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Monday, March 25, 2019

Meringue Cookie Recipe, Using Meringue Powder

I ordered meringue powder a couple months ago for royal icing.  I've been searching for recipes that also call for it, and finally found one for meringue cookies.  I modified the recipe a bit, and here you go!

What you'll need:
- stand mixer
- whisk attachment
- parchment paper
- piping bag with a 1m tip


- 1/4 cup Meringue powder (I bought my Wilton one from Amazon.)
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 1 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 tsp extract flavoring (we chose strawberry first, and lemon the second time - I think we preferred the lemon!)
- (optional) gel food coloring (I used Wilton red the first time- which of course turned pink, like I wanted :), and yellow the second time around.)


1. Preheat oven to 250 °F / 120 °C - don't use a convection setting.

2. In a stand mixer combine meringue powder and water until soft peaks form.  (Whip at high speed for about 5 minutes.)  Gradually add in sugar.  Whip until stiff peaks form.

3. Scrape down side of bowl.  Add extract and coloring.

4. Gradually turn mixer back on to high speed, until color is fully dispensed.  (Be careful not to over-beat, though.)

5. Spoon into piping bag with the tip you want. (Or, into a zip-top bag, with the tip cut off. That's what I did the second time.)

6. Pipe onto parchment paper lined baking tray, about the size of a mandarin orange.

7. Bake for 45-60 minutes.  Check on them at 45, and if they are not quite done, keep going for 5 minute increments.  It's okay if they're a little gooey on the inside, but the outside should be hard.  As they cool, they'll crunch up a little more.

8. In an airtight container they should keep for about 3 days. :)

And here are the yellow ones we made a few days later. 

These cookies are crisp and light - perfect for Spring! They're also easy to make with kids, and the added bonus is that you're not using fresh egg whites - therefore, if they lick their fingers (like mine did), you don't have to worry about salmonella! Score!

Happy baking!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Pavlova Recipe - First Attempt

There was a woman at our college who made Pavlova for her birthday one year, invited us all over, and I've been craving one ever since.  That was 10 years ago.  Pavlova is an Australian dessert named after a ballerina - so of course it's lighter than air.  Pavlova have scared me, and I really can't explain why.  The egg whites?  The possibility of it falling?  I don't know.  But, spring is FINALLY here, and I finally tried it today.  It was not perfect, but I think I know what I messed up, and overall it wasn't a bad first try!
So, here it goes!

You'll need:
- stand mixer
- whisk attachment
- baking sheet
- baking paper
- something that is a 9 inch round
- pencil


- 4 egg whites (separated chilled, but brought to room temp.)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. corn starch
- 1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Lemon whipped cream:
- 2 cups (500 ml) heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- zest from 2 lemons (save some of this for garnish)

Strawberries (or any other yummy fruit to top with)


1. Preheat oven to 300 F/150 C.  If you have a convection oven, make sure you have it set to regular oven - I made that mistake, and after 10 minutes of it being on the convection setting, and it already started to brown - aaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!  SO, mine got more "toasted" than I would've liked, but oh well.  It still tasted really good!

2. In the bowl of your mixer (fitted with the whisk attachment), beat your egg whites on a medium high speed for 5 minutes, until soft peaks form.

3. Add half the sugar, and beat for another 30 seconds.  Add remaining sugar and beat on high speed until glossy stiff peaks form (about another 2 minutes).  Add vanilla extract, and beat for another 1 minute.  Using a rubber spatula, fold in corn starch and cream of tartar.

4. Trace around your 9 inch pan (or whatever) on a sheet of baking paper, and flip it over.  Place it on the baking sheet.

5. Pour the Pavlova mixture onto the baking sheet.  Use a spatula to spread the mixture out to the edges - where the pencil mark is.

6.  Place Pavlova in the oven, and turn temperature down to 200 F/ 90 C.  Bake for 60-90 minutes, until Pavlova is firm and dry. (You can put your hand in real quick to touch it really quickly.)

7. Turn off the oven, and allow the Pavlova to cool for at least 1-2 hours, but overnight is okay, too.  I waited for 4 hours.

8. Right before serving the Pavlova, make the whipped cream.  Start by whipping together the cream, sugar and vanilla extract until soft peaks start to form.  Next, pour in lemon juice and most of the zest.  Whisk until just combined.

9.  Top the Pavlova with the whipped cream and strawberries, adding a little more garnish to the top.  

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Letter Board Chore Chart For 5-Year-Old

I did it!! You probably thought that hipsters had exhausted all the ways you can use letter boards - but no! I found a new use for them! You're welcome!

We've been reaching some new "big kid" milestones with our oldest.  I feel like it can be easy to forget how much he's capable of with a new baby around, but he really is ready and able to do so much!  There are many studies that show that kids who grow up doing chores end up being more successful and responsible.

We've always had him do things around the house, so this isn't a brand new concept.  However, I realized recently that he might enjoy earning some money, and that of course there were many chores that he could do!

You can search "chores by age", and find lots of great ideas for what kinds of jobs kids can do at certain stages.  Aidan already does a lot of them just out of habit, but I wanted to make some chores more consistent.  Also, we have a unique situation, where Aidan "works" all day at school - he is busy learning a new language.  When he comes home, he's usually exhausted.  So, I didn't want it to be way too much.  Anyway, here's what you'll need:

12x16 inch letter board, like this one
Exacto knife
Piggy bank (we went with a 12x12 shadow box one, similar to this.  I like it, because you can see the money accumulating!)

Desired skills:
- fostering good work ethic
- learning to tithe
- valuing money
- learning to save

1. Use the exacto knife to get a clean cut when you're cutting out the enclosed letters.

2. Title your board if you like (kids love seeing their names).

3. Write out the (abbreviated version of the) days of the week on the left, leaving two lines between each word.

4. At the top, list the chores.

5. I added the chores that are only weekly at the bottom.

Another layout option for more chores would be to have just the first letter of each day at the top, and then the chores down the side.  Your choice! :)

We're using all the little symbols that came in the pack to "check" off the days.

And there you go!

What we've achieved so far:
- all week, Aidan has come out of his room with his bed made! Now, I'm not delusional, I know the excitement of it will wear off, but for now I'm loving it!
- he loves "checking things off" his list, and is enjoying the sense of responsibility. Yay!

Hooray for big kids, and new milestones!

Saturday, March 9, 2019

6 Children's Books To Read For Women's Day

I'm a day late with this, but I'm choosing to extend myself some grace because, you know.  Teething baby.  Also, we've decided to make it a Women's Weekend, so there! :)

Here are my top 6 books to read to your kiddos this weekend (and anytime) that feature strong women!

This is a great book that highlights some of the women in US history who left their mark - from Ruby Bridges to Virginia Apgar, Maria Tallchief to Helen Keller and many more, it's a great way to introduce your child to women who wouldn't take no for an answer.  There's an "Around The World" version I'd love to own, too!

This is a great book that teaches kids (especially young girls of color) about healthy body positivity.  It's an important message about natural beauty and strength, and speaking about yourself in a positive way.  I used this in my classroom a lot as a kindergarten teacher.  It's important to read books like this to caucasian kids too, so that they too recognize the beauty and individuality in their peers who may not look like them.

I recently bought this book for Jocelyn.  The illustrations are scrumptious! It's the story of a young woman whose grandfather encourages her to see the world, live by the ocean, and make the world a more beautiful place.  I especially like this one, because she remains single, but it's a a total non-issue, it isn't even mentioned.

This thoughtful and beautiful book is the story of Jessie, a 13-year-old young girl from Eastern-Europe.  Her rabbi gives her a ticket to sail to the new world, America.  My favorite part, is that she saves up enough money to send for her grandmother (who raised her) to join her.  Talk about powerful!  She becomes a seamstress specializing in bridal gowns - eventually making her own, as well.

This one is a little more lighthearted, because often kids remember things better when it's wrapped in something that already interests them.  Aidan is crazy about superheroes, so I loved getting him this one that featured a strong girl.  My favorite part of this book, is that being kind, helping your friends and asking for help when you need it are all shown as strengths.

Someday maybe I'll write a whole post about how amazing the original Historical American Girl books are.  If you're interested in these, you can find them in 6 book box sets, each set featuring one girl, in a specific era.  They are great representatives of the times, and teach kids about history, bravery and strength of character.  I had at least 8 sets of these growing up, and they heavily influenced me!  Names (girls) to search for: Molly (World War II era girl), Kit (Depression era girl), Kirsten (pioneer era girl), Kaya (Native American girl from the 1760s), Josefina (Mexican American girl from the 1820s), Samantha (Victorian era girl), Addy (African American girl, whose family escapes slavery), and Felicity (Revolutionary War era girl).

There are many-many more, but these are my top picks for this year. What is your favorite children's book about a strong girl?

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

DIY LEGO Mini Figure Display

About a month ago, my husband made our son the coolest LEGO table for his birthday.  We completed the look with a LEGO mini figure display.  Today, I have the instructions for you!

What you'll need:
- mini figures (at least 12)
- hot glue gun and sticks
- ruler (with centimeters)
9x9 RIBBA frame (one for every 12 figures you want to display)
- spray paint (we used black)
- 12 2x4 LEGO piece in color of your choice (you can buy loose bricks at your local LEGO store, or online - where you can basically find every brick, ever. Yay!)


1. Take apart RIBBA frame, you can see all of the pieces.

2. Remove protective film on plastic insert.

3. Spray paint the pressed board piece on the side that does not have the hook for hanging.  Allow to fully dry.

4. Attach the mini figures you want to display to the 2x4 pieces.  Arrange them on the plastic insert at the intervals you would like. 

These are the measurements we chose (measuring INSIDE the frame):

- 1.5 centimeters from the edge
- 6.5 centimeters from the top of the frame to the bottom of the LEGO piece on the top row.
- 2 centimeters between each brick in a row (the bricks are 3 cm each, by the way)
- 6.8 centimeters between the bottom of one row to the bottom of the next
- 1.8 centimeters from the bottom of the last row of bricks to the edge of the frame.

5. Hot glue them in place.

6. Reassemble the frame, BUT put the spacer in first, then the plastic insert, then the backboard. (Essentially going from shadowbox to frame.)

7. Attach to wall, or set on shelf! Ta-da!!!

We really liked this, because it made it so that our son can take the mini figures off and play with them, but also have all of the ones that he's worked hard to collect out, so he can show them off!

And there you have it!  Your very own LEGO mini figure display instructions! :) Play on!