Monthly Archives: July 2011

Princess Pancakes

Momma's helper!

We have been waiting for a full week for daddy to get back, and he’s finally here! It has been quite a week. Exhausting is an understatement. We went on trip to Houston to see my grandparents, but it was an extremely quick one. We left home on Thursday morning and were back home on Saturday evening. That kind of trip is tiring for grown people, but it is crazy for kids.

See the sweet, adorable little girl to the left? You wouldn’t think so, but she can be a holy terror. She pulled out all the stops during my latest week of single parenting. While we were on our trip, our sleeping arrangements were, well…cramped.  She didn’t have a room to sleep in, so she had to wait to go to bed until everyone else did. In general, not a big deal, but as anyone who has ever been around children will attest, when they are tired, they get crazy. She isn’t one who dissolves into tears when she is tired (at least not usually), she gets insanely hyper and nearly impossible to calm down. Although I was extremely happy to see my grandparents, and my girls were very happy to see Gee-Gee and Jambo, I don’t think I could handle another night of her being over-tired.

Cut to, home again on Saturday! I thought “Great, we’ll get to bed on time, and it will be fine.” Well, she was, again, so tired from the trip and her lack of napping in the car that she still tried EVERYTHING she could to NOT go to bed. Why? Because I dared to tell this poor, mistreated child that she couldn’t watch anymore TV and to go brush her teeth. That was around 8:50pm. She finally went to sleep at around 10:45. Yeah…2 hours. These two hours were not filled with simply annoying getting out of bed and asking for drinks of water…ohhhh, no. Remember, I said she pulled out ALL the stops. Screaming, crying, rolling on the floor, sassing…and that was just me. No really….  Ok, I didn’t roll on the floor. Upon threat of terrible things like losing her fave TV show for-eh-ver and a pop on the pop0 (which I HATE) if she woke her sister up, she continued…and woke her sister up.

Luckily, Grammy was here to help. I might have locked myself in a dark room and rocked back and forth in the fetal position if she hadn’t been here. As it was, I did sit in a dark room and rock back and forth, but it was to help my other sweet child back to sleep.

It’s really amazing how a 4-year-old’s tantrum made me question my value as a human being and feel like a failure as a parent. My biggest worry through the whole hairy mess? That she would go to sleep before I was able to go back to her room and hug her. Grammy sat in her room with her, got her calmed down, while baby went back to sleep. As soon as I walked into her room, big girl hugged me and said she was sorry for “yelling, and screaming, and being rude”. Maybe I’m not a total failure as a parent.  She even went and hugged Grammy to apologize for how she acted.  That was only day 4 of our daddy-less week! How would the rest go?!!!

Thankfully, I have awesome friends who kept me company throughout the rest of the week, so we didn’t have anymore insane evenings like that. We got back on our regular schedule, and, besides the normal 4-year-old-ness that goes with the territory, things went swimmingly! Because of that, tonight, I decided to make a supper treat for my sweet girls:  Princess Pancakes! To be honest, I just called them pink and purple pancakes until now, but from now on, they will be Princess Pancakes.

Princess Pancake herself helped me mix them up (as you saw in the first photo), and I always use too much food coloring! She said “those are daaaaaark pink!” Indeed! I had a moment where I thought Baby Pancake wouldn’t eat them because they looked weird, but she never missed a beat. Of course, she has never met a carb she didn’t like.

Purple pancakes! They didn't look quite as purple when they were turned over, but we knew.

Pink pancakes...REALLY pink pancakes!

Momma needed a little more than pancakes to make it supper. The girls both had applesauce, but that’s not really my bag. So instead, I made some lovely scrambled eggs with cheese. The only thing that would have made it better is some turkey bacon, but alas…the cupboard was bare (or the fridge was).

Momma's finished Princess Pancakes

We are all so glad daddy is home now! He was too tired, so I didn’t get any pics of his return, but maybe tomorrow when we’re all a little better rested. We saved him some Princess Pancakes, but they ended up in the freezer for another day.


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Filed under Family Fun, Kids, Momma Musings

I Don’t Think You’re Ready for this Jelly

After our little apple escapade the other day, I made plans to utilize our apple harvest and make some yummies. I have never made jelly of any kind before, so I really didn’t know where to start. When I don’t know where to start on a project, I usually start with Google. I am definitely a product of my generation on that point. When I searched “apple jelly recipe” (which you just did too if you clicked on the link), it came up with beaucoups sites to choose from. After perusing a few, I decided to go with a pretty blog that told a story similar to my experience. David Lebovitz found some free apples and decided to make jelly! That is exactly what happened to me! Now, to be fair, David Lebovitz is a fabulous foodie living in Paris with his partner, and his blog has gorgeous pictures of his fabulous food adventures, and I am a slightly less fabulous wanna-be foodie living in Southwest Arkansas with my amazing family, and my blog has mediocre pictures of my pretty normal food adventures…but still! He found free apples and made jelly; why can’t I?!

Soooooo, I made jelly! It jellied and everything! I started chopping apples:

Chopping apples…lots of apples

Then I weight the apples. Unfortunately, I only have a one-pound scale, so I had to weigh them one pound at a time.

8 pounds per recipe

Then, the 8 pounds were boiled in 10 cups of water. The only stock pot I have was barely large enough…but it WAS large enough. Whew!

An EXTREMELY full pot

After they boiled, I put them in a colander on top of cheesecloth to drain their juice. I had to leave them alone for hours…it was very difficult.

Apples draining

After the excruciating wait, I got 8 cups of juice from each batch of apples.

Apple juice!

Then, I added 6 cups of sugar and a quarter cup of lemon juice and boiled the apple juice…for a looooooong time. It makes for a very aromatic and steamy facial in case you were wondering. It got me even more in the Christmas spirit!

Candy thermometer in place...steamy juice

Very, VERY hot jelly!

I put a blob of jelly on a cold plate in the freezer to make sure it “jelled”. So pretty…. Mounded up just like it was supposed to. Had to go to 230 degrees.

Jelly blob

I had the jars ready to go:

Jars getting warm and ready to fill!

 I ladled the hot jelly into the warm jars. I don’t have any pictures of that because, well, it’s hard to take pictures when you’re using both hands, and I don’t have one of those cool tripods.


All done!

I ended up even making 6 jars of applesauce out of the leftover apples, and I still have some left to make apple butter!!! Lots of work, but also fun. Abbey can’t wait to dig into the jelly. Somehow, the second batch made 8 jars instead of 6. I think I put too much sugar in it, but even if I did, it wouldn’t have made that much more. Hmmm…I don’t pretend to understand chemistry.

Overall, excellent way to spend a few days…and a lot of apples!

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It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Want some?

Um…what’s that you say? Christmas?! Not even!

It’s really hard to think about Christmas when it’s 100+ degrees outside, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately! I’ve decided that shopping/preparing from July to December would probably be a good idea. Makes things easier on the budget, and it makes things less stressful. What can be bad about that!

Now, I used to shop all year. The last time I did this was 2002. Just married. I innocently started buying little things here and there and putting them up for Christmas. I tended to favor my mom because, well, I know her and I know what she likes. I put things all over the apartment. I made things too. Then, about a week before Christmas I started pulling everything out. Holy geez! There was stuff everywhere! I had done a pretty good job buying for everyone, but I had completely overbought for my mom. If I had been smart, I would have put some of it up for birthdays and next Christmas, but I was 21 and excited to give it all to her! So, I ended up having to go shopping to fill out everyone else’s haul so that she didn’t get more than everyone! Ever since then, I’ve been afraid to shop all year. Afraid of spending more money in my quest to spend less. Afraid to run out of room to hide things because I’ve overshopped!

Cut to now…9 years later. I’m ready. I can do it! I can be frugal AND have foresight! I can shop smarter, not harder. So far, Abbey is the one who has benefitted from my early shopping. One thing was supposed to be a birthday present, but I forgot to give it to her…it became a Christmas present! Score! Then, the other day, I found a gently used Leapster 2 (which we almost got her for her bday at full price) with 4 games (1 of which she will never see…no offense to those of you who like Spongebob, but we don’t) for half the price of the game system alone. Score number 2! With the exception of her “big gift” which will have to wait because we can’t hide it and a very few stocking stuffers, I’m done with her! Sweet!

Tomorrow, I embark on phase 2 of early Christmas. I’m going to start preparing to learn to make jelly. Yes, you read that correctly…jelly. We have a gnarly apple tree in our yard. No, it doesn’t grow gnarly apples. The previous owners of our property apparently never, ever pruned it. It is very bizarrely shaped, has a chain that has grown into the trunk, and is, frankly, ugly…but man does it grow some apples!

Zach shaking the gnarly tree's limbs...easy harvest!

Last night, my family and I harvested apples. It was hot. There were ants and other creepy crawlies, but it was fun. Abbey had fun aiming the rotten or otherwise no good apples at the trash can. Lily had fun picking up the apples that fell to the ground and carrying them around.

Working hard

Lily sorting some apples

Abbey did a great job sorting the good ones from the duds, and she had a lot of fun too!

My sweet little apple picker

After we finished, we decided to get a few pictures of our haul! As you can see in the background, there were a ton leftover. They mostly had bugs or were otherwise not ones we wanted to take in the house. I even got to get in a picture!

The harvesters with their haul!

I got a pic too!

When we were about to head in, Lily decided she was going to help us carry everything inside. The basket probably weighed about as much as she does! Needless to say…she didn’t get very far!

She wanted to help carry the apples in!

We had a great time picking apples, and if you are someone who knows me in real life and we’re close…look out for some apple goodies this Christmas! That is, of course, assuming that I can pull them off. We shall see. Stay tuned!


Filed under Christmas, Family Fun, Kids

Why yes! I do make my own dough!

2-year-old Abbey making pizza

Friday night was pizza night at our house. I make pizza from scratch, and I noticed that I had a half recipe of dough in the freezer. Easy! I am definitely not against ordering pizza. In fact, we had it Wednesday night too (I can’t pass up half-price night!). But, I have been craving homemade pizza for a while. Not to toot my own horn, but…I make really good pizza. Some might even say I make GREAT pizza. It honestly isn’t that big a deal. I’ve been making it since I was a kid. My mom makes it; my grandma makes it; it’s a family recipe. An old, German family recipe. {wink wink}

Now, Germans aren’t necessarily known for their pizza, but apparently they should be. I found out just yesterday that my grandma had never even eaten pizza until she and my grandpa got engaged. Of course, that was 56 years ago, but this recipe apparently began with her. When I look back at the original recipe (and remember making it as a kid), I see where things have been simplified. I used to be the cheese grater. That was my job. I grated the big block of mozzarella cheese that would cover 4 large pizzas. I actually still prefer freshly grated cheese to the pre-grated kind. Even though it technically tastes the same, the texture of the fresh stuff is so much better. Mmmmmm.  But I digress…

After years and years of watching two amazing cooks make this fantastic meal, I am quite good at it myself. I also love sharing it with others. When someone who has never had my pizza eats it for the first time I’m always nervous. I love to share my cooking, and I have matured enough to be able to handle someone not liking something I make…sometimes I don’t like stuff I make! However, there are three exceptions to this: my rolls (also a family recipe), my chocolate pie and my pizza. If someone eats any one of these and either tells me they don’t like it or I can tell they don’t like it, I get my feelings hurt. I know. It’s silly, but these are my three absolute favorite things to make, and I pour my soul into them…I also apparently get quite dramatic when talking about them!

Every time I share this pizza I get similar comments that all massage my ego and make me feel very happy. One particular comment has always given me the same reaction. The comment is this: “Wow! You made this dough from scratch?!” My first reaction used to be: “Yes! I do. How else would I make it?” I still think that now, but I am able to temper it because I have enough life experience to know that, well, everyone doesn’t make pizza dough.

In my not substantial lifetime I have met people who burn macaroni and cheese, can barely work a microwave, literally do not know how to cook anything that doesn’t come from a can or plastic bag, or NEVER eat at home unless their meal was frozen first. Growing up, that was a foreign concept to me. I also didn’t even know pizza crust came in a tube until I was a teenager. I didn’t know there was such a thing as “Spaghetti Sauce Seasoning” in a pouch until I worked at a grocery store. I am nowhere near as good of a cook as my mother and grandmothers are/were, but there are some things that were just normal to me growing up that I have since discovered were not normal. How I was raised has served me well. Here is the main lesson I was taught regarding food/cooking/overall resourcefulness:

We can always make one! My mom and I (and my grandmothers and I) spent many days and late nights making things. Outfits, Halloween costumes, baked goods, etc. That may be why, much to the annoyance of my husband, I am still a night owl/procrastinator when it comes to seasonal projects. This has also served me in other areas. If we’re out of baking powder, I know where to look in the cookbook to find substitutions. Staple items for me are still flour, sugar, eggs, etc. instead of processed foods. Though I don’t feel like I’m cheating anymore when I use some convenience foods like Uncle Ben’s rice pouches (best ever!), I like it this way. I like to make stuff.

Now, I said I wouldn’t share recipes on this blog, but this is one that needs to be shared. This is my all-time favorite family recipe. One of these days, I’ll take nice purty pictures of the step-by-step process, but for now, the words will have to do.

Are you waiting with bated breath?!

Homemade Pizza

Heat oven to 500 F

1.5 cups hot water (not too hot, but more than warm)

1 package dry yeast (add a little pinch of sugar to help the yeast activate)

3 – 4 cups flour (divided)

1 tablespoon olive oil (or other vegetable oil)

1 teaspoon garlic salt (regular salt works too)


1. In a large mixing bowl, add yeast (and sugar) to water and mix. Allow to activate (the water should get a little frothy)

2. Add 2 cups of flour, the salt, and oil and mix. The dough should be sticky.

3. Gradually add flour until the dough can be turned out onto a board (or the counter)

4. Knead in remaining flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Allow dough to rise for 30 minutes to an hour. It can be used immediately, but it will be easier to handle if you let it sit for a while.

5. Divide dough into the number of portions needed to make your desired number of pizzas, and allow dough to rest. (5 to 10 minutes)

(NOTE: This recipe can easily make 2-16″ pizzas or 3 to 4-12″ pizzas. Can be expanded by adding more water and flour, etc. to make more dough without adding more yeast. If you want to double it, you can probably get by with only one packet of yeast, but adding another won’t hurt.)

6. Roll dough out to appropriate size for your pans and place on greased pans.

7. Spoon on desired sauce (I use a mixture of 1 small can tomato paste mixed with one can water – just fill the empty tomato paste can with water…warm works best – and add oregano, garlic salt or powder, and ground pepper to taste).

8. Add cheese and other desired toppings. (My mom sprinkles garlic salt on at this point…it’s lovely.)

9. Bake in 500 degree oven for 10 to 13 minutes until cheese is bubbly and crust is brown. Cut and serve!

My oldest daughter LOVES to make pizza. If I can keep her from eating the raw dough and the mushrooms right out of the can, she makes a pretty good pizza (as evidenced from the photo)!

My little helper eating on the job.

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Don’t Cry Over Spilled Vodka

Written: 7/7/11 (Internet is out at home…booo!)

My hubby has been gone for nearly 3 days. In that time, my girls and I have done pretty well. We went swimming in the “Quickset” pool last night with some sweet friends, night before that we had a little dance party in the living room. Nice, huh? Tonight, as hubby makes his way back home in a bus full of teenagers, my girls and I went bananas. Or at least, I did. They pulled hair, screamed about pulled hair, fell off of an ottoman, cried about falling off an ottoman, laughed at each other, played together, whined about having to play together, climbed on and stood on stuff they know they aren’t supposed to climb or stand on, and all together drove me nuts. I didn’t even have the Internet to distract me thanks to a fried modem…or something (I don’t really know what’s wrong with it).

Now, after they went to bed, I would likely have made myself a cocktail. (My mouth is watering just thinking about it.) However, due to a poor decision on my part when packing the freezer, that afternoon while unpacking groceries, my…my vodka bottle…rolled…out…of the…door…and smashed…on the floor! (Boo hoooo!) Although this is not, of course, the end of the world, it was quite distressing. Of course my first reaction was to yell, loudly. Then, I thought, “I’m really glad my kids were not here for this.” I thought that for two reasons: 1) I’m glad they didn’t hear me yell loudly (it wasn’t very nice) and 2) Shards of blue glass went ALL over the kitchen floor.

I wish I could say this was the first time this has happened to me, but alas, no. The first time was about 10 years ago when I was living in my first apartment with my roommate Shantell. We had used some of our meager weekly wage to purchase some REALLY good (or as I would discover in subsequent years…pretty good) vodka, and put it in the freezer to get cold before we had some friends over. When some of our friends arrived, we opened the freezer to put their offerings and some ice inside when disaster struck…the completely full bottle that we had placed inside earlier rolled out of the door and smashed on the floor! It all happened in slow motion. It was like a scene from a teen movie. If you’ve ever wondered what a puddle of 100 proof vodka does to a dark linoleum floor…I can tell you. It leaves a white residue where it caused the wax to bubble up. For the remainder of the time we lived there, it was a judgmental reminder of the consequences of poor freezer organization. As far as I know, that stain stands today to remind the college students who live there now to NEVER put their liquor bottles in the door of the freezer.

Oh well, in the grand scheme of things if that’s all I have to worry about, things are pretty good for me, I’ll admit. But…ugh! I couldn’t even go down the street to the liquor store for a replacement bottle because I live in a dry county. (Yes, they still exist.) To be fair, I had had this particular bottle of vodka in my freezer for well over 2 years, but when I want to dip into it, I would like to have it! So, in light of that sad, sad moment, I decided to go easy peasy for supper:  leftovers for the girls (they didn’t seem to mind leftover pizza and some applesauce…the baby even carried hers around in the cup-holder of her Cozy Coupe) and microwaved (from frozen) chicken fried rice for me followed by a Drumstick “Li’l Drums” ice cream cone. It was actually quite good, and it made me feel a little better after my trauma.

Hopefully, following this latest waste of good booze, I will learn to NEVER put liquor bottles (or other breakable items) in the door of the freezer. For now, all I can do is pass the information on in the hopes that you will all save yourselves the irritation.

Tomorrow: Daddy’s Back (and we’re eating out)!

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