Tuesday, February 21, 2012

February 14, 2012

St. Valentine's Day. There seem to be two camps on this day. Those who appreciate the opportunity to show their love to others, and those who despise the holiday all together. If you are great at showing your love to someone 364 days a year, you can probably take the so called Hallmark holiday off. If not, you'd better suck it up and make a kind gesture. Really, how hard is it to be friendly on a day that celebrates love. And it truly does. St. Valentine died protecting the rights of men and women to join in holy matrimony should they chose to do so. I'll honor that. Now Sweetest Day, that's another story.

But alas, there is no more Valentine's Day for me. I had my youngest on February 14th, 2007, so the day is all about him. He's my literal labor of love. There is something as magical to a mother about her child's birthday as there is to the child themselves. To them it's all about the presents and cake. To us, it's about being transported back to that day we brought a helpless, dependant life into the world that we carried as part of ourselves for 9 months. Just the date brings back all the memories of labor for me. Valentine's Day is no longer a Hallmark holiday for this girl. But I do get to celebrate one of the best things to ever happen to me, so I'm good with that.

Gavin Broderick @ 6 months old

 One thing that's great for my little guy right now is that he gets a party at school on his birthday. The whole day is about treats and celebrating for him. At school he celebrates friendships and gets treats, and at home he celebrates with the love of his family, gets his favorite dinner, cake, and presents. It's an all day long fiesta. Poor boy doesn't realize yet during his adolescence it will no longer be all about him though. Wooing a girl will mean flowers and candy and larger than life stuffed animals on his special day. Luckily that is many years off in the future. Since we have moved to a small town, I am more at liberty to bake and make treats. I used to be required to bring store bought goodies to celebrations when we lived in Las Vegas. I have ripped out many a magazine page for future holiday party use, and lord knows pinterest isn't helping matters any these days. I'm glad I finally get to put some of those ideas to work.

For Gavin's treats we took 2 blueberry candy canes, cut off the bottom half, put them on wax paper in the shape of a heart, stuck sucker sticks in the middle and baked them at 250 degrees for 10 minutes. I cooled those in the fridge, then poured blue Wilton melting candy in the middle and made a white chocolate chip V in the middle. Once those cooled, I put them into candy bags and tied a personal message from Gavin to close them up. They just happen to be his favorite color too. You can see a Christmas version I love here.

We made these the night before, and off to school he went with these packed neatly in a box on the bus. Then off to work I went for the first time in 6 and a half years! Not that being a stay at home mom is play time, I only mean an outside the home job. And oh what fun I had at "work"! I got to deliver flowers on Valentine's Day. It was almost criminal to pay me considering how much enjoyment I got out of it. The different reactions from surprise, to embarrassment, to pure joy were so much fun to take in. But my fun was short lived since little man is only in school for a few hours. Soon it was time to pick him up and take him to his favorite of all places, Walmart, to grab a few things for his older brother's class they needed and a toy he got to pick out on his own for his birthday. Then my husband Shawn took us out for lunch, to celebrate Valentine's day for me, and little man's birthday. It was a place I had been wanting to try, so I thought that was a nice effort on his part to include me in the day.

The boys got to stray from their usual Tuesday night activity of Taekwondo so we could spend Gavin's special day together. They got to facetime on the iphone with a couple of their friends from Las Vegas. They were goofy about it, but you could tell they were really excited to see the girls. Gavin wanted pizza as his birthday meal. Easily done. I decided to stop by the meat market and get a couple of nice looking ribeyes for the hubby and I. Nothing says I love you to a man like steak and potatoes.

I used to marinate the heck out of my steaks. I remember they were good, but the marinade would overpower the true steak flavor. If you have a good steak, you don't need much else. A few years ago I ran across some steak grilling information on the internet. The key is to let them come to room temperature before you throw them on the grill, for even cooking. Now I take them out of the fridge about 45 minutes before I plan to put them on, rub them down with olive oil, sea salt and steak seasoning. The hubby ate it without A1 steak sauce this time. Always the tell-tale sign it was a great steak, because he loves his A1.

Grilled potatoes are easy and yummy. I peel and dice the potatoes. Dice some onion. Sprinkle some sea salt and garlic power, crack some pepper, drizzle some local honey, and place some pats of butter on top of the potatoes, wrap them up in foil and throw them on the grill 30 minutes before the steaks go on.

During the dinner making process I was cooling 2 round yellow cakes and making a buttercream frosting. The frosting recipe called for 2 sticks of butter, 3.5 cups powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 tsp salt, and 2 tbs heavy cream. I threw in one stick of salted and one stick unsalted butter because it was all I had, and skipped the salt. I put in the vanilla. Then I grabbed the powdered sugar only to find there was no where near 3.5 cups! I didn't measure, but I'd have to guess 2 cups, maybe a little less. Already into this process, I had to continue forward. It did not need any cream to soften it, the high amount of butter to sugar was enough for that. I whipped it for 10 minutes and tried it. HOLY COW! It tasted like my favorite bakery- Freed's buttercream back in Las Vegas. I beat it for 5 minutes more and now I have my new favorite buttercream recipe.

Little man required a blueberry cake for his birthday. I put a layer of blackberry jam between the 2 round cakes, and made a fresh blueberry compote to go on top of the cake. The boys gobbled it up so fast I knew it was a winner. The cake only lasted 2 days in a 4 person house, and my husband only got one piece, so it'll definitely go into the archives for another time.

After The Happy Birthday song and cake, it was time for family presents. Is it cruel I make them wait all day? On my birthday it's the first thing they want to do is have me open my present. To me, logical order dictates: dinner, cake, presents. I think building up to the excitement is good for them. Even if I get asked about the cake and presents all day long.

He was one happy little guy. It was an exhausting day for me, but I wouldn't trade it for a lazy day on the couch because there was so much happiness hidden in so many places.

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