All The Pretty Little Ponies

Sarah Beth’s Carousel Party was a hit with one and all. The cake turned out great, thanks to Luke’s patient decorating. If I knew that all I would have to do is plan and poll about the cake, and he would take over from there, I wouldn’t have stressed about it as much. Not that it was that stressful- it was rather simple. The hardest part was cutting the Airheads into horse shapes. At the party, Luke was busy taking children on the ride, so I had responsibility of getting pictures and video. My stills of people on the carousel are a bit blurry- that thing moves fast! At least I got some good video.

Illustrating Sisters

I still can’t get over what a great find the illustrations from Bible storybooks really were. Lover of children’s book illustrations that I am, I often get in trouble bringing home books that look good, but whose content leave much to be desired. My favorite children’s book illustrator is Jessie Willcox Smith, who lived in the early 1900’s and painted the little girl on the right. You can imagine my delight at finding so many similar illustrations of children in the archives of LaVista Church of Christ! When I first saw pictures of children like the one on the left, I thought that they might indeed have been done by Jessie, but it appears they are the work of a lady named Bess Bruce Cleaveland, whose background I’ll quote here:
“Cleaveland was born in Washington Court House, Ohio. She studied art at the Art Students League & Pratt Institute in New York, graduating in 1901. After teaching art for six years, Cleaveland turned to illustrating books, teacher’s magazines, and other commercial art projects.
Cleaveland worked in ink and watercolor. Children and animals were her favorite subjects. In addition to drawing most of the cats and dogs in Washington Court House, she visited zoos to study and sketch wild animals. Her backyard garden attracted birds, squirrels and rabbits, all of which she sketched. She illustrated the children’s book Windmills and Wooden Shoes by Maude Grant, published in 1920.”
-Ohio Memory Online Scrapbook, a website I need to explore in another post
So it appears that Cleaveland and Smith were contemporaries, though I do not know if they ever met. Look at the little girl in each picture. I see so many similarities, from their button noses to their rosy little lips. Yes, thanks to these newfound illustrations, I am in watercolor heaven.

Twice as Nice

It was five years ago this morning that I woke up to a pleasant enough Monday, but bitterly reminding myself that I hadn’t had the baby yet and I was now 5 days late. Big deal, since A-Major was 3 days early. Even worse, it was Luke’s birthday, and I was certain that the baby would not come on his birthday! That would be too convenient. We took A-Major to the mall after breakfast, and walked around. While Luke was trying on running shoes, I started feeling some different pains. I told him about them, and we headed home. About five hours later, Big-S was born, all 8 pounds 7 ounces of her. So she was meant to share a birthday with Daddy, and, we later learned, the midwife who delivered her, and Vanna White. A fine kettle of fish.

Vintage Illustrations

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Matthew 6:26

At this church’s website, you can find many neato illustrations, like the one above, from old Bible storybooks. They are free and for public use. I’ll repeat what Meredith has said on her blog: if you want to use any of the pictures, save them to your own computer, so that nobody overloads this church’s server linking to them.

Breaks and Birthdays

The people at Kiddley are taking a break. Sounds like they are feeling overwhelmed and want to simplify things, get back to taking care of their children. I’m always in favor of that. Though I will miss new posts about fun crafts, they have a wealth of information in their archives. I’m leaving Kiddley on my sidebar; check it out on a rainy day or before a themed party or in preparation for a holiday. One of my favorite finds there is a funny looking paper doll- download it here.
Happy Birthday to my brother-in-law, Keith, who is blankety-seven today. (Not sure if he wants me to reveal his true age!) Luke and Sarah share a birthday tomorrow, so it is a weekend of birthdays. The carousel cake won by a landslide (18 votes to only 3 for the horse in my poll), therefore a carousel cake, for Monday’s carousel party, it will be. I’ll take some pictures before Noah steps in it.
Photo: The horse cake is presently preparing his concession speech

On My Toes Today

No time to blog today, neither writing in mine nor reading others’. Hope nothing earth-shattering has happened in BlogWorld today! I have been too busy knitting this:
Deciding I wanted to get serious about knitting (this time), I found a pattern for ballet slippers and dove right in. Since I didn’t have the right sized needles, I didn’t know what to expect as an outcome. But it looks as though they will fit my niece. Cory, measure her foot sometime soon and let me know. It is good to know that I can accomplish more than scarves and mittens, if I put my mind to a pattern. I’m feeling victorious tonight!
Now I just have to make the other one.
And it would be good if they were the same size.
Victorious feeling fading a little.
Photo: We won’t tell Noah he once modeled ballet slippers. Unless of course he becomes a professional ballet dancer.

Biscuit Recipe

First, the recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, then note what I did differently:
Biscuit Topping (this is part of a cobbler recipe)
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-in pieces
1/3 cup plain whole milk yogurt
Pulse flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in food processor to combine. Scatter butter over and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, about ten one second pulses. Transfer to medium bowl; add yogurt and toss with rubber spatula until cohesive dough is formed. (Don’t overmix dough or biscuits will be tough.) Break dough into 6 evenly sized mounds…Bake (at 425 degrees) until topping is golden brown, 16-18 minutes.

I took this recipe and doubled it, though I didn’t double the amount of sugar, because I didn’t want them to be very sweet. Other differences were: I did everything in my stand mixer that they did in their food processor; I used all purpose flour, salted butter, and plain nonfat yogurt, as that was all I had on hand. I might have cut back on the salt in the recipe since the butter was salted, and I was a little worried they would turn out too salty, but they were fine. Good luck with this- I thought they were wonderful.

This And That

I have always struggled with biscuits. My drop ones from scratch are missing something, rolled ones from scratch turn into miniature shotputs, and it just feels wrong to make biscuits from baking mix (though I do, often). I got a trial issue of Cook’s Illustrated this month, and have been thoroughly enjoying reading it. In there was a recipe for peach cobbler, and the the topping of biscuit dough was made with plain yogurt. As with many other recipes in the magazine, I was intrigued. Tonight’s meal of arroz con pollo (rice with chicken) needed something else on the plate, and I thought of the biscuit recipe in Cook’s Illustrated. Worth a try, I figured, and set out making a batch. Boy oh boy, man oh man. I have come to the end of my search for a good biscuit recipe. I’ll post it here if anyone else who is biscuit-challenged like me is interested. Yogurt. To quote Luke {in his Joey Lawrence voice}-“Who knew!?”
LOST is on tonight, and anybody who wants to talk about it before, during or after can go over to Rocks In My Dryer (on my sidebar) and hash it out in her comments space. A lot of good food for thought developed there last week, once everyone got over the oh-my-goodness-he-just-got-hit-by-a-bus shock.
I’m regaining interest in knitting. Two patterns I am eyeing are one for a sweater and one for a pinafore. I probably shouldn’t try something so ambitious as the sweater, but the pinafore would look so cute on Abbie.
Well, that’s what’s up with me. What is up with you?
Photo: Luke, on a bad day

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Seven things I like about my valentine:
1. He is handsome
2. He is a hard worker
3. He is the king of efficiency
4. He likes me!
5. He enjoys our children and they enjoy him
6. He is more fun than I am
7. He is willing to sacrifice for us to have what we need