27 October 2010

Whole-Wheat Pumpkin Bran Muffins*

*adapted from this recipe

Yield: 18 muffins
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup honey
1 T molasses
1T brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp salt
1-15 oz. can pumpkin puree
1 cup bran flakes, lightly crushed
1 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves1/3 cup very hot water
1 tsp baking soda

-Line muffin tin with 18 baking cups.
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 for convection oven).
-Prepare muffin tin by
-In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, honey, molasses, sugar and vanilla. Add eggs, pumpkin and salt. Mix well. Stir in bran flakes.
-In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves.
-Stir dry ingredients into wet until just combined.
-Add baking soda to hot water, stir to mix, and then gently stir into batter.
-Divide mixture evenly into 18 muffin cups, filling each cup to about 3/4 full.
-Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 min or until a toothpick inserted into the center of muffins comes out clean.
-Enjoy warm or at room temp. with cream cheese or butter.

     Summer has finally decided to give up the fight and let fall arrive this week.  Cooler temperatures, leaf gathering, costume wearing and fall baking has replaced the warm sunshine, outside playtime and cool drinks.  The evening light disappears a few minutes earlier each evening and the mornings now feel cold and dark. 

     As with every year, I'm sad to see the warmth and light disappear.  It's not so much that I dislike fall.  It's such a beautiful time of year, especially when we are lucky to have one in our state.  (Sometimes winter blows in too early and the leaves literally get snowed off of the trees.)  But it's mostly that I don't love winter.  I'm not a fan of cold, snow, ice, or layers of clothes.  I much prefer the lightness of flip-flops and longer days.

     However, with the onset of colder, darker mornings we have been spending a few more minutes snuggling under the covers together as a family.  The littlest one nestles in for an early morning snack before dozing off for a bit while longer.  My daughter chats and giggles, cooing over her baby brother before giving all of us our character names for the day (today we were named members of "The Backyardigans," Uniqua, Pablo, Tasha Tyrone).  Daddy (or "Tyrone") gets a few extra minutes of much needed sleep.  And I get to sneak downstairs to let the dog out, make a cup of coffee and spend 10 minutes alone before starting my day of juggling the needs of two littles and a never-ending To Do list. 

    With my husband's work schedule and my new-to-two learning curve, it can feel like we don't often get time to catch our breath before putting out the next fire.  These slow moving mornings are an unexpected blessing during a time of year I don't always feel so thrilled about, and for that I'm grateful. 

What could be better than having a snack with a good friend?  Laughing HYSTERICALLY while having a snack with a good friend. 

Sibling bonds are the longest relationships a person can have and arguably, some of the most important. Someday their father and I won't be around.  Hopefully they'll still have each other.  I feel so blessed that I get to watch them learn how to love one another.

17 October 2010

I suppose this blog isn't called "think, love, sleep, eat, clean" for good reason.

My house is a sad state of affairs these days. I just can't seem to keep up with the laundry, dishes, clutter, cooking, shopping, animal fur and dog drool (yes, drool)...not to mention the fragile-toddler meltdown managing, round-the-clock nursing, diapering, soothing, playing, crafting, snuggling, etc., etc., etc.  It's a daily source of stress for me, not so much because an imperfect house drives me crazy to look at but because I feel I am failing at part of my "job" as a stay-at-home-mom.  

This afternoon the wee one fell asleep in my arms while putting the older one to bed for a nap.  Since my better half is working today, my options were either to swaddle him up tight and put him in his swing for a nap (so I could take care of the dishes and laundry) or keep him in my arms, rendering them useless for scrubbing and folding.  I chose the latter.  

 The weather today is absolute perfection: 70ish degrees, with impossibly blue skies, a faint breeze and radiant sunshine.  It will likely be one of the last of it's kind for many months.  So the two of us rocked on the front porch for a good hour while he snoozed, I chatted with the neighbors and he got a bit of natural photo-therapy.  It. was. heaven. 

   I'll be honest...I felt pretty lazy.  Our sink is full of dishes from the chocolate-pumpkin cupcakes I baked for a fall picnic with friends YESTERDAY (as well as breakfast and lunch dishes from today).  The washer and dryer are both full.  Our bed is unmade.  What would people think if they saw my house right now??!!?  My floors!  The dryer full of dry but wrinkled clothes!  The empty fridge!  The unmade beds!!! 

Song For a Fifth (or Second!) Child, by Ruth Hamilton. 1958
Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth
empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
hang out the washing and butter the bread,
sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I’ve grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
and out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
but I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).

The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
for children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

14 October 2010

A birthday celebration

 Singing in the rain

What my son did for most of the weekend

Some colorful and delicious birthday cake prep

 Coconut cake, Raspberry Filling, Cream cheese Swiss Meringue Buttercream


A very popular game.  And a tall aunt and uncle on wee chairs.

Lovely ladies...

 ...and gentlemen.  And two special girls.