Saturday, February 25, 2012

Best Buttermilk Pancakes

Back when I wrote the post Pancake Saturday I mentioned that I use a boxed pancake mix, mostly out of convenience. My neighbor Stephanie commented about a buttermilk pancake recipe she makes with her family and that the extra work is totally worth it. That got me thinking I should try a homemade recipe. I had extra buttermilk in the fridge from the German Chocolate Cake recipe, so I decided to look online, aka Pinterest, for a recipe since I didn't have Stephanie's. (In hindsight, I should have just stopped over and borrowed her cookbook!)

I found a Martha Stewart recipe titled, "Best Buttermilk Pancakes." I know a lot of recipes claim to be the best, but I read the reviews and most said this recipe really was the best. Last Monday was President's day, and I didn't work so I made the pancakes. I have to admit, they were the best! I did make a small adaption to the original recipe, I chopped up some Hershey's milk chocolate and added it to the pancakes, because I love chocolate, especially in pancakes, while drinking my morning coffee.

Best Buttermilk Pancakes
Slightly adapted from Best Buttermilk Pancakes by Martha Stewart
Yields 12- 4 inch pancakes (2 Points Pluseach)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 c buttermilk
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1oz chopped milk chocolate
Mmm the best (secret) ingredient!

1. Heat griddle to 375 degrees. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt & sugar in a medium bowl.

2. Add egg, buttermilk and butter; whisk to combine. Batter should have small to medium lumps.
3. Spray griddle with cooking spray. Using a 1/4 cup, pour the batter onto the griddle. Sprinkle with chopped chocolate.

The best wedding gift I never thought I'd use! Turns out I do, all the time!
4. When pancakes have bubbles on top and are slightly dry around edges, about 2 1/2 minutes, flip over. Cook until golden brown on bottom, about one minute.

Mmm, and when you are all done, you'll have the most delicious pancakes!

Just top with maple syrup and they are ready to eat!

They turned out awesome! Stephanie was right, homemade pancakes are worth the extra steps! They are easy and way delicious!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Bye, Bye Binky

Baileigh 2 weeks old!

Yes, you read the title correctly. We did it! We got rid of the binky! Baileigh is two and 1/2. Actually, she's almost 33 months old.  Anyone who knows me knows I hate the darn thing and have been planning to get rid of it for quite some time. Easier said than done. When she was little, I really didn't mind her using a binky.  It was cute and had a purpose, but once she was old enough to take it out to talk, I was over it.
Baileigh, 4 days old!

In the hospital they asked if we cared if they gave her one, and we didn't. "They" (doctors and such) said that the pacifier is good for babies who have extra need to suck, but that by 3 months or so, that extra need is gone, and they don't need it anymore. Around 6 months or so I worked with B's daycare to start to process of getting rid of it. Well, from 6 months to about 14 months she was sick at least once a month with ear infections. I felt horrible getting rid of it when she was sick, so it kept getting put off. Originally she wasn't that attached, mostly liked it when she slept. She slept well, so we didn't care. One day daycare sent home her binky and said she doesn't use it anymore. That day we should have gotten rid of it at home too...but I'm sure I came up with some excuse for her to keep it. 

Fast Forward: All of a sudden she is over two years old and addicted. She needed to have multiple binkies on her at all times, she had one in her mouth, one in her had, one in a bag and so on. We didn't dare to run errands or go for a car ride without one. In the course of a year she went from "enjoying its company" to "needing" it.  I never liked seeing kids that were old enough to talk have one in their mouth. I don't know why but it drove me crazy. We got better about not letting her have it as often. We quit letting her take it in the care (except long trips to/from Davenport), and we even got to the point she didn't take it away from home, except maybe to grandparents house. At her age, she doesn't need it anymore and it's not good for teeth and speech. To be honest, she's quite a good talker and has a nice vocabulary, so that wasn't as much of a concern, but still, I wanted her to get rid of it.
Multiple binkies at the same time!

About a month ago Baileigh was resisting to take an afternoon nap. She kept getting out of bed and playing. I went up to her room several times, and finally told her that if I have to come up one more time, I am cutting the binky. ot even a minute later I hear her get out of bed, and start playing again. I was beyond annoyed. I walked upstairs with scissors, grabbed the binky out of her mouth and snipped off the end. A major meltdown followed with big tears and sobbing. I gave her another one and told her to go to bed...and she did. I walked downstairs feeling awful. You never want to make your child cry. Her big blues eyes full of tears was heartbreaking but I had gotten fed up with her shenanigans and gave up.

Threatening to "cut the binky" worked for a while whenever she played games at night. She would immediately try to go to sleep, that is, until yesterday afternoon. Patrick was off work so Baileigh and him had a daddy/daughter day. He said the day went will, until nap time. Baileigh was up to her old tricks at naptime, refusing to stay in bed, taking everything off her bed, etc. Pat said he tried to get to to go to bed, without success for almost 3 hours. Finally, frustrated and fed up, he cut the last binky! I walked in the door from work and saw both cut binkies, the one I cut, and her only other binky, cut and sitting on kitchen island.  Lets just say I was nervous to walk in and ask what happened. I ask Baileigh and she goes, "Daddy cut my blue one. " I ask her why and she says, "Because I was being bad and not listening!" I laughed. I knew she gets it too. We have been telling her "binkies are for babies" and "no more binky for Baileigh" for a while now, and she gets it. We decide right then and there, no more binkies.

We decide the best way is to talk about how proud we are of her and how she is such a big girl. We take her to target to buy her a new doll to cuddle with at night since she doesn't need a binky anymore. We really talked it up all night.
Our big girl! Binky free and proud with her two new dolls!
I remember when we were "sleep training" Baileigh as a baby, I read it takes 3 nights to make it a habit. Those 3 nights may be rough, but babies, and toddlers love routine, and after 3 nights, thy should have it. Here's to three nights!

Night one: We did the usual to get B ready for bed. She did her usual stalling techniques as well. About an hour later she was asleep. She only woke up twice in the night, but both times I think it was because she was coughing some. She did start crying and seemed sad, but never mentioned she was sad because of the binky. We just rubbed her back, tucked her in and gave her the new dolls to cuddle with. She did come in our bed for a little bit, but shortly later was back in her own bed again. All in all, the first night was a success!!

Night two: Night two was about the same. She woke up a few times, and ended up in our bed (which rarely happens, let alone two nights in a row!)

Night three: Fantastic! She went to bed well, woke once, no big deal and then slept the rest of the night...till 6:30 a.m., that is! I'm not complaining though. One night of almost uninterrupted sleep is great, even if I wake up before the sun has fully risen.

Three days later I can officially say, it's gone! I have such a big girl, that's for sure!

Next up: Potty Training....ahhhhhh!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Crazy Busy Times

Our family is crazy. Life with a two-year old makes things even crazier. We planned a trip up to Minneapolis to visit our good friends Grant & Kelly this weekend. I am so excited! Before kids (aka BK) we could pack out bags the night before, or even last minute and jump in the car to head out of town. Now things aren't that simple. The amount of things We did last night actually amazes me. Especially after each of us working 8/9 hours.  This was my crazy Thursday. I got off work at 4:30. Ran to get my eyebrows waxed (embarrassingly overdue!) and got home in time for Pat to run and get his ice skates sharpened. Grant and him may play hockey this weekend. While he was out, I made taco salads for dinner and quesadillas for Baileigh. After dinner we cleaned out entire house. Entire as in kitchen, living & dining rooms, our room, bathroom and Baileigh's room. We also did 3-4 loads of laundry and put all of that away. Now that is an accomplishment all on its own! Oh did I mention that I made brownies for my moms birthday and Baileigh made a birthday card? Oh right. That was while making dinner! We kept Baileigh up late hoping she'd sleep in (ha, didn't work!) so she finally went to bed at 9. Time to relax, right? Baileigh's school valentines day party is Monday. Since we won't be home from Minneapolis until Sunday afternoon, I knew I needed to make her valentine's ahead of time.

Now I could have bought the cute printed valentines and quickly added the "to" and "from" names to them. But you know me, that would have been too easy. I had to make her valentines. So at 9:15 p.m. last night, I started making her valentines. B's class has 23 kids, including her. I bought some cute foam hearts and 3-d sparkly and puffy stickers at the $1 section at target. I ended up Creating little valentines for each kid and tying a little 100 cal bag of cookies to it. Okay, I know giving a class of 2-year olds cookies isn't a fantastic idea, but I figured they were better than pixi stix! (Plus, one of her classmates dad is a dentist and I bet he'll give out toothbrushes!) Here are B's valentines:

In hindsight, I should have printed out cute labels and stuck them onto the foam heart instead of trying to write out the kid's name. The markers didn't work as well ad I would have liked with the foam texture. Still, I thought they turned out cute.

Finally, at 11:30, or 16 hours after I woke up, I finally went to bed. Yikes. what a busy night!

Now it is Friday morning! I took 1/2 day of vacation, and since I am now off at 11 a.m. on Fridays, the 1/2 day equals a full day off work. Nice, eh? This morning we have relaxed. Ate cinnamon rolls for breakfast and are finishing up some last minute things. My parents are coming up at 11. We are taking them out for lunch as a "happy birthday" and "thank you" for watching B all weekend, then we are heading out of town!

We are super excited to visit Grant & Kelly! We haven't been up there since fall of 2008. I was 9 weeks pregnant at the time, and sick with morning sickness. Needless to say, it wasn't the best trip. Now, over 3 years later we are FINALLY getting back up to see them! They bought a house in 2010 and we are finally getting the change to see it! We wanted to bring a little housewarming gift but were having troubles deciding what to bring. We thought about a cute picture frame collage, but I know Kelly would already have those. She loves pictures. After much thinking we created a little basket with whiskey, glasses, gold fish crackers, and starburst. Random, I know but it works. Grant drinks whiskey, so we thought we could "cheer" to their new home. Kelly loves candy & Grant loves goldfish crackers. Randomness, but it looks cute all packed up!

Well, I better finish packing! Have a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Project 24

 As I explore Pinterest, I find all these projects that I'd like to do for our home. Being a visual person, I almost get overwhelmed about the possibilities and projects I can do. Back in July 2010 I created a list of Eleven before 2011 I had hoped having my "to-do" list out here on the blog would help me accomplish all my projects. Although I only finished a couple of the items before 2011, I did finish all of them within 2011. That is progress, right?  I didn't finish 3 of the original 11. 

#1 from the previous list was to repaint our living room. I have since decided I am okay with the yellow we have now, so I'm not going to worry about that one. #7 was to print & burn photo cd's. I haven't done this, but I did backup a lot of photos using a free service, Dropbox. #10 was to replace the ugly florescent light in the kitchen. I still haven't done that, so it will be moved to my new list. I've decided to attempt to accomplish 2 projects a month for 2012. Some may be bigger ones, some small, but the goal is to finish every item on my to-do list.

Project 24
1. Replace the awful light in our kitchen.
2. Hang curtains in Baileigh's room.
3. Make or find cheap (& adorable) chevron curtains for our dining room. {Note: I already made curtains for our dining room, a couple years ago, with less than great results. This time I plan to use Kristin's "no-sew" method!}
4. Either paint or stain the old dresser in our dining room & add new hardware.
5. Fix our dining room ceiling
5. Create a mixed-media gallery wall in Baileigh's room.
6. Add ceiling fans to our room, the front screened porch & possibly Baileigh's.
7. Potty train our 2 1/2 year old. {Okay, not technically a project, but anyone who has a toddler knows this is a big undertaking!}
8. Re-paint my eames chair. Grey isn't working for me.
9. Paint the built in shelving in my closet something other than the lime green it currently it.
10. Get the awesome "Dubuque" print I got from the Dubuque Museum of Art matted, frame and hung.
11.Make a cute monogrammed wreath to hang on our front door.
12. Power wash the outside of our home. White siding is such a pain!
13. Landscape the retaining wall by our garage. (I think this will be Pat's summer project)
14. Make or find simple shades for our screened in porch.
15 Organize all the cabinets and drawers in our kitchen.
16. Make homemade laundry soap, glass cleaner and all purpose cleaner.
17. Try a new recipe a week- for all 52 weeks. (This won't be able to get checked off until the last week of December!)
18. Create a jewelry holder for our room.
19. Create silhouettes of all three of our profiles.
20.  Create a chalkboard wall, or area in B's room for her to color on.
21. Organize all my craft supplies. (I have a ton!)
22. Add an outside railing to our new front steps,
23. Replace the make-shift railing for our back steps.
24. Paint our bathroom a new color.

Yikes, this is a lot of projects! I hope trying to complete two a month isn't too ambitious! Some of these cost a decent amount, so I will keep that in mind, but for the most part, I hope to accomplish all these projects!

In January I accomplished two, so I'm well on my way! I created a Jewelry holder for our room and we fixed the ceiling from the water damage.  The ceiling fix isn't exciting, but it got done! Here is a picture of the jewelry holder I made.

Well, this may be one of the longest posts ever! Monthly I will have a post dedicated to the two projects I completed that month!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Don't judge a book by its cover (or a cake by its frosting!)

The saying "Don't judge a book by its cover" always made me laugh. I am a very visual person, and even remember saying "yes, I do judge a book by its cover." Ironically, in my new job, I will actually be designing book covers! Kind of funny. As a designer, the goal was to make pretty things. Actually, this print by Yellow Heart Art always makes me smile.

Well, I have learned that when baking, you can't always end up with "pretty things." For example? German Chocolate Cake.

My father in-law's birthday was last weekend. We are celebrating it tonight and I offered to bake a cake for the event. A little birdie told me his favorite cake is German Chocolate (Thanks Linds!) I have never made one from scratch, so naturally I turned to my new obsession, Pinterest, to find some inspiration. I found a recipe via Cookie Madness for German Chocolate cake. She had a lot of different recipes for it. 

German Chocolate Cake recipe via Cookie Madness 

My verdict? Wow, I haven't been able to taste it yet, besides a small piece that broke off, but I have a pretty good feeling it will taste amazing, despite its look! The frosting is pretty runny, and because of the added chocolate, it is kind of a blah color. I learned that traditional German Chocolate cakes are only frosted between layers and on top because the frosting is too delicate to frost the sides. I totally agree. The coconut/pecan frosting makes it look not so pretty, but they also make it taste delicious.

I guess all cakes can't be beautifully decorated! Taste is more important! Once I taste it, I'll update this post!

P.S. Did you know that contrary to the name, German Chocolate cake isn't from Germany? Until I was researching recipe, I had no idea! Heres the history of this delicious dessert! History of German Chocolate Cake