12 Weeks of Christmas Treats–Gingerbread Cookies

Have you noticed the Christmas countdowns? Yes, they’ve already begun. Meal Planning Magic is once again hosting their phenomenal blog hop: 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats, formerly known as 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies.

It wasn’t hard to choose a first post for this event. Sweet, spicy gingerbread. Mm-mmm. After all, nothing says “Christmas is coming” to me or my kids like gingerbread cookies.

Here in Wyoming September can be warm and autumn-y some years, but winter is cold and it could take a flying leap and avalanche onto us at any time! Yeah, once the football season starts, there are no guarantees of leisurely leaf changes, or sunny Indian summers.

One of my I-hate-winter-and-here-it-comes coping mechanisms is to start looking forward to Christmas right away. As soon as my precious tots can claim their first fall chill, they start clamoring for hot cocoa. The second subject of supplication is to bake gingerbread men.

Sadly for my blessed babes, I really hate rolling dough, but fortunately I love gingerbread. We don’t always make the men, but no matter what the size of shape, this taste bud tingling treat is hard to beat.

Nothing says “Christmas is coming” like gingerbread.

Gingerbread Cookies½ cup margarine
½ cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup dark molasses
½ teaspoon salt
½ Tablespoon baking soda
½ Tablespoon cinnamon
½ Tablespoon ginger
¼ teaspoon cloves
2 ½ cups flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar. Blend in eggs. Blend in molasses, salt, baking soda and spices. Put down the mixer and stir in flour. Drop by spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake approximately 10 minutes depending on cookie size. This dough can be chilled, rolled and cookie-cut if desired.

If you want to tone down the flavor, you can replace the molasses with syrup. That tames it in a hurry. I’m going to try a bit of cayenne or white pepper in my next batch. Woohoo!

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Written Routines for Kids

I didn’t grow up knowing much about housekeeping. I thought I invented the “laundry day” concept—it was new to me. I didn’t know that the school bus came at a set time everyday till I saw my sister’s letter from her kids’ school. Wow.

I learned a lot from Fly Lady. She has a lot of great information on how to get and keep your home in a presentable state. Now that I have a clue, and a plan, I am a big proponent of written routines for kids, too.

This is a copy of the routine I made for Sister, dd7. I have three kids in this age range, 4, 7and 8. All of their routines are similar. It takes me more time to make the lists when I add all this clip art, but not all of them are readers, and this gives them a visual. And they just like the added fun and color.

DO NOT think that this list makes these things miraculously occur, I wish. But it helps them remember what I want done, and it help me remember what I wanted done (sometimes I’m thankful to be dressing myself, let alone keeping track of every step of each of their processes.)

That next great idea: Dry-Erase Crayons. They are a great idea no stink, no drying. They are rather soft so they break easier than regular crayons. How do I know? The little darlings. 😉

Print out the routines, slip them into smooth page protectors, and post them on the wall in a good spot. Ours are divided into one upstairs and by the bathroom list, and one down by the kitchen table list. Okay, so I’m a form-follows-function type. You can put them in a less conspicuous yet still convenient spot or make them prettier, if you like. You could even frame them.

And someday my little darlings will make and follow routines all on their own. Won’t I feel proud but wistful then! Please click this link to view the pdf file: Daily Routine Sis

Pushy Motherhood

I insist on piano, but tennis was totally her idea.


I am not a pushy mom. But I would like to be.
I read a blog. It talked about pushy moms. What are they? Are we one of them?
According to my impromptu research, it looks like people don’t want to be pushy and that “pushy” is: (my paraphrasing)
First—
insisting kids excel in given activities
forcing kids to participate in activities they don’t want
putting a kid in too many activities
Second—
excessive bragging
getting vicarious self-esteem through children’s achievements
I, not surprisingly, don’t think I’m a pushy parent. But, unlike those pushy moms who just don’t see themselves as they really are, I’m actually right about myself in this. I have to push myself to push my kids. My parents were pretty laid back. As a child, I rode the bus to and from school, had a few chores and no extra-curricular life. As I got older, I could pretty much do what I wanted as long as my chores were done, my grades were adequate and my activities didn’t require my being driven hither and yon.
A year or so back I read “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior”. The point I remember most is that some things are not fun until you know how to do them. I have a cantankerous non-pianist-type dd14 who has not been let off the hook because of this article.
Miss dd14 vows never to make her kids do anything they don’t like. We’ll see how that goes in twenty years (ha). Although it is entirely possible that she might decide against piano lessons, I think she has a few things to learn regarding just how many things a child is capable of disliking, i. e. pretty much everything, especially if they know you want them to do it.
In all fairness, not all kids have that if-you-like-it-I-don’t attitude. But even the most cooperative child, sometimes falls into the if-you-like-it-it’s-dorky trap. But I digress.
No doubt you can try to push your children too hard. And you can push them for the wrong reasons, which are any reasons that relate more to you than to the child. BUT we are the adults. This enables us to understand long term benefits in a way that children and youth are incapable of. Come on, I mean these are people who didn’t foresee the potential for catastrophe when they started jumping over a chair on their bed. Even after all that time spent singing about those naughty monkeys. They obviously require guidance on life-altering decisions.
With that said, I believe it is important that we know our children, their strengths and weaknesses, hopes and goals. We need to be sure we have our children’s best interests at heart. This requires a periodic review. It also requires a periodic push. And, in my case, a constant reminder to myself of what it is we’re working for so that I don’t let my kids’ potential fall by the wayside in my quest to be agreeable or freed from the schlepping duties my own parents so carefully avoided.

Exposure vs. Exhibitionism—How much is too much

Ack. I’m having self-conscious attacks. They’re panic attacks that stem from being embarrassed. Maybe I should have started my blog under a safe, secure, pseudonym. Then I wouldn’t have to worry about what people think of me in real life. I could be blissfully anonymous under my alter-ego.

So do you know why I didn’t do that? Let’s see . . . 1) I’d think I did it because I was embarrassed by myself (of course it would be because I was embarrassed by myself), 2) It might get hard to keep track of separate personalities, 3) I want to be able to take credit for good stuff in person. Hey people could love it, and I’d be famous in real life—like Tony Stark!

Ah. To ponder the universe.

Okay. I can start an alter-ego blog anytime. It will never be too late for that.

My next dilemma is what parts do I show and tell. I read somewhere that we should not blog our failures, just our successes. Of course I read that in an article detailing the blogger’s disregard for that and other “rules”. But seriously, should I portray the angst or just the calm wisdom that usually follows?

Angst is funnier, and it builds comradery when exposed in small doses. But I don’t want my blog to turn into a never-triumphant, middle-aged Catcher in the Rye. And I don’t want to exaggerate my struggles in the quest to entertain.

I guess the bull’s eye I’m targeting is this: I want what I write to only improve others’ estimations of me, never detract. So basically, I’m operating under a ridiculously debilitating fear of rejection. Youch.

*Deep breath* Not everybody loves you.
*oumm* And that’s okay.
*sniff* There are always some people who do love you.
*Sneeze* And you should have vacuumed the corners.

Yeah, we’ll keep working on this. Good night.

I Heart Food Co-ops

I have belonged to a food co-op for a couple years now. I highly recommend this as a way to get good fresh food less expensively. Two and a half years ago, I was searching for a way I could afford more fruits and vegetables for my family. This information was a godsend.

 

There are a lot of different types of co-ops. And some go by a label other than co-op. I’ve heard of farms that deliver a weekly basket, and I know there are people around here who take orders for specific harvests, i.e. peaches, then they drive down and pick it up for everybody.

 

My co-op, Bountiful Baskets, ships a truck load of produce up every two weeks, and I and other volunteers divvy up said produce and sign it out to the participants. Participation is on a bi-weekly basis, and if you don’t want it, you just don’t go online and order it.

 

I like this set-up because I have nothing to do with the money. What a relief. We have great volunteers; several people come regularly, others once in a great while. I love working with people who are happy to help and happy to see the tantalizing fruit and veggies.

 

We don’t get to pick individual items. It’s made up of whatever is seasonal, available and affordable at the time. This has helped us to try new foods and new recipes. And most of my kids, I have one hold-out, have developed a broader taste for various vegetables. They’ve always liked fruit so no change there.

 

No matter how it works, or what the options are in your area, it’s worth checking out these alternatives to conventional shopping. Ask around, or try a web search. There may be more options than you realize. Or maybe you can bring a new co-op into town.

I received no compensation from Bountiful Baskets. I just think they’re great.

 

Forced Blog Gets Mom Focused

A captured moment of family harmony.

My Husband made me write this blog for therapy.

I’m not pleased. I’m mad at him and anger and frustration are making me want to lash out by saying all the mean things I can think of. Yes, I think writing can be therapeutic. But so can thinking for a minute before sounding off.

And to make it worse he is not only sleeping on the other side of the room, fitfully as it is I’m nevertheless jealous. But he has apparently acquired the skill of sleep-berating. He is intermittently mentioning things I need to “work on” without totally waking up.

This is going to get old in a hurry, let me tell you. “What is bugging me,” you ask? Well, since I’m an obsessed mom, it’s the kids. Namely, it was the logistics of kids being responsible for chores when they’re gone all the stinking time.

Emily is a full-time college student and part-time employee. So she’s gone between 6 and 15 hours a day. You’d think I could slap-on my happy-joy-joy face for her the rest of the time, right?

Well, it seems that I cannot. I railed on her this evening for not getting the things she was in charge of doing done.

What I guess I need is a better plan for the things I want her to do. Blog to the rescue, I’m starting a series of articles creating and keeping family harmony.

Here are the topics:

1. Clear expectations,

2. Calm reminding

3. Consistent work, discipline and praise

4. Clutter free life

5. Schedule the fun

6. Forgive and forget

I’ll be blogging on these topics not because I’m an expert but because I know for a fact that he who teaches learns the most. Ancient wisdom I’ve gained by formally teaching a lot of lessons. So thank you for serving as my audience and thus giving me the motivation I need to organize proper lessons from my irked ramblings. Of course he was right that by the time I finished I wouldn’t have any mad left in me. For tonight.

I post a whole food recipe

I was reading blogs and came across A recipe for healthy fudge recipe. Forgive me for not linking, but I don’t remember where it was, sorry.

All this whole foody goodness made me want to post a whole foods recipe. But I couldn’t think of one. I don’t really cook that way. I use sugar; I have no problem with sugar as an ingredient per se. I, sadly, use white flour too. I am a proponent of whole wheat but alas do not own a wheat grinder.

I am a believer in doing the best you can with what you’ve got. And I finally came up with a wholoe food recipe.

Whole Food Beans

I boil up a big pot of beans all at once. Usually 2 pounds dry is manageable. Soak them if you like, or not. They’re okay either way. Cook them in enough water or broth to keep them covered. Don’t ever let them get low on water. Throw in a quartered onion and a few cloves of crushed garlic. Nothing too fancy; you want them to be versatile when you go to use them.

Cook them until they are soft. I like a them sort of al dente, but hubs prefers them to be almost ready to turn to mush. Then drain them and let them cool. Next bag them up in whatever you use as freezer containers. I usually like them divided into 2 cup portions. I just put them into plastic zippy bags, but there’s been a blog buzz against plastic lately. So do what you think is best.

One benefit to plastic bags is that you can easily accomplish my recipe for

Whole Food Refried Beans

Thaw the beans in the bag. Then smash them up. Then heat them in the microwave. If they seem too think to you, thin them with broth or dare I say it, drain your taco meat into them.

And there you go. Whole food.