Friday, October 29, 2010

Pumpkin everything (why not?)

Did you stock up on canned pumpkin this fall like I did? Rumors were flying back in September about a potential shortage this year so I bought 4 or 5 cans, along with several pumpkin pie canned mixes. Well, if there was a shortage, Ultra Foods and Target did not get that memo. They are my favorite places to grocery shop, and now they get another gold star for figuring out how to keep the season's most important ingredients on their shelves. And I just feel silly for stockpiling canned pumpkin (except that we have been enjoying the fruits of my panic - makes me feel a little better).

Time to put the canned pumpkin to good use people...

Just go ahead and make a double batch of the scones. You'll thank me later.


Pumpkin Scones

2 cups all-purpose flour

7 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 cup canned pumpkin

3 tablespoons half-and-half

1 large egg

6 tablespoons cold butter

Plain Glaze

1 cup plus 1 tablespoons powdered sugar

2 tablespoons whole milk

Spiced Icing (this is enough for about 3 batches)

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons powdered sugar

2 tablespoons whole milk

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

pinch ground ginger

pinch ground cloves

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon cloves, and 1/4 teaspoon ginger in a large bowl.

3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin, half-and-half, and eggs.

4. Place butter into a food processor, and slowly add (using the pulse button) the dry ingredients until it is the texture of cornmeal or coarse sand, thoroughly mixed together.

5. Fold wet ingredients and dry ingredients together, then form the dough into a ball. Pat out dough onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a 1 -inch thick rectangle that is about 9 inches long and 3 inches wide. Use a pizza cutter, slice the dough into 6 triangular pieces. Place on baking sheet (I prefer to line it first with parchment paper) with at least one inch of space between each piece of dough.

6. Bake for 14 to 16. Scones should begin to turn light brown. (Every oven is different so keep a close eye, but I found 12-13 minutes was enough.)

7. While scones cool, prepare plain glaze by combining ingredients in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed. Mix until smooth.

8 When scones are cool, use a brush to paint a coating of the glaze over the top of each scone.

9. As that white glaze firms up, prepare spiced icing by combining ingredients in another medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed. Drizzle this thicker icing over each scone and allow the icing to dry before serving (at least 1 hour). A squirt bottle works great for this, or you can drizzle with a whisk. Makes 6 scones.


Pumpkin Pie Cake

1 large can (29 oz) pumpkin

1 (13 oz) can evaporated milk

3 eggs

1 ½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp nutmeg

½ tsp salt

1 cup sugar

1 yellow cake mix

1 cup chopped walnuts

¾ cup butter

Blend first 7 ingredients together. Pour into a greased 9x13” pan. Sprinkle cake mix on top. Sprinkle chopped walnuts on top of cake mix. Drizzle melted butter on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes.


**If you have a good pumpkin recipe for anything, leave it in the comments or email it to me! (**

Monday, October 25, 2010

my iPhone tells the story most days

I love the camera in my phone. It helps me remember the everyday moments that make up our lives - especially those for which I am too lazy to schlep out the SLR (most of them).

I just synched (sp?) my iPhone for the second time since getting it this summer. Oops. Who has time to do this on a regular basis? Anyway, I had 200 photos and a few videos that I did not want to lose, and now that they are safely harbored in iPhoto I thought I'd share a few with you.

The sweet little form of our newest babe on the way... (4 weeks ago)

One of many doctor's visits, keeping Robbie entertained and off the floor...

Sick babies who both woke up around 10 or 11pm one night and had a party in our bed. With milk... I won't pretend that we didn't enjoy it, but we were tired the next day.

Mima and Papa playing with the kids while I got Sunday dinner on the table...

Little man, mimicking everything Rob does... especially on Saturday mornings.

I usually hear Robbie exclaim "Best fwiends!" just before catching this image in the rear view mirror...

Somebody likes his new trick.

He set this up by himself. How do boys know to do this without being taught?


Acorn inspection.

Another day, another child shoving donut holes into her cake hole.
She's a lady.

Good hygiene is important.

We take turns tending to Robbie when he doesn't feel like staying in his big boy bed until he falls asleep. This was Rob's night. And one of my favorite pictures ever. And yes, that is a twin bed!

Shopaholic. It was a fight to eventually get those sunglasses off of him.

After a busy morning of playing at Mima's house...

Again, with the I-want-to-be-like-daddy... all that's missing is pants.

Her immediate response when I asked her if we could pray together for Papa after his motorcycle accident...

If you are squeamish, don't look at the next picture of my dad's arm injury from the motorcycle accident.


Does Ellie look shocked to be hugged in the bath tub by her brother? That's because she is usually splashed, pushed, getting water dumped on her head and toys taken out of her hands. It was a rare moment indeed. We'll pretend that this is how we end every day.

It takes a lot of frog-kissing to find a prince. Ellie has decided there's no time to waste.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fall Snapshot

So many great things about this season - of life and of the year. Here are a few things in detail that are making our days happy:

- DD's pumpkin spice coffee (ground, found at Target!)
- The new carts at Target that hold 3 kids in buckles at the same time. Just in time for Baby #3!
- Ellie constantly crawling up into my lap or begging me to hold her; I am always happy to oblige.
- Slow mornings that start with both kids asking to bounce around in the same crib together, followed by a big hot breakfast.
- Playing in the leaves, and gathering acorns and pinecones wherever we go.
- The constant support and encouragement of my husband. Quiet evenings on the couch, resting together and enjoying sugary desserts. (I make him eat with me through my pregnancies.)
- Finding a wonderful daytime babysitter that lives minutes away and is very available! (Don't ask for her name. I have needed this desperately and I'm feeling protective! Haha.)
- Crock pot soups!
- My dad's healing from the accident - it has been so much better than we anticipated. So much protection and provision from God in this whole situation.
- Down vests.
- Popcorn from the popcorn shop, best enjoyed in the comfort of a swing at our favorite park in the late afternoon.
- My grandmother's move from Cincinnati to my parents' house in the next few weeks. We miss her and are anxious to help care for her and make her last days memorable and full of love and laughter.
- Robbie asking me to repeat 'Poor baby, you are sick' each time he coughs.
- Ellie's little face poking out from behind anything, huge grin and saying "Hi!!". Also her quick forgiveness towards all of us.
- Long drives in the early morning light through the Arboretum. Bonus: catching the mist over the lake. Double bonus: not getting stuck behind the Acorn Express tram, which maxes out at 2 mph.
- Friends who trade encouragement, babysitting and dinners for one another at the first mention of crisis or difficulty. Is this a midwestern thing? It's all I've known and I love it - being on both ends. We are lucky to be able to care for one another as moms.
- Fuzzy footy toddler pajamas.
- My friend Cheryl's new position at work, which is permanent and also allows for her to live here in Wheaton for part of the month again! 2 blocks away from us. The way God provides is always amazing and beyond what we dared to ask.
- The second trimester. Being able to enjoy my babies and still get down and play with them; not being so uncomfortable at night that sleep is difficult; the absence of food aversions (I am eating everything, including Boo Berry cereal. Gross. And chicken too, now.) But still being able to feel that growing knot in my belly that promises new life and daydreaming about the child we have yet to meet! Anticipating the first kick or felt movement.
- Hearing Robbie's little voice singing along to every single Praise Baby song in the car.
- Tuesday night bible study with a really sweet group of women.
- Football season, coupled with hot Sunday lunches and long naps afterwards.
- Pregnancy hormones which in my opinion, heighten my awareness to all of my blessings and the beauty of life in general. Yes they make you weepy, but who doesn't love a good cry over the things that are lovely that you don't deserve?
- Having a backyard full of squirrels and birds - constant entertainment for the kids.
- The realization that all of God's promises are firm, whether or not I believe them, have experienced them, or trust them to be fulfilled. That He is faithful regardless.


I have been learning a lot about how deep God's love is for us, and how there are so many examples of how He chooses us to be His own. And not necessarily in the predestination-way (although I believe that to be true). Just in terms of understanding on a deeper level that He pursues me, wants my devotion and relationship, and cares about me... my kids, my marriage, the things that are dear to me and close to my heart. In contrast, I have tended to be the kind of friend/daughter/sister/wife who is quick to notice and be hurt by the times someone or something else is chosen over me. (Don't we all desperately want to be chosen and valued?)

But so much healing comes every time I think about how God chose to come down to earth as Jesus, chose to die for me, chose to give me eternal life, chose to give me His Spirit while I am still living this brief life on earth, and chooses me every day in a thousand different ways. I am released from the need to be chosen by others, and trade that in for contentment, gratefulness, and rest in the perfect love of a perfect Savior. I am better able to release the decisions others make, the incidental wounds, and go on with what He has called me to specifically without distraction. Praise God for these lessons.


And before you think it's all peaches and roses over here, a few things that we are loathing right now, too!

- Being woken up at 6:15 am every morning by a certain someone who is enjoying the freedom of his big boy bed. Love the face, not so much loving the hour.
- The seemingly endless reasons both kids cannot sleep through a single night without waking up at least once. Mainly pitched pacifiers and lovies, which I'm about to start strapping to their person.
- Mopping the kitchen floor after every meal.
- Teething.
- A certain 16 month old still refuses to walk on her own and is fully capable.
- The revolving door of illness.
- Turning my back on Robbie for even a few seconds is just dangerous now - recent incidents include the attempted consumption of Tums, washing his face and hands with my Keihl's lip balm (think vaseline), various physical assaults on Ellie, and attempted escapes outside or down the block. He sometimes takes his clothes off as well, but that's only happened inside the house so no harm done.
- The hours of 4-6pm, every day. Enough said.

Luckily, this list is much smaller and not nearly as significant as the first list. We are a thankful bunch.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Let's be honest.

I've been putting off this blog post. I can't really ignore the last week, but I have no idea how to lay this all out. So I'm just going to write and get it over with, and maybe that will ease my uneasiness and allow me to resume blogging about food and babies and happier things.

My dad loves to have fun. He is also a bit of a risk taker / thrill seeker / envelope pusher / entrepreneur / self-starter / lifelong learner. Always up for a new adventure. Early last week, he stopped by to say hi to the kids and I before nap time. We were playing in the front room, and after noticing that I couldn't see his car from our front window, I asked him how he got here. He evaded my question and asked me if I liked his new winter coat. Um, I guess it's ok? (It was sort of blah and my dad's not one to discuss fashion or new clothes with me!) He made me touch it, which was weird (he's really into this coat)... until I felt something hard underneath the material in the elbows and shoulders. And then I knew, even before I saw the taillight of the Harley tucked up close in our driveway doing its best to stay hidden, that my dad had bought a motorcycle.

I think I squeaked out an unconvincing "Oh my gosh!" before I started to cry. And I could not stop. I blamed the pregnancy hormones, and the lack of sleep from the last few nights of being up with the kids. But we all knew that I was just scared of the thought of him being on a bike. (Which is why I was the last in the family to know... 3 weeks after he had purchased it.) A few weeks ago as we were leaving church, there was a man on his back in the middle of the 4 lane highway in front of our church who had been seriously injured in a motorcycle accident. Through my tears as my dad explained to me that he'd taken every precaution and had the best protective equipment, I couldn't help but envision him on the side of the road like that man I saw a few weekends ago.

I know, I am a total buzz-kill. :)

5 days later, this past Saturday, my mom and sister and I were spending a few hours together shopping. My mom took a phone call that my dad had been in an accident on his motorcycle and was at the hospital. Mom convinced us to stay and shop, after having been told that his elbow was scraped up. We made her promise to call us with the whole story and update us as soon as she got to dad. Of course it was worse than she had been told on the phone, and after hearing that, my sister and I drove over as well.

I walked into the ER to find my dad in a neck brace, totally shaken up, and the extent of his injuries still unknown. He listed off the areas that hurt or were swelling - I think he named every major body part except his head, neck, back and hip (praise God). The 2 men who were riding with him explained that they were on a country road going about 60mph, and as dad went around a curve his tires caught gravel and he lost control of the bike. He went off the road, was thrown from the motorcycle and tumbled for a while before coming to a stop.

Hours of exams, x-rays and scans showed no broken bones - that evening his elbow wound (road rash and a deep gaping puncture) was stitched up and he was sent home with orders to follow up with an Orthopedic doctor. Although he had to be admitted to the hospital again on Monday night with a growing infection in his elbow, and went into surgery to remove the remaining gravel sooner than was initially scheduled, overall he is so blessed to be alive and not to have suffered any broken bones or internal injuries.

Our family is so thankful that God spared his life and health. It's a reminder that our days are numbered, and our time together won't go on forever. I have accepted that we all have varying degrees of risk that we are willing to take in this life, and that we are all given the opportunity to determine that for ourselves. I love my family and am definitely the kind of person who is tempted to do anything to protect their health and safety. But I have to let some of that go, too - if I leave it unchecked, I start to think that I actually have control over things like our health and safety, when the reality is... God does. Yes, we have the opportunity to lessen the risk of illness and injury by the choices we make. But ultimately? It's a matter of the sovereignty of God. And that is something that is tough for me to learn. Also... holding those that I love with an open hand? Not easy. Lord, teach me to trust you completely.


(My dad is still in the hospital today as they aggressively treat the infection that won't leave his elbow. The doctor had to open up the wound further to get all of the gravel that was packed in under the skin. He chose to leave the wound open instead of stitching it closed, and will pack it daily with fresh antibiotics. The idea is that the wound will drain, the infection will go away, and the area will close itself up from the inside out as it heals. We are praying that this is all it takes to rid his body of the infection. Infection is obviously serious on its own, but for my dad it's complicated by the fact that he had hip replacement surgery about 2 years ago, and infection anywhere could trigger his body to begin to reject his artificial hip. Thank you for praying with us - to say we appreciate it and have been encouraged by your prayers would be an understatement.)


Psalm 139: 16
"All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."

Monday, October 4, 2010

Uncle Ryan's Surprise Weekend Visit!

I love to talk about how wonderful Rob is, what a lucky girl I am to have married him, and how thankful I am for who he is. But today I want to tell you a little bit more about what makes Rob so great - his family. And specifically, his brother Ryan.

Ryan lives and works in Philadelphia, and has so much responsibility with his job that between proximity and schedules, we don't get to see him very often. I was thrilled when he texted me a few weeks ago to ask if we were free this weekend (we were!) and quickly booked a flight out. We kept the plans a secret, and Ryan and the kids and I surprised Rob by getting Ryan from the airport and showing up at the park where his train gets in on Friday afternoon.

It was a miracle that Ryan actually made it after all, because he woke up the morning of his flight to find his car completely submerged under water in the parking lot of his apartment complex. His car was totaled by the flood damage, and yet he still managed to get to the airport after spending the morning talking with his insurance company, etc. about what he needed to do before he left for the weekend.

We had fun just playing around the house Friday evening while I made a ham / sweet potato / salad / homemade applesauce dinner. It was a celebratory dinner in more ways than one - Uncle Ryan is here! I want to cook again! We love the fall! The guys went to a local high school football game after dinner while I put the kids to bed.

On Saturday, the weather was looking iffy so we had a big breakfast of cinnamon rolls, eggs, bacon and fruit and watched football while we played with the kids in the family room. The kids napped and by the time they woke up, we were all getting cabin fever. So we ate lunch, bundled up and headed to Sonny Acres for some fresh air, hoping against rain.

Ellie and Uncle Ryan at Sonny Acres.
I have never seen the girl take so quickly to someone she doesn't see very often. Ryan would just get down and play with her or pick her up, and she would eat up the attention! I can't remember her fussing or crying at him all weekend. Everybody loves Uncle Ryan!

Saturday night we ordered pizza in for dinner and probably watched more football, although I don't remember completely (probably due to the food coma).

Sunday morning we went to church together, and heard a really great sermon delivered by World Relief Senior VP of Programs Stephan Bauman. The kids enjoyed their sunday school classes, and when I picked up Ellie her teacher recommended that she be moved up to the next class - walkers! I was surprised, since she has yet to take a confident step on her own. But apparently walking behind a toy gets you booted out of the crawling room. Good thing she has an older brother and knows how to hold her own - I'm a little nervous about moving her to the room of walkers before she can walk!

Sunday lunch was baked ham sandwiches, more applesauce, baked macaroni, chips and pickles (can you tell a pregnant woman is penning this post?!). After lunch Aunt Megan came to visit with us for the rest of the day, and we spent some time at a nearby park in the chilly air and sunshine.

What's a day at the park without some quality time on the swings?

Do children have more devoted uncles than mine? I can't imagine...

He gave it his best shot, but she still isn't buying into the whole walking thing.

Ellie kept running out of steam... poor girl! Catnap on the playground.


Is there anything better than throwing a football around with some of your favorite people as the sun sets on another perfect fall day!?
{If there is, I can't think of it.}

Then daddy discovered that he could jump over Robbie. This entertained us all for quite a while, and Robbie thought it was awesome!

Back home after the park for dinner, a little more playing, baths and bedtime for the kids and lasagna, salad and bread for the big kids. And pumpkin pie with loads of whipped cream, of course.

Sweet Aunt Megan gets cozy with Ellie. Are there 2 prettier girls!?
(Try not to let the folded up cardboard box behind the couch distract you. It's the huge box the kids like to play in and I can't bear to throw it away yet! We like to keep it classy over here.)

We are a lucky bunch.

Thanks again for making time to visit us, Uncle Ryan! This weekend was so special and the kids won't forget it. (If they do, I might have 500 pictures to remind them with later on...) You have a special way of showing them how much you love them and it means so much to Rob and I that you do. You are an important part of our family and we love you so much! (And happy car hunting... ugh!)

Friday, October 1, 2010

These are a few of my favorite things {right now}

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup, by Ina Garten. Worth every minute of preparation, and please consider adding a cup of heavy cream and a healthy amount of freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese just before serving. In my opinion, that knocks it out of the park. This soup freezes well.

Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup
4 chicken breasts
2 cans black beans (rinsed and drained)
1 can corn (rinsed and drained)
2 cans mexican stewed tomatoes (Del Monte brand)
1 can tomato sauce
1 jar salsa
1 small can green chilies, if you like a little kick
*Throw all ingredients, in that order, into the crock pot. Cook on high 4-6 hours, then pull chicken and tomatoes out and shred / chop. Return to soup and stir well. Serve with sour cream, shredded cheddar, and crushed lime flavored tortilla chips on the side. Another fabulous freezer soup. We always make simple Monterey Jack quesadillas on the side.

Maple-Roasted Butternut Squash, by Ina Garten. Even the kids ate it. I plan on pureeing the leftovers into soup by blending them with 1/2 a sauteed onion in thyme and butter, plus 5 cups of chicken broth.

Apple Juice on the stovetop with a handful of mulling spices thrown in. Bonus: the way my house smells afterward.

Pumpkin Pie (the easy / cheat version, using Libby's Canned Easy Pumpkin Pie Mix that requires only eggs and evaporated milk and a pie crust!). Good enough for us. One can made 2 pies for me yesterday, and since that is twice as much pie as I really wanted, we will no doubt be having pumpkin milkshakes on Sunday night with whatever isn't eaten this weekend.

Lemon-Garlic Chicken. My very own recipe (!), after many tweaks and tries to get it right. It's perfection, according to my husband (love him). I made Ina Garten's version this past week and he said it didn't hold a candle to mine. I don't think it stands a chance against my mother-in-law's famous lemon chicken recipe, but 1) who's competing?! and 2) it's a version that works for us when we are far from New Jersey. :)
3 breasts chicken
1 egg
salt, pepper
1 C italian bread crumbs
olive oil
3-6 cloves garlic, finely diced
1/2 C white wine
2 t oregano
juice from 1 lemon
1 1/2 C chicken broth
1/2 lb egg noodles, cooked and tossed in as much butter and parmesan cheese as you can stand.
*Bowl 1: mix egg, s + p together. Bowl 2: bread crumbs. Cover the bottom of a large cast iron skillet or dutch oven with olive oil and heat over med-hi heat. Sprinkle garlic into the skillet. Slice each chicken breast longways into 3 pieces. Dip into bowl 1, then dredge through bowl 2. Lay chicken on top of garlic in skillet. Brown all sides of chicken until lightly golden and try to only turn them once. Pour white wine over chicken and simmer for a minute. Add oregano, lemon juice, and broth. Turn heat down to medium and simmer for 10-20 minutes until chicken is cooked through and very tender, nearly falling apart to the touch. Serve chicken on top of egg noodles and pour pan juices over all.

Real Hot Chocolate, by Hershey's. Grab a container of unsweetened Hershey's Cocoa Powder in the baking aisle, and check the side for the hot chocolate recipe. It's A-MAZING! And very rich, you may want to thin it out at the end with a little more milk like we do.

Happy eating!

"Sunday Acres"

It's really no secret that I'm a huge dork. If this is a surprise to you, I'm actually sort of proud that you didn't know yet. Until you read this post of course. So the cat's out of the bag.

And apparently I'm a fool who loves the Fall. {Seriously} Where did this love affair come from? I used to be a summer girl. My birthday's in July, and it's a month long celebration. Back in the B.C. days (Before Children), I didn't think twice about running around all summer in a bathing suit and waterskiing all day long. I would get a sunburn that would turn into a tan (sort of), I'd freckle all over (cute when you're 10 or so), and my hair would bleach out from the sun and I'd let it air dry wavy.

Yeah... things have changed a little bit. Since I've been pregnant or nursing for the last 3 summers, I've more or less hibernated where the air is cool and the pace is slower. Waterskiing forbidden by doctor's orders, for the time being. I like to use these childbearing years as an excuse but I think I might just be getting old. Did you just laugh out loud? Because I did. I'm an old soul at 3o years old. Yikes.

So with this background information, it now seems perfectly natural that I would jump at the opportunity to be the first one on the grounds of Sonny Acres the day - nay, the HOUR - they opened for the season. Imagine my shock and slight horror that the happiest place on earth (in DuPage County) wasn't packed out on opening day! Rob says no one else is really thinking pumpkins in late September. I say it's never too early to pick out the perfectly rounded white pumpkin, which are picked over so fast you can barely say "Shabby Chic Halloween".

Robbie seemed to remember coming last year, and affectionately calls it "Sunday Acres". We met up with fellow pumpkin and fall enthusiasts Suzi, Matt and Eli to wander the grounds, pick pumpkins, go on a hayride, feed the animals (yuck), ride a few kiddie rides (yes I was mad at myself at this point for forgetting the hand sanitizer), chase barn cats around (while mommy quietly shrieked 'no touching!'), and enjoy an illegal-we-found-out-mid-nosh picnic lunch. In that order. It's a wonder none of us came out with any sort of flesh eating bacteria or stomach virus. (See? Old soul. This is the way my mind thinks now. Germs, dirty, viruses, breaking the rules...)

We had the best time.

Here are the pictures - lest you think I went a little overboard, this was narrowed down from 187 shots. I've been yammering on a lot lately on here without posting cute pictures of the kids. Plus, no one's holding a gun to your head making you read our blog! So enjoy.

Ellie, Robbie and Eli

He is as sweet as he is handsome!

My favorite guys

The Kaufman family

The boys rode the train twice, as joint conductors. Precious! They thought we had taken them to Disney Land.

On to the motorcycles!

Life is pretty awesome when your dad makes a game out of giving you a high five every time you come around. Aww.

Oh my word, Suzi and I were dying when the boys came down this huge slide. Rob and Robbie got air on one of the hills, and the little boys were begging us to let them go again. At $3 per ride, we decided once was enough. But it was worth it for that one ride!
Buddies in a Radio Flyer. Classic.

Oh dear. Too cute to yell at him anymore, so I gave in.
{Do you see all those gorgeous pumpkins in the background!? I want them all on my front porch! Ack.}

Livingston / Kaufman love.

Another reason this season is the best - FOOTBALL!

Everyone has their Giants gear ready, including Ellie with the cutest little pink T-shirt! The day after we hit up "Sunday Acres" we opened the back door, watched the Giants and ate baked ham sandwiches and carmel apples.

MMMmmmm. Time for a fall-food blog post.