wacky devil's food cake

This is all that's left of Adam's birthday cake - you were so quick to ask for the recipe, I'm happy to share. And thanks for your concern - I think I will be fine after another massage and trying to relax a bit. I tend to get crazy nasty knots around my shoulder blades from driving, working at the computer, and lifting my heavy boys, which is almost always where the headaches come from. I'm sure I'll be right as rain soon.

Important information: if you grew up in or around Yarmouth, you will remember Minard's Bakery. And you also may remember their chocolate cubes. For those of you who don't, Minard's chocolate cubes were essentially a square (cube, if you will) of layered cake, covered in chocolate frosting and sprinkled with chocolate sprinkles. This cake tastes exactly like the cake in those. The frosting on Thomas' cake tasted exactly like Minard's chocolate cube frosting. So - this cake, that frosting, and some chocolate sprinkles, and you can replicate Minard's chocolate cubes.

The recipe was given to me by my sweet mother-in-law; I don't know where she got it originally. (Feel free to leave a comment, R!) Here it is, in her own words:

Wacky Devil's Food Cake

Sift together in bowl:

3    Cups Flour
2    Cups Sugar
2/3 Cups Cocoa
2    Teaspoons Baking Soda

Mix together separately:

1     Cup Butter (melted)
2     Cups Water
2     Teaspoons Vinegar
2     Teaspoons Vanilla

Add to dry ingredients and mix well.
Grease and flour 2 -  8" cake pans.
Bake @ 350.   (30-40 min.)

(Note:  I have added grated chocolate or chocolate chips to make it more chocolatey sometimes)

And again, the frosting that I used this time is from Movita. Enjoy!

april 29

I'm on the hanging planter bandwagon. I bought this little pottery planter ages ago at Frenchy's, and used it on and off for awhile. It's been out of circulation for a few years now and was tucked away in the shed, but I'm happy to report that it's now fulfilling its purpose. I found some savory at the market yesterday and now it hangs next to the kitchen sink.

I've spent much of today out in the yard, raking and tidying and bagging up winter debris. With some 'help' from Phillip this afternoon, we planted onions, carrots (touchon  - anyone have any reviews on them?), radishes, lettuce, dill, and peas. Plenty of peas, and the seeds are from one of my favourite vendors at the market. The lawn was mowed for the first time of the year, and things are looking good.

Full disclosure - I've had a headache for at least three weeks. Ibuprofen helps, but I don't like relying on it to get the through the day. Which I have been. Ick. I've taken four or five so far today. Not cool. I have a massage booked for tomorrow (I go every month or so to help keep the headaches at bay) which usually helps, and I'm going to do some resting this evening with some heat on my shoulders.

I've also kind of fizzled out of the April Photo-a-day, and I'm okay with that. It's just not my thing. Maybe I don't like being told what to do.

It was Adam's birthday yesterday - happy birthday, love! The cake was delicious. By request, I made Adam's mom's recipe, which was suuuuper easy and delicious, and I had everything in the pantry. I chose Movita's frosting to go on it, and it was good.  Anyone want the Mother-in-law's cake recipe?

I hope that you've had a lovely weekend.


april 25

April 25: looking down. I was standing on the step, looking down to take a picture of some tulips, when I turned around to see this sweet little guy looking down, himself.
 Speaking of the garden...
In other news, two-year-old Thomas dislocated his elbow this morning. It was awful. The doctor was wonderful, as were the nurses and other staff (most of whom we know: upside to a small town!) and she got it back in place on the second try, after some x-rays which were incredibly painful for poor Thomas. I cried at least as much as Thomas did (possibly more) - every fibre of my being just wanted to make it better, and I didn't know how.

Through his tears, he kept saying, "Kiss it, please" and "I'm all done".

Once again, I am so aware of how much we have to be grateful for. In the grand scheme of things, this was such a minor incident. We live in a beautiful, safe place where he could be seen by a doctor within fifteen minutes, and T was x-rayed and all better within a couple of hours. We're all healthy and happy and have nothing to complain about. We are so very, very thankful.

And Mr T. is back to his funny little self, and perfectly fine.


april 24

I have many, many things that I am grateful for. Two sweet little boys are at the very top of my list, broken toenails and all.


april 23

My picture for the day didn't turn out very well (that's what happens when I wait until after dark), so I just posted it over on flickr. This one, though, I like. I might take it again without that twig when it finally stops raining.

Can anyone tell me the name of this adorable weed?

How do you feel about Mondays? I kind of like them. (I know.) I annihilated my to-do list at work today. That feels so good.

In other news, it's going to be Adam's 30th birthday on Saturday, and he wants a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. I'm going to try to talk him into letting me try a recipe other than his mom's, just for variety's sake. In case he agrees (not that he has to, since it is his birthday, after all), do you have a good one to share?

Happy Monday!


pink and green

One of my favourite colour combinations.

One of the things that I've grown to love about taking and sharing my pictures is that it has made me take notice of the light and other details that I might not otherwise notice. Those are rhubarb leaves in the second picture - I had no idea that they had that beautiful pink edge until this morning.

And those crazy Christmas cacti of ours bloom five or six times a year. I love it. (I think they thrive on neglect - I certainly haven't given them any special treatment.) There's a yellow one in the pot with the coral one, but it hasn't been quite as happy as the others. I'm hoping that it comes back. What's blooming at your place?


april 21

April 21: Bottle. Those are cuttings from a plant that my Grandmere had in her house. After she died eleven years ago or so, I took a leaf from her plant and put it in water for almost a year before it grew any roots. I planted it after that, and it took off. I just gave it a makeover, as it was getting lanky, and I tucked these in water for the time being.
The boys and I had a lovely, quiet, rainy afternoon together, complete with reading, fort-making, play-doh sculpting, drawing, and Jell-O worm making. I told Phillip just after lunch that he would be able to play on the computer at 3:30 while I started supper. This is what he did at 1:15:
The clock that he checks is on the microwave. So he thought that it would be best to sit and wait for 3:30 to roll around. That lasted for about 25 seconds.
And lastly, I thought this was so cute. All of a sudden, Phillip jumped up and said, "I need to draw something!" He went into the dining room and drew and coloured furiously for a few minutes, then asked how to spell 'you' and 'plants'. He explained to me that it's Earth Day tomorrow, and he wanted to draw a picture for the plants in the garden. That's a tree, and it says "I *heart* you plants". Since it was pouring, he set it out on the step for the plants to see rather than taking it beyond the step. He then spent a minute getting soaked while he turned it around so it wasn't upside down and they could read it.

Happy weekend!

april 20

April 20: Something you drew.


april 19 (and P's vision)

April 19: Orange.

I've been thinking a lot about colour this week - we found out on Tuesday that Phillip is red / green colour deficient. You may or may not know that I'm a teacher of students who are visually impaired, so I make a living by supporting students with visual impairments and their parents, caregivers,  and teachers. Funny, no? Naturally, I'm feeling a bit of "WHY didn't I see this sooner?" But there's no point in that, now is there? And actually, I did notice several times that his colours weren't on par with his other accomplishments, and that he identified many things as pink and grey. Not wanting to be the paranoid teacher of students with visual impairments, I thought that I should relax and give him one area to be slower in catching up with. He has developed some good strategies for working around it. Long term, it means that he can't be a pilot or sea captain (sorry, Dad) and probably wouldn't be the best graphic designer. (He keeps saying that he wants to be a doctor or a carpenter, so thus far, he's all set.) For the past few days, I just keep thinking how curious I am as to exactly how he sees the world. Colour is so important to me, and I'm just so curious as to how he sees Adam's pictures and my pictures, for example. Of course I've thought of all of these things in relation to my students, but this (naturally) is totally different.

There's a nifty app that a colleague showed to me (thanks, Sally!) that simulates various forms of colour deficiency, which is really neat. I'm planning to chat more with P's eye doctor to get as many details as I can.



 April 18: hair.

I've driven quite a bit in the past couple of days, can you tell? I wanted to show you the beautiful necklace that my mom bought me for my birthday. (I had it picked out.) The only trouble is that it's super tangly. But I love it anyway. Circles are such lovely symbols  - they're complete of themselves, they're perfectly symetrical, it's the shape of pregnant bellies and pupils - I love them.

And now I'm unpacking and getting ready for tomorrow. Good night!


april 16

April 16: Flower.

Thanks for your sweet comments yesterday. I woke up this morning feeling decidedly like myself again. I hope that you're feeling like your favourite kind of self today.


april 15

April 15: Sunset.

spring garden, real life edition

I was just looking at some older un-blogged pictures, and found this one to share this morning. That orange strikes me as the perfect colour for some of the first flowers of spring. "Hey, bee! Look over here!"

And then I went outside to take a few more to share, while Adam has the boys out for a walk / bike ride.

A few of the crocuses are still hanging on in our yard, the daffodils are up and some are open, and the quince buds are swelling. The boys and I spent the entire afternoon in the yard yesterday, raking and weeding and playing. And blowing bubbles, of course.

I still call our raised beds the 'veggie beds', but it looks like my herbs are taking over much of that space. I have parsley, lemon balm, bee balm, curry flower, rhubarb (well, I guess that isn't really an herb) and mint (sunk in a pot) there. The chives, lavender, sweet woodruff and thyme are in other little beds right by the back door. I also have a bunch of seeds to plant so we can enjoy peas, cucumbers, and the like, so I might have to get creative if I'm going to fit it all in. (Or plant some things at my parent's place, which I've done before.)

I know I've shared this tip before, but I will again: if you save sticks and branches when you clean up your yard at the end of winter, they're perfect for covering up your raised beds to keep mangy neighbourhood cats from using them as litter boxes. They let the sun and rain through, but keep the cats out until your garden has gown enough for the plants to deter them. We're lucky enough to have a thornless raspberry patch, and the old canes we thin each year are perfect for this purpose.
Oooh, and I also cut some bamboo stakes into smaller lengths (many more than are pictured!) to make a mason bee house. I haven't figured out the details on how to put it together yet, but that will come.

Real life:

I've been feeling frustrated about our house situation this week. I want to NEST. I feel as though I can't here, as we don't want to put extra money into this house that we won't get back if it ever sells, and we don't have a new house to nest in until this one sells. I haven't sorted through all of this in my head yet, but it seems like my rational brain isn't working properly.

Things have been busy, and overwhelming at times. I feel like I'm one of those water bugs that scoots along the surface of the lake and gets to where it's going, but without taking time to really see what's going on beneath it. And I'm not sure how to change that right now. Everything just seems to be going by in a blur, and I wish I could really settle in and enjoy all of it. I've felt grumpy much more than usual, and I don't like it. I don't know exactly what I need, but I'm thinking that some version of a kick in the pants might do the trick. Any volunteers?

Enough about me. Back to gardening. I *love* following along with how other bloggers' gardens are growing, and the spring updates this week have been great. A few that stood out:

Kendra's lovely garden is blooming like nobody's business. I think I need a sign like hers for our back door. She has an Eastern Red Bud! I'm a wee bit envious, but in a good way. I've never seen one here, and don't know if they would do well. Any Nova Scotians know? I'm a sucker for a pink blossom. (Which is why I'd like a few apple trees someday. Oh, and for the apples, too.)

Amy has some wonderful transplanting tips over at Tend. I love sharing plants between gardens, and her tips will help ensure success.

Abby's garden update made me smile. Everything looks so lush and green! So far ahead of ours.

Speaking of green, check out all of the sprouting goodies over at Ngo Family Farm!

As always, I'm curious. What do you have growing? Even if it's a houseplant! (Speaking of which, we have a carrot top and a celery bottom growing in the kitchen right now. Try it! Watching the progress entertains the kids.) Hope you're having a relaxing weekend.



 Who knew that a typewriter would be a calming way for Phillip to apologize to Thomas?

After supper, the boys were in the living room playing while I was in the next room, and I heard a slap. A loud, sickening slap. Phillip had hit Thomas on the cheek, hard. While I consoled T, P was sent up to his room to calm down until he was ready to apologize. (The whole event was much louder and screamier and tear-filled than comes across here. And no, he didn't go willingly - Adam had to escort him up.) Phillip was instructed to apologize to Thomas when he was ready. After a few minutes, he yelled down the stairs,




I think that the challenge of figuring out how to type out his message took him out of the intensity of the moment enough for him to settle down. He brought the note to Thomas and read it to him.

And then he brought this message for Adam and I.

april 13

April 13: Something you found.


april 11

April 11: Where you ate breakfast.

I thought it was great that today happened to be a day when a colleague was in town and we met over breakfast at the lovely, highly-recommended MacKinnon-Cann Inn.



polishing and kombucha

Yesterday morning, between other kitchen work, I grabbed a piece of coconut oil and a cloth, and started treating all of my cutting boards and wooden utensils to a little moisturizing. In case you've never done it, it helps to prevent cracks and warping, and also makes them look a bit healthier. I've used other oils before, but the coconut oil seems to soak in better, and it's less messy than a liquid oil. I have perpetual plans to make a beeswax polish (which is simple enough, and I think I may have done it before) but this is even simpler, and so it wins out so far. I do love the idea of a beeswax polish with a little bit of lemon essential oil and some other oils in it, though.

It's as simple as can be - I just rub the coconut oil generously all over the object, let it sit for awhile, and then rub in with a cloth, wiping off the excess.

This is also something the boys could easily help with, and I think they would enjoy it. For at least a minute.

I also started (or tried to) my own kombucha SCOBY, and then realized that the kombucha I bought to start it with had been pasteurized, so it's not going to work.I did take a pretty picture, though!
Speaking of which, if anyone has a SCOBY they would like to send my way, I'd be happy to swap for my lovely handmade soap! Or if you have a recommended Etsy or eBay seller I could buy one from - I'm hesitant to buy one from 'just anyone', you know? Where it is food and all.

I'm also looking for a few houseplant cuttings, if you happen to be local and want to swap. Trailing, tiny-leaved ones, in particular.

I hope you've had (and/or are having) a lovely long weekend. Oh, Phillip has a message for you:

"I like giving Mama a lot of hugs. And kisses."

I totally did not prompt him at all. How sweet is this boy?

reading and dancing

Phillip was perched on the arm of the couch, reading his beloved Chirp magazine...
when in came the maniac dancer to lighten things up.

Some days, I wonder if I can handle all of the cuteness.



april 6

April 6: Lunch. (For Fat Mum Slim's Photo-a-day for April.)

I am so, so thankful for an extra-long weekend. I played in the yard with these hooligans for a few hours this afternoon, and it was so nice. I also spent a large portion of my day in the kitchen, which was also so nice. I made Teresa's butter rolls, Walnut Lentil Burgers, Lemon Yogourt Cake, and a batch of pasta sauce. And consequently washed a lot of dishes.

I've been listening to a book on CD while driving this week. The book's not that great, but I love listening to it as opposed to the usual news radio, music, etc. Just for a change. There are no news interruptions, the woman reading it has a lovely voice, and it's not hurried at all. I feel like she has the time to pay attention to each and every word that someone took the time to write, so I should listen. Also, it's much slower to be read to than to read something, so I think I remember details much better than if I were to fly through the book in a few days.

Oh, and the other fun thing I've been doing lately - sprouting!

I tried using a regular jar, but found that the rinsing part was awkward. I saw some lids for sprouting online (they're just like little sieves) that fit regular canning jars, but I couldn't find one locally and didn't want to wait. Yarmouth Natural had these BioSnacky jars (they're worth it just to be able to say 'BioSnacky'!) with the lid and the little stand to keep the sprouts well drained, so I picked one up. I enjoyed some radish sprouts the other day (they're pictured when they were just a few days along) and have some alfalfa ones on the go now. They're so fresh and delicious.

I'm curious - what's been going on in your kitchen lately?

Have a lovely Easter weekend.


april 5

April 5: Tiny.

Adam bought me these teeny-tiny vases a few years ago for my birthday, I think it was.  They're just over an inch tall, each.