What happens when its 95 degrees outside and there's not enough ice cream in the freezer for four kids?
You make milkshakes.
These were delicious - and I can say that because I sucked up the last of all the kids' cups.
And no, these are not even a little bit Whole30 approved, but it was good. Very good. And I made a choice to eat it and I'm okay with that. I mean, I did down six cups of water after I had it, so the water probably flushed all that sugar out of me, right?
Here's what I did:
Put some ice cream in the blender.
Add some almond (soy, real, whatever) milk.
Press the milkshake button and yum.
Add straws and it's almost as much fun as actually going to Carvel. Except for me, it was more fun because I didn't have to put four kids in the van, wait for the air to cool it off and then drive to Carvel. Yahoo!
And on a totally unrelated note, did you see my kitchen floor in the milkshake picture?
It's sparkly and clean and beautiful and it's all because of this:
My new floor steamer. I think it's a Shark brand.
I am so in love with it, I want to buy it a shiny present. Or take it for ice cream.
If you're not so good with a mop and a bucket (like me) and have broken many (many) Swiffers, this little guy will be your new best friend. It requires no soap or chemicals, you just add water and plug it in.
And the sponge-mop-kind-of-thing that cleans the floor? It's reusable. Just use it, toss it in the wash and use it again. I really find that concept to be so wonderful - I was always running out of the Swiffer type stick-on pads and then I couldn't mop. And then I'd forget to get more and then I couldn't mop some more. Wash, rinse, repeat, and you know how that song goes. It always ends with a dirty floor.
But no more, my friends!
Go. Get yourself one. It's one of the best $100 I have spent in a very very long time.
In less than one week, we will all be sitting down to the first seder. Are you tired just reading that? Cause I yawned just from typing that.
Today was (besides for take the six-year-old with the ear infection to the doctor day) oven cleaning day.
I'll just say it - my oven was gross. I always mean to clean it, but I forget. It has a door that closes so it's not like I see the mess when I walk by, and whenever I am near it and thinking about cleaning it, it's hot. Also, it's a not a self-cleaning oven so it's not so simple. And I really don't like the smell and the chemicals and the yuckiness of something like Easy-Off, so the oven rarely gets done.
Wanna see? It's gross, don't say I didn't warn you.
But take a look now.
I know. Such a difference. And that was only after the initial baking soda wipe-off. I did it again and it's totally clean now.
And I did it without poisoning myself with oven cleaner fumes. I poured baking soda all over the oven, sprayed vinegar over the baking soda, let it all sit for a while - and while I wish I could say poof! the stuff wiped right off
- it didn't. It did take some scrubbing with a wet sponge but it wasn't too bad and my arm isn't that achey now so all in all, totally worth it. (Where did I find this idea? Pinterest. Love that place. And I wish I could tell you where on pinterest I first saw it, but sadly, whoever pinned it didn't also link to it. Pinterest etiquette, people!)
Normally, when we clean the oven before Pesach, we'll wait until the kids are asleep and then open the windows in the kitchen and clean. But this year, I did it while they were having dinner, two feet away. They didn't even flinch from the smell of the vinegar, but that could totally be because they were having Italian dressing and salad with supper.
Anyway, now that you have a clean oven, you can kasher it and start baking, because what's more important than dessert? That's right. Nothing.
Here, some desserts from years past:Brownies that have passed the test
: the husband who is beyond loyal to Dunkin Hines and can't imagine why anyone would ever bake anything else, liked these - or at least Pesach-liked them, which, really, is saying a lot. Blondies worth eating even though it's Pesach.
It's true. Coconut-Chocolate Macaroons.
Are they good? Yes.
Are they healthy? With all that sugar, I can't really say yes, but they're much healthier than anything you'll find in a store.
Go. Bake. Freeze. Because I can't see Pesach desserts being any good after sitting out for a week.
I turned my back for two minutes tonight, during dinner, and I'm not really sure what happened, but I do know that when I turned back, the seven-year-old was standing on a chair at the sink with the six-year-old at his elbow, the older explaining to the younger how to get water to flow through half of his yolk-less hard boiled egg.
Could you just gag? Me too.
Shockingly, to my children, I got upset.
Some might think that the whole wasting of the food is what got me upset and yeah, I really do not like when the kids waste food, but this time, what really got me? The flood. The water running everywhere, down the side of the counter, onto the boys' socks, all over the floor, making a wet and slippery and hard-boiled-egg-scented-mess. And we all know what hard boiled eggs smell like.
In light of my new policy of having the punishment fit the crime - proper consequences and all that, as opposed to the standard go to your room - I told the little one that he'd have to clean the water on the floor and the older one, he'd have to wash the dishes tonight.
The 6 year old grumbled but the 7 year old? He jumped for joy. Sheer excitement.
Apparently, I have been holding him back from the funnest thing ever!
After dinner, I set him up at the sink, showed him how to use the sponge and soap (just a little soap; it's a hard concept for a kid who delights in squeezing a bottle of Elmer's glue) and off he went.
And he didn't do a half bad job either.
I stood there, trying not to smile, or worse, laugh, because this was, you know, a consequence and all but inside, I was giddy and dancing and laughing and doing all kinds of cheerleader type stuff.
The boy was standing at the sink, up to his elbows in water and soap, saying things like:
This is awesome, I love this!
Maybe when I grow up, I can get a job doing this and actually get paid!
I wish I could do this every single night!
Well now. This just got interesting.
Could I really have him wash the dishes every night?
Is that even legal?
There must be some sort of child labor law in this country, right?
Maybe. Maybe not.
But I'm not going to look into that.
Let him be happy and wash dishes, right?
And also, I really don't like to do dishes.
So you know, it's win-win for everyone.
I really hope they wait a while because I'm not ready for Pesach, but I have been informed by my very delicious four-year-old that the chametz police are coming and really, mommy, we have to start cleaning.
This hat, pictured above, came home from kindergarten yesterday and it's been looking at me ever since. Wherever I go, it's there and I'm starting to get a complex.
I tried to tell it that I started and finished the basement for Pesach yesterday, but I don't think it's good enough. I'm not sure what my childrens' beloved teachers have been saying in school, but my children were not at all impressed with my basement announcement - and in fact, (yeah, the oldest used the phrase 'in fact, mommy' (what is that about?)) there are some other mommies who are all finished cleaning and are only sending Pesach-friendly snacks to school.
And to that, I say a big fat whatever. In a nice way, of course.
Pesach. It's coming. You can run and you can hide, although I don't recommend hiding because you will most likely end up in a closet or under a bed and then you will find dust. And Pesach has nothing to do with dust, only crumbs.
Say it with me: Now is not the time to start Spring cleaning!
Pesach is so early this year, it's not even Spring yet, so let it go, let the dust bunnies be and we'll all be much happier.
Too many people (women) make Pesach into a huge deal, and it's really not.
Do you eat on top of your ceiling fans? No? We don't either, and that's what ours will not be cleaned before Pesach.
Do you eat under the bed? I hope not. Although I will be giving my kids' underbeds (is that even a word?) a quick once over with a flashlight, just to make sure. But the eating upstairs ended the after Purim. I know, no one should ever eat upstairs and we really don't - except I recently learned that my children hoard candy they get in school (lovely, right?) in their dresser drawers. The day after Purim, Josh marched them around their bedrooms, they pointed out all the hiding places and all the candy was dumped into a Shoprite bag that now lives in the pantry.
By now you are surely asking yourself what my point is.
Way more important than cleaning things that don't need to be cleaned right now and organizing things that can be organized after Pesach - or never - is deciding what you will be eating on Pesach, desserts obviously being the most important. And the most Pesach-y dessert I could think of? Macaroons.
I'm reading an awesome book now called A Homemade Life
by Molly Wizenberg. I have been very into food memoirs lately and hers in the latest in a string and possibly the best I have read so far.
One of the recipes she shares is for Chocolate Covered Coconut Macaroons
and I tried them last night - with some changes. I did not have vanilla so I left that out and I also did not make the chocolate ganache as she did because I was not sure that there was any heavy cream with a kosher for pesach certification - and even though my kitchen is far from being ready for Pesach, I did want to try out the recipe as if it was already Pesach. I only used ingredients that I had on hand that are also sold with a KP.
This recipe made 24 nice sized macaroons. Molly's recipe indicated 14-18 macaroons so I can only imagine how large and yummy hers are.
Start by pouring 3 cups of unsweetened* shredded coconut
into a pan.
Add 3/4 cup sugar
Add 5 egg whites
Mix all very well and heat over a low heat for 10 minutes, mixing almost the entire time. I stopped mixing here and there but I did wind up with some brown coconut and I think that was not supposed to happen, so just keep mixing. Your sculpted arms will thank you later.
After mixing for ten minutes, pour the coconut mixture into a 9x13 pan and spread it out over the bottom of the whole pan. It doesn't need to be pretty, it just needs to cool off, so stick that pan in the fridge and let it do it's thing - mine took about twenty minutes, the perfect amount of time to do homework with a first grader.
Once the coconut has cooled, preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (not wax paper - bad things happen when you bake wax paper) or foil. Roll the coconut mixture into small balls and place them on the baking sheet. My coconut balls were probably about an inch big, maybe the size of a walnut.
I was able to squeeze all 24 onto one baking sheet but had I known that I was going to get 24 coconut balls out of the recipe, I probably would have sucked it up, let them breathe a little and just used another piece of parchment paper on a second pan.
Bake for about 25 minutes or until they are a golden brown color. Mine did not take a full 25 minutes, but my oven runs hot. Keep checking them, you'll know when they're ready.
Let the coconut balls - we can now call them macaroons - cool.
I melted a handful of chocolate chips, dipped the macaroons halfway into the chocolate and then let them set up on a cooling rack.
I found the best part of this recipe to be the simplicity - no preservatives, no unhealthy fat from bad Pesach oils, like cottonseed and the like. I may not love the amount of sugar in these little guys, but at least I know what's in them.
Josh (and the kids who like coconut) found them to be quite tasty, straight from the oven last night and were equally pleased with them this morning. The other kids and me? Not so much. But it's a coconut thing in general, not a commentary on this recipe.
But here is a commentary on these macaroons: If you look carefully at the chocolate covered ones above, it kind of looks like they are wearing chocolate toupees on their heads.
Do you see it? I had to hold myself back from using the rest of the chocolate and a toothpick to create faces on each one, like a bunch of old guys on a bench.
*The original recipe called for sweetened but that, combined with the sugar seemed over the top to me.
In a bid to at least pretend that I have started cleaning for Pesach, I
decided to tackle the fridge today. An ambitious project that perhaps should not
have been left for an hour before pick-up time at school, but hey, you live and
I pulled out the bottom shelf and the two attached drawers. Now I'm going to
say "oh my gosh, something spilled down there just a few days ago" and you're going to
nod your head like you believe me and we'll both pretend that it's true.
Anyway, here's the gross spill. I share this in the belief and hope that we
are not here to judge each other but to cheer each other on. Right? Of course,
Now here's the thing with me and cleaning or me and recipes or me and
projects in general. I'm a jumper-inner. I decide to do something and do it -
and generally don't take the time to check that I have everything that I need
(be it a bottle of my fake-healthy cleaner called Green Works or all the
ingredients for a recipes) to finish the job, and that's why I spend a lot of
time improvising. In this case, I forgot to buy more cleaner this morning when I
the supermarket and in
the cleaning stuff aisle, but whatever. What to do?
What to do? Of course we know what to do! Like my mom says - to the Internet!
I googled "cleaning caked on dirt with vinegar" and got here
. A whole website devoted
to cleaning things with vinegar.
Who knew? Well, I kind of did, having some nutty crunchy friends. Yeah, you know
who you are. But I, myself, have never been down this road before. I learned that
if I mix together baking soda and dish soap and vinegar, you will wind up with
something that will clean your fridge. I have to say, I had my doubts, but it worked. Shocking.
Here's what I did.
Gather these things together.
Take 1/4 cup of baking soda.
Add one tablespoon dish soap
Add in vinegar and mix until it forms a paste. I wound up using
three tablespoons of vinegar. And in a 4th grade science class fun sort
of way, when you add the vinegar in to the baking soda mixture, it bubbles
up into a foam, kind of like a super-cleaning-volcano.
Using a paper towel, I covered the spill in the fridge with the mixture. I let
it sit for 5 minutes, scrubbed and hooray! It worked.
This is what the bottom half of my fridge looked like ten minutes later. If that's not a
clean bottom half of a fridge, then I don't know what is.
I know! I was impressed too. And I have to say, I was a little worried
about the house smelling like vinegar, but it doesn't. Maybe a little like
Italian dressing, but that's okay. Maybe the slight smell will get the kids to
eat some salad for dinner.
We've been having, shall we say, some bathroom issues lately. Either the
kids forget the steps they're supposed to take being sitting and wiping their
hands on a towel or they just don't care. Either way, in a bid to help them -
and me, because wiping down the bathroom has been a daily chore lately - I made
them this sign.
I hung one in each bathroom and it's wonderful. The sign - any sign really -
capitalizes on the boys' burgeoning reading abilities, which they are very proud
of. And the words themselves - wipe, flush, wash - are kind of catchy if you say
them in a fast, singsongy kind of way. Yesterday, when I walked past a bathroom in use -
with the door wide open of course - I saw some little feet swinging and heard a little
voice singing the three words to our new anthem.
Whatever it is, it's working. All I can say is yahoo!
If you like what you've read, please leave a comment!
I can only put off the Pesach cleaning for so long - eventually I will have to get to it. I just really don't want to. But I was talking (complaining) about it this morning and my little two-year-old decided to take matters into her own hands - she took a baby wipe and started cleaning her little kitchen. Good for her, at least someone is being productive.
Her cleaning gave me an idea though. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I can clean with the kids and maybe we can make it fun. Maybe if I hand each child a little kit with a spray water bottle, some paper towels, a sponge, and a flashlight, we might be able to get something done. I think I'll stick each kid's loot into one of the gazillion reusable tote bags we have laying around and hand them out on Sunday morning - the day I have decided will be our big cleaning day. And, and, I am going to take it one step further and make it a game - a treasure hunt game.
To anyone knee-deep in Pesach cleaning, this will sound completely counter-intuitive, but I think the treasure hunt might actually
involve some Hershey kisses hidden around the house. Kind of like Bedikat Chametz, but not with bread. Are you asking me if I am nuts? Cause I am pretty sure my mom will when she reads this. But bear with me. This is what we are going to do:
1. Take pictures of things your kids can clean and/or look through - for example, their backpacks, their dresser drawers, the toy box, under the couch, their coat pockets. Upload them to the computer and print them out on regular paper, or if you are feeling fancy, in color on photo paper.
2. Glue the pictures to index cards and write a clue* on the back. This way kids that know how to read can read the clues and kids that do not yet know how to read can look at the pictures.
3. The night before the treasure hunt, hide your cards, reserving the first clue card to actually hand to the kids. For example, I think my kids will start with the toy box. Since there will be three kids playing, I will hide three Hershey kisses in the toy box. Their job will be to dump out the toys, look for half eaten pretzels and crumbled cookies - and to find their kisses.
Sorry to dissapoint, but this will all have to involve some form of parental involvement, unless you believe that your kids will actually clean without just eating their chocolates. Mine are pretty young so I can't imagine that would be the case. Hey, forget about being young - I would just sit and eat the chocolates too, shoving them into my mouth with one hand while shoving all the toys back in the toy box without checking for any crumbs whatsoever. But I feel like just getting them involved in the cleaning is an important life lesson, working together as a team, helping out at home, blah blah blah. Just like they know that they cannot have dessert on Shabbat if they do not help clear the table first.
So yeah, here is where that pesky parental involvement comes in - a good idea would be to have either me or Josh follow the kids around and when they, for example, dump out the toy box, the adult will then vacuum the inside of the box and the kids can wipe down the outside of the box. You can use a dust buster or a vacuum, depending on the crumb level in your house. We will be using a vacuum, possibly two of them, in case you were wondering.
4. Once the first clue is done and all clean, the kids can find the second clue/index card taped to the bottom of the toy box, which will tell them where to go next. Rinse and repeat, until all the kiddie chores are done.
Will your house be all clean for Pesach once this game is played? No, not by a long shot. But I do believe that the kids will be more willing to not bring chametz into the living room or playroom if they know that they have already worked hard cleaning the room. Kind of like when one of the kids will spontaneously clean the toys up and then get very upset when a sibling takes out a toy to play with: "I just cleaned that! Why are you messing it up?!" And that's not even me yelling, it's the cleaner kid himself! A little validation for mommy is always a good thing.
*Here is a list of the pictures I took, the items the kids will be cleaning and the accompanying clue:
1. Toy box: "I am a big blue box where things are stored, I am so full, there's no room for more."
2. Under the couches: "At clean up time, when you think Mommy can't see, you push things underneath me."
3. Toy shelves in the porch/playroom: "We live in the porch and our color is peach, sometimes we hold things that are just out of your reach."
4. Backpacks: "I go to school with you every day, and you carry me on your back. When you come home, you are supposed to hang me on the coat rack."
5. Coat pockets: "I keep your hands from being cold, and also, sticky lollipops, crumbs and maybe even some dirt and rocks, I do hold.
5. Dresser drawers: "I hold all your shirts, pajamas and socks, I am shaped like a rectangle and I look like a big white box."
6. Under their beds: "Look under me, look all the way, I'll bet there are a bunch of lost toys here that you'll be so happy to see."
Don't be shy! If you like what you read, please leave a comment!
I wash alot of dishes. And baby bottles. And cups and forks and knives and spoons. And pots. And toys that get dunked in ketchup and in some other places that we won't talk about. And after years of washing sinks full of all this stuff, my hands are not as soft as they used to be. So I moisturize. And it helps. But this winter, moisturizing three times a day doesn't seem to be helping and there is one spot on my right index finger that is just killing me. So my husband, my love, bought me a present. He bought me yellow gloves. In Shoprite. For 99cents. Like the kind that your grandmother would wear. Or, dare I say it, the cleaning help.
These are my gloves:
They kind of look like dead chickens and if you have been following along, you will already be aware of the fact that I very anti raw chicken.
Josh was kind of cute about it too. He wrapped them up in the Shoprite bag they came in and hid them behind his back and announced that he bought a surprise for me. I have to admit, I was kind of hoping for a peppermint patty, but these were a nice, if distant, second. I choose to believe that he bought these gloves out of a true concern for my right index finger and not because I have been complaining about my hands and begging him to wash the dishes for awhile now.
At first I didn't like them, they felt funny, they smelled funny, they made me feel like an old lady. But now, a week later, I am loving them. My hands stay dry, I don't make any new hangnails when I scrub a pot, and my moisturizer is working again.
However, (and there is always a however), there were several remaining issues with the gloves. The first is that the gloves just bothered me from an aesthetic point of view. They are just so yellow and well, ugly. The second problem - which while more of a practical issue than one of looks - I believe is just as pressing. There is no where to put the gloves to let them dry. I have been hanging them over the faucet but one, they looked awful there and two, if anyone as so much looks at the sink, they fall off of the faucet and into the sink, making them all wet again. So what to do?
The obvious answer is to get some cleaning help, but since that ain't happening, we will have to solve both of these problems with the next best thing - one swift swipe of the hot glue gun. How, you ask? All it took was a quick trip to the ribbon bin!
Don't have one? Don't feel bad, you too can have a ribbon bin. It's really just ribbon from the dollar bin at Michael's in an old tupperware. See? Nothing to it.
I found some leftover black and white ribbon, the only color combination I had that I found the least offensive when held up to the extremely yellow gloves. I measured the ribbon against the wrist of the gloves and cut two equal lengths of ribbon, allowing for a little extra ribbon in the likely case that I measured wrong. I then hot glued the ribbon around the perimeter of the glove's opening, slightly overlapping the ends - being sure to have the two ends of the ribbon meet on the glove at the center part of your wrist, when your palm is facing down. Make sense? No? Here, I'll show you.
Then I cut two more lengths of ribbon and tied two bows, hot gluing the inside center of the bow so that the bow wouldn't come undone. Once those have dried, hot glue the ribbons onto the ribbon that is already on the gloves, making sure to cover the part where the ribbon overlapped.
Now you not only have pretty(er) yellow gloves, but you have a loop, courtesy of the bow, to hang your gloves.
But I still maintain that some cleaning help would be more fun. Sigh.
I will now share a lesson we learned this week that I can see coming in handy again and possibly even again. Maybe it will help you too.
So there you are, minding your own business and putting away groceries or maybe cooking dinner, when you shift a bottle of oil over. Maybe it was in the pantry, maybe it was in the cabinet under the sink. Or maybe it was put somewhere it shouldn't have been by one of your children because there have been one too many snows days already. Who knows? I'm not here to judge. I'm just here to inform. But the bottle of oil tips over and you freeze, horrified and fascinated all at once as the oil slowly covers first one kitchen floor tile, then another and another and well, there are just so many thoughts running through your head -
Was the oil really uncovered?
Was I the last one to use it?
How am I going to finish baking with no oil left?
It's only been three seconds, how can so much oil be on the floor?
How the heck are we (and by we, I mean Josh) going to clean this up!?
How, indeed? All excellent questions. And while I cannot answer the first four questions, I can tell you how Josh is going to clean this up. And how do I know, you ask? I'll tell you. We did what we always do when we have no idea what to do. To quote my mom, "To the internet!". And so we googled and learned. Corn Starch. Who knew?
Just sprinkle, or dump, a bunch of corn starch over the oil spill. Walk away for a few minutes - and now, by the way, would be a good time to close the gates to the kitchen so the children do not stroll into the kitchen and go flying, only to land on their tushes. Not that anyone here has ever had that happen to them with oil. Chocolate milk, yes. Oil, no.
But I digress. Wait a while and magic will happen. The corn starch will soak up all the oil. Then just spray the floor with Fantastik or some other cleaning agent - perhaps something natural, like vinegar - and wipe up with a paper towel.
Good as new. Good job Josh.