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Circus Confessions: What Mommy did…

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I may have hidden some of the chocolate the children got at their Christmas parties.  It may now be gone.  I also may have had more coffee.

Shhh….

It is also possible that I gave my one  year-old a vanilla cream cookie before lunch, as a result of her loudly expressing her displeasure that I was not able to make a sandwich and cut up oranges at the speed of light, and all with one arm (because she wanted to be in the other).  Additionally, it is also possible that the vanilla cream cookie is all she actually ate, as who wants peanut butter and jelly after you have eaten a vanilla cream cookie.  I may have had diced up peanut butter and jelly for my own lunch.

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Circus Favorites: Chugga-Chugga Choo-choo

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Happy Monday morning!

It’s bitter cold outside.  The little kids are engrossed in Sesame Street, the coffee is hot, so its time to share a book I’ve been meaning to since Christmas!

You all may remember my post about our summer family circle time (colorfully illustrated with photos taken by a 5 year-old).  I told you all about My Truck Is Stuck!
It has remained a daily (sometimes times 10) favorite of circus boy #3.  The rhythm and repetition have been fantastic for his developing speech.  (In fact his speech therapist has used it with him several times, because he loves to try to repeat the recurring phrases, “Help! Please help!  Does anyone know how to make my stuck truck go?)

Well, Santa brought a new favorite. Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo Its also written by Kevin Lewis, and has many of the same helpful qualities for language development rolled into a fun little story with fantastic illustrations.

While there isn’t quite as much repetition as in My Truck is Stuck, Chugga-Chugga has a wonderful, rolling rhythm and easy flowing rhyme.  The traditional train sounds “chugga-chugga choo-choo” and “Whooooo whoooo!” repeat throughout the story, while staying in the story’s captivating rhythm.  Its short and sweet, but the thing I really love is the depth of the story that occurs in the illustrations.  If you’re going to use a book to get a child talking, you’ve got to ask questions (in fact, if you want any child to engage with any piece of literature, you should ask questions!), and these illustrations offer so many things to talk about.  The train in the story is carrying all kinds of animals and toys as it winds through brightly colored, toy constructed towns and scenery.  There are so many objects to find and name in these pictures.  Its been another great one to get our slow talker making some attempts at new words (and oh have we heard some new words lately!  YAY!!). 

Hope you get a chance to take a look at this one and enjoy!

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Circus Life: Outside the recipe box

“Wow, will you get me the recipe for that?”

How I dread that question!  Not because I’m a really mean person and my mother never taught me to share, but because I rarely have a recipe!  Really!  And truth be told, frugal, healthy, cooking and baking is all about getting outside the recipe box anyway.  You have to know how ingredients function and taste in a finished product (does it provide lift? moisture? make it more or less dense?).  You also have to know possible substitutions that provide the same or similar taste or functions, whether that’s to make the finished product more healthy, or more economical, or simply because that’s what you have one hand. (And if you’re like me, you can’t run into the store for “just one thing.”  So you can use what you have, keep yourself out of that store, and your budget stays happy!)

I think one of the easiest ways to start getting out of the recipe box is, ironically, with a great base recipe.  With a little creativity, you can begin to alter your base recipe turning a fantastic banana bread recipe, into an apple cinnamon bread, or even a cinnamon coffee cake with a crumb topping (Yum!  This morning’s breakfast…).  You’ll start to see what the core players are (what are the sweeteners, what makes it rise (does it need to rise?) what adds the protein, where is the acid to interact with the leavening agent, what’s the bready foundation (you know, the flour, the oats, whatever….no, I don’t know the technical term.  Enlighten me if you do.)  A little experimenting, and before you know it, you’ll be whipping up pumpkin muffins (because you bought that entire case of canned pumpkin when it was on sale in October and all but 3 cans are still sitting in our pantry) without a “recipe” in no time.

To get you started, here’s a base for a simple quick bread.  Make this super easy for yourself by dumping all the ingredients into your bread machine and setting it on the dough setting (because that is the setting that starts stirring immediately).  Once its mixed (you may need to help it out with a rubber spatula if you’re worried about over mixing), pull out the paddle, close the machine and set it on “bake only” for about 45-55min.  (Note: My bread machine won’t let me turn it back on once the timer turns off because it senses the unit is too hot.  Out smart the machine by setting on a later time (maybe 60 min) and then setting another timer to remind yourself to check it at 45 minutes, that way you can easily keep it in for a few more minutes).

Quick bread:

2 cups of flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup sugar

2 1/2 tablespoons oil

2 eggs

something fruity/moist- a cup’s worth or so

 

Oh my word!  3/4 cup of sugar!  How can you feed your children that for breakfast?!  I thought you were a super healthy food, oats and berries, organic, kale at every meal, crunchy granola kinda mommy?

Yes, I know.  Ah, how stereo-types turn around and bite us in the rear…  But since we’re being all honest here, how much sugar is in that breakfast cereal that was on the table this morning?  And lets not forget, this is a BASE recipe.  Don’t like the sugar?  Leave it out!  You’re the cook, its up to you!

Personally, I’ve never added that much sugar, and its plenty sweet for us.  If I’m using apple sauce in the recipe, I’m probably going to use very little, if any sugar (and I’d probably omit the oil , too!).  And I’m probably not going to use 2 cups of all purpose flour, either.  I’m probably going to use about 3/4 of all purpose, a half cup of rolled oats and about 1/4 whole wheat flour.  (Yes, I know this does not add up to 2 cups, but I also know that the oats and the whole wheat tend to make my finished products too dense and dry, so I use a little less of them.)  I might use some yogurt for some extra moisture if it looks dry, or some milk if I don’t have yogurt.  I’m probably going to add in about 1/4 cup of flax, because, well, flax just tastes good.  Plus, it has a whole bunch of healthy omega 3 fats (you know the ones they tell you to eat fish to get) and fiber. Yes, I said fiber.  ::Hangs head::  I am getting old.

I might use two of the bananas that are getting mushy on the counter, or I might use those frozen blueberries from last summer.  Whatever I use, you can bet I’m not going out to the store to get something special for it (again, I’m frugal.  Its also 10pm and I’m in my pajamas.)

Yes, its 10pm and I’m tired.  The only thing I’m even taking the time to measure are the flour type ingredients.  I’m only using the 1 cup scoop and estimating about where the ingredients should fall in the scoop.  A quick flick of the wrist with the open baking powder container, should be close enough. (Oh how my middle school Home Ec. teacher would cringe!)  Because at the end of the day, does it really matter if I get a teaspoon of baking powder or a teaspoon and  quarter?  I need to get it done, so I can get to the 20 something other things I have to do, so I can get a few hours of sleep before the clowns and monkeys wake up.

To quote one of my husband’s favorite movies:

“Look, Robin, you don’t have to do this.  I mean, this ain’t exaclty the Mississippi.  I’m on one side, I’m on the other side.  I’m on the east bank, I’m on the west bank. It’s not that critical.” -Dave Chappelle as Ahchoo in Robin Hood: Men in Tights, 1993.

And its not.  Critical, I mean.  Its always edible, and its more healthy than those cocoa balls and marshmallow horse shoes for sure. And worse comes to worst, you throw some sprinkles on top.  The kids will eat it up just fine…

Happy ingredient experimenting!

(Oh, and pureed kale actually does go well in an apple bread….just sayin’.)

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Circus Break: Morning Coffee

Y’all know how I feel about my coffee.  And sometimes, just sometimes, I like to have a little snack with my mid-morning cup.  So I head to the pantry and take out some nice, organic wheat and cheddar crackers.  I pour them into small, snack sized bowls.  Then I hand them to the kids, dash back to the kitchen, and cut myself a nice slab of leftover birthday cake.  🙂 

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Virtually undetectable by those among us with short legs, when eaten at the breakfast bar. 

 

Happy Wednesday!

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Circus Funnies: All about jokes

Circus Boy #2 really likes attention.  He gets it any way he can, but first and foremost by (attempting) being funny.  So rather than subject ourselves, our family, our friends, his teachers and classmates to “POOPY!!!  HAHAHAHA” or “How did the alligator climb the tree into the sky and get on a really, really, really high airplane and go to the moon?  By California!! HAHAHAHAHA!!” and other things which make no sense at all and are not remotely funny, we decided to teach the boy a few jokes.  We started with these two:

1)  What game do you play with a wombat?

Wom

2) Knock-Knock, Who’s there?, Boo, Boo-who?

Don’t cry its only a joke!

Well, apparently he started to tell his teacher the wombat one, but didn’t tell her he was telling a joke, so when he asked what game you play with a wombat, she told him “I don’t want to play with a wombat!”  (Which, his retelling of, totally made me laugh.)

So he tried his jokes on us at home; the ones who taught him the jokes, mind you.  Except, that he had them a little….melded.

Mommy, what do you play with a wombat?

::sigh:: I don’t know, what?

WOM!!!!

::Pretend laughter:: interrupted by….

Don’t cry, Mommy, its only a joke!

HAHA!! ::Real laughter::  And Daddy nearly sprayed tea out of his nose.

That kid is good for a joke, even when he isn’t tell it right.

Anyone have any jokes a soon to 4 year-old would get?  He needs some new material.

 

Happy Monday!

 

(Support the circus, visit: https://www.etsy.com/shop/Takes2Stitches?ref=si_shop)

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Circus Love: The little things

Stay-at-home moms (or dads) know what I mean when I say there’s a window of about 30 seconds between getting the last peanut butter and jelly sandwich on the table, and when the recipient of the first peanut butter and jelly sandwich finishes it and asks for more.  If that doesn’t happen, there’s the inevitable first catastrophic spill triggering the beginning of the clean-up routine.  During that 30 second window stay at home parents everywhere face the same fundamental dilemma; what can I make and eat for lunch in 30 seconds.  No, the handful of m&ms and swig of cold coffee are not a good option.  And granted, there will be “leftovers” consisting of crumbs and crusts and partially chewed pieces of sandwich that you didn’t realize were partially chewed (awesomely delicious surprise…gag).  But it sure is nice when you get some real food for lunch, even if it is scarfed down in bites between picking up the banana you just cut up for your one year-old off the floor.  (Guess what, she didn’t want more food after all….)   

Which is why I was so looking forward to lunch the other day.  There was leftover chicken alfredo in the fridge for me (real leftovers, not the pre-chewed, previously saliva seasoned ones).  As the children settled into their food, I could not wait to get to that fridge and pop that dish in the microwave.  I  knew there was some fresh parmesan cheese to grate over the top, and oh, it would taste so good.   But in my dash to the fridge I quickly decided that getting the cheese and grater and all out, would take up too much of my precious estimated 60 second lunch.  I pulled out the container and popped off the lid to vent it in the microwave.  You know what?  There, covering the top of those noodles and sauce was a beautiful layer of cheesy goodness.  Mr, Ringmaster, knowing I would eat those leftovers for lunch, grated cheese over the top of them before he went to work that morning. 

Thinking about grating parmesan cheese on a busy mom’s lunch at breakfast time, that’s love right there.

But alas, no leftovers (at least the good kind) today, and I just spend like 300x my allotted 60 seconds to write this post.  Kids are restless, time to go.  M&ms and a swig of coffee it is! 

 

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Tea Paties and Baby Dolls: The Circus Gets Girly

ImageNo one will ever be able to convince me that there are no natural gender roles.  We’ve had a tea set and kitchen set since my oldest boy was small, never has it gotten so much attention as my 12 month-old daughter has given it over the last few months.  We get tea, her brothers get tea, and they’re nearly untouched and forgotten stuffed animal cast offs now get tea.  The baby dolls get fed spoonfuls of imagined mushed who knows what, and they are rocked and patted and snuggled.  The very same were chucked across the room after being dangled by a foot, in her brothers’ toddler years, despite my pleas as a mommy with their siblings on the way to please “be gentle with the baby.”

But that’s ok.  The boys have their tea party moments with her, and she can make a “vroom-vroom” toy car go with the best of them.  But I am so enjoying the girly aspects of play these days.  Here is a sweet a little felt tea and cookie set I made her for Christmas: ImageObviously, I didn’t make the plates and the tea pot, they are brother cast-offs.  But I was tickled with the way they came out, so I put a set up on my Etsy store.  http://www.etsy.com/shop/Takes2Stitches?ref=no-search-results  You can see more pictures there as well.  Next I am on to a doll blanket and pillow.  🙂

Don’t worry, the boys are getting in on the home-made Christmas gifts, too.  I’ve got fleece mittens with an embroidered Dusty from Planes in the works.

Anyone making anything for your own little ones?

Happy Thursday!