School Carnival [cookie walk cookies]

When a call goes out for baked goods I do not need to be asked twice.  Any excuse to bake something and then immediately have it leave my house is a good thing.  I love to bake, but I can’t have anything sweet sitting around the house staring at me.  I’ll inhale all of it as if it were my last meal on earth.  All of it must leave immediately.  My version of purgatory will be a kitchen full of baked goods I can’t take to someone – something – donate.

Ginger spiced molasses cookies

Ginger Spiced Molasses Cookies (from Food52) will be taking a drive soon to school for the Cake Walk booth at the school carnival.  Ok I ate two – I wasn’t even done baking them and I had already shoved two in my mouth – see I told you – they have to leave.  Ohhh but they are so good especially right out of the oven!

Talking to children about sexual abuse

I ran across a great article on CNN that I felt needed to be shared  - Child sex abuse is a taboo topic for some parents.  In the home I was raised in child abuse and sexual abuse were not taboo topics – I heard about it every day – my father was a Juvenile Detective with the local police department and pretty much all he did was investigate child abuse and child sexual abuse.  The “my body” talk, saying “no”, and “no secrets” came up frequently in our home.  I have to say I feel pretty lucky to have been raised so aware that it wasn’t only strangers I needed to worry about, but people I knew (which are the biggest offenders of sexual abuse on children).  I also wasn’t an overly affectionate child and my parents let me know that it was ok to say no to an adult or anyone who wanted a hug or a kiss.  Little did I know then that having the ability to say no to this seemingly benign behavior would be so important.

So now that I have my own children talking to them about this subject is pretty easy.  One of my girls doesn’t always want a hug and a kiss and without thinking about it I instinctively tell her that it’s ok – no one should touch her unless she says it’s ok – giving her the willpower to say no should anything ever happen.  Like the “sex” talk parents have with their teens, talking to a young child about sexual abuse is difficult for many parents.  If you avoid the talk because you feel it will never happen to your child – you are wrong – it can happen to any child.

The article is worth a read and highlights a book by Jill Starishevsky called My Body Belongs to Me that I will be picking up – because you cannot have this conversation too often.

Decorating Easter Eggs | Bored and tired of Paas

Decorating Easter Egg Ideas

Let’s just get it out there – I am bored with Paas Egg decorating kits.  I have done everything I can possibly do with these kits – rubber bands, stickers, crayons, multicolored….I am bored and it’s time to teach my girls some other fun ways to decorate Easter eggs.  So, I promised my girls I would search Pinterest (they have no idea what Pinterest is) and the internet (this they know) for some fun Easter eggs decorating ideas.  So for you – I will take the lazy route and share what I found for my 5 year olds – my Pinterest Decorating Easter Eggs Board.  Everything from transferring napkin designs to shaving cream swirl eggs.  Oh and a must check out!  A recipe for Hard Boiled Egg Cookies!  I don’t have a zillion ideas on my board, but everything that is on it, a young school age child could easily do.

Picky eater reform school | open enrollment

sandwich prep

I am slightly stressed about an upcoming family trip to Costa Rica.  It has nothing to do with taking the girls to a foreign country – I am stressed about the food thing. My American Children and their spoiled palates.  My husband and I want to travel out of the country more with the girls and one sure way to make the experience less stressful is to some how get them to be more adventurous when it comes to eating.  I can honestly say with a straight face that once my girls started solid foods I approached every mealtime with the attitude that they will eat what we eat.  And that worked for a period of time.   They were great – then something went terribly wrong.  They became picky!

I have come to the realization that every aspect of parenting is a quest to find what will work right now, this minute to save your sanity.  The whole meal time fiasco is no exception.  We have tried so many tactics: “kitchen closed” – if you want something else you’ll need to make it, number of bites (never works), breaking the meal down (or as Jenny at DALS calls it deconstructing the meal – this tactic I’ve had more success with), no after meal treat unless they eat, and the list goes on.  All tactics work for a little while, then they stop working.  As a parent, you do what you can to have some sanity at meal time – a bottle of wine on the table always helps calm the nerves.

Recently I ran across a series piece by Sally Sampson on the New York Times Mother Lode blog called the The Picky Eater Project.  I sat down pen and paper ready to take notes and read through how I was going to make this work in my house.  One thing that made this series more appealing is that the subjects (the picky eaters) are twins.  Even though the family in the series had the help of two professionals for six weeks, I feel like I can do this – you can do this.  And yes I’ll have another glass of wine.

My Take a ways from this pieceand please read the entire series!

  1. Get everyone involved with mealtime on board – set rules for dinner time with the other people at the table.  Sometimes (as is the case in our home), older siblings want to be helpful in encouraging children to eat, making a production out of getting the food into the younger siblings mouths.  For us, the pomp and circumstance needs to stop.  Too much attention surrounding eating.  Just let everyone eat or not eat what is in front of them.
  2. Each one of them will choose a meal once a week and help prepare it.
  3. Stop over valuing the after meal treat.  Offer a treat or don’t – having a treat should not be dependent on finishing a meal.  Goes back to number 1 – less pomp and circumstance.
  4. Go back to they way things were before they became picky.

 

Homemade Valentines | with templates

Valentines 2014

Don’t you love Pintrest – it can inspire you and make you feel so inadequate all at the same time!  My insecurities aside, I found some easy Valentines for the girls to do this year that didn’t require too much work (more like, they won’t show up at school with something that looks like I made it for them to pass off as their own work).  Credit for the “a-MAZE-ing Valentine” goes to Jac o’ lyn Murphy and Googly “Eye Heart U” was pinned via Parents.com.  Parents.com also has a short video tutorial.

Valentine supplies 2014

I was able to find pretty much everything I needed (minus card stock – I have more of that than I should) at the Dollar Tree Store.  Googly eyes and heart stickers for the Googly Eye Heart U Valentines and heart mazes for the a-MAZE-ing Valentines.  The circle punch and glue dots were the only items that set me back.  I love glue dots!

Because I am completely incapable of cutting a straight line with out a guide or a paper cutter I made templates for each card -

Goggly Eye Heart U Valentine Template     |     a-MAZE-ing Valentine Template

For more Valentine ideas check these out 

Breakfast Brunch Dessert [Blueberry Gingerbread]

Benson & Hedges presents Recipes from Great American Inns (copyright 1981).  If that title doesn’t scream cook out of me, I don’t know what does.  Have it?  Heard of it?  I’m guessing no.  I can’t imagine that today, any establishment would put their name in a cookbook published by the cigarette industry.  Over 30 years ago the Squire Tarbox Inn added their recipe for Blueberry Gingerbread and I am thankful that they did.

blueberry gingerbreadIt’s so good, I couldn’t even get a picture of it before it was all eaten up.  Here is the recipe  - I’ve made it a lot if you can’t tell by the condition of this page.  Oh, and the suggestion to serve it with whipped cream as dessert really isn’t a suggestion – it should always be served with whipped cream – you’re missing out if you don’t.

Blueberry Gingerbread recipe

 

Paper Snowflake Making 101

Paper Snowflakes

All these years and I never really truly learned how to make the “proper snowflake”.  Leave it to the Proper Queen herself – Martha Stewart to have a step-by step guide to making the perfect snowflake.  I don’t feel like less of a person that I just finally figured this out – seriously, that woman has a bazillion people working for her making crafts out of everything from chewing gum wrappers to toilet paper tubes.  Trust me, you don’t have time from that kind of silliness.  My twins were in awe of my mad skills – I am feeling pretty good about myself right now – may go conquer something a little more complicated now, like paper mache’.

 

Moon Stay! [who let a dog in the gym]

sometime – well a lot of the time it kills me when I hear how parents speak to their children (I’m sure others think the same of me – but no one has actually told me).  I should really be doing some self-reflection on this subject, but instead I’ll just point out someone else’s behavior.  Today is a perfect example of a killing.  I am sitting at the gymnastics gym when I hear someone shout “Moon Stay!”  I thought someone was yelling at a dog – it took me a nanosecond to realize that their probably would not be a dog in the gym – then I realized, no it’s that woman speaking (if you want to call it that) to her son.  Mercy me, do I ever sound like that?  Plus, the one and only person I have ever heard of named Moon was Frank Zappa’s daughter Moon Unit Zappa.  Parents must be big fans, by the way it’s a girl’s name.

Holiday Card Deal Round-Up

This is something I need to begin working on yesterday – I have yet to be be so inspired.  So in the meantime, I thought I’d do a little recon for Holiday Card Deals out there and share my findings with you (all two of you – thanks for stopping by).

Picaboo

  • Up to 50% off (the more you spend the more you save) plus FREE shipping.  Use Code CHEER50.  This deal expires 12/5

Tiny Prints 

Shutterfly

Vistaprint

  • 50 Cards For $20 + Free Shipping Over $50.  Offer ends 12/6

Snapfish

  • 60% off across the site on orders over $100 use code CYBER60 ends 12/6

OR

  • 55% off across the site on all other orders use code CYBER55 ends 12/6

Offers exclude Premium Card Sets, 2014 Photo Calendar Gift Pack, pre-paid prints, stamps, gift certificates, Disney themed products.  

Minted

  • 15% off all holiday cards. Code: PEACE15.  They have a nice option to buy now and upload your photo later.  Offer ends 12/3.

Pear Tree Greetings

  • Save 20% off all orders starting at $50 (so $10 off $50, $15 off $75 – you get it).  Use code JINGLESALE.  Ends 12/15

Zazzle

  • 65% off all cards and invitations use code HOLCARDSSALE.  Not sure when this one ends.

Gift Ideas [in case you don't know what to get me]

Trader Joes Salted CaramelsSalted Caramels from Trader Joe’s – Fluer De Sel Caramels    I would rather just buy another container of Trader Joe’s Fleur de Sel Caramels for myself and share with no one as I did with this container.  But, I won’t…may be. These are additively awesome!

 

 

After you have eaten all those caramels check out these fun Violife Tooth Brushes!  Use Coupon Code CL2013 and save $2 off Slim Sonic and Rockee!

Easy & Oskey Make your own bitters kitFor the Mixologist – Easy & Oskey Make Your Own Bitters Kit  - wonderful things come from Minnesota – Eh!  They also have some fun cocktail recipes on their site.

 

 

 

spoon kitchen stylusFor the cook ispoon Kitchen Stylus.  I look at this thing and all I can think is that was a no brainer – (the idea no in my brain) – but woohoo for whoever was so genius to come up with this!  No more messy iPad when you’re cooking!  You can grab one of these at Umbra for $7! (or JCPenny for $4.99)

For the overly organized who love sticky notes – behold the Weekly Calendar Sticky Notes from The Container Store.  Fun & compulsive all at once!

Weekly Calendar Sticky Notes

 

 

 

 

 

Bill Ding StackerBill Ding Stacker from Land of Nod!  I had these when I was little!  My question is, where the heck are they now?

Slow Cooker + Pork + BBQ Sauce = Easiest Meal Ever!

Want an easy dinner idea that you can throw together before you throw yourself and everyone else out of the house in the morning?  How about BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches?

Easy Crock pot pulled pork

All you need is:

  • Pork shoulder, Boston butt, Pork roast (whatever…seriously, I always buy whatever is on sale and it always works) – any size, you choose.  I cook a lot and freeze the leftovers for a future meal.  (I used 3.3 lbs)
  • Your favorite BBQ sauce.  (I used an entire 29 oz. bottle.)
  • Rolls/buns (you can use little dinner rolls and call them BBQ sliders, or just regular size)

easy crockpot BBQ

Put the pork and BBQ sauce in your slow cooker (or crock pot).  If your pork is wrapped in a “string net” don’t forget to remove it!  Set on low and leave it for 6-8 hours (or more, sometime I leave it for 10!)  Once the pork is falling apart it is ready to go!

I used a potato masher to shred my pork.  You could use two forks, but I am not sure why you would want to drag the pork out – shred – then put it back in the crock pot (more work than you really need to be doing).

Easy crockpot pork bbq

My favorite side for this meal is a little spin on cole slaw – Nuts & Berries Cole Slaw:

  • Packaged Slaw
  • Poppyseed Dressing
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Chopped Pecans or Walnuts

Amounts mixed is all your preference!

Nuts and berry cole slaw

Finally, don’t forget sliced pickles for your BBQ sandwich!

Children – Pumpkins – Knives [Roasted Pumpkin Seeds]

I have some great (and not so safe) memories of carving pumpkins as a child.  My sibs and I would grab some kitchen knives (they were usually in poor condition), our pumpkins, and a large bowl for the “pumpkin innards”.  I recall the days we did this were always cold and raw (a nice Wisconsin October day).  As a rule there was no parental supervision.  Why would we need our parents permission let alone have them directly supervising us as we carved pumpkins with dull knives?  Our hands would get progressively raw as we dug out the wet innards, enjoying the feeling as the slimy seeds passed though our little fists!  Miraculously no one lost a finger or for that matter even nicked themselves.  Our only wounds were severely chapped hands.  We were probably no older than 8 when we began our unsupervised carving tradition.  My mom did however always show up somewhere towards the end to roast the pumpkin seeds we pulled out.  That was always the best and probably our reward for not impaling ourselves or severing a digit.

craving pumpkins I don’t think I’ll let my girls partake in this beloved family tradition – the roasted pumpkin seed part yes.  This year I was bored with the usual roasted with salt, so I searched around and found a yummy recipe for Salty Sweet Roasted Pumpkin Seeds at Cook The Story.   If you are already versed in carving pumpkins then skip ahead to step 5.  

Roasted Pumpkin seeds

Some other pumpkin seed recipes to check out:

Huffington Post – How To Jazz Up Your Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (RECIPES)

Martha Stewart – Pumpkin Seed Brittle

Easy Halloween Party Treats [Candy Corn & Peanuts]

My neighborhood puts on a Halloween parade every year and all the neighbors bring something for the after parade festivities.  Alas, the parade is tomorrow and I have procrastinated like I was about to win an Olympic Medal for my performance.  I need something with easy written all over it!  Nothing says easy like opening a bag of candy corn and stirring in some peanuts!  Have you had this combo?  If not prepare to become addicted!

Candy Corn Salted nut roll

I was going to use plain cellophane bags and tie them up with black and orange ribbon, but a trip to the Dollar Store changed those plans quick!  I found these great festive zip sealed bags!

Candy Corn and peanuts

 Now it’s just a matter of mixing up the candy corn and peanuts.  I am sort of a candy corn snob – only Brach’s.  Ultimately my candy corn to peanut ratio was 2-40 ounce bags to 32 ounces of peanuts.  You can mix yours however you like.

Candt Corn and Peanuts treat

I filled each bag with 1/3 cup of the candy corn peanut mix.  All set for the Costume Parade!  And yes the bowl was from the Dollar Store also.

What’s Your Excuse [Where do I begin]

Maria Kang

I am rather confused over the firestorm of women attacking Maria Kang and her “what’s your excuse” photo.  Honestly when I first saw it all I could think of was “How did you get those abs!  I want them!  What is her routine?  I need to know!  You Go Mom!”.  Then I saw all comments coming from other women – she’s a bully?  Really?  Jealousy is an awful thing ladies.  And yes I will admit, I am jealous of her awesome abs.  But, I am not going to tie her to a stake and burn her like a witch, call her names, say she’s a bad mother, or a disgrace to women.  Talk about being a bully – it’s the rest of you out there that are bullying her.

Contrary to what others have said the fact that she is fit shows how much she cares about her family – especially those boys.  I am not saying that if you are not fit you don’t care about your family, but that this is “her” way of showing how she cares.  Keeping up with those boys must be a workout in and of itself!  She is also setting an example for her boys on living a healthy lifestyle.  When my girls whine and complain about going to the gym daycare I flat-out tell them that I need to workout so I can stay healthy for them.  I also have to fight genetics and have a history of gestational diabetes.  Staying at a healthy weight, eating healthy, and exercising is cutting my risk way down of developing type 2 diabetes in the future.   And guess what else, selfishly I want to look good – does that make me a bad mother?

Maria is right, I have a million excuses, we all do.  But at the end of the day the best reason I have for staying fit is my girls.   I want to continue to ski, hike, bike, swim, play, jump rope, hula hoop, and cartwheel (yes mid 40′s and I can still turn a cartwheel) for as long as I am able.  Every time I say I don’t have time to exercise I think of them and the long life I want with them – they are my excuse to do it!

I wish a photo of myself running in the winter with two dogs and the twins in their BOB Duallie Stroller  - a “what’s your excuse” caption for that photo would be so would be so fitting.

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