Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Getaway

This is where Mace and I got to spend three amazing days all by ourselves.  No kids, no distractions, just each other.  It was quiet. It was magical.  It was awesome.


Mace and I are a couple that crave alone time together.  We get out on dates as often as possible, and count the minutes til the girls go to bed so we can be alone together.  We love spending time with each other and are pretty good at making that happen.  Except, just for short periods of time.  

Anna was 15 months old before I left her with my parents overnight and went to a Bed & Breakfast for a whopping 12 hours.  We have done one or two other overnights, but never longer than 24 hours.  Never longer than 24 hours, I said.  When Mace and I finally realized that we hadn't been away together for a weekend in over four years, we knew that had to be remedied immediately.  And remedy it we did.

We packed the girls up and sent them to my parents for two nights, and then my sister and bro-in-law's for a night. Three whole nights!  72 lovely, uninterrupted, kidless hours.  It was unbelievably heavenly.

We got to connect in a way that we've never done in the past four years.  We got to finish every conversation we started, unless it was interrupted by a spontaneous kiss.  

We got to eat entire meals without children on our laps or hearing the inevitable, "I don't like that!"  

We got to hike for miles and hours on the Superior Hiking Trail, thinking only of our own need for water, food or rest.  


We spent an entire afternoon in almost complete silence, reading and dozing as the feeling struck us. 


We drank too many glasses of wine without worry of having to get up in the middle of the night with a child.

We browsed in art galleries and shops in Grand Marais without fear of something being broken by little hands. 


We laid in bed until 9:00 each morning and let the sun soak in and warm us through the windows. 



We talked and we talked and we talked.  We fell deeper in love, though neither of us thought that possible.  And we dreamed.  We remembered dreams we used to have and created new dreams together. We had time. Beautiful time, just for each other and ourselves.  


We vowed to make sure we don't go another four years without a weekend getaway.

When we returned on Sunday we were met with the sweetest smiles and hugs.  We were all ready to be together again, refreshed and renewed from our time apart.

And, something unexpected from our trip, was this new bond our girls formed with each other.  They were apart from us, but had each other the whole weekend.  From that time together a new kind of love for each other was created.  Awesome.


Oh life is good.  So very wonderfully good.  

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

SAHM I Am

"I am Sam. Sam I am."
-Intro to Dr. Suess' beloved children's book Green Eggs and Ham.

"I am SAHM.  SAHM I am."
-Intro to my beloved new career.


SAHM, the acronym for Stay-At-Home-Mom.  Its my job, its my title, its what I do.  It used to bug me when the first question people asked when I met them is "What do you do?"  I mean really really really bugged me.  "I'm an accountant at the University," I would mumble.  Because, why should I be immediately be defined by what I do?  I wasn't proud of my job, I wasn't excited about my job, and the first thing people would say is "I hate numbers" or, "I could never do that, it'd be so boring!" Touché my friends.  Although I love numbers fiercely, the work was very dull.  I was always convinced that people would think that I was dull and would immediately start in on all the reasons I worked such a dull, dreadful job and how I was actually a fun and exciting human being.  Ugh.

When we moved back to Minnesota from Montana I was so excited to be done with my "dreadful accounting job" and working my dream job of SAHM.  Except, that it wasn't exactly what I thought it would be.  Claire was 7 months old, Anna almost 3.  There wasn't much we all enjoyed doing together as a threesome and I was struggling to find things to fill our days.  I was lonely, anxious, mildly depressed and kicking myself for thinking this grass was going to be so much greener.  I wasn't happy at all.

So, I decided to pursue my other dream job.  I got a job as a baker.  And for almost a year it really truly was a dream job.  Someone was paying me to bake! I got some time away from the girls and when people asked me what I did for a living I proudly beamed "I'm a baker."  And then the next question was always an inquiry about the time I had to get up in the morning.  4 am.  That was the killer.  For awhile it worked because I was so in love with this job.  Mace made compromises, our family made compromises.  I was tired all the time, I was cranky, the girls and I had dreadful afternoons after I got off work, things went downhill.  Suddenly my dream job wasn't working for our family anymore.

Fast forward to now.  I have restarted my dream job of SAHM.  There are a few key things I have learned about being a SAHM that changed this job for me from lonely/anxious/depressed mom to happy/blessed/joyous mom.  I am going to share these things in another post because they have been critical to my current success as a SAHM. And now, I'm proud to tell people what I do.  I'm proud when people say "I could never do that, it'd be so hard to hang out with kids all day!"  Yes, some days it is.  Some days it totally sucks like every other job.  But most days, most days are the most precious, awesome exciting days of my life.  I get to be with two of my favorite people in the world all day long.  My life feels full now.  My heart is often on the verge of exploding because it is so full of love and gratitude.  This is a very bold statement but: I am happier than I have ever been in my life.  My dreams have come true.

I am SAHM.  SAHM I am.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies



These cookies, my friends, are my most requested recipe.  And, until now, I have selfishly held it very close to me.

I have made these cookies with brown butter and regular melted butter, and both ways are very good.The brown butter adds a depth of flavor to these cookies that makes them irresistible.  The melted butter makes them taste almost pastry-like.  You can't go wrong either way, but since I am a brown butter fiend, I almost always opt for that.

Also, there are oats in these cookies, but I don't consider them an oatmeal cookie, at least not in the traditional sense.  I've added just enough oats to this recipe to give the cookies a chewy texture that is divine. Even if you're not an oatmeal cookie fan, give em a try.  I think you just might fall in love.

I always have a bag of these cookies in my freezer.  Almost every day, after things start going down hill (because this usually happens at some point every day, right?) I sneak away from the girls into a corner of the kitchen (or bathroom, or basement, or bedroom) and gobble one down.  I think of it as my "secret cookie", and always chuckle a bit to myself as I am snarfing it down.  And then, my day is instantly better!  Well, at least for those 46 seconds I am blissfully alone with crumbs falling down the front of my shirt.  Luckily, I've never gotten caught.  Please don't tell...?

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

14 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup (5 1/4 oz) packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk
1 3/4 cups (8 3/4 oz) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup (3 oz) old fashioned rolled oats
1 1/4 cups (7 1/2 oz) dark chocolate chopped or chips
3/4 cup nuts, toasted and chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 375F.

Melt 10 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium-high heat.  If opting to brown the butter, cook, swirling the pan often, until the butter turns a deep golden brown, about 3-4 minutes.  Transfer the butter to a heat proof bowl and then add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter.  Stir until the butter is completely melted.

Add brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt and vanilla to the butter. Whisk, by hand or on medium-low with the whisk attachment to a stand mixer, until fully incorporated.  Add the egg and egg yolk and whisk until fully incorporated. Let the mixture stand for 3 minutes and then whisk for 30 seconds.  Repeat the process of resting and whisking 2 more times.  At this point the mixture will be smooth, thick and glossy.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and oats and stir to combine.  Using a rubber spatula, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir until just combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts, if using.

Using a 2 tablespoon cookie scoop, or just eyeballing it, drop dough balls 2 inches apart onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Bake until cookies are golden brown and puffy and edges have begun to set but middles are still soft, about 11-13 minutes.  Transfer to a cooling rack, and if you can stand to wait, allow to cool to room temperature.  If not, just go ahead and...

EAT IT!!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Brown Butter Baked Donuts


We started making donuts this summer and: We. Can't. Stop.  They have brown butter.  They are moist. They have a billion possibilities for flavors. The are delicious.  They have brown butter.

Mace accidentally bought me a donut pan when he used my Amazon account to order something for himself.  The donut pan was a splurge I'd been pondering buying and threw it in my cart.  Mace figured since it was in my cart, it was a sure deal.  Two days later I was the proud owner of this donut pan!


I originally found this recipe on Joy the Baker and fell in love with it.  I've tweaked it to include more brown butter (duh), the addition of cinnamon and given a few other topping suggestions.  The kinds of toppings you can put on these are truly endless...chocolate, white & almond glazes, nuts, sprinkles, cinnamon & sugar, and my personal favorite: chocolate glaze with toasted coconut and pecans.  My friend Hope, who has been maniacally making donuts as well, told me she stirred a little milk into some Nutella and dipped the donuts in it.  That will likely be my next favorite flavor.


Decorating the donuts is a super fun thing to do with young kids.  It has become a major activity in our house, especially when our friends with kids come to visit.  Just keep your eye on them so they're not licking their fingers after dipping every donut (like, ahem, Miss Anna always seems to do).




Brown Butter Baked Donuts
Adapted from Joy the Baker

Makes 12 donuts

Donuts:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Glaze:

3 cups powdered sugar
6-8 tablespoons

Optional add-in ideas:
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond or any other extract

Topping Ideas:
Toasted nuts
Toasted coconut
Sprinkles
Chopped, dried fruit
Cinnamon and sugar

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease a donut pan with oil or non-stick spray.

To make the donuts: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter on medium-high heat, swirling the pan continuously, until the butter is light brown and has a nutty fragrance.  Watch the butter carefully and remove from the heat as soon as it browns to avoid burning.  Set aside to cool slightly.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, soda, salt, cinnamon and sugar. In another small bowl whisk together the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla extract.  Slowly whisk in the slightly cooled brown butter.

Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients and fold in until mixed and no flour streaks remain.  

At this point you can either spoon the batter into the donut pan, about 2/3 full, or pipe it in.  I prefer to pipe it in because I feel its less messy and the donuts turn out more uniformly shaped.  To pipe the batter in, fill a pastry bag or gallon ziploc bag with the batter.  If using the ziploc bag, snip a small bit off one of the corners of the bag.  Pipe the batter directly into the donut pan, about 2/3 full.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the donuts spring back when you touch them.  Set aside to cool in the pan while you make the glaze.

To make the glaze: stir 6 tablespoons of milk into the powdered sugar, and cocoa if using, and stir until all lumps are out of the glaze.  Add extracts at this point, if using,  Add more milk as necessary to have a thick but pourable glaze.  

Topping the donuts: Once the donuts have cooled, pop them out of the pan by either using a fork or turning the pan over onto a cooling rack.  Put the cooling rack over a cookie sheet to catch the glaze drips and make for easier cleanup.   If using other toppings besides glaze, put them on a small plate.

Dip each donut into the glaze halfway, then pick up and dip into the topping of your choice.  Return to the cooling rack and repeat with the remaining donuts.  Then you should...

EAT IT!!