Tuesday, November 24, 2015

No Sugar No Vember

Mr. Hotcakes was gone for a week in October, and it felt like an exceptionally long week around here. The kids and I typically do fine when he's out of town ... schedules run smoothly, we make simple dinners ... but we were really missing Dad! I also happened to have a very junky food week. There were lots of baked goods around and good nutritional choices were not being made. I've had a suspicion for awhile that too much sugar makes me a little hyper-emotional, and on the last day of single parenting, I got in a very stupid showdown with Clark at bedtime after a really great week, which left both of us feeling awful.

The next day I decided to take a break from the sweet habit. Of special note is the date on which this decision was made: October 30th. Yes, one day before our house was about to be loaded with candy. Not to mention the 200 pieces of candy I already had waiting for trick-or-treaters! (And I bought the good stuff this year ... all chocolate!) But I was fed up with the bad habit and decided there would be no better time to take a break.

My goal was to go two weeks. The first week was actually surprisingly easy ... every time I walked by the candy dish or came across a donut, I thought to myself "Oh, I don't eat sugar anymore." and that was that! (I am absolutely an abstainer rather than a moderator!) I didn't go crazy looking for hidden sugar ingredients, only eliminated the obvious sources: baked goods, candy, chocolate, ice cream.

By day eight, I shared my challenge with Jeff and indulged in one mini peanut butter cheesecake that I made for a dinner party. (It was awesome!) I also allowed three chocolate cookies from Clark's birthday - one an evening, with a cup of tea, after the kids were in bed. So, not a totally sugar-free month, but drastically reduced ... I went from having several sweet things a day to six very small treats total over what's now been 26 days. And oh, the sweets I passed up! Peanut butter pie! Brownie ice cream sundaes! Halloween candy! I was at MAGNOLIA and only admired the beautiful desserts! I've been drinking a LOT of tea to fill the snacky void ... and even had FRUIT for dessert on a few occasions. (Who have I become??)

My mood has definitely improved ... overall I feel more even-tempered. No guarantee I won't be back to the old habits at some point, but my hope is to be more selective about my sweet options, and make sure that the calories are totally worth it!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

It's Popcorn Time!

Remember a few years ago when I posted Girl Scout thank you tags? Well, now I have a Cub Scout selling popcorn. Clark did a jaw-droppingly great job of going house-to-house in our neighborhood with Dad to do some selling. Amazing! So we'll have lots of popcorn to deliver in a few weeks ... time to make some new tags!

Download Cub Scout thank you tag here.

And for the visually impaired ...

Download Cub Scout with glasses thank you tag here.

For personal use only, please! Hope these are helpful for your scout! 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Daily Sketch – Happy Things

Things that make me happy: rainbows - tea - pencils - peanut butter chocolate chunk ice cream - erasers - heatproof rubber scraper - double chocolate chip sandwich cookies - waffles - silver number pencil cup - permanent markers - souvenir vacation mugs - hearts - Riesen caramels - homemade muffins - brown baking wrappers - Pyrex measuring cups - Cortland apples - individual pots of eyeshadow - low rise bikini panties - sunshine - flat shoes - garden flags - popcorn - mini mouse ornaments - drawings of birds (not actual birds) - sticky circle flowers - rocks

(Check out Instagram for more daily sketches!)

Monday, August 10, 2015

Baking Monday – Black and White Cookies

Look to the cookie!!!

I've never tried a black and white cookie before, and in fact had never even heard of one before Seinfeld. Summer seemed to be a good time to make a batch and give them a try.

You might find these facts about black and white cookies interesting. The observations that were my takeaways are that these are a very soft, cake-like cookie, with a bit of lemon flavoring. This recipe is great, though I should have thinned out the icing more for that nice smooth surface. And even though I used my trusty cookie scoop for these, most turned out a little wonky (these are the best of the bunch).

They are certainly not the prettiest to look at, but they sure are good. Hopefully they will not result in any Seinfeldian symptoms over here!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Kindness Chart Printable

I was going through old files and found this chart from 2011. I must have been feeling particularly frustrated with the niceness levels around the house when this was made. (It was also January, we were likely full of winter doldrums, too.) The chart has symbols for kids and mom, each with four sections to be filled in whenever someone is showing great behavior. Rewards can be issued when all four sections are filled in. Included is a list of positive behaviors that will earn a mark on the chart:

• Use kind words
• Be respectful
• Be a good listener
• Be supportive and encouraging (still struggling with that amongst the siblings!)
• Be a helper
• Keep your hands to yourself
• Show appreciation: say please and thank you!

I honestly cannot remember if we actually used it. The act of making the chart alone was probably enough to chill me out of whatever crazy state I was in at the time. It seems like a good one to share!

Download Kindness Chart here.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Baking Monday – Monkey Cookies!

Clark spotted this recipe in one of his animal magazines and wanted to make some monkey cookies. They turned out super cute!

Clark is my baking buddy. He's the one most likely to ask to make something and offer to help when I'm in the kitchen. He helped mix the dough and shaped four of the monkeys by himself before declaring he "needed a break."

So I got to finish the rest of them. It was kind of fun sculpting cookies instead of using a cutter for a change. The recipe is pretty good ... it uses a lot of butter, so these ended up with more of a firm shortbread texture than a soft sugar cookie. I used Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Frosting to decorate. Mini peanut butter cups filled in for M&M noses.

Clark also had zero interest in decorating the cookies, but much interest in eating them.

He wanted a photo of one of his cookies and requested: "Don't post it on Facebook, but you can put it on Hotcakes." Done! (Also? That was day two of turtle pajamas. We take our summer vacationing very seriously around here.)

Monkey cookies! Yay!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Printable Wednesday – Emergency Bookmarks!

More bookmarks today! As said before, we can never have too many. One to three children always have books in the car when we're out and around. 75% of the time, we get to our destination and hear "I need a bookmark!" from someone. Occasionally I will throw a bunch of extras in the car, but then forget to refill them. This was an idea I had kicking around for awhile ... bookmarks in a tear-off pad for emergencies!

These were made with the same method as the upcycled notepads. I printed and trimmed three pages of bookmarks on cardstock, for 15 bookmarks total. (Another upcycle ... due to a printing mix-up, I ended up with about 300 extra sheets of blue paper at home recently. Yay for using things up!) The bookmarks were lined up and sandwiched between two pieces of cardboard. The original instructions called for paint sticks, but all ours disappeared during OM season. Clip the stack together with binder clips.

I spread Mod Podge on one long and one short side of the stack. Don't even bother with a brush, I just used a finger to dab then spread a thick layer of glue along the edge. Move the binder clips to make sure they are holding the stack in place securely.

Let dry for about an hour and yay! Bookmarks to go!

I had fun making these up using artwork from other projects and not getting too precious about fonts. Here's the printable to make your own! Personal use only, please.

Download emergency bookmark printable here.