Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pumpkin Everything, Take 1: Pumpkin Spice Bread

Fall is here, and with it comes my annual foray into all things pumpkin.  What is it about pumpkins that are so irresistible?  Is it their cheery orange color or their empty slate ready for the carving?  Do they bring to mind fall leaves, warm sweaters, and cozy fireplaces?  Or memories of hayrides and apple cider and traipsing through the patch in search of the perfect specimen?

Maybe all of the above, but mostly, I just think pumpkins are delicious.  And if not the pumpkins themselves, then the  sugar and cinnamon that comes with them.  My plan this glorious autumn season is to make as many pumpkin-flavored goods as possible, either until my family revolts or Costco stops carrying the seasonal canned pumpkin mega-pack.  It's anyone's guess which one will happen first.

Today's offering is a classic: good old pumpkin spice bread.  But who am I kidding?  It's so sweet and delicious, it's really pumpkin cake, and that's what we call it when we serve it to the toddler as a special dessert (poor, sheltered toddler).  I did make a few changes from the original recipe to make us grownups feel better about eating cake for breakfast.


  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

  • 1 cup brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

  • 1/2 cup applesauce

  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten

  • 1 (16 ounce) can solid pack pumpkin

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

  • 1/2 cup water

In a large bowl, combine sugars, oil, applesauce, and eggs.

Add pumpkin and mix well.

Combine dry ingredients.

Add to pumpkin mixture alternately with water

Pour into two greased 9x5 inch loaf pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes or until done.

Cool in pans for 10 minutes before removing to wire racks.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Butterfly Pacifier Clip

Can you spot the difference between these pictures?

Aside from the fact that baby #1 on the left was our winter baby and baby #2 was our summer baby, another key addition can be seen on baby #2: the pacifier clip!

We spent a lot of time picking up and washing baby #1’s dropped binkies.  I had heard of pacifier clips, but I never bought one because (a) I had heard they were a strangulation hazard and (b) is it really worth $8 for a little piece of ribbon attached to a clip?   With baby #2, we lowered our standards wisened up.  The whole strangulation issue is solved by making sure the ribbon is short, and as far as the cost, I found that I could make my own for free with supplies already on hand.  Lots of do-it-yourself pacifier clip instructions on the web start with suspender clips that you can buy at a fabric store for $5.  But for $5, plus the cost of gas, plus the emotional cost of rounding up the kids to drive 10 miles to the nearest fabric store, I would rather just shell out the $8 and order a binkie clip online.  I was sure there must be an easier way.

So I turned to the hubby (aka hoarder of “raw materials”) and asked if he had anything like a suspender clip.  And, boy, he did not disappoint.  He pulled out a bag of dozens of little nametag clips that he had saved over years of business trips and conferences.  With one of these clips, a bit of yarn, and a crochet hook, I fashioned a little something that saves me at least a dozen binkie washes a day.


  • Nametag clip

  • Yarn of any gauge

  • Crochet hook, any size

  • Scissors


  1. Cut the clip off a nametag

  2. Crochet about 12 inches of chain stitches and tie off, leaving ends long.

  3. Fold in half and tie ends to the nametag clip.

  4. Crochet a butterfly as seen here.

  5. Fasten the butterfly to the nametag clip and trip off ends.

You can substitute anything for the butterfly, like a flower or heart.   Crochet-able boy-themed motifs are harder to come by, so I won't worry about it unless we ever have a baby #3 and he happens to be a boy (unlikely).   Though, for 3rd borns, I’m told that you don’t need binkie clips because you don't even worry about binkies falling on the ground any more.   You just pick 'em up, dust 'em off, and stick 'em right back in.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

perpetual pendulum

The lightbox in my office could benefit from a geeky gadget decoration. The perpetual pendulum combines two things: a Random Oscillating Magnetic Pendulum (ROMP) and a solar engine.

With the solar engine, light strikes a solar cell, feeding voltage into a capacitor. Once the capacitor climbs to a certain voltage, a voltage trigger releases current into a cassette motor. The motor turns a striker that pushes the pendulum rod, pushing the ROMP into a swinging motion. Magnets at the bottom of the ROMP can be arranged to adjust the chaotic motion.