Doing things the hard way

I've been accused more than once in my life of doing things the hard way. (My mom says I get it from my dad.)  My mom is usually the one helping me with the kids while I bury myself in a project that takes twice as long as I plan. Tom is the one urging me to go to bed when I burn the midnight oil working on something.

This time it was the cupcakes I made for my card class:

Pistachio and White Chocolate Cupcakes from scratch. The recipe is from Cupcakes, Cupcakes, and more Cupcakes, an adorable cookbook that was a gift from my in-laws for Christmas. I'd been dying to try a recipe from it, and this is the one that caught my eye. Only I couldn't find pistachio paste. (No gourmet grocery stores here!) So I had to make it. I shelled the pistachios, boiled them to release the skins, peeled them, and ran them through the blender with oil and water to make a purée. It was successful, but it took good long while. And then I discovered the recipe only made 12 cupcakes, so I had to make a second batch.

They were good. But they weren't amazing. Maybe it was just that the flavor didn't quite match up with the effort.

I also had to make cupcakes for Abby's school Valentine party. Fortunately I took an easier route and used a mix.

But I couldn't just use a mix. I found this recipe from Heather Bailey to fancy them up. I did buy the frosting. Cut me some slack.

And then, amongst much encouragement from Tom to just buy them already, I made Valentine cards with the girls. 40 of them.

We made these cute little matchbook notebooks. And for the boys pink was a bit too girlie, so we found this cool basketball and football paper in my stash. Each card had a sucker stapled to it and was hand-signed by the girls.

I'm not sure what compels me to take the hard road. Heaven knows I am busy enough and constantly complaining about not getting enough done. Is it about the glory? I hope not. I'd like to think it is about the process. Here is a photo of the girls working on the cards with me:

Both of them said the night before Valentine's day was the Best Day Ever. I think they are just like me and I wouldn't give up these memories for the world.

Memory Lane Monday—my Valentines

From This Front Porch

This is my first Memory Lane Monday post and I'm not sure why. It was so much fun going through those old photos! Actually, I know exactly why. It is the scanning that slows me down. Anything I shot before 2004 was all film. I am thankful for digital and I am glad to have learned a little more about photography. (I have a long ways to go, as evidenced by the blurry photo at the end of this post. I had two adorable little posers and I couldn't get a clear picture of them to save my life!)

15 years ago, Valentine's Day 1996:

A couple of weeks prior to taking this photo, Tom and I were sitting in this same living room (in the swanky condo that belonged to my aunt that I had the privilege of living in for a semester.) I was a silly college Freshman and had just started dating Tom. We had been on some friendly dates together and both getting to the point where we wanted to take the relationship to the next level but still in that awkward stage where we didn't know how to make the first move. On the coffee table in front of us was a dish full of heart candies, so I reached over and grabbed one that said "kiss me" and handed it to him. So he did.

A couple of weeks later, my roomies and I prepared a Valentine's meal for our sweethearts, complete with their favorite desserts. How 6 of us managed to eat 3 desserts, I don't recall. (Freshman 15, anyone?)


A few years down the road, in 2007, we had 2 more Valentines to celebrate with:

Those same sweaters now fit Sarah and Eva:

Happy Valentine's Day!