Thanksgiving Update: Baking With Toddlers

Today, Porter and I attempted our first cake together, and I just gotta be real: baking with toddlers is a complete joke.

Maybe girls are more patient, but Porter seriously made me want to rip my hair out. He wanted to taste everything. After repeated “nos”, I just let him go for it. Let me tell you, the look on his face when he tasted vanilla extract and unsweetened cocoa powder was a pained one, and I fought back every urge to beam at him: “I told you so”.

I told him not to throw stuff into the KitchenAid. After I fished out apple skin (from the apple he was eating), and a whole egg, I told him he was on sous-chef probation and that he needed to vacate the counter. In retaliation, he shoved his fork into my dry ingredients and tossed it into the air, the culinary version of giving me the finger.

It was raining flour, cocoa powder, and granulated sugar. And I was seeing red. I plopped him off the counter and onto the floor, where he continued to rant about the disgusting “coconut flour” (cocoa powder) that I “made him” taste. I turned on my mom-survival-blinders and just ignored him. He stomped around the kitchen, pitching an absolute fit, until he decided tears were a better approach, and he just sobbed: “… but I wanna help youuuuuuuuu, mom!”

First of all, I am “mommy”. Don’t you dare call me mom like some teenager, and stop trying to make me feel guilty. You tiny, tiny, little dictator.

Second of all, YOU CANNOT PUT WHOLE EGGS INTO THE KITCHENAID. You have to follow the recipe. I know this is asking the impossible, since you can’t wipe your own butt, but that’s why I was repeatedly and willingly reminding you of the rules. When you chose to ignore me, time and time again, you get the boot. That’s just how it goes.

And now, he’s freaking out because when I asked him what he wanted for lunch and when he said cake, I told him it wasn’t a possibility.

My cakes are out of the oven, and it’s time for the filling – which he is not allowed anywhere near.

Thanksgiving Eve

MY FAVORITE DAY OF THE YEAR: Thanksgiving Eve. Actually, if I’m being honest, the EVE of Thanksgiving Eve is probably my favorite.

It’s literal perfection. The anticipation, the planning, the prepping, the cleaning, the CAFFEINE. We don’t stop drinking coffee until way, way after the kids are in bed. By this point, I’m peeling potatoes like a machine and Paul has decided not to involve himself with kitchen activities, so he starts putting a puzzle together at the dining room table.

We’re talking about desserts for our Thanksgiving night bakeoff, we’re texting friends and family to solidify plans, we’re listening to Christmas music and letting the kids stay up way too late. We’re on Foodnetwork.com, I’m frantically searching for a new and incredibly innovative recipe for Brussel sprouts or carrots (it never fails. Last year, the bourbon maple carrots I found were a hit). I’m gagging at turkey prep (will I ever be mature enough to clean/cook my own turkey?!)

Photo: www.cookingandbeer.com

Do you have any day-before-Thanksgiving traditions that you love? What about tried and true recipes? I need some more for my arsenal! There are only so many veggies I can transform with brown sugar, maple syrup and bourbon.

Tacoma Gems: Elemental Pizza

I love when a new food joint open up in town (why do I sound like a grandma saying that? Um). Some friends posted photos of this new pizza place downtown Tacoma, Elemental Pizza, so when Paul got home from work midweek last week, I dropped several very obvious hints until Paul finally said: “so, do you wanna go get pizza at the place you’ve brought up about fifteen times in the last hour?” I acted surprised, like “oh, I did? You noticed that?”

So, yeah, we packed up the kids and headed downtown.

First of all, any establishment that brings fresh dough for the kids to play with while we wait for our food is an immediate winner in my book. That, and the fact that they cook it up for him, too, in whatever shape he wanted? Yes. Bonus points, Elemental. Bonus points.

I had a truffle pizza (I’m a sucker for all things truffle) on a gluten-free crust, and a side of fire-roasted cauliflower. Paul (and Porter) had a prosciutto and arugula pizza with a balsamic reduction. All the food was amazing. The service was fast and friendly, and the decor was just perfect – lots of whimsical lighting and polished concrete and reclaimed wood. My kinda spot.

We’ll be back soon. Mainly because there’s a rosemary potato pizza on the menu that taunted me as I made my decision, closed the menu, and shoved it in the waitress’s arms before I changed my mind.

I just can’t say no to truffle.

A Day In The Life

Renee Biscarret Photography

Emails. Phone calls; quickly place my Skype on mute while Porter screams about “sharpie scissors” (although I have no idea what it means and decide quickly to ignore him, because it doesn’t sound like the best idea he’s had).

Get apple juice.

Grab Simon from climbing up onto the fireplace.

Refill apple juice.

Find Simon’s missing sock.

Distract Porter from sharpie scissors with a piece of candy. Before breakfast. It’s fine.

Remember my muted phone call and rush back to catch up on what they are saying. Pretend like I haven’t gone missing, moonlighting as a waitress/maid for two very demanding clients when I should have been comparing the amount of October’s unique pageviews to the average organic session duration for a very high-profile client.

Tell Porter I’m fresh out of “sharpie scissors”. Again.

Turn off the water I forgot I left running in the sink.

Grab Simon from shoving his fingers into the fan in his room (which I forgot to turn off when he woke up), on my way to let Lennon outside.

Say “hold on” to my babies one too many times. Fight guilt one too many times.

That, my friends, is a peek into my typical afternoon.

Sometimes it feels like life is spinning in a mad, giant circle, and I’m only doing my best to keep steady. Porter’s changed his mind about breakfast for the tenth time in as many minutes, Simon is tugging on the bottom of my shirt, so proud to be standing. My computer is making noises, I’m tripping over Leggos, and losing. my. mind.

I think about it later, as I’m composing a blog post (like now), and the day is quieting down. I’m mentally exhausted. I want Paul to swoop in, home from work and ready to valiantly play the role of mom and dad for the several hours before bedtime (which, in itself, is quite the event). I want to retreat while this happens, to not say a word, to stare at my phone and just unplug and pretend I don’t have any responsibilities.

except that I don’t. I don’t want that, at all. These people are my life, and my life is hectic and loud and super messy, but it’s incredibly fulfilling. I don’t want to unplug, I don’t want Paul to pull double duty. I think I do, but I only do until it happens, and I miss them all. I miss the craziness, and tripping over Leggos. I miss Porter’s bartering and Simon’s snuggles.

One time, Porter was bargaining with me about something (probably candy, stupid Halloween leftovers) and as his enticing offer to trick me into saying yes, he said “maybe you can lay down and sleep?” so he could do what he was fighting with me about. My blood turned cold.

Porter knows I want sleep. He knows it’s what I yearn for. Can he read it on my face? I’ve never told him sleep would make me happy. Is he just that smart, and guessing? Does he feel my disconnect? Do I look… worn out?

Sobering reminders that little eyes are watching. Every move I make, every short fuse that fires, every time I reprimanded when I should have had grace… they‘re watching. And while I assess myself with judgement, they probably think I’m pretty darn amazing. A little whacked out, sure. But overall amazing. When the day winds down and they want my cuddles, it reminds me that they do see all I do. But not with the judging eyes I assume they do – but with all the love in the world.

When there are two huge couches in our living room to sit on, and Porter wedges himself between me and the arm I’m leaning up against, I realize he can’t be too mad about how many times I took candy away from him before noon. When Simon sees me from across the room, and nothing, come hell or high water, is going to stop him from crawling right up to my feet and pulling himself into my lap, I know he can’t possibly remember when I rolled my eyes that he was ready to nurse again.

We are are own biggest critics, and I’m vowing to take better care of myself throughout the day, so in return, I can take even better care of them.

Our Target Tradition

Saturdays are my favorite. We have a pretty “official” Saturday schedule going: wake up, Happy Donuts, Starbucks for mom (who is avoiding processed sugar and gets super grumpy after about 20 minutes at the donut shop), “The Target”/mall, sometimes lunch, and then home so Paul can head to church.

We always mindlessly wander Target, throwing things into our cart that we don’t really need, browsing the toys with Porter, looking at the new clothes for both the boys, trying to find a good place or reason to buy a faux fur stool in the home decor section, stocking up on La Croix and coconut milk nog and peppermint white chocolate kettle corn… you know, the usual. We check out, I save 5% on my Red card, Paul panics about how much money we just spent on non-necessities, Porter gets a sticker, and then we’re on our merry way.
This post sounds like an ad, but it’s not. I just genuinely love it that much. What is it about Target that is just so… happy? Do they have subliminal messaging in their advertising? Is it because it literally has everything you need in one place and people always look much more sane than the local Walmart? I even love the Target brand, Archer Farms. I mean, I’m being serious: it’s just ALL GOOD. Even the little things.
I mean, just today another mom and I, who was toting around a baby maybe a couple weeks old, laughed and joked around together as we searched through personalized ornaments for our kids’ initials. So, ya know, it’s really also about community.

I need to start documenting our weekend Target trips in pictures, so I can look back through them someday – when Porter is too busy on a Saturday morning to accompany us on our Target dates (sobs). Some of my favorite weekend memories are in our local Target, and it makes me oddly happy when Porter exclaims “THE TARGET!” as we drive up. Until he starts backseat driving and telling us to park the car, like that’s not the one thing we’re focused on at that very moment.

What are some of your favorite weekend traditions?

Inspiration from Dr. Seuss

I got today’s little morning reminder from last night’s storytime with the boys. As I read this book out loud, I found myself so encouraged – I had to pause and laugh a little at the simplicity and blatant challenge of this message. 

You have a brain in your head. Use it however you see fit.
You have feet in your shoes. Now, go.


What I appreciate about his books: the way he lays it out there – no frills, no fuss. It brought me, even just for a moment, back to the basics of what truly drives me. Let’s remind ourselves of what we have in our hands, what we’re capable of, and then let’s go to work. It’s more than just dreaming about possibilities… we have to actually get moving.

Yesterday, I was frustrated at work with the fact my clients don’t seem to read my reports. I put a lot (a LOT) of hours into them. It’s what I do all day. Oftentimes, I’m sure the clients only skim them for graphs that tilt in the right direction. They don’t get deep into the analysis like I do, and it disappoints me. It took a short phone call with my superior (sorta the Dr. Seuss of my workplace, if you will) – to identify the problem and find the solution: I need to get on the phone with as many clients as I can and go over the reports with them. Get their feedback. Learn what they want. Adjust their next report to make them happier. I can’t complain about what I allow, so I’m not allowing reports to just slip under the radar anymore.

What are some things in your life that you can innovate, improve, or take on? If it makes you miserable, or is a source of frustration, it means there’s room for improvement and it has your name all over it. You have brains in your head and feet in your shoes: make it happen.
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Rain On Pavement

Do you ever have random memories of a particular day and time that never leave you?

I have one day that seriously haunts me, and it’s nothing special. But, it happened as a I drove down a certain road in my town; a road that I still drive down every single day. And every single day, I have flashes of this memory. Nothing crystal clear, but just… the feeling. It’s the most random, pointless thing – except that it’s not. I know there’s a reason that this moment lives on.

I know it was fall, and it had just finished raining. I don’t remember where I was coming from or where I was going, but I remember feeling overwhelmed with gratefulness. My window was down a bit; it was one of those sunny, slightly warm days in September or October that cap off a long, hot summer. The smell of rain on the warm pavement was overwhelming, and I remember deciding in my head that I adored that smell and that it made the world seem so clean.

Maybe this was the birth of my love for fall. Maybe this was when it all began.

I remember committing that moment to memory. I remember telling myself that this was a beautiful, wonderful life and I was so lucky to be living it. Maybe this is why the rain never bothers me… living in Washington, we get a lot of it. But I always go back to that day, and remember my appreciation and thankfulness to be living in a world that is washed clean and renewed with each passing day.

Crazy Dreams

This is gonna sound super self-centered. Just brace yourselves.

Many people have told me I need to write a book. *hair flip*, right? Ick.

I know it’s a compliment on my writing – and maybe even just the style of writing that I’ve developed over the years – but for so many people that I don’t even really know to tell me the same thing… it’s been on my mind for a long, long time.

I mean, people besides my mom have told me this – love you mom, but, you also told me I could be Vanna White. Your credibility is questionable.

I do want to write a book, but here’s the problem: I don’t feel like I have a story. A true testimony. I’m not an expert in anything. I know a little bit about a lot of useless things. My life has been pretty vanilla, and good Lord Almighty, I am thankful for that. I’m also not saying this as a prayer for God to give me some insane mountain to climb so I have writing material, no no no. I’m grateful for the life I lead, and each day is a total gift. I think there’s something already here, within me, and it’s something I’ve been asking God to show me. I’m trying to begin the process of pulling it out of me, somehow.

Does anyone have any wonderful writing prompts, or ways for me to begin the journey of “my story”? Prayer is obvious, because I know God can bring some crazy things to light… but I’m curious to know if anyone has felt this calling on their life, and taken appropriate steps to pursue it?

Restoring Woodland: Gray & White Kitchen (BEFORE)

I was dead-set on an all-white kitchen, but over the last couple of weeks, we’ve picked out our cabinets and countertops (which are a pristine white), and I’ve had a little bit of panic about our little home looking to much like a little medical clinic.

I mean, is there a point where too much white looks – hospital like?

Paul mentioned to me that maybe we go with a soft, true gray downstairs – in the kitchen for sure. At first I was like no, I want all the white, and then I thought… Hmm. Gray could be a nice, cozy accent to our gleaming white interior.

So, then I did what every normal person does when they need to make a decision: I Googled. I found a few beautiful kitchen photos that were what I would consider to be my dream kitchen, and then I decided that gray was the way.

Then I did, again, what every normal girl in 2015 does: took to Instagram to ask people for their favorite grays. I’m way too indecisive for the 50 billion shades of gray and white that are out there. I mean, there’s blue-toned, and green-toned, and beige-toned, and warm/cool-toned with no hint of blue or green… it’s just… overwhelming.

Luckily, IG is amazing and several people recommended a particular shade of Sherwin Williams called TinMan.

The only problem was: TinMan doesn’t exist. Well, at least not for me, now, online or in my local store. They told me it was a Rodda paint, and I was all Instagram doesn’t lie. He shrugged apologetically, and pointed me to what he’s found to be a perfect, true gray: Light French Gray.

I trusted him, and we tinted our 5 gallon bucket of brilliant white paint with Light French Gray, and my heart had slight palpitations as I changed my mind three times before he took it to the back to mix it up for us. We went straight to the house before I changed my mind and we had to put our 5 gallon bucket of Light French Gray on OfferUp because I want all white.

The result? Perfect. I’m literally in love, and Paul is trying to convince me to paint the whole downstairs with… but the problem I am having, is that I have a gray couch and other miscellaneous decor I want to decorate the (white) living room with, and it would be such a great way to balance out the new color of our attached kitchen. Gray couch, gray/white area rug, rustic wood and some silver/gold because I have an identity crisis and my style is quickly morphing from farmhouse chic to obnoxiously blingy 15 year old girl with her first pagerand a complimentary gray kitchen. I feel like gray in the living room would make everything darker, and too “matchy matchy”. Anyway, some pics, because that’s really all anyone cares about (and we’re still in progress – saving some money and doing it ourselves):

Primer is drying, so wall is a little patchy 
Sherwin Williams - Light French Gray
Sherwin Williams – Light French Gray

Balayage HEAVEN

You guys, I am in LOVE. My stylist is amazing and she got my hair exactly to the blonde I wanted. I just asked for no red/copper/gold tones. I want beige, ash, blonde – and, boom, she delivered. This is a full balayage, and she barely broke a sweat.