Thursday, July 29, 2010


I just thought I'd take a minute to blog over here since it has been awhile. I've posted a few recipes on my craft blog in the past few weeks, so if you haven't been keeping up over there be sure to take a peek! I have oodles of recipes that I've clipped from different magazines and publications and enjoy trying new ones. We've been having a bake sale at church every weekend as part of our city's farmer's market, so that has been keeping me busy in the kitchen... and it's a good thing, because I typically just try one piece and then send the rest off before I'm tempted to eat more!

Life has been crazy busy lately, but if you ask me exactly what it is that's keeping us busy I couldn't pinpoint anything major. Just the day to day stuff, and keeping up with Jack (whom you see giving you his best, most beautiful smile above! This is a typical scene - smiles and as many toys as we can carry at one time. :) ). Our little boy is quite the handful, and so different from his big brother. Always on the go! Of course we all still miss Henry and think of him daily. My desktop image is a favorite photo of him, and I have a snapshot next to the light on my night stand. I say good morning and good night to him every day, and remind him that I love him. He had three favorite bedtime stories, and I tell one or all of them to Jack every night because I think Henry can hear me, too. Sometimes I sit at the cemetary and tell them to his grave - I have them memorized, you know. I know all about what happens if you give a moose a muffin. And I also can tell you exactly how that duck got stuck in the muck down by the "beep bween mawsh" (i.e. deep green marsh), as Henry used to say. Not to mention how to use your nose to find things to smell (your beak or your snuffle can work just as well)! I can't get past the feeling that this - life - is not how it was meant to be, despite my core belief that everything is a part of His master plan. It's quite the paradox of emotions. *sigh*

Darrin and I have worked hard to keep Henry alive in Jack's memory. We show him photos and videos regularly, and Henry is often a part of daily conversation. You like Spiderman? Your brother loved Spiderman! That's something you have in common! Jack will look at the photos on our buffet and point to his brother and say, "N-er!", which is his take on "Henry". :) If you ask Jack what his name is, he will say, "Bee!"... a nick-name Henry gave him when he was born. Then we say, "Or?" and he says, "Zack!" (i.e. Jack). If we ask him where his brother is, he will simply point up to Heaven. It warms and breaks my heart, all at the same time.

We are still in the process of choosing a headstone for Henry. And by "we", I pretty much mean me. I have thought long and hard about this, and Darrin and I have discussed all of the options I like (which thankfully he likes, too), but I still cannot commit to one. I tell myself that it's because I want to make sure it's perfect. I look at it like a tattoo. Once you get it, you have it forever (note: it was about eight years between idea and commitment on my tattoo. I like to think things through.). But I wonder if maybe my delay is because that one final act will make everything official... you know, as if it's not already. We are leaning towards a beautiful memorial marker that is a mirage of photos of our boy, but I occasionally go back to the thought of a simple marker that is unassuming and reserved. Because if my boy were given the chance to grow to manhood, I believe that is how he would have been. He would have been humble and sweet and reserved. I could tell all of that in the short time we had him. Maybe a mother just knows? He was so much like his great-grandfather (his namesake). Such an old soul. And maybe that was a gift from God... allowing us to look into those eyes and see so much more than this three years. I don't know, but I like to think so.

I still don't understand why all of this happened, and I'm doubtful that I ever will. But I continue to push forward - probably with more gusto than ever, because I feel him with me, encouraging me, driving me, forcing me to be the mum that he saw rather than the one I really was. Because our children do not see what we see. They see all the good. They see someone who makes the sun rise and set, and they think she is almost mythical. If I can live up to a fraction of the worth he saw in me, that Jack sees in me, I'll consider myself a success.

Until next time,


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Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Here's another yummy new recipe I tried this week (last night... at midnight... to be exact)! I just tried a small piece for breakfast, and it is DELISH! It's a nice dense bread like my grandma makes, but with the added goodness of a peanut butter crumble and a ribbon of chocolate.

Peanut Butter + Banana + Chocolate = LOVE!

1/2 c. Flour
1/2 c. Brown Sugar, packed
1/4 c. Creamy Peanut Butter
1/2 t. Ground Cinnamon

In a small bowl, stir all topping ingredients until crumbly; set aside.

1/2 c. Butter, softened
1 pkg. (8 oz.) Cream Cheese, softened
1 1/4 c. Sugar
2 Eggs
1 c. Ripe Banana, mashed
1 t. Vanilla Extract
2 1/4 c. Flour
1 1/2 t. Baking Powder
1/2 t. Baking Soda
1 t. Ground Cinnamon
1 1/2 c. Semisweet Chocolate Chips

In a large bowl, cream the butter, cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in bananas and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon; stir into creamed mixture until just moistened.

Divide half of the batter between two greased 8x4" loaf pans; sprinkle with half of the topping. Top with chocolate chips. Repeat layers of batter and topping.

Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.

I entered the recipe in SparkPeople's Recipe Calculator, and although I'm not convinced that site is an exact science by any means, it gives a good estimate of nutritional value. I entered 24 servings for this recipe (12 slices in each of two loaves) and it came up with 236 cal per serving. OUCH! So, if you're watching calories, do what I do.... make two loaves, take one to church, and farm out the other one to family and friends so you're only tempted to eat one piece. ;) I *think* this link will give you the full nutritional rundown, but I'm not entirely sure how long it will work.

As always, let me know if you try it, and thank you for continuing to follow my blog despite my shortage of paper crafts. I haven't sold anything.... I'm pretty sure I'll get back to it eventually, I'm just not at that place yet.


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Friday, July 16, 2010

Spicygingersnap Bars

My church is having a weekly bake sale in conjunction with our local Farmer's Market, so I've decided to help out and make a treat. I had this recipe stashed in my box of clipped recipes*, and since I had everything on hand I thought I'd give it a whirl. The recipe is called "Soft Spice Bars," but the description (from a Taste of Home magazine) noted how they tasted so much like old fashioned gingersnap cookies. After they were done and cooled, hubby and I each tried one. I asked him if he thought I should label them Soft Spice Bars or Gingersnap Bars. He suggested Spicy Gingersnap Bars. Of course, all of my SCS friends will know why that made me smile... For the rest of you, you'll just have to wonder. ;) Or ask. Whichever.

Spicy Gingersnap Bars
3/4 c. Butter
1 c. Sugar + 2 T., divided
1/4 c. Molasses
1 egg
2 c. All-Purpose Flour
2 t. Baking Soda
1 t. Ground Cinnamon
1/2 t. Ground Cloves
1/2 t. Ground Ginger
1/2 t. Salt

In a mixing bowl, combine butter, 1 cup of sugar and molasses. Beat in egg until smooth. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and salt; stir into the molasses mixture. Spread into a greased 15x10x1 (jelly roll) pan. Sprinkle with remaining sugar**. Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Do not overbake. Cool on a wire rack before cutting. Yield: 2 1/2 dozen.

They were so easy to make, and they were done in no time. This is my favorite bake sale recipe to date. So easy to whip up in a hurry. As always, let me know if you try them!


* Do you have a system for organizing recipes? Mine is this: I clip recipes I like, and store the clippings in a Sterlite (plastic) container that is meant to hold 3x5 index cards. I made dividers and have them somewhat grouped into categories (cakes, side dishes, main dishes, etc.). If I make something from a recipe in the box and it's yummy, I'll transfer the recipe to a recipe card and store it in my keepsake recipe book. If I'm not crazy about it, I pitch it.

** I totally forgot to sprinkle the sugar on top before baking, so I sprinkled some powdered sugar on afterwards instead. And while doing so, had a little flashback to that one scene from Flowers In The Attic where the maid is sprinkling poison over the kid's cookies. Eeeeek!! :)

Oh, and by the way... I totally forgot to add the egg, too. *sigh* So, yours might puff up a bit more than mine did.

Note to self: Do not try to bake while engrossed in a deep and meaningful telephone conversation. *ahem*

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Happy Birthday, Sweet Boy

June 23 marked Henry's fourth birthday. Hubby and I went back and forth about what to do to remember the day, and finally decided to spend the day with close friends and family. We had a small birthday party, and asked everyone to bring a gift from the Oshkosh Area Humane Society wishlist. All of the gifts, which included huge bags of puppy chow, cans of cat food, peanut butter, kitty litter, over $50 in gift cards, chewy bones for dogs, toys, etc., were donated in Henry's name.

If you are a regular follower of my blog, you know how much my little boy loved animals. I thought this would be an appropriate way to honor him and also help take care of the little critters he (and I - he totally got that from me!) loved so much. My mother believes that Henry is working with Noah in heaven. I like to think he's the right hand man of St. Francis of Assisi (the patron saint of animals). I don't know why I gravitate to St. Francis. I'm not catholic. I really don't know much about the saints. But for some reason this idea hit me with so much clarity on the day of his funeral that I've never been able to forget it. To this day, statues or pictures of St. Francis bring me a great deal of peace. Either way, we know he was smiling that day, knowing he continues to help the "aminals".

After lunch and laughter and memories, we all headed out to the cematary where we released four orange balloons - his favorite color. Prior to releasing, we each wrote a message to Henry on the balloons and then sent them up to heaven. It was a beautiful day. Similar to the image of Henry working with St. Francis, very early on in this whole process I very clearly saw myself (I don't even remember if it was a dream or a vision or what) entering Heaven. When I did, Henry met me and he was holding on to oodles of orange balloons. He had collected all of the ones we released as they floated up to him...

I don't get these visions often, but when I do I thank God for giving me little pieces of my boy to hold on to. I've dreamt about Henry three times since November 2. In the first dream, we were at a zoo, and he was standing up ahead of me, watching ducks and geese swim in a pond. I called to him, and he turned and the joy on his face when he saw me was truly amazing. He ran into my arms and I scooped him up and held him tight until I woke up. In the second, I don't remember details, only the overwhelming sense that he was with me and he was happy. In the third, about a week ago, I dreamed that the hospital called and told me that it had all been a misunderstanding and that I could come and pick him up and bring him home. It was so real... Once we got him home, we realized that his speech had regressed, but he still knew all of his animal sounds. Go figure. And the duck still said "ba-da-boooo!"* :) That last one still makes me cry, because I'm sure you all know how much I wish it were real. Unfortunately, it's not. But I am confident that he is happy, and safe, and waiting for us with open arms.... and a lot of orange balloons.


* The first cartoon Henry fell in love with was Jakers. In one episode Dannon, the duck, yells, "STAMPEDE!" and for whatever reason, a very young Henry repeated her by yelling, "BA-DA-BOOOOOOOO!" (LOL!). Every time we watched it, Dannon would yell and Henry would echo. From that day (at about 16 mos old) until he was almost 3, when asked what a duck said the answer was always "badaboo!"

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