Let’s start with cake…

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We usually drag birthdays out as long as possible around here. The day you were born is an important day to celebrate so why not do it over several days or even a week!

Although Hannah doesn’t turn 12 until Tuesday, we began the festivities with a birthday cake with friends last night. I made this cake and it was to die for!
I am usually a chocolate cake with buttercream or cream cheese icing kind of gal but this cake spoke to me when I read the icing was made with sour cream and bittersweet chocolate.
The tangy to sweet ratio was perfect! Warning: make enough icing to ice your cake and eat it too. It was hard to stop tasting!

When I came home from the store to unpack the cake ingredients I was disappointed to find that I had overlooked the bittersweet chocolate I had bought contained almonds. Chris was nice enough to run back out for me. He couldn’t find plain bittersweet but did come home with both dark chocolate and milk chocolate. He thought combined it would do the job. And he was right. It was perfect.

And there is still cake left over. Cake counts as breakfast right?

Happy Valentines Day

dutch baby

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i love valentines day.
a low stress holiday spent with the ones you love. a day to indulge just a bit.

we made some of our favorite treats today to celebrate.
a dutch baby for breakfast.
soft pretzels for lunch.
and clementines and strawberries dipped in chocolate fondue for an after dinner dessert.

my heart (and belly) is happy and full.
i think tomorrow we will start the day with a green smoothie.

snow day

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we woke up to almost a foot of snow this morning. this has been the snowiest winter i can remember and there are no complaints here.

activities on a snow day may vary but a few things always remain the same.

recipe for a snow day

hot chocolate
makes 4 mugfuls
whisk together in a saucepan on low heat and steep until fragrant and steaming hot
5 cups whole milk
1/2 cup good quality cocoa powder
1/4 cup raw sugar
vanilla bean
cinnamon stick
sea salt
for a extra kick to warm your insides add a pinch of chile powder.

2 parts snow
1 part nature finds, hat, scarf and mittens.
don’t forget eyebrows, mustaches and eyelashes.
dot cheeks with beet juice or watercolors.


always keep firewood and kindling in a dry protected place.
the night before a storm stack enough indoors on the hearth to get you started in the early morning.
hardwoods like ash and oak both burn hot and slow.
due to it’s resin, pine is a powerful fire starter.
hang your wet mittens and hats nearby to dry toasty warm for your next adventure outdoors.

to sooth muscles from hauling firewood and shoveling, there is nothing like ending the day with a hot bath. fill tub with water. pour in Epsom salts and your favorite essential oils, light a few candles and submerge.

applesauce cake

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we had just a smidge of our homemade applesauce left so i thought i would do it justice by turning it into cake. craft circle was this evening and i served it up with chai tea.
it’s a deliciously moist cake made with warm spices, brown sugar and pecans, tasting a bit like gingerbread. it tastes best warm out of the oven with a dollop of homemade whipped cream but is also the perfect breakfast drizzled with a little yogurt and honey.

applesauce cake

preheat oven to 350 degrees
grease and flour one (6 cup) fluted or bundt pan

1 1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon round ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 cup applesauce
1 cup chopped pecans

sift together flour, baking soda and spices.
cream butter and sugar. add egg
alternate adding flour mixture and applesauce.
add nuts.

scrape batter in to pan and bake for 30 minutes.
cool and dust with confectioners sugar.

adapted from the joy of cooking. i added ginger to the recipe.

Tuesday Nights with Izzy








i look forward to tuesday evenings with my sister elizabeth (or izzy as my girls call her).
being my only sibling i feel so lucky that she only lives 5 minutes away.
over the last year we have enjoyed dinner together almost every week.
it usually falls on a tuesday night and we alternate hosting each week.
there are no specific rules. no pressure, no stress.
sometimes we eat pancakes for dinner. and sometimes there is a roast chicken and scalloped potatoes.
the kids play while we cook and chat.
and the night is never complete without lots of giggling. usually resulting in me getting the hiccups.
some things never change.


our good friend rich hoffmann is an amazing film maker.
we were lucky enough to be subjects of his award winning film fridays at the farm, about his personal experience as a member of the farm chris and i started and ran for nearly 8 years.

having this film has been such a gift to promote CSA (community supported agriculture). i use it often as a an outreach tool for the farm i work at now. i can’t tell you how many times i have watched it and each and every time without fail, i cry.
you will see i am very pregnant and don’t look much like myself in this film but i love having this snippet of our lives to hold on to. hannah is so young and sweet and norah just a few days old.

rich is on to a bigger (literally, an IMAX!) and even more beautiful film called watermelon magic, shot entirely on the farm where i work and which chris also stars in!

check out rich’s story and be sure to scroll down to watch the movie trailer.


you are such a quiet thing. always thinking and observing and are quite a creature of habit. even though you don’t go to catholic school, or any school for that matter you have a uniform of sorts. your favorite is your jeans, your fuchsia turtleneck sweater and your bog boots. you are a lot like your mama in that way.
on sunday you were sick in bed with a fever and listened to the entire penderwicks book.
when we walked to jane’s house on monday you kept asking me if i needed help carrying anything. even though i told you i was fine you kept insisting on carrying a bag. sometimes i can’t believe you are only 11 and other times i can’t believe 11 years have gone by.


inspired by this lovely lady i think i’ll give a go at a “portrait a week” of my girls.
i am a bit late in the game but here goes.

you wanted to invite a friend over for dinner this week and you had me help you put together a winter picnic on sunday for you and a neighbor friend. you get so much joy from cooking, eating and sharing meals with people. i am almost certain that one day you will own a restaurant.

A Few Tricks up my sleeve

so i have been on a little spending freeze over the last month.
in fact just for fun i actually handed over my debit card to chris just to see what might happen.
now i wouldn’t call myself a shopoholic. but i do like finding that very special thing. etsy, my favorite blogs and pinterest have all exposed me to many beautiful and unique things. and thrift stores, well don’t get me started… i LOVE to thrift. the thrill, the score, having things that no one else has. yes maybe it is a bit of an addiction i admit.

over the last year i have had many opportunities to just stop in to my local thrift shops.
hannah’s ballet class is just around the corner from goodwill and my favorite thrift is in walking distance from the farm where i work three days a week.
sure i have found some amazing things and yes most of it is second hand so that feels good to give something a second or third life but really how many things do i need?

believe me i have no plans of never thrifting or spending again.
goodness no!
but it feels so good to be giving focus to other things when i might have a free moment.
now when hannah is at ballet class i sit at the library and read, write letters or knit.

because i am such a nester (and a aquarian) i tend to feed my soul by switching things up a bit. thrifting in a way helps me with this as i bring in something new to add to the old mix. that feeling of ahhh as i find a new piece of pottery or basket or bowl and come home to replace it with something i was just a little tired of.
oh it’s a good feeling.

so what i have i been doing without any money to fulfill my inner nester?
don’t worry i have my tricks.
not only has giving up the urge to spend saved us a bit of money but it has also allowed me to be a bit more inventive and creative.

just like i used to do with my girl’s toys when they were younger i put my own things away for a little rest to then pull them out and revisit them.
it feels like i have all new toys!
i recently pulled out some artwork that i was needing a little break of a few years back that was stashed away in a closet. when i unearthed it i remembered how much i absolutely loved it when i first found it and how much i still do love it. i hung it up and bam! a whole new look.

the other night i was over visiting with my mom who has many beautiful antiques and unique pieces and who is always looking to de-clutter.
she sent me home with a cobalt blue lamp, a beautiful clay pitcher from ireland and an oil painting by my great great uncle paul.
i felt like i had hit the jackpot. and best of all i didn’t spend any money!!

not spending has even fulfilled my creative self in the kitchen. instead of looking in the fridge or pantry and thinking “oh i better go shopping” when things start to get a bit low, i now am using up everything i have and making more things from scratch. (don’t worry though i have gone food shopping in the last month:)

and same goes for my wardrobe. i have recently brought out some pieces from the back of the closet and bottom of the drawer who were feeling a bit neglected and paired them with pieces i normally wouldn’t.
my sister and i were just talking about hosting a clothing swap. invite some friends over for wine and cheese and leave with a whole new wardrobe!

taking a little spending break has definitely served me well in many ways and when i do decide to go thrifting or shopping again it will be such a treat!

Happy Birthday Hannah

11 years ago today i became a mama.
it was the one thing i was certain i wanted to be ever since i was a little girl.
and when your papa and i started dating at 19 years old we began talking about being parents almost immediately.
i think we even picked our boy and girl names on our 3rd or 4th date.
hannah would be our girl.
and here you are.
hannah margaret.
the most beautiful creature both inside and out.
loving,caring and kind.
all smiles. big bright infectious smiles.
all long and lean and leggy.
a born leader.
responsible, dependable and on time (you even came on your due date).
growing like a weed (ever since you came out as your 10 pound two ounce self!)
into a lovely young lady who i just can’t seem to get enough of.
thank you from the bottom of my heart for choosing me as your mama.
you bring me so much joy each and every day.
happy birthday.
i love you.
mama xo