Happy Birthday, Liv!

Delicious White Cake (from my grandma's 1950 Betty Crocker Cookbook):

Lovely to look at . . . luscious to eat

Grease generously and flour . . . . . . . . . . . .
2 9" layer pans or a 13x9" oblong pan
Cream together until fluffy . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2/3 cup soft shortening (at least half butter)
3/4 cup sugar
Sift together . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2 2/3 cups sifted Gold Medal flour (or 3 cups Softasilk)
3 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
Stir in alternately with . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1 1/3 cups thin milk (I just used non-fat)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. almond flavoring
Fold in . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4 egg whites (1/2 cup), stiffly beaten (I used powdered)

Oven Temp: 350 degrees
Time: Bake layers 30-35 min., square or oblong 35-45 min.

Pour into prepared pans. Bake until cake tests done. Cool. Finish with desired filling and frosting.

I use raspberry preserves for the filling between the layers.

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

6 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 package (8 ounces)cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

1. Place the white chocolate in a small glass bowl in the microwave oven on high power for 1 minute. Remove the bowl from the oven and stir with a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula until it is smooth. Set the chocolate aside to cool.

2. Place the cream cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until well combined, 30 seconds. Stop the machine. Add the milk, vanilla, and melted white chocolate, and blend on low speed until just combined, 30 seconds. Add the confectioners' sugar and blend on low speed until the sugar is incorporated, 30 seconds. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until the frosting is fluffy, 1 minute or more.

This makes plenty of frosting for the entire cake!


I want to live here

I can't remember how I linked to this website, but I'm ready to move in to one of these cute houses. And if you click on "similar buildings," you can see how many other quaint woodland cottages there are. I think they are all in the U.K. and they definitely have a British feel. Maybe that's why I like them. They look like they are straight out of a fairy tale. They remind me of the Cotswolds. They also kind of remind me of Baggins End- the domes at UC Davis.

Photo courtesy of http://www.simondale.net/house/index.htm.

Just in time for Halloween

So, here's the latest on tainted/dangerous products coming from China: chocolate! Apparently, Cadbury pulled 11 of its Chinese-made chocolates (reportedly none were sold in the U.S.) because they were made with melamine-laced milk. For the full story, click here.

I've always been leery of candy that's not either boutique/homemade or a major brand (such as Hershey's), but Cadbury is a major brand. And those little Halloween treats that are "Not packaged for individual resale" also don't have the "Made in _______" label on them. And the larger candy bars don't necessarily have that either. Often they just have the name of the distributor. So, they could be made in China, Switzerland, or just about anywhere.

I admit that chocolate constitutes a large part of our diet, but we do eat other food items. This article got me thinking about where our other food comes from. I try to make as much food from "scratch" as possible. Very few of us can grow all our own food. Just about everyone has to purchase staples like sugar, flour, butter, milk. Most of us also purchase pasta, breakfast cereal, nuts, beans, etc. I just looked in my pantry and most of the items I looked at had no information about where the ingredients came from. Some were "certified organic" and were "grown in the USA" or "made from products grown in the USA," but most items simply had the distributor's information on the package. And, man, that's kinda scary. I can't believe I never noticed that before.

So, what to do? I think buy local is still the best bet. But sometimes it's a lot more expensive or impossible. For example, I've never seen any "locally grown" sugar in the market. Around here, there is only one farm share available and I don't think it would be very economical for us at the moment. So, organic is probably the second best choice.

Any thoughts?



Every station I saw today was out of gas. Last night there were long lines at all the stations, but we had no problem filling up in the afternoon.

At least the only place I have to go tomorrow is the Y. We could skip it if we needed to, but I am hoping this "shortage" is temporary.

Obviously, the world is going to run out of gas someday. I wonder if it's going to be like this? Or will there be a better solution?

Sorry to get all doom and gloom. This shortage just emphasizes the reality of global warming and the energy crisis.


Happy Birthday Matt!

I bet cleaning up cat puke at 6 a.m. was a lovely birthday treat!



Look closely at the sign.
Spotted by Matt. Picture by me.


The Cloth-diapered Behind- Part 1

I've been thinking about this post for a long time. When I tell people that we use cloth diapers, I get reactions ranging from "Cool! Tell me about it..." to "What!!? Why?". Most people are somewhat interested in how it's done and have no idea how far cloth diapers have come in the last 20+ years. A few friends have asked about my favorite cloth diapers, my washing routines, etc. recently, so I thought this was a good time to post.

We use cloth about 80% of the time. Lucy's diapers are mainly the same ones we used with Mollie, making it very economical. I prefer "pocket" style diapers. Basically these are a waterproof outler layer (PUL) and a fleece inner layer. There is an opening in the back where you put the soaker- a regular prefold cotton diaper or any other absorbent material.

Why do I like the pocket diapers?
1)Easy to use- you can put the parts together when you take them out of the laundry and they are as convenient to use as disposables
2)Adjustibility- you can stuff these things with just about anything, making them very trim or super absorbent depending on needs

A note on washing.... the new water-saving HE machines are definitely not as good for diapers as the older water hogs. You have to run extra rinses to get out the soap (using more electricity) because of the low water usage. But I am guessing it is still more economical and environmentally-friendly than disposables, especially when you consider the raw materials, transportation costs, and manufacturing waste/by-products associated with disposables. I certainly appreciate not spending $40+ per month on diapers.

Why do we use cloth? I decided to do it for environmental reasons and to reduce Mollie's exposure to the nasty chemicals in disposables. Have you ever used disposable diapers and seen the little crystal/gel-like things they can leave behind (pun intended) on baby's skin? There are some other added benefits.... earlier potty training in some kids, they are not as stinky as disposable diapers (some people are surprised by this one, but it's just that they don't have a chemical-y smell), and they are cute.

Next time... my cloth-diapering routine and recommendations



It started off good. Woke up. Mollie dressed herself for ballet. We headed for the gym. I fed Lucy during the ballet class. After class, I took both girls to the child watch and worked out for an hour (swimming).

Then we went to lunch and ran a few errands. We got home and that's when things started going down hill. Lucy wouldn't nap, and Mollie wanted me to help her with art projects (Lucy and art projects do not mix). She finally got a late nap but then (duh!) wouldn't go to sleep at her usual bed time. Mollie and I had started baking cookies so between batches of cookies (listening to Lucy scream upstairs) and running upstairs to try to sooth her, I was exhausted. And Matt couldn't even come to the rescue because he was out of town for work.

Number of wardrobe changes for Mollie: 6

Number of band-aid changes for Mollie's tiny finger prick: 6 (at least)

Number of consecutive minutes of quiet (nobody crying, whining, or chattering): 7.5

Number of times I went upstairs to rock Lucy: a lot

Knowing that they are both asleep right at this very moment:


Happy Birthday Lala!!

4 years old- Wow!


In Remembrance


Two headlights. Two teeth.

The headlight on the Honda burned out on Wednesday, so I had it replaced. On Saturday, Matt said, "You know you've got a headlight out?" Yes, it was the other one.

Tooth #2 erupted in Lucy's mouth sometime between last night and this morning. Those two little teeth are every bit as sharp as her finger nails!

Here, she's putting those teeth to good use!


My little scientist

This afternoon we were sitting on the deck by the pool (wow, that sounds much more glamorous than our old deck and old Nemo plastic pool).

I was trying to gather my thoughts for class tonight and Mollie was splashing around in the pool. I was listening to her talk to herself. She was saying, "Shells sink. Acorns float. Feathers float. Rocks sink." I looked over and realized she was "testing" each item as she said it. Now if only I could get my students to do that in lab tonight...



Lucy's been cutting a tooth and it finally came in today!

I'm sure she was ready for a yummy sausage dinner since we went up to the lake for a barbecue. Unfortunately, we forgot the sausages so we just had side dishes and appetizers. Good though.


Mixed Bag

My mom is here visiting so I'm not spending much time on the blog, but I am working on a cloth diaper post for next week. These are just a few thoughts from the last few days...

Can you believe McCain's choice of running mate? I really, really, really hope they don't get elected. Matt thinks it's in the bag for Obama, but Bush got elected twice so I'm not so confident.

Was it just me, or did it seem like the media were just praying for Hurricane Gustav to bring death and destruction? They actually seemed disappointed that it was downgraded to a Cat. 2 storm that didn't destroy New Orleans.

2009 is the year of babies! I have 5 friends who are due in early '09 (and one in Dec. '08). I better get sewing!