7 Quick Takes (#54)

It's either this or laundry...

1) Lots of you already saw this on my facebook page, but I'm so proud of him I have to post it here too!!  Leo finished the phonics program at Christmas with only a few difficulties.  We immediately jumped into the next part of the school year: McGuffey's Eclectic Primer.  I was excited for this part, but a little nervous since I already knew that he might have a hard time with reading.  

McGuffey's gave us a run for our money.  For a little less than 2 weeks, we plugged away trying to read words and sound them out.  Trying to put sentences together.  Trying to cheer and encourage as the concept clicked.  But Leo was soooo frustrated.  He spent the last 3 days in tears and so I put the book away and polled Facebook for a solution.  90% of the responses were in favor of Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, so I jumped on the bandwagon and bought it.  After about 14 lessons, we picked up McGuffey's one more time to see if it was something we could add back in and Leo read the first couple pages with NO PROBLEMS!!  No crying or frustration. And he was sooo proud of himself.  

When we actually do arts and crafts, I take a million pictures.  All 2 times.  Of course, I have none of him reading!
I'm not proud of Leo THAT he can now start to read.  I don't buy into the hype that children in Kindergarten have to learn how to read.  (Jason and I are pretty darn articulate and we spent our half-days of Kindergarten painting pictures, singing songs, and trying not to have accidents in public.)  I'm proud of the way he handled the stress of learning how to read.  He was beating himself up pretty bad when the concept wasn't clicking.  But he kept trying each day without giving up and I'm really happy that in the end, he emerged victorious.  Seeing the look on his face when we revisited McGuffey's Primer and he crushed it, the source of his angst and frustration, was soooo worth the effort!!

This first year of homeschooling has been such a fun ride so far and I never imagined I would actual like it.  I'm glad we started now so we can continue if we want!  I think we will still take the decision year by year, but I am feeling more inclined to say homeschool forever after this last year!!  

Although it does have its downsides...

2) I had a MUCH needed Mom's night out with our local Catholic Moms Group and we made these Lenten centerpieces.  

It was only $6 and almost everything came from The Dollar Store!  Except the tree branches and glue guns.  Seriously - if you have a couple girlfriends, a few bottles of wine and some brownies, this is the perfect hangout activity to prep for Lent!

You need:
Glue Guns
Ribbon (for burial cloth)
Fake grass
Twigs for crosses

Or you could go all over-achiever on this project and use real grass: tutorial


3) February is birthday month for us.  Roman's 2nd birthday was the 15th and Elena's is tomorrow!

2 years old!!

He helped make the cake :)

He is a pirate.  And he means business

No seriously - do NOT mess with him.

Cousins came to play for the entire weekend.  I LOVE having family close enough to drive over for a party!!  

4) My 4 year old!!!!

This picture cracks me up.  It looks completely normal until I noticed WHO she is staring at like this:


5) Miracle of miracles!!!  It snowed for 30 minutes in Texas!!!!!!

I think I heard 99% of you scoff from your northern homes.  I recognize the silliness of this "news".  But I refuse to post things about weather on Facebook so this is my only outlet.  When you are all snowed in for weeks at a time, we are outside enjoying the weather.  It all comes full-circle when the heat and humidity kills us in the summer, but I don't want to torture you all regularly by showing our shirt/shorts combos in February.

6) Hi.  My name is Lisa.  And I am a Legomaniac.

Leo got this huge Lego set and he isn't old enough yet to put all the pieces together by himself.  I spent no less than SEVEN HOURS putting together the firehouse, a helicopter, airplane, ladder truck, rescue boat, rescue car and motorcycle.

And I loved every.minute.  I can't believe I'm 32 and I have never played with legos before.  But it was oddly cathartic to work on building each individual piece and see it through to the end.  I feel like I should put a set on my wishlist for my birthday.  I liked it THAT MUCH!

7) But something I like more than legos is dessert.  I decided to make a Chocolate Eclair Cake completely from scratch.  I thought finding a recipe to put this cake together would be relatively easy but I was SO WRONG!  I searched the internet for over an hour to try to find the recipes I needed.  This meant: no graham crackers, no "no-bake" cake, no instant packages of vanilla pudding, and no cool whip!  I wanted the real thing.

I had to combine three recipes in order to make this bad boy.  This eclair cake, these classic eclairs, and this whipped cream.  For ease of making this in the future, I am going to list the directions and ingredients.  If you get a wild hair and love boston creme donuts as much as I do - definitely make this!!!

Chocolate Eclair Cake completely from scratch
Chocolate Eclair Cake


Pastry Puff:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter 
1 cup water 
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour 
4 large eggs 

Chocolate Filling: 
2 ounces semisweet chocolate (or chocolate chips)
2 tablespoons butter 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1 cup confectioners' sugar 
3 tablespoons hot water

Vanilla Custard Cream Filling:
12 egg yolks 
4 cups whole milk 
1 1/2 cups sugar 
2 tbsp vanilla extract 
1/2 cup flour 
1 stick butter

Whipped Cream Topping:
2 cups heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp confectioners' sugar


Preheat oven to 400 F.

For the Pastry:
1) In a large heavy saucepan, heat butter and water to boiling over medium-high heat. Add flour and reduce heat to low. Cook and stir until it forms a ball and pulls away from the pan.
2) Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg.
3) Spread in bottom and up the sides of an ungreased 9x13 inch pan.
4) Bake at 400 degrees F for 35 minutes. Cool completely.

For the Chocolate Filling: 
1) Melt chocolate and butter in a pan on low heat stirring constantly until smooth.
2) Stir in vanilla.
3) Sift in the powdered sugar, a little at a time, stirring as you go. Dribble water in to the mixture until smooth and spreadable (you may or may not use all the water).
4) Spread over the cooled pastry.

For the Custard:
1) Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and flour together in a large bowl. 
2) Bring milk to a boil. Slowly pour the milk into the egg yolk mixture, continuously whisking. This is called ‘tampering the yolks’. 
3) Pour the mixture back into the pot and bring to a boil, continuously stirring and going along the bottom of the pot in zigzag motion with a rubber spatula, to prevent scorching. It WILL stick if you stop. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat. 
4) Add the vanilla extract & butter. Allow the butter to melt and stir for it to incorporate. 
5) Cover the custard with plastic wrap it touches the custard. To speed up the process you can transfer the custard into a jelly-roll pan, spread it thin, covering with plastic wrap will avoid skin formation. Refrigerate until ready to use.

For the whipped cream topping:
In a large bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks are just about to form. Beat in vanilla and sugar until peaks form. Make sure not to over-beat, cream will then become lumpy and butter-like.

Putting it all together:
When the puff pastry has cooled, spread the chocolate on the puff pastry.  Spread the custard on top of that and top it with the whipped cream.  Enjoy!!!


  1. I love Legos too! I used to help my younger sister do the crazy kits like Lego RV Van. CMOM Lego Party????

  2. I like your Lenten centerpiece so.much!! Those are lovely! (I like 'em better than the "real grass" ones, too!)


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