Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Season~coming to an end!

This was a week of letting go and trusting in what was in front of me...and that was my girls.

Irish dance performances are exciting and exhausting at the same time.  It is a lot of rushing and wondering if you will make it to the next show on time, but somehow we always do!

The girls had a total of 9 shows in 4 days and we have one more left.  The girls always find the energy to dance their performance piece just one more time.  Our longest day, which was yesterday, measured a total of 13 hours from start to finish.  Keeping 2 sisters, who have been with each other all day, happy isn't always easy.  I had to remind them to please be nice to one another and also remind them that EVERYONE is tired.  But to make it a little fun, it became our our "YES" day!

What does that mean?  I said "YES" to practically everything.  We had powdered donuts for breakfast, snacks in the car, candy hidden in my bag which we shared, we ordered rootbeer floats with our lunch, and they didn't have to take showers when they got home.

The girls thought it was pretty cool until they tried to push it into today!  Today, some "no's" were said, only because you can't eat fruit snacks for every meal and you eventually have to shower.

Today, even with only 3 shows, it seemed more exhausting than yesterday.  Most of us were tired before we even started performing, so during our break today the girls were treated at Build-A-Bear for how great they have been this entire week of shows!  The employees tried to get a dance out of the girls, but they weren't budging.  Yes, they perform in front of hundreds of people, yet they wouldn't dance for 4.  Once again, we are all tired.

Then pulling into our second show of the day, my 5 year old daughter says, "I don't want to do Irish dancing anymore, I am tired of putting on the wig, it hurts my head!"  Yet she tells me how she can't wait to get back to class on Tuesday!

Performing is always a positive experience for my kids.  I try to sit back and let go.  Putting trust in my girls to make the right choices when I am not around.  They look forward to each performance because they have a chance to make new friends, share their talent with others and spend time with kids who enjoy the same things they do.  In between shows they color and do crafts and laugh with one another, but best of all they gain confidence in themselves. They work together as a team to dance their performance piece and this group which they perform with becomes a second family for St. Patrick's Day week.  The bond they create with the friends on their team becomes a friendship that will last a forever.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Wee Bit O'Irish...Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread

In a large mixing bowl combine:

4 cups all purpose flour
2 T. sugar
1 t. salt
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1 C. raisins
2 C. buttermilk

I used my kitchen aide with the dough hook attachment, but you can also mix by hand with a wooden spoon.
Combine all dry ingredients, including raisins and slowly add the buttermilk.  Mix well.  Dough will be sticky.  Spoon onto a parchment lined pan, I buttered the paper.  Tuck in raisins.  Pat into an oblong form.  Place in center of oven.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes~until golden brown.

You can spread some butter on top after it has come out of the oven for a shiny appearance and buttery flavor.

Note: The above recipe has been doubled to make the loaf above.  You can cut the recipe in half if you would like to make a smaller loaf to share with your friends!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Feeling Green Yet?

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

We started our St. Patrick's Day Celebration on Saturday with the Elmhurst Parade!

This was the beginning of our St. Patrick's Day Season!  You may know already, but my daughter's are Irish Dancers, and this week they will be performing with the rest of their Trinity Performance Troupe.  Whether we are at Assisted Living Facilities, Schools or Pubs the guests are always guaranteed to get a 
Superior St. Patrick's Day show. 
And who wouldn't smile at these girls!

Well, this is just the beginning of our Green Week.  I have promised you COOKIES!

I will tell you that I love to bake, and I feel I always need to have a perfect product in the end. So I searched and searched for the perfect Sugar Cookie Recipe and all fingers  pointed to The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle, not only does she create fabulous cookies, she is "Sweet" enough to share her Recipes!

I used this one:

1 c. (2 sticks) of REAL unsalted BUTTER, softened
1 1 /2 c. confectioner's sugar
1 egg
2-3 tsp flavoring (pick what you like, I used almond extract the first time and mixed almond and vanilla the next time I used this recipe)
2 1/2-2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Cream together softened butter and confectioner's sugar.  Crack the egg into a separate bowl, and add the flavoring.  (see Sugarbelle's site above for exact content including pictures).  Add that to the butter sugar mixture and mix until the egg is thoroughly mixed.  In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, then add little by little to the mixture.

I added green food coloring, but may opt against it next time.
When using green icing they look great no matter what color the dough is.
Roll out on parchment paper (This is the BEST TIP I have ever gotten in all the years I have baked) to about 1/4 inch thick, use flour for dusting as necessary.  Then cut and bake at 400 degrees for 7-8 minutes.  This recipe will yield 2 - 2 1/2 dozen.  I have always doubled the recipe.

The above photos are of my 2nd attempt at these delicious bakery quality cookies.

This is what my kitchen counter looks like after I bake carefully!

I didn't take pictures of my first attempt over Valentines day, because it began with confectioner's sugar, all over my counter, floor and me!  Naughty words were said, a feeling of defeat was had, and then my hubby made me laugh.  I then felt that it is important to accept my failures, take pictures and learn from my experiences, because that is what I am trying to share with my blog.

I tried to save as much of the sugar as possible and estimated what I had lost.  Guess what?  The recipe still turned out great! I believe this IS a NO FAIL recipe!
Time to enjoy the cookies!  Yep, that milk has been touched by a Leprechaun!

Thank you to some great bakers out there that are Sweet enough to share their perfection with others!  Hugs go out to The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle for making me a Supermom? That's Me! Baker!

Monday, March 12, 2012

“Mommy, will you play cars with me?”

By Jennifer McCarte
Written for my Favorite Little Boy

“Good morning mommy, can we go downstairs to play?”
Sure my son, what should we do today?

Would you like to be a dragon?   One who breathes fire?
How about a circus performer on the high wire?
Should we put on makeup and you could be a clown?
Or dance round in circles until we fall down?
Should we hunt for a treasure? Pirates we’ll be?

 “Mommy, will you play cars with me?”

Do you want to build a tent and pretend there are bears?
Make-believe we are climbing a mountain of stairs?
Run outside in the rain with our umbrellas up high?
Or fly a kite way up in the sky?
Should we watch the trains? Conductors we’ll be?

“Mommy, will you play cars with me?”

Should we pretend we’re at the beach, in the sand we can play?
Do you want to paint pictures with our fingers today?
We could go to the park and swing in the sun?
Or slide down the slides, now that would be fun?
Should we build with blocks? Construction workers we’ll be?

“Mommy, will you play cars with me?”

What do you want to do?
“Mommy, Guess.”
You want to play cars?
“Mommy, YES!!!”

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Good Day!

by Jennifer McCarte

Me, the kids and Great-Grandma on her 89th Birthday!

Today was a good day because I woke up with a smile
I shared it with all, because that is my style, 
It was a good day because the kids didn't fight 
Over what was served for breakfast, they just said, "Alright!"
They got ready for school with more time to spare,
My son picked out candy for his sisters to share.
Today was a good day, a lot of laughter was had, 
Everyone behaved, and no one was bad?
It was a good day because I didn't hear myself yelling, 
There was NO screaming and no tattle-telling?
Today was a good day, I would say just fine, 
We celebrated a birthday, my Grandma's 89. 
It was a good day because we had pizza and cake, 
I didn't cook dinner, nor did I bake.
Today was a good day because I started it right, 
With hugs in the morning and hugs in the night.
A smile on my face from dusk until dawn,
And with a smile like that, where would your day go wrong?