Saturday, January 28, 2012

Empty Cupboard Coffee Cake

We are a strange breakfast bunch around here.  Strange because we cook/bake breafast every morning and don't use cereals, poptarts or breakfast bars.  Perhaps that is a result of my husband's British heritage, or perhaps it is just my taste preferences - who knows! 

We are working hard to eliminate sugar from our diets, but once in a while I run into a situation where I can't quite figure out how to eliminate the sugar completely (*see last week's post on cinnamon rolls!* haha)  Today was one of those days.  I woke up this morning to the reality that I should have grocery shopped three days ago.  I have been putting it off for days and it finally came back to bite me! We were out of milk and we were out of eggs so the breakfast pickings were instantly slim.  Waffles? nope.  Pancakes? nope.  French toast? nope.  Coffee cake? maybe......  Since my choices were limited to 1) come up with a desperate variation on coffee cake or 2) go grocery shopping first thing in the morning, I opted to try my hand at coffee cake.  And that is how this coffee cake receipe came to be!  I thought I would share it here in case any of you find youselves in a poorly stocked kitchen at some time in your future ;-)

Empty Cupboard Coffee Cake


1/2 c brown sugar
1/4c flour
1 cinnamon stick
2 tbsp butter
1/4c oats


1 1/2 c water
1/3 c dairy powder
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp vanilla
1 c vegetable oil
2 1/2 c flour
2/3c sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt


1- Preheat oven to 375 F
2- Mix the water, dairy powder and vinegar in a bowl and leave to curdle
3- Mix the brown sugar and flour in a small bowl, grate in about 1/3" cinnamon stick and then cut in butter until "crumbs" form.  Mix in oats.
4- Add oil and vanilla to milk mixture
5- Add flour, sugar, baking powder and salt to milk mixture
6- Mix batter well and pour into 9x13 baking dish
7- Sprinkle cinnamon sugar topping over batter
8- Bake for 35-40 minutes

It turned out pretty good if I do say so myself! And as an added bonus, when Big-Bug came to the kitchen to find out what we were having for breakfast and heard it was coffee cake he ran down the hall hollering "YAY!! We're having COFFEE CAKE!!"  Haha.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Flooding in the Valley

Yesterday morning we woke up to find this outside our window.

Yes, that is the creek that runs on the far side of the lot next to ours.  It overran its banks during the night and over took our street!  Since our house is on a hump, we luckily stayed dry, but we were a little worried there for a while.  I walked across the field to see the extent of the flooding and saw that the water level of the creek was about 4-5 feet higher than normal. 

Our neighbors who sit at a lower elevation than us have sandbagged their houses as you can see from the photo. 

I also walked around to the back of our lot to check the level of the second creek (the one that runs behind our fence) and saw that the water level was about twice as high as ususal, but it had not yet escaped its banks.  The nutria (an invasive water rodent that lives in the streams) were having a hay day and were swimming back and forth up the stream while I watched. 

We were able to get out of our street to take Big-Bug to school, but the district called families halfway through the day and asked everyone to come get their children due to the rising water levels (I had already picked Big-Bug up at that time since he is in the am kindergarten class.)  When I drove up to the school for pick up the school grounds were (relatively) dry, but the storm drains were erupting like fountains in the intersections! It was pretty crazy.

Around our town, other families have not been as lucky.  An entire town to the south east of us was evacuated yesterday as water levels rose.  A town to the east of us has a lot of water over their roadways (although I read it is receding today) and our downtown area has been expriencing a lot of flooding.  The city has been updating a google map documenting road closures and there were 35+ noted in town last night. All of this flooding has been the result of heavy rain, runoff and overfilled creek beds.  Today it is forecasted to rain another inch and the Willamette River is predicted to breach its banks and reach 100 year flood levels by 4pm today.  This will result in a lot more flooding throughout down town and the surrounding areas.  A 100 year flood map was published this morning in the newpaper and I was nervous to see a few close friends of mine live in areas that are expected to be impacted by the Willamette today. 

On a side note -something I have been seeing a lot of on the news sites is a misunderstanding of the term 100 year flood.  A lot of people seem to think it means a level of flooding that has not occured for 100 years.  This term actually refers to a flood with a water level that only has a 1% chance of being equalled or exceeded in a single year.  So if you are reading this, please give the police officers and the reporters a break - they actually DO know what they are talking about ;-)  (see, my natural resources degree DOES pay off every now and then! haha)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Three Words...

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls.

That is all :)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Been a While!

*whew*  where did the last month and a half go?! 

December turned into a super busy month for us (no big surprise there I suppose.)  The first week of December I coordinated a family game night at Big-Bug's elementary school.  This turned out to be a monumental task that involved countless hours of prep work, much coordination with other groups and a LOT of table assembly.  It was further complicated by my husband's out of town business trip that happened to overlap with the fun night, meaning I had all three bugs in tow the entire day!  In the end, I would say the event was a success.  Many families attended, people seemed to be enjoying themselves and there was a nice write up in the student news paper the following week as well.

The second week of December was Baby-Bug's two year birthday party.  We hosted at the house this year and went with a hungry caterpillar theme. I was trying hard to learn towards healthier food options, so a hungry caterpillar party with an emphasis on fruits was a winner! We put out a spread of food that had each of the food items mentioned in the story (minus the salami and the leaves) and it seemed to go over well.

We had apples, pears, plums, oranges, watermelon, strawberries, swiss cheese, summer sausage, miniature chocolate cake bites, mini cherry pies, mini cupcakes, lollipop sugar cookies and icecream cone cupcakes.  The kids made a few caterpillar crafts as well - clothespin butterflies, thumbprint caterpillar bookmarks and egg carton caterpillars.  We also had a basket of caterpillar antennas for each of the kids to wear at the party, it was a pretty fun day!

That same night we attended a holiday parade in town and were able to bring both sets of grandparents with us as well, which was an extra treat!

The third week of December was the annual holiday get together with my mom's side of the family.  This is always a great time, but it also a four hour drive away!  Because of the drive, the party turns into a weekend event, which is extra fun - but also adds a little chaos.  This year we decided to really pack the schedule and aside from attending the party we also met a friend for coffee, visited my Grandmother and delivered a Christmas gift to a friend...all in a 36 hour window.

We had to leave on Saturday night this year instead of staying the whole weekend because Big-Bug and Middle-Bug were in a Christmas program at church on Sunday night.  This was their first ever Christmas Pageant and they were absolutely adorable dressed up like angels, singing Christmas songs :) 

During that same week, we also attended our fantastic playgroup's annual Christmas Party. This year was special because we held it in a local coffee shop that is designed to be kid-friendly.  But this isn't just any kid-friendly coffee shop! It is a brand new shop that was opened by one of our very own playgroup mamas and her husband! They were so generous to open their place to us after hours, and they even provided drip coffee and herbal teas for the party. We really enjoyed our evening with wonderful friends - and the kids had an amazing time playing with their buddies and of course gorging themselves on holiday cookies, fudge, taffies, chocolates, etc.

The fourth week of December was Christmas of course, and we were lucky enough to be able to host my in-laws AND my sister in-law this year :)  We had a lazy Christmas morning opening presents, eating cinnamon rolls and bacon and testing out the new video game santa delivered - lego star wars III for the wii! Once the family arrived that afternoon the bugs headed out with their daddy, grandparents and auntie to test out their brand new Christmas bikes!  They had a blast riding up and down the street.  I started the dinner prep inside and kept it simple this year (I was so proud of myself for reining it in!!)  I made roast beef with oven roasted tomatoes, citrus mashed yams, bread stuffing, bacon wrapped green bean bundles, stuffed mushroom caps and roasted Brussels sprouts with pecans!  I also served shrimp cocktails for an appetizer and my mother in-law brought her signature English Trifle for dessert....we can't have Christmas in this family without it!

mushrooms didn't last long enough to make it into the photo! lol
The fifth weekend in December we headed to my parents' house where we celebrated Christmas with my parents and my sister. The boys had a great time seeing their Auntie and really enjoyed the time with their grandparents.  On new years eve my parents stayed with the boys while My husband and I escaped for a rare night out!  We went for dessert and martinis at a local brewery and had a nice time chatting without kiddie distractions :)  We made it back to my parents' before midnight and settled in to play a HILARIOUS game of "Quelf" with them before toasting each other into the new year.   I have never laughed at a game so hard in my life...I was honestly in pain from laughing.

On new years day we headed further north to spend some time with my husband's parents at their annual new years day gathering.  There was an amazing spread of food to be sampled and a house full of friends and holiday cheer.  The kiddos were in 7th heaven playing with their daddy's old legos and watching a marathon of disney films.  It was a great way to start the new year!

The first weekend of January....we were out of town AGAIN!  This time staying with my parents once more as well celebrated my grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary!  They are such an amazing couple and have always been a touching example of the way devotion, tender love and a sense of humor can build an unshakable marriage. We have been so blessed to have them as role models in our lives.

While we were at the anniversary party, the Bugs had a chance to play a LOT with their second cousins. There was a great grassy area perfect for Star Wars reenactments and a big friendly, gentle horse on the other side of the fence who was eager to be pet and have carrots fed to him.

This week has been relatively calm considering the past couple of months, but we have still been running pretty solid.  Baby-Bug had his two-year check up, we have had a couple of fun play dates and my womens' bible study group has started back up after their holiday break.  Oh - and did I mention I am planning the second family fun night at Big-Bug's school? :)  Yeah...that one is a real energy drainer for sure! The event itself is going to be held next Friday night and I have three local science clubs and a local astronomy club coming to set up experiments for the students to watch and the astronomers are setting up telescopes and facilitating star gazing in the school field.  It's going to be amazingly fun for the kids, but boy am I exhausted!

There is only one more fun night on the school calendar this year and I am planning a family read-in in the gym.  Everyone will bring their own blankets/pillows/sleeping bags/bean bags/etc and all I will need to coordinate and supply will be cocoa and coffee and books to read :)  *whew*

So much fun and so little time!!