Friday, February 15, 2013

simple chocolate mousse

When I was growing up, my mom always did something special for Valentine's Day, for we kids and for our dad. Be it a special meal, dessert, homemade valentine's cards, the day never passed unrecognized. She spoiled us, and taught me the great value of homemade displays of love. 

Probably because of this, I cannot let the day pass unrecognized for my little family. I am not good at buying gifts for my sweeties, that expertise lies with Zao's Daddy. He bought me all my favorite flowers. simper! gush!

He knows just how to get me, too. He brought them home the evening before Valentine's Day, "just-because-it's-Wednesday-flowers" he called them. Simper and gush, all over again! :-)

I upgraded our planned pot roast dinner a level or two. Pot roast and oven-roasted broccoli as planned, with grain-free, coconut flour biscuits a la Red Lobster's cheddar wheat bombs, finished off with chocolate mousse. I feel as though I never make dessert anymore, so this was indeed a treat. Zao's Daddy added the flair of orange-flavored effervescent mineral water in champagne flutes. We are high-rollers.

Zao's Mom's Simple Chocolate Mousse


4 ounces dark chocolate (I used Lindt 85% dark, as it is soy free, and yummy.)
1 tablespoon sugar, or 2 tablespoons honey (optional: add if you desire a sweeter end product.)
3 egg yolks
5 egg whites
1/4 cup chopped roasted salted pecans
zest of 1 orange, minced


1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over medium-low heat. Remove from heat and add the sugar or honey, if using.
2. Stir well, and add yolks one at a time, mixing after each addition.
3. Beat egg whites to stiff peaks. Gently fold in the whites to the chocolate-egg yolk emulsion.
4. Fold in any add-ins, such as chopped nuts, dried fruit, orange zest, cayenne pepper, or cinnamon.
5. Pour into ramekins, bowls, or demitasse cups. Chill at least 4 hours, garnish with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream, nuts, chocolate shavings, whatever strikes your fancy, and serve.

Monday, February 11, 2013

because it's cute

Saturday night we braved the mall to make a return, only to discover once we were there that we'd forgotten the stroller at home. Baby (toddler!) wearing to the rescue! I was glad I kept our carriers stashed in the car: Zao can only walk along with us for so long, and when - when, not if - he chooses to run off and investigate something, he is fast. Having some structure to corral him, and grant him respite once he's tired from walking/running, makes for an easier trip for everyone.
Zao's Daddy is giving me that look of "I'm not especially happy that you are taking my picture right now..." :) But they were so cute, I couldn't help myself.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

cake morning

I've gathered the necessaries around me, soon the cake will be done. 
For now the house and the world outside are quiet. 
Chocolate and sugar, eggs and flour; confectionary creation I delight in your chemistry. 

It isn't the art of cakes that I enjoy, truthfully. It's the science behind it, the structure beneath the pretty finish. The composition of flavors, the creation of a cloud of marshmallowy chocolate from such humble things as eggs and sugar cane and cacao.

I'm laughing at myself, because I'm still such a science nerd. But a science nerd that makes a really good cake! ;)

What did your morning look like?

Thursday, February 7, 2013


I am a lazy parent. Zao doesn't know numbers or letters or shapes or colors. At least, not that he's indicated yet. I will mention that a particular car is red (sometimes), or that he has two feet (sometimes), but I don't drill him on, well, anything. 

Last night while Zao's Daddy and I were watching tv and just hanging out with the kids, Zao started hauling the tangelos from their basket on the kitchen shelf to the arm of the couch, lining them up and stacking them, as you can see in the pictures below. He mimicked the incantation of my voice counting out numbers, and he counted the tangelos. After counting, he'd run (I mean run) back into the kitchen, grab another one, run back, line it up, and count again. Such fun!

line 'em up 
count 'em out
counting is fun! especially when Mommy counts with you. 

I realized, watching him play this game, that counting is a game, not true evidence of intelligence or smarts. The smarts have always been there. As a parent, I have fallen into this trap of being concerned that my child is going to be smart, and wringing my hands when he can't show off how smart he is so that other parents can see what a good parent I am. (Did that make sense? I'm just getting this off my chest, so bear with me if it's coming out jumbled.) I fully believe I was blessed with the independent, autarchical person of Zao, who refuses to "dance, monkey, dance," so that I can get over worrying what people think about me. Being Zao's Mama isn't about me at all. It's about Zao. His struggles and his successes in life and learning are uniquely his own, and separate from me.

He is smart, because he is a human. He can think, and process information, and adapt, and evolve as he gains that information. He possesses all the necessary faculties to observe the world and learn how it works. At the very basest level, I do not teach him anything. I cannot make the wires cross or connect as needed in his noggin. He teaches himself.

I loved bearing witness to this last night, and I love that he desired my involvement, literally taking my hand and encouraging me to count the tangelos. "See, it's fun, Mom! Do it with me!" 

I can lead, and guide, and live out examples (gulp), but last night's tangelo-counting fun reminded me that if anything, I am more an escort into the world of learning, than a teacher.

“We can best help children learn, not by deciding what we think they should learn and thinking of ingenious ways to teach it to them, but by making the world, as far as we can, accessible to them, paying serious attention to what they do, answering their questions -- if they have any -- and helping them explore the things they are most interested in.” 

― John Holt

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

real life

This is what happens when you leave eggs on the counter, and Zao unsupervised for five minutes. That egg might as well be on my face, because it's all Mama's fault! ;)

In my first post I talked about exercising with the kids around, because I think it's good for them to see me doing healthy things like that. This picture is a reminder that sometimes maybe the pushups do need to wait for naptime. Maybe. Sometimes.

If I am hearing uncommon noises from the kitchen, though, I really need to stop what I am doing and investigate. Thankfully I can now discern the sound of breaking eggs from a distance. I'm adding that to my list of motherhood-induced superpowers. No genetically modified spider bites needed!

homemade chocolate

Finding dairy-free, soy-free, corn (syrup) -free chocolate is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Enjoy Life makes some amazing chocolate chips comprised of only 3 ingredients, but sadly they are a little too pricey for my serious daily chocolate needs. I also prefer the satisfaction of chomping into a chunky piece of chocolate.

I surely could just lay off the dark stuff, but since so many other foods are a no-go for me these days, I embrace chocolate with abandon because I can, and because it's awesome. I found a solution that is easy on my wallet, too - I started making my own. It is surprisingly easy peasy!


1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil
1/4 cup sunflower seed butter
1/4 cup cocoa powder (shamelessly plugging a personal boycott, but don't buy Nestle! Please.)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
a mini muffin tin with appropriately sized paper liners


1. melt the coconut oil in a saucepan over low heat.
2. remove from heat and stir in sunflower seed butter and vanilla. (I use a whisk.)
3. mix in cocoa powder.
4. pour two teaspoons of mixture into each mini muffin liner.
5. freeze until firm.
6. eat and ENJOY!!

I keep mine in the freezer so that I eat them more slowly. (It doesn't really work, but the theory sounds good!) Kept at room temperature, they will be much softer, even gooey.

There are so many possible variations to this! Add some stevia or honey to make it sweeter, or almond butter in place of the sunbutter. Mix in chopped nuts, dried fruit, cinnamon, or cayenne pepper. Endless possibilities! The recipe above is very dark, tannic, and not very sweet, so please adjust to suit your personal taste.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

I got nothin'

Today is the day of the lost photos.

Somehow the photos I imported yesterday from my little point-and-shoot are not to be found on my computer, and I deleted them from the camera after importing them...which means I have a couple days worth of pictures and corresponding blog post ideas that are completely gone. Somewhere in the land of the lost, in the world of ones and zeros, my continuing attempts at photographic art are wandering.

Totally sucks.

So for now, until I figure out what to write about next, here are a few grainy snaps from yesterday, of Zao's Sister being worn in the Ellevill wrap. It is an Ellevill Zara Fresh size 6, for those of you that may wonder. In layman's terms: a reeeeaaalllly long green woven wrap from Norway.

double hammock carry 

oooh that face! 
front wrap cross carry

Sunday, February 3, 2013


These were taken the other night, as Zao's Sister and I were hunkered down next to each other, ready for bed. 
peek-a-boo with the blanket

we told secrets and giggled.

N-noooo, I'm not scared! 

I love co-sleeping, or bed-sharing as some call it. We've slept this way with our babies from the very first with Zao. And yes, he still is in our bed, most of the time. He has his own twin bed, with Lightening McQueen sheets, at the foot of our big king-sized bed. He sleeps there about half the time. Lately we've been mixing it up, and Zao's Sister and I sleep on the cartoon-character clad set up, and the fellas share the big bed. Bed sharing makes night-feedings so much easier; I still mostly wake up for a moment, but I don't have to leave the bed or really even move. Everyone gets more sleep this way, it seems. 

It's been interesting to witness Zao's sleeping changes through the past three years. From always being glued to my side and breast, to having independence and choice. Some nights he wants to sleep on the couch, so we let him. Most times he will come into the big bed in the middle of the night, no matter where he has started out. I remember doing the same when I was growing up. 

I think every sleep situation has it's pros and cons, when you factor in small children and babies. We've found what works best for us, and are learning to adapt with the changes as they come. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013


Today has been a Love-on-Zao day. Sometimes we need to be reminded that we are unconditionally loved. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

out & about

A few snaps taken during one of our recent morning walks. 
bluest of blue skies 
rosy cheeks

I love walking with the kids; pushing one that weighs thirty-five pounds and carrying the other at twelve makes it quite the little workout. Zao has always loved going for walks, too, ever since he was a wee little babe. Now he enjoys watching the cars and trucks as they pass us by. Zao's sister usually just falls asleep from boredom or comfort, all snug as a bug in a rug.