Monday, February 22, 2016

Four Books to read to your four-year-old perfectionist

Little Miss has decided that she cannot wear dresses anymore because her hair is "not perfect enough for them." There is always "a little piece that sticks up in the back" and therefore dresses are a no go. Before now, she insisted she must only wear dresses so now her drawers are overflowing with dresses and we have a real pants shortage. I'm not sure where this idea has come from, but I see it in other areas as well where she is already on a quest towards perfectionism and anything that does not live up to her vision results in a meltdown.

I've told her it's okay if her hair sticks up. I love her hair, to me it is perfect! But anyone who has tousled with four year old logic knows none of this will do. I decided to enlist the help of my wiser friend with an older daughter who has also struggled with similar frustrations.

She recommended several great books that got the message across in simple but effective ways.

1. Crazy Hair -  By Neil Gaman and Dave McKean

This book was the one my daughter was the most excited to read. I think the picture sold her.
The name is apt. This guy truly has crazy hair. In fact there is a whole magical world happening inside said "crazy hair." And if you try to comb it, well lets just say don't.

2. Beautiful Oops - By Barney Salzburg

I think this book was the most apropos, and equally loved by my 20 month old. It's about seeing the beauty in mistakes, and letting things evolve creatively.  Fabulous fun book. Wish I'd had it when I was in art school!

3. The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes - By Mark Pett and Gary Rubinstein

This one is about a little girl who never makes mistakes, but has a rather joyless existence.
Spoiler, she finds out in the end that not being perfect can be freeing.

4. I'm Gonna Love Me - Jamie Lee Curtis & Laura Cornell

Sweet book about loving everything about yourself, especially the things that make you unique.

After reading these books for a few nights, I'm happy to report that dresses have made a comeback!

My next quest is to find books dealing with disappointment.

Let me know if you have any recommendations!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Photo by Flitterin
My poor little Doodlebug is allergic/sensitive to eggs, dairy, and some nuts, which makes baking a real challenge.  Basically, all of my baked goods these days are vegan, and although it has been an adjustment, I'm starting to get the hang of it. Vegan baked goods are edible! Delicious even, and depending on your substitutions, can be healthier then the usual fare.

I'm still working on texture and taste, so healthy took a back seat today as I tried my hand at pumpkin muffins, with chocolate chips of course!

I adapted this recipe from the Minimalist Baker and it turned out very well, not too dense, and moist but not too greasy, which has been an issue with previous attempts. The troops all approved, so looks like it's going in the rotation.

Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Makes 8 Large Muffins


1-1/2 Tsp EnerG Egg Replacer
2 TBs warm water
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup non dairy milk (I used unsweetened coconut milk)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 TB canola Oil
1 Tsp vanilla Extract
1 Tsp baking powder
1/2 Tsp baking soda
1/2 Tsp kosher salt
1 Tsp cinnamon
a pinch of cloves
1-1/2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup chocolate chips or chunks (non dairy for vegan. I like Whole Foods 365 Dark Chocolate Baking Chunks)


1. Preheat the oven to 375 and place liners in muffin tins or spray with non stick cooking oil.
2. In a small bowl, mix 1-1/2 teaspoons of EnerG Egg Replacer with 2 tablespoons warm water and set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together, the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and a pinch of cloves
4. In another medium bowl, whisk together the EnerG egg mixture, brown sugar, pumpkin puree, non dairy milk, canola oil and vanilla extract.
5. Gradually stir or or whisk the flour mixture into the wet mixture until just combined.
6. Stir in the chocolate chips until mixed.
7. Using a half measuring cup fill the muffin tins and place in the oven.
8. Bake for 22- 28 minutes until a toothpick comes out with just a few clinging moist crumbs.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Valentine's Teacup Flower Arrangements

Photo by Flitterin
For Valentine's this year, I wanted to do a little something for my daughter's teachers at her preschool, and decided to do a small flower arrangement. I am not a florist by any means, but really enjoy putting together an arrangement and have taken a couple of classes for fun at an amazing florist here in Los Angeles: Floral Art. I found these pink teacups on sale at Joann Fabric and voila! The teachers got teacup flower arrangements.

Photo by Flitterin
My technique is not by any means professional, but does produce an impressive arrangement to give as a gift, or decorate a table for a party. These would be lovely at each place setting at a tea, shower, or garden party.

To get my flowers, a took a trip to the amazing LA Flower Mart in downtown Los Angeles. This is one of my favorite places to go to in Los Angeles. There is a stunning array of blossoms any time of the year and half the price of a florist and much less than even your local grocery store. I plan to do a more thorough post with all the details soon...

Photo by Flitterin
With roses, you get the most bang for your buck, but I'm not a huge rose fan and usually gravitated towards more delicate garden flowers. One of the first vendors I went to had a beautiful selection and being short on time, I snapped up two bunches of white with a hint of pink anemones, pink ranunculus, and star of bethleham. I also bought some dusty miller, which is a fuzzy silvery green leaf for texture, but decided against using it. With all of the flowers bought I was able to make four arrangements, which came to about $10 an arrangement.

Photo by Flitterin
So here is what you need:

1 Teacup (any size or shape will work)
Block of Wet Floral Foam
Garden Shears ( easier but a sharp knife will do.)
Flowers I used:
4 Anemones (mix of open and closed)
4 Ranunculas (mix of open and closed)
2 Stems of Star of Bethlehem
Aqua tubes (optional)

Any mix of flowers would work for this. When I do arrangements I usually try to have three different textures, a big flower like a peony, or rose, a smaller flower or more closed flower, like tulips, callas lily, hydrangea, star of Bethlehem (here), lily of the valley, tuber rose, and a leaf or greenery of some kind which I omitted here. These would be great with all one flower too, and I think  hot pink roses especially if retroflexed could be more fun and modern.

To start, soak your floral foam in a sink or bucket of water for a two to three minutes. When saturated, remove from the water and place your teacup upside down on top of the foam.

Photo by Flitterin

Press down lightly to make an impression,

Photo bt Flitterin
Then, using your knife follow the outline to cut out a cylinder. You will need to trim the cylinder down until it fits snuggly in the cup. You want the foam to stick up about an inch or two above the container, but more then that you will want to trim down. I then cut the sides at 45 degree angle to make decorating easier and filled the cup with water.

Photo bt Flitterin
Next, trim your flowers at a sharp angle to about two and a half inches removing leaves unless close to the head of the flower.

Photo by Flitterin

Start with your smallest flower here the star of bethlehem, and push the stems firmly but delicately, into the foam on either side of the arrangement. With floral foam flowers with thick stems work best, but if you are using a delicate stem, or if your flower breaks off too short while you are trying to press it into the foam, you an put them into water filled aqua tubes, and then press those into the foam.

Photo by Flitterin
Then take two of your your biggest or most open flowers, here the anemone, and press them into the top of the floral foam.

Photo by Flitterin

I then began filling in with flowers using clusters of similar color until the arrangement looked full and no floral foam was exposed.

Photo by Flitterin

Photo by Flitterin
Since these were small, I kept them overnight in the fridge and the next day the looked equally fresh. You can always add more water to the foam or mist the blossoms with flowers to keep fresh. I have found no matter what my floral foam arrangements just don't last as long. If anyone has any tricks or advice, let me know!

Photo by Flitterin