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February 28, 2012 / Asimplemother

Last Minute School/Work Treats

Who would think treat day would awake me in the middle of the night stressed and worried, more than any big work meeting?

It was Georgia’s day to bring a treat for class today and of course I am last-minute planning our goodies for a class of 1-5 year olds. In addition, I also needed to bring a treat for the parents’ room. And of course, you will be judged on the quality of your treat by the others.

In some ways, I was happy that the student treat needed to be store bought, one less creative recipe challenge. But, as for the parent treat, I was gathering my resources last night. I did have the basic ingredients for a treat: flour, sugar, eggs, etc. But what flavor? What type of treat? After seeing a jar of peaches, I began my search for a treat. And of course, I did not select a tried and true one…I selected a new one, that required a couple of ingredient substitutions. Why not put all my hopes of winning over the parents into one loaf of peach bread?

As for the student treat. I wanted it to be one of Georgia’s favorites. But I also know she is an advanced eater for her age (flavors and ability), so I needed to really scan the snack category. Our decisions: whole grain mini Club Crackers, cheese and bananas.

And the results…A big hit for both. The mothers were asking for the bread recipe. The kids loved the crackers. Mini crackers even became the topic of conversation in the parent room.

And a big sigh from me. I should be able to sleep better tonight knowing I passed the school treat test!

PEACH BREAD
Recipe from http://www.food.com, recipe #25514
Make sure to use an electric mixer to help dice up the peaches as you mix.

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 C sugar
3 eggs
2 3/4 C flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 C sliced fresh peaches (I used drained canned peaches in light syrup, reserve syrup)
3 TBSP frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed (I used 3 tbsp reserved peach syrup)
1 tsp vanilla

1. Cream butter. Add sugar gradually
2. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each one.
3. Mix the next 5 ingredients together, add to the butter mixture, alternating with the peaches. Start and end with the flour mixture.
4. Stir in juice concentrate and vanilla
5. Pour mixture into a greased and floured (I used shortening and flour) 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan.
6. Bake at 350* for 1 hour or until wooden toothpick comes out clean
7. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes
8. Remove from loaf pan and cool completely

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February 25, 2012 / Asimplemother

Yummy and Healthy Vegetable Bean Soup for the Whole Family

Nothing has been more enjoyable than cooking with my daughter. Even at age 2 there are several tasks she can help with for making dinner, dessert or stocking the freezer! The best part, she thinks doing the dishes is “Cool”.

This morning she helped me make a yummy and healthy vegetable bean soup. It is very easy and makes enough for dinner and lunch (all week). Make a pot and freeze some for a busy week night meal, or lazy Sunday afternoon.

Vegetable Bean Soup

10 cups of chicken broth or stock
4 carrots peeled and cut into small pieces
1 cup of sliced celery
1 large potato, diced
1 large onion, cut into pieces
1/2 bag of frozen peas
1/2 bag of frozen cut green beans
1/2 bag of frozen cut okra
1/2 bag of frozen corn kernels
1/4 head of cabbage, shredded
1 small can of mushrooms, drained
1 can of white beans, drained
1 tsp each: garlic powder, onion powder, seasoning salt
1/2 tsp each: black pepper, celery salt

Bring the chicken broth to a boil. Reduce heat to med-high. Add in carrots and potato. Then add in the onion and celery. Boil for 2-3 minutes until vegetables are tender, not soft. Add in the frozen vegetables. Return to a boil. Add in mushrooms and cabbage. Reduce heat to a simmer and add in beans. Stir in seasonings and let it simmer for about 3 minutes. Turn off heat and let it cool completely on the stove. Spoon into freezer containers and freeze. Letting it cool on the stove allows it to absorb the flavors. Enjoy with your favorite crackers or bread!

Relax! No, I did not allow my daughter to help around a boiling pot. To allow your children to participate, set-up different stations for cooking, slicing, mixing. Place the sliced vegetables on a plate/cutting board and a large mixing bowl at the table. As you slice up the vegetables, give them to your children to mix together in the bowl. This is great way to teach them about their vegetables and/or following instructions.

Making this soup, I gave my daughter the carrots and potato to mix together. Then I would take it to the pot (on the stove) and pour them in. We’d then move onto the next step. Trust me…add about 20 minutes to your prep time, but it is worth it. To see my daughter so proud that she made the soup is priceless. Not to mention, her excitement to eat it!

February 6, 2012 / Asimplemother

Winter Family Fun

In Minnesota we enjoy winter when it snows. This year, without snow and a blessing of warm temperatures, we have not “enjoyed” winter. But, as a resourceful, simple mother I did find us some fun!

Activities that include your whole family are the best memories and time spent. And that sometimes means modifying your day, activity or plans. And not having it go all your way.

Sometimes you even have to take a chance and push the envelope about how the experience may turn out. Only to find out, IT WENT GREAT.

Our recent snowmobile trip (4 days, in a new area) was no exception to any of this. Four great days of family and fun…with lots of unknowns. I learned a lot about my daughter and her passions and joys and strengths. Something I learned only by taking the chance of unknowns.

So the next time you want to take a trip or an experience, but are worried about the unknowns…I challenge you to GO FOR IT! I think you’ll have memories for life.

January 20, 2012 / Asimplemother

Things I have learned from a 2 year-old

In sequel to, “5 Life Lessons I Learned From an 18-Month Old” this post reflects on the life lessons my 2 year-old has taught me. And today has been a great day filled with lessons!

1. Just say “No”. Or, better yet, “NO WAY” when you don’t want to do or have something.

2. When making a decision to move on to the next thing, quickly go forth with no turning back and no baggage.

3. Blue jeans and boots are acceptable attire for any occasion.

4. Keep a group of loyal friends and followers close. Refuse to go into the unknown without them.

5. Savor every sip of your hot chocolate as if it was the best-ever!

6. When you’re tired and need a rest, crawl up on Mommy’s lap. It is still the best place to rest!

January 20, 2012 / Asimplemother

Things I have learned from a 2 year-old

In sequel to, “5 Life Lessons I Learned From an 18-Month Old” this post reflects on the life lessons my 2 year-old has taught me. And today has been a great day filled with lessons!

1. Just say “No”. Or, better yet, “NO WAY” when you don’t want to do or have something.

2. When making a decision to move on to the next thing, quickly go forth with no turning back and no baggage.

3. Blue jeans and boots are acceptable attire for any occasion.

4. Keep a group of loyal friends and followers close. Refuse to go into the unknown without them.

5. Savor every sip of your hot chocolate as if it was the best-ever!

6. When you’re tired and need a rest, crawl up on Mommy’s lap. It is still the best place to rest!

January 14, 2012 / Asimplemother

No Longer A New Mom

After two years of motherhood, I have realized this week that I am no longer a new mom.

This realization came as i witnessed others pounce upon my daughter as she stood on a chair attempting to retrieve a snack from the refrigerator. While they were tripping over each other, panic breathing and calling her name, I was still sitting in my chair, breathing normal and saying, “She gets her own snack all the time.”

This made me think ( and laugh) about all of the new-mom panicking I have done over the past two years and the other ways in which I have changed.

1. My daughter wants to take her nap or sleep on the couch. Hey, I’m just excited she is willing to sleep!

2. She dresses herself in green polka-dot pants and an orange/red striped shirt. Let’s rock-and-roll to the grocery store.

3. I observe her dragging a chair across the kitchen so she can stand next to me and help make dinner. And, I help her get the chair!

4. She wants to do things “On her own” and I have a feeling of relief.

5. I am the one relaxed, sipping coffee, while others jump up in panic every time she does something.

So, does this mean I have mastered motherhood? I strongly doubt that. Instead I am able to step back, observe, and make an appropriate reaction. And that makes every one more calm.

Besides, I have the school-age and teenage new mom trials to master yet!

January 7, 2012 / Asimplemother

Two Words. A Poem To My Daughter

If you only had two words to say to your child(ren), what would you say?

Two Words To My Daughter
Original poem by Teri Otte

My love;
Pretty, cute;
Goofy girl.

My precious;
Endless innocence;
Hopeful heart.

God’s child;
Life’s reason;
Tomorrow’s future.

Very proud;
Given gift;
Fortunate mother.

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