Bailey and Dad

Last week was extremely busy... filled with lots of cooking, cleaning, laundry, visitors, grocery shopping, ringing phones, nurses, drug store runs, meetings. My Dad continues to decline rather quickly. We were all grieving from the alarming news of three to six months when the doctors changed that to one to two weeks. He arrived home to hospice care set up in the living room of his house on Monday. It has been an amazing experience so far. My oldest brother took a leave from work and is now there 24/7 helping out. I am continually in awe of the way my family has come together during this sad time, supporting each other emotionally and working as a team to do whatever is necessary. And my amazing father has retained his sense of humor. He often has us all laughing through situations that would otherwise be very stressful. He craves touch. When I sit and hold his hand, he seems very content. It's still hard for me to believe that he will not live through all this.

We have a beautiful, forested park near our house. Tryon Creek State Park. It's filled with lush, green, quiet trails and clear streams. This has become our go-to escape from the pressures of life. It's a perfect place to gain perspective, breathe fresh air and get some exercise. This little trillium caught my eye on our hike yesterday.


kissing sisters

It is too cute!

Lola and Ellie are showing each other a lot of affection these days.

Introducing InvisiballTM

Basic Vietnamese Spring Rolls -- My Kitchen My World Vietnam

The February destination for My Kitchen My World was Vietnam and I decided to make something I've seen many times in photos but never tried or made myself, Vietnamese Spring Rolls. These have always intrigued me, and being a huge fan of egg rolls and traditional fried spring rolls, I was excited to try these fresh spring rolls.

There are many recipes on food blogs and food sites for Vietnamese Spring Rolls, I looked at a lot and just decided to follow the style of the spring rolls and not go with a specific recipe. Mine were very basic in regards to the filling, using rice sticks (rice noodles, also called rice vermicelli, or mai fun) carrot, celery, and black wood ear mushrooms. Lots of the spring roll recipes I looked at also had a lettuce, sprouts, and some meat or protein. Next time I'm thinking of marinating some thin strips of tofu and baking them and using that for the filling.

The kids had an amazing time "helping" me make these, what a combo of textures and flavors, and they were amazed at the rice paper wrappers and rick sticks softening in water. After I made a plate of spring rolls, I let them just play around with my extra ingredients, what a sensory experience!

Making these is also a pretty time consuming and messy experience, but it was well worth it. I was so surprised to like these, taste wise, as much as I did! I didn't think I would like the wrapper and was ready for the filling to be way too bland, but even though I used very basic flavors, they were delicious served with some peanut sauce for dipping. I loved the chewiness of the wrapper, which really surprised me, I was expecting them to be more delicate and possibly falling apart in my hands, which they were not at all. I bought three packs of rice paper wrappers online (these are not something you can find locally), not realizing how many were in each pack, so I have a ton left over and look forward to trying lots of Vietnamese Spring Roll and dipping sauce recipes in the future :)

Mrs K/C/KC's birthday cake(s)

This year, she decided to forgo the large celebratory cake and opted for a more fun and share-friendly cupcake selection picked up in Selfridges.

We have not previously tried Lola's cupcakes, but will no doubt be fans from now on !

About time, too !

Little O joined the rest of the family in a haircut today. His very first, in fact. I do think this was somewhat overdue as he has been partially sighted for some time due to that fringe of his !!!

Before :


During :


After :

this breaks a parent's heart

Our Poor Ellie is a bit under the weather. Looking at this picture makes me feel thankful beacuse in this whole year this is the first time our babies have been really sick. Let's hope and pray that our little Ellie heals up soon and puts on that cute smile of hers... we have missed it!

Selfridge's surprise

Whilst out in London for Mrs K/C/KC's birthday, Little T was able to
practice her cow milking skills !

Scampi Style Baked Fettuccine -- Barefoot Bloggers

Time for Barefoot Bloggers! I have missed participating in this group for a while and am excited to be back cooking delicious Ina Garten recipes with everyone. The second recipe for February, Ina's Baked Shrimp Scampi, was picked for the group to try by Jill of Insanely Good Food, thanks Jill!

Since scampi is apparently an Italian word for large shrimp or prawn, vegetarian scampi doesn't really fit but oh-well. I was toying around with lots of shrimp substitutes for this one, tofu? Mushrooms? Nah, I was in a pasta mood, and figured the kids would be more likely to eat fettuccine than tofu. So instead of serving shrimp scampi with fettuccine, I used the fettuccine as a shrimp substitute. It turned out wonderfully! The cooked fettuccine was tossed in a garlic infused olive oil and white wine, then topped with a buttery panko bread crumbs, herb, roasted garlic, and lemon mixture, then baked until the top was golden brown and crunchy and the noodles were tender and loaded with flavor. I absolutely loved the pasta and the kids did too, they especially had fun squeezing lemon wedges over the pasta to give it some extra lemon kick -- my kids love lemon!

On the side I served another Barefoot Contessa recipe, Ina's French String Beans, which were divine! For that recipe I changed up a few little things, using triple the amount of peppers and subbing out onions for celery, which may sound like a strange sub, but we were out of onions and always keep celery on hand (another favorite of the kids) so I figured I'd roast it with the peppers and it turned out perfectly.

The peppers were sweet from the roasting and the celery added a nice crunch. This is a perfect veggie side dish that can be personalized with many different veggies, I'm thinking next time I'll roast some cherry tomatoes and mushrooms along with the peppers.

Baked Fettuccine Scampi
adapated from Barefoot Contessa's Baked Shrimp Scampi

2 tbsp garlic infused olive oil
2 tbsp white wine
12 ounces dried fettuccine

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) softened butter
4 cloves roasted garlic
2 tsp Italian herbs
zest of one lemon
2/3 cup panko bread crumbs

Cook the pasta in salted water until al dente and rinse under cold water when done. While pasta is cooking, mash together the softened butter, roasted garlic cloves, herbs, lemon zest, and panko crumbs.

Perfectly roasted garlic thanks to my Roasted Garlic Express, yum!

Put the pasta into a 8 inch square glass baking dish or similar sized casserole dish. Toss with the garlic olive oil and wine.

Spread the butter crumb mixture over the top of the pasta, bake at 435 for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown. This is a little messy to serve so my best suggestion is to cut a square of pasta and then remove it from the dish to your plate with pasta or salad tongs, trying not to loose too much crumb topping. Serve with lemon wedges.


At first I was a little nervous this would be bland, but it was so flavorful and the buttery garlicky wine sauce was perfect with the crunchy panko topping. I'm betting this dish would be amazing with homemade fettuccine, I was going to make some to do this dish with, then I opted to just use boxed Barilla pasta because I didn't want to "waste" homemade pasta with a dish I didn't know would work or not. Silly me, it would have been perfect!

Staying home is fun these days!

The girls love playing outside, but we were so hesitant to let them on our deck because of the open space in between the railing. A friend of ours put plexi-glass onto the railing to keep the girls safe when playing outside as their birthday present. Thanks Monte! The girls are so happy now that they will be able to take over our deck too! And look the plexi-glass doesn't even block our view!

Lola loves it!

Ellie too!

Little Miss independent- times two... they don't even want me to brush their teeth anymore, they want to do it all on their own. Too much fun (I guess I can't complain that my girls love brushing their teeth).

They both love reading in our laps these days too... here is Ellie reading with daddy. It is so cute, she will go get a book and climb up onto Tony's feet and read with him. Can we say daddy's little girl or what?

I think we can rename daddy "The twin's train"
If I ever need to get anything done around the house all Tony has to do is say "choo...choo" and the girls up aboard and occupied for quite a while!

Waldorf Silk Cuddle Doll Tutorial

The Silk Snuggle Doll is probably the most simple but yet one of the most enhanching dolls I know. It can be made for or together with a baby or a small child coming alive though nurturing gestures stimulating creativity by drawing on the child’s imagination.

This kind of Cloth Dolls has also been used since generation to calm and comfort young babies. If a Mama keeps this doll with her a little while the silk is absorbing familiar fragrances and comforting a baby wherever it is.
All You need is:
- One piece of pure silk with rolled hem.
(Ours is 16 x 16 inch) and plant dyed with organic beetroot
Xiling offers beautiful, organic, high quality silk in her online Shop incl. worldwide shipping.
- Fitting cotton thread
- Lambs wool stuffing
- A cutter

Roll a little wool ball for the dolls head.
Put the wool ball between Your palms and give it a round shape.
Fold the Silk to find the center.

Put the wool ball onto the silks center.
Form the dolls head
and use the cotton thread to tie the silk together.
You can use a needle and a thread and make a few stitches if You want to ensure the thread in its position and knot two hands.
Play and cuddle.

Honey Wheat Cookies -- Tuesdays with Dorie

Time for Tuesdays with Dorie! Our treat today, Honey Wheat Cookies, was picked by one of the sweetest blogging friends I have, Michelle at Flourchild. Thanks for a wonderful pick, Michelle! These cookies are delicious! They were one of the stand out recipes for me that was noticed right after I got Baking From My Home To Yours, and I am so glad these goodies finally got picked. They sure were worth the wait, and have me wishing I would have tried this recipe on my own a long time ago.

I love that these cookies use wheat germ, something that I had never tried until 2004 when I was pregnant with my first child and I had read about it being a good source of omega-3s, I think it was on a list of foods that was recommended by my ob, if I remember correctly. I bought a jar of it and used it on yogurt with fruit and oatmeal, but didn't know of any recipes using it.

These cookies also feature honey, one of my favorite flavors! I used a local orange blossom honey that I recently bought for these, see about how dark it is? It really kicked up the citrus zing in these from the lemon zest. This was my first jar of orange blossom honey and I wasn't sure what to expect but you really can taste a little hint of citrus in it, I of course had to do a taste test with all of the honey varieties in my pantry, and was surprised how much I noticed the citrus in the orange blossom honey.

These Honey Wheat gems were easy to make and baked up beautifully soft and a little chewy. They are the perfect cookie texture to me and I look forward to making them many times again :)

Fun Adventures!


Here are the girls at their first SDSU (their mom's Alma mater) basketball game. The crowd was over 10,000 this needless to say not all the people in the crowd were sleeping like that guy behind my head... it was so loud. Lola held on to me so tight the whole game and Ellie was simply looking around with that serious expression. At times Ellie would bust out a dance move or two when the cheerleaders would come out. Ellie just might be a cheerleader like her mom!

A train ride in Balboa Park!
Lola and Ellie went to the park with their friend Declan and their new friend Mateo. It was such a fun day, all the kids loved riding the train we will definitely have to go back very soon!

Cleaning conundrum


Although smiling initially, it didn't take long for this to change, when Little O realised the logistical problem with his new super-long cleaning tool.......

T for two

Little T was delighted to have a guest for afternoon tea recently. Flat Stanley had traveled all the way from Muskegon, MI to see us. He had a great time in England and was photographed extensively before traveling back to his point of origin.

last night I had a nightmare...


... then I woke up and realized it was real.

This week has had many ups and downs. My Dad's kidneys began functioning again after receiving three days of dialysis. He also received a blood transfusion and a bone marrow test. While waiting for results from the bone marrow test, the doctor told us there was some confusion about the type of cancer he has, but they were convinced that it was, in fact, a cancer. After reviewing a blood sample, the lab technician thought it was leukemia, the oncologist thought it was lymphoma. He gave us a bit of hope by telling us that some types of these are easily curable.

The diagnosis finally came Friday. My Dad has Acute Leukemia and three to six months to live. Yesterday was a blur of activity as we made preparations for his discharge tomorrow and in-home hospice care.

Thank you all for your thoughts, prayers and virtual hugs.
The girls one year photo shoot!

Their Auntie Missi did a photo shoot about two weeks ago, she also photographed their birthday party. Take a look at her spectacular blog with the rest of the shots.
Just click the link below.
Thank you Missi for all your work, you are so talented!

Cinnamon Bursts -- Cinnamon Roll / Monkey Bread Hybrids

Don't these look delicious? They really are! Soft and gooey, with a little crunch from the cinnamon sugar, the portability of cinnamon rolls and pull-apart fun of monkey bread. This recipe for Bakery Style Cinnamon Bursts comes from one of those little grocery store check-out lane cookbooks, I have a ton of them and love finding little recipe treasures hidden inside. Sometimes you have to tweak the recipes a little, but if nothing else you get a nice picture and an idea of a recipe as a jumping off point.

These were featured in a Betty Crocker / Gold Medal Flour special edition mini book called Soups & Breads from 2005. It's the same book I recently made this Chipotle Cheddar Bread from. I think I made a few things from in when I got it in 2005, but it had been sitting on a bookshelf since then -- until last month when I randomly pulled it out and found some fun recipes to try. My husband actually picked these to try, and I am sure glad he did! Not only were these treats delicious, it's always fun for me to make a recipe he picked, maybe that sounds a little corny but it's true, something about being in the kitchen, making a recipe for and picked by someone you love.

I adapted this recipe to make the dough in the bread machine on the dough cycle, I've also included the by hand directions. This would be a great recipe to do with little helpers in the kitchen who can roll the dough balls with you!

Cinnamon Bursts

adapted from Betty Crocker / Gold Medal Flour

2 1/2 to 3 cups bread flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 package regular or fast-acting dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons bread machine yeast)
3/4 cup very warm water (120°F to 130°F)
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 egg

Cinnamon Sugar Coating:
1 cup granulated sugar
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 to 2 teaspoons milk

Put the dough ingredients into your bread machine pan in the order suggested by the manufacturer (my Oster calls for the liquids first, then the flour, then other ingredients and yeast) and set it for the dough cycle.

Or by hand -- in medium bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups of the flour, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, the salt and yeast. Add warm water, 3 tablespoons butter and the egg. Beat with electric mixer on low speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Beat on medium speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Stir in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle.

On lightly floured surface, knead dough about 5 minutes or until dough is smooth and springy. Grease medium bowl with shortening or cooking spray. Place dough in bowl, turning dough to grease all sides. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap; let rise in warm place about 1 hour or until double in size. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.

Grease 12 regular-size muffin cups, 2 3/4x1 1/4 inches, with shortening or cooking spray -- I used Baker's Joy Spray. In small bowl, mix 1 cup granulated sugar and the cinnamon. Gently push fist into dough to deflate. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces. Pinch each piece into 6 small balls.

Roll balls in melted butter, then roll in cinnamon-sugar. Place 5 balls in each muffin cup; top with 1 ball in center. Cover loosely with plastic wrap; let rise in warm place 30 to 45 minutes or until double in size.

Heat oven to 350°F. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. The pan will look kind of difficult to clean but it wasn't a problem thanks to the Baker's Joy Spray, and I had no sticking issues.

Cool 5 minutes; remove from pan to cooling rack (place rack on waxed paper to catch glaze drips). In small bowl, stir glaze ingredients until smooth and thin enough to drizzle. Drizzle glaze over rolls. Sprinkles optional. Serve warm.

We all loved these as a special breakfast treat. I hope you love them as much as we did if you give them a try. Now at our house monkey bread and cinnamon buns have a brunch rival :)