Black Bottom Cupcake Recipe

IMG_8677

When I was in high school, I was hanging out with some friends at a summer camp when someone said something about “special brownies.”

My ears perked up and I instantly chimed in, “I make special brownies!”

Everyone stopped talking and looked at me. (This was a Christian camp, mind you.)

Wow, they’re really interested! So I offered, “…I can make you some!”

Stares. Continue reading

FacebookTwitterGoogle GmailShare

Helpful Resources for New Parents

newborn time!

I visited a friend with a newborn recently and we talked birth and newbornness. She reminded me of a ton of stuff I had already forgotten about that I really wished I knew back when our baby girl had just arrived, so I’ll share them with you upcoming and expecting mamas! They are just a few wish I knew that and FYI tidbits for ya!

Veteran parents, please add any other things new parents should know in the comments below– I’m sure all of your wisdom and experience will be appreciated! Continue reading

Caramel Apples for Autumn!

Delicious Caramel Apples!CARAMEL APPLES!!!! I remember ALWAYS wanting one whenever we passed a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, but they were always so expensive. I finally tasted one during my senior trip in college, and there was no going back. Shortly after, I spied them at Safeway and decided it was time to try making them myself. It was a delicious but messy affair, and I had to call Ben in to help me out.

It wasn’t very pretty that first year. The caramel gooped on the bottom so there was an uneven ratio of sweets:apple, but you know what? They were SO GOOD! We made four apples that year, and it was such a treat every time we sliced one open. Thus began an autumn tradition in our home. We’ve made it every year since, and our methods have gotten a little better each time.

We’ve experimented with different apples, tried disposable chopsticks instead of popsicle sticks, used various toppings (chopped almonds > sliced almonds, IMHO), and used different methods to keep the caramel from pooling at the bottom. Our method is still not perfect, but we’ve come a long way! Continue reading

Make-Ahead Apple Cinnamon Steel Cut Oats!

Make Ahead Apple Cinnamon Steelcut Oatmeal RecipeNow that cooler weather has hit us, I’ve been transitioning into warm, roasty toasty breakfast foods. One comfort food that I am happy to welcome back is this warm-ya-to-yer toes apple cinnamon oatmeal!

Make Ahead Apple Cinnamon Steelcut Oatmeal Recipe (5)

Mmmm! This is a delicious and heart-healthy way to start your mornings! I prefer steel cut oats over other types because I like the toothsome texture better, and also because they’re less processed (i.e. better for you) than other oat varieties. Continue reading

On Relationships: Own Your 10%

He was owning his 10 percent, and it was melting my icy heart

I still remember that weekend. A bunch of college students were spending the weekend at our home and needed the downstairs space, so Ben and I were holed up in our office. I can’t remember the exact circumstances anymore, but here’s what I do remember: I had done something wrong, and I was mad about it.

Yep, you read that right. I was upset. Not the “Oh shucks, I made a mistake!” kind of mad at yourself, but the defensive kind of mad where you sit there fuming, trying to convince yourself of all the reasons why the other person was somehow more wrong than you. I’m not proud of it– that’s just my natural tendency. I promise I’ve come a long way since.

But eight years ago, that’s how I dealt with the people closest to me, like Husband. I found ways to blame and point fingers and be upset with the person who, in reality, I had probably wronged.

So there I was, sitting and stewing in my misplaced resentment. There he was, at his computer, click click clicking away on his computer game. And right there and then, I decided it was because of the computer games. Continue reading

Easy Peasy Butternut Squash Soup!

IMG_8805

A few years ago, a friend hosted a soup swap, where a bunch of us met and swapped quarts of soup. It was an impressive affair, with soups ranging from oxtail soup to clam chowder to Tom Ka Gai.

I was relatively new to cooking and had never really made soup before, so it took me a while to figure out what I could manage. I decided to go with butternut squash soup. I actually thought I was going fancy, because for me, peeling and cutting up all that squash seemed so labor-intensive! I packaged my soup with some “homemade Acme baguette croutons” on the side, hoping that it would convince people to PICK MINE!! :)

The event was pretty fun, and I came home with a nice variety of soups to sample. I did, however, decide that butternut squash soup was too much work to make, so I didn’t really consider making it again… untilllll…

I DISCOVERED PRE-PEELED AND CUBED BUTTERNUT SQUASH AT COSTCO!
IMG_8793

Continue reading

The Apprenticeship Model of Learning

The Apprenticeship Model of Learning

I can’t wait to teach my children stuff. Anything. Even teaching my baby to stick out her tongue has been super exciting the last couple of weeks, so you can imagine how much more I look forward to teaching her about reading and writing and math and art and science and Jesus and music and sports and baking and being kind and EVERYTHING! I can’t wait!!!

I know I’m not the only one. Most of you are parents or teachers, and you know there’s nothing that satisfies like seeing a child learn something you taught. They may be proud of their new skill, but you are equally pleased that you were able to teach them effectively! Today, I want to share one of the most effective methods of teaching/learning I know: The Apprenticeship Model of Learning. I think the term hearkens back to the days when a blacksmith would take on an apprentice and train him up through a process of showing, guiding, and eventually working on his own.

There are a lot of ways to teach, and the method you employ at any given time depends both on who you’re teaching and what you’re teaching. Sometimes it is appropriate to let students fumble through something and learn on their own. Sometimes it’s better to let them observe their peers and gradually catch on. Other times, though, it’s best to teach with direct instruction, offering a straightforward and clear model of how it should be done, then coaching them to independence.

The five steps

I find that when I’m teaching a new skill or strategy, I often use the last approach. Continue reading

The Kouign Amann

The Kouign Amann

I feel it is my duty to introduce you to my latest pastry fav: The Kouign Amann (queen ah-MAHN “queen-yah-manh”). Imagine a croissant, but instead of thin sheets of dough layered with butter, it’s layered with butter and sugar. Together, they bake up into a delightful pastry with golden layers of caramelized goodness crisping and flaking in your mouth. MmmmmMmm!

My favorite is the chocolate kouign amann. Just imagine the one above with some chocolate in the middle. I have no good pictures because I keep polishing them off before remembering that I wanted to snap a picture for you. Oops =P.

I tried my first kouign amann two years ago after one of my BFFs (and fellow dessert-lover) emailed me: i want to take you to get a kouign amman (have you had one yet??)  from a neighborhood store!

Truth be told, I wasn’t all that excited about it. I couldn’t figure out how to pronounce the words in my head or out loud, which somehow made it less exciting to me. But do you see those two question marks? That was her subtle way of saying “Have you had one yet? Because if you haven’t YOU REALLY SHOULD! YOU WOULD LOVE IT!!!” I know this because we’ve been BFF-ing it for over 15 years. Yup.

And she was totally right. She took me to get one the next day, and I LOVED IT:

yummmmmmmmmmmm the toasted chocolate kouign amman was SO yummy! we toasted it and ben devoured almost the whole thing. he loves it. you’re right, it develops such a nice crunchy crust! i told him i’d ask you to bring one down with you next weekend… and he asked me to ask for two haha :). Continue reading

5 Techy Things I Like

Me on the Internet

More ways to keep this up.

This one is simple: it’s Internet stuff I want to tell all my friends about.

There’s a lot of Internet stuff I like– Pinterest, Facebook, www.cuppacocoa.com, Amazon, Yelp, www.DavidLebovitz.com, Twitter, Wikipedia. If a friend had never heard of Pinterest, I’d be happy to give them the scoop on it. Same for my favorite blogs and stuff. I’m sure you’d do the same, right? (See what I did there? ;)).

Here are some lesser known techy things that I think you’ll like, too!

1. The Skimm: Two people who are passionate about the news read it and summarize it for me every weekday. I get the briefing every morning in my inbox. They break it down in an understandable and oftentimes humorous way. I have never been good at keeping up with recent/world events until now! Thanks for the tip, MerryRobin!

2. Camelcamelcamel.com: Enter in the URL of the amazon product you are considering buying, and get a chart showing the price history! Informs your decision, especially when you’re on the fence about buying now or later. Continue reading