Memories... Like Mom Made!

Memories... Like Mom Made!
Out of dark moments, flowers grow.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Starting to Heal... One day at a time

So today was a difficult day.

But for once, on the 28th of a month, the horrible event that happened six months ago wasn't tearing me apart all day. Today was an awful day for reasons I will share later, but as I trudged my way through this day, I felt this presence.

Leila was with me.

Leila was wrapping her sweet angel wings around me and telling me that she is here.

And though I wish with all my heart that I could hold her, kiss her, rock her:

I am comforted just knowing she is with me. Always.

I am starting to heal. I can feel that a little more each day. I miss her every day, but my thoughts aren't consumed with the grief and guilt that I once felt.

Some days are hard for different reasons, like today. But I have come to find this peace and understanding.

I have accepted that she just wasn't meant to be with us on Earth. God has bigger plans for her, and I will see her again one day.

So though today was a horribly, awful, difficult day: I survived.

As I have managed to do every day since we said goodbye.

And I will continue to do so every single day until we say hello again.

I love you sweet baby angel.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Easy Cream Cheese Coffeecake

When I was younger we never had real breakfasts during the week. If it was Monday through Friday, we ate cereal.

But, if it was Saturday or Sunday, the chances were pretty good that we were going to have chocolate chip pancakes, biscuits + hashbrowns + eggs + bacon, french toast, or some other awesome "real" breakfast.

A very rare treat, but one of my absolute favorite breakfasts, my mom would make this amazing, delicate, flaky, tasty coffee cake, with jam oozing out of either end.

It was heavenly.

When I was older and went to college, I would come home once a month and my Nana would ask me what I wanted for breakfast: this was usually what I requested!

It wasn't until I got married and was living in Florida when I asked for the recipe myself.

I was shocked!

It DIDN'T take hours to prepare! It was quick, and easy...

And unbelievably impressive!

Whenever my husband's sailor buddies would stay over on the weekends (we always seemed to have a house full of single sailors, and they all called me Mom!), I would bake up a few of these coffee cakes. As soon as I said "breakfast is ready!" they would swarm the counter and moments later the entire coffee cake would be gone.

Then I would sit back and smile ass the compliments poured in.

Easy Cream Cheese Coffeecake

4 TBS butter
2 C. Biscuit mix (Hungry Jack buttermilk mix is good, or Bisquick, or even Jiffy)
3 oz cream cheese
1/3 C. milk

1/3 C. Jam (strawberry, plum, cherry, apricot, raspberry, orange marmalade: whatever your family likes!!!)

1 C. powdered sugar
1-2 TBS. milk or orange juice
1/2 - 1 tsp. vanilla or grated orange rind
Nuts or coconut (optional.. I never add this part, but my mom added it in the original recipe, so I am sure it's good)

First you are going to cut the butter and cream cheese into the biscuit mix until the consistency of corn meal... It may take a little bit of elbow grease, but you will get it there. I use my trusty pastry cutter and it goes pretty quickly.

Once it is all crumbly, stir in the milk. Knead on a flour surface until well mixed and smooth.

Roll out on floured parchment paper until it makes a rectangle about 12" by 8"...

Spread the jam down the center of the dough.

Starting on either end of the jam, cut strips at one inch intervals from the filling to the edge of the dough.

Cross the strips over the filling, overlapping from side to side as you go.

When all the strips are folded over, transfer the parchment paper to a cookie sheet.

Bake at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.

Do not burn: in my picture I accidentally left it in too long and it got a little dark. Watch closely after 10 minutes: this delicate dough goes from "golden" to "burnt" very quickly.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, add the vanilla to the powdered sugar.

Slowly stir in the orange juice or milk until a nice consistency.

Drizzle over the coffee cake.

Cut and serve warm.

Is delicious when paired with a tasty coffee. My favorite is Chocolate Orange coffee... Seriously amazing... I am going to miss coffee for a while, but more on that later.

Enjoy your coffee cake!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Rosette Bracelet: "The Rosie" Tutorial

So when I first started this blog, it was primarily with the idea of sharing recipes. Only recently have I really branched out in to my one true love: creating...

Okay okay, my husband and kids DEFINITELY come before creating... but as far as hobbies go: making things is TOPS.

When I have been itching for something to make/do, I usually plug in my hot glue gun, grab some scraps and whatever randomness I can find laying around, and have at it.

Like this pretty little thing.

Isn't it lovely?

I have never been a big bracelet wearing gal, but lately, I have been seeing gorgeous bracelets and bangles everywhere!

So I decided to make myself a bunch.

And I will share all the juicy details with you.

Starting with today's bracelet:

The Rosie

Start with:

a plain, thick (at least 1"), bangle
a long strip of fabric, about 1" wide by 20" or so (I tore mine so it was nice and frayed)
another strip of fabric, about 1 1/2 - 2" wide by 30 inches
a hot glue gun

Make sure your bracelet is clean and doesn't have any yucky junk on it... You know, because it would be weird to walk around with a beautiful thing on your arm that had a booger hidden under the fabric or something. Not that yours would... I am just saying... I have a toddler okay...

If you want your fabric to be extra frayed, rub the edges with your fingers and pull off some of the long threads.

Then, put a dot of glue on the inside of the bangle and press the end of you fabric to it. (I had a picture of this step but it turned out way too dark because I am the genius that decided to do crafts and take pictures AT NIGHT!... Sorry!)

Start wrapping around and around the bangle, securing with glue every other wrap or so.

I chose to glue mine ONLY on the inside, in case it would create an ugly bump and ruin the integrity of my cute bracelet.

When you make it back to where you started, snip off the excess fabric, leaving about an inch past the front top of your starting point.

Then fold the tail of the piece over and glue on the inside of the bracelet, on top of your starting point so that all of the original bangle is completely covered, and your loose ends are on the inside of the bangle (the part that will touch your wrist).

Try it on... Just to admire how beautiful it is already...

Now with your other piece of fabric (I chose a gorgeous coordinating teal to make the pattern in my base fabric really pop), make a rosette. There are a million ways to make rosettes: rolled, twisted, folded, whatever.

For this one, I chose to fold my fabric in half and iron it, then fold the edges in again and lightly press. Then I made a knot at one end and started gluing and twisting, gluing and twisting.

I didn't take pictures because I only have two hands, and I would prefer to not get burnt by my glue gun while trying to take a picture and glue...

If you still need rosette making help: google it. There are a million awesome tutorials out there!

So after you finish your rosette, find an attractive place for it on your bangle and glue it right on there.

Let it dry thoroughly, and then slide on your hot new bangle and wear with EVERYTHING!

So I guess I should tell you WHY I made this bangle...

Are you ready to be amazed?

I made this bangle to match a pair of SHOES I am making.

Making, as in: yet another project I haven't yet completed.

But don't fret my pets, I will have it done and posted soon!

Isn't she a cutie? I named her "The Rosie". I love naming my jewelry. It gives me even more fuel for not being able to throw out any of my ridiculously large jewelry stash.

Have a crafty weekend!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cookie Dough Brownies

So a little while back I had this craving for an amazing dessert.

The only problem was: I wasn't sure what that dessert was. In fact, I wasn't even sure if it existed.

All I knew was that I wanted something delicious and unusual...

Preferably loaded down with chocolate.

So I went to the kitchen and looked in the pantry and started thinking.

I came up with a few options: I could make chocolate chip cookies, or I could make brownies, or I could make cupcakes.


I could make brownies with chocolate chip cookies INSIDE of the brownie.

Ding ding ding!

We have a winner.

So I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies: your favorite recipe will do the trick. Or you can buy the premade dough. It's whatever works for you.

I lined a baking sheet with waxed paper and dropped the cookie dough by rounded spoonfuls all over the sheet. You don't have to space them out too far because you won't be baking them.

Pop them in the freezer for an hour, or until nice and solid.

Next, make your brownie batter.

You can use a boxed mix. That's what I did this time. I have this great sauce pan brownie recipe of my Nana's, but I didn't feel like waiting any longer for this dessert. I wanted immediate gratification, and though the from scratch way wouldn't have taken too much longer, this felt faster.

So I cheated.

So follow the directions on the box and pour your brownie batter into a greased pan.

OH! Preheat your oven to the temp on the brownie box.

Okay so now you take your cookie dough blobs out of the freezer.

Press the blobs down into the batter. You can do it in a grid, or just wherever you think there should be a cookie.

I chose to do a grid in the manner of how I would cut the brownies. That way each brownie would have it's own little cookie inside of it.

If you have leftover cookie blobs, you can either put them on another baking sheet and bake them, or you can put them in a cupcake pan and make little cupcake cookies. If I had had extra brownie batter I would have poured a little of that in each cup too, but I didn't. So I just made cupcake shaped cookies.

Then bake for about 25-30 minutes, checking every few minutes after 20 minutes, just to make sure they don't burn.

Take them out and marvel at the exciting dessert you created.

Ok, ok, now you can cut into it and eat it... That first bite looks so awesome, huh?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Smiling Through The Tears :)

Yesterday our sweet Leila would have been 6 months old. If she were alive and healthy, I can only dream of the things she would be capable of.

But I am trying to refrain from dwelling on the impossible.

Instead, I spent yesterday doting on my precious son, Landon.

Everything about him makes me smile:

His shaggy blonde hair with the gorgeous natural high lights that I just wish I could capture in a bottle and use for myself...

His stunning blue eyes that have the ability to melt my heart no matter how stressed or upset I may be...

His chubby little fingers that he waves around and points at things with, sometimes even pointing right at me and saying "No, no mama!"...

His round little cheeks and squinty eyes, and the way his smile lights up his whole face...

The way his personality sparkles in anything and everything he does...

The way he has no fear of running bare foot down an abandoned dirt road, yet he won't even walk on the sidewalk if he sees a bug in his path...

The way he can be so blissfully happy just chomping away on some watermelon, not a care in the world...

and how even if that watermelon falls on the ground and is covered with dirt, he quickly picks it right back up to continue eating (as mom comes running over and says "waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaait!!!!")...

I am so blessed.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Paint the Sky Pink...

It is 7:02 on July 16th, 2011.

In about ten minutes, we leave to go release balloons in Leila's name.

A friend coordinated this for us: to make this day special for us and for Donovan since he won't be here for the rest of the year due to his deployment.

I have such mixed emotions about this day. I miss her, I wish she were here. I am angry, I am sad.

But I am so thankful to be surrounded with people that love us.

I am so thankful to be able to do this for our precious daughter.

So here we go:

Painting the sky pink.

To My Leila

Today you are six months old.

Today you are half a year old.

I can't even comprehend what this means. Six months ago I lay on a hospital bed, unable to speak from the tube that had been down my throat, and the anesthesia that made me so groggy, and all I could do was motion the universal sign for baby. All I could think about was you.

Perfect little, tiny, precious you.

And today you are six months old.

But I can't hold you today. I can't put a pretty dress on you and fix a big bow in your hair or take your picture.

Because you are in Heaven.

It has been five and a half months since you left us and I still have to remind myself that you are gone. That I will never get to put bows in your hair, or make you tutus, or play dress up with you.

But you are still my daughter.

My precious, sweet angel baby. With the long skinny legs and fingers and toes.

And I love absolutely everything about you.

The only thing I don't love is that you aren't here.

I would give anything just to kiss you on the forehead, smooth the hair on your head and snuggle you close. I would give anything to sing you a lullabye and rock with you back and forth, back and forth.

I would even give anything to have to wake up at 2 in the morning and change a diaper and nurse you back to sleep.

But no matter what I do, I can't change that fact that Heaven is your home, and Earth is mine.

For now.

But one day, only God knows when, I will be with you again.

And I will put bows in your hair and smooth the hair on your head and kiss your forehead.

And I will sing to you.

For eternity.

I love you so much Leila. I wish there was more I could say to you, but I don't even know how to put it all in to words.

I just really miss you. And I love you.

And I wish you were here.

Happy birthday my sweet angel.



Thursday, July 14, 2011

Grilled Cheese fit for a Queen

Every now and then I stumble across some inspiration that gets my gears going... It could be a picture in a magazine, a post by a fellow blogger, or even just a few mismatched words strung together... I am pretty easily inspired.

Well the inspiration for what I am about to share with you was pretty obvious...

I mean, she basically spelled it out for me.


But then I took the notion and RAN with it!

I mean I went WILD!

I have been craving Brie cheese lately anyway, so the fact that Food Coma's little sandwiches had Brie cheese in them made it a pretty obvious choice.

And the idea of combining it with strawberries and jam and serving it up grilled cheese style?


So I took that inspiration, and combined it with a family recipe from my childhood. Brie en croute with some sort of spicy sweet berry chutney or compote.

Pretty tasty stuff.

So instead I stacked my Brie on top of a huge slice of thick fluffy French bread slathered with Berry Jalapeno compote, then topped the cheese with slices of fresh strawberries.

Then I smacked on another thick slice of bread, fried the whole thing in butter, and as an after thought I threw some mint in it/on it.


One bite and I melted along with the delicious creamy pools of Brie...

So take my word for it: it doesn't matter if you need a delicious brunch idea, a dainty summer lunch, or even an appetizer (or light main course) for dinner... You HAVE to try these!

Grilled Brie and Berries
(Makes 2)

4 thick slices of French bread (about 1 inch or so)
Brie cheese
Strawberries (I used 4 medium sized strawberries)
Berry Jalapeno compote (or substitute for a berry preserves or compote of your choice. I like the bite the jalapeno gives)

Turn the broiler on and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and rip off a sheet of foil.

Slather one side of each bread slice with butter.

Lay two of the slices butter side down in a cold skillet. This is to make the stacking and transferring easier.

Slice your strawberries thinly and layer on top of the bread in the skillet.
**In the pictures I did the compote first, then the Brie, then the strawberries, but before I started grilling I flipped one of the sandwiches over, so the strawberries were on the bottom, and found that this makes it much easier in the long run... So do as I say: not as I did...**

Slice the Brie into thick slices, about 1/2 an inch. Layer on top of the strawberries.

Spread 1 tbsp of the Berry Jalapeno Compote on to the unbuttered side of the remaining slices of bread.

Lay on top of the sandwiches in the skillet (do I need to say buttered side up??). Press firmly down for good measure.

Plop a pat of butter into the pan for good measure and turn the burner on to medium heat.

As the butter melts and sizzles tilt the pan to make sure the butter slides evenly around the two sandwiches.

Cook only until the bottom of the bread is browned. You do NOT want to burn the bread: just get a nice golden delicious crust on it.

Very carefully flip the sandwich over. You may have to slightly reassemble after the flip.

Add another small pat of butter (for good measure, you know?) and cook like you did the other side. I slid mine up against the sides of the pan to stabilize them... The strawberries and the top piece of bread were trying to make a break for it. But I put a stop to that!

When both sides are beautifully golden, transfer to the parchment lined cookie sheet and tent with foil (this is to keep it from burning) and pop in the oven just long enough to melt the cheese, about 1-3 minutes.

Garnish with mint, or if you are feeling daring: lift up the top piece of bread and add a couple of fresh mint leaves right on top of the berries.

Pour yourself an ice cold glass of sweet tea with a couple of mint leaves, take a bite of your decadent grilled cheese fit for a queen (or even a king, perhaps), and smile.

Because it's just that good.

Happy eating!