Holding my breath for an apple cake.

Monday, October 31, 2016

I love a good apple pie. Serve it up warm with some ice cream, and I'm in heaven. I love to see pictures of apple pies with their beautiful lattice designs and I always look at them and think, "Yeah, I could never do that." I was craving something apple-y, and something that I knew would make a little bit of a mess. Don't you feel like oftentimes, the bigger the mess, the better something tastes?

Anyway, I decided to try my hand at a nice and easy apple cake instead of a pie. There was something  slightly therapeutic about peeling and cutting the apples, and mixing things together on a cool fall day. As I was getting ready to put the cake in the oven, I did that thing where I held my breath as I slid it onto the cooking rack. And then I said a silent prayer saying, "Please, please, please turn out okay. Don't let it poison anyone. Please don't explode or burn or set the house on fire. And if it does set the house on fire, please let it not get to the fence because C just finished painting it, and I'm sure our HOA would not be happy about it."

Anyone else ever do that? Talk to your food before you're ready to cook it, and try to convince it not to turn into a disaster? That's totally a normal thing to do. Anyway. Here is the recipe I tried. I would suggest following the link because she gives a couple of great suggestions and if you're into raisins or nuts, for example. But, I'm a firm believer that nuts and raisins have no business being in desserts, so I left those out. 

Apple Cake (recipe found from Pretty. Simple. Sweet

1⅓ cups (180g/6.3oz) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon combination of your favorite spices (ground nutmeg, cloves, ginger)
½ cup (113g/4oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup (100g/3.5oz) granulated sugar
½ cup (100g/3.5oz) brown sugar
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup (120ml) buttermilk
250g (about 2 cups/2 medium) apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch cubes (cut first, then measure)
Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Grease and flour an 8″ or 9″ round springform pan (8″ pan will yield a taller cake).
In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and spices. Set aside.
In a mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until combined. Scrape down sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary. Beat in vanilla extract. On low speed, beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating it with buttermilk in 2 additions, starting and ending with the flour. Do not over mix. Fold in apples.
Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool completely.
Serve cake warm or at room temperature.
Store cake at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days or refrigerate for up to 5 days.
Cake can be frozen for up to 2 months.

And in case you were wondering, yes, this tastes very good for breakfast, too :)

The stages of parenthood I didn't know were coming.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Maybe it's because the house is quiet, and I can actually hear my own thoughts. Mabe it's because last week's flowers are well past wilted. Or maybe it's because I have the Bon Iver station playing on my Pandora station, but man, I'm feeling all the feels.

One thing I didn't expect about parenthood, and being a mother to little people, is that childhood is all about stages. Some stages seem to end as quickly as they began. Some stages feel like they will never, ever, end. Some stages make you so happy that you almost want to hold your breath because already you know it's fleeting, and if you exhale, it will be over. Some stages seem easy and rosy and good. Some stages are dark, sludgy, and you go to bed laying with your eyes wide open, wondering how you'll make the sun shine in the morning. And some stages are invisible ones. Ones that you didn't even notice were there until you've already left them behind.

But this. This right here. I don't know what I would call this stage, except that it brings so much joy to my heart. I feel that lump in my throat thinking about how one day, I'll have to search deep into the sacred place where I hold my fondest memories to remember the scent of his skin and the quiet sounds he makes as he nurses. I'll close my eyes and try desperately to remember the way Pato gently brushes his hair to the side a hundred times a day. And I'll never want to forget how much I love to peek at S when she's working hard at making something. She will often quietly sing a made-up song as she works with her little hands, and giggles when she catches me watching her.

I don't have a time machine to stop time. I don't have the guarantee that I'll remember every single second of my children' lives. But, I do have a grateful heart. I very, very grateful heart. There is nowhere else I would rather be.

That time I was determined to make Fall happen.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Okay. So, today I sat down and started jotting down things that I wanted to do with the kids or as a family in the next couple of months. It was prompted by an email that I received that was announcing some upcoming events near us, and you would have thought that Mindy Kaling herself was coming to Utah or something because all of a sudden I started researching every fun thing we could do from now until Christmas. 

I actually personally blame Target for how quickly fall seems to fly by. Are you listening, Target? Because I'm talking to you. They start putting their Christmas stuff out in mid-May (someone should probably fact check this...) and it just makes me feel like September and October are the annoying old friends who talk too much and are being rushed out the door because you have dinner to get to. Did that make sense WHATsoever? 

Anyway, yesterday C came home earlier than normal, and I sprung up the idea of going to pick out pumpkins and surprising the kids with a fun activity. I was worried it wasn't going to happen, however, because Pato has decided that he doesn't like fall, and we literally have a ten minute battle every morning because he now hates wearing long sleeves or pants. He says long sleeves and pants are for winter, and that he will like them then. Instead, he likes to wear the same shirt and shorts for days at a time. His current favorite shirt is a grey and black Star Wars shirt. He doesn't even know what Star Wars IS. He always asks, "Wait, who is this on my shirt?" "It's Yoda, buddy." "Oh. Right. Yoda." He also calls Darth Vader "Dark Vader" and just learned two days ago that he was a bad guy.

Now I'm rambling. Back to the pictures, which of course, are what the grandparents really come here for.

"Hmm. What is this stuff? Verrrrrry interesting. Bet it tastes good. Mom says I shouldn't eat it, but that's also what she said about that leaf I shoved in my mouth the other day."

"Huh. There's more over here, too. Better eat some quick before anyone sees. Don't you give me away, pumpkin."

"Oh, hey. What? No. I'm not eating the hay...I swear. I was just looking at it. As if I'd eat HAY."

So, as much as I love the bond that our two oldest share, I can't wait to see how Oscar fits in their mix. In fact, numerous times, Pato has come up to me and said, "I wish Oscar was big now. So we could play with him."

Funny thing. We always thought that Pato would be the one who would have a hard time when O was born, but as it turns out, S was the one who has had the roughest transition. I guess "rough" isn't the right term to use, but let's just say that she was pretty lukewarm towards her new baby brother at times during his first couple of months. For a while, she would draw pictures of our family but wouldn't include him in the pictures. But now! Oh, how she adores him! She loves to make him laugh and hold him whenever she can.

And look at that smile! He is probably the smiliest of all our babies, and I've said that he is the kind of baby that makes people want more babies. We are all pretty crazy about him!

So, please don't hate me if you start seeing a bunch of fall stuff over here, but I was telling my friend earlier that I am determined to squeeze out every bit of fall that I can. Last year I feel like I let my kids down a bit in the "fun mom" department what with being pregnant, in pain, and in a new city. This year I'm determined to make it memorable. 

Even if it means it's in shorts and a Star Wars t-shirt.

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