Happy Halloween from my little chicken and cupcake…
Archive for October, 2011
My mom makes these delicious muffins every Fall and my kids go crazy for them. When Lucy was very little and tried her first one, she exclaimed, “Grandma, these muffins have cookies in them!” You don’t have to be a child to enjoy these perfect Autumn muffins.
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (use mini chips for mini muffins)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease and flour muffin pan (my kids especially love the minis) or use paper liners. Mix sugar, oil and eggs. Add pumpkin and water. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt. Add wet mixture and stir in chocolate chips. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
Are you hosting Thanksgiving this year? We are fortunate enough to be heading to my parents’ home for what I know will be another fabulous dinner, but I still love checking out all of the beautiful and creative entertaining ideas I’ve seen on Pinterest lately.
A simple place card idea…
Or amp it up a bit with a painted pumpkin…
I love the idea of using brown kraft paper on the kids’ table and setting each place setting with crayons…
Favors seem a little unnecessary at Thanksgiving, but could be fun for the kids. I’d do these with M&Ms for a more autumnal color palette and plastic pastry bags for a more cornucopia-like shape.
Do you have anything special planned for your Thanksgiving table this year?
Lately, I’ve had France on the brain. Jenny and Andy over at Dinner, A Love Story just took their kids to Paris for a vacation and came back with beautiful photos and culinary tales, and Gabrielle Blair of Design Mom is living in France for a year with her family of eight. My friend, Michelle, and her husband are contemplating a trip to Paris next year and are trying to decide whether to take their 5-year-old son along.
All of this makes me dream of the day I can take my own kids there. I have visions of showing them the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, and Versailles. I can see us eating crusty baguettes, tantalizing cheeses, and mouth-watering pastries while strolling along the Seine. OK, so I’m sure the actual reality would not be quite so picture perfect, but a girl can dream!
Right now, I’ll have to be content with sharing French culture with my kids through books. Here are some of my favorites:
Adèle & Simon by Barbara McClintock. This beautifully illustrated story follows two siblings through their walk home from school in Paris, with many stops at familiar landmarks. Along the way, Simon loses all of his possessions one by one, much to older sister Adèle’s chagrin. It’s a fun way to introduce children to a new city and they will enjoy searching the pictures to find the lost items. The book ends with a guide to the French locations featured.
Chasing Degas by Eva Montanari. This is a favorite in our house—the story of a young ballerina who accidentally swaps bags with the painter, Edgar Degas, and searches all over Paris for him to return his paints. Along the way, she meets Claude Monet, Gustave Caillebotte, Auguste Renoir, and Mary Cassatt, who assist her in her quest. The illustrations are lovely and the story engaging. It’s a delightful way for children to learn not only about Paris, but a little art history as well.
Anatole by Eve Titus. This classic, written in 1956, tells the story of a mouse who must take food from people’s homes at night to feed his family. Tired of hearing the people speak poorly of mice, he looks for another solution and stumbles on a clever way to procure some of the best food in France while providing a valuable service to the French. He becomes a secret taster in a cheese factory and advises the company on how to improve their products! This story will charm both you and your children.
Of course, a constant presence in our house is Ludwig Bemelman’s Madeline (“in an old house in Paris that was covered with vines…”). And though we don’t own it, I’ve long admired Miroslav Sasek’s This is Paris.
Do you have any favorite French-themed children’s books? Are your kids interested in other cultures?
Are you a listmaker? I come from a long line of them and I haven’t met a list I didn’t like. I make them everywere—on my computer, on the whiteboard in my laundry room, on scraps of paper in the kitchen, in little notebooks I have stashed in my purse and work bag. And I always use check boxes so I can have the distinct pleasure of checking them off. (Yes, I know, I’m a lost cause.)
Most of my lists are in Excel or Word and my favorite (and probably most used) is my gift list. If you’re totally bored by the word “list”, you might want to tune out now. (Who am I kidding? I probably already lost you at paragraph 1!)
My gift list has a separate tab for each year’s Christmas gift list and another tab for all other gifts (birthdays, anniversaries, new babies, etc.). The purpose of the list is to record ideas I have for certain gifts as I see them, keep track of gift budgets, and keep a running list of what I’ve bought for certain people so that I don’t repeat a gift. For example, when a friend has a new baby, it helps to know what I bought her older sibling three years ago so I don’t give their family the same thing!
My Christmas tab is my saving grace during the holidays. My spreadsheet has the following columns: Gift Recipient, Gift Ideas, Price Target, Gift(s) Purchased, Actual Price(s), Total Spent, Arrived (Y/N), and Wrapped (Y/N). And, of course, there’s a column on the left for a check mark when the gift purchase is complete. I use formulas to keep track of total budget and total amount spent, which is a great way to ensure I’m not blowing my holiday budget, and the list gives me a place to compile gift ideas throughout the year so I don’t forget about that book I saw in March and thought my mom would like. And, after each Christmas, I strip out the data and make a copy of the tab to start my list for the next year. So easy! Have I mentioned how much I love lists?!
Are you a listmaker? What are some of your crucial lists? You may find a kindred spirit over at Penelope Loves Lists.
Have a great weekend!
(Image from here)
Life has been busy lately, but here are a few things I’ve been wanting to share:
- We’ve had lots of success with family dinner since the start of the school year, thanks to these perfectly simple rules.
- How cute would this pillow be for the playroom?
- I think I’ll make these pumpkin cupcakes with salted caramel buttercream frosting for Thanksgiving. Mmmm…
- One of Lucy’s favorite books (and mine too), Grace Maccarone’s Miss Lina’s Ballerinas, has a new sequel.
- I saw this book at the bookstore the other day and think it will make a perfect Christmas gift for Finn.
- Speaking of Christmas, I’m loving these new Egg Press® square dessert plates and this adorable Cookies for Santa plate from West Elm.
On Friday, I celebrated my 34th birthday, I joked that I was celebrating my 29th for the 6th time, but really I didn’t mind turning 34 too much. Maybe turning 35 will hit me more, but so far I’m really enjoying my 30s.
I started the day with birthday hugs and kisses from the kids, and a yummy gluten-free coffee cake. After dropping the kids at school for the morning, Cody and I went out for coffee and got to browse the bookstore for a whole hour! We picked up the kids, had a lovely brunch, and then we headed to a nearby farm for apple picking. It turns out we couldn’t pick on Fridays, but we could still buy some fresh honey crisp apples and the kids still got their apple cider doughnuts, which—let’s face it—are half the fun of apple picking.
They weren’t too broken up about not doing their own picking, because they still got to climb on tractors and take pictures with their dad like this:
We ended the trip by picking our Halloween pumpkins, so it was still a fruitful journey. When we got home, the kids baked me a delicious cake (see above) and showered me with homemade cards and gifts. They copied their dad’s card word for word, so I got three cards that read “Happy Birthday, babe”. Priceless.
It was a perfect day for me and I won’t soon forget it. Now I’m looking forward to digging into two new cookbooks I received. My mom gave me Gwyneth Paltrow’s My Father’s Daughter: Delicious, Easy Recipes Celebrating Family & Togetherness and Giny sent Julia della Croce’s Italian Home Cooking: 125 Recipes to Comfort Your Soul. They are both beautiful books and everything in them looks delicious! I’ll let you know if I discover any gems.
Today, we’re celebrating Cody’s birthday. The kids helped me make him a red velvet cake yesterday, so we are in serious sugar overdrive at our house.
I hope you all had a wonderful weekend…