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From a real-life experience that happened in my kitchen with one of my closest friends. I submitted this for an informal essay assignment.
Observe. It is the box. Within this cardboard creation lies the secrets of cooking- the wondrous ingredients of unparalleled food. Behold. It contains baking mix, strudel, cinnamon swirl mix, and a crowning glory of glaze. This is the Cinnabon Muffin Make-Them-At-Home! Box of Mixes.
Now to make these little beauties is not hard. Only follow these five easy and highly effective steps. They are presented in sequential order. Take note that these steps may differ slightly from those found on the back of the box. However, these steps are the result of my personal experience.
Step 1- Read the recipe on the back on the box. Decide you need the baking mix. Reach into the box. Select the first random packet you can grasp. Empty into a large mixing bowl. Add milk and butter; mix until incorporated (batter will be lumpy). Afterwards, contemplate how thin and soupy the batter looks. Deduct that it is certainly not possible to make eighteen muffins out of this watery little puddle.
Step 2- Re-read the recipe. Decide that you probably did it right. Search in the box for the cinnamon swirl mix. Pull it out and realize with a shock of horror that it looks just like the “baking mix” that you just put into the bowl. Dump out the contents of the box onto the counter. Find the real baking mix at the bottom. Add the baking mix to the soup you created, mix well.
Step 3- Add cinnamon swirl mix. Stir seven times- do not incorporate. Study the thick dough you just made. Add a little bit of water to thin it out- mix in while desperately trying to not incorporate the cinnamon swirl mix too much. Be mildly surprised that the batter actually looks ok.
Step 4- Pour the batter into the liberally greased muffin cups. Hunt through the pile of mix packets to find the strudel topping. Fail in finding it. Realize that you original hypothesis has been disproved. You didn’t put in an extra pack of course, decently thick cinnamon mix instead of the baking mix. You put in the thin, crumbly strudel. That accounts for the soup at the beginning of the process. Decide and realize that the only thing to do is leave the muffins as they are, sans strudel on the top.
Step 5- Put the muffins into the oven, preheated to 350°. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the muffin tops resemble volcanoes with lava running profusely out of them. Remove from oven, let cool until your patience evaporates. Remove from muffin pan. Admire the mushroom-cloud shape. Drizzle with glaze. Enjoy!*
*Enjoyment may be hampered by the contemplation of how many calories and chemicals you are consuming.
Along the same lines of last week's Tuesday Tip, here is something else we do when heading out in public with our precious children. Several years realized that we needed to be able to round up our children quickly.
We voted on a code word, something that was rather unique so whenever they heard it, they would know to come to the parent immediately and pay attention. The winning word(s) was "Banana Slug," mascot of UC Santa Cruz. Just one more glimpse into the oddities of the Stumpfs, but it's not something that normally comes up in conversation.
For a couple weeks we practiced at home. Bryan even got a stopwatch. He'd yell "Banana Slug," and the children would run from all over the house and line up in age order in front of him. If they made it under 15 seconds, we'd pass out M&Ms (my favorite training tool). I think the record was around 7 seconds.
Pretty soon we were able to try out this new skill in public. It is especially helpful when rounding the troops up after church, calling everyone together to make an announcement, or lining them up to pay at the Chinese Buffet. The funniest thing is how quickly the children's friends caught on. Now we will often have "honorary Stumpfs" in our line!
Bryan went out to a concert tonight, so the children and I watched The Tale of Despereaux (eight thumbs up, by the way). I couldn't find my usual Cracker Jack Popcorn recipe, so I Googled. This is so good and super quick. It took longer to cool from molten-lava hot than it did to make it up.
I should have videoed the feeding frenzy that ensued when I placed the bowl in the middle of the living room!
Microwave Carmel Popcorn 4 quarts popped popcorn 1 C brown sugar 1/2 C butter 1/4 C light corn syrup (but pancake syrup works if you're out) 1/2 tea. salt 1 tea. vanilla 1/2 tea. baking soda (I forgot this , but no one complained)
Place popcorn into a large brown grocery sack. Set aside.
In a 2 qt. measuring pitcher, combine the brown sugar, butter, syrup, salt, and vanilla. Heat for 3 minutes in the microwave, stir until well blended. Heat for another 1 1/2 minuted. Remove from the microwave and stir in the baking soda.
Pour syrup over the popcorn in the bag. Roll down the top to close the bag and shake to coat the corn. Place bag in the microwave, and cook for 1 minute 10 seconds. Remove, shake, flip the bag over, and return it to the microwave. Cook for another 1 minute 10 seconds. Dump the popcorn out onto waxed paper, and let cool until coating is set.
I'm sure this is just a Stumpf phenomenon, but my children seemed to be hard of hearing when I would ask them to do something. We decided to reduce frustration and improve attentiveness by requiring a "Yes Ma'am/No Ma'am" or "Yes Sir/No Sir" when we asked something. That would make it easier to determine if they heard the request or not.
Periodically we brush up on this skill by playing the Yes Ma'am, No Ma'am Game. Rules are simple:
I ask them a question or to do something.
They respond cheerfully with "Yes Ma'am" or "No Ma'am" and run like a bunny rabbit to do what's been asked of them.
When they return after successful completion, they get an M&M (love those training incentives)
After a couple weeks, the responses become automatic. We repeat this training period a couple times each year to keep everyone sharp. Now that I think about it, we might benefit from a refresher this week...
Since I'm going to be away from the computer for over a week, I thought I'd re-post some tips and quips from the past. Let's call it "PeacefulHome Classics" rather than being too lazy to think of something new!
I'm also going to try posting via text message. We'll see how that goes.... I'm sure Bryan will be posting a color-commentary of our trip to Facebook for folks to follow, too!
I've had a couple of discussions with friends in the last week about getting someplace on time. Punctuality does seem to be a dying art. However, since I am, as my beloved husband has dubbed me, "compulsive punctual," we have developed a system to get the crew out of the house and to our destination on time. Well, most of the time!
The key is to stop determining when to leave solely based on how long it takes to get someplace. That is only one factor in the equation. The real question is: How long does it take everyone concerned to find matching shoes, put on those shoes, go to the bathroom, go out to the van, come back in for a book, go back out to the van, come back in from the van to go to the bathroom again, only to go back out and get buckled in? Also, remember that the toddler waits to fill her diaper until just two minutes before departure.
Once you've calculated the time it takes for this Departure Routine, add that to the travel time. Subtract the total time from what time you need to be at your destination and you now have what we Stumpfs call "Shoes On Time."
For example: Church starts at 10am. We would like to be there by 9:50. It takes 25 minutes to drive there. Our Departure Routine takes 15 minutes in the summer (more in winter - coats and mittens!) for a total time of 40 minutes. Therefore the Shoes On Time is 9:10.
That is the only time we will mention all morning. That is what we aim for. When that time rolls around, Bryan or I yell out "Shoes On Time," and the flurry of activity begins. I'm not always (ok, never) even ready myself by this point. But I can continue to brush my teeth during the bathroom runs and shoe hunts.
Bottom line, don't think in terms of "What time do we need to leave?" Decide what time you need to put your shoes on!
In preparing for Disney World last year, I discussed how we pack to move our army for a week. We were relying on the laundromat at our Disney Resort to wash our clothes mid-way through the week. Three hours and $25 later, we had a bunch of wet clothes all over our hotel room.
Note the cube of Pepsi Max!
This year we knew we'd have to bring enough clothes for the entire week. However, last year's 5 totes was pushing our storage constraints. Space bags were considered, but deemed too pricey.
We finally decided on XXL Ziploc bags. Each bag easily holds two days of clothes (that's over 60 items plus diapers). Plus they're "squishable" and should fit into nooks and crannies better than the hard totes.
The best price I found was at Soap.com where the bags work out to just over $2 each. (Besides, look how happy the gal on the box is!)
We still plan to use 2 totes: one for food and one for our "swim/jammie" bin since that one has our toiletry organizer that wouldn't fair well in a Ziploc.
Emelie and I finally made time to get the big chop on our hair. We were motivated to lighten our load before experiencing the heat and humidity of Florida. This is the third time in the past six years that we've been able to donate our hair to Locks of Love.
Emelie's cut is super cute! She loves the lack of tangles.
Mine looks about the same since I'll still keep it in a clip due to my shedding problem so no need to photo document ;-)
Meg joined us in donating last time, but her hair doesn't grow as fast and would have been very short after the required 12 inches were cut. She tagged along this time to cheer us on.
I picked up a new cookbook the other night for only $4.99. It's called 1001 Short, Easy, Inexpensive Recipes. Sounds like we were meant for each other! Since the pantry will echo from emptiness when we return from Florida, we'll spend some time at the grocery the day after we get back.
Right now we're scraping the bottom of the food-supply barrel. I should still have the ingredients to serve:
Yesterday, Bryan and I celebrated 17 years of marital bliss. There have been some bumps, but mainly a whole lot of bliss. We met twenty years ago at 19 (no need to do the math!). We both agreed that we start counting our years together at that point since it was apparent early on that this was a "for-keeps" situation.
Our good friends were brave enough to come over and watch the children so Bryan and I could go out to dinner (and sit in a booth!). Later we browsed a bookstore where prices made us appreciate Amazon! A great date with a great man!
The freezer and pantry are getting low as I'm trying to deplete it as much as possible before we leave in a mere 12 days. While I still have the ingredients for all my planned main dishes, I'm starting to get more creative in the side dish department. Lots of peaches and rice (not together!).
I intend to work out our menu plan for October and November during our road trip. We'll see if that happens! This week we'll be enjoying:
Monday - Chicken Delish
Tuesday- Green Chili Casserole
Wednesday(AWANA)- Hot Dogs, Popcorn
Thursday - Sloppy Joes (made with black beans instead of hamburger)
The mom blogs, and sews, and probably does some laundry.
Bryan and the children are having a camp-out at some friends' this evening. Hunter (1) and I hung around for the hot dog roasting before cutting out for the bug-free bliss of home.
Hurl all the names at me you wish (I've already heard them from my children), but sleeping outside on the ground has zero appeal! Besides with Hunter in bed now, I can do whatever I want without interruption. Happy Dance!!
Em just texted me that Ted was doing a noogieman dance?! We can only hope that there's a video. Sure to become a YouTube classic! The dads are sitting around the fire telling scary stories about Hot Pockets. Good times, good times!
Corn Casserole is one of my "go-to" side dishes. It goes together quickly, everyone loves it, and the leftovers reheat beautifully.
The only negative is the fact that if has to bake for an hour. Many an evening dinner has been late because I forgot to pull the corn casserole together in time. Until now!
Last week, with little time to spare, I needed something to round out our dinner. I wistfully looked at the clock. Only 20 minutes until Bryan got home. And corn casserole would be so tasty with our Mexican dinner. Hmmmmm....
And then, employing the cooking times Emelie used in making her 4,693 microwave coffee cakes for 4-H this year, I was able to serve the casserole on time!
Here's the traditional recipe:
JIFFY CORN CASSEROLE
1 can whole kernel corn (juice, too) 1 can cream style corn 1 c. sour cream 1/4 c. sugar 2 eggs, beaten 1/2 c. melted butter 1 (8 oz.) box Jiffy corn muffin mix
Mix together adding muffin mix last. Bake in large casserole or 9x13 pan at 350 degrees 50-60 minutes until set. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
To microwave: Grease 2 - 2 qt. round microwave safe bowls. Pour half the batter in each. Microwave (one at a time) on 50% for 4 minutes, then high for 3.5 minutes. Rotate bowl during cooking if you don't have a turntable. It should knife-test done. Broil for 2 minutes or until golden brown.
The first casserole is on the table in just over 10 minutes. We eat both bowls, but you could try freezing the second for a later time!
My use of M&Ms as a training tool is well-known, perhaps approaching legendary :-). Here are some more “sweet” ideas to motivate children to accomplish some of YOUR organizational and cleaning objectives!
In getting ready for school, I challenged the children to a “Battle of the Trash.” I gave the boys and girls each a big trash bag and told them to fill it with stuff from their rooms and closets. I think in the end, combined, they filled 5.
I got out my spring scale and weighed the results – boys vs. girls. The end result was 62 pounds of trash left my home. The girl team won and they were each rewarded with a mini candy bar. The boys received a few M&Ms as a conciliation prize (I just can’t get away from those M&Ms).
For two weeks I announced that we would be having school bin inspections at an undisclosed time. The objective was to remove anything from their totes that were not directly needed to accomplish schoolwork. Those that heeded my words received (in their now impeccable bins) a mini candy bar. I also threw in a few silly bands because I’m the coolest mom ever! They were as surprised and delighted as Christmas to wake one morning and see the treats.