Cooking with Toddlers: Flower Petal Cookies

Flower Petal Cookies

Toddlers love to pluck and pick things from the earth. I know because I have a bald apple tree. My dear little toddler has managed to pluck off the vast majority of blossoms from our beautiful apple tree. I also caught him “pruning” the lilac trees. And by pruning I mean ripping all the flowers, branches and leaves off.

Clearly Fig is into flowers.

In an attempt to quell his shrubbery inquisition (before I lost every single tree and plant in our yard) we decided to gather all our edible flowers and turn them into a cookie.

Most toddlers will be keen on flower gathering. It’s an easy way to involve them in the kitchen even if you don’t have the time or desire to involve them in the rest of the recipe.  It’s also a natural way to teach kids about flowers without actually any formal lesson. I explained to Fig that we only wanted the flower petals for this cookie; not the leaves, not the stems, not the sepals etc. After a bit, he got the hang of it.

You can use any edible flowers for these cookies. We choose lavender, calendula, lilacs, kale flowers ( also known as kale raab) and clover. A combination of fresh and dried will do just fine. Make sure you don’t put too much lavender in these cookies or they will start tasting like a face mask.

More information on edible flowers can be found here.

Cooking with Toddlers

Cooking with Toddlers

Flowers

Flowers

Flowers

Flowers

Cooking with Flowers

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of edible flowers, dried or fresh.
  • 1 cup of sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup of flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup of hemp seeds
  • 1 cup of almond flower
  • 2 tablespoons of chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup of almond milk ( any milk will do if you don’t have almond milk handy)
  • 3 tbs of maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup of coconut oil, melted

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 325 F
  • Wash flowers well and pick off petals and place in a large mixing bowl.
  • Combine flowers with sunflower seeds, flax, hemp, almond flowers and chia seeds. Mix well.
  • Stir in the melted coconut oil, maple syrup and almond milk to the dry ingredients. Mix well.
  • Line a baking sheet and spread out mixture to about 1/4 of an inch high.
  • Bake for between 20-25 minutes; checking frequently to ensure the cookies are not browning too much. They should be lightly toasted.
  • Cool, cut, and serve with tea.

Toddler Friendly Parts of this Recipe:

  • Gathering edible flowers
  • Plucking the petals off the flowers
  • Measuring out the seeds
  • Stirring the cookie mix

Flower Petal Cookies

Flower Petal Cookies

 

 

Chia Seed and Hazelnut Brittle

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Today was really the perfect day to make a nutty brittle given that my patience is brittle and I’m feeling pretty nutty.

There were so many things that went south today including a certain two year old who tried to kamikaze himself out of the stroller every 15 seconds during my run, or the baby who wouldn’t take a nap, or the toddler who was hell bent on destroying every plot at the community garden.

But it all pales in comparison to my little Fig, who on our walk home from the community garden, managed to pick up an entire pile of …brown stuff. This was no ordinary excrement mind you. Based on my visual inspection alone, I concluded this was the kind of dung that carries with it such rare afflictions as spongiform encephalopathy or tetanus. This was most certainly death poo.

Gripped with panic, I attempted to collect Fig and get him to soap and a sink asap. But oh no, little Fig did not want to leave and decided to employ his supremely effective and equally infuriating “jello-legs” tactic. This resulted in me pretty much dragging a limp and screaming two year old home by his shirt collar (with a baby one the other hip mind you) while garnering strange looks  by onlookers who clearly thought I was some sort of monster.

Upon reaching home I scrubbed his hands for a good 10 minutes and then decided that soap would simply not do. After all, this was death poo. After quickly realizing we had no rubbing alchohol, I decided that the next best thing was pinot grigio. While I’ve seen no studies on the effectiveness of pinot grigio on death poo germs, I’m pretty confident that my cocktail of wine, hand sanitizer and soap should kill everything in it’s wake.

But by the time I had procured and opened my bottle of reserved and aged germ-annihilating Pinot, Fig has managed to escape the bathroom and was outside half naked.

And this is how I found myself outside chasing a naked two year old, waving an open bottle of Pinot while screaming discombobulated sentences that included the words crap and wine and germs at my sweet little two year old.

I can only hope none of our neighbors were home.

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Chia Hazelnut and Pumpkin Seed Brittle

This can be sold as a dessert but works well as a snack since it’s not too sweet and loaded with goodness. This recipe serves about 5.

  • 1/4 cup of Chia Seed
  • 1/3  cup of crushed Hazelnut Seed
  • 1 cup of crushed Pumpkin Seed
  • 1/4 cup of Sunflower Seed
  • 1/4 cup of Maple Syrup
  • 1/4 cup of Coconut Oil, melted.
  • Pinch of salt

Directions:

  • Heat oven to 350 F.
  • Crush the hazelnuts and pumpkin seeds into small pieces. Combine in a large bowl with all other dry ingredients.
  • Melt the coconut oil in a pan.
  • Combine the coconut oil and maple syrup with the nut/seed mix. Stir well.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Spread mixture thinly on the paper and bake until golden brown. Every oven is a bit different so check frequently. It took ours around 18 minutes to be done.
  • Let cool and break into pieces.

Toddler Friendly Parts of this Recipe:

  • Crushing the seeds in plastic bags
  • Mixing the seed mixture
  • Spreading out the mixture on the baking sheet

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Cooking with Toddlers: Sage Crackers

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We recently moved into a new place with a massive front and backyard. The previous owners had the teeniest tiniest patch of garden and I never understood why until we started expanding it. The amount of crap we’ve unearthed is truly astounding ( see picture below for a sampling of the loot).

My first thought when we commenced Project Garden Expansion and quickly started exhuming a multitude of thingy-ma jigs was “What if we find buried treasure!” quickly followed by the morose thought of ” What if we find a coffin?”. This second scenario is much more likely  given the trajectory of our findings ( i.e. glasses , cuff links and a hammer).

Anyway, we’ve also realized that the previous folks remedy to every garden conundrum was to “put some hay on it!”. Have you seen that Portlandia skit where they put a bird on everything? This hay situation is pretty much the exact the same thing. HAY ON EVERYTHING. My husband and I joke that they probably didn’t even clean the house, they just threw some hay on it!

However, after some deep meditative thought I realized I am in no place to judge our hay-loving friends given I do the exact same thing with sage.

I solve any and all recipe problems with sage.  In fact, my first thought when thinking of what to cook for dinner typically starts with ” I wonder what I could do with all that sage in the fridge. There is usually no less than several bushels of Sage in our fridge. Yes I said bushels.

So yet again, Fig and I found our way into the kitchen after a long day out in the garden hauling hay and busted out the sage for some good old fashioned crackers. Really, can you ever have enough sage?

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Sage Crackers:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoons of cold butter
  • 1 bunch of chopped sage
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • Olive oil for brushing

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375
  • Add the salt and flour to a large mixing bowl
  • With your hands work in the butter until it resembles bread crumbs ( this can take upwards of 5 solid minutes).
  • Chop sage finely and add it to the flour.
  • Pour in heavy cream and stir well. Let dough sit for 10 minutes at room temperature.
  • With your hands  knead the dough well and then divide it into two pieces. With a rolling pin, roll out each dough ball very thin ( as thin as you want the crackers to be).
  • Brush with olive oil and sprinkle salt before placing in the oven.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes or until slightly golden.
  • Cool and then slice into little squares and eat!

Toddler Friendly Parts of this Recipe: 

  • Mixing the salt and flour
  • Working in the butter
  • Chopping with sage ( with a kid-friendly knife and supervised)
  • Kneading Bread
  • Rolling out the dough ( I always give my little guy some “scrap” dough that he can play with)
  • Brushing the olive oil on the rolled out dough.

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Cooking with Toddlers: Lavender Flower and Honey Bread

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The first time Fig and I ate this bread it was ,no joke, like eating a bar of soap. Needless to say, it took us a few attempts to get the proportions just right but once perfected I succumed to it’s deliciousness, devouring an entire loaf in one day. Since eating an entire loaf of bread is never good for one’s thighs, Fig and I have vowed to make this only for special occasions. Luckily we have Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve approaching. All legit holidays and thus a perfectly acceptable reason to make these loaves.

Despite this being insanely delicious and a perfect pairing with tea, the recipe was inspired by a not-so inspiring day of toddler shenanigans. A few weeks ago, Fig was having the worst day known to humanity. Everything was a major deal and cause for a complete breakdown. For example, forbidding him to clobber his baby brother with a wooden block? TEARS. Asking him to not paint on the wall with his watercolors. TEARS. Setting him down for lunch? TEARS. Taking away said lunch because nothing had been eaten? TEARS. No matter what I did or didn’t do that day resulted in, you guessed it, TEARS.

By 3 PM my patience was out and I was near tears myself when I decided we might as well bake some bread. Seeing as we both needed to unwind, lavender ( way too much of it in fact) was thrown into the dough last minute and upon trying it ( and consequently gagging), decided that it certainly had potential if we could make it less soapy and more bready.

Now, after many attempts, and a few extra pounds, Fig and I give you our perfected Lavender Flower and Honey Bread; the perfect antidote for a stressed out mama and a cranky toddler. Making it soothing and so is eating it.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup of honey
  • 2 tablespoons of finely crushed lavender flowers
  • 1/2 tablespoon of sea salt
  • 1 package of dry active yeast (1/4 oz)
  • 3/4 cups of warm water, possibly a bit more depending on how the kneading the dough goes.

Directions:

  • Crush lavender flowers finely ( I used a mortar and pestle to do this)
  • In a large bowl, combine flour, honey, sea salt, lavender, yeast, and warm water.
  • Knead very well ( 5 minutes or more) and form into a rounded ball.
  • Place bread in floured bowl, cover, and let sit in a warm place for about 2 hours.
  • After two hours, divide dough in half. On a floured work surface, form each piece of dough into a rounded loaf shape.
  • Bake at 400 for about 30-35 minutes, checking frequently to ensure the bread doesn’t over-brown.
  • Let cool before serving.

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Cooking with Toddlers: Apple Rings and Apple Cider Vinegar

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I’m not a very crafty or festive person but I’m working on it. Planning and doing seasonal crafts and activities are akin to torture for me, but I realize the importance of creating a rhythm to the year through holidays and the celebration of seasons for young children.

That being said, Fall is my favorite season and there seems to be no shortage of food related projects my little ones can do. Our newest and latest obsession is the apple peeler. Something about cranking machine is super exciting for my little Fig and since we bought the machine (a week ago) we’ve probably gone through $40.00 of apples.

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And while I generally try to keep my kitchen uncluttered with unnecessary kitchen appliances I consider this apple peeler a necessity! If you love dried fruit as much as we do it’s a worthwhile purchase and can provide hours of fun for little hands. It is an activity, however, you must be hyper vigilant in supervising  since the peeler and corer are very sharp.

After peeling and removing the cores; simply bake at 175-200 degrees fahrenheit in the oven for several hours; checking frequently to ensure the apple rings do not over crisp. The apples should have the chewiness of store bought dried apple rings when done.

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And of course, don’t waste those precious apple cores and peels! We decided to make apple cider vinegar ( we used this recipe) which I’ll later turn into an herbed apple cider vinegar disinfecting  kitchen cleaner.

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Baking with Toddlers: Black Bean, Pumpkin and Chia Seed Cookies

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Getting out of the house with a newborn and a toddler is like trying to herd a pack of cats. So far, our attempts to leave the house have gone like this:

1) Start packing the 900 items we need 2 hours in advance of departure.

2) 30 minutes before departure, sit two year old on potty. He ” no have go”.

3) Change baby’s diaper and nurse him.

4) Put baby in carseat.

5) Baby has an explosion in his diaper; change baby.

6) Toddler now pees on carpet while saying “I had an accident; no biggie!”

7) Clean up carpet, change toddler’s clothes.

8) Toddler proclaims ” I’m pooing” which is code for ” I need to go use the potty”.

9) Set toddler on potty; wait for 10 minutes while he does his business. Congratulate him profusely for letting us know he had to go.

10) Clean up potty and toddler.

11) Baby now cries due to hunger.

12) Nurse baby.

13) Baby has another explosion in diaper.

14) Toddler now cries due to hunger

15) Repeat process until by some stroke of luck, the stars align and we are able to make it out the door only two hours behind schedule.

Needless to say, we’ve tried to stick as close to home as possible since having our second baby. While my husband and I have attempted to remain as zen as possible during this transition, we’re both ready for a stiff drink by the time 8 PM rolls around.

So, in our time spent at home,  Fig and I have been up to lots of cooking projects, our most recent being Black Bean, Pumpkin and Chia Seed Cookies! While these certainly have a lot of sugar they are not totally an empty calorie food due the beans, pumpkin and chia seeds. I feel a little bit better about giving them to Fig as a sweet treat. After all, having a new baby brother is hard work and sometimes a cookie is just what the doctor ordered.

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups of black beans
  • 1 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree ( our puree was homemade from our recent pumpkin patch trip but canned would probably work just as well).
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup of all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup of chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup of chocolate or carob chips

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Mix all ingredients except chocolate chips, sugar, flour and chia seeds in a food processor until smooth
  •  Pour mixture into a bowl, mix in chia seeds,flour, sugar, and chocolate chips
  • Spoon out batter  (about two tablespoons per cookie) on a cookie sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes.
  • Recipe makes about 15 good sized cookies

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Baking with Toddlers: Chia Berry Apple Crumble

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Fig and I spend most of our time outdoors. During the week you can usually find us hiking in our local canyons, at the beach or playing at our neighborhood park. Both of us pretty much hate to be indoors for more than a few hours a day but during the height of a southern california summer sometimes the heat is simply too intense to go outside. Yesterday was one of those horrifically hot days and after naptime there was just no way we could venture outside without burning to a crisp.

So we stayed inside. And as expected, things went from cray to cray-cray in a hot second.

Fig just isn’t an indoor kid and after he decided to “plant” the mint bush from the balcony into our carpet I decided it was time I occupy his little hands with something useful. So we decided a crumble for us to share “daddy” was in order.

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When baking with little ones who already possess too much energy I generally try to find and prepare baked goods that are mostly plant based, use natural sugars, and have loads of fruit. So when I discovered a crumble from my new favorite cookbook The Vibrant TableI knew it would be the perfect toddler baking activity.

As is typically the case with impromptu baking sessions, we didn’t have half the ingredients the original recipe calls for. So, with the Vibrant’s Table Crumble as inspiration we embarked on our own version.

I like this recipe for several reasons. First, there are ample opportunities for little helping hands. Secondly, when Fig started double fisting berries and walnuts into his mouth my reaction was meh.  (I’ve seen him double fist cake batter into his mouth like his life depended on it, so walnuts and fruit are no big deal). Thirdly, despite an initial feeling to the contrary, the dish is quite simple to make and tastes deceptively sinful.

Berry Apple Crumble:

Ingredients for the filling:

  • 5 small apples
    • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
    • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon
    • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 3 cups of berries ( we used a combo of blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries)
  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar

Ingredients for the crisp:

  • 1/2 cup of walnuts
  • 1/4 cup of ground flax
  • 1/4 cup of ground oatmeal
  • 1/4 cup of flour
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 1/4 cup of carob chips
  • 1/4 cup of chia seeds
  • Coconut Oil for baking

To prepare the apples: ( I had prepared these the day before)

  • Cube the apples into small pieces.
  • In a pot combine apples, water, cinnamon, and brown sugar.
  • Cook on very low until tender and highly fragrant ( around 20-30 minutes).

To Prepare the Crisp and Berries:

1) Heat oven to 300 degrees F

2) Process the walnuts in a food processor until they are the size of breadcrumbs

3) Process the oatmeal finely.

4) In a bowl, mix the walnuts, oatmeal, flax, flour and honey together.

5) Spread the mixture on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes until golden brown. Once done, pop the mixture into the freezer until it’s room temperature.

6) In the meantime, combine apples, berries and sugar together in a bowl.

7) Once crumbles are cool increase the oven to 350 degrees.

7) Lightly oil a 9 inch baking pan. Combine the crisp, berry/apple mixture, chia seeds, and carob chips together in pan.

8) Bake for 25-30 minutes.

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Baking with Toddlers: Raw Vegan Baking

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Raw vegan baking and toddlers might just be a match made in cooking heaven. While we don’t really subscribe to a particular way of eating ( raw, vegan, vegetarian, paleo etc. ect. ) I’m certainly a fan of raw and vegan when it comes to working with a toddler in the kitchen. Here’s why:

1) Raw baking is well..raw! This means no hot oven to worry about. Not only does this rock during summer time and save energy but it also eliminates some of the inevitable danger of using a hot oven for both kid and parent. I’m happy to report I’ve been very successful in keeping my two year old safe in the kitchen but I can’t say the same for myself.  Just in the last two weeks I’ve managed to julienne my finger AND hand ( on two different occasions) and cut myself with a bread knife. Clearly I need to minimize kitchen danger for my own sake.

2) Most of the raw vegan recipes I’ve seen use really healthy ingredients and natural sweeteners like dates instead of refined sugars. This is good if you have a little kid who just can’t resist shoveling batter into their mouths. This is good for moms and dads who also can’t help shoveling batter into their mouths ( maybe its genetic?). Either way, the reason we don’t bake a lot is mostly due to the fact that I have no self control when it comes to sweets and will pretty much consume whatever was made within a 24 hour period. I feel much less guilty with recipes like this one from raw chef Emily von Euw in the latest issue of Vegetarian Times.

3) Back to the batter: since there are no raw eggs used in vegan baking I don’t have to be quite as vigilant about Fig taking a mouthful of raw eggy batter. He once ate a huge spoonful of raw egg batter and I spent a week thinking he would contract some kind of brain eating bacteria (totally a 1st time mom reaction) . Needless to say, I’ll take a baking recipe sans eggs if possible.

4) Raw baking takes less time than regular baking. Fig and I whipped up our latest raw baking dish in around 20 minutes total. Believe me, there is nothing worse than being knee deep in a 40 minute baking session,  batter everywhere, only to have a toddler decide he’s had enough, throw a tantrum, and then conveniently need a diaper change ( typically the mail lady will arrive at this time, the dog will flip out and try to kill said mail lady and that super important telephone call you’re waiting for will ring). 20 minutes or less is where its at!

If you’re considering bringing a little person into the kitchen with you for some baking sessions, both Fig and I would highly suggest testing out some raw vegan recipes even if you’ve never eaten raw or vegan before….it might just be the easiest and most delicious thing you’ve ever baked!

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What baking with a two year old looks like!

What baking with a two year old really looks like!

Our raw cashew cookies with fig and strawberry jam

Our raw cashew cookies with fig and strawberry jam

 

Baking with Toddlers: Bliss Muffins

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True Life: My son’s a muffin addict.

In fact, several nights ago we awoke out of our sleep to the screams of “MUFFINSSSS!!!!” coming from my son’s bed. Upon closer examination, it was discovered that little Fig was having a passionate and vivid muffin dream. Muffins rock my little guy’s world and I’m happy to supply his daily fix.

In my attempt to make the healthiest muffins on the block, I stumbled across this recipe for “bread”. I’ve made several loaves, all of which were scrumptious but had no luck convincing the little guy to eat it. So, I’ve been experimenting with several different variations over the last few weeks. Eventually I decided to load it with dried fruit and make it into the revered muffin.

Nicknamed The Bliss Muffin ( for the bliss it supplies Fig), these Muffins are a great activity for little kids to participate in. In fact, muffin making in general is a quick, easy, and super fun way to get little folks into the kitchen. Just watch out that the batter doesn’t disappear before your eyes. All that goodness can be hard to resist!

The Bliss Muffin:

muffins1-5 First and foremost, I suggest you check out the original recipe ( found here) and even make a loaf or two of bread.

Ingredients for 12 Muffins:

  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup of shaved almonds
  • 1 ½ cup of rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup of dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup of dried turkish apricots
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup of currents
  • 4 Tbsp. psyllium seed husks
  • 1 tsp. fine grain sea salt
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. maple syrup (for sugar-free diets, use a pinch of stevia)
  • 4 Tbsp. melted coconut oil
  • 1 3/4 cups / 350ml water

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Fig thought adding a touch of Aloe soap might make this muffin recipe come alive! I persuaded him otherwise.

Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl ( except the water, coconut oil and maple syrup)
  • Melt the coconut oil in a pot. Once melted, add the water and maple syrup to the pot. Mix well.
  • Add the mixed coconut oil, water, and maple syrup to the rest of the ingredients and make sure everything is mixed well and thoroughly coated.
  • Place batter in a muffin tin. Pack down batter as much as humanly possibly without the batter spilling over the top ( this is key).
  • Let batter set in the muffin tin for at least 2 hours. The longer the better.
  • Bake muffins at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes.
  • You’ll need to be very vigilant in watching the muffins to make sure they don’t over crisp.
  • Leave muffins to cool. Again, the longer the better. I left ours overnight and was amazed at how structurally sound they were compared to other batches that fell apart much easier.

Enjoy!

Baking with Toddlers: Preparing for Mexico

IMG_8939 We packed up and left for Mexico a few days ago, but not before we had a bake-a-thon of epic proportions! Since traveling always throws our eating schedule off, I thought it might be good to whip up a few of our favorite baked goods to take along with us. Mexico City has an awesome organic/local store called Origens but between the distance and the fact that Mexico City has about the most horrendous traffic known to humanity ( FOR REAL), it takes hours to get there. Since we don’t know when we’ll have the time (or patience) to trek over there, we thought it best to bring a few little items to hold us over. IMG_8952 Baking with toddlers is an act of patience; like most things involving toddlers. This is especially true when you have a batter thief on your hands. I think at least 25% of the batter ended up in Fig’s stomach. Luckily, the batter for his favorite muffins are vegan so I didn’t have to worry about raw eggs. Sometimes, I question why I let a two year old get involved in activities such as baking. Between policing the batter, the flour explosions, and ensuring I don’t inadvertently burn the house down, I frequently feel my anxiety level rising . The visions of cleaning a toddler covered head-to-toe in flour, the clumps of batter in the most horrific of places, the dishes ( oh the dishes!). But I see the joy in his face, the excitement over creating something all his own. These are his muffins after all. Nourishing for his little body and his mind.

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The “Fig” Muffin

Muffins

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Morning Bran Muffins

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Morning Fruit Loaf

Nut Bread

Nut Bread

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Kale and Parmesan Bread

Life is so much slower here south of the border, which leaves us with the possibility of many more bake-a-thons; something that’s good for both of us. I’ll post the recipes of our favorite creations soon and I hope they bring you as much as joy as they did Fig ( and mama…but only in retrospect). Adios!