...Growing, Building, Cooking, Preserving, Crafting...

2006 began our urban homestead when I broke ground on a garden, which now includes perennial fruits, flowers, & many vegetable varieties. We dream of solar panels, keeping bees and hens. Until then we'll continue growing and preserving our own fruits and vegetables, building what we can for our home, cooking from scratch, and crafting most days.


Using Our Preserves Creatively

Peach Thumbprints
Last class season I had planned to teach a couple of Urban Homesteading courses called "Using Your Preserves Creatively" to encourage food preserves to think outside the box in using their beautiful jars of local fruits and vegetables.  I love to make jams and jellies, but personally I don't eat them much on toast.  In the past I've posted recipes for working some of these fruit preserves into cobblers and crisps or as a substitute to "fruit-on-the-bottom" yogurt, but I experimented with even more ideas this past week.

Thumbprint Cookies (Gluten-Free)
Makes 15 cookies

This is a fun recipe to make with kids, especially when you get to the thumbprint step.
Hot outta the oven--we used peach preserves

1 c. butter
1/2 c. granulated sugar/xylitol
1/2 t. almond extract
2 c. all-purpose gluten-free flour
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. xanthan gum
1/2 t. salt
1/4 c. homemade jam/jelly

Cream the butter, sugar/xylitol, and extract for about 2 min.  Mix dry ingredients together in a separate bowl then combine with creamed mixture until dough forms.  Chill dough 1 hour.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Shape dough in balls;  place on a lined/greased baking sheet.  Make a small indentation in the center of each ball with your thumb; bake 5 min.  Remove from oven and fill each indentation with 1/4 or so of jam/jelly.  Bake an additional 10 min.  Cool for 2 min.; transfer to a rack.

Slow-Cooker Four Grain Breakfast Cereal with Fruit Preserves (Gluten-Free)
Serves 4-6

You can take liberties with the whole grains you use here.  Also, the water could be completely substituted for milk of your choice.

2 c. water
2 c. milk (cow's, almond, rice, etc.)
1/2 c. quinoa
1/2 c. millet
1/2 c. amaranth
1/2 c. steel-cut oats
1/2-1 c. homemade fruit preserves
1/2 c. chopped nuts

Maple Syrup (optional)
Supplemental toppings: hemp seeds, drizzle of flaxseed oil, flaxmeal, seeds/nuts

Put all ingredients into a slow cooker.  Before going to bed, turn on low.  Cook for 8 hours (b/c I know we all sleep for at least 8 hours, right?!)  Stir upon waking and serve with additional milk and optional toppings.  

My husband's first client at his new job is what I call a sustainable weight loss company.  One of the perks is that he gets a free session of this plan, which is also helping him learn how/why to market this company in his new communications position.  Along with the regimen comes a spiral-bound book filled with lots of new, healthy recipes.  The dietitian that he's working with  has been sending him meal plans on a weekly basis.  Admittedly, I was a bit unsure about how I'd feel having someone else tell me what to cook from day to day.  But now I realize it's made my life a bit easier because I can pick and choose which of those suggested recipes I will try for our evenings meals.  Our favorite so far was a pasta dish last night.  Again, I was able to incorporate some of my preserves--both frozen and canned.  And it also lead us to a delicious cilantro pesto recipe that we'll most certainly use next summer when the cilantro is overabundant in our garden.

Pasta with Cilantro-Lime Pesto (Gluten-Free, Vegan)
Serves 2

I adapted this recipe to be gluten-free, but one could use any kind of pasta.  In fact, the original recipe called for orzo, a rice-shaped pasta.  This dish is actually vegan as well.  I was tempted to add cheese somewhere as I'm often tempted to do, but the creaminess of the pesto satisfied any cheesy cravings I thought I was having.  This dish is also good cold and would be great for a picnic.

8 oz. brown rice spaghetti
1 c. fresh cilantro
1/4 c. lime juice
2 t. olive oil
2 T. pine nuts
1-2 cloves garlic, minced (we love lots of garlic, especially in winter, but 1 clove will suffice)
Salt, to taste
1 c. black beans (canned/rinsed/drained or dried/soaked/cooked)
1/2 c. chopped roasted red peppers (I used homemade)
1/2 c. frozen corn, thawed/drained

Cook pasta fully in highly salted water.  Drain and keep warm in pot.  In food processor with blade attachment, puree cilantro, lime juice, oil, pine nuts, and garlic to make pesto.  Season with salt as needed.  Add pesto, beans, and corn to pasta pot and toss to fully combine.  Serve immediately or chill for later.


Staying Active in Winter

V sledding with Daddy on their last Friday home together
I was mentally beating myself up a bit yesterday because we didn't get outside on account of the snowstorm...and didn't get outside as much as I would have liked in the past week.  There is still lots of time for winter fun, of course, but I know that both V and I would benefit from at least a walk on a bright sunny winter day like this.  It's time to let the Vitamin D do it's thing.  Yesterday we were literally inside all day, but in past weeks at least we've ventured out, even if it was to drive to a place where we spent time inside.  I'm working on getting better at this and have some hikes through the snowy woods and other outings in mind--though I'd like to be more spontaneous.

The newest "farm animal,"
Harvey the gecko
On Sunday we headed down to Illinois' Lake County to our friends' organic farm for the annual Founders' Dinner.  Not only is it a celebration of all the kind-hearted folks who put forth the funds to get their farm started over a decade ago, but coincidentally (or not) a gathering of most of our closest friends and their/our families.  We look forward to this annual event as it's often the only chance we all have to be in one room and see how the kiddos have sprouted over the last year--and the kids think it's pretty much a blast to run around together for a few hours as well.  Oh, and the food's not so bad either.  What an understatement.  Our hosts always provide the entree, which in the past has been pork from their own hogs or chickens from a nearby farm.  (Next year's they're hoping to have their own pastured lamb to tempt us!)  This year's meat procurement brought our farmer friend (actually one of Ben's best friends...and half of the reason that Ben and I met) up north to Milwaukee mainly to buy some grass-fed Piedmontese beef from another fellow farmer at the Milwaukee County Winter Farmers' Market, but also to rather spontaneously join us for dinner.  On Sunday, he turned this near-perfect ground beef into a few hulking meatloaves, complete with bacon laid carefully across the top as well as some extra mixed into the loaves.  Yum, 'nuff said.  After mingling, watching kids run wild, and a few people sequestering themselves in a room where another friend had hooked up a portable TV to watch the Packer playoff game (otherwise, there's no television in the farmhouse), we enjoyed a lovely feast, sipped wine and cider, and listened to our fearless farmers give the year-in-review for 2011.

A few of the many girls enjoying dinner (and this blondie on the L
eating lots of green salad!)

Winter Salad with Herbed Kefir Dressing

This was my contribution to the Founders' Dinner meal.  I had a hankering for a creamy "ranch" dressing the other day and came up with this "healthier" option.  The salad is a loose mixture of your choice of greens, herbs, and sprouts.  This may just be my new favorite greens mix for the season.


Green and red leaf lettuce, torn
Spinach, torn
Butterhead lettuce, torn
Radicchio, shredded
Savoy or regular green cabbage, shredded
Red, Black, and Watermelon Radishes, thinly sliced
Flat-leaf parsley, torn into bite-size pieces
Cilantro, torn into bite-size pieces
Broccoli sprouts (or other sprouts)
Baby greens (chard, mustards, spinach, kale, etc.)

(I used the slicer blade to shred the radicchio and cabbage in the food processor, but these could also be done by hand with a well-sharpened knife.)  Wash and spin dry all ingredients and toss to combine thoroughly.

Makes 2 c. and lasts for quite a while in the fridge

1 c. plain whole-milk kefir
3/4 c. mayo (or 1/2 c. mayo, 1/4 c. sour cream or plain whole milk yogurt or some combo of these three)
6 T. sliced scallions (green and white parts)
6 T. chopped fresh parsley
1/2 t. dried thyme
1/2 t. dried tarragon
1/2-1 t. Herbamare seasoning
2 T. arame seaweed (optional for a little more nutrition!)
Salt and pepper as needed, though the Herbamare has sea salt in it

In a medium bowl, stir together all ingredients.  Alternatively, mix all in a food processor.  Funnel into a bottle or shake in a Mason jar and serve.

Lacing cards
As we said our goodbyes at the end of our lovely dinner with friends I picked a fellow craft blogger's brain about how she maintains her productivity with four young children (and a henhouse) to tend.  She modestly told me she takes her work bits and pieces at a time, but also gave me some ideas for how to bring Vera more into the crafting world with me so we can sew together.  I loved lacing cards when I was a kid, but had honestly forgotten about them until this friend refreshed my memory.  The day to use some of the random potential craft pieces I've been squirreling away for years finally came.  I always save the pieces of card stock that stabilize packaged items such as men's undershirts or sheets, etc.  For this project I cut them down to size then dove into my "bookmaking" box to find some scraps to use as images on the cards.  My yarn supply is never lacking so I also found coordinating colors to sew each card.  The only hang-up was that my hole-puncher wasn't long enough to reach every bit of border where I wanted a punch on the cards.  I did my best and Vera seems to be enjoying her new "sewing" projects thus far.

I carved out a bit more time this week to finish a garment I started last week.  I keep thinking that these outfits will be perfect "school clothes" for Vera in the fall.  This vest and skirt set is made from more flannel from my mom's stash.  With a random button from the flea market and some lining fabric begging to finally be used, it came together with very little expense (p.s. the pattern was from the thrift store and the elastic also from my mom's stash.)

Sewing school clothes for V
Cool button from the antique flea market
I also finally finished a shirt dress I'd started months and months ago, an idea I clipped from a Martha Stewart book.  I started with a tired flannel that Ben turned over to me.  I had to improvise a bit with the collar because of where the buttons fell so I chose to do a more "rustic" serged edge.  The buttons are mismatched red characters from the flea market as well.  It's a bit big on Vera right now, but will likely fit her when she's officially a primary school student.

Once Daddy's shirt, now V's dress

...with red buttons down the front
Though we haven't gotten outside much this week, we have managed to keep our hands busy inside baking and tasting new recipes.  Vera helped me with these "brownies" yesterday.

Gluten-Free Apple Butter Bars
Apple Butter Bars
Makes about 9 bars

1/2 c. butter, room temp.
1/2 c. granulated xylitol or sugar
1/2 c. apple butter (I used some Cardamom Apple Butter from this past season's larder)
1 large egg
1 c. gluten-free all-purpose flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. ground cinnamon
3-4 apples, peeled and diced or 1 c. dried, plumped and snipped apples (the option I used)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Cream together butter, sugar/xylitol, and apple butter in a mixing bowl.  Add remaining ingredients and combine well.  Spread into a greased 9-inch glass pan and bake about 30-35 min. or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.  Sprinkle with sugar/xylitol after baking if desired.  Best if served warm.

Hopefully we will get out into the snow this afternoon and perhaps enjoy some of these bars warmed up with a cup of hot cocoa when we come in.



I mentioned that I didn't set any official New Year's Resolutions, meaning I didn't formally write something down in stone.  Though I've made a short mental list.  One of those notes was to perk things up a bit with feeding my daughter as I feel that we get stuck in a lot of ruts--especially at lunch time when I'm trying to prepare something quickly as she's melting down.  When we were traveling here, there, and everywhere during the holidays we had the pleasure of couch surfing for a night with some friends in Chicagoland.  They have a little guy just about the same age as Vera.  Our lovely hostess put out some appetizers including a tray of vegetables and dip.  I was so impressed by how well their son gobbled up the raw veggies, especially the bell peppers.  Being a culinary professional for a living does has it's drawbacks when you have kids.  I have felt a mild amount of pressure (probably mostly self-induced) because I feel like some people expect my child to eat any food--no matter how "exotic"--that you put in front of her.  Such is not the case; she's just like the average toddler when it comes to "picky" eating--getting hung up on single foods and immediately turning her nose up at green veggies.  We've done the best that we know how to get her to branch out, but it's just something that happens with toddler's whether it's a textural issue or a simple attempt at asserting oneself.  As CG powered down on the fresh veggies I realized at least one "mistake" I might be making with how we feed Vera.  We've been dedicated to eating locally and seasonally for several years.  I don't buy tomatoes out of season, I try to change our menus to incorporate cooling versus warming foods as the temperature rises or drops, and the vast majority of the fruit we consume in the winter is what I've canned or frozen.  So with toddlers who sometimes need to taste a food at least 15 times before deciding whether they like it or not, I'm wondering if our pattern of fleeting vegetables--once they're gone with the seasons, we don't see them for another many months--isn't allowing her the chance to really get into some of these colorful, nutrient-packed foods.  I will still focus on buying what's fresh and in season, but I've decided that at least maybe until she seems to have settled into her true likes and dislikes (which could certainly be ever-evolving) I will give myself a break and buy the occasional fresh bell peppers, cucumbers, fresh broccoli, etc. to encourage her.  (Though I still don't think I could bring myself to purchase tomatoes in winter--they just don't taste like ANYTHING to me.)

On this note, I'm also giving myself a break when it comes to serving some of those comfort foods kids almost always like...with some tweaks.  I always said I'd never be the mom who routinely feeds my kids hot dogs and goldfish crackers and ordered the standard deep-fried offerings on most restaurant's kids' menus.  People will tell you "but that's what kids want," but my theory is it's only what they want if they don't know all the other great options.  Yesterday I took a step in the direction of branching out a bit at lunch.  The only other time I can remember hot dogs entering our home is via a camping trip...Vera enjoyed a couple franks while we were living out in nature for a weekend then we subsequently made "Beanie Weenie" with the rest of them upon returning home.  I went to the co-op last week and bought some all-natural, no fillers, no nitrates, casein- and gluten-free, organic dogs and came up with a "healthy" (or at least healthier) version of the classic Pigs-in-a-Blanket, which was actually one of my favorite dinners as a child.

Pigs-in-a-Green-Blanket (Gluten-Free)
Makes 8 dogs

I was originally trying to find some pre-made organic, gluten-free crescent roll dough at the store, but had no luck.  This biscuit dough worked, but was flakier than crescent rolls and therefore didn't exactly stay on the "pig" very well for dipping.  This was good for my child though because she was most interested in just eating the piggies anyway.  Note: even though these are all-natural, doesn't mean one should eat three in a single day as I was tempted to do yesterday.  

Biscuit "Blanket": (you will have plenty of leftover dough to cut out a batch of biscuits or freeze for later use)
Ready for the oven
4 c. all-purpose gluten-free flour
2 t. baking powder
2 t. salt
1 1/2 t. baking soda
2 t. xanthan gum
1 stick butter, chilled (cut into small pieces or grated)
1/4 c. unsweetened rice milk (or milk of your choice)
1/4 c. water
1 T. cider vinegar
1 large egg (or the equiv. of your favorite egg replacer)
Extra gluten-free flour for dusting

8 super-natural hot dogs (pre-cooked, which I think most hot dogs are???)
8 large leaves of spinach
8 small slices of muenster cheese (or other good, unprocessed melting cheese)
4 T. butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375F.  In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and xanthan gum.  Cut the butter into the flour until there are no large pieces left.  Combine the milk, water, vinegar, and egg; whisk well.  Add the wet ingredients to the flour-butter mixture and gently mix until combined.  On a floured surface, gently roll out the dough to about 1/4-inch thickness.  Cut into eight isosceles triangles (remember you will likely have lots of dough remaining.)  Lay a triangle with the short flat end toward you.  Cover with spinach (either one big leaf or several smaller leaves) and a slice of cheese.  Place the hot dog at the flat end and roll up.  Put on a lined baking sheet with the triangle's tip secured on the underside.  Repeat with remaining triangles, brush with melted butter, then bake for 10-15 min. or until golden brown.  Serve with good ol' ketchup and mustard and enjoy without guilt.

To counter even the slightest guilt that might have arisen from the previous recipe, Vera and I mixed up an ultra-healthy batch of muffins yesterday.  And she actually declared them "delicious!" so maybe I'm getting somewhere.

Powerhouse Carrot-Beet-Coconut Muffins (Gluten-Free)
Makes 1 dozen

Adapted from Smart Muffins by Jane Kinderlehrer.  These are exceptionally high in protein, fiber, and beta-carotene.  Even though these sound over-the-top nutritious, they end up looking and tasting very normal.  And I love being reminded that true "muffins" are not supposed to be super-sweet like processors and chain bakeries want you to believe.  I used some beet and carrot purees leftover from my recent Pasta Making class (see story below.)

3/4 c. hot water
1/2 c. prunes
2 carrots, grated (about 1 c.)...or a combo of beets/carrot
2 large eggs
2 T. olive oil
2 T. sorghum syrup
1 T. honey
5 T. oat bran
1 1/4 c. all-purpose gluten-free flour (I prefer Bob's Red Mill)
1/4 c. rice flour (brown or white)
1/4 c. lecithin granules (available at health food stores)
1/4 c. dry milk powder (or dairy-free protein powder)
3 T. sesame seeds
1 T. nutritional yeast
1 t. ground seaweed (I used arame and whizzed it in a spice grinder until ground)
1 t. baking soda
4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. xanthan gum
1 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
1/4 t. allspice
1 T. dried lemon rind (available in the spice aisle at most grocery stores)
1/2 c. ground pecans
1/4 c. flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 400F.  In small bowl, soak prunes in hot water and set aside.  In mixing bowl or food processor, blend carrots, eggs, oil, sorghum, honey.  Mix in oat bran and water the prunes were soaked in.  In another bowl, mix together flours, lecithin granules, milk/protein powder, sesame seeds, nutritional yeast, ground seaweed, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and lemon rind.  Combine wet and dry mixtures, mix just until combined.  Fold in prunes, pecans, and coconut.  Spoon into muffin cups and bake for about 20 min. or until toothpick/skewer inserted in center comes out clean.

It wasn't easy for me to hit the ground running last week after being gone for nearly two.  The next time I try to schedule a cooking class the week after a vacation I should remind myself how crazy it can be to prepare.  But I had fun teaching an enthusiastic group of adults how to make fresh pasta last Thursday at the Bay View Community Center.  I demonstrated how to make Potato Gnocchi, Carrot Linguine, Beet Ravioli, and Herb Papardelle.  Vera had fun helping me crank out the demo dough and ever so kindly let me use her Learning Tower as a drying rack.  I was reminded how easy, fast, and fun it can be to make homemade pasta.  It's like the Play-Doh Fun Factory for adults.  I look forward to perfecting a gluten-free variety of homemade noodles this year.

Vera helping load the pasta roller w/ dough
Potato Gnocchi

Carrot "Linguine" Drying
Sheet of Beet Pasta for Ravioli
Placing the Herbs Before rolling into Papardelle
Herb Papardelle
Drying Papardelle
With two cooking classes already down in 2012 I have a few days to breathe to until the next one.  Somehow this week I've found time to "play" a bit and use some of my new fabric.  We've created an indoor swimming pool in the (insulated) basement so V is entertained in the tub while I sew a bit.  It's been a good balance of new projects and upcycled ones, which puts one of my other mental resolutions into motion--to make more creative time for myself.

Indoor Swimming Pool to beat the winter blahs
Flannel "Rock 'n Roll" jumper
Hand-me-down fabric from my mom (I guess this is my
counter to princess culture)
Spinning with excitement!
Women's top to be transformed into leggings to go
with V's new jumper
Are those sleeves on your legs?
The whole outfit
The embroidery is came with
And what I chose to replace that with--an appliqued black star using
more fabric scraps 


Post Holiday Post

Happy New Year 2012!
Happy New Year 2012!  I hope this shiny (and warm) new year finds you relaxed, inspired, motivated, and toasty warm.  We had a fantastic December.  Though it was hectic at times, I feel like we visited with more friends and family in one month than we had all year.  Now if we could just find a way to allocate that precious social time over the course of the 2012, we'd feel better in many ways.

The LeFort Urban Homestead is excited and bustling for all that the new year will bring--new job opportunity for Ben, creative outlets/inspiration/free time/craftiness for me, a simpler garden and a new kitchen for our family, once a week Waldorf-based childcare then preschool in the fall for V.  We'll do our best to take it one day at a time, but we're practically bursting at the seams with positive energy and laughter because we can't wait to get started.

Lemons right in your backyard!
We spent the majority of the last two weeks traveling.  In fact, between December 23-January 1, we stopped in for just 18 hours so I could work a shift at the restaurant to prepare for New Year's Eve and so we could refresh the indentations in our mattresses (the LeForts haven't sprung for "memory foam.")

We began our travels on the west coast visiting Ben's brother and his family in Los Angeles.  We enjoyed some great food, architecture, celebrity sites (but not sightings), and soaked up as much sun as we could mid-day in L.A.  I feel like I appreciated this world-class city more on this trip than ever.  I'm always fascinated by the different flora  out there, but this round I also marveled at how efficiently packed in the houses are.  Without much street profile and with lots of lush pseudo-tropical plants lining the properties, one would hardly guess that some of these homes are so spacious.  Ah, I love urbanity! On an impromptu tour of the city, I was inspired by the Art Deco architecture so prominent when this city was developed and I drooled over all the gorgeous citrus trees growing in yards.  Our accommodations at my b-i-l's and s-i-l's house exceeded our expectations, especially all the activities my sis-in-law had prepared for the kiddos each afternoon--cookie decorating and gingerbread house construction were the best.  

One nephew's masterpiece!

Just b/c I do pastries doesn't mean I know anything about
building a gingerbread house.  This was an "epic fail!"

Our holiday travels then carried us south as we visited my folks in east central Illinois for what will likely be their last Christmas in this home (plans to move across the border to a place more suitable to their current needs and lifestyle are well underway.)  We caught up with family and friends and spent a "good old-fashioned" (by my high school standards) New Year's Eve eating, playing board games, and carrying on well past the ball drop.  Overall, everyone enjoyed their homemade gifts and my parents said the family tree will be one of the first things they'll hang in their new home.  

Pickled okra my other s-i-l always brings up from Alabama
My horde!
My favorite tangible take-away from the holidays was a laundry basket full of fabric handed down from my mom.  She shops at thrift stores and rummages like I do so has quite a stock of fabric, but with moving on the horizon she was more than willing to pass along some material, patterns, and notions and I was more than willing to accept.  I'm especially excited about the T-shirt remains from a quilt my mom just made for my niece.  I've been incredibly inspired by the designs and ideas at CourtneyCourtney and can't wait to get working on some new projects.  I didn't tell Ben about this load until minutes before we packed the car.  My mom recycled a famous quote and said "It's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission."  So true.  We managed to wedge the goods in the back seat and were off!  It was rough trying to hit the ground running and get this family back on track this past week's after nearly two weeks away, but in between those duties I ducked down to the basement  like a kid on Christmas vacation who just wants to play with his/her new toys all day.  I spent hours sorting, folding, "colorizing," and storing my new stash.  I really need to consider starting a craft business in 2012 to manage my inventory...otherwise I'll just spend my whole life looking at, organizing and reorganizing my fabric (which could also be quite fun.)

My mom's scrap basket.  What fun to dig through it!

Fabric and Fabric and Fabric!

What we finally crammed into the car

Some of my favorite vintage pieces

More vintage bits

I love these swatches! Second from the R was leftover from making curtains
for my old dollhouse!

Lay them straight
The randomness stacked in the basement

I've got big plans for these knits

Warm greens, yellows, browns
Cool Greens, Blues, and Whites

Reds, Oranges, Pinks

Holiday Calicos
Leaving you with a recipe that Vera and I tried this week.  Since I've been gluten-free, I've been searching for a yummy brownie recipe and I think I finally found "the one!"

Not the Brownies, but my dad's beautiful holiday cookies!
Chocolate Cranberry Brownies (Gluten-Free, Grain-Free)
Makes 9

3 oz. gluten-free chocolate mini chips (I used Enjoy Life Brand)
7 oz. (3 1/2 oz.) butter
1 c. granulated sugar or xylitol
2 eggs, lightly whisked
1/2 t. vanilla extract
3/4 c. almond flour
1/2 t. GF baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 c. chopped walnuts (optional)
1 c. ground fresh cranberries (we whizzed them in the food processor for a bit)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Melt the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler over low.  Add sugar/xylitol and eggs to an electric mixer and beat until pale.  Add vanilla and melted chocolate/butter and mix.  Gently mix in the almond flour, baking powder, salt until well combined.  Add nuts and cranberries and mix just until combined.  Pour/ladle into a greased 9-inch square baking pan and bake 35-40 min. or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Let cool , cut and enjoy.  (These seem to benefit from a day in the fridge overnight to tighten them up.  I think it makes them seem more "fudgy.")

I didn't make any "resolutions" per se, but I have some small goals and big motivation for this year.  For now we are trying not to overschedule ourselves, but find time to relax, read, and become reacquainted with quality family time, which hasn't been as common as we'd have liked in the past.  Looking forward to all that's about to happen to/for our little family this year.  Wishing you the best as well!

Quietly "reading" Dick and Jane.

Finding a quiet place to curl up and look at books