Weekend Shenanigans

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This past weekend was a good one, albeit chilly. These ups and downs have us on our toes awaiting spring! One day it’s 70, the next 40. On Friday morning we awoke to a thin dusting of snow covering everything. But the small warm spell from last week meant a whole lot of laying at the boys’ school! One of my favorite things about Wednesdays is checking to see if we have won the “egg lottery,” and finally this past week, we did! Such beautiful eggs — chocolate, creamy brown, and pastel green… it’s easy to imagine one would have no need for egg dies this Easter with hens that lay a rainbow of eggs like these! Oliver was particularly proud to show off part of his school’s bounty this week.

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Though chilly, this past Saturday was sunny enough to enjoy the zoo. Emil and Andrew are missing from these photos because they were attending a birthday party for our next-door neighbor in a different part of the zoo. We wanted Emil to attend without his big brothers because it seems they are always flitting off to play dates, circus class, and birthday parties without him — it’s easy for him to feel left out. He had a blast and came out of the party marching with his head held high! DSC_0101DSC_0074

Cheeky in more ways than one

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And finally, my personal favorites at the zoo — the hippos are back out! They head indoors during the coldest winter months, so we were so happy to just sit and watch then swim around and around for awhile. There is something completely mesmerizing about them, I can’t explain it! DSC_0095DSC_0092DSC_0070

This week we watched the light change, growing brighter and hanging around longer into the evenings. We listened to new songbirds outside our windows and observed daffodils blooming in our garden, tiny buds appearing on our apple and peach trees. Next week we will remove the leaves and till our vegetable garden, add organic matter and chicken manure, and plan out our garden space for the upcoming growing season. We’ll gather seeds and clear out dead debris and keep dreaming of the warmer days of spring.

Hope you have a wonderful Monday!

Coconut Cake

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Some days you just need to bake a cake for no other reason than to lift your spirits! I had one of those days recently, and decided to give Saveur’s coconut cake a whirl. With its bright white frosting and large shavings of coconut, it reminds me of the Easter cakes I used to covet when I was a child. Be warned— this cake is very sweet! But tons of fun to make.

Coconut Cake

For the cake:

  • 16 Tbsp (2 sticks) butter, softened, plus more for greasing pans
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted, plus more for dusting pans
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  •  2 cups sugar
  • 5 eggs

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For the frosting:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup fresh coconut water
  • 3 cups freshly grated coconut (I used dried shavings)

Make the cake: heat oven to 350. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans and set aside. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside. Whisk together buttermilk and vanilla in a  bowl and set aside. In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy (about 3 minutes).

Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. On low speed, alternately add dry ingredients in 3 batches and wet ingredients in 2 batches. Increase speed to high and beat until batter is smooth, about 5 seconds. Divide batter between pans and smooth top. Bake about 35 minutes, until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Let cakes cool in pan before inverting onto wire racks. When completely cool, use a serrated knife to halve each cake horizontally, producing 4 layers.

Make the frosting: place egg whites and cream of tartar in bowl of the stand mixer fitted with whisk and beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Turn mixer off. Bring sugar, syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water to boil in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar until a nearly-clear syrup forms (about 5 minutes). Turn mixer to medium and very slowly drizzle hot syrup into egg whites while beating. Add vanilla and increase speed to high; beat until meringue forms stiff peaks and is slightly warm to the touch, 3 minutes.

To assemble, place one layer on a cake stand or plate, drizzle with 3 Tbsp coconut water, spread with 1 1/2 cups frosting (I found it easier to estimate because the frosting is the consistency of marshmallow fluff and quite sticky!), and sprinkle with 1/2 cup coconut. Place another layer over frosting and repeat the above steps until all layers are covered. Cover top and sides with remaining frosting (I didn’t use all of it) and cover outside of cake with remaining coconut, or just cover the top. Chill cake to firm frosting. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Enjoy!

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This is quite a sweet cake because of the frosting, so I think if I make this again I will use a less saccharine fresh whipped cream frosting with coconut sprinkled on top. But it would make a great decadent Easter dessert to bring to a party!

Dress That Mama

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Here’s what I wore last Sunday. It was warm enough for short sleeves as long as we stayed in the sunshine. We spent our morning getting coffee and some amazing pastries at Comet Coffee (I highly recommend the choquettes and the chocolate croissants) then sat in the sunshine at a crowded playground to eat them. It was a lovely day and I met the nicest French woman who is due any day now with her third baby (possibly her third boy). She was so stylish and calm and cool and we talked about childbirth and the French culture and motherhood in general. I’ve found myself thinking of her and hoping to run into her again. Isn’t it nice to be inspired by other mamas?

DSC_0028DSC_0016Hard to believe that my own mama bought me these pants almost exactly a year ago after my appendectomy when I could barely wear any of the clothes in my closet. Still love the pants, still think of her every time I wear them! Find a similar pair here or here.

Happy Wednesday!

Music Monday (on a Tuesday)

Dry the River: “New Ceremony”

Lera Lynn: “La Di Da”

John Bellion: “Luxury”

I meant to post these yesterday, but alas, I didn’t get my act together in time. In addition to these songs, we’ve been listening to a lot of David Bowie. You should see Emil’s dance moves— that kid was born in the wrong era.

What are you listening to?

Weekend Shenanigans

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Finally, finally back to good health around here! The boys were on spring break all last week, feeling fine and dandy while I struggled to keep up. Every moment Andrew took them for an hour or two I found myself in bed completely wiped out, sound asleep and oblivious to the time of day and things that needed to be done around the house. There is something so wrong with me every year in March, I’m honestly starting to get superstitious about it! I’m convinced that some day (hopefully when I’m old, gray, and have lived a nice full life) I will die in the month of March of some illness or freak accident. Not to be morbid, but geez! March is, and never has been, my month.

And yes, I did end up at the doctor’s office at the urging of Andrew and my dear friend Nora and my own mother. The doc confirmed that it was the flu and that it was indeed a rough one this year, but that there was not much to do except wait it out and try to rest. Not being one to take medications or jump on the antibiotics unless there’s an actual infection to fight, I was relieved. So here we are, two weeks later, and I’m feeling much better. Having all but lost my voice for over a week, it’s nice to be able to yell at the kids again (kidding!).
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A lot of guilt filled my days last week, as I had made ambitious plans to take the boys on many adventures and had to cancel so many of them for lack of energy. One cold day when I could barely get out of bed they watched movies nearly all day… something they never do. It was like a zombie apocalypse looking at their little zoned out faces. But we did manage to brave the City Museum one day and the Science Center another. I think they had a blast despite the canceled plans. DSC_0086DSC_0035DSC_0037DSC_0011DSC_0029DSC_0048DSC_0051DSC_0005One of the highlights of the week was watching Milo’s class butterflies emerge from their cocoons (all five of them within minutes of one another!). We kept them around for a few days before releasing them on a warmish day this past weekend. Milo’s care for them was so tender and concerned — he’s a gentle boy with a strong desire for a bunny rabbit. We’re not sure how much work it is but he’s been working so hard, we’re thinking of adopting one (or a bonded pair). Have you had any experience raising bunnies? Are they very much work and trouble? Of course we’ve been reading up on it, but the main rabbit adoption house around here almost seems to discourage it! Curious to hear what you think… he seems ready but we want to make sure we know what we’re getting ourselves into!

Happy Friday

DSC_0022DSC_0013Despite the beautiful weather, it’s been a really crappy week over here. Oliver, Emil, and I all got the flu and just to warn you if you haven’t already had it this winter… it’s a doozy. Poor Oliver was down for the count for 5 days, and I could barely get out of bed for 3 of those. Something about getting knocked down like that for several days in a row is just crazy. I’m finally feeling better just in time for Andrew to travel out of town to visit friends for the weekend. I know he is looking forward to it and after the week we’ve had, boy does he deserve it!

By the way, while I was lying around in bed trying not to think about how rotten I felt, I happened to catch the first episode of American Crime. Have you heard of it? Whoa. It was so intense and gripping, I can’t stop thinking about it. Watch the first episode here. But be warned; it’s not an easy watch. If you have seen it, what did you think? I am totally hooked.

Hope you’ve escaped the nasty illnesses going around and have a lovely weekend!