Turning Two

Our little Oak is TWO!

We started talking about her birthday maybe a month leading up to it…and by the week prior it was ALL she wanted to talk about! Read birthday stories, talk about her cake (what color cake do you want? pupl.). I got new cake pans and gel food dye, pulled out the birthday bunting and we pulled off a great low key party day.

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IMG_1351[1].JPGGrandparents joined us for a morning at the beach (her favorite thing ever), followed by backyard burgers and lots of purple cake. Presents had never entered the converstaion but she was pretty into them as well. She even has her own harmonica now!

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Our sweet girl is so much fun. Super excited to be a big sister (soon!), loves books, music, the beach, kitties and her May May (stuffed bunny). She is super easy going and loves to be outdoors. She loves to tease Daddy about how she does not love him, even through she and him are the best of friends, going on walks and beach adventures nearly every day. Her vocabulary is expanding daily, even though things are still conveyed in single word sentences. Yesterday she very clearly told me: beach. low. wawa. beach. “hey mom, it’s low tide. Time to go to the beach!” (and yes, it was low tide…it is amazing what kids pick up!) “How Bout that?”

We are soaking up our last few weeks as a family of three, and so thankful for our sweet and adorable two year old girl!

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Potty Training and Nearly TWO

In April we grabbed a training potty at a consignement store just to have on hand when the time was right. Then on Memorial Day weekend I finally got around to reading the book that had been recommended by a TON of people: Oh Crap! Potty Training.

I quickly realized that the time we were waiting on was NOW, so we devised a plan to start the following Thursday. Key decision: that was our last time slot of 7-10 days with no commitments before a busy summer set in. A summer that also includes a new baby so having only one set of diapers in rotation sounded amazing.

Thursday morning rolled around and we factuatlly stated to our little 23 month old Oak that diapers were done and we were going to use the potty. Hello a few crazy days! I was at work so Matt got the brunt of the first two days: lots of picking her up naked  little self and running her to the potty whenever she started to go. Day three, she was going when we promted her, and on day 4 she took herself into the bathroom and presented us with a poop all on her own!

From there things were pretty easy during the day. We started going back outside (the goal of staying inside was to emphasize the use of the actual potty, not just going when you had to) and every day got a little bit smoother and less revolving around the bathroom. On day 8 we took a road trip to Nana and Gaga’s for the night, which meant potty stops to go in the back of the car, but we had a sucessful no accident trip!

Naps and nighttime were included from day one in the approach we choose, and they are going ok. It means waking up to take her to pee at night, and we have had some misses, but still overall success. (Update: one month later. We thought long and hard about this decision but ultimatly decided to go back to cloth diapers at night. With Oakleigh still in a crib, she was 100% reliant on us to get her up to use the potty at night, which was getting beyond exhausting. We now put her to bed in regular jammies, take her to pee before we go to sleep, and put her in a cloth diaper and wool pants. Every few nights now she wakes up dry, and is already showing improvement with holding it till morning. When she is in a real bed, we will tackle this one again.)

The real payoff is now, two weeks later, when we can go to the lake for the day, have her wear a bathing suit (cutest little butt ever) and not worry about diapers! We have 5 or so more weeks of diaper free time in our house before #2 arrives…but preppring all those cloth diapers has been fun knowing that we only have to deal with them one at a time! The bigger sizes are packed away alongside bigger clothes, and we have a very grown up little girl that is so excited to be a big sister.

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How will she be two in two weeks!?

Rhubarb Sour Cream Pie

Rhubarb is in it’s prime, and we had a Costco sized sour cream that needed using. Time to try a new pie! It was excellent and will be made again and again in our house.

Also, check out that cute 26 week baby bump!

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Filling

  • 4 cups chopped fresh rhubarb (also added 1 cup frozen chopped strawberries)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Vanilla
  • pimch of salt
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

Topping

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

 

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  2. Press the pie crust into a 9 inch pie pan. Spread rhubarb in an even layer in the bottom of the crust. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, white sugar, vanilla, sour cream and 1/3 cup of flour until smooth. Pour over the rhubarb.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 cup of flour, cinnamon and brown sugar. Stir in melted butter until the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle over the top of the pie.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Continue to bake for 40 minutes, or until the edges have puffed, and the topping is golden ***I added another 15 minutes to mine***. The center may still be slightly jiggly. Cool completely before slicing and serving.

The center of the pie rose like a souffle during the last 20 minutes of baking and was a lovey golden brown with gooey rhubarb bubbles. It was not the prettiest pie but tasted AMAZING!

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Pregnancy Cravings – Scones & Clotted Cream

Yep, surprise! We are expecting baby #2 this summer!

I am 15 week pregnant and man has life been throwing us some curveballs. Thankfully I feel fine and this pregnancy is going well, but geez we are tired! We started the year with bad colds, immediately followed by noro virus. We had a few good weeks of getting our new-to-us shipping container and rehabbing it (note, pausing on the house) so we can use it as a garage and get things out of the living room. Great weekend at the coast complete with 4 inches of SNOW…on the beach! Then home to Matt breaking his big toe and us all getting sick again. Everything has come to a screeching halt on all projects since Matt is not able to get around well and needs to let his foot heal. It has been rough and frustrating, but we are getting through. Oh and we had 18 inches of snow last week…leaving me stranded for an extra long business trip and our little island without power. It was glorious to see, but the timing was rough.

Aside from the struggles, this pregnancy is going well. Baby “Dew” as we have dubbed him or her is growing well and snuggled in just where they should be. This one will be a surprise just like Oak was, and expected to arrive late July or early August.

I have been craving cottage cheese, kiwi and English muffins again…very similar to my pregnancy with Oak except with her it was bagels not English muffins. I was also on a craving kick for some honest to goodness clotted cream on scones. Unfortunately very hard to find here stateside, so I finally found a recipe and made some.

It. Was. Amazing.

Clotted cream itself was super simple, the hardest part finding cream that was not ultra pasteurized.  These will most definitely be on some fancy breakfast rotation in our house for years to come.

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Traditional Clotted Cream

You Need:

  • 1-2 pints heavy whipping cream – NOT ultra pasteurized (I found this at Trader Joes in half pint size and made 1 1/2 pints worth)
  • 8x8ish glass pan
  • 12 hours for cooking + 12 hours for cooling

There are lots of YouTube videos but honestly this was so simple you don’t even need them.

Directions:

  1. Pour cream into glass pan (comes up the sides 1-3″ depending on amount of cream you use. Put into a 170 or 180 degree oven (some ovens have different minimum settings…we used 170 convection with great results) for 12 hours, uncovered, undisturbed (overnight is great) ***Make sure your oven does not automatically turn off!***
  2. Remove pan from oven and observe the beautiful creamy yellow crust on top of a thin layer of thin cream whey. Let cool in refrigerator for another 12 hours.
  3. Skim the solid clotted cream off the whey and out into jars and refrigerate. Use the whey for some other cooking project!

Super easy. Super delicious. Serve with scone or however you desire.

English Style Scones

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (10 ounces by weight)
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

  1. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a bowl or food processor.
  2. Add the butter and pulse 7-10 times until the butter is completely distributed, or alternatively, use a pastry blender to bring the mixture to the texture of sand.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk to combine the milk and egg. Save 2 tbsp of it for the egg wash later, and pour the rest into the mixing bowl with the dry ingredients.
  4. Stir to combine with a spatula, until a rough dough forms.
  5. Transfer to a lightly floured countertop and knead about 10 times until the dough comes together into a relatively smooth ball. Take care not to knead too much, or the dough will be tougher and not rise as high.
  6. Roll the dough about an inch thick and use a 2.5″ cutter to cut about 7 circles. Re-roll the scraps and cut out another 2.
  7. Place the scones onto a parchment or silicone mat lined baking sheet and brush the tops with the reserved egg wash.
  8. Bake the scones for 13-15 minutes, until about tripled in height, and golden brown.

 

Thank you to Fifteen Spatulas for the original recipe!

Yurting, Tomatoes, Kitties and Remodeling

Fall is here, and it is a spectacular one. We had a week of rain and the rest of it has been sunny and beautiful. It feels like a lucky break because we had three weekends of outdoor fun planned and all were picture perfect. Good fall weather is always a treat, but with a 15 month old it is EXTRA appreciated.

We spent a long weekend surfing and yurting on the Oregon coast. Oakleigh loved the water and beach and Matt and I both got some quality surf time in. She also slept like a champ in the yurt. Key: travel crib on the lower bunk surrounded by a sheet = her own private room!

Cider pressing was another weekend away, filled with friends and family and food.

Then this past weekend was another long one, weddinging out on the Olympic Peninsula! My friend Cassie had a stunning wedding on the shores of Lake Crescent. A full-on summer camp affair with historic cabins, outdoor rustic-meets-designer-beauty dinner by the lake and lots of country music. The fall color seemed to show up just for her.

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Oakleigh is all about kitties, berries (buhs), and Mr. Brown Can Moo. She is still just about walking, but is taking her time. She knows all her animal sounds and what everything is called (can point it out if you ask her). She adores Lola (wrar-oo!). And identified that her favorite color is pink (specifically Confetti by Benjamin Moore). She is a great eater, and still nurses 1-2 times a day. Sleeps 7:30-7:30 and naps once during the day. We have settled into a pretty normal routine. Matt’s mom usually comes over once a week to watch Oak so Matt has a bonus work day (and she brings dinner! Huge help) and our weekends are tag team remodeling and taking care of baby.

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She is also all about the garden! Picking tomatoes, playing with rocks, and getting dirty. We have harvested piles of tomatoes, and they are still coming. Amish Paste are a new variety that has won our hearts this year, and the Old Germans produced out of control! We have processed and frozen over 8 gallons of sauce.

So where are we in the remodel? Final paint is going up in the front room, and Matt is diving into the living room finish work! This will be SUCH a milestone to complete…it means that we may actually be able to get a couch! Next month we will celebrate the 3 year anniversary of this lovely project.

Matt did come up with a new design path this month: we are going to close off our hallway, creating a walk in butler pantry AND give the guest room a whole new level of privacy. That will be the final piece of this main floor scope before floor refinishing. No projection on that timeline yet.

So yes, we are busy! And happy and trying to soak in the fun parts of fall with our little growing Oak.

Summer Baking

Summer in the Pacific Northwest means berries. Strawberries, then raspberries, wild salmon berries, huckleberries, blueberries, and finally blackberries.

Oakleigh is obsessed with berries (or as she calls them: buhs) of all kinds. She and Daddy pick them on their afternoon walks. On the weekends, she and I have been setting out in the stroller to stock up on blackberries. Every handful that goes into the container, she gets one, and is ecstatic every single time. Que enthusiastic “Mmmmm!”

There are two great berry cake recipes that I found over the past few years.

The first is actually for plums, but would probably be great with any kind of buh instead 🙂

From the NY Times:

Fresh Plum Torte

plum cake

plum torte with homemade whiskey vanilla ice cream

INGREDIENTS

  • ¾ to 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup unbleached flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  •  Pinch of salt (optional)
  • 2 eggs
  • 24 halves pitted purple plums
  •  Sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon, for topping

PREPARATION

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream the sugar and butter in a bowl. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and eggs and beat well.
  3. Spoon the batter into a springform pan of 8, 9 or 10 inches. Place the plum halves skin side up on top of the batter. Sprinkle lightly with sugar and lemon juice, depending on the sweetness of the fruit. Sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, depending on how much you like cinnamon.
  4. Bake 1 hour, approximately. Remove and cool; refrigerate or freeze if desired. Or cool to lukewarm and serve plain or with whipped cream. (To serve a torte that was frozen, defrost and reheat it briefly at 300 degrees.)

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This second recipe is a new find this year. I was in search of a fruit heavy coffee cake with crumb topping. After scouring the internet I combined two different recipes and am hooked on this new combo. We tried it with raspberries and blackberries…both are excellent. You can load it up with berries and it still comes out light and beautiful!

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Berry Crumb Top Coffee Cake

For the topping:

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 tablespoons butter-chilled and cubed

For the Cake:

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 4-5 cups fresh berries (raspberries and blackberries are our favorites)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. To make the topping: Combine sugar, flour and chilled cubed butter in a bowl. Stir with a fork (ok) or pastry blender (ideal) until the mixture is crumbly.( Make sure the mix is in pea-sized crumbs)
  2. Make the Cake: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a round 9-inch cake pan (or 8×8, or other pan…it really does not matter just adjust baking time accordingly). Optional: line the bottom of the pan with parchment, grease the parchment, then flour the inside of the pan. Or just butter and flour the pan. Both work fine, but the parchment keeps the cake slightly lighter on the bottom if any berries come in contact with the pan.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder; set aside. Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, salt and lemon zest at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla and beat until combined, about 30 seconds. Reduce the mixer speed to medium, then add eggs one at a time; beat for 5 to 10 seconds, then scrape down bowl and continue to beat until fully incorporated (mixture will appear broken). Reduce the mixer speed to low, then gradually add the flour mixture and beat slowly until the flour is almost fully incorporated, about 20 seconds. Use a rubber spatula to finish mixing until no flour pockets remain (the batter will be very heavy and thick). Add berries and allow the mixer to turn 3-5 more times to roughly distribute and mush the berries (you can also just do this by hand with a spatula to keep them whole)
  4. Transfer batter to prepared pan; gently spread the batter evenly to the pan edges and smooth the surface. Sprinkle topping evenly over batter.
  5. Bake until the top is deep golden brown and a thin knife inserted into center of the cake comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Place on a wire rack for 20 minutes (the cake will fall slightly as it cools).
  6. Run a thin knife around the sides of cake. Invert the cake, then peel off the parchment from the bottom of the cake and discard. Turn the cake right-side-up onto a cooling rack or serving dish. Allow to cool for at least 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature. Leftovers can be stored at room temperature, in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 2 days.

A Strawberry Rhubarb Bunting First Birthday!

Our little Oakleigh Elaine turned ONE!

I had been sewing bunting for weeks in preparation, and on her birthday morning she woke up to a flag filled dining room like I had envisioned. A family tradition started this year that will live on for all family birthdays to come.

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We celebrated on her actual birthday just the three of us. We danced for her birth minute at 4:14 and watched her tear into a cake that evening. Of course she was more excited about kicking it than eating but I was ok with that!

The next day we celebrated in a big way with an open house BBQ party filled with family and friends. The house was cleaned up (as much as an in-construction house can be at least!) and the back yard decorated with bunting and lights. We had hot dogs and burgers, and cut into a huge strawberry rhubarb curb filled chiffon cake after a chorus of “happy birthday”.

It was a very special day.

 

Six Layer Chiffon Curd Cake

I have made this cake with lemon curd and raspberry curd, but for Oakleigh’s first birthday it was strawberry rhubarb filled. The original recipe directions are for a tube pan, but I have had success dividing it into three standard round pans, or one 12x18x2″ half sheet pan. Slice the individual cakes in half and you have the base for a lovely, light, filled cake.

Chiffon Cake

For a 12×12″ 6 layer cake I baked two of these in a 12×18 pan, sliced in half and stacked into 6 layers.

  • 2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 7 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 7 egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Wash a 10 inch angel food tube pan in hot soapy water to ensure it is totally grease free. Or 3 9″ round pans, or 12×18 sheet pan.
  2. Measure flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into sifter. Sift into bowl. Make a well; add oil, egg yolks, water, vanilla, and lemon flavoring to the well in the order that is given. Set aside. Don’t beat.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until very stiff. Set aside.
  4. Using same beaters, beat egg yolk batter until smooth and light. Pour gradually over egg whites, folding in with rubber spatula. Do not stir. Pour batter into angel food tube pan.
  5. Baking options:
    1. Angel food pan: bake 55 minutes. Increase heat to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), and bake 10 to 15 minutes until done. Invert pan until cool.
    2. Round pans: bake 15-20 minutes, check and add 5 minutes at at time until done. Cool in pan.
    3. Sheet pan: bake 20 minutes, then add 5 minutes at a time until done. Cool in pan.

 

Strawberry Rhubarb Curd

Keeps stored in the fridge for up to two weeks.

  • 1 quart bag of rhubarb
  • 1 pint strawberries (the fresher the better!)
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • pinch salt
  • juice of half a lime
  • 1/2 lb unsalted butter
  • 4 eggs + 4 egg yolks

Cream butter and sugar until thick and pale. Put into saucepan with strawberries, rhubarb, salt and lime juice. Slowly cook until thick, stirring. Strain into bowl and set in fridge. (I did not cook mine long enough and it did not set fully, so I reheated and added two sheets of gelatin and it saved it.)

Whipped Cream Frosting

This was a great find (original recipe here). Not too sweet, easy and holds up well. For layering with fruit curd it make clean lines between each chiffon layer.

Ingredients

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whipping cream

Directions

  1. Combine the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Fit the mixer with the whisk attachment and mix on medium speed until smooth. While the mixture is still whipping, slowly pour in the heavy cream. Stop and scrape the bottom of the bowl a couple of times while you continue whipping until the cream can hold a stiff peak.