Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Pool and a Pie

I wish we had a pool, or at least easy/free access to one. That's one compromise I made when we bought this house that I am wishing I hadn't. At the time, Logan was not a big fan of swimming but now he would spend the entire day in a pool, I think. He is swimming (actually underwater) in small 3 foot spurts (although he wants to go further--it still makes me nervous). Keller Pointe is only a couple miles from us but expensive and usually crowded. He'd be happy with just a pool to play with his toys in. Our next house will definitely have to either have a pool (not my first choice due to maintenance) or have one in the community--I will not compromise on that next time since he loves the water so much. And it wouldn't be so bad for me either on these ridiculously hot days. We may be looking to move in the spring, so next summer we may have our wish!

Now, the pie. I have been wanting a chocolate pie the past couple days and tonight Logan and Chris were out of the house (swimming) so I had my chance. Since I had a decent amount of time, I decided to make a pie from scratch instead of doing the boxed pudding kind. It's very good, but rich. It's supposedly the chocolate icebox pie recipe from Luby's. The recipe is copied from grouprecipes

**My Notes**

Chocolate Icebox Pie From Lubys

* Time 135 minutes
* Serves 8


* 2-1/2 cups milk divided **I used skim milk**
* 1-1/3 cups sugar
* 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
* 1 Tablespoon butter or margarine
* 7 Tablespoons cornstarch
* 6 Tablespoons water
* 3 egg yolks, extra-large **I only had large eggs, still used 3**
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 1 cup miniature marshmallows
* 1 pie shell, 9-inch baked **I had ALOT of filling, almost could have made 2 smaller (8-inch) pies**
* whipped cream, sweetened for topping
* chocolate curls or shavings for garnish

How to make it

* Combine 2 cups milk, sugar, cocoa, and butter in a medium-size saucepan. **Use a larger saucepan--my 2 quart was not big enough once everything was added in**
* Bring just to a boil over medium heat.
* In a medium-sized bowl, completely dissolve cornstarch in water.
* Stir in remaining 1/2 cup milk.
* Whisk in egg yolks and vanilla until well-blended.
* Gradually add egg yolk mixture to mixture in saucepan, stirring constantly with wire whisk.
* Cook, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes or until mixture is thickened and smooth.
* Add marshmallows and stir until they melt and mixture is smooth.
* Pour into pie shell.
* Press plastic wrap directly onto filling.
* Refrigerate at least 2 hours.
* Remove plastic wrap.
* Top with whipped cream and garnish with chocolate curls.
* Note: Pressing plastic wrap directly onto hot pie filling prevents a tough, "skin" from forming as pie cools. Use a potato peeler to make decorative chocolate curls or shavings from a chocolate candy bar.

So good, but the whipped cream was almost too much since the pie was already rich. I need to start getting some cravings for healthier food--cookies and pie are doing me no good.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Cleaning Schedule

I am so tired of having a messy house and having to rush around when someone is coming over making sure it is clean enough. And that's if I have notice, Heaven forbid a surprise visitor show up at my door. Although, if you are comfortable enough with me to show up unannounced then I probably am not worried about what you think of my housekeeping skills. :) Anywho, a friend at work was telling me how she cleaned certain rooms everyday and once she got the system down, it was really quick and easy and her house was always "company ready." Of course, the first couple weeks will take longer because the cleaning will take more time but as the weeks go on, it should be just maintenance. After googling different websites/blogs for cleaning schedules and not seeing one that suited me, I made my own. But even now, I'm seeing that it probably won't work once I start teaching at a MDO in September on M/W--I'll have to switch some rooms/days around, but that won't be a big deal. For now, I made my heaviest day Monday because during the summer that's the day that we typically stay home all day and recover from the weekend.

Monday~~Bathrooms/Closets (2)
Tuesday~~Bedrooms (3)
Wednesday~~Living Room/Big Laundry Day
Thursday~~Kitchen/Entry/Laundry Room
Friday~~Dining Room/Playroom

Dishes and laundry will still have to be done daily, as well as general decluttering/tidying up but that should decrease as well once the system in running smoothly. I typed up this list with a checklist of what needs to be done for each room, for my own sanity and in case Chris ever helps he'll know what to do (although admittedly he is a much better/more focused deep cleaner that I am). I am hoping I can get most of the cleaning done in the morning before we go out for the day or when Logan is napping. If all else fails, I can do it after dinner or when Logan's asleep since it hopefully won't take too terribly long. Wish me luck! And let me know if I left something out or if you have a schedule that works for you. I am definitely not married to this one, just trying to get something going.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies!

So last night I was home ALONE--as in no Logan, no Chris. And I had no clue what to do with myself. My sister was working and this "alone time" happened so last minute I had no time to make other plans. And no money to go shopping. Bad timing, but I digress. It was a nice night alone. In the quiet.

So as I was watching TV/playing on the laptop (that I am borrowing from my dad--love this thing, even if it is old it's better than sitting in the office with no TV or comfy couch) I decided cookies (mainly cookie dough) sounded excellent. But I didn't want to make the normal back of the bag recipe for chocolate chip cookies. I googled "best chocolate chip recipe" and this recipe was one of the first ones. I looked at some other links but they were either too complicated or had some extra ingredients that I didn't. This one had the typical ingredients, just in different amounts than normal. The actual link has pictures, etc. but here's the recipe (copied from Savory Sweet Life):

**My Notes**

Alice’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes approx. 45-48 cookies using a sm-med 2tbl. cookie scoop


1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened **I only had unsalted**

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla extract

3 cups (12 oz) all-purpose flour *If at all possible, please weigh the flour **I did not do this**

1 tsp. smallish-medium coarse sea salt *please do not use table salt, the sea salt gives the cookies a nice flavor and hints of texture. If you only have table salt, use 1/2 tsp. *When using sea salt, you will get small crunchy flecks of salt when you bite into the cookie. If you do not like this taste, go with 1/2 teaspoon of table salt.

1 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

2 cups/16 oz of semi-sweet chocolate chips *I use Nestle Toll-House **I used Target brand**


Preheat oven to 360 degrees. Cream butter, sugar, and brown sugar until it is nice and fluffy (approx. 5 minutes on medium speed on a K-5). Add both eggs and vanilla and beat for an additional 2 minutes. Add baking soda, baking powder, salt, and flour until cookie batter is fully incorporated. Finally add chocolate chips until well distributed. The cookie batter should be somewhat thick. Drop about 2 tablespoons of dough or use a medium cookie scoop and plop the batter onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper **I did not use parchment paper**. Bake for 12-14 minutes until the edges are nice and golden brown **mine were done in 11 minutes**. Remove from heat and allow the cookies to stay on the cookie sheet for an additional 2 minutes. Pick up the parchment paper with the cookies still on top and transfer to a cool non-porous surface. Allow the cookies to cool on the paper for at least 3 minutes before serving. Enjoy!


-If you’re cookies are coming out flat and not like the pictures there are probably 3 reasons for this.

#1) Baking powder and Baking soda is old. If your baking powder and soda is older than 1 year and has not been in a sealed (preferably air tight) container, it has lost some of it rising qualities.

#2) Creaming. It is not enough to just cream the butter and sugars until it has come together. This recipe requires you to beat it with a mixer for at least 5 minutes until the texture of the butter and sugar turns to light and fluffy-just like the picture.

#3) Flour. Flour should be weighed. This can make or break the recipe because just scooping flour into a measuring cup will never yield ideal or consistent results.

SO GOOD! Seriously. Crunchy (a little) on the outside, chewy on the inside. And they came out looking like no other chocolate chip cookie I've ever made. They just look better. I'm eating one (or three) right now. Yum. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

He's Swimming! Well, almost.

Logan has been taking swimming lessons for the last week and a half from a physical therapist with my school district who has been doing swimming lessons for like the past 30 years. Now Logan is not afraid of the water--unlike other parents at the lessons, that was not my concern. He is a little too comfortable in the water and that was my concern. He'll jump right in (as long as his head is above water), not understanding why he can't swim. Anyway, the lessons are only 30 minutes long and I was wishing they were longer, wondering what they could possibly get done in 30 minute group lessons (3 in his group). First she just worked on him being comfortable in the water, check. Then she got his face/head in the water without letting him dry their face off--he needed to get used to water on his face. Parents were instructed not to offer a towel or anything during lessons. Strict, strict. She put him on his back and helped him "float" and then flip over and reach for the step. She had him put his face in the water and kick to her while she was holding his arms. She even pushes on his neck to force the head to stay down--that was hard to watch at first, but now I see the progress so it's okay. Now he's jumping off the step to her and swimming a couple feet to her! I mean, he's not great and I am still not comfortable with him alone in the water, of course, but wow! He knows what to do and he is not at all panicky or scared of putting his face in the water at all anymore. The last class is tomorrow and it is the "show off" class where we can bring cameras/video cameras and see what they've learned. Since I'm there everyday, I don't know if I'll see anything new, but I'll be taking video and Chris will be there.

Proof that he's learning and generalizing came tonight, though. We were at the Keller Pointe swimming and he really wanted to swim, not just play! He was letting go of the rails and "swimming" to us. Sure, it was only a foot to get to us, but still. He's 3. I'll take it. Chris took him to the toddler area where the water is not quite 2 feet deep and Logan started showing him what Mrs. Debbie (swim teacher) had taught him. He was putting his face down and pushing off and using his arms and legs and everything he had to swim to one of us. He did this for like 30 minutes straight, I swear. Over and over again. He'd come out of the water so proud! But we need to get the kid some goggles. He swims with his eyes wide open (and his mouth, somehow) and his poor eyes were beet red tonight. Yet somehow he didn't fall asleep until after 10...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

"You're Wearing Me Out"

Yes, that is Logan's latest saying. Apparently, I wear him out...but I have to in order to get him to nap. We were walking out of Target one day last week and he said "Mommy, you're wearing me out." I about fell over laughing. Where does he hear this stuff?

So far this summer we have been to Sea World, movies, water/splash parks, bounce houses, library storytimes, and countless other places to stay busy. Otherwise, I swear this child would watch movies And there has been a day or two where that is what we have done. If that makes me a bad mother because I allow my child to watch TV for more than one hour per day (gasp) then so be it. At least it's educational--the child loves Nick Jr. and Baby Genius (thanks T-Luv), how can those be bad? Sure, there's a Scooby Doo or Tom & Jerry thrown in there occasionally, but it's not some violent cartoon or Sponge Bob or something like that.

Anywho, Logan has been an absolute blast this summer...except for the back talk issue, which I'll get to later. We can have actual conversations, I can reason with him, he can tell me what he wants/doesn't want to do. He's a completely different child from last summer. We had fun last summer, sure, but he was still very much a baby and needed me for a lot. Not so much this year. He's potty trained, able to entertain himself, and get what he needs for the most part. The child can even put in DVDs to get a movie started (especially if I told him no). He loves going to the park and swimming. He just started swimming lessons, which he is loving so far.

Back to the back talk issue. Not fun. We are in the middle of a horrible phase where he thinks he can talk/yell back and actually get away with it. Up until now, he has been pretty easy. I think we got out of the 2's without having "terrible" issues. But 3 is a whole other story, in my opinion. He hit 3 and he discovered he could argue, slam doors, and place demands/refuse demands. Time outs didn't phase him, being sent to his room worked temporarily, but let me tell you after the first time this child got a spanking--he was pretty heavenly...for a couple days. Spankings don't happen a lot, but when the limit has been reached and nothing else is working/getting his attention, they happen (I know, gasp again). But the back talk hasn't really stopped. It's still a daily issue and I am sick of it. Now we are threatening to take privileges away (TV, gymnastics) and he doesn't like that at all. We haven't had to take anything away yet but I'm sure it will happen. I'm hoping he's starting to get the hint that talking back isn't going to fly around here since he's been corrected over and over and over again in multiple ways. His newest thing is "I don't love you anymore." Wow. I thought we still had years before we heard that.