Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sweet Treats!

I love treats. Especially sweet ones. As I've been going through my enormous photo library I came across this gem. It's an amazingly delicious Giant Pizza Cookie. I made it for my son, Eric's, seventh birthday. Actually, I didn't just make it for him, I made it for his entire first grade class. I wanted Eric to have something unique. Not the typical frosted cupcake from the grocery store. Those things are nasty. And the kids just lick the frosting off the top anyway.

When I made this sweet treat for Eric's class, it was back in the day when you could bake anything you wanted at home and bring it in to share. Now, it all has to be store bought. A bummer. A total, total bummer. Because I enjoy baking and sharing my specialties with others!! I guess it's their loss. Not mine. Sweet treats from the store just aren't the same.

There was a lot of time and love that went into this truly great cookie. And work of art! Plus, it was fun to construct. The cookie itself is an excellent soft oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe. So if you aren't in the mood to make something so big AND fancy--the cookies by themselves turned out real yummy. Also, when I made this giant pizza cookie, I decided to make individual ones too so that each child could have their own little mini pizza. It was super fun! And Eric's friends all thought they were crazy good! Needless to say, there wasn't a crumb left! Now go make this for your next party. Your guests will thank you!

Giant Pizza Cookie



#1 Preheat oven to 350. In a small bowl, mix flour, oats, baking soda and salt.
#2 In a mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until creamy. Add egg and vanilla and beat well.
#3 Add flour mixture to butter mixture and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips.
#4 Shape dough into a ball and place in the center of a round baking stone. Lightly flour your hands and pat dough into an 11-inch circle. Place baking stone in rack.
#5 Bake 14-16 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from oven. Cool completely.
#6 Spread cooled cookie with frosting. To decorate, use an apple corer to cut round pieces from fruit rolls to resemble pepperoni. Using kitchen shears, snip gum drops into pieces for pizza toppings. Add candy-coated chocolate pieces, as desired. Using a cheese grater with a fine grating drum, grate white chocolate over top for cheese. Cut into wedges with a pizza cutter.

**Note: When I transported it to school, for a real pizza effect, I went to the pizza store and had them give me a large pizza box. The children thought is was way cool!

As I've continued sifting through all my photos, I have quite a few images of treats I've made through the years. As a result, I've decided I'm going to be changing up this blog a bit. I'm going to be posting a recipe of a sweet treat {or savory favorite family meal} I've made, that is sure to be a hit weekly. Because, like I said, I like sharing what I've baked with others. So consider it just that. I'm sharing the goodness with each of you. And you can do the same. Spread the love. The sweet, sweet love of a well-made treat.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sweet Spring Cleaning!

We have 28,818 photos and 148 movies currently stored in iphoto on our mac computer. Let me repeat that~28,818 PHOTOS shot over approximately 7 years!!! Mathematically speaking, that's about 4,100 pictures taken each year since we bought our first digital camera. Chronicling our family. And EVERY photo holds a sweet memory. But just one thing. EVERYpicture is sitting on a hard drive. Which is scary. Very. Very. SCARY!! They aren't published in pretty books to look at and enjoy. Or hanging in a beautiful home gallery, for that matter. So, I've decided to fix this horrific problem. Immediately!

Just how, you ask, am I resolving this depressing issue? I'm doing a little "Spring Cleaning", if you will. I'm going through all 28,818 of our photos and turning them into books for our family and others to enjoy. In addition, I'm even working on putting together a stunning photo gallery in our home. It is, however, quite an enormous, task. Fortunately, it's a fun one. This is the kind of spring cleaning I do find enjoyable. It's sweet. It brings back floods of memories. Some of which I will share right here!

For instance, here is ONE of the reasons WHY we moved back to California from Boston, Massachusetts. Nor'easters which left us digging ourselves out. Winter after winter. And, to be quite honest, more than we wanted or liked to.

Boston. Winter 2003

{check it out. eric is sitting level with the bumper on my van!}

Back to why I'm doing this Photo Spring Cleaning. I openly admit that it was my baby, Katie who motivated me to tackle this enormous project. She is the only child who was born in the age of digital photography. So while her brother and sister have baby albums, she does not. She discovered this sad fact recently. I feel bad that she had to ask me to make her one! What kind of mother am I? My poor baby doesn't have a baby album. Or any album, for that matter. If she wants to see her life in photos, we have to sit down together, turn the computer on, open iphoto, and then search for all the pictures of her throughout the years.

I figured for her seventh birthday in June, she'll get the best birthday gift ever. Photo albums. Yes, plural. There will be albums tracking her first 7 years of life which I know she'll cherish. I can't wait to see the finished product. And more than anything, I can't wait to see the look on her face as she opens each book and looks at the story of her life. So far.

Here are some precious photos of Katie which I came across today while Spring Cleaning in iphoto. These adorable pictures will appear in Katie's storybook of life....

Katie Then
Almost 7 years ago....

Katie Now....
Such a Beautiful Little Girl!

I could sit for hours, daily, looking through each and every one of our photos. It's truly entertaining seeing where we've been. What we've done. How we've all grown and changed over the years. And I would say that our 28,818 photos make up one sweet family story. Because each of us has a story. That is the very reason why I love writing this blog. It's my story. Which I choose to share with you. Hopefully, you find it as sweet as I do. Soon it'll be published into beautiful books. Finally. The best part~they will be a family treasure. Which we can enjoy and actually look at without having to turn on the computer.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sweet Spring Family Fun!!!

Spring has sprung!! The leaves are growing back on the trees. Flowers are blossoming everywhere. Wild flowers are bursting with color. The rolling hills are a deep green. However, the weather hasn't decided yet if it wants to be hot or cold. Lately, it's been swinging from one extreme to the other. Hot. Cold. Cold. Hot. Some rain here and there. But, the incredibly beautiful sunny California days dominate.

Easter has come and gone. My birthday came and went. The best part of this time of year is spending some very sweet, quality time with my family during Spring Break.

We started our week-long vacation on a high note with a trip to a Dodger Game~where we sat right behind home plate. While Gary, Eric and I went to the baseball game with Gramps, the girls went with their Nana to the Zoo. Oh how my girls love the Zoo!! And my boys love Baseball. I'm happy doing anything as long as I'm doing it with those I love.

Easter Sunday we throughly enjoyed a Gospel Brunch at the House of Blues. It was an Easter Celebration filled with sweet food and feel-good music. The Easter Bunny even left the kids each baskets filled with all sorts of sweet treats.

Shortly after Easter, came my birthday! We celebrated with friends and family in the Los Angeles area. I absolutely love Mexican food and wanted to have a fun celebration, so we went to my favorite place, Los Torros, and shared good grub and times with some very special friends.

The following day we traveled North to Santa Barbara. This is where we made truly great family memories!

Thankfully we were able to get in some much needed R&R! We relaxed in the spa. We dined on fabulous food. We sat on our balcony and stared at the calming ocean.

But, the best part, was riding this sweet surrey a total of 10 miles together as a family!!! We pedaled and pedaled and pedaled.

It was total team work!! Although I'd easily classify this activity as exercise, it was a BLAST!! In fact, the kids loved it so much we did it two days in a row.

We even took it off the bike path down streets not designated for this particular bike~fortunately, we didn't get caught and get a ticket!

We did discover it was the ideal way to tour Santa Barbara. I think I can safely say we saw most of this American Riviera on a bicycle built for 8! Pretty. Sweet. Don't you think? I want to buy one and tool around my neighborhood on it. Pick the kids up from school. It would be our way of going "green".

Sweet. Sweet. Times. To be remembered by all for a lifetime.

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Sweet NEW Reader!

Last week I went with the kids to Open House Night at Megan's Elementary School. I always try to go because I know first hand just how much time, energy and effort BOTH the teachers and students put into getting everything ready for the parents to see and experience in the classroom. I especially like visiting Megan's Special Ed class because unfortunately, very few parents of Special Ed students go.

When we entered Megan's classroom there was just one other family there. The entire night only TWO families showed their support. It makes me so sad. Just another one of the harsh realities of having children with special needs. Some parents just don't seem to care what their children are doing at school. I, on the other hand, care immensely.

I'm so glad that we went! I wouldn't have missed it for the world! You know why? While there, I discovered that Megan is becoming quite the artist. She made a beautiful collage that resembled a dragon. It was hanging proudly on the wall! Usually, Megan doesn't have the attention span or interest in doing these types of things. But, this time she finished her project and did an amazingly beautiful job!

Then, Megan's teacher told me something so very sweet to my ears. She shared with me some of the most EXCITING news EVER!!!!!! Megan is STARTING to READ. Yes, you read that correctly. My 8 year old daughter with Down syndrome is actually starting to read!! WAHOOOOOOO!! I simply couldn't be more excited and happy for my sweet Megan!

I am learning to NEVER EVER underestimate the power of individuals living with Down syndrome. And especially the amazing capabilities my own daughter, Megan has. She truly does love reading and is becoming a sweet little reader!

(Sidenote: Before people with Down syndrome learn the alphabet and the sounds of the letters in the alphabet, they are taught to read. Yes, that's correct, they are taught to read words first!! Learning each individual letter of the alphabet is simply too abstract for them. It's easier to teach them to first read, then break each word down by it's letters and the sounds they make. Interesting, huh?)

Back to Megan. The other day my home became awfully quiet. When it becomes that peaceful, I immediately panic. I stop whatever it is I'm doing and go on my "where are each of my children hunt". This time I was specifically looking for Megan. First, I checked the obvious, the guest room--where Megan loves to plop herself in front of the TV and watch all her favorite shows. NO Megan!! So I quickly ran upstairs. Much to my relief I found her in Eric's room--which is where my sweet book collection is kept.

This is the sight I found......the girl LOVES to read.....
Totally engrossed.
She will look at every page very carefully to decode the story.
Just look at how fixated and focused she is...
She's always surrounded by LOTS of books.
She never pulls just ONE off the shelf.
See how happy she is reading?
No doubt about it, Megan is one sweet little reader.
And I couldn't be more proud of her!