Sunday, March 29, 2009

Tea for twos, and twos for tea

Our much-anticipated tea party was this afternoon. I had wanted to have a Christmas tea, but Christmas came and went, so we had a mother-daughter tea and egg hunt instead. I had found these great (and cheap) demitasse cups at the Crate and Barrel outlet that were perfect for little "tea" drinkers. We had apple juice for the girls and real tea for the moms along with some tea cakes and other munchies. After getting the girls all "sugared" up, we headed to the front yard to hunt for eggs. Fortunately, after drizzling nearly all weekend it was beautiful outside. The girls ran around the yard collecting eggs, blew some bubbles, and drew some chalk art on the driveway. Emily preferred to sit on the stoop assessing her take from the egg hunt and managed to find and eat all the candy.

My new favorite cookie recipe is this old family tea cake recipe. It makes the cutest little round cookies that taste a lot like the frosted ones from the grocery store bakery:

Tea Cakes

mix together:

2 eggs

2/3 cup oil

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

then add:

2 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

Roll into 1 inch balls. Smoosh with a buttered glass dipped in colored sugar or sprinkles.

Bake at 375 for 8 minutes, makes about 3 dozen.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Rollin', rollin', rollin'

Well, despite my best efforts we were unable to secure e-tickets to the White House Easter Egg Roll (or "eggroll tickets" as they've become known in our house). I won't dwell on the fact that on-line tickets seemed like a good idea, how it beats getting up before dawn to stand in the rain for hours, or how it seems like we as a society should have figured out how to run an effective ticketing website that doesn't crash repeatedly. Maybe next year.

So, we headed out to Great Country Farms after soccer today for their Marshmallow Harvest and Easter Egg Hunt. I thought the marshmallow harvest idea seemed kind of hokey until I roasted a freshly "picked" marshmallow, bringing back memories of ooey gooey tasty goodness. Emily seemed to enjoy "harvesting" the peeps growing on nearby bushes and "cooking" them over the campfire. She was especially thrilled to eat what she called "candy" before lunch.

After lunch, we met the Easter Bunny and "hunted" for eggs. Ah, preschool egg hunts--more like egg pick-ups. I think the parents were more interested in filling the baskets than the kids were. We probably all have something to learn from these kids, stopping at each egg to examine its color and give it a shake before putting it in the basket. No one even seemed to notice it had been raining all day.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spring sprang

Thank goodness spring is finally here. Well, ok, so I know we'll have at least one more cold snap before Easter, but at least the grass is green and some of those hundred-some bulbs I sank in the front yard last fall have begun to bloom. We got a little yard work done this morning and a little housework done this evening. In between we had a great afternoon at one of our favorite kidspots -- Frying Pan Farm Park.

It's great to see that Fairfax County still funds this farm with all the farm animals a toddler could dream about. Sheep, goats, pigs, cows, horses, ducks, turkeys, chickens, rabbits, and peacocks make their homes at the park's Kidwell Farm. Free admission and inexpensive wagon rides make it an even more special treat. This time we even took Bailey with us. She was very interested in these strange creatures the likes of which she'd not seen before. Emily enjoyed climbing aboard several antique tractors and "driving" the stationary machinery across her imaginery hay fields.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Make-ahead Monday

I'm back on the wagon with Make-ahead Monday this week. Tonight I made chicken enchiladas for dinner and baked macaroni and cheese for tomorrow night. Done at the same time; no dishes to wash tomorrow.

This very simple mac and cheese recipe is my mother-in-law's:

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

2 cups uncooked macaroni (I use elbows)
8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, cubed
2 cups milk
salt, pepper, paprika to taste

Butter casserole dish. Layer cooked macaroni, cheese, salt and pepper, finishing with cheese. Sprinkle top with paprika. Pour milk over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, until cheese is bubbly on top and dish has firmed.

Rainy Day Fun

For a rainy weekend, we actually got a lot done. Saturday was Emily's first soccer "class" so we had a first class breakfast on the way there -- drive thru McDonald's eaten at Chick-fil-a. (How's that for compromise?) We picked up a few plants for the yard, and Emily fell asleep on the way home. During her nap I picked up all the sticks in the front yard and planted the new flowers on the stoop. I soon began to rain, and didn't really stop for the rest of the weekend, but after nap we headed back out to pick up dry cleaning, drop off library books, and hit the grocery store. (Pretty much summarizing most weekends around here.)

I had planned to spend today at home--cleaning. Where's the fun in that? I did manage to get three toilets, two sinks, a shower, and the kitchen floor scrubbed. Caught up on dishes, and Andy finished the laundry and vacuumed.

So, Emily and I had a lunch date at the mall. What ever did we do before mall play areas? She had a blast sliding down the tree trunk and climbing on giant alphabet blocks. Then we went to see the fish at LL Bean. She loves to point out the catfish; the others are "goldfish," though they aren't gold and I'm pretty sure they're some kind of bass. We had a lovely "lady's" luncheon at Nordstrom Cafe where all the kids' food groups are represented on the menu: mac and cheese, pizza, chicken fingers, fruit and cheese plate.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


my little cubist!

Literacy Thursday, Goldilocks

This week I decided to review a favorite classic, Goldilocks and the Three Bears. This version by Caralyn and Mark Buehner tells the tale with a bit of a modern twist, but not so much that its identity is lost. They add a little mischievous character to Goldilocks as she's skipping along with her jump rope. The bears are also expressive as they encounter Goldilocks in their home. "It's an alien," Little Wee Bear whispered excitedly. The illustrations are wonderful, as they tell the story fully. Emily loves to pick up just about any book and begin, "once upon a time." This is one she can "read" just by following the pictures.

Doggy Do



We still don't know what kind of dog she is, but at least she's less hairy!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Literacy Thursday, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault is quickly becoming one of my favorite children's books. I had never heard of the book until I noticed that day after day Emily's sheet from school said they had read it in class, so I bought a copy for home. I didn't realize until I looked up the book for my blog that one of the authors, Bill Martin Jr., paired with Eric Carle to write Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (another household favorite).
I chose this book for Literacy Thursday this week because it reminds me of Dr. Seuss' style. "A told B and B told C, 'I'll beat you to the top of the coconut tree. . . '" The rhythm of the book makes it fun to read outloud. Like Seuss' work, it also has great nonsense phrases like, "Skit skat skoodle doot. Flip. Flop. Flee." that you just can't help but read with enthusiasm.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Snowy Day

We weren't home because there were between 4 and 12 inches of snow outside (according to our "accu-"weather forecasters). We were home because Emily barfed yesterday and had to be well for 24 hours before returning to school. Since she had probably suffered from a case of bad fruit and not a virus, judging from the fact that no one else in our household has gotten the bug yet, she was her usual chipper self all day. Trapped. In the house. All day. We tried to go out to build a snowman but there were two problems: 1) It was just too freaking cold, with blowing snow, and a snowsuit safe and sound at school 2) The snow was too powdery to stick together to make said snowman or anything else for that matter. So, we brought the snow inside!

Emily had a blast playing with a kitchen sink full of snow. She shoveled and scooped and "dug for buried treasure." We even fashioned our own snowman, complete with chocolate chip eyes and a sun-dried tomato nose.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Make-Ahead Monday

Ok, so my Make-Ahead Mondays have been pretty lame (or non-existent) lately. The secret is that we've been eating a lot from our Let's Dish stash. (Though tonight Andy made a Chicago-style pizza for this week's Make-Ahead Monday.) We discovered Let's Dish shortly after Emily was born and now we go about quarterly to restock our deep freeze. These meal preparation places seem to be popping up everywhere. It's basically a shop where you pay to assemble meals that you take home and freeze for later. Everything that needs to be pre-cooked is cooked, all the chopping is done. We've enjoyed the ability to control what's in our frozen meals -- since by and large you start with whole foods and can add a little here or take a little out there. We've brought home meals we never would have tried on our own, and we've adapted some of their recipes at home.