Monday, December 31, 2012

CoffeeCake, Frittata, & A New Year Manicure, inspired by a five-year-old girl


Blueberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

This is my favorite recipe of all time. I started baking it in 2005, when I discovered it in a Sunset magazine issue. I've baked it for home groups in Arizona, an ASL potluck in northern California, a fellowship in New Jersey, and for my own family in the current state where we live *wink*.

Pictured above- the yogurt, vanilla, egg mixture. Pictured right- cream cheese, sugar, egg, lemon juice mixture, professionally and skillfully blended by Tori!

When I made it this time, the cream cheese wasn't completely room temperature, so it turned out to have a cheesecake texture in that part of the mix. In the end, my husband preferred it this way. I did not. :o)
I usually use three or four times more lemon zest than what you see pictured here (the suggested teaspoon). It REALLY adds more flavor to the cake.
Baking the coffeecake was inspired by this blueberry/apple juice process, because I found a bag of frozen blueberries from when I picked berries with a friend in May/June. It's the least complicated of all the processes & smells the greatest!
Here's a look at the bumpy lumpy texture you get when not using room temperature cream cheese- it's thicker and not as smooth.

...but it tastes JUST as grand!
My biggest helper in the house is cutting in the butter for the flour mixture...


...which will be poured into &

mixed with the yogurt mixture... be scooped into the bottom of the pan.

This is the cream cheese mixture going in! Spread it around, leaving some edge of flour mixture for the crust!
The YUMMY blueberry dressing goes next. Try not to eat it all as you pour!

Pictured below- Almond mixture, made from the set-aside 1/2 cup flour mixture. It is sprinkled over the
blueberry mixture, leaving some visible.

Ready to go into the oven!
The results......                                                                                        ...and the devourer of my cake!

My kiddos sitting together, drawing and having a moment...

 The Frittata that I the oven, ready to bake.

 Note: place on or over a cookie sheet to catch butter that overflows.... unless you WANT an oven fire.... *smirk* 

This dish was the inspiration to my last minute decision to scrub and deep clean my oven. I have a picture of the bucket water from afterwards, but I decided to spare you. Ugh.





And finally, a New Year Manicure

...inspired OUTSIDE my box, by none other than my daughter, Tori.
Yesterday, I needed a quick color application- non-fuss, forgiving frost (as usual). It can be a bit boring, but I've come to love the plain, simple manicure.
 This Pure Ice A List was a perfect choice for the snow covered landscape and frosty feel outside my window.
 Today, I decided to add some flair, just to keep the tips well-covered for the upcoming week full of domestics - dishes, cooking, baking, bathing tykes, etc.And because I don't have a lot of time to paint/remove/repaint to try different ideas, I painted each nail a different color and/or design.

I asked my five-year-old to help me find some colors to accent the current manicure, since I continued to vacillate for ten minutes and my five month old boy's nap time was quickly ticking away. I chose charcoals and glitters (safe colors) for one hand, while she boldly ventured into the iridescent turquoises, deep blues, and royal purples.

Here are the results:

Right Hand: my choices plus her purple
 Left Hand: Her choices and my favorites (fun blues)
 Deviation from the manicure: Tori hasn't taken off her snowsuit for two days. LOL. She LOVES it this year.

Priti polish's Etoile Violet tips off my right thumb nail, since thumbs and forefingers wear off first in the domestic world.
 Pure Ice's Cheatin claims an overcoat on my right forefinger, because I'm orderly and wanted the purples together. lol
 Essie's Set In Stones boasts two coats on the tip of my right middle finger and wins a ribbon for effecting the best look for a frosty, snow-covered New Year's.
 Sephora by OPI's Shiny Dancer steals away both my right ring finger and pinky. A swirly paisley effect on one and a stream of dots on the other.

 For lack of tools, my left hand receives much of the same design, the thumb tip covered in Bon Bons #1306 (this brand lacks color names) and the index finger tip coated with a stripe of the same.
 My middle left finger shows off a yinyan sort of design, using Sinful Colors' Love Nails, Bon Bons' #1306, and Pure Ice's A List. Love Nails stripes the tip of my pinky.
 Tori chose this glittery Wet N Wild "Blue Wants to be a Millionaire", though there wasn't enough contrast to even capture in a camera shot.

And here is a bonus photo for ya, using the watercolor feature on my gnarly Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX150 (with which I have fallen in love).

There you have it, my accidental New Year manicure. It started out as a quick fix to keep my nails from falling apart (as a result of one month w/o liquid iron and prenatal pills). It ended in a Kindergartener's inspiring idea. It's so UN-me, yet by the time it was complete, I had embraced it fully! So glad I decided to try something new. Already, I've decided that I will reuse any of the designs/color combinations you see here (with the exception of the plain glitters).

Hope you enjoy it, too!  HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

"The Best Snow Day, EVER!", according to a five-year-old

Post: mostly photos
Subject: mostly Tori
Purpose: mostly family who express how much they so badly miss the Subject
The snow has fallen before. It has fallen thick and it has fallen icy, but it has never (since we moved here less than two years ago) fallen in the perfect fashion-- sticky, fluffy & powdery, ideal for snowballs and snowmen. So, as you will guess, we did just that, built a snow person and threw snowballs at the window, behind which Papa and Jesse watched us with intrigue. 

Throughout the day, we watched with interest as the flakes began to increase in size, and I couldn't wait to be the one to tell Tori that  I was going outside with her!   

About an hour before sunset, both Tori and I ran outside like two little schoolgirls who have waited all year-long for the snow to fall. And indeed, we did and we have. Last year, we only had one snowfall, at the end of October (unseasonably early), but it wasn't the fun type that you play in.

(While Tori collected clean snow in her bucket to eat, I walked around our property and our landlord's property to take photos with this new camera someone gifted to me. It has amazing and multiple features that I can't begin to remember that it has, so today was a perfect opportunity to try them all. I mostly kept with the snow feature, for obvious reasons.)

"SNOW SOUP", she calls it.


 I've never made a snowman, and neither had Tori, so we made one today! It was surprising how difficult the snow was to compact into a ball. We made it work somehow.
 Here, Tori is putting the finishing touches on our snow person- Tori's Hello Kitty Fedora. And since she's wearing a girl's pink scarf, Tori says she's a snow woman.
 We used a carrot for the nose, a radish slice for the mouth, zucchini ends for the eyes.
 And Tori proudly named her SNOWA.
 This kind of snow is SO FUN to eat. I couldn't stop picking it up and putting it in my mouth. :o) There was over an acre of it to eat, but I couldn't. LOL
 Though, Tori had her fair share. I think she may have really eaten a gallon or more!
 Well, that makes up for the liquids I haven't been able to get in her this week. LOL

 Other neighbor's pine trees.
 Tori on her belly, diving for snow.

 Some sort of "low light with flash" setting.

 "I've got my spare bucket of snow. Let's go inside."
 Tori poses with SNOWA while I try out the black and white feature.
 The "Partial" feature hones in on certain subjects and makes them a shade of red, while leaving everything else black and white. See the color on the carrot? Barely.
 Now THERE'S the color. LOL
 This photo was taken using the "painting" feature. Can you see the effects? So cool!
The sun began to disappear and it was time to go in for hot chocolate.... er, hot chocolate snow cone.

To my families: I hope this post helps you glimpse into the daily life of your favorite 5 yr old east coast girl. :o)