spring panzanella

Well, after 2 weeks of birthday celebrating and a visit from the Easter bunny we are a bit sugared out around here.  Yesterday at lunch Henry took one bite of a leftover birthday cupcake, put it down and said, “Mom, I just can’t eat anymore sweets.  They don’t taste good anymore.”  I was stunned speechless by his statement.  I’m pretty sure it will pass, but for the moment I guess he is “off” sweets.

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Yesterday my Ben turned 10.  Crazy.  It snuck on me a bit, this boy of mine having his big birthday.  I love watching the person that he is becoming, but there are days I wish I could go back and have more time.  More of those days of sweet newborn noises, 1 year old curiosity and four year old questions.  I was so tired during all those days; learning to be a mom and trying to keep up that I sometimes struggle to remember.  Then out of the blue a moment will come to mind, one that I thought I had forgotten and I am comforted by the gift that a memory can be.

Part of my reason for starting this blog is to capture more of these fleeting moments in words and pictures so that someday, if memory fails me, they will be recorded for the boys here and at the end of the year made into a book.

At the suggestion of a few readers and after posting about Samuel turning 7, I decided to interview Ben for his birthday.  I was surprised by a few of his answers, others were as expected.

Ben’s Birthday Interview

What is your favorite food? Seriously, a favorite?  I have too many to mention.

Who is the coolest person on Earth? My Grandpa, because he knows a lot of cool things.

What is your best subject in school? Writing stories and reading

What is something you are good at? Playing soccer

What is your best trait? My hair color.  I like it because it’s like my mom’s.

If you could go anywhere, where would you go? To Germany to watch my favorite soccer team play a game

When you grow up what do you want to become? A professional soccer player and after my pro career a journalist

What was the last book you read? Holes by Louis Sacher

What are 3 words to describe you? Small, fast and active

What is something you used to love to do when you were little? Play with my Thomas trains

What is a snack you could live on? My mom’s chocolate chip cookies

Since we are still on Spring Break the day began with gifts and requested Pancake Muffins.  After that we were off to the gym and a pick up game of basketball after my morning class.  In the afternoon he had his best buddy over for some time with a new Wii game. Supper was Sesame Noodles followed by Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

It was a birthday full of all the things this 10 year old boy loves.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes




chocolate chip cookie dough

We are celebrating another April birthday around here today. Ben is 10. Yep, double digits for my oldest boy, I can hardly believe it.

Ben loves, loves anything in the form of a chocolate chip cookie. When he asked if he could take treats to his classmates for his birthday I wanted to find something fun.

I came across this recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls over on ‘Joy the Baker‘ and knew Ben would love them. When I told him about my find his eyes got big and a grin spread across his freckled face.

Do I know my boy or what?

The original recipe made 9 large dough balls. Since I was making this for a classroom of 25 kids I used a 1 TBS size scoop. They turned out to be about the size of a tootsie pop.

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Easter was quiet around our house this year.  After a week of Bret being gone we were glad to have a day together.  Our stretch of cold, gray, wet days was broken, if only for the holiday.  In the afternoon we headed to an area of trails not too far from our house to soak in some sunshine and look for treasures offered by the changing season.



Even though the calendar doesn’t always reflect it, to me Easter feels like the beginning of Spring.  I start to see signs big and small of the earth waking from it’s winter hibernation.

New life.

Green on the trees in the palest of shades, as if they have been washed with the faintest of watercolor.

Blossoms on the trees leaving a fragrance of sweetness in the air.


The appearance of dandelions and many, many bouquets of these “beautiful yellow flowers!”

Spending all our time outside.  Only coming in as the sun is going down, the boys dirty and spent from the fresh air and activity.  It’s all worth the winter wait.

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter too!




There is comfort in ritual. It can be anything, big or small.

For us, it’s pancakes on Saturday morning. I know a lot of families that share this ritual, but for us it is a big one. We don’t miss them, not even our summer vacations get in the way of pancake Saturdays. I just take the ingredients with us. There is really nothing like sitting outside, eating warm pancakes, listening to the wind blow through the evergreens, with the mountains as your morning view.


This recipe is very simple. No eggs. No buttermilk. Yet they are fluffy, light and not overly sweet. I usually double the recipe as the boys will eat them cold as snacks or we’ll do a reheat of the leftovers Sunday morning for Samuel (he’s the only one that likes leftovers). I make each boy their pancake of request as they are cooking on the griddle. The most popular is chocolate chips. I love blueberries and Bret likes his plain.



adapted from ‘The Joy of Vegan Baking’

yields 8-10 pancakes (this is never enough so I usually double the recipe)

1 cup whole wheat pasty flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup nondairy milk

2 tablespoons melted nondairy butter or safflower oil (or any vegetable oil)

3 tablespoons maple syrup or freshly squeezed orange juice

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl combine the milk, oil (or butter) and sweetener.

Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and mix just until moistened; a few lumps are okay. Over-mixing makes for tough pancakes.

Heat a nonstick griddle over medium -high heat (I set mine at 325 degrees).

Pour the batter onto the heated griddle, about a 1/4 cup each. Add any berries, chocolate chips or nuts to each pancake at this point. Cook the pancakes for a couple of minutes until bubbles appear on the surface. Slide a spatula under the pancake and flip it over. Cook the pancakes on the other side for another 2 minutes or until golden brown.



Many times rituals are the building blocks for memories. I hope someday, when my boys are all grown, they’ll fondly remember Saturday morning pancakes. I know I will.

Easter Blessings friends! Have a wonderful weekend!


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