Wednesday, April 16, 2014

From the Book of Life: A Baby Shower

"I love these little people; and it is not a slight thing when they, 
who are so fresh from God, love us."  
~ Charles Dickens

I had the privilege of throwing my sister-in-law a baby shower this weekend.  She is having a little girl in a few weeks, and she and my brother plan to name her Lizzie.  Ah, Lizzie.  Such a wonderful name.  

I set out to throw her a perfectly amazing, perfectly feminine baby shower.  But as a mother of five boys, when it comes to all things "girlie," I feel a bit like a fish out of water.  Or my grandmother using Twitter.  Or a man during labor. 

So I pushed all my creative sparks aside and went with PINK

Yep.  I threw a "pink" shower.  (Lame, I know.  But I panicked.)

In my defense, pink IS a unique color around these parts (unless you are counting the loads of laundry my son does where he inevitably throws his red t-shirts in with his white socks, in which case "pink" is not so uncommon.)

But here is the good news: Somewhere between the refreshment table and the party favors, no one really cares WHAT the theme of the party is as long as they are well-fed and favored before they leave.

So I made sure to offer my guests a tasty brunch, including . . . 

strawberry yogurt parfaits

 Quiche squares with ham, spinach, red pepper, and carmelized onions

 and maple bacon muffins.

The food went fast and mom-to-be was showered with generous gifts.

At the end of the day, I'd have to say I was tickled "pink" with the result. :)


Thursday, April 3, 2014

From the Cookbook: Easy Easter Egg Macaroon Nests

“When we lose one blessing, 
another is often most unexpectedly given in its place.” 

~ C.S. Lewis

I've been thinking a lot about change today.  Unexpected change.  That is probably because it seems to be swallowing us alive around here.

Over the weekend, my sweet baby fell awkwardly (and horrifically) on his right leg and snapped his femur bone in half.  That is a sound no parent should have to hear, and a pain that no child should have to endure.

Instead of tending to weekend chores and errands, my husband and I found ourselves in one doctor's office, two different hospitals, one ambulance, and several waiting rooms.

And we got off easy.

Our toddler woke from anesthesia to find himself in a body cast.

On a normal day my baby would be running about the house in superhero costume while wielding a sword (as is his usual modus operandi).  Instead, he laid in his crib and whimpered, "Oh, dear!  I can't move!  Oh, dear!"

At such times, it is so easy for me to descend into a dark place--one upholstered in doubt and carpeted in fear.  (I love how I have the tendency to decorate--even in my neuroses.)  I worry that my little boy's leg will never be the same.  I worry that he is in pain.  I worry that all this immobility will staunch his creativity and turn him into a screen-loving couch potato.  I worry that somehow the fall is my fault.

And most of all, I worry that this will be his very first memory.

But then I look at the apricot blossoms outside and realize that perhaps the greatest beauty of spring is that it dawns after long, dark winters. Spring wields an alchemic sort of magic: grey turns to grace, branches turn to buds, and death turns to life. The hardest part of this miraculous process is to be patient through our leg-breaking winters and to look for the blessings beginning to bloom around us.

So in honor of healing femurs and abundant blessings, I'm sharing a delightful little cookie that captures the beauty of spring and the joy of emerging through adversity stronger than you were before.

I've seen versions like this one floating around the internet, but I think this one is the easiest version yet.

Easter Egg Macaroon Nests


¼ cup flour flour
⅔ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
3 cups sweetened, flaked coconut
4 egg whites
1 teaspoon almond extract
semi-sweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, salt and coconut in a mixing bowl.
  3. Stir in egg whites and almond extract. Mix well.
  4. Drop tablespoonfuls onto lined baking sheets and shape into even mounds with fingers or a spoon.
  5. Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. When macaroons come out of the oven, press down the center with your thumb or a tart shaper to make an indent where the eggs will go.
  7. Immediately fill indents with a few semi-sweet chocolate chips.  (The heat from the cookies will melt the chocolate within a few minutes.)
  8. Smooth softened chocolate with the box of a spoon.
  9. Place candy eggs on softened chocolate center and let cool.
Macaroon mounds on the cookie sheet before baking.

After being pressed in the center with a tart shaper, the cookies are ready for their chocolate centers.  As you can see here, the chocolate starts to melt almost immediately after you put the chips in. 

The miracle of change is that it makes you appreciate things that you've never taken the time to notice before.  Take today, for instance.  Today I am totally and completely and almost tearfully grateful for two-year-old cousins and text messaging.  My sweet nephew (who is just a few months younger than my son) sent a video to our house in a text.  In delightful toddler style, my nephew asked my son if he liked dinosaurs and The Very Hungry Caterpillar and going to the potty.  My son watched this video over and over again, and each time, he would laugh and wave and then give the screen a kiss goodbye. 

I am so grateful for little blessings like these.  I don't know if God has a favorite season, but I'm placing my bets on spring: I simply don't know of a parent who doesn't love watching great things come from small things, whether they be yellow daffodils or baby birds or small acts of kindness from one cousin to another.

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