Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Cinnamon Rolls

I used the yeast bread recipe from this recipe, instead of making the pull-apart recipe, I rolled the dough out into a rectangle, sprinkled with sugar ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. I Rolled it up and cut it into 1.5-2 inch slices. The cinnamon roll part of this recipe is my own. I didn't use a recipe while I was doing it, so I did my best to make it precise for you.

By the way... THEY WERE AWESOME. 

Pumpkin Spice Rolls

Serves: 12

Pumpkin Bread Ingredients:
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups bread flour

1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1-2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or a mix of ground ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg)
2 Tbsp. melted butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 Tbsp milk

Make the bread dough: Grease a 9x13 casserole dish and set aside. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, brown the 2 tablespoons of butter. Let it bubble and foam and when you see it start to brown, stir it so that it browns evenly. When it’s the color of dark honey, remove it from the heat and pour it into a large heat-safe mixer bowl to cool. In the same saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the milk until it bubbles. Remove it from the heat and pour it into the bowl with the butter. Let these cool until they’re about 100-110 degrees F. (I was trying to hurry so I skipped the butter browning & heated my milk & butter in the microwave.)

Stir the sugar and yeast into the milk/butter mixture and let it sit for about 10 minutes to proof (it should foam; if it doesn’t, discard it yeast and try again with new yeast). Stir in pumpkin, salt, and 1 cup flour. If you haven’t already, fit your mixer with a dough hook. Add the rest of the flour 1/2 cup at a time, stirring between each addition. When the dough is combined, knead on low speed with a dough hook until smooth and elastic (about 4 minutes with a mixer).

Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover it with a damp cloth. Let it rise in a warm place for about an hour until it doubles in size. Punch down. 

Make the rolls:  Roll the dough out on a generously floured surface until it is a rectangle (about the same size as your 9x13 in. dish. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle the sugar/spices/nuts evenly over the dough. Roll up into a jellyroll shape long-wise (you want a roll about the length of your dish.) Use a very sharp knife to slice through the dough log to make 1 1/2 to 2 inch cinnamon rolls. Place in casserole dish with some space in between (if you can.) 

Rise:  At this point you have two options. Let rise another 45 min to hour, covered, and bake at 375 for 30-45 minutes until nicely browned. OR you can do an overnight-rise to bake for breakfast the next day. If you are doing an overnight rise, cover casserole dish with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator. When you're ready to bake, let the rolls/dish sit on the counter for a half hour before baking at 375 for 30-45 minutes.

Glaze: mix powdered sugar and milk until thick, but runny. Spoon over warm rolls & enjoy!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Aaron's John Deere Party

Just a small gathering of a few friends and family. (And friends who are family!) I made him a John Deere layer cake and we had pizza and chili for lunch. We had a great day! Happy third birthday, my dear (deere?) Aaron! We love you so, so much and we are so very glad that you are the little miracle you are! I cannot believe you are three... it seems like just yesterday you were just a teeny little baby in my arms a month earlier than you were planned to be. May God continue to bless you and keep you.
Beware... this post has a lot of pictures!

Do you "get" what the toppings are?
Crumbled up graham cracker for dirt...

Marshmallow "hay bales" (hay wrapped in the white plastic that you see
driving past a there a technical name for those?)

Candy Corn planted in a row & a wagon full of Jelly beans.

We made a farm photo booth for Aaron's party

But it is really hard to get kids to sit for a photo while
they are at a birthday party.

Happy Birthday, to you!

Photo booth time for Aaron

He is such a silly little boy!

Lauren's turn! She loved the hay bale... played with it
all day today. (Carrot mid-air!)

Papa and Lauren in the photo booth

Aaron playing with his gifts. He's so sweet.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Hallowboo on Aaron's Third Birthday

Lauren's "Toadstool" costume

Finally big enough to ride!

got to sit in the front of the train


Friday, October 21, 2011

Aaron's Birth Photos

I never tire of looking at these photos. Here's a slideshow of my favorites.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Three-Year-Old's Joy

And a four-year-old's disappointment. What a difference 18 months makes. Ian's desire for gifts to always be toys and Aaron's delight in all his gifts. It's just amazing to me.

Also, I love Aaron's joyous giggle. It makes my heart flutter.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fleece Tie Blanket

I know it may seem like I'm doing a lot of homemade things for Aaron's birthday...
that's because I am.

Lauren's a little older and can entertain herself (or be entertained by her brothers a little) 
and our budget is super tight. So it's time for mama to get creative.

Fleece tie-blankets are so easy to make and there is very little waste. 
The fabric ranges in price from super cheap to rather expensive, so as long as you're careful
what you buy, you can make a nice-sized throw blanket for just a little bit
of money and time.

The John Deere fabric was a little pricey on, so I opted to have the pattern
on the front of the blanket and a plain back. The fleece I got for the back was on 
clearance for 90 cents per yard. I used 1.5 yards of each fabric.

I followed the directions exactly and it took me about an hour and a half,
from the time I laid out the fabric until I tied the last tie.

Aaron hasn't seen it yet, but I think he's going to flip his lid. And it is more than just 
a special blankie, Aaron was in need of a bigger blanket for his bed. I didn't want to spend $40
on a new comforter for him because we really have to have two. 
(What with barfing in the night and all...)

So there you have it! You can make a birthday present for your child for less than $15
in any pattern you choose! (There are tons of "character" designs on fleece... 
from Elmo to Disney Princesses to Transformers.)

Butterscotch Haystacks

Aaron's having a "Tractor Party" for his birthday this year. What goes well with a farm party? 


Quite possibly the messiest treat I have ever made. 
(The making part, I mean, was super messy, gooey, tasty....)

You can get the recipe here. 

Fall Baseball Wrap-up

Ian's supposed to have games next week on Monday and Tuesday, but right now the weather isn't looking very promising. I hope they do have games!

Ian went into this season having never played baseball before. He has occasionally played a little wiffle ball with  his cousins, but nothing "formal" at all. At the first practice, he was pretty bad!

But now... after two months of playing ball with his team of four, five, and six year olds, he's doing great!

The best part about Ian's ball-playing is how fast he can run. He may not hit the ball into the outfield (there are a couple of little boys on his team who can!) but he hasn't ever been tagged out at first base because he runs faster than the other team can field his hits. It's great!

Aaron, Lauren, and I (and Papa and Grandma on a couple of occasions) have been enjoying going to baseball games and watching from the bleachers. Aaron takes his tricycle and rides up and down the "road" (multipurpose path) along the field. Lauren likes to yell for Ian and daddy (who plays a base coach usually). We like to get little snicky-snackies from the concession stand and to chat with the other kids' families.

It's just a really fun time.

I can't wait until spring baseball gets up and running. We've had such a great experience with fall baseball.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Prednisone for Asthma Attacks

This is just a warning for all of you out there with kiddos who might need Prednisone for coughing/asthma:

Prednisone may make your child temporarily crazy.

My sister, who occasionally takes Prednisone for asthma attacks, told me she dreads taking it. She gets terrible anxiety and has trouble sleeping. My brother-in-law finds a project to do in the barn while my sister is on it, because she is mean while she's taking it. She knows she's being mean, but she can't help it.

Anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and "aggressive behavior"  are some of the side effects of this steroid.

When Aaron was a baby and taking prednisone, I didn't really notice any difference in his sleeping or behavior, but this time?


Poor Aaron.

Poor Mommy, daddy, Ian, and Lauren, too. And Poor Ms. Jojo at school.

Aaron's anxiety has been terrible the last few days. He always has a bit more anxiety about situations than Ian and Lauren, but the last few days have been awful. Add the side effects of the medicine to the reason he's taking it (having an asthma attack) and you really have to be patient with him. 

Aaron, the usually fabulous sleeper, was up four times last night. First he was crying because he thought Roger had gone to work. Then he was crying because Roger responded so he was worried I was gone from home. Then he needed to go potty, then he was scared of the dark, then he was cold. It was obviously the medicine talking.

I feel so bad for him. He has to take the prednisone. He needs it. But when he is on it (usually about twice a year...once in the Spring, once in the Fall) he's just so screwed up.

The good thing is that these side effects do go away after you finish taking the medicine.

So if your child ever has to take prednisone, just be warned... it might really make your baby go a little insane for a few days. Drink enough coffee in the morning and go to bed when you put the kids to never know what the night will hold. And don't forget your patience pills.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Ian at the pumpkin patch: comparison

What a difference four years makes!

Preschool Fieldtrip: Pumpkin Patch & Dairy

Ian & his teacher Mrs. C.

Kerber Dairy is a working farm in North Huntingdon, PA. During the fall they have a pumpkin patch, hay ride, and of course, the ice cream. Their ice cream is so good. Ian was enjoying the "Scarecrow Crunch" kind in the photo above. I had pumpkin pie cheesecake. I always try to go back to the Dairy around Christmas for the eggnog ice cream and in the summer for peach. (Not as good as Peachy Paterno from the Penn State Creamery, but still delicious.) The kids had so much fun...and so did the parents. It was really neat!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

So pretty!

It's birthday week this week for Aaron so I'm trying to get our affairs in order. We are going to be super busy this week and next week. Preschool field trips, baseball games, birthday parties (Aaron's and our friend Eli's) and "regular" fall things like cleaning up leaves and finding pumpkins... busy. We've also been sick for about two wee Here's a recent cute shot of Lauren.

And one of Ian & I. So cute.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Rant: Kids' Meals at Restaurants

So we are coming back to reality after a not-that-great vacation. While I'm getting things off my chest, why not rant about menu options for kids at restaurants?

There are some decent kids' menus out there, it's true. Outback Steakhouse has one, off the top of my head. I know you can get grilled steak, chicken, or shrimp with a vegetable and potato. Obviously, that impressed me because I remember it.

What doesn't impress me? The countless children's menus that offer only fried, breaded, calorie dense crap with a side of French fries and a pop to drink. Really?! So let's get this straight, Hops restaurant in Alexandria, VA. (My most recent exposure to a crappy kids' menu.) You pride yourself with steak, chicken, and seafood choices on the regular menu. Then you hand my kids a pack of crayons and a kids' menu to draw on that only has fried chicken tenders, a cheeseburger, macaroni and cheese, or grilled cheese sandwich. Nothing fresh on the kids' menu. If I want something other than fries I have to ask for it special? If I would like my kids to eat non-fried meat, there isn't any "kid sized" portion (or priced) option?

That sucks.

After one day of eating at restaurants, my kids were begging for fresh foods. (both verbally and through body language.) My friend took them to Whole Foods and bought fresh fruit. She said she had never seen fruit be inhaled like that before. Later we went back to whole foods and bought more fruit... Which was entirely consumed in 48 hours.

It's completely heinous to me that restaurants assume kids won't eat mini versions of the adult meals and therefore don't offer them.

I recently started choosing an entree off the regular menu and asking for two extra plates. All three kids share one adult portion of something healthier and decidedly NOT fried chicken tenders.

At Hops, I ordered them a small steak with a Caesar salad for Ian and baked potato. When the salad arrived first, Ian dug right in and ate most of it before the dinner came. Then all three ate their fill of meat, potato, and broccoli (from daddy's plate) without even a wish for something else. That's how we eat at home. It's a special occasion when we eat chicken tenders or pizza, not the regular nightly fare. So when we are away from home it is unbelievably frustrating to rarely see decent kids' options on the restaurant menus.

I think restaurants need to make kids menus attractive and healthy, not an afterthought. No more mini corn dogs and cheeseburgers... Make way for grilled chicken and spinach ravioli! And a side/appetizer of fruit wouldn't hurt either.

A Reminder of Why I Like Staying Home

I love vacations. I love getting away from home and enjoying the sights, sounds, foods and activities that other places have to offer. Well, at least I used to... until I had three young children.

I know all kids are not like mine, but going on vacation for the last four years, for us, has only served as a reminder of why staying close to home is nice. In fact, if you want to know the truth about how I feel about family vacations right now, I think they're the fifth ring of hell. There's no relaxing and enjoying beyond the fleeting giggle or smile on the faces of my children. There's really just a lot of screaming, skin rashes, not sleeping, stress, and attitudes. Add in a hotel pool and then we have the 3-on-2 keep-the-kids-from-drowning game. Don't forget that most restaurants kids' menus have only chicken fingers, burgers, pizza, and french fries. (Don't even get me started, that's a whole 'nother post.) So you have to go out of your way to find fresh, healthy foods to eat.

When the Wyndham people tried to convince us to buy a time share so we could vacation more, Roger and I pretty much laughed at them. Are you serious? Why would we want to do that? We have a lot to see and do within the range of a day trip and that way we get to sleep in our own beds at night, which eliminates the "sleepless attitudes" aspect of traveling. Plus, getting off our schedule for one day is not so bad. Getting off track for several days, while you're a four hour drive from home is much far more daunting. (And let us not forget that what is supposed to be a four hour drive from home, when you have three young children, is actually more like a six hour drive when you factor in potty stops and stops to quell the screaming.)

While we're talking about it, let's discuss the car trip itself. It's oh so fun. You pack everything into the car just-so. Then the kids get in and immediately start tearing everything you so neatly packed into pieces. The garbage can inevitably tips over at least four times because it has been moved from its "safe from tipping" location. The food bag gets stepped on. Snacks are spilled and wiped and tossed everywhere. Toys fall down into cracks. Daddy, who is riding in the passenger seat has to contort himself into awkward positions, risking back injury at every moment, to try and entertain and attend to the bitchy children, which in turn, cases him to become bitchy too. And even though it is naptime, nobody sleeps at all... What...your trips are not like that? I'm cursed...

We recently took a trip to Alexandria, Virginia because we had a free trip from Wyndham to use. We got to visit with my friend Kari, who probably thinks now that we are insane and our kids are brats. We had some fun moments, but a lot crappy, stressed out minutes. And what I was reminded was that even though the idea of vacations is really good to me, the reality is that I'd rather stay home. It's the only place I ever have a chance to relax at all.

(And, dear God, let my children grow out of this horrible vacation behavior. And let Lauren stop crying in the car. EVERY TIME WE ARE IN THE CAR. I'm going deaf. Seriously.)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Amazon Associates

Just a friendly reminder that if you would like to support our site through shopping... you can click on the Amazon widget on the right side. After you click there, anything you purchase from Amazon for the next 24 hours earns 'Burgher Tots credit at Amazon! Pretty cool, right?

Pumpkin ice cream

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Around Pittsburgh: Rodeo at Sundance Arena

When I upload pictures from my phone with the Blogger App for iPhone, the pictures always
 end up all out of order. I'm not sure how to put them in the right order, either. So I apologize in advance for the pictures being out of whack.

Saturday was my sister's birthday and we surprised her with a visit...including my brother and niece who drove all the way from Kentucky to party! 

My dad made an awesome birthday cake with my Grandma's awesome butter cream frosting recipe. (Roger keeps telling me I must have been impressed because I'm still talking about that cake... he must be right.) 

After we had dinner together and cake, we drove to Fredonia, Pennsylvania. A little town not far from where we grew up. There's a rodeo arena there called Sundance Arena. They were having a Bullride Mania rodeo event! 

None of us had ever been to a real rodeo before and it was great fun! If only it started earlier than 7:30pm... that's bedtime around these parts and by 9:00 the kids were tired and ready to hit the road. Bullride Mania has quite a few events this winter at the Sundance Arena, about 1 hour and 15 minutes North of Pittsburgh. You should check it out if you're looking for something fun and interesting to do! 

Trying to get a group shot
The Sundance Arena
The Awesome Birthday Cake
Really blurry shot of a bull ride
Another try at the group shot
Adam, Isaac, & Asher- when I clicked, they were all looking,
but by the time the camera snapped, they were all wonky.
Another try at the group shot
Uncle Todd and Lauren (and a crazy photo-bomber lady!)