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In Need of a Little Blog Housekeeping

I turned on my laptop for the first time in months the other day. It's a bit of a dinosaur. Slow and clunky seems to be her favorite mode of operation - hence my avoidance for so long. So, I've been using the family PC for quite awhile now and made a disappointing discovery when I fired up the laptop and took a look at my blog through her screen... as it turns out, depending on the type of screen a blog is viewed on, you will have two very different blogs to looks at.

The laptop is a widescreen, the PC a standard.When I switched my blog design to accommodate larger photos a little while back, it was done on my PC and everything looked peachy keen (aside from the wonkiness of the archives, but I already claimed defeat there, no way am I reformatting 4 years worth of posts). Then, on my widescreen laptop... what a mess! The banner does not reach the full length of the page, the text trails on and on across the screen forcing you to trace the sentence with your finger in order to keep your place. On the standard screen, the text nestles in under the larger photos nice and neat. Unfortunately, it's a mess on the widescreen, I'm sorry to those of you that have been viewing it this way. I will hopefully find some time over the next few days to fiddle with it. I know this isn't something one really needs to feel apologetic for, but I am a Virgo after all, symmetry sustains me.

Basically, I'm writing this just to say; if you've thought my blog layout has been intolerable for a month or so, it was not my intention. I didn't know! Disdain for this blog's design prior to that however... well, that's another story. ;)

In hopes of keeping this post from going down as the most boring in blog history (seriously, I just wrote two paragraphs about my blog's layout)... have you seen what Miss Swallowfield just posted on flickr? Now that is inspiring. Love.

About the Birthday Cake


For Emily's 13th birthday last week, I made her an ice cream cake. Exactly as she requested. She also asked for no special fanfare on this particular day. We stayed true to our birthday tradition of giving her a few simple gifts as she rose in the morning, then enjoyed a slow and quiet day together. This year gifts included the beginnings of her own Black Apple collection (two more were under the tree Christmas morning).

There were fresh flowers. There are always fresh flowers in Emily's world. In the winter months she spends her allowance money almost weekly on a bouquet from the market. Years ago I thought this was so impractical, but seeing the true joy they bring her is impossible to deny. I'm totally converted now.

There was also a visit from extended family and her best friend. And of course, there was cake. The cake is really what I wanted to talk about this morning (because really, how does a mother ever find the proper words to discuss her daughter's 13th birthday!?). So, about the cake...

I've only made an ice cream cake once before, it was at least seven years ago. If I'm remembering correctly, it was more of a turtle pie than traditional, stacked and layered ice cream cake. It was so sticky and delicious.


Here is a simple breakdown of this year's ice cream cake:

  1. I used this recipe - loosely.
  2. The cake - Moosewood's Six Minute Vegan Cake (minus the glaze).
  3. The ice cream - Haagen Daz chocolate and vanilla.
  4. The cookie crunch filling - Newman's.
  5. The ganache filling, layered twice - made as recipe states, I just wanted to mention it because I thought the method of bringing the cream to a boil, pouring it over the chocolate chips, letting it sit for 2 minutes, then stirring (used a tiny whisk), was really cool. I've never done that before (keeping the chocolate off the stove altogether). It worked so well!

All in all, this was a wonderful (very easy to make) cake. I will happily make it again - but, it got me thinking about a couple of different flavor combinations I'm curious to try.

Strawberry Shortcake:

  1. Yellow/vanilla cake.
  2. Strawberry ice cream.
  3. Vanilla cookies for the crunch layer.
  4. There should be sliced fresh strawberries somewhere in there.
  5. Vanilla custard instead of chocolate ganache. I wonder how this would work frozen as the top layer. I think it would be fine in the center layer, sort of a semi-frozen custard, but the top...hmm?
  6. Oh wait! What if I made a strawberry glaze with a little pureed strawberry, honey, and cornstarch. That could be used as the very top thin layer (which is actually the bottom as you make it - it's an upside down cake). Then the first layer of custard and so on. Yes, I think the strawberry glaze would give it a pretty top.

Not bad sounding, eh? The next combination I'd like to create is:

Lemon Delight:

(The name could use some work.)

  1. My favorite lemon cake.
  2. Haagen Daz Five - Lemon ice cream.
  3. Lemon curd instead of ganache.
  4. Vanilla cookies for the crunch layer.
  5. Thinking of the glaze layer mentioned above, would a similar glaze be appreciated here? I'm thinking raspberry.

 If you are interested, the lemon curd and vanilla custard recipes I always use come from this book. That's quite a title! I really have no business carrying on about the many ways to recreate an ice cream cake this morning, especially after yesterday's confession. To redeem myself a bit, we did have brown rice piled with veg for dinner last night. I mostly follow a 90/10 style of eating. 90% is well and good... 10% free to choose and indulge. This makes sense to me.

There were certainly no complaints about this years combination. It went down a little too easily actually, as you can tell by my lingering attention on the darn thing. It's going to be awhile before another is made, but I'm glad I wrote down a few notes here for variations to try in the future.

I'm wondering... is Valentines Day too soon to revisit such richness?

The Exhale

Our favorite part of the holidays... made even better by our first true snow storm of the year. It started falling late this morning and will continue through tomorrow afternoon. Nearly 20 inches is expected which sounds just fine to us. Wishing each of you a long and complete exhale as you enjoy the quiet space between this weekend and next.

peaceful :: simple :: comforting {18}

It's all starting to come together now, this is the best part! To those celebrating Christmas and to those who are not; I hope each of your days ahead are filled with hope, peace, spirit, family... and a really nice slice of pie.

I'm thinking of each of you and feel so grateful for all that you contribute to this space. Thank you for the time you take to visit me here, and for the inspiration you offer each day. You are truly appreciated.

Happy Holidays!

peaceful :: simple :: comforting {17}

This year, thanks to some of my blogging friends, I have yummy foodie gifts to give, pretty little tags to label them with, and the beginning of next year's handmade gift list has already begun. I am grateful to have you ladies thinking for me. You see, I have a sweet girl over here that is about to become a teenager in less than 48 hours! We are so excited - and yet, to be honest, I'm still trying to figure out how we so quickly got here. I'm sure my midwife was just weighing her in the fish scale as Adam held the candlelight close so we could all read that magical birth weight number. Nothing boggles the mind and swells the heart quite like a growing child.

So yes, this slightly distracted mama appreciates the extra help this December!

peaceful :: simple :: comforting {16}

gratitudeJourneying around the sun,
at Yule, she turns furthest from the light.
Here In the dark of the long night she is veiled,
and here she comes to the fullness of her union with creation.
To enter is to hold Death closest to our hearts.
And as we do, Death has her sensuous way.

Slowly, we come to a clearing, and the solstice.
And in deep stillness, we enter.
Our journey from the sun has come to its full,
and we wait in a rare quality of quietness.
Time is no more.

Here in this place, we gently slip into the emptiness, and depth of the void,
and bathe in the energies of creation.
when we are cleansed, and fully drunken from the cup,
she continues on her journey around, and we edge back closer to the light.
slipping out through her veils in birth, we are new, and journeying to the sun.

~Martin Jones

peaceful :: simple :: comforting {15}

This morning we are moving slowly after a very full day in New York over the weekend. I'm not sure the city is a place I'd normally feel peaceful, simple, or comforted... but 'Christmas in New York' is something we've wanted to do with Emily for years. We took in the beautiful window displays on Fifth Avenue, a Uconn Women's Basketball game at Madison Square Garden, a fantastic food/dining/shopping experience at Eataly (you must go there if you can!), rode the old wooden escalators at Macy's, enjoyed a quiet respite in St. Patrick's Cathedral, plus so many other things too... and well, looking through my photos this morning, I am reminded that there was indeed a whole lot of peaceful, comforting goodness to be had throughout the day. Good times, and even better memories. Simple.

peaceful :: simple :: comforting {13}

So much yum in this pan. Dinner last night had it all: chick peas, greens, tomato, onion and garlic... plus, every Indian spice you can think of. I added a handful of currants too for a sweet surprise. That was a smart move - delish.

You really can't go wrong with food like this.

Recipe adapted from Isa's Chickpea and Spinach Curry in Vegan With A Vengeance. I swapped the called for spinach with collard greens, upped the tomatoes, and added currants. I think the rest was pretty much the same.

peaceful :: simple :: comforting {12}

When I moved out of my childhood home nearly twenty years ago, I brought my Smurf collection with me. They are just about the only childhood toy(s) I still have. Well, it was the seventies - there weren't too many toys to be had! We could make an entire day out of a hand me down bicycle or a newly discovered spot in the woods. I do remember one Christmas though, when under the tree was a ceramic tea set and a play kitchen set made out of metal. I think it was avocado green and had Holly Hobbie on the front. That was quite an extravagant year!

Anyway... the Smurfs come out just once a year, during the Holiday season. They are packed away with our decorations, and make their silly appearance each December along with special ornaments, tree toppers, stockings, and twinkly lights. I'm not sure which is stranger; the fact that I still display my childhood Smurf collection, or that we call these little creatures Christmas decorations! Strange or not, it sure is a tradition around here.