Thursday, April 28, 2011

cookies, finally

I know it has been months since I started this chocolate chip cookie contest
But like I said, I wanted to give every cookie a fair chance and only make them when I really felt like eating them.  No cookie recipe can win when the cookie judge is all cookied-out. 

We baked every recipe you sent us, and boy were they good!  Most of them worked for me, some did not, although I figured out what my problem was:
using margarine instead of real butter.

Now my mom bakes cookies in Utah, and she always uses margarine, and they always turn out perfect and fluffy.  In fact, when she uses real butter, they become flat, hard little messes.

I have no idea why margarine works in Utah and butter works in Texas.  But it does. And I'm so glad that I've learned that now.

As for the winner of the contest, there was one recipe that just kept coming back to us, one recipe that we keep talking about, one cookie recipe that we could have eaten for days without getting tired of them.

Shannon's recipe for  Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies.

They were so, so good.  The peanut butter gives it just a hint of flavor (and after they cool off you can hardly taste it at all) but it makes them moist and full and mouthwatering.  The house smelled amazing while they were baking.  Kent took some to work to share and his co-workers raved about them.
They are my new favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.

Shannon's Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Cream together -
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar

Add to bowl & mix -
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla

In a separate bowl combine -
2 1/2 - 3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking sodaa
1/2 tsp. salt

Add dry ingredients to wet. Mix well. Add 1 pkg. chocolate chips (I would always choose milk chocolate chips).
Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

Congrats, Shannon!  Thanks for the recipe. 
As for your prize, I plan to hand-deliver it this very weekend!

Monday, April 25, 2011

hideout on the horseshoe

Friday afternoon we picked Kent up from work and headed north to the Guadalupe river.  

For months now, Kent has been planning this little getaway.
At first, he wanted it to be a surprise to me, but we knew it would be more fun if we had friends come with, so as he said,
"I need to tell you where I'm taking you so that you and Allison can plan."  
Which is husband-speak for "I really want to do this myself, but I know you'd be happier if you knew in advance and could plan the food, make the packing lists, and orchestrate every last detail."

He knows me well.
Our cabin was high above the river, with a gorgeous view off the patio.  Nicholas was constantly running outside so he could look at the "wawer" again and again. He wasn't as excited about being in the water as he was about looking at it.

We floated the river on Saturday, and we quickly found out why there weren't as many people doing it as we were expecting for a Saturday afternoon.

The river was quite shallow.  We had a few bruised bottoms and legs by the time we were done, but really it was pretty hilarious--going down the river and getting "beached" over and over again.  
Nicholas was fine sitting on my lap, but he didn't want me to put my hands in the water, and he didn't want his feet to get wet at all.

He's not the most adventurous child.  
But you know, maybe that's a good thing.
 We had so much fun with the Foulks, as usual.  And they were such troopers, sleeping on the futon in the tiny living room with no AC.  I hope they enjoyed the trip as much as we did, because we are so glad they came along.
Nicholas found himself a new friend in Mike (why do I want to call him "Uncle Mike"?).  He learned to say "Mike" and they became buds, putting stickers on Nicholas, playing with his ball, and taking control of the TV remote together.
 We did a little Easter Saturday--Nicholas got his basket.  Fruit snacks, jelly beans, goldfish, and a Nicholas-sized camp chair.
Oh, and you see that scrape on his knee?  He wears it like a badge of honor, constantly reminding me of his "leg, knee, owie" and wanting me to touch it. 

 We dyed eggs camping-style in plastic cups.  There was sort of a kitchen in the cabin-fridge, microwave, and sink, but it still felt like camping.
And true to most camping trips, all the food we ate was super delicious, particularly the taco salad we ate after floating the river.

Other notable happenings:  leaving the keys to our car in the (locked) cabin and leaving the keys to the cabin back where we parked the Foulks car when we floated the river.  Allison, Nicholas, and I waited in our wet swimsuits on the patio while the guys walked back to get the car.  Nicholas kept standing by the door and looking at us like "whose plan was this?"

The raccoon that enjoyed our leftovers from the trash can on the patio.

HGTV late at night.

Nicholas slept in our room for the first time since he was a newborn.   He finally sleeps quiet and deeply enough for us to do that. He's been in his own room since he was 5 weeks old.
It was actually really fun for us to have him right there, and when he woke up (too early in the morning) we'd pull him into our bed in the dark and he'd snuggle with us.
 Another excellent weekend--and still to come, California reunion, LA getaway, and birthday in Utah!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

a few things

 A few things we've been up to this week:

Saturday picnic.  Saturday morning Kent told me that he would pressure wash the driveway if I organized a big picnic with all our friends at the park.  
Long story short, no one could come to our picnic and the rental places didn't call Kent back about the pressure washers,
but, we had a delightful little family picnic on our patio, with lunchables for the boys, turkey sandwich for mom, and oreos for dessert.  The weather was absolutely heavenly---only twelve percent humidity (which garners a "severe weather alert" here in Texas) and in the mid-70's.  If only it could be like that all summer here...sigh.
Nicholas loves (and I mean loves) to watch videos on YouTube of dogs, babies, or both.   He throws major tantrums when we have to turn it off after 45 minutes of watching dogs chase balls and play the piano or babies giggling.  He is equally fascinated with both, and Kent tells me that means we have to get him either a dog or a baby.

I think for now he'll just have to keep watching YouTube.

And yesterday we were finally able to rent that pressure washer.  I know this might not be the most exciting thing to many of you, 
but boy oh boy am I glad to have a clean driveway!
 Texas humidity means perfect growing conditions for all kinds of yucky mildewey black stuff.

I planted ranunculus bulbs last December.  The plants sprouted in January, and they pretty much just looked like weeds for three months, until they finally bloomed a few weeks ago.
They've been so gorgeous-I think next year I'll plant more of them so I have more to cut and put in the house.

Monday, April 11, 2011

how I spend my time

Nicholas loves eggs.  Not necessarily eating them, although he will occasionally eat a scrambled egg.
What Nicholas loves about eggs is opening them.  When I pulled out the Easter decorations last week Nicholas was in little boy egg heaven.

I have spent the past week closing eggs.  Over and over and over again.  He likes to open them, but he doesn't know how to close them again.  He can open the same eggs over and over again for 45 minutes straight. 
In fact, as I type, I'm having to pause every 30 seconds to re-close the eggs for my little buddy.

Oh, scratch that. Now he's stacking the eggs on my laptop keyboard. Have you ever typed with 15 Easter eggs on your fingers?  
I'm adding it to my list of awesome/odd experiences that motherhood has given me.

I'm not sure when we're going to let him in on the secret that Easter eggs are actually meant to hold candy and other surprises.  
For now, he's happy just opening the empty eggs.  
Over and over again. 

I contemplated hiring someone to sit here and close eggs for him.
But I think only a mother (or grandmother, maybe) can think this is still adorable after three hours a day of it.
Because, believe it or not, 
I do think it's adorable.  And how hard is it for me to simply sit and put eggs back together?
I love Spring- It has always been my favorite season.
Our Springtime is over, though. The wildflowers are dying, the garden is wilting, and it's in the 90's.  
But we're escaping in a few weeks--spending a weekend in these luxury cabins here on the guadalupe river with the Foulks,
then heading to California for a most excellent vacation--Kent's brother coming home from his mission, family trip to a beach house, then a me and Kent only getaway to LA for a few days,
and then, a week later Nicholas and I are going to Utah for a little trip.  Early summer in Utah--heaven.

I'm so excited.  So for now, I sit here, putting eggs back together for my sweet boy and daydreaming of vacations to come.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

strawberry festival

I'm loving these smiles he gives us when we take his picture!
On Friday night we drove out to Poteet, Texas, where the annual Strawberry Festival is held.
It takes 45 minutes to get to Poteet,
and then another 45 minutes to drive the last mile into the parking field.  Seriously. There were a ton of cars.  I'm so grateful we had the foresight to bring the dvd player.  Saved our bacon.  
(I think that's the first time I've ever said anything saved my bacon.  We were that grateful for some Elmo.)

Admission was free on Friday,
which meant...well, it kind of felt like we were in a different country that happens to be slightly south of our own country.
But we had so much fun.
Mostly it was just fun to do something different on a Friday night.
We walked around, ate overpriced carnival food (including a strawberry shortcake and a taco),
navigated the junior high crowds, wondered if we should pay to see the snake with the head of a woman,
and laughed our heads off at the hypnotist with the Texan accent.
"Now ya'll relax 50 times deeper.  You're now in the basement of relaxation." 

Nicholas had his first taste of cotton candy. He looks a little dazed because it was getting past bedtime and he was staring at the lights and flags on the ride in front of us.  
He didn't like the cotton candy, even when Kent told him that only real men eat cotton candy.
What Nicholas was most interested in was the water fountain at the booth where they were selling backyard ponds. He would have been happy to sit right there the entire night.  

We stayed long enough to meet our friends who were stuck in that car line, 
and then we put Nicholas in his pajamas, climbed in the car, and drove home,
but not before we stopped at Sonic, because I guess we felt like we just hadn't had quite enough junk food.

It was really quite the perfect night, 
one of those nights where you remember just how much you love your little family and your happy little life.

Friday, April 1, 2011

toddler's april fools

You know, I had kind of decided that the Andersen family wasn't going to celebrate April Fools Day this year.
I'm really not into the prank-type jokes, and I'm generally not good enough at lying to pull off the outrageous information/early in the morning phone call type of joke.
Plus, I thought, Nicholas is too young to get it anyway.
We'll celebrate more of these holidays when he's older.

I was wrong.

 It all happened in the short space of time it takes me to pluck my eyebrows.  
Here's what went down:

1.    Nicholas finds my cell phone--I knew because I could hear him "hewoo? hewoo? Ahahaha!  Oh man!"  (that's his usual pretend phone conversation, complete with maniac laughter. He must think I sound like a lunatic when I'm on the phone.)
2.    Nicholas finds the single marker I missed when I was putting them all away a few months ago.
3.    Nicholas colors on self.
4.    Nicholas colors on bathroom cupboards, toilet lid, and bathtub.

5.   Mom discovers mess in bathroom.
6.   Mom runs to grab camera. (Naturally)
7.   Mom discovers stairway:
Nicholas is cheering and clapping.  Seriously.
8.   Mom knows that the next step is to call her mom- must tell someone right away.
9.   Mom can't find her cell phone.  The one that Nicholas had been playing with...
10.   When Mom asks Nicholas where the phone is, Nicholas responds with a shrug and "no no?"  (I don't know)
11.  Mom finally emails Dad to ask him to call her phone.  
12.  The phone is ringing, it's in the computer room.  It's near the computer. It's not under the desk, in the drawer, behind the computer...  
13.  Dad calls again, and Mom finds herself with her ear next to the printer, thinking what in the heck? 
14.  Yes, my son drew all over himself and the entire house, and then he hid my cell phone inside the printer.  Inside the printer. 

Needless to say, I'm not letting this little prankster out of my sight again for the rest of the day.