Fancy Breakfast Friday: Chocolate Babka

We have a little saying in our house that goes like this: Whatever Jack wants, Jack gets. Jack wanted Chocolate Babka, so that’s what I made for FBF last week. The good news is that I used this recipe, from Smitten Kitchen, which was 1000 times easier than the one I used last time.  However, it was only 90% as good.  So now I am wondering if I should try to take the best parts from each and combine them.  Seems risky and complicated.

I shouldn’t even post that picture of the bread because it makes it look a little under done on the inside.  The judges on The British Baking Show (or whatever its called) would not fully approve.

I thought it was very good and very easy to make, and Jack felt like he didn’t get a fair amount of servings, so I will probably make it again soon.  I’m in the midst of a baking signup perfect storm where I had to make FBF this morning, followed by muffins for a bake sale tomorrow, and cookies for a mountain bike race on Sunday.  Hopefully I won’t burn out and going into another Fancy Breakfast Friday dry spell that’s just full of waffles.  Fall FBF is the best FBF.



Fancy Breakfast Friday: Granola Bars


I made granola bars again.  I’m not sure why I am so into granola bars, but I am.  I wish I could tell you how to make these, but they are 95% this recipe (but with peanut butter) and 5% this recipe (millet).  I served them with bacon and eggs and the boys seemed to love them.  I think I planned to take them camping, but I forgot to pack them (along with the butter, coffee and various snacks). They did come in handy as an afternoon snack mid-week when we were completely out of food.  In other news, there are 4 left and it’s been a week.  I can’t tell if this means they aren’t that great or, since I am storing them in the fridge, it’s an out of sight out of mind situation.   Luke seems to love them when they are offered. He doesn’t seek them out.

Granola bars aren’t super photogenic, and the lighting in my house is not ideal, especially after dinner on a Thursday night.  I decided to photograph them with a stack of books because it’s been a while since I did that and… I am about to reach an exciting book milestone.  The Boulder Library does an optional reading history which I LOVE. It’s a list of all the books I have checked out since October 1, 2005.  I looked at it this morning and I was at 988.  Then I checked out two more books and I am still at 988 so I am not 100% sure how it works, maybe there is some batch process that runs at night?  Regardless, I think something exciting should happen when I hit 1000.  Maybe I could plan an entire day of drinking coffee while lying in the couch, reading.  Or, I could read at a fancy coffee shop, or maybe even at a bar.  Obviously reading would have to be a part of it.  Maybe I’ll also pay off my fine.  I know, it sounds so exciting!!  The real question is – should I plan to check out a special book for my 1000th book? Or just let it be random? What book should I check out?  10 or 12 books to go, will I reach 1000 before the end of the year? That picture up there doesn’t even show all the books I have currently checked out, so I think I’ll make it.

Moto Z – Making the Switch from Iphone to Android


Disclaimer – I was given this phone.  All opinions are my own.

I was recently vacationing with a friend who works with Motorola and has a Moto Z phone. I mentioned that I would love to see if I could make the transition from iPhone to Android and then write about it, wink-wink, hint-hint.

At the time, my poor, deprived teen had an iPhone 5c.  It was fine.  He could make calls, check email, and update Instagram.  But with only 5G of storage, he couldn’t really take photos, or download any more fun apps.  He wanted to add Training Peaks and Strava for cycling, and I am sure he wanted to add some games too.  He didn’t need a new phone, but he wanted one.  So I suggested that my friend send me one of the new shatterproof Motorolas.  She didn’t have one lying around, so she sent me the Moto Z – The World’s Thinnest Premium Smartphone.  A very cool thing about the Moto Z phones are the mod’s that go with them, and she sent me the projector and the speakers.  That’s when I decided that I was the one getting the new phone, and my teenager could consider himself lucky to inherit my rose gold iPhone SE.


 I spent about a day doing setup, and a couple weeks getting used to how it worked.  Now that I have had the phone for a couple months I feel confident in talking about what I love, and what challenges I have faced and overcome, or learned to deal with.  I’ll walk you through the setup, and the iPhone to Android transition process.

The first thing I did was to set up my Moto Z while I was still using the IPhone, so I could see what I might have missed.  I installed Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TeamSnap, Strava, Netflix, my banking apps, my shopping apps, Pandora, Amazon Music and the app for my gym.  For all these apps, all I had to do was go to the Google Play Store, download the app and login with my username and password. Easy! The only challenge with this part of the transition is remembering passwords. I decided it was time to start using a password app and I picked LastPass. To login to Lastpass, I use my fingerprint, so I don’t have to remember a password.

Next, I added my work email, and this is where I met my first challenge.  My personal email (gmail) was added as part of the initial setup.  As I added my work email, I got an error that I would need to download a certificate.  That was not something I knew anything about, but I Googled how to do it, and it was easy.  I had to download an app from the Play Store and that created a certificate.  This was where I wondered if the average person on the street could overcome this problem.  (As I later learned, there is a desktop support person at my job who can help with this – the average person would probably know to ask their desktop support person for help.)

While I was installing all my apps, I was also getting used to using the phone, especially the camera.  My favorite thing about the phone is that a quick twist of the wrist opens the camera app.  Perfect for when you need to take a picture of the dog doing something silly *that instant* without having to unlock your phone and find the camera app.  I love this feature. The camera is great, the only thing I was going to say that I miss from the iPhone is the slo-mo video, but I just did some fact checking, and it does have slow motion! (My fact checking was to hand my phone to my 9 year old and ask him to figure it out, and he did.  I’m officially old.)

Once I had my work email and my fun apps installed, I was ready to make the switch.  I thought I could maybe switch the sim card out myself and did some reading about it, but in the end, the sim card in my old phone was not the same size.  I went to the AT&T store to make the switch and they did it for me in about 15 minutes.


 My biggest fears with moving to an Android was losing access to all my music and managing my podcasts. I was also worried that the phone might be too big. The Moto Z is a lot larger that the iPhone SE, but comparable to the iPhone 6.  I solved the size issue by adding a PopSocket to the case so that it was easier for me to hold it in my hand.  In a worst-case scenario, I figured going back to my old iPod nano could solve the music and podcast issue.  I just couldn’t see using this big phone at the gym.  But I decided to try to figure it out anyway, because, let’s face it; this is the main stumbling block in switching from iPhone to Android.  How could I possibly ever make the switch when all my music is in iTunes?  And I am not just talking about all the digital music I bought in the last 20 years, I mean the CDs I imported and then lost, or gave away.  Everything!  As much as I frequently use Pandora, or Amazon Music, I still want to make playlists out of my own music library.

I was a little worried and overwhelmed about how to do it. I’ll spare you the long story about the Googling, reading, and research I did and let you know that it’s actually really easy.  The method I chose was to transfer my music to Google Music.  You can upload up to 50,000 songs for free, and since I didn’t know how many songs we have, and I didn’t know if I wanted access to them all… I just made 10 Google music playlists out of my favorite albums and iTunes playlists and transferred those.  Done.  It took about 15 minutes. It was so easy, it was kind of a letdown.  I thought I would have to become a hacker, or learn how to use the SSD card on my Moto Z.  Since the initial upload, I realized I only have about 3,000 songs, so I went ahead and uploaded the whole library.

The last thing I did was to buy an app to manage my podcasts.  I wanted to try to use Google Play, which is free, for a while and it worked to play podcasts, but it didn’t seem to have everything I wanted in a podcast app.  Before I discovered podcasts, I did chores somewhat bitterly in order to not live in a hellhole. Now my chores are an interesting way to stay busy while I listen to podcasts, so I clearly needed a great way to manage my podcasts.  I went with Pocket Cast and it’s great.

I found I can still mostly fit the Moto Z in my pocket, so I never had to go back to the Nano.

Moto Mods

 Now – what about the Moto Mods?  The Moto mods are the best thing ever.  We played Alice Cooper’s “Schools Out” through the Moto Z speaker, on the bike ride on the last day of school (much to the chagrin of my 9 year old) and it was glorious.  I use it when I am listening to a podcast while cooking or cleaning.  It sounds great; it’s easy to use.  I love it.  But the projector is really the best.  I have always wanted a projector and I remember occasionally checking eBay for used projectors after the dot com bust when business was bad and people were liquidating their assets.  But whenever I looked, projectors were always over $1000 and it just didn’t seem practical.  Especially because what I really wanted to do was hang a sheet in the yard and watch a movie outside on a summer night.  We haven’t done that yet, because our yard has been…. weedy this year, but we have done something better.  We took a white sheet on a camping trip and projected Guardians of the Galaxy onto the sheet inside our Eurovan.  And yes, theoretically I am opposed to “watching movies” when we should be “enjoying nature” but we enjoyed nature all day, and relaxed with a movie at bedtime and it was awesome.  It’s a fun summer memory!  Since the phone has 64G of space, I downloaded the one digital movie we own, and I can also download Netflix movies and shows when we won’t have wifi available.  At home we have one TV and it’s hard to find a movie that a 14 year old and a 9 year old can agree on. Now the 9 year old and I can lie in bed and project a Netflix show onto the ceiling while everyone else watches a movie on the TV.  It’s win-win!  I LOVE the projector. It’s so fun. Speaking of camping, another cool Moto Z feature is that with a quick wrist movement, you can turn on the phone’s flashlight.  This comes in really handy for me, because although we camped at least 15 times this year, we don’t seem to own any flashlights.


Now for the downsides:  I’m not getting some texts.  This happens when someone replies to a group text that initially had me in there as an iMessage.  I have a few friends who make sure I am in the loop on group txts and eventually those old group txts will die out. I hope.  I just need to delete the group text off everyone’s phone next time we get together. Assuming I get the text about the get together. This is more the fault of Apple than Android, but there isn’t much I can do besides telling people to make sure I’m “green” when they txt me.

Spying on my teen is a little more complicated now because I don’t have “Find My iPhone” anymore.  Well, I don’t have it on my phone but I do have it on my computer.  And my husband has it on his phone.  And I could add an app that allows me to track my teen’s phone, but I haven’t had to do that yet.


Aside from missing a few group txts and not being able to easily spy on my teen, my Android phone has everything I want and more.  The transition was easy, and I love the mods that come with the Moto Z. I feel free to choose the best phone going forward instead of being married to Apple out of convenience and fear of change.

Exciting News!  As I was procrastinating this post, I received the moto gamepad console mod.  Initial reports from my main 9 year old tester is that it is awesome! I plan to follow up in a couple weeks with more market research from the teen, mom, and dad market sectors.

Fancy Breakfast Friday: Scones

These scones were very buttery.  Other than that, nothing to get excited about.  They are called Honey Nut Scones, but I left the nuts out.  They were fine.  I had to put them on two layers of china to make them look pretty.  Today when I was trying to remember what I made last week it was a struggle*. Instead of talking about boring scones, I’ll share the crazy BEAR story from this week!

I volunteered to hike with the 4th graders on Wednesday. It was a gorgeous day, fortunately, because we left at 9:00 am and got back at 1:30.  On the hike up the hill towards the trail we were walking through a neighborhood instead of on a trail and I said, “You know… there is a trail we could be on.”  One of the teachers said, “The thing about the trail, is that it’s wide open and they can see how far we have walked and how far we have to walk, and they freak out.  If we walk through the neighborhood, they are distracted and they complain less.”  I should never second guess a teacher, they really know what they are doing.

On the way back we paused, and the teachers and the other mom and I had to huddle to hear this news: The school was on lockdown because there was a bear in the neighborhood.  There was a bear between us and the school.  We looked on my phone at a map of where the bear had been spotted and planned a route that went around it.  We asked the school to call us with any updates and we started walking again, this time trying to stay closer together instead of spread out across a 4 block area.  Soon we heard the bear was on the move, but we didn’t know where he was going.  When we crossed Broadway, we saw an animal control officer so I ran after him while the teachers got the kids in as small a group as possible.

The animal control officer was speaking Spanish to some construction workers and I assume he was talking about the bear (or oso) so I waited my turn to talk.

Animal Control Officer:  blah blah blah OSO blah bla?
Construction workers: No we haven’t seen a bear. (Turns out they spoke English. I am going to assume the animal control officer thought they didn’t understand him in English, when really they just couldn’t hear him over the jack hammer.)
Me: Hi! We are trying to get back to school, can you tell us the safest way to get there?
Animal Control Officer: No. I’m not gonna tell you that. Just make sure to make a lot of noise.
Me: (Shocked! I got the impression he didn’t want us to sue him if we got mauled by a bear, but seriously dude, we need to get 50 nine year olds to a school 3 blocks from here, help us out!)  Okaaaaaay.  What I am saying is, we want to avoid the bear. Can you tell me where the bear is, and we can not go that way?
Animal Control Officer: I don’t know where the bear is.
Me: Ok thanks.

Then I ran back to the group. Former Elementary School Mom and Local Hero, Camille, was telling the teachers where the bear had been and where it was going.  It appeared to be going from the school to the mountains while we were coming from the mountains to the school.  The bear was just a block or two North of us.  Fortunately! So we continued to the school, taking the shortest path across the park, just in case.

About 10 yards later someone spotted a praying mantis in a parking lot and tried to pick it up.  A heroic 4th grade teacher dove in front to spare the insect and said, “Let’s help it get back to the bushes over here.” It crawled onto her shoe and then her leg and she inched over to a bush to shoo it off while 4th graders screamed in shock and fear and delight.  I wasn’t too worried about sneaking up on a bear after that because of their nose level. Although if they were screaming about a praying mantis, I can only imagine what it would have been like if we had encountered a bear. Soon after that we were back at school and a very exciting field trip was over.

One note about the field trip – Jack let a friend wear his new fancy sunglasses and baseball hat and she looked adorable, or as Jack said, “She looks even cooler than I do when I wear those.”  I felt like I could see him age ten years while he was talking and it was bittersweet.  It reminded me of being in college and sitting around a table in the cafeteria watching super-hot Eric walk in with a girl who was wearing his baseball cap. We were all silently observing until Brian Burger said, “Ah the baseball cap. The lavaliere of the GDI.”

I was enjoying this memory so much that I didn’t even give my normal lecture about hat sharing and lice.  I am sure I will come to regret that when I am shaving Jack’s head later this year, and telling Dave he can go ahead and buy another bike if he agrees to spend two weeks combing my hair for nits every night for half an hour.  But Jack and his friend were so cute, and I didn’t want to break the spell.

*Wordpress wanted to autocorrect struggle to strugggle. Isn’t that odd?

Fancy Breakfast Friday: High Protein Waffles


Two weeks ago, when I wrote about making waffles, my friend Ann Marie texted that she had a great, but weird waffle recipe.  Here it is: 2 cups cottage cheese, 6 eggs, 2 cups oats, 1 teaspoon vanilla, pinch of salt.  Weird, right?  But it seems so healthy and high in protein!  I mixed everything in the blender, thinking I could then casually poor it into the waffle maker.  It was not pourable.  I had to glop it out with a ladle.  But they were so good; thanks Ann Marie! I thought kids might be skeptical, but no one questioned the ingredients. (Except Dave, and he waited till the kids were in school.)  The only complaint was, “Remember how you used to make fancy stuff like brioche pretzels and chocolate babka, and now we just get waffles all the time?” Sorry kid, remember that I have a job now? I mean, I still have time to make babka, I just haven’t felt like it.

DSC01730A great thing about this recipe is that it is very filling.  I think they had a tangy taste.  I would definitely make these again.

I served them with apple slices and bacon. (Obviously, the kids covered them in syrup as well.)


I am feeling the need to dive back into apple and pumpkin recipes, maybe because it’s been rainy and cozy all week.  I don’t think I have seen the sun since I made these waffles, but I have high hopes for this weekend. Happy fall!


Fancy Breakfast Friday: Chocolate Banana Waffles


Last week I made Chocolate Banana waffles. True confessions: I used a mix. I used to eschew prepared food because I am a snob.  But recently I made pasta salad for dinner and I used jarred pesto from Costco, frozen pre-cooked chicken from King coopers, noodles, and all the veggies left in my fridge.  It was amazing.  I had to call my mom and apologize for years of mocking Rachel Ray recipes. But here’s where I make excuses for using a mix: I bought it for camping. At least I didn’t buy organic pancake mix in an aerosol spray can, like some people I know. (I do admire that person for that very feat, but I would never buy pre-made organic pancake mix in a spray can. A person has to have a code.)  Anyway, I had some mix left over after camping, so I added 3 smashed bananas, and some milk and an egg, and then some white flour because I didn’t have as much mix left as I thought.  It was so good!  Hooray for mixes!!

Then, since I had the camera out, I decided to start trying to take more pictures and I decided to do a project that I am calling 52 Fridays.  I am going to take at least one picture of everyone in  my family every Friday for a year. I spent a dumb amount of time trying to find the right app for this, and I ended up just starting an album in shutter fly.  I added last Friday’s pictures and a little description about our day.

Next week… Ann Marie’s Waffles!

And here is a picture from the waffle mix purchase camping trip.


Oh, and the obligatory dog-leash fiasco.


Fancy Breakfast Friday: Pop…under


Should you be able to stack your bacon higher than your popover? No. These were too short and under cooked.  Fail.  I tried to remake this recipe that Luke made, and his were so tall!  Also undercooked, but TALL!  Fancy Breakfast Friday was kind of a disaster, because at some point I realized the popovers weren’t even going to be done before kids are usually finished with breakfast and on to brushing their teeth. So I had to also make eggs and bacon, and they had to cram a popover on their mouth while they rushed around getting ready.  This is all part of my new FBF phase where I hope a menu will come to me while I am sleeping.  I’m having mixed results.

This morning I woke up five minutes before my alarm with this thought in mind, “chocolate banana waffles.”  Fingers crossed!





Fancy Breakfast Friday: Bananas!

DSC01065At our house we do this weird thing where if you say, “What’s two plus two?” the answer is “Bananas!” I’m not 100% sure of the origin story, but it has to do with trying to jinx someone, or avoid being jinxed.  I am sure, either way, it hasn’t help Jack learn his math.

As I have have mentioned many times, I buy more bananas than people have time or energy to eat, especially since no child will eat a banana with one spot of brown on it, which makes it hard to pack them in lunches.  And I should say, I also only like slightly underripe bananas, and I don’t like to pack bananas with bread (i.e.: for lunch or a camping trip) because bread that takes on the flavor of banana makes me want to gag.  But do I love to bake with bananas? Yes I do.  And while I searching my blog for banana references, here is an old story about Jack.

I have two banana FBFs that I haven’t shared – I made banana muffins last Friday that I forgot to photograph.  I used this recipe for bread, and I put a couple chocolate chips on top of each one.  They were enjoyed by all.

Longer ago, I made this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, which I have made before.  I had a memory that no one liked it because of the millet, which Dave correctly identified as a main ingredient in bird seed.  But once I thought about the bread, I decided I had to make it, and if no one liked it, well… more for me.  Unfortunately everyone loved it this time and it was quickly devoured.

OK – we are now officially all caught up on FBFs and approaching the 2 year anniversary of this fun project.  Last year around this time I started to put together an index of recipes, and maybe I’ll get back to that soon! Maybe not!

One Jack quote from an old blog post, when he was three:

And when I asked Jack if he wanted any butter on his banana bread he said, “No, just give it to me straight.”

Fancy Breakfast Friday: Granola Bars


Ok, I am way behind.  I’ll admit that I flirted with the idea of giving up on Fancy Breakfast Friday.  Fancy has started to feel like a strong word.  Here we are, two years in, and I skipped two Fridays this summer. What is the world coming to?  (To what is the world coming? Don’t want to end a sentence with a preposition.)

But I have muffins in the oven now, and it’s Friday, so I think I am back in business. A few weeks ago, I made the chocolate peanut butter granola bars because I was so excited to find a recipe that doesn’t have something disgusting in it like dates or coconut. It seemed to have a million ingredients, and I had a tiny bit of each ingredient stored in a bulk bag in my pantry.  It was going to be an amazing way to get rid of a bunch of leftover ingredients and also make granola bars for breakfast.  Jack asked what I was making the night before when I put him to bed and I said, “granola bars.”  He said, “Oh, what if you melted some chocolate and drizzled it over the top, and then, would it be too much to ask for some sprinkles on top?”  I said, “We’ll see.”  But, you know what they say, “whatever Jack wants, Jack gets.”  It’s not so much “they” that say that as “Luke” but you get the idea.

Long story short, Jack and Dave and I liked these, and Luke thought they were just OK.  The sunflower seeds either made them taste a little weird, or else the sunflower seeds were stale.  If I made them again, I might leave those out. (Because I no longer have any in my pantry and the nice thing about this recipe was that I had all the ingredients.)

I sort of followed this recipe and they turned out great!  I obviously put the chocolate on the bars instead of in, and added the sprinkles.  I also ground the nuts in the blender to hide them a little.

As you can see, I forgot to take a fancy picture, but I was eating a bar while watching the eclipse, so you can see the affect of the eclipse on the light coming through the trees in our yard.  So, in the end, pretty fancy after all!




Fancy Breakfast Friday: Peach Hand Pies


I made these a couple weeks ago, so I can now look back on them lovingly and fondly.  They were beautiful and delicious.  Here is the recipe from Smitten Kitchen – I used vanilla instead of bourbon because I was feeding it to children… for breakfast.  Breakfast pie is decadent enough.

It was just too hot to be working with a buttery dough.  It was very hard to roll out, and I plan to never make them again.  I wanted to make these because I had ordered 8 pounds of peaches and I didn’t want any to go to waste.  However, Dave had plans to eat 8 pounds of peaches, so he had to go buy me some sub-par grocery store peaches that I was allowed to cook.

Unfortunately, I was too conservative with the filling, so I had a ton leftover. (Not to mention my dough to peach ration was off.) Fortunately, I had a puff pastry in the freezer and I baked it with a layer of crème fraîche and the rest of the filling.  Not as pretty, but still delish.  And the boys seem to like crème fraîche which is odd for them.


Meanwhile, in peach news, I ordered 20 pounds which should be coming in two weeks, and I don’t know if I will be allowed to cook them or not!  If I do, I am going to stick with my famous peach cobbler.

Here is one more picture of the never to be made again, delicious peach pies.