Eat it For Breakfast Cake: with fresh strawberries, raspberries and blueberries.

strawberry, blueberry, raspberry cake

Four years ago I was participating in Project 365 where you are challenged to take at least one photo every day for a year. I did this for two or three years – it was hard and fantastic and frustrating and inspiring. I think it improved my photography immensely (which is not to say that I’m an expert now, just better than I was before) and I also met some cool people and learned some cool things.

One of the women whose photography I just loved – and it’s been so long now that I can’t even remember her name – traveled with her husband each summer to their vacation home in Nova Scotia (I think). Her photos of this town absolutely drew me in to her world – their summer cat who seemed to show up at their door every year without fail; the amazing festivals and town events that always seemed to be going on; her friendships there and the easy way of life that she was enjoying. Basically, I want to be her when I grow up.

Another thing she shared with us was this cake which she made often for friends or just for breakfast. It’s a highly adaptable cake that works well with any fruit you have on hand. I first made it with blueberries and more recently I made it for BB’s 5th birthday party last month. It was the perfect cake for the day because we were having a morning party so something that felt more like breakfast was called for. And the friends we shared this cake with are those laid back easy friendships that make me feel like we’ve found a touch of that Novia Scotia lifestyle that I dream of right here at home. Here’s the recipe so you can enjoy it with your favorite friends, too.

Eat it For Breakfast Cake

Best Served with good friends and whipped cream.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fruit – I used a mixture of chopped strawberries, blueberries and raspberries but you can use whatever you have on hand.
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (Don’t have buttermilk? Use a scant 1/2 cup of milk and a 1/2 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice and let it sit for 5-10 minutes)

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Butter and flour a 9 inch pie plate or cake pan (or use that awesome baking cooking spray from Pam).
  3. Prepare your fruit (berries can be left whole, slice any larger fruit) and set aside.
  4. Beat butter & sugar. Add vanilla, egg and salt.
  5. Add flour, baking powder & baking soda; mix well.
  6. Add buttermilk. Pour into pie plate. Top with fruit.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes.
  8. Cool a bit and enjoy!

blowing out the candles

Aloha Friday: Best Birthday Cakes

It’s time for another Aloha Friday, the day that you take it easy and look forward to the weekend, in Hawaii and blog land anyway. As you should know by now, over at An Island Life, Kailani decided that on Fridays she would take it easy on posting and ask a simple question for you to answer. Nothing that requires a lengthy response.

If you’d like to participate, just post your own question on your blog and leave your link at An Island Life’s blog. Don’t forget to visit the other participants! It’s a great way to make new bloggy friends!

Last weekend was part one of MM’s 3rd birthday celebration. We had all his friends (and ours) over for cake, ice cream, a couple presents and your basic good time – basically it was game night with cake and ice cream – actually that’s exactly what it was. Anyhow, the birthday cake. I’ve had the pleasure of making a handful of birthday cakes for the little man and a couple for my husband – I can bake a cake and it always tastes good – but the decorating, oh the decorating. Inevitably it always has that, “Look ma, I made it myself!” look written all over it. My cake handwriting skills are pathetic at best (really need to work on spacing) and sometimes you go for an idea and it sounds easy but it comes out nothing like how you envisioned it. I’m no pro, basically, and it shows.

But I had high hopes for this year’s cake. The theme was Madagascar and I had the genius idea to go to Target, The Dollar Store, something and pick up some of those tiny little jungle animals – you know the ones the size of GI Joes that are sold in little 20 packs for like a dollar or two? Cheap and easy – and then I don’t have to try drawing jungle animals, which would end badly – and they could be kept as toys for MM afterwards. I decided I’d simply arrange a lion, zebra, giraffe and hippo (assuming I could find all four) on a cake that I’d frost green. I also really wanted to maybe have some separate blue frosting to make a body of water. It sounded easy until the day of the party when I found I had only red food dye. Seriously. Also – I’d have to use plain white frosting to get the colored effect and I’m such a frosting snob. I went back in forth in my head and the pantry after discovering this dilemma – chocolate cake with white frosting? White cake with chocolate frosting? White on white? Chocolate on chocolate?

Along this time I also started to remember my frosting dilemmas. It seems like no matter my best efforts whenever I frost a chocolate cake with white frosting the cake crumbs mix with the frosting giving it an ugly sort of Oreo effect. Which is cool if you’re going for that, but annoying if you aren’t. And okay – I’m just going to say it – in my humble opinion non-chocolate cakes are basically fake cakes. And since the party the following week (now tomorrow) with my family would NEED a yellow cake as both his grandmothers are ironically allergic to chocolate – I didn’t want to gip the poor boy out of chocolate cake altogether. And then it hits me – chocolate frosting looks like… mud. And it’s the same exact color as the cake. So what if crumbs mix in? Who would be able to tell? I put the theory to the test and it’s true – no matter how many times the cake broke apart a bit as I frosted, when I was done nobody would be able to tell.

But what about my Madagascar theme? I dug around my cupboards some more looking for colored sprinkles – hoping I’d find some green – and I did – green colored sugar sprinkles – and not just that, dudes, I found blue, too. Destiny aligned and I had everything I needed to make the cake you see here:

I know… tea lights… while destiny was aligning, it neglected to bring birthday candles.

We made due and I actually kind of like the end result…

And it tasted delicious. And I came to the conclusion that for the slightly decoration impaired cake diva that would be me – chocolate cake and chocolate frosting are a winning combination that I will never doubt again – It’s like wearing black to slim your figure – it hides a couple imperfections but perfectly showcases the overall deliciousness that is chocolate cake. And second revelation is that colored sugar is my new favorite thing ever. I intend to implement this genius idea into every cake and cookie I can as long as we both shall live. Perfection.

So, my Aloha Friday question for today is (you thought I forgot, didn’t you?):

What is your birthday cake secret weapon?

What little tricks of the trade never fail you?

What is your absolute favorite kind of birthday cake?

Aloha Friday: What’s My Age Again?

It’s time for another Aloha Friday, the day that you take it easy and look forward to the weekend, in Hawaii and blog land anyway. As you should know by now, over at An Island Life, Kailani decided that on Fridays she would take it easy on posting and ask a simple question for you to answer. Nothing that requires a lengthy response.

If you’d like to participate, just post your own question on your blog and leave your link at An Island Life’s blog. Don’t forget to visit the other participants! It’s a great way to make new bloggy friends!

Last night I was doing my WiiFit fitness test and it was all, “You have a WiiFit age of 28, that’s just 2 years older than your actual age! Blah blah blah…” and I was like, “Huh, I must have entered my birthday into this wrong, because it should be 3 years…” Except I was wrong. Because I’m 26, not 25. Now, to be fair, I just turned 26 in December, so it hasn’t been that long, but I don’t mean, “I forgot I just had a birthday,” I mean that I felt with conviction that I was 25 and turning 26 THIS December. I was sure of it. I had to do the math to convince myself.

So like any smart momma, I called my husband and regaled him with this story, ending it with, “So you should pick up a birthday cake on your way home, because we clearly need to celebrate.” And then he came home without the cake and I was all, “Where’s my birthday cake?” and he was like, “I thought you were kidding.” And I was like, “You clearly don’t know me very well.” Then after dinner he ran out to the car to get his gloves from the car and I’m thinking, “Seriously? Your gloves? Can’t they stay in the car? I want to open up Wii Rockband now…” But then he came back WITH the birthday cake which he clearly had bought but then either forgot somehow or very cleverly left outside just so he could surprise me even though it had been my idea and the cake was really good, like way nicer than I was thinking when I asked him to buy me a cake at the last minute. So he clearly knows me VERY well and is the most awesome husband in the universe and that’s the end of my story.

So my Aloha Friday question(s) for this week (because when I grow up I want to be just like Jenni Jiggety or Daily Mish Mash) are:

  1. Have you ever forgotten how old you were? For like more than 5 minutes? (Because I’ve been carrying this fantasy of being a year younger since at least my birthday and it’s possible I thought I was 24 before that… how long has this been going on?)
  2. Do you think this can be blamed on my pregnant brain OR is it a sign I’m getting olllllld OR [insert your own excuse for my forgetfulness here].
  3. What is the sweetest thing your husband (or boyfriend – or previous boyfriend or husband if you are currently single) has done for you?
  4. Do you like surprises? Do you like planning them? What’s the best surprise you’ve given or gotten?

Aloha Friday: Cake & Ice Cream

It’s time for another Aloha Friday, the day that you take it easy and look forward to the weekend, in Hawaii and blogland anyway. As you should know by now, over at An Island Life, Kailani decided that on Fridays she would take it easy on posting and ask a simple question for you to answer. Nothing that requires a lengthy response.

If you’d like to participate, just post your own question on your blog and leave your link at An Island Life’s blog. Don’t forget to visit the other participants! It’s a great way to make new bloggy friends!

Today is my husband’s birthday (::waves:: Happy Birthday Sweetie!) so I thought for today’s Aloha Friday we could all share some cyber birthday cake and ice cream and celebrate his big day together! But since this is cyber space and not my kitchen of limited possibilities, I want to make sure everyone gets their favorite kind of cake and ice cream – ever – nothing but the best for all my bloggy friends (and you know, the dh who will be getting chocolate fudge cake with cream cheese frosting AND my homemade chocolate chip cookies – aka jackpot). So what I want to know is…

What’s your favorite kind of cake AND ice cream?

It's Real "Momentous Occasions" Life!

This week’s theme is momentous occasion – and I had a few to choose from – in the end, I decided not to choose – they are all important to me. And let’s face it I’ve never been good at choosing (i.e. 10 types of snack food a night…) Anyhoo, to begin:

So let’s go back – way back – to 2001 – the event: my senior prom. I was just becoming the budding photographer I am today, and took a gazillion stellar pictures, but I’ll only bore you with these two:

senior prom 01

the “girls” dancing – that’s my feet in the light purple dress at the bottom
aren’t our feet and dresses pretty?

senior prom 02

I also had a friend take my picture, just so you’d all know I was there
take a moment to appreciate my completely awkward seventeen year old self

Four years later, I graduated from college – pretty momentous in this day in age, where a 5 year degree is becoming a normal thing – and I changed majors halfway through! Here’s a lovely shot of my grandmother and I on that special, hot, crowded day:

college graduation

A few minutes later (okay maybe I’m exaggerating, but not by much, in fact the trip may have even been before my actual graduation, I don’t remember) my dad and his fiance and I took a trip to Wurzburg, Germany to visit my grandfather and well see the sights. Here is an obligatory, “I was there,” shot:

germany

and also a pretty picture of “Why I love Europe oh so much”:

germany 02

The whole town was gorgeous and quaint and perfect. I would love love love to go back, and then maybe stay… I loved the cobblestone streets that were literally everywhere, the small little food stands and village shops – even the commercialized sections of town felt terribly chic and trendy compared to the average American mall. In short, I ❤ Europe.

So then of course my father was nice and married his wonderful fiance – this is a shot from their special day:

dad\'s wedding

Aren’t they adorable? They married in what I refer to as our “hometown” despite neither of us having spent a permanent amount of time there ever (we’re kind of a military family at heart even when not in practice). My dad dated this poor woman for about 7 years before finally consenting to marriage – i.e. she’s a saint.

It seems like the very next day I was engaged (it was actually several months later if you must know). I remember dH popping the question nervously on a cloudy overcast day after a yummy meal at the Olive Garden. I then later went home for a photo session with my new “rock” or “ice” or whatever you kids are calling it these days.

engagement ring

Here’s a pretty pic of the ring shortly after I received it – apparently back then I didn’t have as much trouble photographing it:

And of course the wedding. I’m going to go a bit ape shit and post several pictures, in an attempt to make it seem like I have dozens of pictures and that these aren’t pretty much all of them:

wedding brides maids

wedding cake slicing the cake

wedding 02

that’s me, my grandmother, my son and my father

his family my family

Oh and just to give you an idea about the difference between his childhood and mine
the photo on the left is his “immediate family” ; photo on the right is mine. Seriously.

In between all that was the birth of our son, My Little Monkey – here’s a shot from his baby monkey days:

MLM is born

And another of his baptism:

baptism

The priest here, is Father Andy, my favorite religious person ever.
He actually made me almost want to become a Catholic person… Almost.

Since then we’ve had some other momentous occasions – really when your a parent maybe every day is momentous, but here are the classics and I’ll try to be brief as this is getting longer than intended:

first christmas

First Santa Picture – notice my son saying, “Who is that guy?”

first birthday

First Birthday with obligatory face covered in chocolate cake goodness picture

And recently we’ve had two pretty big events:

Taking down MLM’s crib and initiating the Becoming a Big Boy process

big boy bed

here he is tucking in all his “babies”

haircut monkey

And MLM’s first hair cut, which I’ve already blabbed about ad nauseum, so I’ll refrain from details here.

Phew, that was like running in a marathon or something, except I had a nice glass of pomegranate Crystal Light by my side the whole time and at no time ran anywhere… Remember, if you want to participate in It’s Real Life like all the other cool kids, just head over to Farm Fresh. See you there!

Memories of Motherhood

I’m feeling nostalgic today and thought I’d take this moment to recall my favorite memories from my son’s life thus far, for no reason whatsoever – rather than wait for a birthday or milestone to justify romanticizing his life, I’m going to do it now because I love him and his wacky self everyday, even when the card companies don’t.

1. The day he was born – While much of central and southern US was dealing with a tornado of epic proportions, my husband and I embarked on a tornado of our own – a whirlwind dizzying experience called the first weeks of parenthood. The morning began at the wee hours of 6am or so as we entered the hospital for an induced labor (the little man was a week late according to the professionals) and ended at just minutes before midnight when we finally had an emergency c-section – momma may have been ready to meet her son, but her body was decidedly not cooperating. But the miracle of science let me meet him that night anyway, not that I remember much of it – it was a long hard day that perfectly symbolizes the long hard weeks and months to follow. But I love that day regardless, as it was the day my son came into the world, and thus hugely important for me.

MLM is born

2. I took a lot of pictures of MLM during that first year, hundreds in fact, but some of my favorites happened while taking walks through the park near my in laws – this one specifically is a real favorite as it shows off his bluer than blue eyes.

blue eyed boy

3. Our first Christmas – MLM didn’t quite know what to make of Old Saint Nick, and even now he really isn’t quite sure what it’s all about – he’s a big fan of the presents though – that he picked up on quickly. Here’s one of our first pictures of MLM with Santa:

MLM meets Santa

4. His first birthday – an event so massive we did it twice – once at my in laws and then again at my aunt’s house. There was cake – messy, messy cake – and presents. Here’s a pic of him opening presents with daddy:

happy birthday MLM (1)

5. Our first big trip – to Pennsylvania – we did Hershey Park but the real fun was had at Amish Country – here’s a cute pic of the little man on a stone turtle:

amish country

6. Exploring new places – even just a fun day at the playground with daddy had MLM discovering things he’d never even known to dream of – we love this picture of him at the playground in my hometown.

playground days

7. Getting our own place! Last fall we moved into our first apartment – the first home we could truly call our own, and I was amazed at how well MLM once again adjusted to a new home – the third in his short life. We had a lot of fun taking pictures in our new adobe – here’s an early favorite, only 8 short months ago…

home sweet home

8. Fun with hats – For awhile now, my son has enjoyed a fun new game he invented called, What Can I Wear on My Head – you may remember the potty chair incident of a week or two ago? This past Christmas he had a lot of fun with head gear – here’s a big favorite:

a christmas hat

9. Learning our ABCs – a few months ago we got MLM ABC magnets – he is now an ABC pro and can say most of the letters of the alphabet – here’s a picture of the first week with the magnets – I think mom and dad had more fun than toddler:

l o v e spells love

10. Our first snowman! This year we finally did some serious playing in the snow and daddy and MLM built their very first snowman, while mommy worked as the film crew – here’s a pic of the boys with their awesome snow results:

the snowman

11. New Friends – A few months ago I started baby sitting the son of a good friend of mine and he and MLM have become fast friends – hugs and tackles and learning to share, I took a picture of the two besties:

besties

12. My little baby gets a big boy bed – We very recently took down the crib and put MLM in a big boy bed, which has been a wonderful experience of bed time stories, tucking in, and favorite stuffed animals. He loves being a big boy with his own turf and we love it too! Here’s a pick of MLM tucking in all his babies:

night night

13. A big boy needs a big boy haircut – or so people kept telling me – I hummed and hawed for months but when we finally made the snip I was in LOVE with the results – you’ve seen this pic recently, but feast your eyes again on my very big boy!

the haircut

14. Oh yes and a brief blast from the recent past, his 2nd birthday – twice as much fun as the first – in our lovey apartment – here’s a pic of MLM checking out his ice cream cake!

happy birthday MLM (2)

14 – no cliched amount of numbers, no Halmark occasiona, just 14 of my favorite memories from the last 26 months or so… Happy Monday everyone!