Monday, January 31, 2011

Some random thoughts

Why do they never have changing pads in men's bathrooms? Do men not change diapers? Mine does.

I got my first bloody nose tonight. Didn't happen until a wild, wonderful little boy came into my life. It hurt but I enjoyed getting it. Who can say that except a mother?

I finally found my camera's battery charger. In a random box in the garage. Moving stinks but I'm glad we're here.

Even when I know a package is coming in the mail I still get giddy when it arrives. It's like getting a present!

A photo of mine (picture was of my sister's dog Dolly) was shared (permission was given :) ) by my sister to a small business who sells dog collars. She posted it on facebook & random strangers were complimenting what a nice photo it was. It was nice to get compliments from people I don't know.

Speaking of photography, I'm craving sunshine. It's dark when I leave for work & dark when I return. I want to take photos outside again. Natural light rocks!!!

Asta la pasta!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Much Needed Update

Hello to my handful of readers. I haven’t recapped what’s going on with Connor for a few months (bad blogger, bad!). So, here we go….

He’s still small for his age. About 21 pounds & 32 inches (as of last appointment at 15 months). 4th percentile & 80th percentile respectively.

He wears size 3 diapers. I think it’s coming up on a year that he’s been in size 3’s, close anyway. I wouldn’t be surprised if we made it through potty training in size 3’s.

He wears size 12 months pants for the length but would really be better off in a 9 month waist size. I told you he’s small. I might need to start sewing him pants (add that to my large to do list). 9-12 month shirts are a good fit for him. He’s still wearing mostly 12 month pajamas with a few pairs of 18 month sizes. He has grown out of one pair of size 5 shoes ::gasps:: & still fits in another pair of size 5’s. Size 6 just sounds WAY to big. He’s growing, growing, gone (I can see him driving away to college, NOOOO).

He’s still incredibly active. He’s running now (has been for several weeks). He can walk backwards too. He’s getting pretty good at walking up the stairs if he holds onto the wall. Bompa (my dad) is impressed. He can walk downstairs if he’s really careful about holding onto the wall or if he’s holding someone’s hand. However, he usually just prefers to slide down on his tummy, backwards. It’s much faster for him. He climbs on couches & bath tubs & dining room tables. Pretty much anything available for climbing, we’ve found him on. One of his favorite games is leaping off the ottoman into my arms. Thankfully he hasn’t tried it with no one to catch him. He also does karate kicks. Probably the cutest thing ever.

His language skills are coming along slowly but surely. He doesn’t say a huge list of words but I know he understands a HUGE amount of what I’m saying to him. I’ll recap his language development. Around 9 or 10 months he started saying Mama & added in Dada around 11 months & then Bompa (he says Ba Pa) around 14 months. He has since gone on a Mama strike & refuses to say the word, ::tear::. In the last few months he’s added a few more words. He now says Dada, Bompa, Dodo (my mom), door (so cute, sounds British when he says it), Cat (sounds like Ah). Those are the only ones he says consistently at this point. I know he knows how to say Mama, dog, duck, milk & ball. He also quacks & barks.

He finally can put himself to sleep at night. This is a huge weight off our shoulders. We used to have to rock & pat & shhhh him to sleep & it took 30-60 minutes each time! Plus, he would then usually wake up 4 times before he would really settle in for the night Of course that’s expected of a newborn, I’m not complaining about that age. It was when he was 12 or 13 months old & was still having trouble going to sleep. Now, you get him ready for bed, turn out the light, give him a little milk (we’ll break that habit later, I’m just happy he’s falling asleep on his own). When he’s done we put him in his crib, cover him with his blanket & he falls asleep himself. It’s wonderful.

He’s still blonde, blue eyed & as cute as ever. I adore the age he is right now. He’s still rather clingy so I don’t feel like ,”ahhh, this is so much easier,” but he is SO FUNNY. He does crazy things that make me crack up like nothing else can. And when he laughs, my heart melts. He has the most incredible laugh. I’m smiling right now just thinking about it. He gives big boy kisses now which are so sweet. He’s just growing into this little person now & I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Sorry I don't have a photo with this update. Things have been crazy around here. Moving is tough for me. Soon, I promise.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Chocolate Macarons w/ salted caramel buttercream

I guess you could call me stubborn. Not all the time. If a friend and I are going to lunch I'll usually let them pick, even if it's not my favorite. But if there's a super hard song on guitar hero that I've failed at 12 times, there's no way I'm giving up & letting Garrett pass it for me (no WAY). Or, if there's a cookie that is notoriously finicky & bakers greater than myself shy away from, you better believe I'm on the quest to perfect. I've tried probably 5 or 6 different recipes and have come up w/ what seems to work best for me, a combination of several recipes/methods.

These are mostly based from the macs on Annie's Eats.

The variation I'll show today half happened as an accident. A batch of caramels never set up but still tasted divine. What to do? Mix it into some butter cream.

Recipe for Chocolate Macarons

200 grams powdered sugar minus 2 T.
110 grams ground almonds (almond meal)
2 T. Cocoa powder
100 grams egg whites (room temp)
50 grams granulated sugar

Pulse powdered sugar, almond meal, & cocoa powder in food processor until combined. You can use blanched, slivered almonds & grind it in your food processor instead of purchasing almond meal. I seem to have trouble getting it fine enough though so I do like the almond meal route.

There are different schools of thoughts on the egg whites. Most blogs I've read say to age the egg whites on the counter for 24 hours before using them. I've tried both ways & seem to do just fine with freshly cracked room temp eggs. I sometimes even cheat by separating the eggs & then warming them up to room temperature by putting the bowl in a sink of warm water .

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites. This can be done w/ a hand mixer (Booo. I'm in this boat because I don't have a KitchenAid) or in a stand mixer (I wish). Beat until quite foamy (30-45 seconds on high speed). Start very slowly adding the granulated sugar. Keep beating until stiff peaks form. If you lay your beater sideways a "beak" should form.

Mix in your dry ingredients by hand. It's a little easier if you do this in 2 batches. You want to deflate the egg whites but not all the way. The batter should look like this. (this photos is from a different day when I was making plain macs).

Put into a piping bag fitted w/ a large round tip. You can do this in a gallon size zip lock bag too if you don't have piping tips, they just won't come out as round. They'll be a touch wonky. Make sure you don't do too many on a sheet or make them too close together. The batter will run some. On a large baking sheet I usually get 6 rows of 4. Make them aprox. 1 1/2 inch circles. I bake them on Silpat baking mats but they can be baked on parchment paper if you don't have Silpats.

Macarons need to rest before they're baked. This helps create the smooth shiny shell & ruffled "feet" on the bottom. Usually a half hour will do but on really humid days they can take longer.

I bake them at 310 degrees for 9-10 minutes. When they come out of the oven place the baking sheet on a wire cooling rack for 5 minutes. Then move the Silpat off of the pan & directly onto the cooling rack. After the cookies have cooled 15 minutes total you should be able to peel them off the baking sheet. Do so CAREFULLY! They can easily get stuck & rip themselves apart. Push from the back of the sheet, don't pull.

You can fill with any type of buttercream, ganache or other filling you like.

I chose a simple (VERY) recipe for this buttercream.

3/4 C. unsalted butter
2 C powdered sugar
1/3 C failed caramel

Beat together until smooth.

Hope you enjoy! If you try these & they don't turn out, don't get down on yourself. Try again. I've had many nasty fails but seem to be getting the hang of it.