Friday, May 28, 2010

What I did this morning (or what you should have done last night!)

Want to know why I'm smiling this goofy smile?
It may or may not have to do with what I'm drinking...
Which may or may not be the best summer morning beverage I've made...
Which may or may not be a Fabulous Iced Cappuccino.

How would one make such a fantastic morning beverage?  It's quite easy but takes a bit of preparation.  Brew some coffee last night, preferably your favourite flavour.  I absolutely love Chocolate Fantasy from the Bulk Barn, but you probably aren't as capable of buying that flavour as me, so you go ahead and choose your own.  Okay, now that you've brewed it (last night), pour it into a couple ice cube trays.  Four cups of prepared coffee exactly fills two trays.  Since you did that last night, you're good to go today, right?

So now that you have frozen coffee cubes, get out your food processor or blender or whatever mixing device you want to use on icey coffee.  Add equal parts milk and coffee cubes.  Half a tray of coffee cubes is almost exactly 2/3 cup, so add 2/3 cup milk to that.  Blend away until smooth and frothy.  If you want to add sugar or International Delight, put it in your cup, then pour in the cappuccino mix.  This tastes so much better than the corner store iced capp and there's much less sugar. 

And it tastes so good in the morning...  and the afternoon...  and at night after a hot day.

Bottoms up!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Scratchy-ish Granola Bars

I like to bake.  I like to make things from scratch.  But I like things to taste good too.  And I've tried so many times to make delicious granola bars, and they just don't work well enough to say, "Yes!  That's the recipe!" 

I also like shopping once a week and sticking to a tight budget.  So this week, when we ran out of granola bars at the beginning of the week, then ran out of snacky veggies as well, I knew it was time to try again.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.

I went back and looked through the three recipes I had tried.  I couldn't do them as they were written since they weren't satisfactory the first time through.  So I improvised and mish-mashed a couple recipes with what I had on hand to make these:

The Best Granola Bars I've Ever Made
(which isn't saying much)

3 cups of your favourite granola cereal*
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk*
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup unsweetened coconut
1 cup pecans or almonds
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat your oven to 350 F.  Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl with a heavy wooden spoon.  Grab a 9x12 rimmed cookie sheet and line it with parchment paper so that it just hangs over the edges when pushed down.  Plop the mixture onto the cookie sheet and with that same heavy wooden spoon spread the granola mixture evenly over the pan.  If you want to use your hands, slather them up with some butter.  They'll get pretty messy.

Bake for about 25 minutes in the preheated oven.  Let cool for 30 minutes, cut into 24 squares then let cool completely before serving.  These will last for over a week in a tightly sealed container...  Unless you eat them all first!
*Since I do enjoy making things from scratch, let me give you a recipe for granola and one for sweetened condensed milk.
My friend Moni has a great granola recipe here:
You should read her blog.  She's funny, insightful, caring, and generally has really great stuff to share with people.  And she's my friend, so you would like her.
Here's my Aunt Nancy's recipe for sweetened condensed milk.  I don't know where she got it, but I love it!
Sweetened Condensed Milk Substitute
1 cup instant dry milk
2/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup boiling water
3 Tbsp butter

Blend until smooth in the food processor. Store in refrigerator. Equals one can Eagle Brand Milk.

So there you have it.  Granola bars from scratch.  Or almost from scratch.  Or partly from scratch.  However you do it, it will be good and you will like it.  And if you don't like it you can invite me over to eat them and I will like it.  And then we can chat while I eat your delicious granola bars.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Tales from the Tooth Fairy

Something momentous happened at our house a couple days ago. My oldest lost his sixth tooth on Friday night. For various reasons, the tooth didn't get left for the Tooth Fairy until last night (Sunday). I handed him the special, second-generation bag that his father and aunt and uncle used to use and left him to it. After losing five teeth already, he was a pro and knew what to do.

At midnight, I remembered that I had Tooth Fairy (TF) duty and scrambled down the stairs to his room. I reached under his pillow in the dark and all I could feel was a scrap of paper. I kept searching but came up empty. Thinking that perhaps the paper was leading the TF on a scavenger hunt, I turned the light on to read it:

His tooth was on the floor? Was this a joke? Was he trying to be sneaky? Regardless, I needed to find that tooth. With the hall light on, I got down on my hands and knees and started to scour the floor for that tooth. Nothing. I looked under the bed, just in case he thought that would be funny. Nope.

This wasn't working in the dark anyway. As I considered my options I went upstairs to show the note to the husband. He laughed and told me, "You've GOT to write this down!" Helpful as that information was, I was no where closer to finding this tooth.

A-ha! I had an idea:

I would use the black light that we had purchased for cat-pee finding purposes to now find this elusive tooth. All lights were turned off, black light was turned on and I once more got on my hands and knees, this time grabbing every speck of white fuzz, hoping that it was a tooth. It was no where near his head on the floor so I turned around to search the rest of the room. I searched a bit more and then I spotted what was most certainly his tooth. It was the largest and whitest glowing spot on his floor. I reached out for it and... Victory! What was lost was now found! It was all very biblical.

It was all starting to make sense. The boy went into his room, tooth in hand, ready to put it in the tooth bag and lay it under his pillow when he dropped it. Not being able to find it, he figured that writing a note would be good enough and the TF would find it. It was, after all, a tooth, and TF was, after all, the Tooth Fairy.

Having solved the mystery, I decided to play along and fulfilled my role as TF. Using my best left-handed penmanship, I wrote:

This morning, I asked the boy if he got any money for his tooth, hoping for a good story. All he said was "Yep, a quarter." And that was the end of that.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

My very favourite picture of my mom is one from many, many years ago. She was in the kitchen, mixing what I believe to be fruit-cake in one of her big, metal, mixing bowls. I'm not sure what happened just before the picture was taken, but she had her picture snapped as she was turned away from the counter with her hands full of dough. She has this *Look* on her face, the Look that I love, the Look that is part amusement, part pretended-annoyance, and part impishness, as she's wondering how much enjoyment she can get before she gets caught. It is my absolute-favourite picture of my mom... I think I love it because I loved catching those moments when she let herself get carried away in the fun. (My mom is also very responsible and because of her duties with work and home, I was not able to get a copy of the picture in time to put in here. Our loss, her tax clients' gain!)

(This picture will have to suffice, circa 1978.)

My favourite memories of my mom involve all those "Mom Things"... Laundry, cooking, baking, school, cleaning. You know how people ask what your earliest childhood memory is? Well mine is of lying in a pile of dirty sheets in the hallway outside the bathroom, because it must have been Monday, and Monday was sheets day. My mom had dutifully stripped the beds and I was most likely in the way as I reclined into the sheets. She threw some sheets on top of me and all I remember is LOVING it.


I decided to make some muffins for my kids today, so I grabbed my recipe for Apple Cinnamon Muffins and realized that this was the recipe I made with my mom when I was about 11 years old. Each of us girls got to try out a recipe from the new "Kids in the Kitchen" fundraiser cookbook that our church had put together. I remember being taught to methodically measure and cut so that the recipe would come out just right. Those muffins were delicious! I don't know if it was because I made them under Mom's tutelage, or that I got to do it "on my own" or something else, but that is one of the only recipes that I make over and over again from that cookbook.

My mom was always available for school stuff. She would bake for bake sales and drive us when we had practices for extra-curricular events. I am certain that she went on field trips with us (although I can't remember a specific one.) I remember a few times that she rescued me from the embarrassment that only females suffer. (Thanks for driving in to school and picking me up!)

But the thing that I have the most memories of is something that involves the whole family... We had the best family card nights! I can remember so many times when we would all dissolve into laughter. Mom would have that Look on her face (see the description of the picture I wanted to include) and if the discussion was really funny she would break up in laughter along with the rest of us.

I was looking through the digital pictures of my mom, most of them from the year 2000 and forward. I noticed a trend that perfectly represents where my mom is most comfortable...

Anyone who knows her knows that she loves babies. Holding them, bathing them, changing their poopy diapers. My mom loves it all. She is a great mom, but she's really found her niche as a grandma! She loves it so much that with all her grandkids living at least a day's drive away, she finds new grandkids to spread the love to. If you chat with her long enough, you'll hear about the kids in the Grade One class that she reads with or the kids that visited over the weekend that she had fun snuggling with.

You might also notice, if you were to look through the pictures of my family over the last 38 years or so that Mom and Dad are still married, still happy, and still serving God together. I am very thankful that I have a mom so committed to living the way God wants her to! It has certainly had an influence on the godly choices I make, even if we don't see eye to eye on some of those decisions. And seeing my parents together, after 38 not-always-easy years, I have hope for future generations, that not every couple will call it quits when things get a little bumpy. I am so glad that I never once worried that my parents might split up. That is quite a legacy!

Now that I'm a grown-up with a family of my own, I'm a horrible failure at trying to be the Super-Mom that my mother was. I'm lucky if I get my sheets washed every other week, let alone every Monday. My counter is not nearly as tidy as the one in my memories (nor as tidy as the one in her current house!) And I lose my patience with my kids much more frequently than I remember out of Mom. But I try to hold down the fort. At least I've got a pretty good example to look up to. God sure knew what He was doing when He made my mom.
I love you, Mom!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Just another "Eyes in the Back of Mom's Head" story

This scenario happens at least once a day in my house...

I hear the youngest boy, four years old, flush the toilet and then I hear water for about .782 seconds. He exits the bathroom.

Me: Did you wash your hands?
He: Yes
Me: Did you wash them well?
He: Yes
Me: Did you use soap?
He: Yes
Me: Did you wash both sides, up to your wrists?
He: Yes
Me: Are you lying to me?

*He whines and convulses as he flops back in the the bathroom to do it right.*

When do they figure out that moms know EVERYTHING?