Wednesday, September 19, 2012

After school snacks and back-to-school clothes

Okay, where has September gone?  School is in full swing and PTA meetings are already fundraising up a storm.  Pumpkin everything has hit the market.  The fall season is exhilarating, full of activites, and a feast for the senses. 

Fall makes me think of family.  Speaking of family, we have some pretty special sisters/ aunts in our family.  Aunt Carrie, Aunt Delisa and Aunt Jessica-- all three sent gifts for back to school! And, boy, are we grateful!

Cheery cherry smile

And of course we had to have a fashion show of the fun back-to-school ensembles.  As it is still (just barely) September, I thought I would share (finally!).

Dear family who live so many thousands of miles away, I love you.  I miss you dearly.  Thanks for thinking of me and getting me all set up for kindergarten.  I love the new outfits.

It was pretty fun for all picking out new clothes at the store.

Fluffy, frilly princess ballet skirts, skirts, skirts!  I can see why they are so popular.

Privacy, please.  I will be using this fitting room for the next hour or so....Yes, we pretty much cleaned out the girls section at Old Navy. hahaha
"Children are a gift from God; they are His reward."
-Psalm 127:3
Thanks again, Aunt Carrie, for the back-to-school shopping spree!  Yippee!
Why, hello, there little Gwen.
September mornings are gone in an instant.  I still kinda love them.  And espresso is welcome on any morning.
caramel latte, anyone?

Aww, sisters.

We put the hair accessories from Nan to good use.  The fun beads and flowers make every outfit special.

The Apple Tree by Katie
colored pencils and paper
(thanks Aunt Jessica!)

This one loves to read.  She just does gets enthralled.  Cookbooks, story books, street signs, you name it.  I notice she likes to follow along when I read to her, as well, rather than gaze at the illustrations.

Not to be left out, the little one is working the camera.  With Katie at school half a day, the baby has one-on-one time with Mommy in the mornings.
King and Queen day at Kindergarten (and princess, of course).

A Daddy moment.

Tea on the patio before the big rush of school days...
Prepping for ballet.
A car ride to the library.

First day of school--cuteness and jitters.

Music and snacks.  Katie has been asking for a violin (especially since Mommy plays) for a while now.  She was ecstatic to hold it in her hands for the first time.

And for a fun treat...

What will you put in your snack tray?  

Peanut butter chocolate chip oatmeal bars. I'm not sorry we made these.  And with protein from the peanut butter it's almost health food. Ha.

All set for school.
Children surprise you with their little personalites and expressions.

My kids.  I can't believe how they are growing.  This milestone, starting kindergarten, was met with much anticipation, excitement, even trepidation (am I doing the right thing?  Should I homeschool? ).  So far, it's been great--even all the running to and fro (it's amazing how much activity they do in kindergarten!).

Back to fashion--Lots of glitter and sparkle going on, especially on the shoes. hehe
This Paris top was precious.  Katie has been to the top of the Eiffel tower.  I hope she will be able to remember it, she was so young.

Peering through the old window, which has since been turned into an interior window, Mommy was there with the camera to snap up this expression. Oh, this growing up thing is bittersweet.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Coffee Drinks 101--Latte Macchiato and Oatmeal Cake

As a former Starbucks barista, I have a bit of an inside scoop to let you know how some coffee drinks are prepared.  If you want true Italian coffee drinks, you have to go and get yourself an espresso machine.  Jonathan recently purchased a small Breville version for our anniversary last December.  We actually used one of those 20 percent off coupons from Bed-Bath-and Beyond. ( I'm not sure if they still have that deal available).

A latte macchiato has more milk in it than an espresso macchiato, which is usually served in a demi espresso cup with a small amount of steamed milk, and topped--or marked--with the espresso.

Breville is an Australian-based company, and I'm sold.  Their products are great. My only complaint--if you want to call it a complaint--is the process of tamping down the espresso grinds is kinda messy.  But this is a common complaint, a necessary evil when making fancy coffees. 

With the fall season approaching, I'm getting in the mood to bake.  Nan sent a wonderful cookbook from Penzey's in a care package (thanks Nan!) and the first thing we had to try was the oatmeal cake.  I made a few adjustments, one was to add toasted almonds to the frosting, rather than the pecans in the recipe.  It turned out nicely, a real autumn treat.

 Recipe (as submitted by Frances Weyher in Penzeys One food magazine):
1 1/4 Cups boiling water
1 Cup quick cooking oats (original oats work as well, I found)
1/2 Cup vegetable shortening
1 Cup brown sugar
1 Cup white sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract (use 2 teaspoons for a richer flavor)
1 1/2 Cups flour
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon (here again, don't hold back on the cinnamon--it's the best part--a couple heaping     teaspoons is nice).
1 teaspoon baking soda


(Preheat oven to 375 degrees F).  Grease and flour your two 9 inch pans.  Add the boiling water to the oats and leave to stand for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Cream together the shortening and sugars then add the beaten eggs and vanilla.  Mix together the dry ingredients and add to the creamed mixture along with the oatmeal mixture.  Bake in two 9 inch greased and floured cake pans for 35-40 minutes at 375 degrees F. 


8 ounces cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese
1/4 Cup butter (half a stick)
1 lb. bag of powdered sugar (here you can skimp, as to not make it too sugary)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 Cups chopped nuts like pecans or walnuts (or almonds, yum)

For another fall idea, mix a good quality butter with cinnamon and a couple tablespoons of honey until creamy.  Use the cinnamon honey butter to spread on toast. Mmmmmm....Honey butter is what I call my baby girl sometimes. hahaha