Sunday, August 29, 2010

Miss. Manners

Let's face it, teaching kids manners can be a challenge, especially three year olds. My three year old has a particular amount of sass, which I am hearing is not unusual for a three year old.(right?) But we started early on the whole manners thing. "Please", "Thank You", and "May I" are three terms we constantly instill with the kids.

I have a friend who is challenged with how to discipline her children. I think her challenge isn't the discipline per se, but the follow through and execution each and every time. Consistency, consistency, consistency is the key. Cookie is not allowed to get up from a meal with out asking to be excused, each and every time. We will not get Cookie food, drink, toy, or anything with out a "please". It was difficult at first, but we continued to correct, now she just needs a look or "what was that?" to self correct. And of course we always need a "thank you."

Cookie is three, so right now our challenge is the "I don't want to" and the "I WILL!" with attitude, which we keep correcting to, "yes, Mommy." I can see how someone wouldn't want to fight with their kids every conversation. But really, after the first week of forcing the issue, we really don't have a fight. We just tell her it is polite and the correct way to say something. Or we give her a look or the right term and she will then repeat.

How do I know it is working? The other day Hubby and I went for a bike ride with the kids. We ended up at a park, and in playing "baker" in the sand, Cookie told me very politely, "Mommy, your cake is ready, please come pick it up." When I appeared at her delivery window, she asked for "Five dollars, please." I "ate" my cake and thanked her for the delicious concoction which she promptly replied, "thank you for coming today." We have never ever played this before. I am not sure if she played something like it at summer camp, but I had a mommy proud moment. My daughter had manners.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Chocolate Crack

I made a serious mistake. I happened to see a recipe in a recent "food murder/mystery" book I was reading, so I made it. And it was delicious. And by delicious...I mean like crack.

Aptly named "Chocolate Crack", the recipe called for just four ingredients. Since I just happened to have all four ingredients on hand and I was craving chocolate.....well I couldn't resist. It is a great combination of toffee and chocolate. It takes all of seven minutes to make and ten minutes to cool. I believe it would be a quick, cheap, and easy way to treat oneself, or to take as a treat to a party. Not only is it addicting, it includes chocolate.☺

The book also had a recipe for "Vanilla Crack", but there is no chocolate in it, soooo, I passed...You can check out the book yourself, Apple Turnover Murder, or the author, Joanna Fluke and her series about Hannah Swenson for the Vanilla Crack Recipe. The dessert recipes are divine....seriously I have spent hours at the library photocopying recipes from these books before returning them.

Chocolate Crack

Preheat oven to 350 degrees., rack in the middle position

2 sticks of butter
1 cup of packed brown sugar
12 approx. graham crackers
2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips (12 oz. package)

1. Line a 10 X 15 inch cookie sheet w/ heavy-duty foil. A jelly roll pan or even a cake pan works great. If you don't turn up the edges of the foil to form sides.

2. Spray the foil with a non-stick cooking spray.

3. Line the pan completely w/ a single layer of graham crackers. It is okay to break them to fit. Set aside.

4. Combine the butter with the brown sugar in a saucepan. Bring it to a boil over medium high heat on the stove top, stirring constantly. Boil it exactly for five minutes, stirring constantly.

5. Pour the mixture over the graham crackers as evenly as you can. Place in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for ten minutes.

6. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top. Give them a minute or two to melt, then spread them out with a spatula or frosting knife as evenly as possible.

7. Place the pan in the refrigerator to chill. (or freezer for a short time if you really can't stand to wait the 30 minutes)

8. When the pan has chilled and the toffee and chocolate has set, peel the foil from the cookies and break them into random sized pieces.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Silent Treatment

One of my hubby's ways to show he is displeased is to apply the silent treatment. I have not gotten it in a long time. I am not sure if his lack of silence is because he has grown up and has decided that adults do not fight that way, or if he realized that there is no way possible to remain silent in this house. Whatever reason, it is nice to no longer be on the receiving end of the deadly silent anger simmering under the surface, waiting until he was ready to blow and "discuss" whatever it was that was bothering him.

Lately though I have learned to be the silent one. Learned to pick my battles. Learned to keep my mouth shut and not discuss an annoyance. Hubby has called me on my "looks" a few times and does not like the shoe being on the other foot. And I have learned that the silent treatment holds much power. You are controlling when, where, and how a conversation will take place.

Once, when we were looking to buy something in L.A., we applied for a loan. The bank told me that because hubby had a couple "bad" things on his credit from 5 years before that the interest rate would be really high, because they assumed that as partners we would take on the other person's bad habits. My question was why couldn't you assume that since his credit had gotten better since we were living together that he took on my good habits. No answer for me there.

So here's a question, did we just learn each other's habits and adopt them? Or are we just growing up. Him learning to discuss his feelings, me learning that not every single feeling needs to be discussed?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Take that Cupcake

I am not sure why, but for Jelly's first Birthday, I decided to make the cake. My mom always made ours and I thought, why can't I? Store bought ones are nice. They generally taste decent, and let's face it, it is easy to just order one and pick it up. Not to mention that the stores have made them pretty economical.

I have been experimenting with my own cake recipe from scratch. None of that box mix stuff for me. (insert snooty stuck up face here). Really it wasn't a matter of being too stuck up, or I have to be the best Suzie Homemaker, it came down to a challenge for myself. As a SAHM, there really is not a whole lot of goal setting other than to make it through a day with out loosing my mind, I gave up on the clean house a long time ago.

I wanted to see if I could make a beautiful and fun cake for my daughter. Not to mention there was some guilt that I was not having the rip roaring first birthday party for Jelly that we had for Cookie. I wanted to make the day extra special...maybe a little bit just for myself. As we have no intentions of having more kids....this is my last (hopefully) planning of a first birthday party. I am saying goodbye to having a baby and hello to toddler years....and heaven help us, ages two and three and then the teenage years.

My first challenge was not the actual cake recipe, as I had mastered that a couple months before, it was the icing and the actual putting together the cake. A couple weeks before Jelly's birthday, I decided to have a dry run so to speak. I have a wonderful cream cheese icing recipe, that I wanted to try on the cake......let's just say, it is great for cupcakes and regular cakes, bad for "designer" cakes, as the icing kinda just melted right off. But my buttercream icing that I made for the filling was wonderful. While the first try was pretty bad, the final, I must say was great.

While the idea for a fish bowl cake was not original, I made it my own. Below I have included my cake recipe. It is perfect for anyone who wants to make a cake they need to cut and mold into a shape.

Yellow Cake Recipe

2 1/3 cups of all purpose flour/shifted
1 tbsp baking powder
dash of salt
1 cup of white sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Mix in applesauce until fine crumbs are formed. Add eggs, milk, and vanilla. Beat at a low speed for 1 minute, then high for 2 minutes, scraping the bowl frequently.

2. Pour batter into greased and floured cake pans. Bake ina preheated 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.