Thursday, February 28, 2013

Recipe | Barefoot Contessa Raspberry Crumble Bars

Well, I had planned to post some Valentine's Day pictures but then I realized I had yet to post this recipe and to keep it from you for a moment longer is just cruel.  I received Ina's latest book, Foolproof, for my birthday in October.  I've made my way through much of the book, along with many instagram friends.  We even chronicle our recipe expereinces with the hashtag #barefootcontessabookclub, it's fun to see what others have made and what they think of the recipes. Not just from Foolproof, but all Barefoot recipes.   In each of her books I find a handful of recipes that I know from the first time I make them they are destined to become standbys in our home.  Such was the case with these raspberry bars.  The first time I made them was for the Downton Abbey premier.  I was heading to a freind's house and made the salted carmael brownies and these crumble bars to share.  I craved them every single day there after.  I've made the recipe 4 times now in the span of a couple months. That good.  I'm going through jars of raspberry jam like nobody's businesess. My favorite raspberry jam is Bonne Maman. But in a pinch, Trader Joe's makes a really god one too.

Raspberry Crumble Bars

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
10 to 12 ounces good raspberry jam
2/3 cup good granola 

1/4 cup sliced almonds
Confectioners' sugar, for sprinkling


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on medium speed just until combined. With the mixer on low, add the vanilla.

Sift the flour and salt together and, with the mixer on low, slowly add to the butter mixture, mixing until it almost comes together in a ball. Turn the dough out on a board. Lightly pat two-thirds of the dough evenly on the bottom of a 9-inch square baking pan and about 1/4-inch up the sides. Spread with the jam, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Mix the granola into the remaining dough with your hands. Break the dough into small bits and distribute it on top of the jam, covering most of the surface. Sprinkle the almonds on top. Bake the bars for 45 minutes, until lightly browned.

Cool completely and cut into 9 or 12 bars. Sprinkle lightly with confectioners' sugar.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Dress-Up Days at Preschool

Arrrghhhh, mateys! Today Charlie was a pirate for school.  It's his first time participating in his preschool's annual Pirate Week and he's having a swashbuckling good time!  It's also the first time in more than 5 weeks that I've downloaded my camera card, so brace yourself for a bit of blog catch up. 

{with his teacher, Mrs. Reale}

A few week earlier we had pajama day...

I had my favorite pair of PJs all picked out for C, but he had his heart set on a extra warm, fleecy pair that he outgrew last year.  I let him choose!

I do adore age 4. It isn't always easy.   But MOST of the time it is just plain fun. I love so much about this little guy and our time together.  He is so quick to giggle and make others giggle too.  I love that he gives all his friends nicknames, Cooper becomes "Coop", Hal becomes "Hal Pal", even his bear, Kipper, is usually "Kips."  I love that he tells me things like, "my heart was broken and you fixed it, see, feel it, you made it all better."  I love his up-for-anything attitude, and, on occasion. I do have to laugh at his little indignant march/stomp/skip that makes an appearance when he is upset about not getting his way. 
Ok, next up a post on Valentine's Day. How timely!  Working backward. :)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

My Sweet Savannah's PB2 Chocolate Chip Cookies

Today, I'm excited to share a recipe from the lovely Melaine, who writes the blog, My Sweet Savannah.  I can't imagine there are too many of you that don't know of Melanie and her beautiful home.  But if by chance you are, hop on over and check it out. Stat.  While Melanie is off vacationing in Hawaii with her family {no, not jealous, not one tiny bit jealous} she invited me to share a recipe of hers on my blog.

I haven't had a chance to make these yet but hope to very soon.  In fact when I first got her email about PB2 cookies I thought they had something to do with Pottery Barn.  Haha.  Apparently, this stuff has 85% less fat than traditional peanut butter. {fist pump!}  You can buy it here.  Well, I just love a secret ingredient and it's only a bonus if it happens to be better for you too.

Melaine, please send some of that sun and warmer temps our way.

ps. to all of you that left such kind remarks on my last post, please know that Andrew and I read and appreciated each and every single one of them.  xoxo

Sunday, February 24, 2013

"it's make your mamas proud time"

That title is from a line in the movie "Wreck it Ralph", but it seems fitting for a post capturing last night's Talent Show at our elementary school -- lots and lots of proud mamas {and dads} watching their kids perform up on stage.  It is not an easy thing to do, getting up in front of almost 700 people, putting yourself and your talents out there takes real courage.

On this blog, I purposefully stay away from sharing pieces of my children's lives that I feel are too personal.  I do it out of respect to their privacy, but I'm making an exception this time, because I want to remember just how this all felt. And I want Andrew to go back and read it when doubts creep up in the future.

 Last February, Andrew and I went on a little mother-son date night to watch the school talent show and then out to a nice dinner.  He wasn't performing, just going to watch friends. After the show he congratulated many of the performers as we made our way to the car.  I had my arm around his shoulders and could feel them hunching up.  I looked over at him and he was fighting back tears.  Tears of feeling left out.  Tears of wondering why no one asked him to be in an act. Tears of feeling like he didn't fit in.  The truth was he had really wanted to be on that stage and he had been waiting for someone to ask him.  He thought no one did because maybe he wasn't cool enough, or funny enough, or somehow worthy enough to be asked.  None of those things were true, of course.  I tried to tell him that if he didn't tell people he wanted to be in an act, or ask to join an act, there was no way they could know.  That didn't matter. In his eyes and heart he just wanted to be asked.  I tell you, my heart broke in a million pieces.  I cried that night after we got home for so many reasons, the biggest of which was Andrew's inability to see his own greatness.  This kid is SMART and crazy CREATIVE.  That he was waiting on someone else to validate that was so frustrating.  No matter how often we praise him as parents, it isn't enough to build him up and that is a hard lesson.  At the end of the day, he is a sensitive child that doubts himself sometimes and seeing so many other students be a part of something like a talent show only fueled that fire.

We talked that night about all the kids that did acts on their own, how they didn't need anyone to ask them to participate, they just signed up and did their own thing.  He said he wasn't sure what talent he could share on his own --  he didn't want to sing or dance, he doesn't play an instrument, and a comedy skit alone seemed daunting. I suggested he make one of his stop motion films.  No one had ever shared a movie at the talent show, he wasn't even sure they had the technical capabilities to do it in their auditorium but it was definitely the first idea that he had passion for and from that moment on he was determined to make it happen. He even wrote it down as his goal for the year during the first week of school. And last night, exactly one year later, he did.

As a parent there are so many things you hope to teach your children, so many lessons you spew out about self esteem and being in charge of your own happiness, etc. etc. but all those spoken lessons are only marginally effective, it is the real life experiences that matter far more.  Last night I didn't need to tell Andrew that he made it happen all on his own, that waiting in life for others to dictate what you can and can't be a part of isn't necessary, that when you want to achieve something you and you alone have the power to make it happen.  I didn't have to say any of it, because he knew.  He knew with every audience laugh at the perfecting timing in his film, with every parent and student that came up to him after the show to compliment and congratulate him, he knew with every whoop and whistle and clap that he's done something special, that he was original and creative and worthy.  My heart was very full as I sat in the front row, not watching the movie, but watching him in the wings on stage.  He was genuinely proud of himself.  It is a moment I hope never to forget.

He came on stage to introduce his film and here's what he said...
"Steven Spielberg was 16 when he wrote and directed his first film.  I've got him beat by 6 years.  I hope you enjoy the debut of my first movie."  

And you can too, right here....
Midnight in Mariemont from tessa on Vimeo.

PS. he's been very busy at work on a documentary film that will be featured in their DI tournament next week.  I will share that when I get the chance too! {after the competition!!}

Sunday, February 3, 2013

lately {in phone pics}

hi there friends!  i didn't mean to disappear.  we are here. we are just fine. we are very busy. it's always like that this time of year.  above are a few snapshots of life over the last few weeks.  i've clearly gotten a bit of a jump start on valenetine's day.  what can i say, my cutesy tendencies and pink loving ways become far more acceptable under the guise of valentines when you live in a house full of boys! we played outside when the weather permitted and drank copious amounts of hot chocolate indoors when it didn't.  andrew and charlie were busy with activities and i enjoyed seeing them try and experience new things like playing instruments and movie making.  i plan to write a proper post this week.  thank you for faithfully checking in, even when my writing is sporadic.  happy february!!  xo