Monday, December 31, 2007

The Night Before New Year's

And all through the house,
there were piles of people and even my spouse!
There was Val and Ed and twins, times two.
(There are so many people here it's really a zoo!)
Sebastian and Alexander, Emma and Logan.
"Twins Everywhere!" really should be our slogan.
Caitlin, Eric, Sierra and Scott,
Our house is full, but quiet it's not!
Happiness spills from every room.
Evildoers (in World of Warcraft) will soon meet their doom!
If only we could get my twins to sleep,
I would then be able to sheep.
Away Logan! Away Emma! Away to your beds!
I can tell that you're sleepy by the way you rub your heads!
The year is almost over, it's coming to a close.
It has been a pretty good one for us, as everyone knows,
but you must close your eyes and rest
(it really is for the best).
Then I can retire to the basement and act my age,
playing with my friends, my level 70 mage.

So goodnight, sweet children, goodnight!
I am off to fight the good fight.

Happy New Year, everybody!

Friday, December 28, 2007

A Very Mellow Christmas

We had a very mellow Christmas here at Chez Hatchet. Just a pair of gifts from Santa came for Caitlin, but she was pleased with what she got. First was a CD clock radio to replace the old one that went kaput one fine day. We tested it out with a CD of rock Xmas songs we received from Eric's ex-stepfather. They were pretty cool!

The other gift from Santa was this:
A castle block set. They are handmade in the US by The Village Blocksmith. I got the idea from Chris at Notes from the Trenches when she was reviewing toys. I must admit to really enjoying playing with them myself. I may have to buy additional pieces.

You know, I think Eric needs a catapult....
Emma bought Caitlin a prince, princess and unicorn set and they went nicely with the blocks. What timing Emma has!
You know what else I discovered?

Caitlin doesn't care for Mommy-zilla coming through and wreaking havoc on her tiny kingdom.


Mommy-zilla really likes wreaking havoc.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Three Months*

Three whole months have passed since the twins were born. Things change quickly at this stage, not least of which is the sudden jump in sleep we seem to be getting. It may just be a fluke, or a short term improvement, but I'll take it.

In the last two nights, both Emma and Logan have slept through the night. Emma is the sleeping champion with last night being her best one yet. While it took us until midnight to get them to go down for the night, once they went down Emma slept until 8:30 am. Unfortunately Logan only slept until 5:30 am, so we didn't get near as much sleep as we might have if they had been in synch. Oh well. I am holding out hope that one day he will sleep longer. I suspect he's just trying to get more feedings in so that he can surge ahead of Emma on the weight gain.

On Monday I had Eric take the twins in to the doctor because of a skin issue I'd noticed on Sunday. (I don't know about you, but I always seem to notice something wrong with my children on a Saturday or Sunday, long past business hours.) Upon returning, Eric gave me the lowdown: lucky us it's eczema, cradle cap is no worse even though the back of Logan's head is creeping me out, the vomiting isn't a milk allergy (so my love of ice cream is safe) but it does appear to be gastroesophageal reflux so we have to sit them up for at least 20 minutes after nursing to keep it under control. Regardless of how bad the cradle cap and eczema looked to me, the doctor was completely unconcerned and suggested cortisone for each. While in some ways it was reassuring that he'd clearly seen far worse cases than ours, I didn't feel reassured that these skin issues would be going away any time soon. Poor little things! Their lovely soft baby skin now feels like something you'd find on a crocodile.

We also found out that they now both weigh 13 pounds each. The two of them together are still about one pound short of Oliver's current weight. They're trying to catch up. We saw Oliver (and Misty, Lee and Marlena) on Saturday and marveled at the difference in their sizes. Yes, Oliver is 5 months older than the twins, however he is clearly built on a different scale than my children. Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures since I thought I'd have a second visit with Misty but the weather interfered. Le sigh!

Moving on...

Emma has good control of her hands now and is working on determining if she likes her whole fist in her mouth or just the first two fingers of her right hand. Caitlin liked the middle two fingers of her right hand, so it will be interesting to see if that preference repeats. Logan doesn't show much interest in putting his fingers in his mouth, but is showing good control when he reaches out and plays with assorted toys on the swing, vibrating chair or playmat.

The twins have decided to become polar opposites on the bath issue. Emma loves taking a bath and hates being removed, having lotion applied and getting dressed. Logan hates being washed but doesn't mind being in the water and loves getting lotioned up and dressed. Either way there's crying in the bathroom. Thankfully Emma is no longer doing her brain melting scream, so it has become a bearable level of screaming.
My bathing beauty.

They coo at one another a lot more now and are fascinated by Caitlin. She's the coolest thing ever and can interrupt a crying jag by singing to them. She's not always excited to be pressed into service as a baby calming device but enjoys being the one that can get them to calm down. We heap on the praise when this happens. Anytime she does anything related to the twins voluntarily we lay it on thick. Sometimes the things she sings or talks to the twins about are a little weird or heartbreaking. She was telling a crying Emma that she needed to stop crying while I was nursing Logan because it wasn't Emma's turn to get attention and that as long as Emma cried Caitlin wouldn't be able to get attention. Ooof! Have I mentioned that I'm really looking forward to the twins getting bigger and more interactive with Caitlin?

She really needs attention and now Emma knows it, too.

I tossed the twins into a pair of outfits my mom gave me and learned a little something: infant boys really don't like button down shirts. It took way more effort to get him in and out of that shirt than it will ever be worth. He objected to the business casual wear. Loudly. Emma, on the other hand, tried to eat her dress. Does that mean she likes it?

Dogs from Caitlin. Bears from Great-Aunt Lenore. Bugs with links from Nana Sue.

Logan smiling at Caitlin.

Emma, captured in a rare moment not trying to eat the dress.

In some ways, it feels like a lot more time has passed than three months, while in other ways it seems like time has just whipped past. I suspect it has a lot to do with sleep deprivation: it does funny things to your sense of time. After seeing how mature Oliver looked at eight months, I'm really looking forward to seeing how the twins will develop and change over the coming months.

* I've been trying to write this post all night, but in between cluster feeds and a vomiting-while-sleeping issue (resulting in an immediate bath and a strip down of bedding), it has taken until 12:30 am to get started.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Wishes

For Christmas, I got part of two of my wishes:

No one threw up on me on Christmas and the twins slept through the night.

When I say "slept through the night" what I mean is that we put them down at 11:40 pm and they didn't wake up until 6:15 am (Logan) and 7:15 am (Emma).

This would have been perfect if Eric and I had actually gone to bed at 11:40 pm, too. Instead, being addicted to the written word we stayed awake while I had a late night snack and read parts of my new book: The New Best Recipe from Cook's Illustrated and Eric read about bacon.

No, I didn't just make that up.

Everything is funnier with a decided lack of sleep.

Tonight? Tonight I'm going to sleep right after they do. I want my 6-7 hours!

Happy Birthday Natasha Jane!

I just got a niece for Christmas!

Well, OK, the day after, but when you are born that close (imagine me holding my fingers a squintilla apart) to Christmas and your name means "born on Christmas day" it's not much of a stretch to say she was a Christmas present.

She is also impatient, since her scheduled c-section was set for tomorrow, the 27th.

Congratulations to Cindy and Jason!

Monday, December 24, 2007

And to all, a good night!

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Scream a little scream of me

I sure hope Santa's bringing me a decided lack of vomit tomorrow because I've just been thrown up on by both babes within 15 minutes of on another.

Logan just screamed his way through a bath.

Good times. Good times!

On the bright sides, my cards will all be finished tonight and one person received it before Xmas. Hand delivered!

I must now go and refuel abruptly emptied infant tanks with milk.

Happy Christmas! Merry Festivus!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Next best thing to a flying car

This is the Aptera (which means wingless). They say it will get 300 mpg, 120 mile range, 90 mph max speed, 0-60 in 10 seconds and is a plug-in electric vehicle. A good question is whether it will be classified as a motor bike or a car.

Either way, I think I'd like one in silver.

Go read the whole article in Popular Mechanics.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Eric is just like this

If it's a random piece of trivia, it's rattling around inside his brain. Why? Who knows! But since he's so entertaining, I think I'll keep him.

This comic is called Candorville. One of my favorites.

Friday, December 21, 2007


Caitlin just sang Logan to sleep.

In other news, I have decided to keep her.

Twelve Weeks

Yesterday the twins turned 12 weeks old. And what a difference 12 weeks makes!

We at Chez Hatchet have always felt that the first 3 months are the absolute toughest when it comes to baby wrangling. The twins have confirmed this theory.

Newborn infants are cute in their own brand new, lump-like manner, but 3 month olds are off the charts with the Cute Factor. (OMG! Did I just refer to my babies as lumps? Worse yet, did I just suggest that yours is, too? Whoops!) At 12 weeks, Emma and Logan have reminded me why we have children in the first place and my will to live has been refreshed. It's amazing the difference a little extra sleep makes. Instead of waking every 1.5 hours, we makes either every 4 or 5. If it weren't for Logan, it would be even longer.

Not that I'm resentful or anything.

The twins stay awake longer during the day, which makes it hard to get any holiday baking done, but I'm trying. They are reaching for dangling toys now and are getting better and better at bringing their hands to their mouths. Emma has been working out and does tummy crunches on a daily basis. She squeezes into a plump ball so that she can reach toys in the tray attached to the swing. I still haven't seen her roll over, but she says she totally could, if she wanted to. Clearly I'm not providing enough motivation.

Both of the are finally able to sleep in the co-sleeper or crib, when laid down for a nap and will sleep for longer than it takes their unconscious bodies to realize they are no longer pressed against my pillowy bosom. Sometimes for a couple of hours, even! Eric feared this would never happen and that we'd be stuck with them sleeping on our chests until they were 10 years old. Men give in so easily to despair, don't they?

The cooing, smiling and flirting is non-stop and ridiculously endearing. So much so that I've decided against trading them in fo
r puppies, though I may yet come to regret this decision once they're six. On the bright side, Caitlin's twelveishness may put their sixishness into sharp perspective and I'll wonder what I was worried about.

For my part, I've lost a total of 55 lbs so far and my hair is starting to fall out, resulting in "poodles" in the bathtub again.

Yes, you could build small dogs out of the hair I shed. That doesn't happen to you?


Well then.

Ahem! [Throat clearing noises.] Moving on!

While I have avoided being covered in curdled milk recently, the baby puking is still occurring. I think we might be getting better at burping them and the twins better at being burped. Logan sounds like a beer guzzling frat boy when he gets a good one off. It's somewhat disturbing how much excited cheering meets such wretched sounds, too, but if passing gas is keeping me un-urped upon, I'll cheer for that!

They still aren't excited about taking bottles, as Heather discovered the night she watched the twins, while Eric and I escaped went out for a nice dinner. However they flirted with her, snuggled her and used Baby Ninja Magic on her so I think she forgave them a little crying. She might even babysit them again one day! Bwahahahaaaa!

Resistance is futile!

Logan helps Eric work on the computer.

Emma is shocked - shocked! - that you would even try to resist her!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Yes. Yes I Could.


It's all about having been trampled by a horse as a teenager. I've got experience to fall back on.

I am more happy than I am sad

This song is perfect.

Stolen from Slacker Mom.

This is also cool, although not related to parenting.

To scribe or not to scribe?

That is the question.

Should I include a holiday letter with my card this year?

Does anyone (on my list) actually like holiday letters? I had a fun idea for one, but it involves a fair amount of time and considering I haven't finished with shopping, do I really have time for involved letter writing?

What do you think?

Besides, this thing is going to be scored!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It's a scooter! It's a weapon of mass destruction!

See the problem with reading blogs you like is that they like other bloggers, too and they like to link to them. Suddenly you find yourself falling down the rabbit hole of unending blog links, discovering more and more blogs that tickle your funnybone and you keep on reading.

Which brings me to this. It's a blogging scooter. Face it - who else would need a scooter with a padded, vibrating bicycle seat and bunny slippers? Oh and a flame thrower.

Totally essential for power blogging. I must have one.

And now I will spend the next several days reading everything The Bloggess has ever written. Le Sigh.

Five Hours

Logan slept for five consecutive hours last night!

Emma, of course, slept for 6 or so.


Ahhhh! [Thud!] ZZZzzzzzzzzzzzz!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Baby Clothes: The Rant

Got a baby? If you do, chances are they're probably wearing something other than just a diaper. Unless it's warm where you live all the time, in which case - more power to you!

For the rest of us, choices need to be made. I'm here to help. So if you're buying for yourself for a first baby or buying for a friend and you don't know a thing about buying baby clothes, this post's for you! For all others, let me know what you find essential in the comments.
  • Coming Clean.
    First up: it must be machine washable. I don't care how darling that outfit is: if I can't throw it in the wash when it gets pooped, peed or vomited on, then it's just a Single Serving Outfit to me. If I barely have time to shower, do you really think I'm going to have time to take this thing to and from the dry cleaners? Also, the expense of dry cleaning is guaranteed to exceed the value of the outfit in just a couple of trips.
  • Material Matters.
    Cotton is King when it comes to baby clothes. Soft cotton, please! That which has to come into contact with the world's softest skin should be soft to the touch, shouldn't it? If it feels stiff or like I wouldn't want it touching my skin, I'm not going to buy it or want it for my child.
  • It's All About Style.
    In the summer Caitlin was born, she pretty much lived in onesies. The twins, on the other hand, need full coverage since it's cold. We have come to love one piece outfits that are fast to get in and out of since we spend a lot of time stripping vomit-covered outfits off. Sleep sacks seems nice, with their instant diaper area access, but they ride up which leaves a fall/winter baby cold. Multiple piece outfits are fine, except that the shirts ride up. Pairing a onesie with a pants outfit is just yet another layer you have to strip away before diapering, which is bothersome for the fumble-fingered in the middle of the night.
  • Closing it Up.
    Considering we spend an awful lot of time drunk with exhaustion as new parents, anything tougher than a zipper is probably going to be too complex for us to handle on reduced brain power. However, since not everything comes with zippers, here are my preferences in order: zipper, snaps, ties, velcro, buttons (if you absolutely must). Personally, I can't button or unbutton anything from 1 am to 7 am, so those outfits tend to get left at the bottom of the pile until everything else is dirty.
  • Collars.
    It might seem weird to have a collar preference, but I do. I like outfits to have minimal collar action. If the collar is so large and round that I start thinking about Elvis (fat era) or characters from Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (Princess Ardala), that collar it too darned big and is just going to become a collection point for the fluid du jour.
Well, that's my list. What's on yours? that I'm done, I think I'm going to catch a little video. Wow! The stuff we used to watch on TV!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Tap. Tap tap.


Tap tap.

"Ungggh." I don't want to wake up from the warm, dark, heavy unconsciousness. Noooo!


Tap tap.

"Unggh." I crack open my left eye in time to see a small pudgy arm rising to tap me on the chest again. Logan's big blue eyes greet my blurry gaze and he smiles welcomingly.

"You're still in there!" he seems to say. "Wake up. Want milk. Want up."

"No, honey, go back to sleep. Mommy wants a nap." My speech is slurred with exhaustion. My lap is filled with my cat, Domino. I'm pinned to the bed by his weight, with my left arm wrapped around Logan. Emma is sleeping in the twins' room, my good sleeper. My eyes fall closed again and the cat purrs, vibrating gently.

Tap. Tap tap. "Enh! Enh!" Logan is insistent, but I'm so tired that I groggily shift his position, hoping that a change of scenery will make him happy and let me sleep for a few more minutes. Now he lays across my ribs, partly kneeling, facing the cat. Domino misses being close to me, first it was because of my giant belly, now it's because I constantly have a baby in my arms. He's taken advantage of my napping to lay down right on top of me where he can be conspicuously within petting range. I reach down and pet his head clumsily. I know that just like Caitlin, he needs attention. Poor kitty. Poor Caitlin.

"Enh! Enh! Enh! Enh!" Uh oh. He sounds like he's starting to get serious about this waking up thing. I open both eyes this time and pull him up to a sitting position on my chest. He gives me an excited squawk and flatters me with his electric smile. Then he starts babbling, "Ooo! Ooo! You! You! Hiiiii!" This proves to be my undoing. I can't resist the smiling and cooing combination. I wake up all the way and coo back.

Laying him down at my side, I admire both my son and my cat. The cats still weigh more than the twins, but the twins are catching up. Domino opens his eyes to slits and observes the usurper laying next to him and decides to let him live a little longer. Perhaps he'll devour the noisemaker another day. Logan remains unconcerned and unimpressed. Resigned, I get up, dislodging the cat.

No rest for the Hatchet.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

What I really want for Christmas

The real list.
  1. To sleep 8 consecutive hours through the night.
  2. To never be thrown up on again.
  3. To be able to stop children from whining with a single thought. Not even a word or a look.
  4. To be able to eat my food while it's still warm.
  5. With both hands.
  6. A working libido. (Sorry! La la la laaa! You didn't just read that. Aiee!)
  7. Staff. Including, but not limited to: a housekeeper, a cook, a gardener, a chauffeur, and a nanny. I wouldn't need them full time, but it sure would be nice to be able to pull them out of a pocket dimension when I needed a break.
  8. A transporter a la Star Trek.
  9. To be in the shape I was in when I was 19 and clueless. Youth really is wasted on the young.
  10. A successful and thriving business that I love and that can pay the bills.
  11. A bigger house.
  12. And while I'm at it, World Peace; the end to World Hunger; equal rights, pay and respect for all women and men; the end to all diseases - mental and physical; the end to Global Warming. Might as well include those, since I'm thinkin' big.
What's on your real list? Come on, I know you have one!

Hatchet Philosophy

A day that ends with being vomited on and begins with being vomited on can't get any worse.

Can it?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Oft Repeated Phrases

In no particular order (except maybe #1):
  1. Brush! Your! Teeth!
  2. Put that down.
  3. No! Don't! Arrrgh!
  4. Caitlin. Caitlin! Caitlin! (While not actually a phrase it gets repeated a lot around here.)
  5. Get that out of your mouth!
  6. Stop whining.
  7. Stop wiping your hands on your pants. Use a napkin. There's one right in front of you!
  8. Watch where you're...*crash*...going. (Sigh.)
  9. We're going to be late!
  10. I love you, honey.
What phrases do you have on continual repeat around your house?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Oh, Christmas Tree!

Hark! It is later and here are photographs!
The tree. Fluffy!
Caitlin reacts to the surprise tree. She approves.
Caitlin, freshly washed, trims the tree.

Right after she got home from school and hugged the tree, I took her out to go shopping for ornaments and a tree topper. By ourselves. We left Eric with the twins and skedaddled. We had a good time and probably bought more than we should have. I let her select the star and the ribbon and I suggested the purple (her favorite color) and gold ornaments to go with it. We also picked up a pair of stocking for the twins and stocking holders. May need to return those holders, they are too rustic for my taste but I was set to the SHOP mode where everything starts to look good. Caitlin was very excited to have some alone time with me and I with her.

When we returned, I helped her place the star on top where it lists drunkenly to one side due to its sheer weight. I think it adds a little je ne sai quoi, don't you?

The finished tree. I did the lights and the ribbon and left the rest to Caitlin and Eric. Note the single wrapped present under the tree? It came in the mail today. Timing! I have some from my sister that are in need of wrapping and now that there is a tree, I shall do so.
Tree detail.

While I'm not yet humming Christmas songs under my breath, I'm no longer thinking about just phoning it in this season. Tomorrow: more decorating.

It is also Eleven Weeks. Here is some cuteness for you. Take two and call me in the morning.
Emma is getting the hang of getting her hands to her mouth. Insert frantic sucking sounds here.
She's a smiley little devil. Cannot...escape...cute...vortex!
Logan considers chewing on Eric's hand.
Troll Doll Baby.
Horrendous flash shadow, no? The cuteness overcomes the flash. You want to nibble his cheeks, don't you? I do!

Possibly Starting to Feel It

Now this is my idea of Christmas Carols! I'm sure my older sister will approve.

Thanks, Dan!

Tree Acquired!

Photo later.

It's a 5' Grand Fir cut tree. The twins slept through it. Won't Caitlin be surprised when she gets home today?

I decided to get a living tree in the spring when the selection is better. Besides, if I'm going to spend real money on a real tree, I want to guarantee its survival and that means it needs to be outdoors!

Not Feeling It

Ye Olde Christmas Spirit.

Ain't feelin' it. Nope. None here.

Yeah, I've got a wreath on the door, but that's as far as the decorating has gotten. No tree by the hearth (I've got a hearth! OK, so it's a gas fire, but it's still a hearth!), no stockings set out, no chestnuts roasting by an open fire (Clearly a fire hazard and all that smoke? Fuggehdabboudit!) and no presents wrapped and waiting.

No presents. None. Nada. Zip.

I haven't gone shopping yet.

Did you notice how there are less than 2 weeks to go until Xmas? Ayup. I did, too! Notice how I'm not racing out? Ayup. Trapped under twins.

I don't know where, but somewhere along the way to 2007 I lost my thrill for Xmas. I really like birthdays and birthday parties, but Xmas? Not so much. We go low key around here and haven't ever really been big on decorating. Now that Caitlin is getting older and more interested in things like decorating that may have to change. Perhaps her excitement will become infectious? (There are much worse things she could infect me with. A terminal case of whining, would be high on the list.) She's jonesing for a tree, so Eric and I have been discussing whether we're going to get a cut tree (It's dead and then you just throw it out, says he with disgust.) or a living tree (Must...keep...tree...alive...until...spring! Note how that responsibility falls to Ms. Greenthumbs? The pressure!). Both of these options require going out and shopping, which is good because it gets us out of the house but it's tough to do with They Who Do Not Approve of Shopping Trips.

We'll have to chance it.

Heck, I haven't even done my annual holiday photo yet, either and I have a cool idea, too. So don't anyone be surprised when neither my Xmas presents nor my card make it to you by Xmas. I consider it a solid win if you get anything still within 2007.

You're OK with that, right? Right?!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A good day for birds

It's about 24 degrees (Farenheit, of course) outside and there's about 6 inches of snow on the ground. And there are dozens of birds in my yard.

I went out yesterday, during a rare baby break, and refilled my two feeders. Today I am rewarded with a really good mix of birds.
  • Slate-colored Juncos
  • Pink-sided Juncos
  • Red shafted flickers
  • Downy woodpeckers
  • Chickadees
  • Nuthatch of indeterminate variety
  • House finches galore
I've decided that I need a better birding book. Mine has training wheels on it and I think I might be ready to graduate to Big Girl's Birding Book. I'm not fabulous at it, since all the females just look like LBBs (Little Brown Birds) to me, regardless of their type. I can only determine the species if I happen to see a male.

Winter is a good time of year to check out the birds in my yard since no foliage gets in the way and hummingbirds aren't around leaving me distracted. In the summer, when the hummers show up, all of the other birds get ignored. I become hummer obsessed. In the winter, though, I provide a good and reliable source of food to the winged set. And I get all crazy about the woodpeckers.

You could say I have seasonal favorites.

My cats, they approve.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Peppermint Bark

Do you know about Peppermint Bark? Decades of my life had gone by before I was introduced to it by my friend Christine. When she mentioned it to me I was dubious: candy canes and chocolate? I'm not that fond of candy canes, but I gave it a try anyway. Yum! I can't remember now where hers came from, but it was good. I put it out of my mind until I saw a bag of Ghirardelli's peppermint bark two weeks ago and I thought I'd give it a try.

It was pretty good, but not as good as the bark I remembered. Looking at it closely, I figured that it had to be easy to make, except for the tempering of the chocolate part. As part of my pastry class we spent a day on chocolate. Let me tell you: you really can have too much of a good thing. By the end of that day I wanted to have nothing to do with chocolate for months afterwards. Tempering chocolate, for those of you that have never done it, is a pain in the...wrist. If you're doing it manually, at any rate. You melt your chocolate, and then cool it down to the temperature specific to that type of chocolate (dark, milk, white) and only within a degree of that sweet spot and then you put it into forms and then cool it in your giant walk in freezer. Oh, that was just at the school. Once you've done that, it acts just like the chocolate you get at the store: holds the shape you've put it into and doesn't immediately melt in your hand.

Doing this at home isn't impossible, it's just time intensive. Something I don't have anymore.

However, I decided that surely I could make Peppermint Bark, even if I wasn't going to temper it. Thus decided, I poked around looking for a recipe. I started here and then went there. In the end, it's ridiculously easy. This afternoon I made some with Caitlin as a special treat and as something easy we could do together that wouldn't be too time intensive, since the twins were very needy. As it turned out, this should have taken us 15 minutes, but became 2 hours with all of the interruptions to nurse.

Peppermint Bark
1 lb good quality semi-sweet or dark chocolate (I used Caro 62%)
1 lb good quality white chocolate (I used Callebaut)
1/4 lb peppermint candies or so (I just used however many I had, might have been 25-30 of them)
Wax paper, buttered
  1. Smash your peppermint candies/candy canes and set aside.
  2. Melt the dark chocolate in your microwave, being careful to not scorch it. I put mine in for a minute, stirring at 30 seconds. You could use a double boiler but ehn! who wants to wash all of those pans? (At this point, I could have added a couple of drops of peppermint oil if I'd thought about it, but I didn't. If you do, let me know how that goes.)
  3. Spread the dark chocolate out on your waxed paper. You can use a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan - anything flat will do. I used a half sheet, but didn't spread the chocolate to the edges since that would have been too thin. Spread to your desired thickness/thinness.
  4. Refrigerate or freeze until solid.
  5. Melt the white chocolate, again being careful not to scorch it. (Once again, you could add a couple of drops of peppermint oil here.)
  6. At this point, either stir your smashed peppermints into the white chocolate or spread a layer of white chocolate over the dark chocolate and then add the peppermint candy.
    The former will probably ensure you lose less peppermint but makes it harder to spread. The latter means you will lose some of the peppermint, but is easier to spread sans candy pieces. If choosing the latter option, press lightly down on the candy to embed it into the melted chocolate.
  7. Refrigerate or freeze until solid.
  8. When solid, remove from freezer, break or cut into pieces and enjoy!
  9. Finally, be certain to hide the pieces away or you'll have to share with the rest of the family.
You want to see, dontcha? Sure ya do!
First you get your helper to unwrap all of the peppermints, after she's washed her hands.
Then she smashes them flat. You can help! Very good for getting our your aggression.
You want flakes or tiny bite sized pieces.
Stop to admire your daughters.
Tickle this one under the chin. Promise her that one day she'll get to make some, too.
Shredded chocolate melts faster. The Caro chocolate started off in gum drop shape so we ran it through the Cuisinart and turned it into shavings. I "only" had 3/4 of a pound, but I figured that was a fine amount to start with. The main idea is to have equal amounts of chocolate and enough peppermint candy to cover the top.
Mmmm! Looks like pudding.
The help is excited about helping and had to taste test both chocolates before we started. She approved.
White chocolate pistoles. I normally don't like white chocolate, but paired with dark chocolate in this way it's quite nice.
Melted, it looks like vanilla pudding.Light and dark meet.
Caitlin spreads out the crushed candy.
Detail. Bet you're glad her hands are clean, aren't ya?
Almost done!
The finished product looks downright Christmas-y. While this will melt in your hands, who cares?
Caitlin bravely tries the first piece.
After noticing that she didn't suffer any ill effects (except for Crazy Chocolate Face), Eric tries a piece and approves.
Emma (wearing a new outfit) says, "No pictures! And stop staring at my bald spot!"

Now that I know how easy it is, I'm going to add it to my list of items to make as Xmas presents. Every year I go on a baking frenzy and give food in lieu of purchased gifts. No one seems to mind too terribly much! As a matter of fact, I think they rather like it - it's never the wrong size or color and no one ever has too many shortbread cookies or chocolate crinkle cookies. Each year I try out a couple new recipes and add them to the approved list and this recipe just made that list.

What are you making for Xmas and do you give out food as gifts?

A high need day

The twins refuse* to be put down today without screaming.

I mean, I can put them down if I'd like to be serenaded with screams that express the utter devastation and pain I am inflicting on two such young and tender souls. You know. Just that.

Days like this should just come with a warning label that says: Don't Make Any Plans.

* Note that this is in the present tense because the day ain't over yet!

Oh and say hello to post #500. Hah! Just call me Chatty Cathy!


I don't need sweaters. I have twins.

Warm, toasty, snuggly twins.

Monday, December 10, 2007


Guaranteed to make you cry. A short film about a girl and her dog and a dog and her girl.

Hat tip to Dooce.

Caitlin Sings

In addition to it being Eric's birthday on Friday, it was also the date for Caitlin's holiday sing at her school. As I've mentioned before, that child looooooves to sing. Loves it. So why is it that when she's in the room singing for the parents that she goes all shy?

Le sigh!

This year she did better than last year - I could hear her voice this time. As soon as she noticed me in the crowd of parents (with large, glaringly obvious camera in tow) she perked right up.
Here they are singing a song, in Spanish, about making hot chocolate - it's called Chocolate. The sticks are stirring the chocolate slow, slow, slow and then fast, fast, fast. That part also involved a little involuntary percussion on the part of the kids that dropped their sticks.
Here they are clearly about to pummel the kid in front of them with their little wooden sticks. Oh wait. No, that's the song about Pinatas! Dale! Dale! Dale! (Imagine that I have accents figured out...)
It was at this point I had to stop taking pictures and sidle over to where Eric was attempting to videotape and hold a squirmy Logan at the same time. Logan insisted that he'd never been fed at all that day, so I had to leave and go nurse. I could hear them singing from the hallway and it sounded great. At the very end of the performance, they did a little dance and invited a single family member per child to go out and dance with them. Eric went out with Emma.

No photos of it, as sweet as it was, because I was holding Logan. Instead, you'll just have to imagine it and say "Awww!"

Caitlin was thrilled that we all came and listened and that she got to dance with Emma and Eric.

A good day was had by all.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Devil's Food Cake Recipe

Ask and ye shall receive!

First a little background:

I took a week long pastry course several years ago as a present to myself, since I really like to bake. This recipe is from that course, in the section on cakes, as is the buttercream icing. I learned a lot that week and bought a lot of gear from the local restaurant supply house. If there's one thing I've got, it's kitchen gear. Other women collect shoes, I collect baking gear.

My strong suggestion before you bake this is that you have a heavy duty mixer (i.e. KitchenAid - I love mine!) because you're going to run it for several minutes with this recipe. Second, get good, straight sided 8" circular pans with 2" sides. I used my old pans purchased from the grocery store with sloped sides and not quite enough depth for the amount of batter this recipe makes and one kind of overflowed and semi-collapsed on itself. Shh! Don't tell Eric! Third, quality ingredients mean a quality product so use real butter, real vanilla and good chocolate. For the amount of time you spend baking, the product should be worth the time invested.

Devil's Food Cake
Yield: 2 8" cakes
Recipe adapted for CO elevation from Cook's Illustrated March & April 2000


4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped (use the good stuff)
1/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa
1 1/4 cup boiling water (intensifies chocolate flavor)
3/4 cup (3.75 oz) all purpose flour
3/4 cup (3 oz) cake flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
8 oz unsalted butter, softened (2 sticks)
1 1/2 cup (10.5 oz) packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature and stirred smooth
1 tsp vanilla extract (real, not imitation)

  1. Adjust oven racks to upper and lower middle positions. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Butter 2 8" round pans with butter and line bottom of pans with parchment paper rounds, then butter parchment and dust pans with cocoa.
  3. Combine chocolate and cocoa in medium bowl, pour boiling water over and whisk until smooth. (Note: do this step early so the chocolate has time to cool down before you add it.)
  4. Sift together flours, baking soda and salt onto sheet of waxed or parchment paper. (Or another bowl, I'm not picky!) Set aside.
  5. Place butter and brown sugar in bowl of a standing mixer and beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 (to 5) minutes. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula.
  6. On med-high, begin to add eggs one at a time, beating 30 seconds after each addition.
  7. Reduce speed to medium. Add sour cream and vanilla and beat until combined, about 10 seconds. Stop mixer and scrape down bowl.
  8. With mixer on low, add about 1/3 flour mixture, followed by 1/2 chocolate mixture. Repeat, ending with flour mixture. Beat until just combined, about 15 seconds. Do not overbeat. (Overbeating results in the production of gluten which makes your cake chewy instead of tender. Not what you're after.)
  9. Remove bowl from mixer, scrape bottom and sides with rubber spatula and mix gently to thoroughly combine.
  10. Divide batter evenly among cake pans (Note: you could even use 3 8" pans if you wanted skinny layers.), smooth batter to edges of pan with spatula.
  11. Bake 30-35 minutes. (Note: At 15 minutes, I rotate my pans and swap positions if they're both on the same rack. Obviously it will take even less time if you're using 3 pans.) Invert cakes onto cooling racks. Cool completely before icing.

Classic Buttercream
Yield: 6 cups


1 3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
3 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
1 lb unsalted butter, softened
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract or other flavoring to taste

  1. Place water and sugar in small saucepan and stir to combine over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
  2. Cover pan and bring to a boil and continue to cook the sugar to 240 degrees. (Yes, you need a candy thermometer.)
  3. Place yolks and whole eggs in mixer bowl and whip on medium speed with the whip attachment until light and fluffy. (Note: this step takes place at same time as #2 because it takes several minutes to cook the sugar solution and several minutes to whip the yolks. You're going for a light lemon-y yellow color, and kinda creamy in texture. The eggs gain a lot of volume in this step.)
  4. With the mixer running on medium (KitchenAid: 4), gradually pour the sugar syrup into the egg mixture being careful not to pour it directly on the whip attachment.
  5. Let the mixer run on medium speed until the egg mixture has cooled and become smooth. This will take several minutes. Test by turning the mixture off and inserting a finger into the mix. (Note: you're looking for cool enough to the touch, not cool or truly cold. You don't want to melt the butter in the next step either, just incorporate it.)
  6. Add the butter one tablespoon at a time, allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding the next. When all the butter has been added, continue to mix until the buttercream is smooth.
  7. Add the vanilla or other flavoring. If the buttercream appears curdled, add more butter, one tbsp at a time until the mixture has a smooth consistency. Increasing the speed of the mixer briefly may also help bring the buttercream together.
  8. Use immediately or store refrigerated until ready to use. Bring to room temperature before mixing briefly to restore consistency.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Party That Almost Wasn't

Otherwise known as: More Cake for Us!

Do you have any idea of just how long it takes to make a cake, from scratch, while nursing twins?

All bloody day, that's how long!

I started somewhere around 10 am and finished just past 6 pm. It has been a marathon cake making session, but I did it!

Remember that blizzard we weren't getting here? Well we've gotten it and how! We received several phone calls from friends letting us know that they weren't coming because it's too crazy to drive out there. So the only people that are out driving are those that are crazier than the weather. This explains why Herb, Scott and Sierra were the only ones to make it to our house tonight! To make the trip worth it, they were feted with cake and gelato and forced to watch my homage to 40 Years of Eric.

For those of you that weren't able to make it due to distance or disastrous weather, here it is in pictures.

A small sampling of pictures from the presentation (Thanks for the photos, Linda!):
Eric was destined to become a Phone Phreak from a very young age.

You can see both Logan and Emma in his face here.

So cute! I think those overalls are back in style now, too.

Back to the present!
The cake.

This is a Devil's Food cake with vanilla buttercream icing. There are 8 ounces of chocolate (4 oz Dutch processed Callebaut and 4 oz unsweetened Ghirardelli) in the cake and one pound of butter in the buttercream. I ruined the first attempt at the sugar syrup when I brought it past 240 degrees and then tried to cool it down since the eggs weren't whipped yet. Whoops! It crystallized and looked just like the snow outside only hotter. Fortunately my second attempt worked just fine.
Caitlin assists.

Wouldn't you know it? I couldn't find a single plain candle in the entire house, so I settled for the #1 candle and left it at that. Caitlin leapt in to help Eric blow it out because, clearly the geezer needs help.
Making a wish. Retroactively wishing for a Porsche?

Cutting the cake.
A little slice.

Waiting for me to sit down already!

Rare Hatchet photo. Scott insisted.

The cake was yummy, everyone enjoyed it. After a bit of jovial conversation everyone not living on the premises hit the snowy roads and we retired to the basement and attempted to knock the twins out.
Eric and Emma.

I was noticing that I have few images of Eric and Emma. He holds her, too, not just Logan! I'm just usually nursing Logan while this is going on which makes it a little difficult to photograph them. Between that and the fact that Logan sleeps less than Emma ensures there will be more photos of him floating around. Maybe he's just a ham for the camera?

Ayup, he's a ham. Takes after his dad.

Updated to add: Having heard that it's not a party until someone throws up, Logan obliged.
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