Monday, May 25, 2009

Maylin loses two front teeth

Last week, Maylin lost her two front teeth and we started homeschooling unofficially! We had a meeting with our education coordinator (EC) at the charter school where she is enrolled in the fall and it was so great! It was like Christmas! We got to take home tons of resources -- textbooks, workbooks, math manipulatives, dominoes, and even a how-to pop-up greeting card book to borrow. And our EC totally thinks like me! It's bizarre! When I asked a question, she often had the perfect answer or solution. Oh, and I got to take home a cursive handwriting workbook for Maylin, which is normally for third graders, but I knew she'd be so into it. She's completed about 20 pages by now! She loves it!

Tonight, after we read our books in bed, she complained about a tummy ache. This time, she knew why. She didn't want to go back to school, and it hurt her tummy thinking about it. Then she asked how many days of school were left. I told her 14 days. She was excited and relieved at that point and said her tummy instantly felt better. Phew!

Here's a couple photos I took today. She did a really cool "sculpture" in the carport with some nature items from the front yard.

Caroline paints again!

My daughter's school is having a silent auction this weekend. I'm donating two paintings which I completed today! "Four Penguins" was done during Stefan's nap, so you can tell I had more time to think about it. "Butterfly on Red" was kind of thrown together while Stefan was awake and a bit grumpy.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Delicious coffee cake recipe

A friend has requested that I share a cinnamon coffee cake recipe. This is a light and soft, finely-textured cake with a cinnamon-sugar-nut topping. With a light lemon flavor. I've never had trouble executing this recipe. Some coffee cakes are heavy on the baking soda -- and you can still smell and taste it! Ick! This one never has that problem. Adapted from the Fannie Farmer Baking Book.


8 tablespoons (1 stick) of softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream (creme fraiche is even better -- easily found at Trader Joe's)
1 1/4 cups cake flour (finer than all purpose)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (microplaners do the best work on lemons -- avoid the white part of the rind)


1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease and lightly flour an 8-inch square pan (but I think I've always used a 9-inch round pan). With an electric mixer, mix butter, sugar, eggs, and sour cream/creme fraiche in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add dry to wet, add lemon zest, and beat until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan. Mix together topping ingredients in a small bowl and sprinkle over the surface of the cake. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve from the pan while warm. Yum!

Monday, May 04, 2009

Blackhawk Automotive Museum

We took the family here last month, along with the wonderful friend who remodeled our kitchen. Maylin took three of these photos. Which ones??? By the way, this was the site of one of John and my first dates. Yes, we love cars...

Kidcraft: coloring Easter eggs

Last month, we colored our eggs at home for the first time. It's actually quite easy and you get beautiful results! No need to buy those kits from the supermarket. If you already have food coloring and vinegar on hand, you're good to go.

Put 20 drops of food coloring into an old jam jar or coffee mug. Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar and 1/2 cup of room temperature water. Mix. Gently plop in your hard-boiled egg into the container. Leave in container until they reach the desired saturation. You'll have to check periodically by scooping the egg out with a spoon. Place back in egg carton to dry.

For the cool stripes, wrap a jumbo rubberband around the center of the egg before coloring. Remove rubberband after immersion.

Stefan wasn't interested in the activity, but we had a two year-old who was into it. His mom did most of the work, but I think he felt involved. This activity is probably best for ages 3 and up. Maylin, a six year-old, loved it and couldn't stop coloring eggs. You probably should have a dozen eggs per child on hand. Sounds like a lot, but really, this is quite addicting!

Field trip to the Little Farm at Tilden Park, Berkeley

The first graders at Maylin's school took a field trip to one of Berkeley's treasures -- the Little Farm at Tilden Park. Not many cities can brag about a farm within the city limits where kids can actually get up close and feed the animals! Stefan and I arrived before the schoolchildren and were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the piglets nursing!

Photos taken April 17, 2009.

Friday, May 01, 2009

My new soft chocolate chip cookie recipe (whole wheat)

This is my healthier version of the soft chocolate chip cookie. Tweaked King Arthur Flour's whole grain recipe for soft chocolate chip cookies.

Preheat oven at 350 degrees.

Cream (mix) together:
8 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 cup of brown sugar (not packed)
1/2 cup of granulated sugar

Add and mix:
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In separate bowl, whisk together:
3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups whole wheat flour

Add dry to wet and mix.

Stir in 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips.

Place parchment paper on cookie sheet. Using a cookie scoop (I had to use a one-tablespoon one because that's all I have), stack two scoops on top of each other. Use wet fingertips to flatten dough stacks into 1/3 inch-high discs and to smooth the edges (this step will give your cookies a smooth, uniform look).

Bake for 9-11 minutes -- just until a few cookies start to slightly brown on the edges. Don't overbake or these babies will be probably as hard as a rock.

Let cool on sheet for a couple minutes. Remove to cool on a rack. When completely cool, immediately store in airtight container. Do not eat these cookies right out of the oven. For some reason, the chocolate chips didn't taste right melted in this particular cookie (and King Arthur Flour's version as well). Not sure why, but they taste great after cooling and storage for a couple hours.

Maylin's hiphop class loved these, but then, they have loved all my cookies so far.
Cookie #1: soft snickerdoodles
Cookie #2: grammy's chocolate cookies (from Martha Stewart's cookie book -- I've hijacked this from the library, I mean, I've renewed it about three times)
Cookie #3: soft chocolate chip (whole wheat)