"If You Give a Moose a Muffin" Baking Day

EJ loves reading "If You Give a Moose a Muffin". I don't know if it's because she started hunting moose with grandma when she was a year old (with cameras of course) or that muffins are involved, but after "Tea for Ruby" it's her next most requested book for Grandma to read.

We decided to have a book and activity morning and do a little baking. Since the type of muffin isn't specified in the book we chose to make this strawberry muffin recipe since we had a bowl of juicy strawberries sitting in the fridge.

Strawberry Yogurt Muffins
Yields 12 muffins

1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1/4 cup oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups strawberries, chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line or grease 12 muffin cups. 
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside. 
  3. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, yogurt, oil and vanilla until blended.  Add to flour mixture and gently mix until combined (Be careful not to over mix).  Gently fold in strawberries.
  4. Divide batter evenly between muffin cups.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let muffins cool in pan for 5 minutes.  Transfer muffins to wire rack and let cool completely.
We tied on our aprons and baked the muffins as we slowly read through  the book.
with the ingredients
mixing the batter
The muffins were delicious! The whole wheat flour gave them a hearty texture and the chunks of strawberries made each bite juicy and sweet.
muffins fit for a moose
EJ was thrilled to be able to share the muffins with Grandma and her moose.

I Heart Stamps

cherry blossom centennial stamps
I like writing letters, but what I really enjoy is addressing the envelope when finished and adhering a pretty stamp. I have been known to switch the process and ended up with addressed and stamped envelopes lying around the house. The Post Office has had some nice stamps recently, but I was especially excited to see these Japanese themed ones.

bonsai stamps
With my weekly trips to the post office I have ended up with more books of these then I probably need, but the fact that they're "Forever" stamps has encouraged my stamp collecting. Now I just need to write some letters to go with them...

Memorial Day Remembrance

salute the heroes who fell, that we may live
Today we remembered all who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country. EJ waved her flags while we watched veterans march by to patriotic music at a local parade.

Then we visited with a family friend for brunch who told us stories of her three brothers serving overseas in WWII. One never came home; he is buried in France.

During a dinner BBQ I also got to hear the recollections of another WWII vet who was a Marine stationed near Kobe, Japan right after the war. It was interesting to hear about his experiences during the rebuilding period. He visited the Big Buddah in Kamakura, climbed Mt. Fuji and took pictures of the Japanese countryside.

Having DaddyO deployed this year has given us just a taste of what so many families have had to cope with permanently. We are thankful for their sacrifice and will treasure the freedom their loved ones provided for us.

Easy Peasy Passport Photos

hamming it up for the camera
As soon as all of CJ's important documents arrived in the mail it was time to send in for his passport. The possibility of meeting up with DaddyO at a port was all the motivation I needed to get moving  on it.

Thanks to DaddyO's instructions, the paperwork and appointment were easy. The thought of taking the passport photos was a bit more daunting. Thanks to this fabulous (and free) website, the whole process took me less then 15 minutes and only cost twenty cents! I lay CJ down on a bed with a white sheet, took his photograph (okay maybe a hundred plus to get the the perfect face), and then the website assisted with aligning the photo to the official passport template, cropping it to the correct size and then downloading it so I could order to photos on a 4x6 print. Now it's just a 4 to 6 week wait for his passport to arrive and I can start planning our trip!

And the Counting Begins...

CJ reached his first milestone, a whole month old! Not surprisingly a lot of firsts happened this month.

Lazy Morning in Bed

I treasure my lazy mornings with the little ones. The beauty of sleeping in one bed is we get a lot of cuddling time. EJ's love for her little brother and his affection back is so sweet to watch.

I had to grab my camera and try to capture a bit of the moment. 


Tea for a Camel

dressed in a white abaya
EJ was excited to try on the "dress" that DaddyO had picked out for her while in Dubai. It didn't twirl like the one from Athens but it was perfect to wear while pouring her tea for her camel.

Straight from Dubai

Another special delivery arrived from DaddyO! This time the package was from his Dubai port call and held exotic Middle Eastern items.

islamic dress
EJ's garden hat was quickly switched to a crochet cap as she discovered what DaddyO had picked out for her.

copper teapot
We have another city to add to his deployment map and treasures to add to EJ's box.

Here are a few of the pictures he took of his Dubai experience....

mosque visit

and meal
coffee and skyping

Grandma's Challah Bread

Nothing compares to the smell of freshly baked bread. The sweet yeasty smell from this challa bread brings back many wonderful memories of my mom baking as I grew up.

My mom first started baking challah bread while living in Israel. Israelies eat it each week at their three Sabbath meals. This sweet loaf commemorates the manna that fell from the heavens when the Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years after the exodus from Egypt.

She was given this recipe by a dear friend in Minnesota when I was young and has been baking it ever since.

Thursdays have become bread making day. EJ mixes the bread with Grandma in the morning, punches it down after lunch, and it's ready to be baked shortly thereafter. This last week EJ got her own dough to make into a little loaf.

Grandma's Challah Bread Recipe

Sponge for 5 minutes:
6 T yeast
3 cup warm water

Mix in large bowl:
1 1/2 cups honey
9 eggs
3/4 cup oil

Add with yeast water to honey mixture:
12 cups flour
2 T salt

Knead. Add more flour until the dough can be handled well. Let rise.

flour your hands
and knead
and knead
Punch down and divide in 3 equal parts. Divide each part into thirds and roll out to 3 equal rolls.

punch the dough
ready to be braided
Braid* and brush with egg and bit of milk. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and let rise in pan just a little.

sprinkle on the sesame seeds
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Makes 3 loaves.
grandma's loaf
ej"s loaf
*Make a figure 8 out of your braid with the ends underneath in middle. Then no ends show.

Springtime Irises

New flowers are popping up all the time in Grandma's garden. EJ loves seeing what new colors and varieties she'll find next.


The irises are a particular favorite of mine. They remind me of the excursions I would take with my Japanese students to the beautiful iris gardens at Meiji Shrine.

circa 2006

EJ enjoys dressing like Grandma's vibrant blooms and dancing around the flowers.

Bubble Gum Love


I saw this gum while shopping for DaddyO's weekly deployment package. I had just heard an analogy of marriage as a tandem bike so I was very excited when I saw these at our local health food store. The boxes were just too cute, I had to pick up a couple for him and some bike lovin' friends.

Celebrating Mom at Trexler

A picnic by the river was how Grandma wanted to celebrate Mother's Day with the family. We loaded up our cars and headed to Trexler.

There are those special experiences that stick in your memory when a kid and I imagine the drive across the river here could be one of them. A lot of other families had the same Sunday idea and we all lined up to cross the river.

Even with all the holiday visitors the park didn't feel crowded and we were able to find a perfect grassy spot by the water.

Of course EJ was ready to head into the river right away with her net and bucket and join all the other children on the hunt for crayfish.

Grandma and Uncle Yoshi willingly joined her in the hunt.


Not only is it a beautiful drive to the river but you also get to see bison and elk as if on a safari on the way out. EJ was on the lookout the whole time and pointed them out with enthusiasm when she saw them.

This park will be a popular destination this summer for lazy days on the river.

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