clementine cake – a must try!

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Last week, hubby and I made Clementine Cake for the first time.  It came on my radar after we watched the movie “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” a few months back.  I looked up recipes – there’s not a lot of variation out there.  Hubby is the hands-down baker of this clan, so I always recruit him to help with baked goods.

Here’s how we did it!

I chose to use a combination of Nigella Lawson’s version and a version I found in my Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottozenghi.  The main differences are that Nigella’s version is flourless which, with the amount of ground almonds it requires, gives it a texture that might catch some people off guard.  The Jerusalem cookbook’s version does include flour, but the flavor of the clementines mostly comes from the zest in the batter and the syrup that is poured over the top of it in the end.  I much prefer Nigella’s technique of cooking down several whole clementines in boiling water and using all of that to flavor the cake.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.


You start out by bringing 4-5 clementines (1 lb) up to a boil and then simmer for 2 (yes, two) hours.  I kept the lid on and kept my eye on the water level, adding more as needed.  There should be enough for them to float around in.


After they’ve cooled down, cut them in half and take out all of the seeds and throw them in a blender.


Blend them up good until it’s a smooth puree.  I love this color!  Between you and me, I’m loving all of the colors in this entire post!  Makes me want to go out shopping for clementine-colored everything.


Now it’s time to put together all of the other ingredients, which are not all pictured here because I thought it would clutter up the picture…and I don’t like clutter.

First, cream 3/4 c. butter with 1 1/4 c. superfine sugar.  Slowly add in 5 beaten eggs.

Then pour in the clementine puree and mix until they’re all combined.

Now for the dry ingredients.  (yes, I know, the sugar above is dry.  just follow along please)

Add 2.5 c. ground almond (I used almond meal from Trader Joes), 3/4 c. flour, and a pinch of salt.


Mix it all up then pour the batter into a well greased and parchment paper-lined springform pan.  We decided to lather it in butter and forego the parchment paper but it still required hubby prying the cake off of the bottom of the pan with a sharp knife.  Lesson learned?  Use the parchment paper!

Both recipes say to bake for 1 hour total, but the two we baked finished up quickly, in 40 minutes.  Make sure you check it at around 35 minutes – if it’s not done and the top is getting too brown, cover it up with foil.

After it has cooled down, you get to decide how you’d like to top it.  We did one where we dusted it with powdered sugar which was pretty…but hubby is a cake-must-have-frosting kind of person, so he whipped up a variation of Betty Crocker’s 7 Minute Frosting.  To that, he added the zest of 1 clementine and the juice of 1/2 of a clementine.

Then he took a few clementine segments and arranged them in a spiral in the center of the cake to pretty it up.

This is super yummy if you slice it, toast it, smother it in butter.  Or just eat it as a cake should be eaten.

So moist, and so good!

2014-10-19 October 2014 Clementine Cake 116


ellie m


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what’s for dinner?

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The other night, hubby asked what we were having for dinner.

His response when I showed him?

“That sounds like an NHL injury

Ha!  Get it?

Happy Friday people!

ellie m


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clementine cake – dessert’s ready!

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So pretty, so easy, and so good!

Will post step-by-step soon!

ellie m


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sunday dinner prep

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Getting some of the ingredients together to marinade the chicken for dinner tonight!



ellie m


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fall college tour. already?!

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<snif snif >

How did this happen?!

Okay, so it won’t be for another couple of years, but now that my precious miracle-baby boy turned-16 year old son is actually touring colleges, it suddenly seems real.

He’s with his school touring 6 colleges in Southern California this week.  I texted him and asked him if he wouldn’t mind taking a selfie or having someone take his picture at a college or two for me.  You know what I got as a response to that request?

< crickets chirping >

Yep.  Dead silence.

I was hoping to post those pictures here, but since it appears there’s a slim-to-zilch chance that that will happen, I found this image, which I think adequately describes a day in my near future:


ellie m


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you say ‘tomato’. sunday morning reads.

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2014-10-19 October 2014 Random 004

He’s obsessed with sports.  I’m obsessed with food.  Obviously.

ellie m


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graham’s temporary ‘quiet box’

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My co-worker (previously a middle school special needs teacher) gave me the idea of getting a refrigerator box (cut out one of the sides so it would be 3 sides only) that Graham might be able to be taught to retreat to before he ‘goes over the edge’.

Haven’t found one yet, but he did enjoy settling into this smaller box as soon as he spotted it sitting outside yesterday.  Lots of smiles, squeals, and laughter :)

It reminds me of little children who like the box better than what came in the box — you all know what I mean.

First, he had to make it comfy with his pillow and blanket…


…too much excitement!  How about a nap in it instead?

ellie m


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“by your side”

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We saw Tenth Avenue North in concert together in October, 2012.  I’ll skip through the up and down events leading up to that night, but I will say that it felt like a God-thing that we were there.  To this day, we think of it as a special night.

So when it came time to thinking about wedding songs – in particular, the song that I would walk down the aisle to – we thought we would select one of theirs.  We were very intentional about making decisions surrounding our wedding day based on what was meaningful to the two of us and thought about special things that only we shared together.  It had dawned on us one evening that using one of their songs would be perfect.  We had to find one with the right tempo and the right lyrics.  We both overwhelmingly agreed that it would be “By Your Side”.

The video I am sharing in this post is the same one we used on our wedding day.  I really wanted people to focus on the beautiful words of this song.  So the video played for them and the doors didn’t open for me to walk into the room until the second verse started.

I know that my God will always be by my side, and so will my best friend, who married me on that day.

Do you have a special story about the wedding song you picked?

“By Your Side” Tenth Avenue North (partial lyrics)

Why are you striving these days
Why are you trying to earn grace
Why are you crying
Let me lift up your face
Just don’t turn away

Why are you looking for love
Why are you still searching
As if I’m not enough
To where will you go child
Tell me where will you run
To where will you run

‘Cause I’ll be by your side wherever you fall
In the dead of night whenever you call
And please don’t fight these hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you

ellie m

waking up at dark-thirty is starting to show

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I get to work early each morning.

Each day at work, a soldier greets me at the gate to check my badge.  Once I’m allowed to drive on, I always feel like I’ve just entered Disneyland because it’s a different world inside – everyone is so nice to each other.

Last week, not once, not twice, but 3 (THREE) days in a row, the army man at the gate greeted me with the words “Are you awake yet ma’am??”.  I’m thinking, even if I looked that horrid, how can you tell?  The sun isn’t up yet – it’s still dark outside man!  So I blew it off, telling myself he just thinks that’s a fun thing to say to me in the morning.

BUT THEN…we were wrapping up a team meeting on Thursday when the facilitator looked at me and said in front of the group…”You’ve been quiet – you look tired – are you sleepy?”.

UGH.  I guess that confirmed it.

I WILL sleep properly this week so kids be warned – you’ll need to plan accordingly!

Happy Monday people!

ellie m


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our blended family wall gallery. at last!

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I’m one of those moms that takes hundreds – no, thousands – no, millions of pictures.  I see nothing wrong with photo documenting Every Single Moment possible.

So when I finally got tired of having an item called “wall photos” on my never ending to-do list, that meant that I had to sort through my hundreds – thousands – millions of pictures and pick only what could fit on this empty wall space:


In my mind, the wall seemed much larger than in reality.  I’d have to choose carefully.

So I procrastinated.  And procrastinated.  And procrastinated.  I DID NOT want to go through the painful process of deciding which ones would make the cut!  But last weekend, we were stuck in the house (no sitter for Graham) so hubby decided we would be ambitious and get some projects done.  The wall gallery project was mine.

I sifted through many photos and decided that I didn’t want posed shots.  I wanted fun, active ones.  After many hours and an Advil or 2 (or 3 or 4…) I picked out the lucky 22 and came up with sizes (all 5×7 or 8×10) and their placement.


I took a trip to a couple of frame shops to find basic frames that would be small enough to not take up too much space on the wall and came up with these (all layed out on the hallway floor – 3 are cropped off on the left):


Everything else was left up to my handy dandy hubby.  You see, that’s how we work.  I come up with the vision, he makes it all happen.  I won’t mention that he said that it was a geometric nightmare.  And I won’t mention how many times he re-primed and re-painted the wall before he got it to look like this!


I was a little worried that it might end up looking a little too cluttered, but I think it turned out just perfectly!  They are all exactly level (hubby has issues if things aren’t precise) – can you tell?  Now on to the rest of the walls of the house :)

ellie m


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when a special needs kid keeps pulling your hair out. literally.

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I like my hair.

I’d like to keep it.  (or at least most of it?)

I think that’s a reasonable thing for a girl to hope for.  (did I mention I’m the only girl that lives here?)

Over the summer, I have experimented A LOT with how to deal with Graham’s aggressive behavior and he has made tremendous progress with self-control and quick recovery time!  Yay!  I will expand on that in a different post, so stay tuned.

Graham’s go-to response if he’s even the slightest bit unhappy is to grab/pull/kick/throw.  Think of him as a 3 year old non-verbal child who is in a 200 pound football-esq adult man’s body who walks as slow as a snail with Frankenstein movements.   It finally dawned on me why episodes with me (and his female aides at school) are more difficult to get out of and many times require the help of someone else.

It’s the hair!

Guys can get away much easier because he’s mostly pulling on their shirt.  Not so easy to get distance from him when his little fingers have a tight grip on a girl’s hair.  And once you do break away from him, you start to find clumps of hair that are no longer attached to your head, like this:


The solution?

Personal protective equipment.  Head protection gear.  Safety helmet.  In other words…



Hubby had this sick look on his face as we shopped at a sporting goods store to find me the perfect save-my-hair-hat.  I looked at him and said with a smirk “this is how much I love you”.

My lovely co-worker, Anna, and I were brainstorming one day about possible protective wear.  We came up with a bicycle hat.  However, hubby decided that the holes in that hat would give Graham places for his fingers to hold on to.  I then pictured a smooth baseball hat to cover my hair with some sort of chin strap that could hold tight long enough for me to get distance and that could break free easily so I can avoid choking.

[excuse me while I take a moment to take in the fact that I just wrote that last sentence]

We found this:


Relax.  It’s just a prototype.  I’m not sure what it’s real purpose is, but this had a baseball hat top with cloth coming down on both sides that attach under your chin with velcro.

I introduced this to Graham as a hat that would help him not to pull my hair.  To help him ‘control his temper’ (a phrase we have been using with him this summer).  This odd looking hat has seen action once so far and it was successful!  We were sitting at the dinner table and I could tell he was on edge.  So I put it on and when he tried to grab my hair, he couldn’t and he didn’t bother to try a second time.  So we’ll continue to use this for now.

That is, until I can talk Scott into buying me one of these ADORABLE equestrian hats:


C’mon, you gotta give me some kudos for creativity?


ellie m


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is this your weekend?

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| Friday Funny |


Especially for my blended family readers – can you relate?!

Have a great weekend everyone!

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fun family devotion time

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{ Wednesday devotion }

We do devotions with the boys after dinner.

When you think about it, it’s really an ideal time to do it because they’re fed, somewhat docile, already engaged in ‘conversation’ (my oldest one grunts and my youngest ends each sentence with a reference to one of the dogs or cat.  He’s on the autistic spectrum, remember?) AND  they’re already sitting at the table.

After we wrapped up the last devo set, we were thinking about what we would do next.  Hubby came up with a great idea in that he would tie it with whatever memory verse the boys were working on at school.  In addition to that, I’ve been so addicted to these 2-4 minute video journals by Mike Donehey of Tenth Avenue North that I thought we could throw these in from time to time.

This one might be the first one we’ll use.  I think the boys will appreciate the fun humor in it.

It’s a GREAT illustration on forgiveness.  “God is not an Elephant”


Love to hear your ideas for family devotions!



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fall is here!

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I missed it by a day.  But I’ll say it anyway because it’s worth shouting about.

Fall is here!  FALL IS HERE!


For me, it’s all about:

– the colors.  oh, the colors.
– cool, brisk air
– fallen leaves that crunch when you step on them
– a cozy fire (hubby makes the prettiest fires!)
– hot chocolate
– goodies baking in the oven (again, hubby’s doing)
– twinkle lights all around the house and backyard (backyard part still on hubby’s to-do list)

I’m not one of those wives who gives her hubby an endless amount of things to do.  Or to fix.  Or to think about and be in complete agreement with me.  Really.  I’m not. Wait.  Where was I?

– last, but not least, family meals together.


What are the things you look forward to this Autumn season?




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a perfect sunday

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Sundays are usually super busy and hectic — church, track meet, Costco shopping, Safeway shopping, laundry, organizing lunches for the week.  You have those days too, right?

Today was different though.

I wake up every weekday at 4:45am — well, the alarm goes off at 4:45am as I hit snooze for a million gazillion times before actually getting out of bed…that’s just how I function — and do my thing until I’m ready to collapse at the end of the day.  So when Sundays come along, especially lately, it’s been harder for me to want to get up, get dressed, and commute to church.  So hubby agreed to start going to church on Saturday nights.  I just LONG for days where I don’t have back to back commitments.

Today was that day.

I woke up to a cozy, slightly foggy morning that reminded me that the Fall season (my favorite) is just around the corner.  The house and laundry were already in tip-top shape so we could ease into the morning.  I was looking forward to meeting Ana, a friend of mine, who was my partner-in-crime when our boys were younger.  It seemed like we did everything on weekends together (we were both single moms at the time).  We all went to church together, movies, grocery shopping, Target shopping, restaurants — you get the idea.  Great times, I miss those days a lot.

Life for both of us has changed and we hadn’t seen each other for a while so I was eager to catch up with her.  We met at the church I send the boys to for Sunday lessons and she and I chatted in the cafe.  When the boys were done, we went to lunch, parted ways, then Alex and I went to the market together to do the shopping for the week.


Came home, relaxed with hubby, and now we’re just sitting on the couch watching a movie together.  (He’s also giving me an awesome foot rub right now!)  It’s so gray and cozy outside, I’m tempted to ask him to build a fire :)  Dinner will be easy, I’ve got a spiral ham waiting to be thrown into the oven and hubby and I will do the sides together.

This, my friends, is a perfect Sunday.

ellie m


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