Donut Picnic

Almost exactly two years ago Caden and I started a tradition of going on donut picnics. It was something both cheap and special that we could do together on a morning with nothing else going on. That first year we went fairly often and then kind of forgot about it. Today I decided that we really needed a pick-me-up (it’s been a rough few weeks) and it was time to start the tradition up again.

In celebration of another day of fantastic spring weather we decided it was worth going to Beaver Dam’s Swan City Park – the biggest and best park in the area. Shepard definitely enjoyed his first donut picnic where he could actually participate in the eating!

It was great doing something a little more special to make Caden happy. We’ve been clashing a lot lately and really needed a morning away from our regular routines.

Somebody was definitely enjoying his donut!

It was pretty cold on the picnic, but we decided to walk over to the playground for awhile. We were all excited to see that the ducks are already in the pond! Next time we’ll definitely remember to bring bread to feed them.

This was Shepard’s first time walking around an outdoor playground on his own and let me tell you, he was loving it! It was amazing what a different approach he had than Caden at that age. Whereas Caden was terrified of even a speck of sand on him until this past fall, Shepard very happily (and literally) dived right in.

The entire time we were there Shepard was running full speed and laughing in excitement. It was adorable to watch. 🙂

Trying out the baby swings. He still insists that I only push him “little bit.”

Shepard was pretty fascinated with watching the ground underneath him.

Driving the fire engine. As a child I remember thinking this was one of the coolest playground toys ever. Can’t believe it’s still around!

After about an hour of playing (and much protest from Shepard), we walked across the park to the bigger kid playground.

Last summer when we came to this playground Caden would only go down these slides if someone went down next to him and/or caught him at the bottom. Today he ran right up and straight to the tallest slide!

Shepard, who apparently has no fear, also wanted to go down the slides. I couldn’t figure out how to stop him from going up the steps without just holding him the whole time, so I figured why not? It was a little more challenging since my only option for catching him was to stick Caden at the bottom. But it worked out pretty well. He only fell on his head once and after two seconds of crying jumped up and ran right back to do it again.

It was a great first donut picnic of the year! I’m looking forward to many more this spring and summer. Though I think I’m definitely going to have my work cut out for me at the playgrounds. There’s going to be no sitting around and relaxing on the bench for me this year!


Today I was thrilled to wake up to the sound of birds chirping and warm sunlight streaming through the window. It’s probably a farce, but it felt like spring is finally here! I know we’ve had a pretty mild winter, but I’m still thrilled that the days of playing outside are finally upon us!

We were able to go out earlier this week and Caden spent the majority of the time jumping in the flooded ditch. He seemed to have a lot of fun so I thought we’d try it again today, though with a little more foresight I had him wear snow pants, hoping to keep most of the water out. Last time Shepard was stuck in the stroller, so he was really thrilled to be able to walk through the grass on his own today. Caden was being his usual over protective self, though, and trying to block Shepard from the water and screaming “STOP” at the top of his lungs.

It didn’t work. Shepard walked straight in anyway. It didn’t even faze him.

The best part of playing in our “yard” is taking out all the gas pipeline flags. I tried my hardest to get them to leave the flags in the ground, but as usual they are oblivious to my voice.

We went out again later in the day too. We had to soak up as much of the warm weather as we could before it disappears again!

These photos make me laugh because they’re such an honest picture of what our lives look like around here. Everywhere Greg goes the boys are sure to follow! Usually as fast as their little legs can go.

One final picture. Another expression I see on Shepard’s face all day long. The joy of throwing a ball! It was a pretty great day. I love spring!

Petal Pull Aparts

Every Saturday I try to make a breakfast that’s a little more special than our usual frozen waffles or pieces of toast. The problem I’ve found, though, is that most recipes require a lot of work or time to rise and nobody is patient enough to wait that long. It finally occurred to me that I could make most things on Friday nights and bake them in the morning. This recipe for Petal Pull Aparts caught my eye earlier this week and I really wanted to try it out.

The original recipe calls for one bag of Rhodes frozen dinner rolls. When I went to the grocery store to grab some I noticed that a bag of rolls cost $5 where a bag of three loaves of Rhodes sweet dough cost only $2.40. Since sweet dough seemed like a better option for a breakfast item anyway, I went with that.

I forgot to take some pictures, but the first step was thawing two loaves of the dough, which took a couple of hours. Then I used a scissors to slice each loaf into approximately one inch slices. I combined three of those slices to make the middle of the flower. I arranged the rest of the slices around the center to make the petals. Then I sprinkled turbino sugar on the entire thing to give the dough a little extra sweetness. I covered it with plastic wrap and let it rise on the counter until it doubled in size. Then I put it in the fridge overnight.

I’m pretty sure the dough at least tripled, but it still turned out fine. This is what it looked like when it came out of the fridge this morning.

Next, I used the handle of a knife to press down the center of each petal, getting them ready to fill with jam.

The next step in the original recipe was to combine 1/3 cup of sugar with the zest of one lemon and sprinkle on the flower. I didn’t have a lemon, nor do I like any type of lemon flavor, so I decided to stick with plain sugar. 1/3 of a cup seemed like WAY too much, though. I probably used less than half of that and it still seemed like overkill on sweet dough that was already sprinkled with turbino sugar.

Next, I filled the petal holes with jam. I used raspberry, though you can use any flavor you like. If I make this again I would probably use a little less filling. I’m not a huge jam/jelly person and ended up dumping most of it out before I ate it. A little flavor is good enough for me.

The final preparation for the petal pull aparts only took a few minutes and then I was ready to pop them in the oven. I baked it at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes. I wanted to make sure the dough was really cooked all the way through since the middle portion was so huge.

Meanwhile, I made the glaze. I used approximately 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla, and 2-3 teaspoons of milk. Glazes always seem pretty tricky to me so I kept adding spoonfuls of powdered sugar until it reached the consistency I was looking for.

Here is what it looked like straight out of the oven. Golden brown, sugary, and delicious!

The final product after a light glazing. Yum!

It doesn’t look much like a flower petal anymore, but still tasty. It wasn’t one of my favorite breakfasts in the world, but I’ll still make it again at some point.

Shepard liked it. But he likes just about everything I put in front of him he’s so hungry all the time!

Caden took about two bites until he was “full.” He was upset that his piece didn’t have enough sugar on it.

Petal Pull Aparts:

2 loaves of Rhodes sweet dough
turbino sugar (optional)
1/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2-3 tsp milk

Shape dough into a flower with center and petals. Sprinkle with turbino sugar. Let rise. Press in middles of petals and sprinkle entire thing with regular sugar. Fill holes with jam. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and dough looks fully cooked. Make glaze with powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk. Drizzle over flower and eat. Enjoy!

Back to Blogging

I’ve recently been feeling that nudge to start writing again. I always think that I want to keep up a blog and then I start stressing about details and never actually get around to writing. My biggest issue is topic control. I started this particular blog thinking I would only write about my adventures in food. The problem with that, however, is that every time I’m in the kitchen it’s hard enough keeping my sanity between Shepard crying and pulling on my legs while Caden is grabbing measuring spoons and ingredients left and right dumping things all over the counter in his excitement. It’s nearly impossible to take photos of my step by step projects, let alone have fun and write about it.

At any rate, I still want to write. When I have the time I’d love to write about my kitchen adventures. But I’d also like to write about my children, my dreams, my recent obsessions, and life in general. I hope that with this fresh start I’ll find a renewal of ambition and energy to spend more time on this blog for the pure enjoyment of writing. I owe it to myself to finally stick with something that interests me and makes me happy. So here we go!

My Favorite BLT

I love bacon. Love it. I also love a deliciously complex and slightly spicy sandwich. Regular BLT’s are okay, but even a classic can always be bumped to incredible with a little imagination. My perfect bacon loaded sandwich includes a taste-bud kicking cheese and creamy avocado chunks.

The most important part of any bacon sandwich is perfectly cooked bacon. After a childhood of only knowing the taste of microwaved bacon I was amazed to see how much differently it tasted once I started making it on the stove. And more recently I’ve found the secret to making it mouth-wateringly perfection: the oven. Grab an old cookie sheet and toss on a sheet of aluminum foil for easy clean up. Heat your oven to 400 degrees and line up your bacon slices on the pan. And then bake for 14-20 minutes depending on the thickness of your bacon and how crisp you want it. It’s easy and you don’t have any bacon splatters to deal with. And the taste is beyond comparison to any other baking method. Trust me.

The next most obvious step to any good sandwich is picking out a good bread. The better the bread, the better the sandwich will taste! Tonight I decided to use a hearty loaf of ciabatta from the local grocery store. It was fresh and delicious.

Finally, assemble your sandwich with your choice ingredients. I used one of my favorites – habenero jack cheese. It’s delightfully spicy without burning your mouth off.

And of course, everything tasted better with avocado so liberally add some fresh green slices on top of your sandwich. This time around I also added lettuce and a very tiny amount of mayo. Normally I’d love this sandwich with homemade ranch dressing or a chipotle mayo.

And there you have my perfect BLT! Crunchy bread, fresh lettuce, crisp and flavorful bacon, spicy cheese, and smooth avocado. The best sandwich ever!