We took the kids outside to play in the snow today. They both seemed to enjoy it quite a bit. Well, Cecilia did until I pushed her down our small hill in a laundry basket. She wasn’t a fan of that. Lucy, on the other hand, scampered over the snow with delight. She would run around and take quick turns, shooting snow high into the air. It was quite a sight to see. You’d almost think she was meant to be a colder climate dog until you realized she hasn’t pooped in over 24 hours. I guess squatting over the cold stuff intimidates her.
Like most of the south, we’re getting hit again with snow. Well, this time we’re actually getting snow instead of just a dusting - 6″ so far and more to come! I did a little baking last night and today: cornbread, hamburger buns, and chocolate pecan oatmeal cookies. I know several of you guys have asked me about the burger buns, but alas, I don’t have that tutorial for you. It requires some pictures, and it’s hard to get the step-by-step when I’m the only parent in the house. However, this cornbread won’t disappoint.
I inherited this recipe from Chris’s mom. She got it from her Aunt Edith. It’s truly fantastic. Now there’s some folks that will complain that it’s not true cornbread because it has flour. Other people will complain because it has sugar in it (which is more of a Northern trait). I say, “Shut up and eat your bread.”
Aunt Edith’s Cornbread
- 1 cup self-rising cornmeal
- 1 cup self-rising flour
- 1 cup milk
- 2 eggs
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1/4 oil
Cook in a preheated 400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.
Okay, let’s take a minute and talk about pans. Yesterday was my first successful attempt at cooking cornbread in an iron skillet. Previously, I’ve cooked it in a greased stoneware mini-loaf pan. (I inherited it from Aunt Edith - I think she’d be proud!) Stoneware is great because it cooks evenly, and the shortening guarantees that it’s crispy. I wanted to avoid the extra fat and calories so this time I preheated the skillet with the oven and sprayed it with cooking spray before pouring in the batter. It didn’t make it crispy, but it did give it a nice brownie edge like bottom. Chris really liked it, but I’m pretty sure my dad would hate it. (Well, my dad would hate this recipe because it has sugar in it anyway. Phooey!) It’s my understanding that you can get a nice crispy bottom if you preheat the pan with some butter before pouring in your batter. If you do that, make sure you keep a good watch on the pan so the butter doesn’t burn.
What’s your favorite cornbread recipe? Does your cornbread have sugar or salt? What’s your pan of choice?
I know I’ve mentioned several times that I have a couple meat-free go-to recipes. I love stocking up on meat when it goes on sale, but I still have the hardest time remembering to pull it out of the deep freezer the night before. Thank goodness for tofu, black bean burritos, and brinner (breakfast for dinner). Thankfully those options are pretty healthy and cost friendly.
Today was one of those days - I forgot pull out the meat. (That’s what she said.) We’ve been eating out a lot lately, and in order to avoid doing that again, I mixed up a batch of pancakes and waited for Chris to come home. I waited for two reasons: 1. I wanted the pancakes to be warm when we ate them. 2. After many failed attempts and burnt flapjacks by me, Chris is the official hotcake flipper. I also mixed up a batch of blueberry topping. The photo above is an old one, and I’ve gotten much better at making blueberry “syrup”.
I do believe I have one of the best pancake (from a mix) recipes ever, and I’m going to share it with you because I love you.
- 2 cups Bisquick mix
- 1 cup applesauce (unsweetened is best)
- 1 tsp cinnamon (I use pumpkin pie spice)
- 2 tbsp brown sugar (If you only have sweetened applesauce, skip it. I usually use Splenda Brown Sugar blend)
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp lemon juice
Cook as usual. They’re delicious and sweet. Be sure to taste them before you pour on maple syrup because they may not need as much as you’re use to. If you want to top them with blueberries, this is how I make mine:
- 2 cups frozen blueberries
- 1-2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp cornstarch
Microwave blueberries and brown sugar for three minutes or until thawed. Stir in cornstarch and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir. If it’s not thick enough, microwave a bit longer.
I can’t tell you the exact cost on the pancakes or their calorie count. These are things that I usually buy in bulk at Costco or on sale with a coupon. The calorie count will vary depending on the type of milk and applesauce. Regardless, it’s much cheaper and healthier than running through a fast food drive-thru. Plus, the leftover pancakes will freeze well and will make a great quick breakfast!
It’s hard for me to admit this, but the last two months have been really difficult. Cecilia has reached a new level of curiosity, and she’s always on the go. I feel like I’m constantly struggling to maintain the house, get my errands run, and take care of my other responsibilities while entertaining her. Throw in a crazy, whiny dog, and some days I just want to cry. I feel like I’m not doing any of my jobs well because I’m never able to fully focus on just one task. Don’t get me wrong. I realize that multitasking is part of life, but when it takes an entire day to clean up the kitchen because a little girl is pulling on my leg or the dog has run off, it’s hard to give Cecilia the attention that I want to (or exercise the over-excited dog).
With Cecilia reaching the 18 month mark on December 28th, I decided it was time to enroll her in a day school two days a week. I was really ashamed of that decision. So many of my friends told me that they enrolled their kids in preschool or a mom’s day out program at two. While they were trying to be supportive to me, all I felt was guilty for denying my daughter the additional six months at home. I felt guilty because I couldn’t handle my job as a stay-at-home mom. I felt guilty because I knew Cecilia would cry because I wasn’t there.
But I also knew it was the right thing to do. Even if placing my daughter in day school at one made me a questionable mom, I knew keeping her at home and denying myself a break would prevent me from being the mom I wanted to be. Plus it would give me time to finish my errands while someone, whose sole job is to entertain the children in her classroom, challenges her in just the way she needs.
And when I dropped her off Tuesday, things went incredibly well. I kept my phone on me at all times and expected a call telling me that she was inconsolable, but my phone never rang. In fact, she didn’t even notice that I was gone for at least 30 minutes after I left (per her teachers). According to her daily report, she oscillated between busy, happy play and fussiness. She also didn’t nap for them, but that was no surprise. When I arrived to pick her up, I expected her to come running to me. Instead, she looked up from her activity, brought a toy to me, and then went back to play some more. I think she likes it there.
And my first day without her, I did pretty well too. I did wander around town for the first fifteen minutes or so because I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go. But I managed to go to Home Depot to get gardening starter supplies, the grocery store, and the hardware store. I also cleaned the house from top to bottom and worked out.
When I got Cecilia home, she nursed and fell asleep in my lap. I didn’t try to move her. Instead I admired my girl while enjoying a clean house. It was a relaxed feeling. I’ve come to realize that I’m just not meant to be the kind of stay-at-home mom who homeschools her five children, and I’ve accepted that. My goals had been accomplished. My baby was happy. Momma was happy. I feel secure that, despite all the guilt, I made the right decision.
We had a “snow day” today. I say “snow day” because they canceled local school last night before a single flake fell from the sky. In fact, it didn’t start snowing until 9am and stopped by 2pm. A week ago, they were predicting 2-4″‘; last night, they said only 1″. However, we may have gotten a whopping quarter inch. It was lackluster to say the least.
Regardless to the quantity, there’s something about snow that makes me want to bake. Maybe it’s because bread compliments the soup that’s cooking on the stove. Maybe it’s the way that fresh baking bread makes the whole house feel warm. Or maybe it’s the extra heat the oven generates. Whatever the reason, it was a great way to use up some of my pantry extra (I hoard baking supplies year around), and it provided free entertainment.
Before the day was over, I made a huge pot of bean soup, two 2lb loaves of yeast bread, and a loaf of banana nut bread. I also washed three loads of laundry. A pretty productive snow day! However, I just couldn’t seem to get out of my pajamas.
There’s a phenomenon that happens when you have toddlers called the common cold. I know that’s not particularly unusual, but once children become part of your household, a cold can really cramp your style. You see, it’s not just a cold; it’s multiple colds that are passed back and forth between all members of your family. Each person mutates it just a little bit, thus making everyone’s newly created immunities worthless.
I have to admit that our most recent bout started with me, which I passed on to Cecilia, who passed it on to Chris. (We also passed it to Chris’s parents, and they passed it on to his brother.) However, there has been one bright spot in it all. You see, a couple of weeks ago, I sent Chris to the store to get tissues with lotion because my nose had gotten raw from blowing it into toilet paper. He’s pretty good at following directions, but he came home with this:
Usually when I send Chris to the store with a specific request, I really want him to stick to it, but this time, I was happy he took a gamble. Opening the box of Puffs Plus Lotion with Vicks Scent was like stepping into a menthol scented room. It wasn’t just a hint of Vicks; it was a wafting cloud of Vicks. They’re awesome. I even slept with one shoved into my bra so that Cecilia, who was sleeping next to me, could get the benefit of VapoRub without all the sticky goo. Every single member of Chris’s extended family loved them. His mom bought 6 boxes at the store. His cousin taped one to her face. His dad put a piece of one inside his CPAP machine at night.
It’s my hope that these things really catch on. I would be really disappointed if they were discontinued. They’re not an every day tissue. It’s definitely not a box that I’d put on the back of the toilet. That location is reserved for plain tissues - ones that I can grab if I run out of toilet paper. (I don’t think I need menthol down there.) However, they’re awesome for stuffy noses!
Ahhh…new year, new decade. While some fantastic things came out of the last decade, it’s refreshing to know that the next decade will be spent with a wonderful man that I love and a beautiful daughter that I adore. We definitely have lots of good things ahead of us and reasons to be thankful.
This year I’m going to do things a little differently with my resolutions. I’ve recently started reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. In her book, Rubin makes a list of monthly resolutions instead of a list of sweeping, grand ones for the entire year. I think this is a brilliant idea. It gives you a chance to really focus on your changes by honing why you want to make them and the specific details of the adjustments you need to make.
In January, I’m going to focus on Conservation. I want to conserve my money, my attention, my waste, my mental energy, etc. Basically, I just want to simplify my life. I spend way too much time perusing the internet for things I want or checking Facebook and comparing my life with those from my past. I would benefit from the mental clarity. My daughter would benefit from the extra attention and play. Chris & his business would benefit from the extra cash in our bank account.
I also want to recycle more. Of course, by spending less, I’ll cut down on packaging waste. But beyond that, I want to do more. I’ve gotten pretty lazy about composting (though I’ve recently asked Chris to take on the job of dumping the compost bucket, and he’s doing a fabulous job). Recycling clearly benefits the earthy, but it’s also important that I set a good example for my daughter.
Finally, I want to converse by decluttering. I’m not really sure how to explain this as conserving, but I do know that too much stuff is taxing on my mental energy. Removing it would reduce my day-to-day frustration. Plus it would help me be aware of what I have and need. Or maybe I can explain it as conserving (or reclaiming) space. Either way, it’s my goal.
Because I need regular reminders of my goal, I’m going to make a check sheet of these individual goals and post them on the fridge. If I perform them every day, I’ll give myself a check. If not, I get nothing. I’m hoping this visual reminder will inspire me to keep going.
So do y’all have any advice on how to conserve and simplify your life? Did you make any New Years Resolutions? If so, what were they?