At long last I am actually writing this post. I have dreamed about this for almost as many years as I have been authoring this blog. It is with great satisfaction I can finally say–and mean it–The birthday book is done! 
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I have told my husband and the kids so many times “the birthday book is done” that it started to loose meaning. Draft after draft, after frustrating small-tweaks-here-and-there draft, it is really truly completely, no-more-to-do done. I invite you to to pop some champagne for me… no not really, I can do that myself, but geez luize, it is good to put this one on the shelf and say fini! 
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It was a project my good friend Robin and I started back when the kids were little. We traveled through so many stages of our lives and I have lived in five houses since we started. I guess I like to move! Or it has just taken a long time and finding the place that is home takes a long time too. 
But anyway, enough about that, here are some of my favorite images from the book:

Filled to the brim with step-by-step instructions for making original gifts, favors, cakes, wrapping, decorations and games, BIRTHDAYS: HANDMADE, HOMEMADE is interwoven with stories, photographs, illustrations and anecdotes. We invite readers to pull up a chair, pour a cup of tea and spend the afternoon making and creating. Our goal is to offer inspiration on how to make a birthday handmade, homemade and your very own.
Readers will love the creative ideas that make this book so personal and tangible. Projects range from fast and easy . . . Dinosaurs in real eggshells, to more timely and in depth . . . Dining table forts. Young parents and do-it-yourself enthusiasts will find endless help onhow to prepare and execute a homemade birthday party.
At a time when it seems like families are trying to take back just a bit of their own and blogs hum with self-reliant know-how, this book is a great jumping-off point for those aiming to leave commercialism behind and bring it all back to the ones they love. 
Birthdays: Handmade, Homemade is available online. 
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Hope everyone is enjoying summer!


P.S. I have one copy to give away, so if you live in the United States and would like to enter for a chance to win, leave a comment below. I’ll pick a name at random and post a winner Sunday July 23rd.

Cranberry Tea Scones…

Yesterday morning we had a nice breakfast of scones. I woke up with a strong wish for cranberry bundt cake, but realized I didn’t have everything I needed to make it. Instead I made a batch of cranberry scones, which hit the spot entirely.

Cranberry Tea Scones

In a large bowl sift together:
2 cups unbleached white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cut into small pieces and crumble in with your fingers:
1/2 cup butter, cold
Mix then add:
1 egg
1 + 1/2 cups milk
1 lemon, zest and juice
Mix gently until combined then press into a rectangle about 3/4′ – 1′ thick.
Cut into squares. Place on a buttered baking sheet then bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
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                                                             Cheers ~ Marica

Apricot Breakfast Scones

I was feeling the calling to make scones this morning…
I am so glad I did too! 
Just the right thing for a sunny first day of July…
Apricot Scones
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
In a large bowl mix:
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup raw sugar
6-8 tablespoons of butter, cold chopped into small pieces.
Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour 
until it resembles bread crumbs.
1 egg
1/2 cup yogurt
4-5 very ripe apricots sliced
Gently mix all the ingredients together. 
Make sure not to over mix or they will become doughy. 
Press onto a floured board and cut into one inch squares.
Bake at 425 degrees for 12-14 minutes.


Grapefruit Marmalade

I have been planning to make grapefruit marmalade for years now, seriously, years…
Then last summer when we moved to this house we found we had a vibraint grapefruit tree growing in our yard, I made the agreement once more with myself: Make grapefruit marmalade…
So the day before yesterday I finally made good with my plans, I made grapefuit marmalade, and yes, it came out delicious. Please do realize grapefruits are bitter, thus, your grapefruit maramlade will be bitter too. I love that, but I’m not positive everyone will.
Grapefruit Marmalade
Cut the thick skin off of two ripe grapefruit. Save half the rind and both the insides. 
Slice the skin very thinly into agreeable lengths. Place in a pot, cover with water and simmer until skins are tender, about 20-30 minutes. Drain then place back in the pot. Chop up the insides of the two grapefruits, remove seeds and toss into the pot. Add 1 + 1/2 cups sugar and mash around a bit. 
Simmer, stirring often, until thick and tasty. I am pretty sure mine cooked about an hour, but I’m not entirely sure.

Raw Coconut Cake Recipe . . .

Last post I gushed about food . . . 
This post contains the recipe for the cake mentioned
 at the end of that somewhat overly enthusiastic ditty. 
I believe I will continue to try to perfect it, 
but after a slice of this cake today, I enjoyed it so much
 I decided to temporarily call it finished.
This recipe is actually pretty simple, although somewhat messy to make. 
Unfortunately you have to have the right ingredients and most of 
them don’t tend to be typical pantry staples. 
Raw Coconut Cake
For the filling blend in a blender until smooth:
2 fresh baby coconuts water and pulp
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup coconut oil or butter (butter is so yummy)
1/2 cup soft dates, pitted and peeled
4 tablespoons soy lecithin 
pinch salt
For the crust knead together: 
1/2 cup soft dates
2 cups raw almond meal
2 cups dry shredded coconut
1 tablespoon (more or less to taste) fresh ginger crushed 
a dash salt
zest of 1 orange
And a bit of coconut oil or butter until the dough is shape-able. 
Press into a wax paper lined 8-9″cake pan.
Be sure to make the crust go up the sides a bit.
Pour filling into the crust and then refrigerate at least several hours.
Overnight is best. 
                                                Best Wishes ~ Marica

In the kitchen over the last few days . . . And a beginning baker . . .

A lot has been happening in our kitchen over the last few days . . .
Bread  . . .
And jam . . . 
Cake . . . 

And well, more bread . . .
But the exciting part of what’s happened in our kitchen over the last few days was this:
This eight-year-old girl here made her first loaf of bread and baked her first cake . . .

This wasn’t her just stirring and pouring and tasting the spoon . . .
This was the real thing . . . The real start to finish deal!

And I have to say, it is a little like passing on the torch . . .  Not to get sentimental or anything . . .  

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl mix:
5 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
3/4 cups safflower or grapeseed oil
Zest and juice from 1 orange
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch salt
3 cups unbleached white flour
(she used spelt)
3 teaspoons baking powder
(although I want to remake it with just 2 + 1/2)

Pour into an oiled budnt pan and bake at 350 degrees
 until a knife inserted comes our clean.
I am guessing 35 minutes, but we didn’t actually time it. (Sorry)
Once cool enough, turn out onto a plate. She drizzed the top with our
fresh strawberry jam . . . And it was delicious!!!

                                                             To all the bakers out there, cheers . . .  ~ Marica

Habanero Chocolate Truffles . . .

Spicy? Yes . . . 
Dark chocolate? Definitely . . . 
Melted and infused . . . 
Habanero chocolate truffles . . . 
These are very easy to make. I came across a habanero chocolate bar a few weeks ago and was so blown away I decided to try making some for myself. Luckily the habaneros that my husband had planted this year still had fruit hanging on for dear life . . . I threw a few in a pan with a half pound of Trader Joe’s eighty proof chocolate, a dash of heavy cream and a tad bit of butter. Mixing well and melting gently, the spice of the habaneros immersed themselves, and a sprinkling of cinnamon and tangerine rind was all it needed to send me over the edge. I am in love. Truly!!! To finish it all, just pick out the habaneros and pour the chocolate onto a piece of parchment paper. Let cool before slicing and devouring. I recommend refrigerating if there are left overs. Please do realize these are SPICY!!!
                        Best wishes to everyone in the new year ~ Marica