Posted: January 8th, 2015
From our day on Tuesday…
6:00 a.m.–My alarm goes off. I snooze it once, eventually wake up and scroll through my phone while Gerrit gets up and starts getting ready for work. Then it’s time for a bit of work on my computer. Waking up at 6:00 (well, 6:30) so I can squeeze in at least half an hour of blog work in the mornings before Evelyn (usually) wakes up around 7:00 has been a great decision.
7:00 a.m.–Evelyn is up and squirming around. I go get her, change her diaper, and then it’s time for her to eat. After that we usually hang out in her nursery for a bit, sitting in her chair talking and playing or sometimes reading a story. (And yes, she is wearing Christmas pajamas…it was all that clean last night.) Read more »
Posted: January 5th, 2015
I’m full of lots of thoughts about the New Year. I keep thinking about things I want to change this year/resolutions to make/goals to set. Read more. Make blogging and writing more a priority. Not be as short with Gerrit when I’m stressed. Be completely present for every moment with Evelyn that I possibly can. But the truth is that all of this comes down to one thing: try to find balance in life. Read more »
Posted: December 31st, 2014
Instead of just doing a favorite recipes recap, I wanted to throw a few more things in the mix.
#1 Highlight of 2014
Everything having to do with Evelyn being born (minus the month of no sleep and the whole figuring out breastfeeding part). It is simultaneously the most joyous and the most terrifying thing ever. Sometimes I go to bed at night and I feel like my heart might literally burst with how much I love her.
(And just to keep things real, my #1 Least Favorite Thing of 2014 was being pregnant with her. I have never been so sick in my life. Much less so sick for 4 months and kind of sick for 4+ more.)
#2 Highlight of 2014
Weekend trip to Cloudland Canyon with my family. We didn’t get to do much travelling this year, but a few weekend getaways did happen. We spent the weekend exploring Chattanooga, watching my dad hang glide, and relaxing in our mountain cabin. (We also had a weekend at the beach this year, which was nice, but mostly left me longing for an entire week at the beach and made us realize we have more fun at the beach with my family).
#3 Highlight of 2014
Snow day in January. We so rarely get snow, so when we do (and get three days off of work for it!) it’s a big deal. The snow was beautiful, and it was coincidentally one of the only days in my entire pregnancy that I didn’t feel sick.
#1 Most Popular Post of 2014
Homemade Moose Tracks Ice Cream
#2 Most Popular Post of 2014
Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding with Rum Sauce (this was one of my favorites, too!)
#3 Most Popular Post of 2014
Chocolate Cake with Swiss Chocolate Buttercream (SO GOOD. SO RICH.)
#1 Favorite Book I Read in 2014
This wasn’t the most stellar year for me reading-wise, but Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins really stands out to me. It is a book that seems like one big adventure, takes you all over the world, and through an entire lifetime (but all in a manageable reading length).
#2 Favorite Book I Read in 2014
Quiet by Susan Cain. I still think about all the things I learned about my introverted self all the time. Such a fascinating read.
#3 Favorite Book I Read in 2014
A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg. I loved the way she connected stories with food.
(I wish I could have some favorite movies for you, too, but I can only remember like 3 that we watched. Maybe that should be one of my goals for the New Year? To actually keep track of the movies we watch.)
Hope everyone has a happy (and safe) New Year! (We will be sitting at home, in our pajamas, watching football and eating ice cream. After the busy-ness of the past few weeks, I can’t wait.)
(Note: This post contains affiliate links)
Posted: December 29th, 2014
Christmas seems to be changing every year for us right now. We have two families to spend Christmas with, more people to include, and this year having Evelyn meant we wanted a bit more time for ourselves, too. But in the end trying to squeeze it all together worked out pretty well. The absolute best thing is that we do Christmas Eve with Gerrit’s family and Christmas Day with mine (no more trying to squeeze multiple Christmases into a single morning!).
Christmas Eve morning we opened presents with Gerrit’s family. It felt a little weird to both of us, but I think we’ll manage to get used to it. ;) And then it was time for our 6th Annual Graham Cracker House Competition (in which no one actually wins but everyone claims that they do). Gerrit and I decided to build a log cabin this year (much better than our attempt at The Duomo last year).
In the evening was Christmas Eve dinner followed by church followed by dessert.
Christmas morning at our house was more fun than I expected. Santa brought Evelyn a few things and, while she had no idea what was going on, she really enjoyed looking at/playing with some of her new toys.
But then it was rush rush rush to get out the door to get to my family’s Christmas for present opening and Christmas Day lunch (our other change this year: lunch instead of brunch).
My dad made a prime rib (delicious!), I made the Pioneer Woman’s creamy potatoes (good, but I completely underseasoned them, so they need some work). We had rolls and salads and my mom made brussels sprouts with bacon which is new to us (I know, I’m so behind) and which we all absolutely love. And for dessert it was platters full of Christmas goodies.
I hope you all had a lovely Christmas filled with family and good food.
Posted: December 22nd, 2014
So I think I’ve officially entered the adult world regarding Christmas. I’m legitimately excited about some of the practical things I might be getting for Christmas (things on my list: new slippers, new trash can). But more telling than that, I’ve gone from the impatient “There are a whole ____ days until Christmas!” sentiment to “Oh my gosh! There are only ____ days until Christmas!”
I swore as a child that I would never reach a stage where I would be excited about something as unexciting about a trash can and would never feel that Christmas is coming too soon. And yet here I am perfectly happy about it. Well, except the Christmas coming too soon. Time could slow down a bit for me, not only because my baby girl is growing up so fast, but also because I had intentions of doing a bit more Christmas baking that at this point look like they will go on unfulfilled.
The only reason this dessert made the cut is because we had some friends over for dinner last week, and a trifle seemed like the perfect easy yet holiday appropriate dessert. And it was on the menu later in the week, too, for my office Christmas party. And obviously, if you’re looking for a last minute holiday dish, I think it would be perfect for you too. Yes there are a lot of components, but you can use shortcuts as much as you want (I totally used brownies from a box) and you can do so much of it ahead of time (I made my brownies, pudding, and whipped cream the day before). And all of this means this dessert is low on the difficulty scale and high on the impressive scale. Which I have so needed this month when everything has needed to be as quick and convenient as possible. (Even though you might not believe me because of this and this.)
And since that’s the case, I’m pretty sure I need to go fold laundry or wrap some Christmas presents or just find something to do while Evelyn is still asleep.
Hope you have a Merry Christmas/Happy New Year/Wonderful Holiday Season!
chocolate mint brownie trifle
The best thing to do with this dessert is make as much of it ahead of time as you can. You can make the pudding, brownies, and whipped cream a day in advance, and then assemble it in the morning before you serve the dish in the evening. If it has a day to sit, it really is best. I'm not putting time estimates on here because it completely depends on how you make it. You can used a box of brownies (or probably even brownie bites from you grocery store bakery), a box of pudding, and frozen whipped topping, so that the most time consuming thing is assembling the dish. Or you can make everything from scratch. Your choice, and either way works.
- For the pudding:
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 cups milk
- 3 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- (Alternative: a large box of chocolate pudding mix)
- For the whipped cream:
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon mint extract
- (Alternative: a container of frozen whipped topping, defrosted, and with mint extract stirred in)
- For the brownies
- 1 (9 x 13 inch) pan brownies (make you own or use a box)
- To finish:
- 1 package chocolate mint candies, chopped (like Andes)
- To make the pudding, combine the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa power, salt, and milk in a medium-sized saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat, whisking constantly. It will come to a boil and then thicken up (it takes about 10-15 minutes). Add the chocolate chips and stir until melted. Then remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Set aside to let cool slightly, but continue to whisk frequently to prevent a film layer from forming on top. Then cover with plastic wrap (once it is cool enough that the plastic won't melt), placing the plastic wrap directly on top of the surface of the pudding. Refrigerate until completely cooled.
- To make the whipping cream, combine the cream and sugar in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form. Then add the mint extract and beat just until stiff peaks form. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to use it.
- To assemble the trifle, crumble of 1/3 of the brownies and place in the bottom of a trifle dish. Top with 1/3 of the pudding, a sprinkling of chocolate mint candies, and 1/3 of the whipped cream. Continue to layer until all the ingredients are used (except maybe a few of the candies), ending on whipped cream. If you have any extra candies left, top with a bit of those. Refrigerate until ready to serve.