Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Caramel Brownies

It's been awhile since I tried out a new recipe, so I decided to for our family barbeque Monday evening. I tried out the Caramel Brownies from Annie's Eats, and I was very pleased with them. They're very good, but very rich. Now that I'm not eating sweets nearly as often, I found one to be plenty for me.

Caramel Brownies

Yield: 24+ brownies


For the brownies:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1½ cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
1½ cups pecan, coarsely chopped (optional)
 *I didn't put pecans in mine, but I'm not a big fan of nuts.
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
*I also didn't put these in mine, because I thought they would be rich enough without them. I can't imagine the sugar overload if I had! :)

For the caramel filling:
14 oz. caramel candies, unwrapped
1/3 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with foil and grease the foil well with butter or cooking spray. Combine the butter and chocolate in microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until completely melted. Remove the bowl from the heat. Whisk in the sugar, eggs and vanilla until incorporated. Stir in the flour and salt until just combined. Spread about half of the brownie batter in the bottom of the prepared pan in an even layer. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, maintaining the oven temperature, and let cool for 20 minutes.

While the brownies are cooling, add the chopped pecans (if using) to a medium skillet over medium heat. Toast, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and light golden brown. Remove from the heat and set aside. To make the caramel filling, combine the caramel candies and cream in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Heat, stirring frequently, until melted and smooth. Stir in half of the pecans. Immediately spread the caramel mixture over the bottom brownie layer. Pour the remaining brownie batter over the caramel layer, taking care to pour and spread it evenly otherwise it will be difficult to spread evenly over the caramel layer. Sprinkle the chocolate chips and the remaining pecans on top of the final brownie layer. Bake for 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before slicing and serving. (To speed cooling, chill in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.)

Lift the brownies from the pan using the edges of the foil. Remove the foil and cut the brownies into individual squares. Store in an airtight container.

Recipe from Annie's Eats

***Here's my notes on the recipe:
It would probably work better to grease the foil at the beginning with butter instead of cooking spray. I'm just guessing, but the edges of my brownies stayed with the foil instead of coming out nicely. Also, I had to cook my brownies for the second time (once they had the caramel and second layer of brownie) a little longer than 20 minutes, probably closer to 30. I don't know if it's my oven, or just that I didn't want them to turn out as gooey as they were after 20 minutes. Also, you definitely need to refrigerate or freeze the brownies before you cut them, because they fall apart if they aren't really firm.

If you're looking for a sugar rush, then this is the recipe for you! :)


This is what nap looks like after a busy morning!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Fun in the sprinkler

Today was our first really hot day of summer. It's quite a shock to get a 20 degree jump in just one day. Everyone and their brother was at the splash parks and the water park today, so we just got out the sprinkler in our backyard. Raegan wasn't too sure about it at first. She would run back and forth, but about five feet away from the sprinkler. Zane picked her up and ran her threw it for awhile and convinced her that it was a lot of fun. What an awesome big brother he is!

Okay, if I do it like this, I don't get very wet!

Best big brother!

Wait for me!

Water in my face, water in my face!!!!

Oh, okay, this is fun!

I'm not sure if this is a happy look or a "getting ready to get upset" look!

This one makes me laugh!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

First Week of Summer, Part Two

Thursday evening when we went over to Grandma and Grandpa J's for Baby Jacy's first birthday party! Raegan (and Zane) had a lot of fun playing in the water table with Jacy and Bailey, and obviously we all LOVE cake!

This is different than MY water table....

I am somewhat intimidated by this picture!

Oh, yeah, I do like playing in water!

A little hesitant at first


You see the little pirate in the right hand side? Zane... lol

Really gettin' wet now!

We haven't started to get the super hot weather that we're usually already seeing by the end of May, so our whole family has been enjoying a lot of time outside this week. Raegan and Zane love being on the trampoline, and Raegan is still enjoying exploring under the deck. Yesterday I filled up the water table and we had some fun with that too.

First Week of Summer, Part One

Our first week of summer is almost over, and boy did we have a lot of fun!

Wednesday morning, Raegan and I went to the zoo. Luke and I decided it would be worthwhile to go ahead and get a family membership for the year. It includes admission to the museum and the zoo, so we only need to go as a family 4 times for it to pay for itself. We're definitely wanting to go on Father's Day, because the zoo has a big car show on one of their open fields in the morning.

Raegan and I mostly stuck to the museum, which we had entirely to ourselves. They have this wonderful play room that we entertained ourselves in for quite some time. I had forgotten the stroller, so when we were done in the museum we only walked down to the petting zoo portion of the zoo. I would say the only downside of our zoo is that it's outside of town, so there's no turning back if you've forgotten something. :)

Wait, where's the stroller?!

At first she was a little hesitant about the museum, but when we started seeing birds she started to get into it.


We had the whole play room to ourselves!

Wide view of the play room. Isn't it nice?


After the zoo we brought Dada lunch. (No, I did not let her have a whole carton of french fries! lol)

Thursday, May 26, 2011


My husband pointed me to this article earlier this week. In a nutshell, it's about a couple from Toronto who haven't told anyone the sex of their child. They say they want to "give Storm (the baby) the freedom to choose who he or she wants to be."

I'm sorry, but no. I'm not one to believe that you HAVE to dress your girl in pink and your boy in blue. I think that boys can play with babies and dress up just as much as girls can. Raegan has some trucks and she loves to crawl around and pretend to be a monster. As a teacher, I put out dress up clothes and trucks and My Little Ponies and make it clear to the kids that they ALL can play with any toy, regardless of if they are a boy or girl. But to me personally, keeping your child's gender a mystery is just a bit much. I feel almost like it's a science experiment for these parents, with their children at stake. And while most people seem to be focused on the issue of gender, I have other problems with this article.

The quote from the article that kind of put me off was this one from the father: "What we noticed is that parents make so many choices for their children. It's obnoxious." Yeah. That, my friends, is called being a parent. I think as a culture we have become so worried about what is "right" and what is "PC" when it comes to raising children that we've forgotten some of the basic principles of being  parent. I am not at all against letting your child pick their hairstyle or their clothing. There are much bigger things to battle with your child over than that. But I think that as a parent, it is your responsibility to make choices for your child. The unschooling thing, where the children get to choose their own learning based on their interests, is perfectly acceptable for the older two children at the age of five and two. That's actually called developmentally appropriate practice for early childhood. That's what I do in my classroom every day. However, even though the children's interests dictate what we focus on in the classroom, the children aren't in charge. I have a schedule. We have small group learning time, and the children are expected to sit and do learning activities. Some children don't want to sit, but they are learning to follow rules and directions.

And when those two children get older, they need structure to their education. What if they are never interested in math concepts? Are their parents just not going to teach them math? There are concepts that you have to learn in school in order to be able to function in the real world with a job. It's a basic life principle. Everyone has different learning styles. Regardless of how you feel about society, it is the society that your children will someday live in. You have to prepare them for a life as an adult. As a parent, I assume that you want your child to be successful. That you want them to become independent and not reliant on you or the government to support their needs. The dad in this article is a teacher at an alternative school, which I assume requires some form of post-secondary education. These children are not going to be prepared for the kind of education is takes to have any kind of successful job if they are always allowed to dictate their own learning. There comes a point where you say, "*I* am the parent. Here is what you need to do."

I'm all about giving choices. Raegan doesn't get to choose her own bedtime (dear God, that would be a nightmare!) but she can choose who she wants to tell goodnight first. She has to pick up her toys, but there's the choice, "Do you want to pick up the blocks or the babies first?" Give children choices gives them a sense of control and teaches them not to blindly follow. I want Raegan to be able to think for herself. I want her to be able to make the right choices when she's faced with difficult situations. But it's my job as her parent not to let her go along willy-nilly making all the choices.

Maybe the article doesn't explain it all. Maybe these parents plan on homeschooling/unschooling their children in a way that allows them to explore their interests while learning basic concepts that they need to have the equivalent of a high school diploma. I hope that's the case. I just see too much these days of parents being more worried about doing what's PC, or trying to be their child's friend, instead of being The Parent. As it should be.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Girl's Day

On Monday, Zane was still at his mom's so Raegan and I hung out with my mom for a Girl's Day. We went around town to help Mom pick out some flowers and then went to lunch at Cotijas, our favorite Mexican restaurant. Raegan is definitely following in the footsteps of her mommy and Granny, because she loooooves Mexican food. Spicy doesn't seem to bother her, because at one point she was eating the salsa with her fingers. She kept calling it ketchup (which I would say is in her Top Five Favorite Foods!).

She kind of posed for this picture, but she had just taken a big bite of lemon so her face is a little funny!

Raegan loves lemon, but unfortunately she eats the peel too (yuck!) so we really have to watch her.

Nummy, nummy!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Here's that video of Raegan trying to jump that I promised!


I'm fairly adament that Raegan not watch a lot of television. I learned in the training I went to a couple weeks ago that the average 2-6 year olds get about 32 hours of screen time a week! Ridiculous! (And the average school aged child is getting approximately 6 hours per day of screen time, with about an hour of that coming from school - computer, videos, etc. Isn't that just insane?!) The AAP states that children under the age of two should not watch television at all, which I don't hold to entirely, but Raegan certainly doesn't get regular television time. She rather likes dancing around if I watch Dancing with the Stars, and she loves watching animals on Animal Planet. The only kid show we've let her watch is Sesame Street, and even then not for very long. I loved Sesame Street growing up, and I think it's a really great show for kids. Yesterday morning while I was getting ready I let her watch a little Sesame Street, and she was completely transfixed. Until it switched from puppets to a little cartoon segment, and then she was done. She also L-O-V-E-S Elmo, which has me thinking "Birthday cake...." :)

She's never been THIS interested in a television show before. That Elmo is amazing...

I took this one right before she decided she was all done because there was no more Elmo. 

Monday, May 23, 2011


Some new things that Raegan has been doing lately:

Whenever anyone in the family burps, she says "Excuse me." This is actually a phrase that she LOVES to use right now, because when she was walking past Daisy in the hallway over the weekend, she said, "Excuse me Daisy." Three word phrase FTW!

Raegan knows the sounds for all of the following animals: dog, cat, bear, bee, owl, cow, sheep, horse, lion, chick, and rooster. I love listening to her try to say "Cock a doodle doo." She doesn't oink for a pig, but she wrinkles up her nose if you ask her what a pig says. She's also crazy about birds right now. She's always looking out the window when we're in the car and going "cheep cheep" if she sees a bird. She was beyond excited about seeing birds flying around inside of Lowe's by the garden section tonight.

Raegan's also trying to jump. She still does this stutter step, but she's really working at it. I have a hilarious video to upload of her trying to jump. I'll try to get it up here this week. She's certainly gotten the hang of running, and she runs everywhere. She may need to go ten steps to the kitchen and she'll still run it. :)

On the downside, she's on kind of a sleep strike right now. She's still taking fantastically long naps, but she really resists going to bed at night. She's also stuck at waking up at 7:00 every single morning. Which *was* our school year schedule, after all, but I thought with how badly she's resisting bedtime that she would surely sleep even a half hour later in the morning. Not so much. Ah, the joys of almost two!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A New Place to Play!

The rain FINALLY let up yesterday, so Raegan and I went outside for awhile after supper. While she was playing with rocks, she dropped one between the steps and discovered that there's an open area under the deck. Which, of course, means that she had to go check it out. :)

6th Grade Recognition Night

Because Zane made honor roll for the first three quarters of school, he was invited to attend Honors Night on Monday. I'm not sure what his exact GPA is (and I don't feel like trying to figure it out because math = yuck to me) but he was in the 3.5-3.99 category. Go Zane!


The other day when I was starting the dough for pizza, I pulled up a chair and let Raegan help me. She loved it!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ring Around the Rosy

Raegan loves to play "Ring Around the Rosy" - she would probably do it 20 times in a row if we would tolerate it. :) She's even taken to playing it with her babies and stuffed animals. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Park Pictures

It worked out perfectly that child care was closed and my mom was watching Raegan the day of my classroom's April field trip. My mom and Raegan met us at the park. I obviously had to focus on the 12 preschoolers I had with me,  but I was able to spend a little time with Raegan. She was really excited about getting to feed the ducks (Kack-kacks as she calls them) and of course she spent most of her time at the swings.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Just Messin' Around

Luke managed to get a couple fabulous pictures of me and Raegan on Mother's Day. I've been editing them on Picasa but can't decide which one I like the best. So tell me what you think!



Posted by Picasa

Posted by Picasa
And, a silly one.....