Wednesday, July 24

Blackberry Cream Cupcakes

Now that I am finally back on my feet and able to do for myself, I decided it was time to finally try this new cupcake recipe which was calling to me.  I like cupcakes better than cakes sometimes because it is easier to share the leftovers.  Also you can bring out a plate of cupcakes at Kiddush Shabbos afternoon with new guests and no one knows that you served the same thing for dessert at dinner. 

I don't know why this particular recipe called to me so much since there isn't any chocolate anywhere in it.  Maybe it is that the cupcakes are filled.  I love the idea of surprising my guests so hidden treats inside make me smile.  
I did not read the recipe well in advance so needed a last minute trip to the store to get the cake mix.  I have yet to find a parve white cake mix so I used our standard golden yellow cake mix.  The texture of the cupcake turned out even better than usual.  I think it was because I beat it more.  
 This is the blackberry sauce used for the filling.  It is nice and sweet without being cloying.  I was tempted to just use jam rather than make my own filling.  It was definitely worth the effort to avoid the cloying sweetness. I ran out before the last cupcakes but I also feel I used too much on the early ones so it probably really makes the right amount.
 And here is the finished product.  The frosting is a basic buttercream made using Earth Balance.  I did not use anywhere near the amount of powdered sugar called for in the recipe and still needed more milk to make it thin enough to actually pipe.  Even with thinning it and whipping the heck out of it, I still just about busted my hand piping it. 
I added the blackberry on top to give a hint at the hidden surprise inside.

Tuesday, July 23

Hiking through the Hudson with the Leaf Man and Jasper Francis Cropsey

For the second installment of Stories in Art, Froggy got to take a tour of the Hudson River Valley via a giant autumnal landscape by Jasper Francis Cropsey. The piece is aptly titled Autumn—On the Hudson River,  The docent asked the children to share what captured their attention in the painting.  Froggy liked the boats on the river.  One has to look deeply and carefully at the painting to know that there are even boats there. 
After viewing the painting, the docent read Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert.  Froggy did not like the book as much as last week's but I thought it was much more appropriate and evocative. It is intersting to see the diverse opinions.
Finally came Froggy's favorite part of every visit, her chance to be the artist.  The objective of the project was to make a collage with the available autumnal materials.  Froggy created "The Leaf Queen"  Froggy and I both prefer these kinds of projects, more free form and open-ended than the coloring project from last week

Monday, July 22

Crusts for Sale

Garlic bread is a standard accompaniment to our pasta and salad. Froggy loves it but never eats the crusts.  So a while back, she decided she was going to sell her crusts for Tzedakah.  She charges a penny a piece. 

This week she decided her "booth" needed some help. As soon as she finished eating, she raced off to make this sign.  It took all the way until bedtime.  Right before bed, the store opened with her parading around with her sign chanting like an old time peddler. 

Sunday, July 21

Menu Planning Monday - Tu B'Av

Dinners
Sunday - Salad, pasta with marinara sauce, garlic bread
Monday - Last Swim meet - dinner at pool
Tuesday - Fish ala Jenn, rice and broccoli
Wednesday -pancakes and eggs
Thursday - Pizza and salad
Friday - Gone Camping - No cooking for me for a whole week!! Woohoo hoo

Baking
Pancakes
Pumpkin Bread
chocolate chip cookies
rocky road bars

Thursday, July 18

Shabbat!

I haven't posted a menu in quite some time.  But then again I haven't been cooking much either.  We have been away quite a bit and then Grandma has been here and cooking for us.

Now it is back to just us again and I need a plan

So here it is

Dinner
Lunch - Out

Shalosh seudas -
  • same salads and dips
  • deli rolls
  • same desserts

Sunday, July 14

Stories in Art - An American Adventure

Today Froggy went with her grandparents to launch her third and final adventure with Stories in Art.  Next year she will be too old for this program and graduate to Artful Conversations. This year's adventure is a road trip across America meeting some of the great American artists.  Today's adventure is perfect transition of a year long natuatical journey with Seabird, to a classic roadtrip.  Today's adventure used a very silly book, Down to the Sea to introduce the beautiful works of Winslow Homer
 Froggy was very happy to get one of her favorite docents
 The story was cute and rhyming even if it was a bit babyish.  I guess that is what happens when you are almost too old for the program.
 Eventually they moved to see Winslow Homer's Breezing Up (A Fair Wind).  I wish I had been there to hear what the docent had to say about the painting.  Froggy had lots to say about the program but very little about the painting itself. 
Here is the painting.  It is such a different craft than the big clipper ship, we sail with in Pagoo.  I have been sailing on small crafts like this and I can feel the excitement in the painting.
Then they made their own sailing picture.  They started with an outline of Windslow Homer's work and added their own color.  These kinds of projects are my least favorite since I feel it limits the creativity involved but Froggy had a great time.
As you can see, she added lots of color to her picture.  She was very proud of the finished product.
And she very much enjoyed telling the story of her color and design choices to the docent.   I am very much looking forward to being able to go with her to the next installment.

Thursday, July 11

Trudging Along

This year has been filled with stumbling blocks.  We are still struggling to finish out our schooling.  Math is
done.  We have even started the next math book just because too big a break is not good.  We have accomplished all I had hoped for in Tefillah and Chumash.  But literature, science and history are lagging far behind.  Froggy is much more resistant to sitting and reading with me these days.  D. is a huge distraction and temptation not too read.

Monday, July 8

Happy 4th!!

We went to visit the grandparents for the 4th of July.  We took D and Froggy for the seven hour car drive south.  Along the way we stopped at the Animal Safari.  It was baby season at the animal park and Abba and Froggy were thrilled beyond thrilled.  D. did not seem to even notice the animals much.  Since he is not very talkative it is hard sometimes to know what is going on inside. 

We arrived in time for dinner on the 1st.  This gave Froggy and D some private time with the Grandparents before Cousin M. arrived.  The dodged the ever present rain storms and managed to get a boat ride or swim in every day.  D was ambivalent about the boat but was positively thrilled with every opportunity to splash in Grandpa's lake.  Grandma found a blowup boat that he could sit in and paddle around and allowed him a fair amount of independence. 

On Wednesday afternoon Abba and Grandpa went to pick up Cousin M.  They stopped on the way and got some small fireworks.  After dinner, the guys set up a launching pad on the backyard and we all went out to watch.  Or atleast that was the plan.  D. was interested in the sparklers but went hysterical at the poppers.  Abba ended the show in favor of a boat ride for the rest of the family while I put D to bed.  He had a rough night with all the booms.

We tried introducing D. to the fireworks again on the 4th.  We made the launching pad further away, talke dup the whole process making it sound like tons of fun.  Everyone laughed at the booms and still D wanted no part of it.  That being the case he and I wished everyone else goodbye and went to bed.  The rest of the gang went out on Grandpa's boat to watch the town's fireworks.  Froggy and Cousin M. apparently kept up a running commentary on the show, categorizing and rating each display.

Wednesday, July 3

Swim Meet Success

Froggy had her first swim meet.  She has made a real change this year and it actually putting in real effort towards improving.  She is trying to get as many "green" ribbons as possible.  She created a pledge-a-thon wwhere people pledge money for tzedka for each ribbon she earns.  A green ribbon means the swimmer beat his/her personal best time in that stroke.
 
Froggy is starting to make friends on the team this year and want to socialize with her team mates 
They all look so much more grown up in their matching swimsuits
 Waiting by the side of the pool is probably the hardest part of any meet.
Froggy swam in three races at this meet including her first time ever at breast stroke.  Breast stoke is the hardest stroke to do correctly and not get disqualified.  Only 4 girls in Froggy's age group from both team's managed it.  She was one of them.  I am very very proud of her.