Everything about this post is a bit squirrely, actually

Good morning and happy Friday! I assume that you are either groggily scanning your recipe collection for kale salads or accepting that yesterday was but the first exciting dip in the long, fatty slide down to New Year's resolutions. I won't tell you which direction I'm leaning, but I have started dividing my closet into Pants (Elastic) and Pants (Try In February).

I would say we celebrated Thanksgiving like proper Americans, but if anything our feast actually had a shade of Tudor royalty.


My contributions were both in the sugar family, starting with Apple Blondies. They don't look like much, but the brown sugar and cinnamon aroma was enticing to a degree that rendered walking anywhere near the dessert area unwise.

And then there was the Cranberry Chocolate Walnut Brickle. Let's say I wrap up a small piece of this and give it to you, nice and seasonal and friendly-like, and you think "Oh, that looks lovely and I'm glad it's just this little bit, what with all the other desserts around and whatnot," and then you have your small piece and think "Actually, I could maybe use just one more little corner or something, I wonder if Erica is at home, I could swing by and check" and then before you know it you're offering all manner of goods and services for one more taste, just a tiny, tiny chunk and then I own you. And perhaps you think that explaining my nefarious plan ahead of time like a Bond villain will be my undoing, but it won't matter. The brickle will overwhelm your good sense and it will be too late. "I thought one piece would be enough," you will say. "I didn't see the sprinkle of sea salt," you will say.

You're already mine.

Anna and her cousin Bethany spent a large chunk of the day attempting to become squirrels.

Ivy's skepticism quickly turned to curiosity.

And even more quickly back to skepticism.

All seemed lost.

But it turns out squirrels just need a little boost sometimes.

And that's Ivy's skepticism was actually hunger.


Delegation station

Let's see here…two days until Thanksgiving, less than a month until Christmas, carry the four…yep, Holiday Stress Season is upon us! Not for me though, not this year, no siree. This year I realized that three other able-bodied people live in this house and really, when I think about it, I function best in an advisory role, so I'm planning to ride out 2013 watching Sleepy Hollow on my laptop while my minions do all my work for me be more of a director this time around. Case in point: I neither cooked the recipe in today's cookbook entry nor took a single of the following pictures. Also, I am dictating this to Ivy from across the hall, so please have some patience if it gets off topLOLLIPOP LOLLIPOP LOLLIPOP

Right, so. Chocolate Oat Scones with Dried Cherries it is. Cookbook #97: 1001 Chocolate Treats (Gregg Gillespie, 1996) seems like something I should have gotten around to at some point in the previous 11 months, but I think I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of chocolate treats. It's just so many, honestly. I only need about 369 chocolate treats in my rotation, 370 tops. So I entrusted Dan and the girls with a recipe for scones that we already had ingredients for and Anna with the camera. Let's see what happened!


Dirty table, for context.

Pretty intense closeup here. It's almost like you're inside the scone.

In case you were wondering what happens when you leave a four-year-old with a camera for about 10 minutes, I can tell you: 150 pictures of a four-year-old and her ceiling fan.


Selfie with hat

Inexplicable ghost selfie

Foot selfie




Bringing it all together

Abstaining from all responsibilities Carefully assigning tasks does come with its drawbacks, though. Sometimes leaving the house by yourself for a couple of hours means you miss a pretty dope party.

Or some type of festivity, anyway.

But on the whole, I think this is working for me, so I'll just be over here bundled up and eating chocolate scones. Happy holidays!


Would you excuse me? I cut my foot before and my shoe is filling up with blood.

Good morning and welcome to Totally Employed Lawyer Mom. As you know, we will be discussing my high-powered career in…business. I'm actually typing this on my new flip phone.

Um, I invented Post-Its.

Okay, not really, obviously I spent that conference listening to a couple of writers discuss mental illness because that was more in my comfort zone than, say, personal finance. I did at least put on a scarf like a grown-up lady. But then it was time to stop goofing off and get back to work, so I tackled Cookbook #96: The Great Big Baking Book (Carole Clements, 2002). Provenance: Mom. Previous recipes on this blog: none. I made a Date and Pecan Loaf. (That's British for Date and Pecan Bread.)

They're right though, look at it just LOAFING AROUND. (I'm sorry.) (I'm kind of tired today.)

It seems as though the original edition was actually American and this one is decidedly not, so for some reason I have a cookbook that was once about "cookies" and is now about "biscuits" (thumbs up) and also wants me to measure out 55 grams of brown sugar (thumbs so far down, come on). Verdict: I love a quick bread, and this one was very good. I'm thinking about investing a bunch of time up front learning what various measures of flour and sugar look like so that I can eyeball them in the future because come on.

Anyway, I've been sticking with a culinary palette of orange and brown and green and darkness, as befits the season.

Blackened fish with Fall Panzanella Salad.

Brown Butter Spaghetti with (Chard) and Roasted Butternut Squash.

Ivy is sick.

Photo credit: Anna Huff

We're trying some alternative therapies.

Photo credit: Anna Huff. Wardrobe by: the suction bottom of our outer space plate

I thought the fever was to blame for my inability to get a smile out of Safari Monster, but it turns out Safari Monster was just trying to get to work and I was in her way. I think it would have been more obvious had she been wearing a scarf.

My bad.


Gone networkin'

I'm off to a professional conference for ambitious and high-acheiving women this morning (OBVIOUSLY), so I don't have a real post for you. Actually, someone else bought me a ticket, perhaps sensing that I'm currently in the perfect headspace for Career Advancement 101. (If you are considering spending a fair amount of time searching that website for the luncheon menu, I'm here to tell you not to bother because you're going to be disappointed. Further, if you type "menu" into the Search box, you will be greeted with the words "Quick! Define Your Brand!" and you will close the tab in a sweaty panic.) Anyway, I kid, I kid! I deserve to meet Rachael Ray as much as the next lady if not more! And I assume there is a Careers in Space and/or Ancient Norse Warrioring Pavilion, so I'm probably all set. So now I'm going to go…put on earrings? I guess? And leave you with Anna's blueprint for achieving the perfect birthday party interpretive dance.

Setting the stage

Engaging the audience

Kinda losing the audience



Marching thumbs

Leading the crowd in some clapping

Using the space

Retrieving the audience; making her push you around in the Cozy Coupe until it's time for cake


Boom! Autumned.

As someone whose enthusiasm for autumn has been described as frightening, I feel as though I have been falling down on the job a little bit. It's not that I haven't been celebrating the most magnificent 25% of the year with every fiber of my being, it's just that I haven't been reporting it in this space, what with Halloween and excessive birthday fĂȘting and all. But just because you can't see the Autumn Cobb Salad with Smoky Pumpkin Dressing doesn't mean that Autumn Cobb Salad with Smoky Pumpkin Dressing isn't happening here and in fact GOOD NEWS now you can see the Autumn Cobb Salad with Smoky Pumpkin Dressing!


I've mostly focused on making hot, cinnamon-y breakfasts (the typing of which has made me realize that making hot, cinnamon-y breakfasts should probably be my life's work), some of which looked lovely.

Pumpkin Steel Cut Oats with Maple Cinnamon Apples

Wheat-Almond Pancakes with Apple/Pomegranate Topping

And some of which looked like the talking garbage heap from Fraggle Rock.

Side note: when introduced to Fraggle Rock, Anna's assessment was "It's like the Muppets, but Fraggler," which a) is accurate, and b) means that she has inherited my belief in the elasticity of language. If I can just get her to start defending these words as "perfectly cromulent," my work will be done.

While the weather outside is brisk and delightful, the indoor thermostat has been set at a balmy teenage degrees.

Not pictured: extensive application of chapstick to the forehead, which I assume is what the kids are into these days. 


Fine, I'm probably going to write "Viking"

Anna's preschool class is putting together a book about their parents' jobs and want us to fill out a description of our daily duties "even if you work at home," which, haha, okay. I mean, I don't want to give the impression that what I do isn't hard work, because it absolutely is and if you don't believe that I heartily invite you to get my two-year-old dressed and into a car seat in under half an hour, but I'm not sure how to distill full-time child-rearing into a few lines. "My training is in law, but I now spend most of my time picking things/children up and wiping things/children down while enduring a constant stream of Daniel Tiger songs in my head. Judging by the ratio of yoga pants to real pants at pickup time, there's a good chance it's the same thing your mom does all day." Very illuminating. Although to be fair, if I were to accurately describe the job I had when Anna was born, it would be "I read through files. Sometimes we have to wait for a new batch of files so I mess around on the internet. I drink a lot of coffee because it gives me a reason to stand up and walk to the kitchen." So I guess I'm really just feeling sad that I'm not an astronaut, is what I'm saying. Maybe when I draw the picture of myself at work I will add some astronaut gear. I'm feeling a lot better about this situation already, thanks guys!

Aaaaaaaaaaanyhoodle. One of my duties is over-documenting my children's birthdays, so I'd better get back to work. I made Ivy a cake:


It looks like her blanket:

I mean, in a sense.

Anna helped, of course...

...but soon decided she was more comfortable behind the camera, which means Cookbook #95: Chocolate From the Cake Mix Doctor (Anne Byrn, 2001) is the first in this entire project to an action shot associated with it:

Space helmet just out of frame.

Provenance: Mom. Previous recipes on this blog: none. Flavor: Chocolate Orange cake. Deliciousness level: very high. For my feelings on this line of books, please see my previous Cake Mix Doctor entry. (Or don't, and I will just tell you that my feelings are positive.) Maybe I should list my job as "Cake Mix Doctor"? Or is Anne Byrn the only Cake Mix Doctor and I'm more of a Cake Mix Physician Assistant, carrying out her orders? Hmm. Don't worry, I'll get this whole thing sorted out.

We had a nice family party. There were many things to put on tortillas.

Also the option to forgo toppings entirely.

It's her party and she'll eat nothing but flour if she wants to.

There was unwrapping.

And sleepiness.

And, as mentioned, cake.

It was good to see everyone. This weekend gave my parents not only a chance to visit the kids, but also to tease me about my deep spiritual connection to IKEA, in belated defense of which I say: this straight-up Viking first name didn't write itself on my birth certificate, wiseguys.