Thursday, December 1, 2016

Cecelia's Baptism

Since my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew were in town over Thanksgiving, Sunday was the perfect opportunity to have Cece's baptism.  Todd's immediate family as well as some cousins came into town for the celebration so we all went to 12:30 PM mass and the baptism was directly after mass.  We had asked our sister-in-law (my brother's wife), Meghan, as well as our brother-in-law (Todd's sister's husband), Brian, to be her Godparents and they both gladly accepted the honor.  Cece did really well during the baptism too.  She slept for most of the mass and only fussed for a few minutes during the baptism.  Afterwards, everyone came back to our house for a reception/party and we enjoyed spending time with family especially since we hadn't seen Todd's family for Thanksgiving. 

Holding Cece after the priest blessed her

Getting baptized

Cece's wonderful godparents

Todd, Cece, and I with Meghan & Brian

With the priest

Grandparents & Cece

Our little family (Cece is wearing the same gown as Lucy which was also the same gown worn by my mom, her siblings, my brother, and me)

We had cheese & crackers, veggies & dip, fruit salad...

salad with feta, cranberries, and pecans, broccoli & grape pasta salad, caramel apple trifle...

and we ordered party trays of wraps and sandwiches from Giant Eagle

Todd's mom did another fabulous job on the cake

Lucy & her cousins eating with PaPa

More family eating in the dining room

And some more of the crew in the family room; I think we ended up having 21 people come

Opening presents

Lucy was very excited to help too!

Group shot of our family and Jeff's family

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Chocolate Pumpkin Layer Cake

A couple months back, my sister-in-law had texted me a recipe from the New York Times for a Chocolate Pumpkin Layer Cake thinking it would be good for Thanksgiving.  I had pinned it and was excited to try it out last week.  Overall, I thought the cake turned out pretty good but if I make it again, I would make a small adjustment.  The cake itself was really good; it was moist and had plenty of flavor but I wasn't a fan of the frosting.  From the picture in the recipe, the frosting is dark so I thought it would be like a chocolate ganache; however, after reading the recipe and making it, it's really a buttercream frosting which I'm not a huge fan of.  I think next time I would try to make more of a chocolate ganache and skip the buttercream frosting.  

My inspiration

The ingredients

Lucy helping me with the cake batter; she's very good at dumping in chocolate chips

The batter all mixed up and ready to be poured into pans

Since it was a layer cake, it called to make 2 round cakes; our house smelled so good when these were baking

Chocolate frosting 

I called in the reinforcements to help with icing the outside of the cake

Finished product

A peek inside

It was perfect with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side

Chocolate Pumpkin Layer Cake


2 1/2 sticks of butter, unsalted & softened
2 cups flour, more for dusting
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
10 oz. semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Use a little butter to grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper. Butter and flour the paper. In a large bowl, whisk flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, baking soda, baking powder and salt together.
2. Using an electric mixer, cream 8 tablespoons butter and the granulated sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in pumpkin purée. Mixture may look slightly curdled. Stir in flour mixture about half a cup at a time until smooth. Fold in chocolate chips and pecans.
3. Divide batter into pans and bake in middle of oven until springy to the touch and a tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool cakes in pans for 10 minutes, run a knife around edges, invert onto racks and peel off paper. Let cakes cool completely.
4. In a large bowl, blend remaining 12 tablespoons butter and confectioners' sugar together. Blend in chocolate and vanilla extract and beat until smooth. If the frosting is too thick, add cream or milk by the tablespoon, blending well after each addition, until it reaches spreading consistency.
5. Place one cake layer, smooth side up, on a platter. Ice top. Place second layer, smooth side down, on top; ice top and sides of cake.

from New York Times

Monday, November 28, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

We've had such a busy holiday weekend that Thanksgiving already seems like weeks ago!  My brother, sister-in-law, and nephew were in town all last week from the San Francisco area so we spent quite a bit of time hanging out with them. Plus, we had Cece's baptism yesterday so we had a bunch of family in town for that too.  Thanksgiving was great this year though.  My parents hosted which was a bit of relief since we have an extra little one in our family this year (hard to believe we were just announcing to my parents last Thanksgiving that I was pregnant!) and my brother's family was here.  I was in charge of dessert (no surprise there) so I made a Chocolate Pumpkin Layer cake as well as a Caramel Apple cake.  We headed over to my parents' place around noon and spent the rest of the day/early evening over there until Lucy & Cece were hitting their cranky time and needed to get to bed.  It was a pretty low-key, relaxing holiday with lots of yummy food which is the perfect kind in my book.  I'm excited for Christmas to come but it always seems so much more stressful than Thanksgiving!

Lucy helping me make the pumpkin cake

Chocolate Pumpkin Layer Cake

Caramel Apple Cake (I had actually made this the night before...and I'm aware this picture doesn't show any of the actual cake but trust me, it was really tasty!)

Watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade

First thing we did at my parents' place was get a family picture 

Cousins (William turns 1 next week....and Cece is almost his size at 4 months old)

Cece was really cozy with Grandpa and fell asleep in his arms about 2 minutes later

Lucy & Uncle Jeff...her new best buddy

She just wanted to keep playing with him all day and weekend

Todd & Jeff with Cece & Lucy

Todd was so excited to try out his $60 bourbon beer he had saved for a special occasion

Jeff brought some of his home brew he had made last winter after William was born

Sitting down for dinner (William & Cece were both napping at the start of dinner)

William & Uncle Todd

Monday, November 21, 2016

Last Weekend Before the Holiday Craziness Begins

Another weekend with no real set plans which was nice since we're always extremely busy from Thanksgiving until New Year's with holiday parties (both with work and friends), doing all things Christmas related (breakfast with Santa, picking out our Christmas tree, decorating, making Christmas cookies, etc.), and with work.  This is my busy season at work (in fact, I was at work at 3:45 AM this morning) and Todd is going to Japan in a few weeks for business.  

When I was off work on Friday, we had amazing fall weather and hit a high of 75 degrees so we spent a lot of time outside that day.  Of course, it was 39 degrees and snowing on Saturday with is pretty much typical for Ohio weather.  We also had Cecelia's 4 month well visit on Friday and Lucy got a haircut (and her first manicure!) on Saturday.  We spent a lot of time running errands, starting to put together ideas for Christmas presents (I think we have 16 people to buy for), and staying cozy inside since it got so cold on Saturday & Sunday.

We're excited for Thanksgiving in a few days, spending time with my brother & his family who are coming into town, as well as celebrating Cece's baptism on Sunday.

Happy 4 months!

We walked to Murphy Park on Friday

In a daze and about to fall asleep

I was surprised there were only a few other kids playing there

Lucy made place cards for Thanksgiving

We tried out a new place for Lucy's haircut, Funky Scissors, and it was great--the haircut included a haircut (obviously), a manicure, balloon, sucker, and a ring

Lucy's first manicure...she picked pink polish with sparkles

Showing off her nails & ring

Todd & Cece hanging out during the haircut

Lunch at Chick-fil-a

Todd went to Daily Growler with a friend for a little bit to have some beers and of course, Cece decided to have a blowout about 10 min after he left so Lucy & I had to give her a bath

Still can't believe it was snowing on Saturday although I'm glad it didn't actually stick to the ground