Archives for May 2010

Famous Pancakes Are Like, Totally Not Famous. But They Should Be.

Confession: I don’t really like pancakes.

If there was a war and on one side were the brave and gallant waffles and on the other side were the puny, wussy pancakes, well… Waffles would win every time. The flavor, the texture, those fun little waffle iron grid marks? Waffles are so completely full of win, and pancakes? Well, psh. Pancakes are just… flimsy, fleeting moments of breakfast that could be made better by SERVING WITH WAFFLES.

But, the exception to the rule is my dad’s pancake recipe. It’s a variation on a standard buttermilk pancake recipe, only it’s just AH-MAZE-ING, and even me, the pancake hater LOVES these.

According to my dad – the number one secret to good pancakes is a HEAVY skillet heated at about medium til a few drops of water tossed in the pan will “ball up” and skitter around the pan like little marbles. It takes a few minutes to get it to this temp, so get the pan started early, while you’re getting your stuff mixed together.


  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup wheat bran
  • 1 heaping tbsp corn meal (you can leave it out – but it’s SO GOOD with)
  • 1 heaping tbsp cream of rice (again, this is optional, but seriously… add it)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

and stir it all up really nicely til it’s mixed the way you like it.



  • 2 eggs (or 1 egg and up to 2 or 3 egg whites — it’s a protein thang)
  • 1 cup buttermilk (lowfat is a-okay)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil (or butter, BUT NOT MARGARINE. Dad says it’ll clog your veins and make your circulatory activities more difficult in years to come, and I’m gonna listen to him)

Whirl it around until the color is uniform.


Pour the liquid from the blender into your mixing bowl and mix until JUST blended.


Film the frying pan with vegetable oil, says my dad. I say cooking spray works just fine. Pour about 3 tbsp of batther from the tip of a spoon or pitcher into the hot skillet. If you stop here, you’ll only have one pancake so… repeat until you just can’t repeat anymore.

They’re ready to turn when bubbles have formed on the top – almost the entire surface will have bubbles – and the other side cooks in about half the time.

And finally, if you’re gonna use syrup, make sure it’s the REAL stuff.


“If you screw up, you can sometimes learn just as much from the experience… but you have to be willing to laugh about it for years and have oatmeal for breakfast.”
-My dad

Weekly Winners – week ending 5.29.10

For more Weekly Winners goodness, be sure to pop over to visit LOTUS and the rest of the peeps.

Tunnel vision

Welcome Home.


Prep work for birthday cupcakes

Sittin' in the garden eating worms

oh hai

Happy Birthday Princess

Dear Princess:

Today you are eight years old and as we celebrate your birthday (and my mommiversary), I want to first tell you how much I love you. It’s been a big year, hasn’t it? A year where you have become even more of your own person, and you’ve blossomed into this amazing person – I see glimpses of what kind of person you are, who you will be. I catch these glimpses and I am excited. And I am so proud.

One of the things I love the most is how much you love to read. It’s funny how you look so much like dad, and yet share so many of my interests. When we go to the library and you collect a stack of thirteen books you’d like to check out and we come home and you’ve managed to polish off three before your head hits the pillow at night – those moments are the best. I love that you love books, that you love words – that you find joy in something that brings me so much joy.

Lately, when  you walk around with a camera pressed to your face and I see you angling the camera just so, or tipping your head this way or that composing a shot in your mind – I wonder if you are mimicking me, or if there is something ingrained in me that got passed on to you — that maybe somehow we are just wired this way, that I am so you are?

When you tell people, “I may look like my dad, but I am my mom’s mini me” – that makes me smile — partly because you’re not so old yet that sharing interests with your mom brings you embarrassment. I hope it never does – but I’m a realistic sort – you’ll hit ten or eleven or twelve, and you’ll think I’m the most ridiculous person to ever walk the planet, and the sound of my breathing will make you want to stomp off in a ‘tween rage and I’m sure I’ll never wear the right thing and you’ll need to walk ten steps behind me at the store.

Since those days aren’t here yet, I’m gonna just embrace the now.

You’re a smart cookie, Miss Thing. I know you don’t need me to tell you that, but you are. Not only are you wicked smart, you have a very tender heart. I worry about you sometimes – you with your heart on your sleeve. Worry about the ways that you might be hurt or disappointed – and I know that those times will come and I won’t be able to do anything about them, but I fear them just the same. You wear your emotions on your face – your smiles are contagious but man, when your eyes cloud over…

Miss Eight Year Old, you have your mother’s temper. I’m sorry about that. Sometimes you stomp off and I get mad, I want to ground you, and then I think – “But that’s me!” You are my reminder to take deep breaths and count to ten. You are my reminder to give mySELF timeouts sometime.

One of the things you are looking forward to most about this birthday is no longer having to use a booster seat in the car. You did a dance last night, the “no more car seat” dance. I made you do it twice, it was so funny. I love to see you cut loose and be silly.

This is going to be a great year for you, I know it. I know it because I love you and when you were born, my life changed. I held you in my arms and looked at your little conehead and I fell in love with you. You are my first born. You have taught me so much about so many things. You are such an amazing piece of my world, Princess.

Happy birthday. I love you with my whole heart, and I am so very lucky to be your mom.



Thursday Ten: OH NO! It’s Almost Summer Edition

1. The school year is winding to a close. Tuesday was Pumpkin’s preschool graduation, today is her last day. Today was an awards ceremony at The Princess’s school – her last day is in a week and a half. And then… summer. Oy. Y’all remember, it takes me a few weeks to find my routine and my groove in the summer. Except moderate amounts of griping about the chaos in coming weeks. It’ll be (mostly) painless (for you).

2. Tomorrow The Princess turns 8. I’ve been trying to get away with calling her birthday my “mommiversary” in hopes that there are presents and cake for ME, as well. So far, it doesn’t appear to be catching on.

3. Editing and processing photos is a time-consuming thing. How much so, I hadn’t realized. I am told that processes and routines help – if you are a photographer or photo-junkie, what do YOU do with your pictures to process? And also: PhotoShop or Lightroom?

4. The American Idol finale last night. WHOA. That was two hours of crap for two minutes of reward. I wish they wouldn’t stretch it out like that. It’s miserable. But, I’m happy with the winner… so there’s that.

5. In guitar class, we started a different song – Anna Nalick’s “Breathe”. One of my favorites.

6. In addition to “Breathe”, we went back to “Shallow Days” and Pearl Jam’s “Elderly Woman, blah blah blah”. It’s funny – the weeks I don’t get much time to practice, I often manage to pull off a good lesson. It’s funny that way – I tend to overthink and get frustrated when I’m not accomplishing something, so sometimes it’s good to walk away from what I’m learning for a moment. Somehow, I usually manage to make progress. Sorta.

7. After February, I decided to not color my hair anymore. It was never about extreme color changes – when you have hair as dark as mine, you can’t really go extreme without a kajillion step process to lighten first… and frankly, I don’t have the patience for that. I was doing semi-permanent colors occasionally, just to cover the gray — but stopped when I decided that I really like my natural hair color better than I liked any of the colors I was finding on a shelf. Fortunately, the gray hairs seemed to slow right around then, so it wasn’t even a huge deal. BUT. I found two of those suckers this morning and they have GOT TO GO. Vanity sucks.

8. My afternoon involves making cupcakes for The Princess’s second grade class. If I learned anything last year it’s that I need to keep the air conditioning cranked until I get the cupcakes out of the house so the frosting doesn’t melt off.

9. Any one have any big Memorial Day weekend plans? Looks like we’re celebrating a birthday ALL WEEKEND. (Seriously, like three days of cake).

10. With the end of the school year coming, my days are getting more and more chaotic with activities at the kids’ schools and all the other nitpicky things like field trips, field days, and la la la. Because of this, I’ve had to juggle life around to get everything done – which means that this morning I woke up before six a.m. Why? To do the Jillian Michaels’ SHRED. Before 6 a.m. Oy.

Behind the Lens and from the Heart

A few months ago, I was honored to have had a good friend ask me to photograph her wedding. I hemmed and hawed quite a bit – at the time, I was hesitant to say yes: I only had a point and shoot, I’m not a “pro”, I was kind of nervous. Yet, I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was something I wanted to do – for my friend and her husband to be, and for myself, to shake myself outside of my comfort zone a little bit. The wedding was this past weekend in Maryland – and I am so thrilled that I kicked myself in the pants and made myself do this.

Weddings are a strange beast. I’ve been to over-the-top BRIDEZILLA events. I’ve been to mellow courthouse nuptials. I have never been to a wedding quite like this. It was lovely.

The wedding and reception took place in covered pavilion in a gorgeous park. The bride and groom and their families set up the decorations and food – up until nearly the start of the wedding. None of that “the bride and groom can’t see each other” superstition. Mostly, I tried to stay out of the way and not knock (too much) stuff over. Also, I was armed with my camera hoping to capture the moments she would want to remember.

It was a beautiful wedding. The wedding march was played on steel drums – the simplicity of the ceremony and the relaxed nature of the afternoon was fitting. The group was small enough that we had a chance to speak to nearly everyone. The bride had thoughtfully prepared envelopes of seed so that kids could feed the ducks and swans (and my girls fed them. A lot. I mean, A LOT).

Oh, and there was cake.

Yeah, red velvet cake.

When all was said and done, I had snapped my shutter over four hundred times.

And some of those pictures went straight to the digital trash. I’m not gonna lie – they’re not all good. But mostly, I am happy with how things came out. It was so much hardwork – and even after the wedding, the process of going through all of these images and processing and editing is more difficult than I’d anticipated (learning curves are super fun, right!?) – but then, I catch a glimpse of the bride with her grandfather, or the groom watching her walk down the aisle, and I smile.

I’m so glad I could be there for them, and so honored that they chose me.

Thursday Ten: Skipping Spring and Going Straight To Summer Edition

1. Um, spring? Hello? Helllllooooooo. We had winter and then a few springlike days and then WHAMMO! It’s 80 degrees plus today. Last week, sweaters. This week, shorts. I’m kind of bummed, because I love the “in between” weather – the breezy, spring like “not too hot not too cold” temperatures that make me so happy. Welcome to Michigan, I suppose.

2. I was recently sent the One eskimO cd to review. On a scale of one to five, this album earns a 3.5. It’s amazing background music to listen to while working – it’s definitely mellow and there are some pretty layers and texture to the songs – my favorite cuts from this album are Givin Up and Astronauts. One eskimO has toured with Tori Amos and is now opening up on tour for another one of my favorites, Michael Franti & Spearhead. It’s definitely worth a listen – it’s available via the usual suspects (Amazon, iTunes…).

3. Pumpkin had a meltdown before my guitar lesson today – she went so far as to pretend as though she was going to bite my arm. You know, I didn’t realize how effective my “stern mommy face” was until that moment because boy howdy – she stopped in her tracks and grabbed on to me for a hug. Just from the mom eyes.

4. American Idol’s Final Two – Crystal and Lee… Y’all saw that coming, right? I have to say, I favor Lee – which is why I hope Crystal wins. The winner never really gets to put out “the right album” for them. Lee kind of has a bit of a Howie Day Collide vibe to me (or even Matt Nathanson-ish). I love acoustic-y singer-songwriter types — and so I hope that is what he’s able to release when he puts his album together.

5. If you didn’t see my post yesterday, you can enter HERE to win a Hanes Pink t-shirt (deadline next week Wednesday). Over on BD, there’s a Susan Wiggs book giveaway along with a $100 Visa Cash Card (deadline tomorrow a.m.).  So, if you haven’t entered to win stuff, you should totally get to it.

6. In guitar class, I’m working on Counting Crows’ “Shallow Days” – which is from the demo of “August and Everything After”. The song didn’t make the original album, but I still love it. I’m not surprised it didn’t make the final cut on AAEE, because it wouldn’t have fit in with that grouping of songs, but on its own, it works.

7. Someone from my high school graduating class posted a picture the other day of all the girls from our graduating class from prom. BOY, prom dresses used to cover a WHOLE lot more than they do today! Some of us probably could have worn those dresses outside in the middle of December and not been cold!

8. I haven’t seen any movies in awhile and was looking to rent something via iTunes – what’s good? Any recommendations?

9. The Princess’s teacher is on maternity leave. I was hoping she’d make it until the end of the school year (just a few weeks remaining), but she emailed me today to tell me that her doctors say she’s done for the year. And… I actually cried. We’ve been so lucky to have such an amazing teacher for The Princess – and truly, we’ll miss her. I did email her back and asked if she’d ever thought about teaching third grade. Hmmmm.

10. Planning my menu for the following week ahead of time is usually pretty great unless the weather changes and you end up with cold weather comfort food scheduled on a day that your temps are in the low 80s. Meatloaf? Ugh.

Yes, those were affiliate links.

Every three minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer.

I am currently in the home stretch of preparing for the two day, marathon and a half walkathon to raise money for breast cancer research and programs. I guess you probably know by now – it’s one of those causes that I’m passionate about, and I go beyond sending money to the cause, but giving my time as well. It still doesn’t feel like enough sometimes – but I’m happy to do what I can.

I think it’s important that people are aware of the statistics – just last night, as I opened a bag of Tostitos (I was craving chips and cheese SO BADLY, y’all!), I was faced with the stat: EVERY THREE MINUTES, a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer. That sucks. That’s too much. That’s gotta stop.

As a female and mother of daughters, I hope to see the day in my lifetime when there’s a cure… or that no one receives a diagnosis of breast cancer again ever.

Because of my support for organizations that put money towards finding cures, when Hanes approached me about their PINK line of clothing, I was happy to participate in spreading the word. Hanes has teamed with the Susan B Komen organization to become the official tee of the Race for the Cure series – and will provide t-shirts and socks to its participants (awesome, because I know from experience you definitely need cozy socks while you’re out and about doing these events!). These PINK items are available on and the socks can be purchased at Walmart. In addition to these efforts to raise awareness, Hanes is making a pretty hefty donation to the Susan B. Komen foundation – and that is definitely a good thing for a good cause.

They also let me know that Melina Kanakaredes (whose name I cannot pronounce but whose hair I have lusted after since I first saw her on the series “Providence”) is teaming up with them and she’s designed a few tshirts for the cause.

And I know the t-shirts are awesome, because Hanes sent me one. Mine is bright pink and lovely and says HOPE,which is so important – and hope is something I have quite a bit of. Not only does this t-shirt have a message I completely stand behind, it’s super soft, comfortable and I just love the design. And they are letting me give away one of these awesome shirts to one of you. To enter, just leave a comment below either telling me why  you’d like to win, or cheering me on in my quest to walk 39.3 miles in two days for this cause. The deadline will be Wednesday, May 26 at noon eastern.


In the interest of full disclosure: I was not compensated for this post. I did receive a t-shirt which I plan to wear proudly and often, but because this is one of those causes I believe in, I was happy to write this post because I appreciate efforts to raise awareness of this disease.

Crunchy French Toast with Chocolate Filling

Here is a minor food confession that will either leave you utterly appalled by my lame palette, or… yeah, you’ll pretty much just be appalled: I don’t like eggs.

Oh, yeah – I love eggs when they are blended up to make a cake, or cookies, or even a nice loaf of gingerbread. Yes. Scrambled eggs? No. Hard boiled eggs? Uh uh. Omelets? You had to ask? No. So, when I’m doing breakfast, I happily focus on my beloved carb family. Waffles? Ohhhh yeah. Bagels dripping with melted butter? Yes please. French toast? Here’s my plate, pile it on.

For awhile, my French toast repertoire has been pretty solidly focused on a crunchy french toast recipe I have that is an oven-baked french toast coated with cornflake crumbs. The other day while I was driving, though, I thought about how when I was little if we baked and had leftover chocolate frosting, we used it as a “sandwich spread” of sorts on graham crackers. (If you’ve never tried it, you should. And then you better think twice about insulting my egg-hating palette, because I will have just redeemed myself).

I had chocolate on the brain, you see… so I started thinking about chocolate in my french toast.


It was phenomenal. It was just the right touch of sweet. AND, it made the use of maple syrup (which is a sticky mess) totally unnecessary.

(Now you’re probably thinking, “ENOUGH ALREADY! Get to the recipe!” So I will. Here you go!”)

2 cups cornflake crumbs
1 loaf French bread
3 eggs
3/4 cups milk (I use fat-free because that’s what we have)
1 tsp vanilla extract (the real stuff – don’t use the fake stuff. EVER)
3/8 tsp salt (Just use the 1/2 tsp and don’t fill it up all the way – French toast is forgiving)
Chocolate spread
1/2 cup melted butter

I only had a smidge of Nutella left, and subbed the remainder of the recipe with this Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter. Both were good, but... Nutella was SO MUCH NOMMIER.

1. Squish your cornflakes. How fine you squash them is a matter of personally preference. You can pulse ’em in the blender for a super fine crumb. I like them a little bigger, so I put the cereal in a bag and squoosh them with a rolling pin. Pour your cornflake crumbs into a shallow dish. [Note: Right about now, you’ll want to start preheating your oven. 450 degrees, please.]

2. In another shallow dish, mix together your eggs, milk, vanilla and salt. Be sure you’re not using fake vanilla. If you use fake vanilla the terrorists win (Also, your food won’t taste as good. Really).

You'll want to slice your bread roughly 1/4" to 1/2" thick.

3. Slice your bread. I like to slice it about 1/4″ thick – but you don’t get graded on precision here. Just do your best. Slice an even number, though – you’ll be pairing them up in step four.

This is easy, right? You've made sandwiches before.

4. Smear the chocolate spread on one side of a slice of bread and then stick ’em together. Yeah, sandwiches! You’re making sandwiches! I will say again – the Nutella really makes for an amazing breakfast. It lends more of a “pain au chocolat” feel to the final product than the chocolate peanut butter does. Both are good, but… Nutella.

5. Put each sandwich first in the egg mixture (coating both sides) and then the cornflake mixture (coating both sides) before placing in a baking pan that you’ve sprayed with the nonstick cooking spray of your choice. Repeat this step until all your sandwiches are soggy and happily cornflake coated.

6. Drizzle your melted butter over all the slices.

7. Put in the oven and bake at 450 degrees for about 15 minutes or until golden on top.

This works great with a small sprinkle of powdered sugar on top. Be careful, that chocolate in the center gets HOT while baking, so you’ll want to try to resist eating it STRAIGHT OUT OF THE PAN (Learn from my mistakes, folks).

Sigh. Chocolate. For breakfast. I may be the best mom ever.

Weekly Winners – Green Acres Edition

Oh, I LOVE Weekly Winners. All of my weekly winners were taken with my kit lens this week – oddly enough – but I was concerned that my 50 wouldn’t give me enough leeway for possible short distances between me and what I was shooting. And now I’m trying to pick what lens I need to get next.

For more weekly winners, be sure to bop on over to visit Lotus and check out the other participants.

Baby goose - Pumpkin named this little guy PADDLES

This goose is Max. He's a rather attractive little goose, dontcha think?

So tired.

My daughters gathered these from the chicken coops. How cool is THAT?

Miscellaneous farm stuff.


Thursday Ten: Le Fou I’m Afraid I’ve Been Thinking edition

1. The past few days, I’ve spent a lot of time pondering the things I enjoy doing, the things in which I excel. What I have found is that I am halfway decent at several things but don’t feel like I have focused on any ONE thing quite enough to say that it’s where I shine. Have you ever really thought about where YOU shine? What are YOU really good at?

2. The Princess was invited to try out for the gymnastics team and SHE MADE IT. The program sounds a bit intense – and yes, there will be a competitive aspect… however, this kind of goes back to the first point: what are you really good at? Gymnastics may or may not be something she wants to stick with – but right now, she’s enjoying it a lot. I want to give her the opportunity to see where it goes, as long as she wants to. When she decides she’s done, she’ll wrap up whatever season she’s in – and that’s it. No pressure. I’m kind of curious about this road we’ll be traveling.

3. Last night was the May meeting of our book club. We discussed the book selected for last month, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, shot the breeze a little bit and then? Picked next month’s book. A book by Nicholas Sparks. How did we go from FGM and human trafficking to Nicholas Sparks?

4. Because “Half the Sky” was such a HEAVY read (good read, but definitely heavy), I decided to lighten things up with Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously, which is a much lighter read. Also, it cements the knowledge that I have no desire to learn French cooking. Too many livers and lobsters.

5. My guitar lesson went well today – fortunately, my sister was able to hang out with Pumpkin so I got to go solo. Finished working on the Taylor Swift ditty, and went back to Pearl Jam. It was a little easier to work on something without making sure Pumpkin was entertained. And she had lots of fun with her aunt and took a nice nap and spent lots of time singing “Down by the Bay”.

6. I went through Pumpkin’s backpack the other day to sort through all the work and art work she brought home from preschool/daycare and recycled several art projects. Mind you – I LOVE to keep artwork created by my children. However, I don’t love to keep artwork that was clearly cut and assembled by the teachers. And I can tell. The work our kids do is perfect in its imperfection. I wish the teachers would leave it alone.

7. Is it raining where you are? DAYS of rain in Michigan. It’s making me cranky.

8. American Idol’s Final Three – are you happy with the final three? Are you even watching? I loved Lee and Crystal’s rendition of my favorite song – “Falling Slowly” – and yeah, I downloaded today and have listened several times.

9. And since I’m talking about TV, I’m gonna kick on over to Glee and say first of all, I loved Wednesday’s episode. I love the storyline with Kurt and his dad (“Fine doesn’t sound like that song was sung”) — but when they sang U2’s “One” and called it classic rock? I had to hit the Google. “One” was recorded in 1991. I was in high school. So, stuff from my teen years is classic now? Since when? Also… feeling old.

10. Just a few short weeks until the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. I am SO close to my goal – and I appreciate ALL the support and love I have gotten. But, if you still want to support the cause (and really, you should because it’s a great one), feel free to share the donation love with my teammate – her link is here. If you donate to her, and write in the message that I sent you, I’ll send you cookies. (Offer limited to the first five peeps to donate).