Don't do this: When your baby wants to admire her freshly-formed ponytails in the mirror, don't carry her over there so that you see your own saggy, tired, undereye-circled, blotchy, aging face and your own blah, dirt-colored hair which somehow manages to be both dry and oily, right next to her smooth, rosy-cheeked, perfect complexion and bright eyes and shiny beautiful blonde hair in darling springy little ponytails. Don't do that.
Today's plan was to write a post about how our mornings go in this house. I might fall apart in the last two hours before the kids' bedtimes, but I am great with mornings. I have systems. I can juggle ten things at once. I can get someone into motion on one thing so that he's done just as I've finished what I need to do for his next step. I remember everything. I can fit things together to get twice as much done as if I'd done it in a different order. I may have four children, but I've also got rhythm. I was going to describe that rhythm in a shruggingly modest way that would make you admire me all the more.
It was probably because I was absorbed in composing this tribute to my own awesomeness that the morning went so badly. We still managed to get to the bus stop on time, but three minutes before we were supposed to be there, I was in my pajamas with wet hair falling in my face and no glasses on, and Rob couldn't find his shoes, and the twins were crying about something. The morning was filled with a series of small hitches, minor things like yogurt spilled on someone's shirt, a broken toy missing a choking-hazard-sized piece that should probably be found before a twin choked on it, a wet bed that required an unexpected clean-up and shower, a slow eater tiny bite taker.
William said he couldn't find his cereal bowl, which I had recently put out for him. He said it was not on the table. I asked him to check to see if I left it on the kitchen counter. No, he said. Considering he had told me not five minutes before that he couldn't find his chair, and I had gone in and found it in plain sight less than five feet where it usually is, I was suspicious of his story and went to look for myself. No bowl on the table. No bowl on the counter. It was a clattering sound that turned my eyes in the correct direction moments before I would have considered checking myself into some sort of institutional program: the twins had somehow (how?) managed to hook the bowl into their playpen with them, and they were sitting on the floor together, companionably crunching cereal. Luckily, William eats his cereal dry.
Everything worked out fine in the end, and Rob got on the bus with his lunch and his backpack and all his clothes, but I am no longer in the mood to discuss my awesomeness.
Let's talk about the awesomeness of brownies instead. And the awesomeness of all of you, sending me recipes just because I wanted them. You--and brownies--are awesome! And right now the awesome smell of brownies is filling the air, because William and I baked a batch this morning.
I started with Julia's recipe. What caught my attention was that it was similar to my Unsatisfactory Recipe, but with butter instead of shortening, cocoa instead of baking chocolate, less flour, less baking powder...well, actually, not all that similar. But similar in the basic formula. And I had all the ingredients, that was a big selling point. Here's her recipe, for those of you baking along at home:
Julia's Best Brownies
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, melted
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. flour
1/3 c. baking cocoa
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 9-inch square baking pan. Stir together butter, sugar and vanilla in bowl. Add eggs; beat well with spoon. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; gradually add to egg mixture, beating until well blended. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into squares.
If you want the recipe exactly as she put it (with optional/alternate ingredients), it's in the comments section on the recipe request post. I copied it here but then modified it so it's the way I baked it: I used butter not margarine, and I'm not using nuts or any other add-ins for the first batch of each recipe, to make the comparison more fair.
I had a little trouble with the "cool completely in pan" step, if that implies "before eating a long strip of 'samples' off one edge." These brownies are significantly better than my recipe. They are still less chocolatey than I'd like, but I don't taste that stale flavor that was bugging me, and the edges aren't too cooked when the middle is too moist, and the buttery goodness is a step up from shortening. They're moist and yummy, and if there are any left I plan to do the vanilla ice cream test with them tonight after dinner.
I'm thinking today about Devan, who went in this morning for an induction. I always get attached to people who are pregnant at the same time I am. I'm hoping she has a fast, easy, miraculously painless labor, and that little cartoon bluebirds perch on her shoulders and sing her sweet songs, and that butterflies flutter beautifully around the room pinning up lovely silk sashes, and that she swears at her husband only enough to remind him how lucky he is that normally her disposition is so sweet. Best of luck, Devan!
Gift ideas for an 8-year-old, part 1 of 2 - I have TWO 8-year-olds to buy for, so I’m going to split it up into two posts. Today will be the things we’re getting for Edward. I dislike saying “Gift id...