Dear Ohio, I need a flowchart

I would consider myself a “law dog” in most situations, which is why it’s a little surprising to me that I procrastinated changing my license plates after moving to Ohio. Admittedly, I wasn’t thrilled to move and with being pregnant and working from home, it did in some ways slip my mind. Since my PA registration expires in just a few days I figured it was prudent to tap into my responsible self.

I know at some point, maybe before we moved I tried to make sense of the Ohio BMV website and came out with not a clue as to: 1. what the process would require or 2. how much it would cost.  So I got back on the site yesterday and with multiple browser windows open I managed to take enough notes to create for myself a flow chart of the steps I needed to take, but wasn’t fully clear on the cost.  Armed with every document I thought it might be possible they would ask for, the littles and I headed out on an adventure to follow my flow chart.

Go to the Avon Lake Deputy registrar and pay $3.50 for an out of state inspection. This is not a safety inspection, but just a check to make sure the name on the title matched my license and the VIN number on the title matched my car.

Drive to North Ridgeville to the County Clerk of Courts office and present my drivers license, PA title and out of state inspection form. About 10 minutes and $18.50 later I have a new OH title (with the dealership misspelled, but let’s not talk about how I didn’t realize that until much later in the process).

After another 10-15 minute stop at Automotive Specialty Services for a free eCheck certification, I was armed with the pieces I needed to get plates.

We waited until early afternoon to go back to the Avon Lake Deputy Registrar office in hopes of missing the lunch crowd and that the drizzle was keeping other people away. After waiting our turn the same woman who did our inspection saw me waiting and let us skip the line a little. Armed with my license, new title, eCheck certification, and a check for $39.25 we walked away with sparkly new Ohio plates.

Who knew using the vice grips to get the bolts off to put the plates on would be almost as much trouble.

Oatmeal chocolate/butterscotch lactation cookies

My sister had a baby four months before I was due with the Beast. We were talking on the phone one afternoon while she was baking Oatmeal chocolate chip lactation cookies she found a recipe for on food.com. She was telling me the wonders of flax seed and brewers yeast along with oatmeal to help with production. I saved the link, and I’m so glad I did. Not that my supply was lacking, but I figure every little bit helps. And these cookies have become some of our favorites. I adapted the recipe by eliminating the eggs and using flax instead. I also use half chocolate chips and half butterscotch chips. The recipe below is for a half batch of my version.

Perfectly timed, these cookies cool into a chewy bite of goodness. I’ve also taken to using the cookie scoop to create dough balls that I then freeze so I can take out and bake a few at a time. I don’t even defrost them long; just put them on the cookie sheet on the stove while the oven preheats. I sometimes push the center down a little to make them more even and to test how frozen they are before I put them in to bake.

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
6 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons flax seed meal
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups oats
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup butterscotch chips
2 -3 tablespoons brewer’s yeast

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°.
Mix the flaxseed meal and water and let sit for 3-5 minutes.
Beat butter, sugar, and brown sugar well.
Add flaxseed mix and vanilla, beat well.
Sift together flour, brewers yeast, baking soda, and salt.
Add dry ingredients to butter mix.
Stir in oats and chips.
Scoop onto baking sheet.
Bake for 12 minutes.
Let set for a couple minutes then move to cooling rack. 

When the lights went out (on our Fluval Edge)

I’ve been meaning to post something other than recipes for a while now. I even made a list of things I wanted to post about, but as you can see, I’ve not been dutiful to get those posted. This one is a bit random, but I was hoping it might help someone out.

enjoying the tank
the Bee enjoys watching the fish. notice the sleek design with no places to slip little hands or objects

Last year for our birthday’s Kate and I got a beautiful aquarium for the house. I admired the Fluval Edge for months before I was willing to put down the cash to purchase one. I read reviews so I knew the filters went bad on some people and they aren’t easily replaced with a standard filter because it fits down in the plastic column along the back. I also read that the lights were an issue, but the design was changing from a two bulb model to a LED version so I as hopeful I wouldn’t encounter issues. Even if I did, I reasoned that the design was worth the risk.

from above
a view from above the Fluval Edge

The Edge is unique in that it has a square opening in the top, but when the cover is on the tank is completely enclosed. Knowing my house with the furry creature who loves to climb and has been known to go fishing in previous tanks and the little hands that I imagined would love to play in the water it was worth a shot.

When we first set it up, I tried a small school of rosy barbs that didn’t last long. I switched to guppies and those seem to survive, and even thrive in the 6 gallon tank. We ended up with at least two sets of fry before we moved.

Old and crusty
Old and crusty LED from Fluval Edge

Fast forward to the past few months and I noticed the plants weren’t thriving like they had before. I chalked it up to the location of the tank in our new house. But then I noticed it flickering a few times and ultimately the plants were almost all gone and it was almost difficult to see the poor fish with the light on. I had succumbed to the failed lighting unit. As you can see in the photo, condensation had built up inside the plastic case over time and without regular attention it effected the individual LEDs. I removed the plastic cover to get a better look, but there really was nothing left to do other than raise a white flag.

This of course led me to begin looking for a replacement. I ended up ordering the replacement lamp without the transformer from FluvalParts.com which is now PetMeister.com. It was the best price so I figured it was worth a shot. The lamp arrived quickly and in perfect condition; I would recommend their site for replacement parts. I was pleasantly surprised to see the design was altered.

Thickness comparison
thickeness comparison with old at top, new at bottom
Fluval edge led light original vs new
Side-by-side comparison of old LED on left, new installed on right

Here’s the side by side comparison with the original on the left. As you can tell, the plastic case no long wraps around the unit but is instead just covering the LEDs and has a rubber gasket to attempt to keep the water out. The old unit had a gasket inside, but there still seemed to be more surface area for water to get into.

It’s probably difficult to tell, but the new version is thinner by almost a half inch by my rough estimate. This also helps since it means it should always clear the top of the water that comes up into the opening when it’s completely full.

So far, so good. The plants are beginning to grow again and we added two friends for the guppy who was hiding in the dark.

 

Oatmeal Banana Chocolate Chip Lactation cookies

I suppose from the looks of my blog all I do anymore is bake cookies. I promise I do more; I eat them too!

Banana oatmeal chocolate chip cookies on the rack to cool
Banana oatmeal chocolate chip cookies on the rack to cool

In all seriousness, things are busy around here with summer in full swing. I’ve been trying to make good use of the BOB Duallie we bought secondhand earlier this summer so we try to get as many places as we can by mama-power. After a run to the park at the end of our road, an hour of playing, and the run back I spent some time cleaning up the kitchen and surveying the things in our freezer. I periodically like to attempt using up everything in the freezer, and I’m currently on one of those kicks. With frozen bananas, the canister of brewer’s yeast I’m always looking to use, and my last supply of lactation cookies already consumed I went in search of a new recipe.

I found this recipe for Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies on Bakerita, made some changes, and may have found a new favorite cookie! They are moist and chewy with a nice caramelization on the bottom. My bananas were still frozen in the middle when I chunked them up, and I added cardamom instead of the cinnamon and nutmeg used in the original recipe. And of course, I used flax and water to make my “egg” and added brewer’s yeast.

I of course looked up cardamom and breastfeeding AFTER I made the cookies. Seems there’s not much out there except the usual, “use caution when pregnant or breastfeeding”, but I don’t think 1/4 tsp in the batch is going to have negative effects particularly since I’ve been eating Indian food about once a month throughout my pregnancy and the Beast’s first four months of life. We like our rice pudding!

Oatmeal Banana Chocolate Chip Lactation cookies

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, solid
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tbsp flax seed meal and 3 tbsp water (mix and let sit on counter 3-5 minutes)
  • 1/3 cup mashed banana (about 1 medium banana)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (4.25 oz.) white whole wheat flour
  • 2 tbsp brewer’s yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and get the cookie sheet and Silpat ready.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, brewer’s yeast, and cardamom.
  3. In mixer, cream together the coconut oil and the sugar on medium speed.
  4. Add the flax and water mixture, followed by the mashed banana and vanilla extract.
  5. Mix in flour mixture until just combined.
  6. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  7. Drop heaping spoonfuls onto baking sheets, flattening each cookie slightly. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until cookies become light brown at the edges. Do not overbake.
  8. Let cool on baking sheet for 3 or 4 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Raspberry report

I grew up in Texas and Louisiana. I’m not sure if it’s just not something we did  because my parents weren’t into that sort of thing or if u-pick farms weren’t popular back then, but I’ve never been to pick strawberries or raspberries until this summer. I took the babies to the Aufdenkampe Family Farm this morning after the Bee’s swimming lessons. The Beast was calm in the stroller while we picked a while. I had serious flashes to Blueberries for Sal, but the Bee had a great time. She’s an excellent berry picker.

We came home with 5 pints in the car and probably another pint or two in our tummies. They were beautiful sweet berries; some of them looked more like strawberries they were so big and beautiful.

Raspberries Of course after getting them home, we had to decide what to do with all of them (other than gorging ourselves). I washed and dried two pints, put them on a cookie sheet in the freezer and now we have a stash of yummy berries.

I also found and modified a recipe for Lemon-Raspberry Oatmeal cookies on The Spiffy Cookie.

Here’s my version:

Orange-Raspberry Oatmeal cookies

1/2 C Butter
1/2 C Brown Sugar
1/2 C White Sugar
1 tbsp flax seed meal and 3 tbsp water (mix and leave out for 3-5 min)
2 Tsp Pure Orange Extract
1 1/4 C White-Wheat Flour
2 tbsp brewers yeast
1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
1/2 Tsp Salt
1 C Oats
2/3 C Fresh Raspberries

Orange-Raspberry Oatmeal cookies
Orange-Raspberry Oatmeal Cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream the butter and sugars. Add the flax and orange extract and beat well. Add flour, salt, brewers yeast and baking soda and beat until a soft dough forms. On low, beat in the oats, and then add in the raspberries. Use small cookie scoop to drop on to a greased cookie sheet (or Silpat).

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the edges begin to brown.

 

 

Playing kitchen

For the Bee’s third birthday, I wanted to do something special. She was very into the play kitchen at her school and I was very into Pinterest so I decided to make her a play kitchen. I put my friend Sue on the lookout to help me find a piece of furniture I could modify. I paid $15 for this little gem at the Forks Thrift store.

Nightstand with single drawer and upper piece with light
the “before”
Birthday kitchen
the finished kitchen

A big part of the fun for me was gathering up the other items to customize the kitchen. I picked up a square mirror at Dollar Tree along with a baking pan, measuring cups, scrub brush, mini watering can, and a hand broom with dust pan. I spent a lunch break picking up the mixing bowl for the sink, and wandering the aisles of The Restaurant Store in Allentown with Jen of Around the world in 80 Cakes. The project also let me visit the Habitat for Humanity Restore and every hardware and plumbing store in the area looking for a faucet; I ended up with the least expensive one Walmart carries. The handle, purchased at Lowes was one of the more expensive additions, but I love the way it looks and it made it easy for her to pull open. The two burners are thin wooden circles from Hobby Lobby that I spray painted and used a single nail to attach to the top. I also painted knobs for the “stove” but decided they would get in the way so I kept them for a future project.

Play cookies
closeup of the stove and sink

The fabric was an Ikea purchase that was already in my sewing stash, and I used a tension rode for the bottom curtain and a tiny curtain rod for the one on the “window”.  You can’t see from the photos, but I also found two fabric bins that fit perfectly on the shelves to store her pots, pans, play food, and anything else she can find to stash. Of course, her favorite thing on the entire kitchen is the $3 tap light I installed above the sink. Figures!

wooden nightstand with one drawer and single shelf
Nightstand ready to be converted to a pretty kitchen

But I had a great time working on it. So much so that I picked this lovely nightstand from my neighbor’s trash pile a couple of weeks ago and I’m just waiting on a little time and inspiration to transform this one into a kitchen I can hopefully sell– craigslist anyone?

Banana flax seed (seriously?) pancakes

When the Beast came along, I was worried about my baby milk supply and gathered ingredients to make some super yummy lactation cookies my sister told me about (I’ll add that recipe too). With a bag of flax seed meal and a canister of brewers yeast in my cabinet I’ve been in search of recipes to use them. The Bee and I love banana pancakes, and these have been a BIG hit. I make the batch, freeze any we don’t eat in a ziploc with wax paper between, and reheat them in the toaster.

I found the bones of this recipe using Pinterest; it’s on Yummly, but originally posted by Isabelle Boucher on Crumb. I updated the ingredients to what I actually use.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups King Arthur white wheat flour
1/4 cup flax seed meal
2 1/2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2 bananas (medium ripe, mashed)
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup egg beaters
3 tbsps honey
3 tbsps can’t believe it’s not butter (melted, plus more for the griddle)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, flax seed meal, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
  2. In a second mixing bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients until combined. Pour the liquid ingredient mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients, and stir with a whisk until relatively lump-free.
  3. Heat griddle to 350 degrees. Grease lightly with can’t believe it’s not butter. When the butter starts to sizzle, I use my 3T cookie scoop to drop batter onto hot griddle.
  4. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until a few bubbles start to form on the surface, then gently flip over and continue cooking until golden brown, about 1-2 minutes longer.Remove from griddle and inhale immediately and repeat until all batter is used.

 

Back from a long winter’s nap

Let’s skip the excuses and get to business; I’m back.  I can’t believe the last post is from 2011 and now over half of 2014 is over.

The quick update is that:

  • I’ve moved.
  • I’m currently staying at home with the Bee (now 4) and the Beast (3 months old).
  • I keep doing things and thinking “I should post this”.

So here I am. And I consider it karma in some ways. I’ve looked at so many other blogs for recipes, product reviews, creative ideas and how-to’s; I figure it’s my turn.

A busy September already

I can already tell this Fall is going to be a blur. Friday I went to The Great Allentown Fair to see Sugarland with one of the other moms from daycare and a friend of hers. The concert was great but I think they should consider alternate adjectives for the fair itself. This is the second year in a row I’ve gone out there for a concert. The grandstand is old and steep and not at all ventilated. Because the fairgrounds is in the middle of Allentown they have to be off stage by 10:30, and don’t get me started on the nightmare that is parking. But I digress.

Saturday we loaded up and headed to Dagsborough, Delaware to a housewarming party for our friends R&B, stopping in Newark to pick up other friends for the ride down. It was nice to see people. As you can see in photos, Kate and I ended up in the pool; she’s such a water bug.

Work is obviously busy too, but I love the energy at the start of a new term. I’m actually tying this on my iPad sitting in a bus headed in to NYC for a couple of days. I was here two weekends ago and hurricane Irene ruined the last two days of my Final Cut Pro training so I’m headed back to finish. Just in time too since I have a class to assist next Tuesday.

Being gone isn’t SO bad; Kate gets some extra daddy time in and Kelvin is thankful I’m gone during the week and not on the weekend so daycare can break up the day. She’s still very chill for a toddler, but she’s cutting two more teeth (bringing the current count of pearly whites to 14 for those of you keeping track). And she’s at the crawl/walk stage doing the mode of transport she thinks will be faster in a given situation. Smart girl.

Shamed into a new post

I was actually on Jess’ blog and saw that it’s drawing my last post headline into her blog. And it’s shame that brings me here. If she had my phone number, Jess’ Aunt Margaret would have probably called my by now (see aunt Margaret, Jess does pass on your messages).

It’s been a busy year of course, and I hope anyone coming to read my blog has kept up with us through the photos and videos I’ve posted to Flickr this year. Absolutely amazing to watch Kate grow and change this year, and of course, Kelvin and I have grown and changed too in some obvious (my increase in weight) and not so obvious ways.

As you’ve seen in pictures, Kate is trying to walk now and is very into pushing things so she can steady herself. She’s very much a perfectionist already and would rather not try something until she knows she’ll be successful. So odd to me that that is already part of her personality. She’s generally easy going though and has been quite the traveler. Yes, the pink glasses are prescription and the patch is so she exercises her bad eye by forcing her to use it exclusively for 90 minutes every day. She doesn’t seem to mind going to “school”, and her teachers there are fabulous. But she does enjoy the weekends– sleeping in, eating Indian or Thai food (she has quite the palette), taking more than one nap, and just hanging out with us.