February 28, 2012

Super Heroes!

Even when I'm feeling quite crummy (been home bound with a bad back), my boys never cease to make me laugh.  The simplest things make them so happy.  Their aunt bought them new Cars underwear, but they thought they would make better super hero masks instead.  Gotta love their creativity!

Off to save the day (and help make mommy feel better in the process)!  Thank God for my little boy wonders.


February 23, 2012

Linsane Cookies & A Life Lesson

I've gone Linsane.  Who hasn't??  The funny thing is I've known about Jeremy for a while.  But I had no idea he was this good or would play such a pivotal role in sports or American history.  Never.  I think it's hard for most of us to completely understand the significance of what he's doing and what molds he's breaking.  It is nothing less than God making a statement and breaking barriers through this young man.  But personally, what's more impressive to me than his phenomenal b-ball skills is Jeremy's humble reliance on God and his passionate faith.  I am deeply encouraged by it.

So I was lin-spired to make these cookies for friends staying with us over Presidents' Day weekend.  They're also huge fans of Jeremy's (and rightfully so).  :)  I've never tried anything like this before.  I mean the closest thing was this:

But these were cookies spread with pre-packaged icing and decorated with sprinkles.  I've never tried drawing on cookies!  And let me tell you, it's NOT easy.  Which is why they didn't turn out as well as I would've liked.  So when the ladies from Sweetopia, Sugarbelle, and Cake Journal make it look like you could do it in your sleep, that's probably because they've been blessed with cookie-decorating genes and have been doing it for years!  Nevertheless, I figured I'd give it a try and pray for a miracle that it would work out.

I started off by printing out a picture of Jeremy's jersey as my guide.

Then I made a sketch of the cookie.  When it comes to cookie decorating, a plan is helpful.  You have to figure out which colors to use and in what order. 

Four colors were used:  orange, blue, white, and black.  I used Wilton gel icing colors for the icing, and Wilton #1 and #2 tips for the piping.

It was a lot of work.  And was it worth it?  Well, despite the Knicks losing to the Hornets that night, it was a fun project.  They didn't turn out quite the way I hoped.  There were so many mistakes, and the end product looked very amateurish (I guess I shouldn't expect perfection on my first try).  During the process when I became frustrated that it wasn't coming together, I thought maybe I should just stop.  But if I've learned anything from Jeremy Lin's story, it's to not give up.  I figure with a little more practice, these could eventually turn out lin-tastic!

And here are the lessons I've learned about cookie decorating from this project:

1.  Give yourself plenty of time to make the cookies.  I'd say at least 3 days prior to whatever event/occasion you're making these for.  If you're rushed, they could turn out disastrous.  You'll need to bake the cookies first.  I love this shortbread recipe from Joy of Baking.  And then you'll want a day or two for the decorating.  When you are ready to decorate, here's the royal icing recipe I used (also from Joy of Baking).

2.  Have a plan.  Sketch what you want your cookie to look like, what colors you'll use, and in what order. 

3.  Practice.  Practice.  Practice.  Decorate on parchment paper first.  It's important to have a steady hand and get a feel for how the icing flows.

4.  Be patient.  It's important to let the layers of icing dry completely before decorating on top of it!  Because I was pressed for time, I didn't allow the different layers to dry and the colors started to bleed the next day.  They didn't make for very pretty cookies.

Well, with all this said and done, I hope Linsanity continues and pray the Knicks beat Miami Heat tonight!  GO KNICKS!


February 22, 2012

Best Friends

My boys are 3 and 2.  Anyone with children this young and this close in age knows how challenging and exhausting it can be.  But they'll also know the incredible blessings of their children always having their best friend around.  And for that, I could not be more thankful.

by Mother's Mementos

brothers often make you laugh
sometimes make you cry
they fight and tumble
and make you wonder why
they make you want
to try your very best
they'll go with you to the end
but the greatest thing
that brothers make are
the very best of friends


February 6, 2012

The Heart of Blogging

I've been wanting to write this post for a while but didn't know exactly what to convey or how to put it.

But the bottom line was my blog was dying.  The heart and soul of it had been lost somewhere, and I forgot quite easily why and for whom I was writing.

I've been keeping journals since I was in 7th grade and started my first online journal in 2001 when I moved from Virginia to the New York metro area.  There are over 700 posts, once very public, now hidden in the archives.  One day, I do plan on sharing them.  But probably only with the ones I love.  They are filled with raw emotions and all kind of boggled and senseless rambling (like the entry in the picture at the top of this post).  Who wants to read that anyway?

But let me tell you how extremely cathartic that exercise was for me.  And it was what I needed at a time when life didn't really make much sense (not that it makes much more sense now).  That's what writing and creating have always been for me.  A therapeutic way of digesting, processing, and relaying the world around me.

So when I became a mother, it was natural for me to start a blog focused on this new calling and identity in my life.  Mother's Mementos was born.  It took me some time to come up with the name, but as soon as I did, I fell in love with it.  It conveyed exactly what I wanted:  a collection of keepsakes - recipes, crafts, photos, stories, and most importantly, my personal reflections on this new journey.   I wrote for two purposes:

  1. With the hopes that one day my children would read this and have a better understanding of who their mom - and let's not forget dad - are.  And who knows?   Maybe with God's grace, they'll even get a few nuggets of wisdom out of it when they themselves become parents one day.  
  2. A desire to connect and share with other folks, particularly moms and other creative souls.

However, after starting Mother's Mementos, I stumbled on the scrumptious world of food blogs and couldn't resist.  I wanted to find my place among the glorious scene of foodies around the world.  So I started Eaternal Bliss in 2011 with the hopes of spotlighting my edible creations and finding my niche in an already overcrowded and endless plethora of mouth-watering blogs.

Eaternal Bliss picked up momentum quickly and gained a wider audience.  It became much more popular than Mother's Mementos ever was (and probably will be).   People love food, and who am I to blame them?  I'm one of them!  But the thing was I'm just as passionate about other things as I am about food.  I thought I could maintain two separate blogs, but then realized I could hardly keep up with one (let alone all the social media that goes along with keeping a blog)!

After a difficult situation in mid 2011, I took some time away from the blogging world.  I had a lot of time to think about everything under the sun, including the blogs.  When the dust started to settle and I could finally muster up the energy and desire to write again, my heart naturally inclined to Mother's Mementos.

I think I knew this was where I always belonged.

I'm certainly no expert on the topic and there are plenty of folks with wildly popular blogs out there who offer great tips and advice, but my one takeaway for anyone starting up or keeping a blog is stay true to yourself and write what's on your heart.   I think the rest just naturally falls into place.


February 1, 2012

Roasted Parsnip Chips

Who knew that parsnips could be so pretty or taste so good?  I surely didn't until I picked up Annabel Karmel's book, My Favorite Recipes, from the library.

As soon as I saw the beautiful bloom of parsnip chips, I knew I wanted to try the recipe even though I've never cooked with parsnips before.  So I went to the local grocery store and picked up 4 parsnips, located right next to the carrots in the produce section.

This recipe is so simple.  It requires two steps and then you've got a beautiful presentation of healthy snacks for you and the kids.  The flavor is very similar to taro chips.

Once baked, assemble in a bowl or jar and snack away.  Enjoy!

Roasted Parsnip Chips
Adapted from My Favorite Recipes

2 parsnips
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Peel the parsnips and cut off the ends.  Cut into thin, long slices (much easier to do with a mandolin slicer).
  2. Lay the parsnip slices on a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Lightly drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Roast for 30 minutes or until golden, turning every 10 minutes.

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