"If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling." ~ Frederick Buechner

31 March 2013

Happy Easter Weekend!

So thankful for the irises planted by the former homeowners that began blooming on Good Friday!
Heading to Little B's first real egg hunt
Showing off his basket
A dedicated little hunter
At a petting zoo following the egg hunt
B didn't want to touch, but he did want Daddy to hold a "baby ducky" so he could see it closer.
Why use a gate when you can climb through a fence?
A pat for you...
And one for you.
A homemade bunny for B's first Easter basket! He picked out the yarn himself, but he didn't know what it was for.
N's surprise Easter basket
B's Easter basket
Hugs for Bunny!
Family photo after church
Checking out birds
Peeps! He only ate the tips of the ears. I think it was too sugary for him.
Making use of his new painting book
We spent the entire beautiful and warm afternoon out in the garden.
 Happy Easter!

28 March 2013

Easter Baking Cont.: Hot Cross Buns for All!

I was too tired the other night to ice the hot cross buns, so I packed them away to cool overnight.
The next morning, B helped me put the finishing touches on the buns. I decided to use chocolate icing (because I had some leftover in the refrigerator and didn't want to bother making a new batch).
We have been delivering them here, there, and everywhere since then. A few came with us to B's "moozik cass" (music class) for his teacher and her kids. We took a couple over next door to "Missur Davin" (Mr. David) and "Mi Sher-wul" (Mrs. Sheryl), our terrific, retired neighbors who have been delighting B's little heart. I mean, what's not to like about neighbors who let little boys "help" weed the yard using a pretty nifty tool and pass out beautiful handmade gifts over the fence?

B looks at those crosses on the mantle each day, proclaiming, "Pee-tee cosses! Eassuh! Missur Davin nice!" (Pretty crosses! Easter!).

N took a batch of the buns for his team at work today. He said they have been favorable received. Of course, who would turn down homemade baked goods?

Today, Hannah Plays Hooky hosted the door prize at my moms group at church.
Triple-Layer Flower Hair Accessory
It was a great opportunity to share a bit of my heart for being a stay-at-home mom, as well as to promote my little hooky venture. The ladies were wonderful, and I received some enthusiastic compliments for my work. It looked like most of my business cards were picked up, and a couple moms said they would be contacting me for items. Woohoo!

Speaking of church, B and I are there several times throughout the week, with my weekly Bible study, bi-weekly moms group, church, and our FPU class. B enjoys having the time and opportunity to play with other kids, and he especially loves the church playground.

This week, I discovered that he has a new favorite thing:
The Bye-Bye Buggy is this large contraption that holds multiple small children. It's like a stroller on steroids. I had never seen anything like it until we went to the Texas State Fair last fall. The one at church is the double stroller version of the Bye Bye Buggy. I admire the person who pushes a class of toddlers who weigh 25-35 pounds each in that thing.

Anyway, B loves ... I repeat, LOVES ... that thing. It's the very first thing he tells me about when I pick him up from childcare. And he tells me (and Daddy) about it repeatedly throughout the rest of the day. I don't mind, because I love his enthusiasm.

You know what else I love? How absolutely wonderful most of the childcare volunteers are about our cloth diapers. And how genuinely friendly people are here (and I'm not just talking church people). And how inclusive they are! Oh, my word. N and I have mentioned this to one another multiple times in the past couple weeks, but we have been floored with just how nice people are. We've been invited to more events, nights out, and play dates in the past month than we can count, and we're NEW. A couple of the men from a community group we visited with our friends have made a point to call N once in a while, just to see how we're doing and settling in. It's not even about trying to get us to come to their church; they know it's too far for us. They're just reaching out.

I know that in a couple months, I might be bemoaning the Texas heat and hyperbolizing (no, that's not a real word) about how miserable it is outside, but right now, I'm kind of loving living in the South!

26 March 2013

A Little Easter Baking

I had way too little sleep last night due to a cranky toddler who was suffering from the effects of his very first candy raid and a delayed nap (we went to a playdate that included an Easter egg hunt and cupcakes after lunch, and let's just say that many more jellybeans and chocolate ended up in my little boy's mouth than Mama wanted), and boy, did I feel it in my grumpy ol’ heart today. It was all I could do to muster some self-control and keep my big mouth shut tight to prevent all the orneriness from escaping.

This afternoon, in an effort to engage B in something fun, as well as meaningful, so I decided we would make our hot cross buns today instead of on Thursday.
Checking to make sure his hand is nowhere near the heat, just like Mommy said
Enthusiastic stirring
Look at that little hand go!
A little counting project he made up for himself while we waited for the dough to rise
Methodically combining all his goldfish into one cup
Last year was the first time I had ever made hot cross buns, but I think it's a fun treat to make during the Holy Week. It provides a simple opportunity to tell the Good Friday story in ways that a young child will understand. Little B is still too young to understand about sacrifices or death, but he does understand what gifts are. I think the little crosses on hot cross buns make them look like little presents tied up with ribbon, and that's how I will tell him the Easter story this year, that Jesus is a gift of love to us.
I don't have any raisins in the house, so we used Craisins instead.
Last year, poor Little B was oh-so-sick, and the hot cross buns were an extra-special treat for him. Here's to hoping that we all stay good and healthy this week!
Here is a little bit of hot cross bun history, as quoted in the Food Timeline:

"...the English custom of eating spiced buns on Good Friday was perhaps institutionalized in Tudor times, when a London bylaw was introduced forbidding the sale of such buns except on Good Friday, at Christmas, and at burials. The first intimation we have of a cross appearing on the bun, in remembrance of Christ's cross, comes in Poor Robin's Amanack (1733): Good Friday comes this month, the old woman runs, with one or two a penny hot cross buns' (a version of the once familiar street-dry "One-a-penny, two-a penny, hot cross buns'). At this stage the cross was presumably simply incised with a knife, rather than piped on in pastry, as is the modern commercial practice. As yet, too, the name' of such buns was just cross buns: James Boswell recorded in his Life of Johnson (1791): 9 Apr. An. 1773 Being Good Friday I breakfasted with him and cross-buns.' The fact that they were generally sold hot, however, seems to have led by the early nineteenth century to the incorporation of hot into their name."
An A-Z of Food & Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 164)
Tonight was another eventful going-to-bed night. At first, it seemed like he was back to his regular self, singing to himself loudly, "Bazzum, bazzum boots!" (a little rhyme from Kindermusik). But then he began calling out, "Needing Daddy!" Daddy had, unfortunately, gone to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription, so once I was convinced he was not going to sleep, I scrubbed the dough off my hands (yes, hot cross buns are a time-consuming process) and went in to have a chat with my little protester. 

B: "Needing see Daddy."
Mommy: "Daddy had to go to the store, buddy."
B" "Needing go store in Mommy car."
Mommy: "No, we can't go to the store right now. It's night-night time."
B: "Needing blow nose."
*blows nose in tissue*
B: "Needing wa-tee." (water)
*drinks water*
B: "Dipe-dipe wet."
Mommy: "No, your diaper isn't wet. We just put it on less than an hour ago."
B: "Needing fang on." (fan)

Aha! Opportunity for an exchange! I told him I would get the fan out and turn it on if he would lie down and go to sleep. He agreed that this was a fair exchange. He did try to re-negotiate for a song or two, but dude, that wasn't part of the deal!

It all makes me extra-thankful for the nights when he goes to bed without a peep (which is, mercifully, the norm). Live and learn. There is a good reason why we don't buy candy around here, and this is proof! 

I am off to pop those buns into the oven! Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!

25 March 2013

A Hooky Reveal: UGA!

I have been waiting for ages to share my most recent Hannah Plays Hooky order with you all, and I finally can!

Introducing Uga, the all-white bulldog mascot of the University of Georgia! Isn't he cute with his little red college sweater?
My beautiful friend Brittany is a proud alumna of UGA, as is her younger sister, who is expecting her first little one soon (a baby girl!). They both met their respective husbands there, as well, so UGA is significant to them in many ways.

Brittany contacted me several weeks ago regarding a homemade, Hannah Plays Hooky special for her new niece. After throwing around some ideas, we decided on an Uga!

I have to be honest, you guys, this was by far the most intensive, detailed project I have ever crocheted. Hands down. But it was also one of the most rewarding to complete. It was so fun to see him growing, piece by piece, and I was so thrilled to get an email from Brittany saying that she loved how he turned out.

She wrote to tell me he had arrived safely: "Uga arrived!! He is soooooo awesome! I absolutely love him and am so impressed you actually made that. Part of me wishes I didn't have to give him away tomorrow!"

I love hearing things like that from satisfied customers!

You can hop on over to my business page and see more pictures of Uga, as well as other great items I have had the privilege of making recently.

22 March 2013

Ooey, Gooey Cinnamon Squares

*You can find my version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.

I was just thinking recently that it might seem like I bake a lot. And to be honest, I do bake more now than I have over the past couple years, because it's a fun activity that B can "help" me do while also learning (numbers, names of different ingredients, distinguishing between "big" and "little" in terms of measuring cups and spoons, tasting a variety of spices, etc.).

I also have a lot more frozen bananas than ever before, because we buy big bunches now and don't always get through them all. Frozen bananas = yummy baked goods in our house.

Anyway, yesterday, I was looking at pizza dough in the refrigerated section of the grocery store (I was short on time for dinner, and the inspiration for pizza hit me too late in the day to make a homemade crust), when B requested cinnamon rolls.  He was scanning the shelves as I mulled over which dough to get, and stated, "B needing cimmamum wolls" accompanied by pointing and empathic nodding to indicate to me just how dire this "need" was.

Coincidentally, when N came home last night, he told me that they were having a potluck of sorts at work today.

I was more than happy to put aside my chores delegate my planned evening chores to N and whip up a couple batches of cinnamon bread.

By "whip up," I mean spend two and a half hours in dough. Because cinnamon bread is a time-consuming undertaking. All that heating and cooling and mixing and rising and kneading and rising and cutting and rising.

Maybe that's why I only make them about once a year.

Speaking of which, look how itty bitty Little B was back then.
Even on tippy-toes, his chubby little fingers barely reached the counter tops!


I use Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls 101 recipe for my cinnamon squares, but all that rolling and oozing is too much work for me. So I cut and stack them. Another shout out to my friend Danielle, The Loquacious Introvert, for enlightening me to the wisdom of cinnamon squares.

PDubs' recipe makes a million and a half cinnamon rolls, and really, I don't have a bunch of big, burly rancher-types to feed around here like she does. So I make half (sometimes a quarter) of her recipe.
As you can see, it makes plenty of dough that will turn into perfect squares of ooey gooey scrumptiousness.
I think what really makes this a huge hit is the icing though.
Oh, the icing. Mouth-wateringly decadent maple coffee icing. Mmmmm.

All that yummy bread just covered in that icing...
I have to say, I didn't use the icing last year, since we were limiting B's sugar (and caffeine!) intake, as he was only 14 months old at the time.

But this year, I went all out. He can handle a smidgen of caffeine, methinks.

(It really is only about 1/16 of a c of coffee, don't worry.)

We had a playdate scheduled this morning at a friend's house, but her older son threw up in the middle of the night. So although he was insisting he was better and wanted us to still come over and play, the mommies decided it was better to reschedule for next week.

Which means Little B and I are going to have to resist the temptation to eat an entire loaf of cinnamon squares all by ourselves today.

Except it's really about 2/3 of a loaf, because N and I couldn't help ourselves after they came out all warm and gooey from the oven last night. There's just nothing like freshly baked yummies with a tall glass of milk, is there?

Now I'd better go check on my son, who seems to have turned into a teenager overnight. It's past 9:30 and he's still sleeping! 

Have a great weekend, everyone!

RECIPE: Oooey, Gooey Cinnamon Squares
In a stainless steel, large pot, scald (don't boil!):
     *2 c whole milk
     *1/2 c oil (I used grapeseed, but any unflavored oil good for baking would work)
     *1/2 c sugar
Take it off the heat and allow it to cool to lukewarm (about 45 minutes).

Add 1 package of active dry yeast and allow it to soak the moisture in (about 15 minutes).

     *4 c all-purpose flour
     *1/2 heaping tsp baking powder
     *1/2 scant tsp baking soda
     *1/2 tsp salt
Mix thoroughly, cover, and allow to rise at least 1 hour. If you're making the dough ahead of time, you can set the entire pot in the refrigerator overnight.

Punch down your dough and roll it out into a large rectangle on a floured surface. Spread evenly on top:
     *3/4 c melted butter
     *1/4 c cinnamon
     *1 c sugar
Cut the dough into even strips lengthwise. Stack strips on top of one another. Cut into squares. Arrange squares into two greased loaf pans. Bake for 20 minutes at 400F.

While your dough is baking, make the icing by combining:
    *1/2 package powdered sugar
    *1/4 c whole milk
    *3 T butter
    *a smidgen of strong, brewed coffee (3-4 T)
    *a pinch of salt
    *1/2 T maple extract

As soon as you take the pans out of the oven, drizzle the icing all over the cinnamon squares, making sure to get into the "cracks." That's part of what makes them so "oooey gooey"! Remember, as PDubs says, "These are NOT non-caloric."


20 March 2013

Little Bits o' Happy

I have something I am oh-so-eager to share with you, but I need to wait until the end of this weekend to tell you. Keeping secrets is so hard, especially when they're one's own!

Today's post is a random compilation of things that are bringing me little bits of happy lately.
I've seen this floating around on FB for a while now, but every time I see it, it makes me laugh.
We saved some of our decor projects from B's birthday party, and the train and crossing sign have taken up a semi-permanent residence by our fireplace. B has pulled off the number 2 and some of the spokes, but otherwise, they have held up surprisingly well to a little boy's rough-and-tumble play. I kind of like having this reminder of a very fun day celebrating our favorite little man in a place where I see it multiple times a day.
After some cuddles and books on the couch yesterday afternoon, I went into the kitchen to begin dinner. A few minutes into it, I turned from the sink to the stove and discovered that my little shadow had slipped in quietly after me and settled himself nicely on the floor behind me.
I found the mirror at a local resale shop for a steal! Isn't it cute? I thought it would add just the right punch of color to the wall behind the rocker in B's room. I love it every time I see it!
When we moved in, this entire area was a mess of some sort of tangled, vine-y nonsense. After a couple weekends' worth of hard work (and anti-inflammatories), we had the area cleared out. I planted some daisies and cosmos seeds in the empty area at the bottom left corner, and I'm hoping, hoping, hoping that they come up and bloom cheerful and bright! I just moved those bulbs this afternoon. They were haphazardly surrounding the trees in our backyard, which worked for the elderly couple who used to live here, but not so well for a family with a small child who likes to run about and explore. I was glad to have a new home for them, and I can't wait until they bloom so we can know what they are!
After a couple hours helping mama work hard outside, Little B declared that "Mommy tired. Need go night-night in B's kib." Then he settled himself in his "doggie cheh-uh" with his "fishy book."
Isn't this fabulous? It was made by a fellow crafter in my online crochet group, and I think it's simply wonderful. I would probably use a different group of colors, but I just love the punchy stripes and the bunches of flowers. And the colorful bird is a nice touch, don't you think?

Well, it's getting close to my bedtime. Thanks for visiting with me today, and stay tuned for a fun post soon!

19 March 2013

A Week of Hair

I go through seasons with my hair. I grow it long (very long), and then, when I get tired of maintaining the length, I cut it all off and donate it. I've donated to Locks of Love and Pantene's Beautiful Lengths in the past, both of which are terrific organizations.

One of the fun parts of having long hair is being able to do a whole lot of creative things with it.

So, without further ado, here is a week of hair.


DAY 3 (I went a little crazy this day.)


I tried this one and it was an "epic fail," as kids say. But I've found other tutorials and pictures since, so I'll give it a go again soon.
That said, I'll leave you with some adorable-ness. Have a great Wednesday, everyone!