend while I was redesigning Dianne’s Dishes I finally got around to switching servers. And this past weekend Jamison and I sat down and got Daffodil Lane back up and running.

Now what?

Obviously Daffodil Lane has changed. Rest assured that I will continue to share the things that are important to me. I won’t however justify not putting up with hostility. If someone is hostile they’re out of here, no explanation, no patting them on the head, etc. I won’t go down that path again. Common courtesy will be expected. I also still tend to lean toward the left and that’s just how it is. I am what I am and I will not justify myself to anyone. What you see is what you get.

Also I don’t plan to reload the archives. We’re starting a on a new page so to speak. Daffodil Lane had gotten so large it was hard to load and rebuilding it was a multi-hour bear of a task that often failed anyway! Things are different, yet still the same in other ways. We’re going on a new path and the old path has been pushed aside. Change is a good thing.

Also on the Alexis front, while I’ll share anecdotes and such about her, I still will not be sharing pictures. The whole copying her pictures and posting them other places by people I did not know and had never met, coupled with the person even pretending that she was their child really freaked me out. In short, though I would love to be able to share pictures of her as she continues to grow and change, I just can’t risk that in this forum. There are a lot of scary, messed up people out there!

For instance right now she’s singing and dancing to music from my iPod on its dock. I’d love to show you that, but as I mentioned above the few that have issues make it impossible to do on the whole.

So Daffodil Lane is back. Some of you had hoped I was gone for good. Oh well. For those of you who asked me what happened and when I’d be back, well here I am! It’s good to be back!

Again welcome back to Daffodil Lane…It’s nice to be home!

Strawberry Muffins

Strawberry Muffins

I’ve really been enjoying the strawberries we’ve gotten from our CSA. I miss my little strawberry patch that I planted at our old house. (Though I’ll readily admit there isn’t much else I miss from there! ;oP) When strawberries are in season my first task is eating them all by their little selves. Once that thrill wears off, which is about a week or so, I start doing other things with them. I have frozen some for later, I’ve made salads, I’ve made jam, ice cream is always a good idea and then I decided it was time to do some baking!

But what to bake? You can always make strawberry shortcake…I mean who doesn’t like that classic? Or you could make another classic…Cobbler! And then there are always muffins! Blueberry muffins are usually the norm around here when muffins are made, but this time around I wanted to make some strawberry muffins because I’ve always wanted to try them!

Jamison works from home a lot. I like it when he works from home. It’s nice to have him in the house even though he’s working anyway. But when he goes in, from time to time, I like to send in treats with him to work. It let’s me try something and have a little of it, without having to worry about eating it all myself! This way I got to have my muffin and eat it too so to speak! ;oP

For the past two weeks Jamison has had to go in each day because he’s teaching a class, so last week I decided that it was high time to make a batch of strawberry muffins and send them in with him. I liked how these turned out…The strawberry flavor was just right, while the muffin itself was very moist and tender. I’ll definitely be making these again. If you like strawberries then this is the muffin for you!

Strawberry Muffins: Ready for Jamison to Take to Work

What You’ll Need:
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup of organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 cup of vanilla Greek yogurt (Note: I like Oikos.)
2 eggs
1/8 cup of safflower oil
2/3 cups of buttermilk
2 cups of strawberries, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Strawberry Muffins: Strawberries

In a large bowl stir together flour, sugar, salt and baking powder until well mixed. Add yogurt, eggs, oil and buttermilk and stir until completely incorporated and thick batter forms. (Note: Flours is a finicky thing. You might need to add a little more buttermilk. You want the batter to be thick enough to sort of hold up the strawberries, but still be able to be stirred without strain.)

Once batter is mixed slowly stir in strawberries and stir until just mixed:

Strawberry Muffins: Batter

Line a muffin pan with muffin liners. (Note: If I’m making muffins for us I use silicone cupcake liners instead of paper. You can use them over and over and they cut down on waste! When I’m making something to send out I use the traditional paper liner.)

Fill each cup 3/4ths of the way full:

Strawberry Muffins: Ready to Bake

Bake for 18-20 minutes until muffins are golden and stick done.

Serve immediately or let cool and store in an airtight container.

Strawberry Muffins: The Inside

Notes: You could add half strawberry and half rhubarb if you wanted to shake things up a little bit. Or how about half strawberry and half blueberry?

Minty Strawberry Sauce

Minty Strawberry Sauce

I’ve already told you how much I enjoy fresh strawberries, so I won’t go there again, but when we got more strawberries this week from our CSA, along with some mint, I was thrilled! I knew immediately that I wanted to do something with them together.

We had a few slices of pound cake left over from our dinner last week (I froze most of it for use later) and I decided to make some Minty Strawberry Sauce to top that and of course it was just perfect! If you’ve never had mint and strawberries together before try it…It really is fabulous!

Minty Strawberry Sauce: Strawberries

What You’ll Need:
1 pint of strawberries
1/4 cup of mint leaves, chopped
1/4 cup of organic cane sugar

In a glass bowl or container chop strawberries to desired size:

Minty Strawberry Sauce: Ready for Sugar and Mint

Stir in mint leaves and sugar until mixed:

Minty Strawberry Sauce: Ready for the Fridge

Cover and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours or until “sauce” forms. Perfect as an ice cream topping for vanilla or vanilla white chocolate ice cream or as a topping on angel food cake or pound cake.

Notes: This goes together quickly, is easy, yet provides a bit of bang in terms of wow factor. This mixture also can be used to make an ice cream similar to this one.