Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Happy Birthday to Reed

Happy (belated) Birthday to my wonderful hubby, Reed! I am so thankful to be spending my life with you, and now to be raising our son together. I admire you more than I can say, and everyday you become more precious to me.

Reed's birthday was on the 11th, and we spent the whole day painting the house, trying to get it ready before we move in on Saturday. We spent the day before that painting, too. I had high expectations of surprising Reed with cake and balloons at work that night after he painted, but I didn't get home until after the balloon store (Dollar General ;) closed. I did make him a cake though, which we ate for breakfast before church. It must have been yummy because even Reed, who doesn't like dessert, has already had several pieces. Success!

I am so very thankful that my mom came down for the weekend to help us paint because it was a huge job! Reed and I had never painted anything before, and we didn't know where to begin. After taping off all of the rooms and filling in nail holes, we ended up painting two bedrooms, half the living room and hall, the bathroom, and the kitchen. Four of those rooms needed two coats. I still can't believe we finished!

I will post pictures of the new colors soon. I have to admit, I totally forgot to take 'before' pictures. Whoops! I do have a 'before' video that I'll post instead.

Here is the Cat Cora recipe for Italian Cream Cake that I made for Reed. Trust me, it's totally worth the work!

For the cake:

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, more for greasing cake pans
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 5 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup finely chopped toasted walnuts

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups (1 pound) confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts, divided

Place a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit each of two 9-inch round cake pans. Grease the pans with butter, fit the parchment into the pans, then grease the parchment.

To make the cake: Sift the cake flour, baking soda and salt into a medium-size bowl and set aside. In a large bowl and using a hand mixer, cream 12 tablespoons butter and 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, one at a a time, beating well after each addition. Add one-third of the dry ingredients and mix well, then add half of the buttermilk , beating on medium speed and scraping the sides of the bowl down, using a rubber spatula. Repeat, alternating the remaining dry ingredients and the buttermilk. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla, the coconut and 1 cup finely chopped toasted walnuts and mix well.

In a separate bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites, slowly adding the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar, until the whites form stiff peaks but are not dry. By hand, fold one-third of the egg white mixture into the cake batter until it is incorporated. Fold in the next third of the egg whites; when incorporated, gently fold in the last third. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans.

Bake until the top is golden brown and a wooden toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean, for 30-35 minutes. Set the cakes on racks and allow them to cool completely before removing them from the pans.

To make the frosting: In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese, 8 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon vanilla at medium speed until creamy. Add the confectioners' sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating at low speed until blended. When all the ingredients are incorporated, beat the frosting at high speed until smooth. Stir in 1/2 cup toasted walnuts.

Place 1 cake layer on a serving plate, bottom side up. Ice the sides and top. Place the other cake round on top, rounded side up, and ice the top and sides. Place the frosted cake in the refrigerator to firm up the frosting. Remove the cake from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving, and press the remaining 1/2 cup toasted walnuts into the frosting on top.

Makes 10-16 servings.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Abel at our campsite

This past weekend, our church went camping for a night. It was such a blast! There was swimming and fishing in a lake, a campfire with s'mores, tons of food, and fellowship. Over the summer, our church has a cookout every other Sunday after the evening service. I never want to go home when those are over (which usually means we stay too late :) This trip was like one long cookout!

Abel and I in the lake. His outfit has a camper on it and says 'Let's go camping!'

This is Abel's betrothed, Bella. Hopefully she'll start wearing clothes when she's older :)

Camping with a 7.5 month old is a little tricky. We couldn't lay him down for a nap in the hot tent during the day, especially because we were on the other side of the campground at the lake. Daddy carried Abel in the Ergo so he could sleep :)

You could pull yourself across the lake on this float-y thing. I got a splinter from the rope :(

Our church had the whole place to ourselves. The grounds are owned by another church, and I think they primarily use them for scouts to go camping, and for other churches. There was a screened in canteen area, with a full kitchen. We didn't know that, so I packed a cooler and camp stove. I took advantage of the kitchen though, and was able to cook the bacon I brought for breakfast inside :) There were also bathrooms with running water- yay!- and bunk style cabins. We slept in our tent.

I've heard that we might be going back this fall! I sure hope we do! Missing a night of good sleep is worth it for the wonderful company, and enjoying God's creation together.

I had to edit this post, because I had exclamation points after nearly every sentence. I just enjoyed myself so much, I was a little over-enthusiastic. :)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Culinary Baby

Reed and I waited until Abel was a little on the older side to introduce solid foods. We thought, why hurry? If baby can only eat food that's been turned into a runny drink-like mess, isn't that a sign that baby should still just be drinking? Anyways, parenting philosophy aside, Reed and I really want Abel to be a good eater. I love to cook, and our weekly dinner schedule always includes at least one international dish. While nursing and pregnant, I've never cut out strong flavors (tons of garlic, spicy things, curry) so I know he is already familiar with many different flavors, even if he hasn't eaten them directly.
I do make all of Abel's food at home; simply because I typically don't feed Reed canned or prepared foods, why would I serve them to my baby? Abel still primarily nurses, but among a few other things he does enjoy squash, sweet potato, plums, and avocado. We've also recently given him spinach- a big hit the first time, not so much the second time, so we'll see. :) Last night during dinner, we gave Abel a bite of tilapia sautéed with some teriyaki sauce. He loved it! Every time that Reed or I would go to take a bite, Abel would lean towards us with his hands out... he wanted our bite!

Spinach baby

Fish stealing baby!