So much company - and so many kids with ear infections, coughs, colds, sinus infections and the worst - in my opinion - pink eye. I hate pink eye. But by the time you have pink eye from a cold, you're also likely feeling much better. Just not better enough to go to school - which can only mean one thing.
Mommy! I'm Boooorrrred!
So the other day, because we are on a huge Cupcake Wars kick in this house, the girls played Cookie Wars. With playdough. And some beads. And my kitchen cabinets as the ovens and fridges (you know, to cool the cookies down).
And you know what I did? And I mean besides desperately begging children to take their pink medicine and let me put eye drops in the eyes - I sharpened all the pencils in the house. And it made me irrationally happy.
Sounds like I've lost my mind, right?
I haven't. At least I don't think I have.
My kids use pencils every night to do homework; we have what may very well qualify as the mother-load of pencils here and since it's about halfway through the school year it makes sense that not too many pencils had points left on them. They needed to be sharpened. I knew they needed to be sharpened, I thought about sharpening them every day, twice a day. Once when I pass by the bucket of pencils on my out the door in the morning and once more when it's time for homework and we are reduced to using crayons and then also using a crayon to write notes to the teachers apologizing (again) for using crayons to do homework. Oy.
Last week, my awesome sister-in-law was visiting with her kids - and because she is awesome, she began the organizing of my kitchen cabinets that should have been done when we moved in, but was not. We moved in three minutes before Josh started his new job and so in those three minutes, we unpacked as many boxes as we could and shoved as many things into closets and cabinets as we could, and yeah, that's how we've been living for the past six months because I can't seem to catch my breath here.
But then Sara showed up and all of a sudden, I was able to see what I had in my pantry and I must share - I have a lot of almond milk. And tons of Veggie Straws.
I have a lot of cabinets - that's not a complaint, just a happy fact. And Sara was not able to get to all of them while she was here, but I was so inspired by her work that while the girls played Cookie Wars, I tackled the last four un-organized cabinets. And you know what I found? A sharpener.
In the middle of organizing those cabinets, I stopped and sharpened. And sharpened and sharpened. And emptied the sharpener and sharpened some more. My kids were thrilled when they sat down to do homework and I felt accomplished.
You know what's weird too? I felt more accomplished about the pencils than about the cabinets and I think it's cause sometimes (most times?) it's the small tasks on a to-do list that throw up a wall in front of us. And when I say us, I mean me.
The cabinets were a big deal and finally making time to do them felt good. But I didn't think about the cabinets every day. The cabinets were more like something in the back of my mind that I thought would happen whenever. The pencils, though, they're big. They took up precious space in my brain on a daily basis, multiple times a day and I didn't like that.
I think a lot of things are like that in life - small things that take up an inordinate amount of space in my mind. And I feel like makes me super unproductive, so even though it's a little late for new year's resolutions and also I kind if don't believe in resolutions, I'm making one - but I'm not calling it a resolution, just a new way of being.
My new way of being now is to (try) do the small things when they occur to me instead of carrying them around for weeks or months. I could have very easily picked up a sharpener on my frequent trips to target but I didn't.
Now that I'm thinking about it, I think I just never remembered to buy the sharpener. I feel like I need to write things down more.
Okay, so that's it. This is the new non-resolution: I will write things down when they pop into my head.
Now I just need somewhere to write them.
It's a week later and I can almost say that the smell of fried foods has left the house. Slowly.
It was a long, wonderful and hot Chanukah here in Florida. We had sleepover company, dinner company, Shabbos company, a bbq with new and old friends and more than our fair share of visits from the FedEx guy, carrying huge boxes. And now a stomach virus.
I can't say for sure, but I don't think I've ever gone almost a month without sharing here since I first started blogging. It felt weird - on many levels. I have so much to say and yet no time to say it. I kind of feel that way with my kids too - so many lessons to impart, so many ideas I want to share but between their hours in school, my hours in the classroom or planning for the classroom and then the few hours between school and bedtime, crammed with homework and baths and stories and playing outside, there's not too much time left to talk.
Which is why I really liked Chanukah this year. The kids are a little older and for the most part, were not passing out by the time we lit candles. And then there was all this time while the candles were burning to sit around and read with them or play board games; it was kind of like Friday night, but for eight straight days. We even sat around one night eating latkes, debating the merits of applesauce vs sour cream - even though not one of my children, and most likely Josh, have ever, in their lives, even tasted sour cream.
I know it's a little late, but here's a glimpse at Chanukah 2013, in no particular order:
1. Some of my classes made these menorah dripmats in art, right before Chanukah. I was not at all sure how they would come out - or rather how'd long they would last under a drippy menorah with lots of melty wax, but they survived. After eight nights, they were beyond covered in wax so I just chucked the ones my kids made (I know, I'm horrible) but it was throw them out or scrape the wax off with a knife. I hope you would choose the same.
We made them with 18" square floor tiles I found sitting in our garage when we moved in, some paper, scissors and Modge Podge glue. That's it. We let them dry for a couple of hours and then hand-delivered them to the waiting cars on the pick-up line. You want to drop your very-breakable-floor-tile project? Do it on your own time. I'm sending home intact projects.
2. Chanukah in Florida? It's weird. Lovely, but weird - it kind of feels like I should have been decorating the sukkah in 80 degree weather, not putting out menorahs. On the flip side, our tangelo tree is doing wonderfully. As is our palm tree. I'm just saying.
3. Remember the Chanukah raffle I was working on for the school? All I can say is - thank goodness it's over! It was super successful and I am super-relieved because can you imagine the whole thing falling apart on my watch? I can. I imagined it over and over and over. I stayed up at night thinking about it and my general anxiety level was definitely at code orange if not at code red. But as I've learned - mostly from having newborns - every day ends and another dawns and the "day after" always comes. The day after the raffle came and I breathed again. Breathing is really great.
These are the cupcakes I made with a friend for the dessert portion of the raffle:
A special thank you to whoever posted these cupcake toppers on Pinterest. They saved me.
4. I only have one thing to say about the jelly donuts this year:
They ain't from Brooklyn. And they ain't Dunkin Donuts either. But they'll do.
5. If you've been following along for a while, you might remember these Judah Maccabee cookies we made last year. If not, we made them again this year - and if I would have looked at last year's post before baking them, I would have remembered just how much of a pain they were to make. Oh well.
Packed them up and gifted them to a few individuals who've been beyond helpful to Josh since we moved here.
6. And finally, I just have to say again, even though it's not Chanukah weather, you really can't beat sitting in a hammock in December, even if you might need a little sweatshirt late in the day.
Winter break is coming quickly, here and in NY. The bed and breakfast is open, the guest room has clean sheets and slots are filling quickly. We'd love to see you if you're making like a bird and heading south at any point this winter. I'll even clean the bathroom before you come.
Something kind of weird is going on with Josh's ties. Over the past week, several of them have gotten dirty, which is strange because in almost ten years of marriage, I can't recall that ever happening before; taking a tie to the cleaners feels like something I have never done before.
Having just reread those two sentence, I can be fairly certain that one of two things have just happened - either you've clicked away because why in the world is she talking about ties or you're still here because you're my mom or your name is Alissa.
Anywho, Josh needed a specific tie (aka - his one really nice one) for this weekend but the dry cleaners could not have it ready in time. In a panic, I asked my mom if she could drop a couple of ties at our house on her way to work; my dad has, estimated conservatively, about a thousand ties, all of them really nice because my mom purchased every last one of them. Me, I wouldn't know a nice tie if a whole rack of them fell on my head*.
Last night, I mentioned to Josh that my mom was coming in the morning with a selection of ties for him.
And he said, (so happily) really? Your mom's coming with pies!?
And then I had to say, no, not pies, ties.
And he wasn't so happy anymore. He was actually kind of sad.
Don't get me wrong, he appreciated the ties, but for that one brief shining moment he was envisioning my mom walking through the door carrying four or five bakery boxes filled with an assortment of pies for him to sample. Just the idea of it made him so happy - and until that moment, I had no idea that this was a dream of his. See, who says you can't learn new things about your spouse?
So yeah, I kinda sorta had to bake a pie today. Just one, not an assortment, let's not get crazy. But we are going to make a crust. Don't worry. And just so we're clear, I made this recipe up. My kids think it came out great, but just in case your kids don't, I just wanted to put that out there.
Anyway, I googled and googled and could not find what I was looking for. So I took a little from there and a little from here, and came up with the following:
For the crust -
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (I used chocolate graham crackers)
1/2 cup melted margarine or oil
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and pour into a greased pie plate, pressing the crumbs down the bottom and up the sides, as far as it will go.
Bake for 8-10 minutes
While the pie crust is baking, gather together:
2 cans of unsweetened and full fat coconut milk
2 boxes chocolate pudding/pie mix
Pour the coconut milk and pudding mix into a pot. Bring it to a boil, whisking it the whole time. It will start to thicken as it nears boiling point - it's kind of like making pudding in a pot.
Remove the pot from the heat and allow the filling to cool sightly and pour it into the baked crust. Refrigerate for an hour until the filling is somewhat solid.
Now it's time to add the topping.
For the topping, gather together:
1 4 oz. container of Rich's Whip
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
Using a hand mixer, whip together the whip and the sugar until stiff peaks form. Spread the topping onto the pie. Refrigerate for a couple of hours and serve cold, straight from the fridge.
I was very nervous about this pie, for several reasons. To start, I've never made a cream pie before. And second, I had never before cooked or baked or even opened a can of unsweetened coconut milk. But much to my delight, this was, in the words of a six year old who should not be speaking like this, freaky good. We might need to have a conversation about language later tonight, but for now, even I can attest to the fact that it was freakin good (at least that's what I think he was trying to say) - yeah, I know, the Whole30 round two. I cheated. It was my first cheat since this whole Whole30 thing started. It was a choice, I made a choice to taste my pie and it was totally worth it. I had one spoonful and I walked away. Having said that, the rest of the pie has now been packed away, awaiting Josh's return from work.
And also, I locked the baby gate to the kitchen. I know that I know how to open the gate, but it is a mental deterrent for me. I'm good.
*Wouldn't you know, something just like happened to me once, courtesy of one of my kids at age two. The combination of me kneeling down next to a tie display in Kohl's to pick up a sippy cup and a toddler's outstretched hand was, shall we say, not good.
It's absolutely freezing outside today and I so thought these snowman cookies
would be appropriate right about now.
The little one and I had the pleasure of visiting my four-year-old's
kindergarten classroom last week to bake cookies. The class has been learning
about the brachot or blessings on food and last week was mezonot* week.
We arrived at school at 9am and left three hours later after a visit that
was messy, exhausting and a lot of fun. The kids and I made sugar cookie dough**
together; they each got two turns to pour in the ingredients and hold the mixer and
then all of a sudden, it was snack time! I love snack time!
After the snacks were cleared away, hands were washed and the tables wiped
down (so much cleaning in preschool - I've either forgotten about that part of teaching
or I wasn't such a tidy teacher), it was time to roll out the dough. But alas, there
was no rolling pin. So we just kind of smashed the dough down and everyone had their
turn to use the snowman cookie cutter to cut out their cookies.
Once the cookies were baked, the real fun began.
To make these snowman cookies at home, just gather together the following:
1 lb. confectioner's sugar
6 tbsps water
6 tbsps light corn syrup
Oreo cookies, scored and halved for hats
jelly beans for a nose
mini chocolate chips for the eyes and mouth
mini dot candies for buttons
either Pull 'n Peel licorice or Sour Sticks for the scarves
some popsicle sticks
a big mixing bowl and a spoon
I know, it seems like a lot, but it all came together pretty quickly.
The teacher (Morah Sarah - love her! So far all of my school-age kids have had the
amazing experience of spending a year in Morah Sarah's kindergarten!) divided
the kids up into three groups because cookie decorating with 16 kids at once,
plus an extra two-year-old, can get crazy pretty quickly.
One by one, the groups came to the table and spread the white "snow" icing
on their cookies.
To make the icing, pour the confectioner's sugar into your mixing bowl. Add
the 6 tbsps of water and mix until all the sugar is diluted. It's fine to add
more water if needed, but don't let the icing get too thin because then it will
run right off the cookies and the snowman will looked all melty. Once the
sugar is diluted, add the corn syrup and mix well.
Using a spoon, drop a small amount of icing on each cookie and let the kids
use (clean!) popsicle sticks to spread the icing. The icing also acts as the
glue for all the candies and cookies.
I had made one cookie ahead of time and left it on the table for the kids
to look at, but they were free to decorate any way they wanted.
The cookies ended up being absolutely adorable and were even cuter
looking once they were all lined up on the table together. Sadly, I was so
focused on the decorating, I forgot to take too many pictures.
On the way home, I realized that I had hardly taken any pictures at all but I
remembered that Morah Sarah had said she was going to send home a cookie with each
student. I figured I'd just take a picture of the one my daughter was going to
bring home, but sadly (or maybe not sadly, maybe they were just that yummy),
hers was eaten before it was my turn to pull to the front of the pick-up line
Oh well, at least my little one took a very long nap that afternoon. School is tiring!
*Mezonot? Mezonot is the Hebrew word for the category of food that includes
cookies, cakes, donuts, muffins, really anything you'd find in a bakery,
except for bread, which has its own bracha.
** It was awesome because I found a recipe that did not need to be
chilled for 30 minutes, like so many sugar cookie recipes require. Instead, we
went from measuring to mixing to rolling out the dough in less than 45 minutes,
which, when baking with 16 four-year-olds, is really the equivalent of two
minutes. Maybe three.
You know those cookies we baked yesterday? We used the same recipe we used last year, and once again, it did not disappoint.
And happily, we decorated today. We love this icing.
My kids sampled one of each kind of cookie and they all approved. (I wanted to write "unanimous approval" there but I wasn't sure how to spell either word. Did I spell them right? Wrong? Who knows.) My point? All the cookies are exactly the same, just in different shapes. The kids were not grasping this and so many many cookies were eaten in the name of "just tasting". Josh better come home soon if he wants to "taste" too.
Anyway, would love to see your Chanukah cookies!
This might be the most awesome (and easy) birthday cake I have ever made.
Sadly, I did not think of the idea, I found it on a blog called Paige's Pantry, but I totally
wish I would have thought of it, it's that good of an idea.
We made our newly minted two-year-old a family party on Sunday with cousins
and grandparents and aunts and uncles and some friends. I was not in the mood
to do a whole big fancy cake and really, who needs such a big cake. We (Okay, I) should
be eating some carrot sticks anyway. I had a vague idea of wanting to make
some kind of cake decorated with candy because it seemed so
much easier than decorating with icing and frosting and molded chocolates and
things. So I googled, and shockingly, did not come up with much, until I hit the
jackpot with this kitkat and m&m cake.
It really couldn't get much easier than this for a good-looking cake.
Step 1. Bake 2 8"round cakes. You can do this with just one box of cake mix.
Step 2. Frost the cake between the layers and all over the top and sides.
The beauty here is that you don't need to make it pretty because the whole thing
(yup, the whole thing) will be covered so no one will see your frosting skills.
3. Unwrap the kitkats. Try not to eat them - and I'll tell you why.
It's not because I don't want you to have them, it's because you will
need the whole bag to surround the cake. Stand the kitkats up around the sides
of the cake, pressing them in slightly.
4. Open the large bag of m&ms. You can eat some of these because you will only
need about half the bag to cover the top of the cake. Pour and kind of pat them
down into a single layer.
5. I thought the bow in the original picture on Paige's blog was kind of overkill
but once I was done, I realized mine needed a bow too, if just to keep those kitkats in line.
Wrap, tie the bow and store in the (basement) fridge until cake time. I don't really
know if you need to keep it in the fridge, but in my house, it's always better and safer to
be out of sight, out of mind.
Sing Happy Birthday and enjoy!
And then when everyone leaves, have yourself a handful of m&ms when no
one is looking because there's gonna be a whole lotta dishes in the sink waiting
Are you a Mom?
Of course you are,
your shirt is dirty :)