Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Whoa, Blackberry! (bam-ba-lam)

Okay, okay. I know those aren't the correct lyrics but it's just fun to sing regardless and it makes me smile. These days I'm trying to focus on anything and everything that makes me smile and keeps me feeling positive and upbeat. This recipe for Blackberry Pie Bars do just that!

They are the right balance of sweetness, tartness, and crunch from the crust. They are really easy to make, which they'd have to be for me to be able to successfully make them as we all know I'm not the best at baking. But I have to say the more I keep trying, the better my results have been! I actually made these for the first time last spring and summer and knew they would be a perfect addition to this year's Easter feast. Seriously, you will not be disappointed! 

Blackberry Pie Bars
Makes about 16-20 bars

For the crust and topping:
½ cups all-purpose flour¾ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
Zest of half a lemon
¾ cup (12 tbsp.) unsalted butter, cold
For the filling: 
2 large eggs
1 cups sugar
½ cup sour cream or greek yogurt
6 tbsp. all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
Juice of half a lemon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
15-16 oz. blackberries, fresh or frozen (thawed and drained of excess juices)


Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line a 9 x 9-inch baking pan with foil and grease lightly.  In the bowl of a food processor or electric mixer, combine the flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest.  Pulse briefly to blend.  Cut the butter into small cubes, then add to the bowl with the dry ingredients.  Process in short pulses to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until only small pieces of butter remain and the mixture is crumbly.

Reserve 3/4 cup of the mixture for topping of the bars. Add the rest of the mixture to the prepared pan and press to form an even layer of crust on the bottom of the pan. Bake 12-15 minutes, until  light and press to form an even layer of crust on the bottom of the pan. Bake 12-15 minutes, until light golden. Let cool 10-15 minutes before proceeding.

In a medium bowl, make the filling mixture. Combine the eggs, sugar, sour cream, flour, salt, lemon juice and vanilla. Whisk until smooth. Gently stir in the blackberries with a spatula. Spread the filling mixture over the pre-baked crust in the baking pan. Crumble the reserved topping mixture, over the filling evenly.

Bake until the top is beginning to brown and the bars are just set, about 45 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Chill to firm up before slicing and serving.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Little C Turns Three!

At the end of March our Little C had his big 3rd birthday!

We had all the grandparents pitch in and help us put together his "big boy" room. He was very surprised and excited! Somehow we managed to keep him in his crib up until this point. He was very capable of climbing out, and had proved it a few times, but he was just so good about staying in there when he was supposed to. We really had a nice thing going but it was clear to us that he was ready for the big boy bed and we started to promise him one when he turned three.

Thanks to a number of Instagram photos from the beloved Mannly Mama, as well as a full post about "the bed," we went with the IKEA KURA reversible bed. It is perfect! And to go with the bed the grands also pitched in with the decor to go from his jungle themed nursery to a construction site big boy room.

Hubs and I got him a new bike and he is still trying to get the hang of it. I think the idea that he has to push the pedals and make it go instead of being pushed by us took a bit of getting used to.

The shin guards were also a gift from us because C started soccer last week and needed some gear. In case you were wondering... Soccer for 3 year olds IS as adorable as it sounds. And for his ill-fitted helmet, we have since replaced it with one that fits. Raise your hand if your 3 year old has to wear a helmet for 5+!!! Little C, big head.

The following day was his actual birthday and Hubs and I had a "Big City Adventure" planned for him. We took Baby D-Nut to daycare and had special one-on-one time with the birthday boy. It was a blast! Here are some highlights:

1 - The Denver Convention Center's 40ft "Big Blue Bear"

2 - City street exploring: It's a jungle out there, people!

3 - Cement climbing with Dad

4 - Hot Chocolate at the Brown Palace Hotel 

5 - Lunch at the historic Denver Diner and Milkshake for dessert!

We seriously had the best time and it is a memory my husband and I will cherish forever.  

You guys, I'm am LOVING 3! It is like over night he became such a big boy and any shred of "babyness" is very hard to find. If I accidentally refer to him as my baby boy he swiftly reminds me of his big boy status and insists he is no longer a baby. 

At least we still have Baby Donut to get our fix. Although, she's 15 months going on 3 years... which is a post in and of itself! 

Little C, keep living loudly, keep laughing genuinely and just keep being the tenacious, precarious little boy that you are. Your larger than life spirit and your tender heart are a force to behold. I love you, son. Here's to a great year three!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

My Current State of Umeployment

Here's the thing... I know it will all work out. I know when I look back on all of this it will have been worth it. I know there is a silver lining. I also know how fortunate I am to have such strong job prospects only a month into unemployment. I am grateful for the time I've had with my kids. I'm blessed to have the support and love from my husband and my family. I know all of this. 

But it's okay for me to say despite it all... this fucking sucks. It just does. I have good days and then I have very bad days where I feel aimless and like I don't "belong." I feel like a fraud at daycare drop off and pickup and I feel like a fraud at the park among the gaggles of SAHM's and their organized play groups. 

I still don't sleep very well because the weight of all my thoughts pushes down on me the most at night. Thoughts of how surreal it still is and thoughts of how it all went down. Thoughts of the future. You see, the bills don't stop their usual rotation for the unemployed. Crazy, right? Oh, and remember once upon a time when I mentioned we were looking to buy a new house? Well the funny thing about home lenders is that they frown upon giving loans out to the unemployed as well. 

On good days I'm happy and at peace with everything. After all, I wanted to leave where I was and already had the ball in motion. I also feel rejuvenated and ready to welcome the unknown. I work out as much as I can and I haven't been this sore in forever!

On bad days saying goodbye to seven years of my professional life can be really tough. On these days I'm kind of a mess not able to think clearly and emotional. Then, since I'm home I get bored and I want to eat all. the. things. Hence, the constant working out. ::shrugs shoulders:: On these days I'm getting by. 

It's not pretty but it's my truth and it's okay. I saw a quote recently:

The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else's highlight reel.  --Steve Furtick

I couldn't be more "behind-the-scenes" with my life right now if I tried. You know, the hardest part is that this isn't me. I work and I always have. I never took time off for spring breaks or summer breaks when I was younger. Whenever I'd get a new job I'd never have time in between to take a breather. I'd always end one on Friday and begin the other on Monday. I don't know what it is like to NOT be working.

I'm not really able to enjoy this time and I honestly don't think I can let myself enjoy it. Even though I worked really hard for the last seven years and learned how to juggle the demands as a key employee and a new mom, I still haven't given myself permission to enjoy having some down time to clear my head... perhaps I should try. 

There is a lot of gray in my unemployment story. But at least I am motivated and determined to come out of this situation better than when I entered it. It's this motivation that has me excited and eager to head into each interview instead of nervous and afraid. The determination I'm feeling fuels my intent of progressing my career and proving myself an asset to any future employer.

I may be in day-to-day mode as far as the "how are you holding up" question is concerned. But at least I'm holding up.