Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Random Act of Kindness

Today I had a rough morning. I know as a mother I’m supposed to be the one who holds it all together when everyone else is falling apart, but I just couldn’t do it today. One kid woke up cranky and got another kid cranky, and I joined the cranky team. My great wisdom and many years of experience failed me big time.

I seriously couldn’t figure out how I was going to get in a better mood. I didn’t want to listen to music. I didn’t want to read. I didn’t want to go on a walk. I really didn’t want to do anything. Suddenly I remembered something I saw on Pinterest. One woman spent her 35th birthday doing 35 random acts of kindness with her children. I didn’t have all day to do random acts of kindness, but I did have a half hour.

I loaded up the kids and grabbed $3 in quarters. As I handed out the quarters to the kids, I explained that we were going to be Santa’s helpers.  At first the kids were super excited, but after seeing the neat things in the candy and toy machines they wanted to buy something for themselves. I reminded them that today our treat was to give to others, and they quickly got back into the spirit of things.

We had so much fun running from store to store leaving little surprises for some lucky kid to find. We went to a strip mall so they would all be close together and hit Albertsons, Ace Hardware, Dollar Tree, the laundromat, and Blockbuster. As we were running over to the bank, Camille said she felt warm inside and that she knew that was the Spirit. Tate told me he felt “very smurfy.” {Has anyone else seen The Smurf’s one too many times?} As we were looking for a candy machine, the teller at the bank asked if she could help us. Unfortunately the only candy they had was what the tellers hand out to the kids, which sparked an idea. We asked if she would give our quarter to a kid who came in to the bank and wish them a Merry Christmas from another kid helping out Santa.

It was the best medicine EVER. Seriously. If you're having a rough day you should try it. If you need ideas {or even just one!}, here is the original post.

More Healthy Alternatives

I like to eat healthy, but I sooo enjoy having some sugar. Sometimes I'm looking for a "more healthy" option rather than a healthy option :) So these tricks probably aren't for the person on a diet, but rather the person looking to cut back a little. Did you know you can substitute applesauce for vegetable oil in almost any bread type recipe? I had a friend in college who was an excellent baker and she taught me this trick. I've used it in store-bought cakes and muffin recipes.

I hate having to buy special ingredients for recipes {especially perishable ones}. It seems I only use a small amount and then the rest of the container goes bad because I don't know what to do with it. One such ingredient for me is buttermilk {which I rarely use in baking or cooking} so when a recipe calls for it I make my own from scratch. Not only do I save money and avoid waste, it also contains less fat - especially if you use skim or 1% milk. Put 1 Tbs. lemon juice in a glass measuring cup and add milk until you have one cup. Let this mixture sit for at least 5 minutes before using in a recipe. Can't tell the difference!

If these tricks sounds familiar, it might be because I posted this information in my "Mommy can I have another" best ever bran muffin recipe, but sometimes it's helpful to have the info right in front of you. Or maybe you didn't even see these substitution tricks because you tuned out when you saw the words bran muffin. It's okay. Not everyone likes muffin tops. Or bran. But now you have a couple more tricks up your sleeve.

"Mommy can I have another" Muffins

Tate told me this morning that he can eat five of these in one sitting, but I cut him off at four and handed him a yogurt. My kids absolutely LOVE these muffins. The recipe makes about three dozen, and they're usually gone within 24 hours. The nice thing, is that if your family knows how to pace themselves {unlike mine} the batter can be refrigerated for up to two weeks so you can pop them in the oven and have fresh, warm muffins anytime you like. This is especially handy on busy work or school mornings. I haven't tried freezing the batter yet, perhaps I'll give it a shot next time. Without further ado, here are the best bran muffins ever {at least, they're the only ones I've ever enjoyed}.

Bran Muffins
2 C All-Bran
1 C Bran Buds
1 C boiling water

Combine above ingredients and let sit until not hot anymore.
Then add the following ingredients:

2 beaten eggs
1/2 C vegetable oil*
1 1/2 C Sugar
2 1/2 C Flour
2 1/2 tsp. Baking soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
2 C Buttermilk**

Mix ingredients well, pour into greased muffin tins, and bake at 400 F for 18-20 minutes. Leftover batter can be stored in fridge for up to 2 weeks.

*You can substitute applesauce for vegetable oil in most bread type recipes {including store bought cake mixes}. I've don it in this recipe and can't taste the difference.
**No buttermilk? No problem! In a glass measuring bowl, put 2 Tbs. lemon juice and fill with milk until you have 2 cups. Let sit for five minutes before using it in recipe.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Old McDebbie's Farm

I just heard about this fun farm that I want to check out next year! It opens in March and there are train rides, pony rides, fishing, and animals to feed. In April they have Easter Egg Hunts. In October they have Friday night fires for marshmallow roasting and a not-so-scary Halloween trail. This place sounds like a blast! Why am I posting about this in December?  I just found the flier in "the pile" {more on that here} and want to throw away the flyer, but I don't want to forget about it! So we'll see you in 2012, Old McDebbie!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Ultimate Camping List

As we approach the end of 2011 I am trying to get organized. Who am I kidding? It has nothing to do with the fact that the year is ending! I'm constantly battling with my messy self {and can't all be me, right?} No matter what the reason or the culprit, the fact is it's time to address "the pile." Please tell me I'm not the only one that has a pile of papers begging for a home. When it's time to clear the table for dinner or a project, all papers get thrown on "the pile." I have schoolwork, flyers for events, activities, and places I want to visit, things to be filed, notes for websites I want to check out, and lists of things I need to remember. One such list is our ultimate camping list. Anytime I'm camping and want something, I write it down and add it to the list when I get home. I had the perfect and complete list at one point, but I lost it. So now it shall go on my blog, never to be lost again! That's right, while other people are blogging about Christmas, cookies, and presents I am blogging about camping.

sleeping bags
extra blankets
air mattress
air pump
bath towels
hand towels
face wash
extra contacts
contact case
contact solution
baby soap, washcloth, and towel
garbage bags
lawn chairs
marshmallow roasters
paper towels
sandwich bags
swim suits
aloe Vera
bug spray
beach towels
water toys
life jackets
tennis shoes
baby high chair
play pin
baby spoons
sippy cup
light jackets
baseball caps
baseball, bat, mitts
hand sanitizer
antibacterial spray
big metal bowl for washing dishes
dishcloth & towel
dish soap
sharp cutting knife & cutting board
frying pan

Depending on where we're camping, what ammenities they have, and what phase of life I'm in {babies, etc.} the list may change. These are just things that I have needed in the past so I've put them on the master list. Did I forget anything? This isn't my original and I started from scratch with this camping in this last summer, not this December. And if you're mathematically inclinded, you've realized that this has been sitting in "the pile" for about four months. Now don't you feel better about yourself?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Asian Salad

Camille absolutely loves this salad! She requested it this year for her birthday dinner and asked me to put it in her "cookbook." We also had sesame chicken wings and white rice.

Asian Salad
2 packages Ramen noodles, crushed (discard seasoning packet)
1 tsp. sesame seeds
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 head cabbage, shredded or finely chopped (or a bag of coleslaw blend if you don't want to do any chopping)
1 bunch of green onions, chopped
3/4 C vegetable oil
1/4 C distilled white vinegar
1/2 C white sugar
2 Tbs. soy sauce

1. In a small sauce pan bring vegetable oil, sugar, and vinegar to boil for 1 minute. Cool. Add soy sauce.
2. In a medium skillet over low heat, melt butter and brown ramen noodles and sesame seeds. Once browned, remove from heat and cool.
3. In a large bowl combine shredded cabbage and chopped green onions. Add the noodle and soy sauce mixtures.  Toss to coat, and serve immediately so noodles stay crunchy.