Monday, January 21, 2008

Kelly's Baby Shower

Kelly and Chris

Fortunately, last weekend the boys and I were able to travel to Arizona for my sister Kelly's baby shower. I wasn't sure if I would actually make the trip since I was recently diagnosed with pneumonia. However, I (and the boys) really wanted to be there so I did my best to make the trip as smooth as possible. Thanks to Sudafed and Afrin the flights were relatively pain-free.

My sister Kristin hosted the party at her home and she did a lovely job preparing all the decorations, games and party favors. My mom did most of the cooking and I helped as much as could. Mom and I spent Friday preparing the desserts and soups. She made heart cutout cookies with Madelyn's name on them and I made two kinds of cupcakes, vanilla with strawberry buttercream and carrot cupcakes.

There were about 40 guests in attendance and everyone had a lovely time. Kelly and baby Madelyn were showered with love.

Baby Shower Decorations

Kristin made a cake made out of diapers and baby supplies. Sitting next to the diaper cake is Kelly's baby picture.

Tables covered in pink and green.

Baby bib name tags

A clothesline with Madelyn's name spelled out on onesies.

Heart cookies decorated with Madelyn's name.

Ladybug and flower cupcakes

Grandma R.'s signature gift of homemade Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls

My sisters from left to right, Kelly and Kristin

A Gift For Madelyn

My baby sister, Kelly, is due with her first baby on February 15th. She is having a girl who has been given the name, Madelyn Claire. Everyone is very excited to welcome another little girl into our family, but no one is more thrilled than Kelly and her husband Chris.
My mom, my other sister, Kristin and I threw Kelly a baby shower last weekend. One of the gifts that I made for Madelyn was this cute little home-made doll. Hopefully Madelyn will enjoy playing with it as much as I enjoyed making it for her.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Winter Break Knitting

I promised the kids that I'd knit them each a scarf over winter break. It was the first time in months that I actually had time to sit down and knit. I'm relatively a novice, mostly self-taught knitter. However, my friend Lisa was the first to get me interested in knitting a couple years ago when she showed me how to make dishcloths. Several dishcloths later, I decided to expand my horizons and move on to scarfs. Most of my previous scarves have been gifts so I thought it was time to make some for my family. The kids were thrilled to get these, both made in their favorite colors.
The scarf making started out a little rocky and almost didn't happen at all. Both kids fought over who's scarf I would make first. We decided to flip a coin to make it fair and when Mac's side won, Ethan decided that flipping a coin wasn't fair and efficient. So after a lot of whining and tantrums (coming from Ethan), Mac gave in and let Ethan go first. What a nice big brother.I made both scarves in a ribbing pattern. A simple knit 2, pearl 2. Mac's scarf was a little more complicated and although you can't see it in the picture, it has a cable twist in the ribbing. It's made the same way, knit 2 and pearl 2, except on the third row instead of the knit 2, you knit 2 together, leaving the stitches on the needle, then you knit the first stitch again, and pull both stitches off the needle. The pattern gets repeated until you run out of yarn.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The New Year Brings Snow!

We awoke this New Year's morning to the happy sight of long awaited snow. We thought it was the perfect setting for our family to bring in the New Year with a wintry hike through what we call, Mellencamp Woods.

Keith and the boys call these woods, that are just one neighborhood over, the Mellencamp Woods because the land is actually owned by John Mellencamp who is a Bloomington resident. We all enjoyed the glorious, late morning hike (specially the dog who gets to explore the woods without his leash) so much that we might have to make it a New Year's day tradition.
Our New Year's Day hike was preceded by a lovely and quiet New Year's Eve. We had the pleasure of celebrating the evening with another family who shared a three course fondue meal with us.

It was a great opportunity to break out the, hardly ever used, fondue pot. I picked up some fondue books from the bookmobile and found three fondue recipes for our dinner.

The first course was a cheese fondue made with Emmentaler and Gruyere cheese combined with white wine and roasted garlic. I blanched asparagus, carrots, and new potatoes, for dipping as well as bread, apples and pears.

The second course was an oil fondue and for it we had marinated lime chicken and breaded cornmeal shrimp. I also made a mango salsa and a honey dill sauce for dipping.

The third and final course was a chocolate fondue made with bittersweet chocolate, cream and hazelnut liqueur. For this fondue we had angel food cake, strawberries, pineapples, marshmallows, and bananas. I also toasted coconut, pecans and hazelnuts for toppings. Yum!

Hazelnut Cake

I recently had some friends over for lunch and I made this very European hazelnut cake. It was definitely a labor of love but worth every minute.

I bought some hazelnuts when I was in Chicago a few months ago and ever since then have been searching for the perfect recipe to use them in. I finally found the recipe for this cake in a Martha Stewart Living magazine from 2006.

First, I had to blanch the hazelnuts by toasting them in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes. After toasting them I rubbed the nuts, a handful at a time, in a textured kitchen towel to remove the skins. Then I made a hazelnut toffee to sprinkle in between the layers and on top the cake. The cake itself is a spongy cake made with cake flour and nine eggs that are separated. The toasted and ground hazelnuts as well as an equal amount of toasted and ground walnuts get folded into the cake batter. In between each layer is a hazelnut syrup (sugar and hazelnut liqueur), the hazelnut toffee, and a caramel-cream filling (sugar, cream, milk, egg yolks). The cake was very well received by my guests, especially my Austrian friend, who said it reminded her of the cakes she use to get in Austria. (A very fine compliment to me.)

The funniest comment was from Keith, who upon returning home and seeing the leftover cake in the fridge said, " Where did that big cheese sandwich come from?"