Monday, October 24, 2011

for the love of the game......

austen's football season ended last thursday after a very loooong season.
his practices for freshman football began last june, 4 days after getting out of school for the summer.
he had practice and conditioning every day from 2:30 to any time between 5:00 and 6:30.  this schedule lasted until the beginning of august when the schedule changed to 7:30 am until 4:30. 
 in between football practices, we had to fit in a traveling baseball season.  surmise it to say, it has been a very, very long season.....but we all loved it.
austen's football equipment had to be turned in today, so saturday i wanted to do a sports photo shoot.  
i told him on friday that since his equipment didn't have to be turned in until today, he needed to be sure to bring everything home so i could do this shoot over the weekend.....
well, he's 14.
and a boy....
so of course, he didn't have all of his equipment when he came home on friday.  seems his coach confiscated his shoulder pads before he left school.
after some brainstorming, i asked around for shoulder pads from all of the boys families in the neighborhood.  no luck. but one neighbor remembered that he had a box of hockey equipment in his attic.  he found me shoulder pads and we were off.
by this time, however, austen was no longer up to doing the shoot and was a little less than cooperative...
well, he's 14,
and a boy....
so i had to threaten to take away his x-box bribe him to cooperate with me. 
i wasn't really successful, but the attitude just adds to the whole sports vibe....
he wasn't smiling here, he was whining....

i figured a few action shots would help..
ooh, a little smile there...
it helped a little....
but he was done.
but i wasn't. 
 i figured as long as we were taking sports pictures he may as well put his baseball uniform on and get some of those too.... 
ooh, not happy with me....(hee-hee...sometimes i love being the one in control)
i love the faces in this set....
i couldn't get a smile for anything....

that's okay...i love them.... and i think that someday he will too!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

fall baking.....

the weather yesterday was rainy, cold dark and dank....
you know,  typical michigan weather when winter is near....
i hate winter.
so what is a girl to do?  
hmmmm. i know what would make me feel better.
how about this....
upside-down pear gingerbread.
i had a few pears left in the fridge that were getting old fast. i haven't made something like this before
and to be honest, i just thought about cutting the pears up into cubes and
just mixing them into the batter.  
it was really easy to do this though
and i love the way it looked.  
warm spicy syrupy pear sauce on the top
and moist gingery cake on the bottom....
come to mama.....
now, my husband despises gingerbread. and pears.  
my son won't eat it either. but his friend jake came over last night and
had a nice healthy slice.  
at least someone appreciates my baking so half of what was left went home with him. 
(well, i couldn't just leave it lying around for me to eat, could i??)
anyway, here is the recipe, modified from  you are supposed to make this in a 12 inch  iron skillet but i don't have one of those.  i used a 9 inch cake pan and had a little bit of batter and a half of a pear left over.  i diced the pear and added it to the batter and used a mini loaf pan.  i had to adjust the baking time of the loaf to about 38 minutes.  just keep checking... 

  • For topping
  • 2 1/2 firm pears (preferably Bosc)
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • whisk the brown sugar and spices together. 

For cake
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup molasses (preferably mild)
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

preparatioPerMake topping:

Prepare pears:
Peel and core pears and cut each into 8 wedges.
Melt butter in skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides. Reduce heat to low, then sprinkle brown sugar spice mixture over bottom of skillet and cook, undisturbed, 3 minutes (not all sugar will be melted). Arrange pears decoratively over sugar and cook, undisturbed, 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Make cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together molasses and boiling water in a small bowl. Beat together butter, brown sugar, and egg in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes, then alternately mix in flour mixture and molasses in 3 batches at low speed until smooth.
Pour batter over topping in skillet, spreading evenly and being careful not to disturb pears, and bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. (mine took about 55-60 minutes in the 9 inch cake pan).
Cool cake in skillet on a rack 5 minutes. Run a thin knife around edge of skillet, then invert a large plate with a lip over skillet and, using pot holders to hold skillet and plate tightly together, invert cake onto plate. Replace any pears that stick to skillet. Serve warm or at room temperature.

***recipe modified from epicurious****

Saturday, October 15, 2011

hail to the victors valiant....

the big game...michigan (6-0) vs. michigan state (4-1).  
on tap for noon today.  
my boys are undefeated. i am picking the wolverines to win.
i will be in my great room with my son watching the most legendary game in college football in michigan. my husband will be at the grocery store, the home depot, in the backyard or standing out in the wind and rain (which is our weather today).  he will be gnashing his teeth and developing a stomach ulcer.  because not only is the game legendary, so is don's reputation as a university of michigan alumni who
cannot watch a university of michigan football game.  he just can't.  his brain just won't let him watch a game without 
screaming at the tv, 
stomping off after a bad play, 
hollering at me to turn the tv off so he doesn't have to be tortured anymore 
or ripping his hair out at the roots. 
yeah, we call him "superfan"!!
and since i love to watch the game without him torturing me too, he has to leave. 
so i've written out the grocery list, i'm having him check out the oops paint at the home depot and i've pointed out all of the things in the yard that need to be attended to.
i just hope it is three hours worth......

Thursday, October 13, 2011

anyone for a spot of tea?

i have been waiting to post these pictures for about a month now, and i am so excited.....
my friend christina, mama to these pretty girls...,
(remember when i photographed them last year in their princess dresses?)
called me last spring to ask if i would take pictures for their 4th and 5th birthday party this fall.  i had actually been meaning to call her to tell her that she needed to have a "tea party" birthday party for them this year.  i had seen so many beautiful things on pinterest and thought that they were the perfect age for one.  we almost said it at the same time because that was just what she wanted to do.  she wasn't sure just how she was going to do it, though.  
i had just the inspiration for her... 
i started a pinterest board with ideas for little girl's tea parties.
she ran with it....totally.
she and her husband built, repurposed and sewed everything.
and i think they did a knockout job!
here are their two girls this year..
she made most of the food.  the girls had iced tea or lemonade 
poured out of teapots into beautiful teacups...
when christina told her mom that she was going to have a tea party birthday, her mom remembered that
she had a box of teacups belonging to christina's grandmother that she had forgotten about.
they went up into the attic that day and found the box.  her grandmother had passed away earlier in the year so it was even more special that she had them to use.
as the story goes, her grandfather was a big sports fisherman.  every time he went on a fishing trip, he brought his wife back a teacup and saucer from wherever the trip was. 
there were about 20 sets of teacups and saucers in that box.  every one was different and each and every one was in pristine condition.  

it was an omen.....
it just snowballed from there and she started planning, building and sewing.
they had to cut down a tree and cut the logs into stumps for seating.
she made the little pillows for each stump princess chair.
the table was made from two old doors that her boss had in her garage.  her husband made legs and they set them up end to end.
it was set with the teacups that the girls drank out of.
the swing was covered in lace and trimmed with tulle...
and hung from the apple tree.
she hung a pretty frame from anorther tree 

and as each guest showed up for the party, they were seated in a chair set behind it and had their princess picture taken.
how cute is this little one?.....
all of the food was special

in lieu of cucumber sandwiches, the girls had peanut butter and jelly croissants.
christina made the suckers and the buttons adorning each package
came from her grandmother's button jar.
the chandelier was given to her from someone that was going to throw it away.  
 she painted it pink and added the crystals.
the lace covered toy box held the gifts.
the bench below was also something that was rescued from the trash.
the girls all made hats to wear at the hat station where someone was waiting to help them hot glue ribbons, lace and silk flowers to them. 
each girl got a pair of white gloves which they all wore when they drank their tea...
she got to blow out the candle on her birthday cupcake...
and the girls played musical stumps....
it was magical and no detail was left out.  we had a lovely day for the party during a week of really ugly weather.
it was perfect!!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

indian summer....

we have had some really crappy weather lately.  it started right after labor day and we have hardly had a warm day since.  we went from wearing shorts and tank tops to jeans and sweatshirts overnight.
literally overnight....
and rain. lots of rain and wind. and two frosts....
this week has been beautiful so far.  the temps are expected to get back into the 80's by the end of the week. and no rain. or wind.
so the girls wanted a little photo shoot tonight.
i am always happy to oblige.....
 and i had two (mostly) cooperative little girls...
 oh, my goodness, i just want to eat them up!!!
 the light was gorgeous. perfectly golden.  no wind.   long, long shadows.
and my girls were just the sweetest. (once i promised them ice cream)
this one will be 8 next month.  i can hardly believe that this much time has passed.  i feel very lucky to have such a beautiful and wonderful daughter who has given me such 
beautiful grandchildren. very lucky and blessed indeed....
how could you not!!!!!
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