Archives for December 2012

Kitchen Through The Lens: Cinnamon Bread

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I haven’t posted one of these cooking projects in a long time and in fact… I, uh… made this a few weeks ago thinking I’d post it shortly after making it and then you know what? Life happened.

Ridiculous, right?

Holidays make everything chaotic and crazy and busy in all of the best and worst ways, and so I had these cinnamon bread stories to tell you and then… I didn’t.

Now I am.

(No, it’s probably not worth the wait, but hello anyway)

Cinnamon bread is ridiculously easy. When I added it to my list, I think I was thinking of more of a cinnamon swirl type thing – which would be excellent for french toast – but this was good… and because it was so easy, I’m pretty likely to make it again.

batter is gooey

Basically, add ingredients, mix, pour in a pan, add stuff to make the top all pretty.


Serve with coffee on a cold Sunday morning and instantly feel better about life.

There’s really no substitute for the way your house smells when cinnamon is baking.


See. I told you this post wasn’t really worth waiting for.
But the bread is still good.

Thursday Ten: If It Has Wheels It Will Cause You Problems edition

1. Christmas day, the girls and I were just returning home from visiting my grandfather and The Princess stopped at the sound of air escaping my front passenger side tire. Within minutes it was flat. Booooo. That made it necessary for me to buy new tires (Merry Freaking Christmas) and for me to use my stepfather’s truck yesterday while said tires were getting purchased and put on my vehicle. Which leads me to…

2. Wouldn’t it figure that winter would start while I was driving someone else’s rear wheel drive, lightweight pickup truck? Last night’s drive home was INSANE and to be honest? I didn’t make it the whole way. After someone slid into the truck as I slid through an intersection (too slow, no damage, big sigh of relief), I pulled into a parking lot and cried and my hands shook, and then I was rescued and driven home and I am beyond grateful (and somehow I will return the favor as long as it doesn’t require snow-driving skills).

3. Back to Christmas, now, eh? It was good. I was surprised. Not just surprised that it was good – but surprised with lovely handmade gifts from my kids. Those are the best. In January, I’ll hang up the calendar Pumpkin made for me, and it will make me smile all year. Love.
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4. That my daughters and niece were wearing matching Hanna Andersson jammies on Christmas was fun too. Yeah, I always make my daughters match – but to include my niece in the fun was tremendously cute. The girls all seemed to love their pj’s and they were soft and fit well. Also? ADORABLE.

5. The folks at P&G sent me some Tide To Go Stain Erasers to try out and review and I had waited a LONG while for someone to spill something. Finally, at our cookie decorating party several girls spilled icing on their clothes.  I was pretty excited to give these things a whirl (“Oh! You spilled? YAY!”). And you know what? They really REALLY work. Easy to toss in your purse or bag or the console of your car, and worth it. [Opinion is my own, but I did receive these little doohickeys for free. I’d buy ’em, though. Because they work and I know a lot of people who spill.]

6. I have a bookstore gift card that I’m eager to use – what was your favorite book of 2012 (aside from “Gone Girl”, which I loved also)?

7. Just a few more days of 2012 – can I get a WHOOOHOOOOOOOO!? I hate hate hate to wish time away, but man…this year. Guh. It may be unreasonable to assume that the new year will be better, but that’s exactly what I’m gonna do: Assume the new year will be better. It will be.

8. My word of the year for 2012, by the way, was BREATHE. And I have to say, I think I was on target in the choosing of my word. I have yet to decide what 2013’s word should be. What’s YOUR word?
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9. I shoveled my own driveway last night. I feel my arm and shoulder muscles getting more awesome with every second (If there is a plus side to this weather it is the awesome arms I will get from shoveling, which is good. I like to wear sleeveless shirts).

10. Out of nowhere I just got “Wind Beneath My Wings” stuck in my head. I don’t know how. And I CANNOT GET IT OUT.

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

full of wonder

Dear lovely Internet,

It is Christmas eve and I am waiting to bring my girls home so I can tuck them into their beds and they can fall asleep with the thought of Christmas running through their heads – one a believer, one not so much – both still eager to wake up on Christmas morning to see what there is to see. Stockings filled with treats, presents under the tree, and a trip to my mom’s where we’ll open more gifts, eat traditional monkey bread, and spend time with family.

I have had a hard time finding Christmas joy this year – and I know that I’m not alone. I know it because I’m seeing it in status updates on Facebook, in your pictures on Instagram, and in blog posts and tweets. Something about this year has hung heavy on so many of us, and finding the joy of the holiday has been difficult.

And even now, with Christmas officially just hours a way, I still struggle to find the joy and the magic that usually has me as eagerly anticipating Christmas morning as my daughters do. I’ve come to terms with it, pretty much, that maybe this year is just meant to be the year I take a break, breathe in and breathe out, and just absorb the moments and keep on looking forward at what is ahead.

Do not mistake my lack of spirit as a lack of appreciation for all the gifts in my life, though. I am blessed. I am loved and I am cared for and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t realize it, that I don’t thank my lucky stars for it. This knowledge makes my lack of Christmas enthusiasm easier to tolerate.

On Christmas eve, if you find that you are having trouble finding the joy, the wonder, the magic, the light… know that you’re not alone. Know that I’m glad you’re here. Know that we have all of these new days ahead of us, days stretching wide and full of the kind of magic that need not be wrapped in paper and tied with string.

It’s been an…interesting year. For me, and maybe for you, and maybe that’s what our gift is – that we’re getting through it, that the world didn’t end, and that we get to wake up and start fresh in the morning.

I look forward to waking up tomorrow morning. I can’t wait to see the enthusiasm with which my daughters face the day. I can’t wait to hear their laughter ring through my home. I can’t wait to see toothy smiles and bright-eyed faces. And that is my gift, as well.

Whatever the day is or means to you, know that I wish you joy. I wish you well. I wish you peace and love and twinkly lights. I wish you candy canes and reasons to smile. Most of all, I wish you friendship and love.

Merry Christmas.

Love, Sarah


P.S. This is one of my favorite Christmas songs introduced to me by a friend of mine a few years ago (I know it’s older than that, but I HAD NEVER HEARD IT until she mentioned it). I think it’s pretty. So, I’m also wishing you pretty harmonies and lyrics you can’t understand.

What DOES She Want for Christmas?!

Dear Internet,

As they say here on the Interwebs: I am disappoint.

(I don’t know why they say it. Or why they say it like that. It’s disturbing, no?)

Let’s start again.

I’m disappointed in you, dear Internet. While I usually make it a point to avoid my analytics like the plague, the other day I decided to look. I looked after someone in my photography message group asked what our strangest keyword search string was lately (“Personal Zamboni,” baby), and so I took a deep breath and wandered over to see.

First of all – all y’all looking for cookies and cheesecake on a stick? Hello! Hi. Glad you found me. It’s yummy. Eat up. Enjoy.

Now, the rest of you? The ones searching, “What does she want for Christmas?” or “What to get someone who won’t say what she wants for Christmas?” It’s you I’m disappointed with (Unless, of course, you are shopping for me, in which case Amazon gift cards work, and I should start seeing those roll through my inbox shortly, no?).

There’s a lot of people landing here somehow, after searching for gift ideas and I guess that makes me a bit sad.

The thing is, dear Internet, odds are I don’t know the she you are hoping to shop for. I probably don’t know what she likes and doesn’t like, or her favorite color, or her hobbies, or whether or not she’d think getting a pygmy monkey for a pet would be awesome or less than awesome.

But you should.

I’m guessing the mysterious she wants you to know who she is and what she’s about and she wants you to pay attention and be observant and she wants you to pick up on her hints and her cues and find that perfect gift for her.


Just saying.

I get it, gift giving can be tough. There can be a lot of pressure to find the right thing.

But I assure you, I know nothing more than the rest of y’all. I get some cool stuff to review sometimes (Tide To Go Stain Erasers recently ended up in my mail box, and that might be a fun stocking stuffer because damn they work, but is that why you’re here? I dunno), and I have all kinds of opinions about all kinds of things and so maybe… just maybe I do have something to contribute to the whole generation of gift ideas thing.

But…probably not.

Somehow, a lot of you searched those words and ended up here. I hope you’ll find something you like and stick around. But… I can’t tell you what to get her for Christmas. Or her birthday. Or Valentines Day, if you’re into that sort of thing.

But I sure do hope you figure it out.

Just use your noggin’. And your heart.

I guarantee, she’ll probably maybe kinda sorta love whatever you come up with.

Good luck!

(And back away from the Google).




Thursday Ten: Christmas is…Almost here? Edition

1. Christmas is less than a week away and if I could some how push it further away to give myself more time, I would. Have I finished shopping? Nope. Wrapping presents? Not even close. Guh. This is so unlike me.

2. I spent yesterday with elementary school kids singing Christmas carols and handing out popcorn and watching them meet Santa and it brought me such a goofy amount of joy that for a moment I joked that my heart had grown two sizes and my Grinch-ness was wearing off. And then I drove home behind someone driving so slow that I actually shouted, “WHY ARE YOU GOING THE SPEED LIMIT RIGHT NOW!? WHAT THE )#@)*(T) IS EVEN WRONG WITH YOU?!” Uh. So much for that.

3. My friend Nate, of Love Drop, has a new venture now – Take Our Stuff. This time, they’re giving away a heart that one of the Love Drop families made. I kinda wanna win it. Nate said if I post a link in this here blog, I can have a few more chances to win. I have such amazing memories of my time with Love Drop and meeting the families and working with the team, that this one means a lot to me. So click over to Take Our Stuff. Sign up even. But don’t try to win this one because I really want it. Please and thank you.

4. Adam Cohen’s “What Other Guy” is one of my favorite songs these days.

5. Tonight is the first night this week that is NOT occupied with some activity or other. What a tremendous relief. I get a little tired of having my schedule dictated by everyone else sometimes.

6. Pumpkin has three loose teeth, one so wiggly that it’s creating this funny little gap in her perfect smile. We’re hoping it falls out before Christmas. She didn’t get her first tooth until the day after her first birthday, and she’s one of the only kids in her class yet to lose a tooth.

7. I got to watch my niece take several steps in a row last weekend – she’s 9 months old. I texted video to my sister who was at a wedding who promptly texted back that she was in tears because she’d never seen her baby walk that fair. Whoops. Damn. Bad Aunt Sarah. She’s since seen her kiddo take more than three steps so all is well again.

8. I like reflected pictures of beverages. I do.

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9. There’s a four day weekend coming up. THAT may just be the best part of Christmas. I’m going to miss having my girls around Christmas Eve day to bake with me, though, and so I’m trying to find light in the holiday weekend anyway. I’ll still make monkey bread, like I always do. And I’ll enjoy a four day weekend. But it’s gonna be a different kinda weekend.

10. Apparently snow is coming. Dammit.

Code Blue

I have yet to really be able to comment on what happened in Connecticut last Friday.

There are a lot of people shouting about gun control and a lot of people shouting about mental health and a lot of people shouting about video games and autism and parental involvement. There are people shouting about Christmas trees and people shouting about shouting and people shouting about who the hell knows what, they just want to hear their own voices, i guess.

I’m sick of the shouting.

I have no answers.

Pumpkin’s teacher sent home a letter that said: “I would also add that this rare and horrible event is why it is important to practice our Code Blue drill.”

When I was in elementary school we had earthquake drills.Those were replaced by tornado drills once I moved to Michigan.

Never once did I have to even begin to comprehend a “someone is in your school with a gun shooting people” drill. And yet that’s the world my kids live in.

My heart is heavy for the lives cut way too short.

My heart is heavy because even in tragedy, people can’t entirely come together. There are always “sides” – and when even the most devastating thing doesn’t truly unite, I wonder what on earth it really takes.

I have no answers.

I have children who mean the world to me. Who I’ve been blessed to love and care for. Who are with me. Who I hug tighter at night these days. And I am grateful.

But I wish I had answers.

Kitchen Through the Lens: Green Salsa/Salsa Verde

salsa verde

Salsa is my favorite condiment.

I could take or leave ketchup. Mustard is a sandwich go-to but sparingly. Mayo is not something I use by choice. But salsa. GLORIOUS SALSA. I could sit down with the jar and a spoon and GO TO TOWN.


And I dig green salsa too, even though it tends to be a bit spicier and no, it doesn’t really “go” with everything. It’s still good stuff.


You know, I’ve never bought a tomatillo before?

I have no idea if these are good tomatillos. There’s probably a reasonable mechanism for determining the ripeness of a tomatillo. You should google that before you go shopping.

I didn’t.


And shallots.

They hide those suckers at the store. These were on a side of an end cap on a shelf, somewhere near the bottom. In a bag. WAY TO HIDE THE SHALLOTS. That’s okay. I wanted to spend five minutes looking. Honestly, I thought they’d be closer to the onions.


So, you’ve got some tomatillos, shallots, cilantro, a jalapeño, green chiles and other stuff (and you know what that other stuff is because UP THERE you clicked the link for the recipe, right? RIGHT). Shove it all in your food processor.

I maybe was supposed to cut stuff smaller

Maybe you chop your stuff into smaller pieces.

I think I made my food processor mad with all these big ol’ veggies.

Pulse, pulse, pulse.

VOILA. Done.

I wasn’t really sure what I’d do with this, but it is amazing served with nachos. Chips, some lovely cheddar and for fun some shredded pork… then dunk in the green salsa.

So full of win.


Thursday Ten: Merry Grinchmas edition

1. I’m…just not feeling it this year. I love Christmas, love love love it – and yet this year I can’t muster up the joy and the festive mood that makes this time of year so special to me. It’s kind of making me sad. It’s just weeks away and I am not ready. I have shopping to do and no motivation to do it. Where are all the Whoos from Whooville to un-grinch me?
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2. This weekend will be our annual cookie decorating party and I’m not sure yet how many children will be coming. You wouldn’t think it’s that hard to RSVP, but… apparently it is. I’ll spend Saturday baking for some fun decorating on Sunday. Maybe I just need massive amounts of sugar to find my Christmas spirit.
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3. I’ve been listening to a lot of new music this week – it makes me tremendously happy when music is shared with me so I’ve got some new stuff floating through my iPod – most of it is stuff I’m really digging a lot. I’d share a video if I wasn’t too lazy to look up how to use the old embed code from YouTube.

4. It’s possible when you cry over a Boyz II Men song coming up on shuffle that perhaps you’re a little frazzled. (It wasn’t even a cry worthy song.) Hormones are stupid. So is stress.

5. A lot of movies coming out around the holidays and I am finally going to make myself go. I cannot remember the last thing I saw in the theater (Dark Knight Rises, maybe? Seems like there was something more recent… but I can’t recall). But it looks like “Silver Lining Playbook” and “Les Mis” both come out on Christmas Day and Matt Damon’s “The Promised Land” comes out soon after. And “Django Unchained” is somewhere in there and now that I’ve been catching up on Tarentino films I didn’t see while residing under my rock, I think I’d like to see that too.

6. I FINALLY put my photos up. I feel tremendously proud of the fact that I did it on my own – and I’m pretty happy with how it looks for the most part. I will likely do another one at some point – perhaps one a bit less structured in design to give me a little leeway in measuring and keeping things level. Ah, to pick the pictures. And the wall.

7. December is crazy busy and shows no sign of stopping – dental appointments, school programs, holiday things at school, meetings. Bleh. TOO. MUCH. STUFF. The school stuff especially drives me bonkers – who is scheduling these things? Not a lot of thought given to those who don’t work locally or who work traditional schedules. Pbbbbth.

8. My Christmas shopping isn’t done, though I have to say, I have two things I have purchased for people that I am SO EXCITED TO GIVE. And as I typed that, I just got a smile on my face – maybe that’s what I need to get into the spirit – to finish my shopping, and finish by finding JUST THE RIGHT thing for the people on my list.

9. That’s great it starts with an earthquake, birds and snakes an aeroplane (Lenny Bruce is not afraid). I don’t think the world is gonna end next week. I just don’t. If I did, I wouldn’t have spent the previous items griping about my lack of holiday spirit and wanting some. I wouldn’t need any because, duh, end of the world. Anyway, I imagine I’ll still be around next week. Next month. Next year.  And so will you.

10. Yesterday (in an assembly I couldn’t attend because SEE ITEM 7), the Princess was honored with her classmates for making honor roll. Straight A’s no less. I’m so darn proud of her.


Thursday Ten: So Hardly Daily Anymore edition

1. Yeah, pretty quickly I abandoned the daily writing. Maybe I’ll get back to it at some point – challenge myself again. Mostly, though, this week I feel like I have been chasing my tail. I blink and time has passed and I am running behind over and over again. I hate that feeling.

2. As I was walking yesterday, someone told me to take the squirrel’s picture. So I did. It was a rather cooperative squirrel. 096 | 365

3. Little by little I am getting my Christmas shopping done. It’s overwhelming this year – the expense and the stress of it – but I am determined to still make it joyous. My whole family is cutting Christmas back – we’ve even cancelled the big extended family part of Christmas day. I’m kind of upset by that, but with my grandpa’s health, everyone feels stressed out and off kilter. I do understand.

4. The Princess had an amazing first meet of the season. She medaled in all four events and placed 2nd in all around for her age group. To say I am impressed is an understatement and my kiddo? She was overjoyed. It was a good night and I was (and am!) so very proud of her.

5. Music of the week. Discovered Autolux on Monday and downloaded “Plantlife” – also some older Damien Rice because my library was woefully incomplete without it.

6. I went holiday shopping last night – not to purchase gifts, but rather to help my grandma and mom pick out gifts for me. Remember how I hate to tell people what I want for holidays? Now add to that TRYING ON CLOTHES. Excruciating. And then I went home, tucked the kids in and did the Shred.

7. After some unseasonable December warmth it’s getting cold out again. Boo. My fingers started turning white last night when I was driving and really really need to find my gloves again.

8. I don’t get enough sleep these days. Not good sleep, anyway. I’m getting tired of waking up at 5, looking at the clock and realizing I better fall asleep fast so I can get that one more hour of sleep. The bright side is that at least Pumpkin has been sleeping in. I’m waking up early but the kids are finally sleeping.

9. I finally started the mockups to hang my framed photos for my photo wall. Now all I need is a level, some nails and a lot more patience. Of course, I traced the frames on parchment paper and when I went to tape those to the wall with painters tape, the tape didn’t want to stick to the parchment (DUH) so who knows if they’ll still be hanging by the time I get my level and nails. Probably not. Oh well, at least the math is done.

10. After kicking my magazine habit for far longer than I thought I could, I gave up and bought the HGTV magazine and the Rachael Ray magazine (I love food magazines, even if I don’t know if the food will be good). I have to say though, I was intrigued by the candy cane vodka. Also, there was an article describing all the kinds of food I could process (and how!) with my food processor. If I wasn’t boycotting french fries, I could totally make some now.

Kitchen Through the Lens: Mudslide Cookies

Narsai Mudslide cookie

My dad has been talking about these cookies for several years now. That’s how they made the list – dad talking about these legendary cookies from Narsai David who is a cook from Berkeley. Dad would talk about these cookies, so chocolately, so rich – and he finally forwarded me this recipe years ago. I never made them.

Like many recipes that I held on to for YEARS AND YEARS AND YEARS, these cookies made the list when I was brainstorming this project. This is an excellent time to try things I have never made before. Sure, cookies aren’t a stretch for me in the kitchen – I love to bake – but, you know… why have I never made these?

I won’t keep y’all in suspense any longer: They’re pretty damn good.

But they’re rich. So rich. Have a glass of cold milk at the ready – or as I did, serve with ice cream.
Narsai Mudslide cookie

So, I guess I should say a few things about the process. The first being – improvisation is good. If you don’t have a double boiler (and I don’t) you can always fake it by putting a glass bowl on top of a sauce pan that has about an inch or so of water in it. Don’t burn yourself on the pan, or the bowl or the hot chocolate. That would suck.
dry ingredients


A lot of recipes call for instant coffee. I don’t even know if Starbucks Via is what they have in mind – what I do know is that buying a massive jar of garbage I wasn’t ever gonna drink didn’t appeal to me. One of these packets is just under two teaspoons. I don’t know if I messed things up – like if this is too concentrated – what I also know is that I didn’t like the flavor the instant coffee added (AND I LOVE COFFEE). I’d probably skip it next time. Really.

Narsai Mudslide cookie

You’re supposed to roll the batter in parchment. ROLL THE BATTER INTO PARCHMENT. It was like… soup. It wasn’t rolling. It blobbed into the parchment. Once you stick it in the fridge and let it firm up, the consistency is much like fudge. Since I blobbed and not rolled, I used a knife to slice off big chunks of dough to cook.

Narsai Mudslide cookie

Easy peasy.

Warm, fresh out of the oven? Pure heaven. With some melty vanilla ice cream on the side? Freaking AMAZING.

So, thanks dad. You were right.

Now, who’s gonna get all of these cookies outta my house?





should make about 12 large cookies
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
6oz. semi sweet chocolate
2 tbl unsalted butter

Melt unsweetened and semi sweet chocolates with butter in double boiler. Let cool.

B ¼ C sifted flour
¼ tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
Sift together the dry ingredients.

C 7/8 C sugar

2 tsp. instant coffee
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
#1 – Beat eggs, sugar, coffee and vanilla until thick ……

#2 – Beat in Chocolate.

#3 – Add Dry Ingredients
D 7 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips

1/8 lb. walnuts, coarsely chopped
Stir into dough

E On a sheet of baking parchment or waxed paper, form dough into a log 3″ in diameter. Roll up, twist the ends to secure, and chill until firm.

F Preheat oven to 350F.

Slice dough with a sharp, thin knife dipped in hot water and place on a non stick cookie sheet (or sheet lined with no stick baking parchment).
Bake for 12 – 15 minutes until tops are dry but centers are still soft. Do not over bake.
(If desired, cookie dough may be spooned out in teaspoonfuls and baked 10 –    12 minutes.)