Random musings waiting to be posted…

There is something about being pregnant that seems to give other people permission to touch your body.  Usually I am a touch-only-when-invited kind of person, and even more so when I’m feeling all hormonal and crazy and generally uncomfortable; make that really uncomfortable.  But I have found that the people who are reaching out to touch my belly uninvited, although a tad bid annoying don’t really bother me all that much because they are demonstrating how happy they are for me and how excited they are about my baby.  Consider on the other hand a recent exchange with a professional at the  doctor’s office:  C:  “So, you’re getting close, huh?”  Michelle:  “Yes, another 3 weeks or so.”  C:  “So how many does this make for you?”  Michelle:  “This will be our fifth.”  C:  “What are you, nuts?!”  I can’t tell you how common this exchange is and at this point in the conversation I usually smile and say “No, just surprised…” but during this particular exchange I was wondering how many people get that if they don’t know me well enough to know how many children I have, they probably don’t know me well enough to know if what they just said was really hurtful or offensive to me.  Oh, and another note to people who feel the freedom to make uninvited comments, I’ve always taught my children it’s not kind or polite to make comments about a person’s physical appearance unless they are complimentary.  That doesn’t cease to be true when a person is pregnant, so comments like “you’re huge” or “you look like you’re ready to pop” aren’t really very helpful either.  Thanks.

On a more cheerful note, ever since Holly convinced me to try cloth diapers this time around and her musings on being “crunchy“, I’ve been thinking about other ways to incorporate this philosophy.  Although I detest the attempt to mindwash me into the Green religion, (not by you Holly!  I meant the popular culture in general!!)  I couldn’t help but be drawn to an article on “green” housecleaning in our local paper the other day.  For me, being crunchy is all about good stewardship…of our time, of our money , and yes, of our environment.  So if “green” housecleaning saves me money and is helpful to the environment and doesn’t take up more of my time, why not give it a try?  I found the following housecleaning recipes at about.com:

Homemade Glass Cleaner

From Sarah Aguirre,
Your Guide to Housekeeping.
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Ingredients 1 cup rubbing alcohol ,1 cup water ,1 tablespoon vinegar.   Using isopropyl alcohol and white vinegar together makes a quickly evaporating spray glass and mirror cleaner that competes with national brands. This can also be used to give a nice shine to hard tiles, chrome, and other surfaces.

Recipe For Homemade Furniture Polish

From Sarah Aguirre,
Your Guide to Housekeeping.
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 Ingredients 1 cup olive oil , 1/2 cup lemon juice.   Mix together in a clean new spray bottle. To use, remember to shake before each application. Apply a small portion to your cleaning cloth. Spread the polish over the furniture, trying to polish evenly. Use another clean cloth to polish the surface dry.

Recipe for Homemade Surface Cleaner

From Sarah Aguirre,
Your Guide to Housekeeping.
FREE Newsletter. Sign Up Now!
 Homemade Surface Cleaner Ingredients 1 cup white vinegar , 1 cup water.   Mix together in a spray bottle, and you’ll have your own multi-purpose cleaner. Most useful in the bathroom and kitchen on surfaces.I can tell you I’ve tried the furniture polish recipe once before on our entertainment center and the results were beautiful.  That reminds me, it’s due for another polishing…

edit 4/5/08:  Here’s another super-cheap, good stewardship housekeeping tip I got from my Dad–Instead of using expensive, caustic drain cleaners, try boiling water!  Obviously, one need to use caution around littles, but the boiling water eats through just about anything that is hanging around in your pipes.  We tried it in our bathroom sink which regularly runs at slow or stop and it worked like a charm.

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Add It In, Add It In….

mac-n-cheese.jpgI know this may sound sacreligious to some but I am a big fan of macaroni and cheese (or as Anna would say, MAXaroni and cheese).  Not homemade, organic, or in any form healthy; just straight, from the box, flourescent orange macaroni and cheese.   I love it because it’s a big hit with the kids (even the picky ones who come to visit), it’s super fast and easy to make (great for when I’m strung out or  can’t get home in time to make dinner) and best of all it’s CHEAP!  At $0.33/box I can feed my entire family for under $1.00!  How great is that?

Now even my family gets tired of plain ol’ macaroni & cheese, so sometimes I like to add stuff in to make it interesting.  Here are a few of my favorites….

mac & cheese + browned hamburger = Classic Cheeseburger Helper

mac & cheese + leftover chili = Chili Mac   O.K. so you knew those two already, but how about…..

mac & cheese + taco meat + salsa over the top = Tex-Mex Casserole (I don’t think this qualifies as Tex-Mex, but that’s what the magazine called it)

mac & cheese + leftover chicken salad = Cheesy Chicken Casserole (This was surprisingly good and discovered quite by accident)

mac & cheese + leftover curry chicken salad = Welll…I don’t have a name for it yet, just my lame attempt at “fusion cuisine”, but let me tell you it’s WONDERFUL!  This is the only one my kids aren’t wild about, but they know better than to not eat it.

What do you like to add in? 

Christmas Cookies

christmas-cookies.jpgOver the next several weeks, our family will go to various Christmas programs where we will undoubtedly be asked “Parents please bring 2 dozen cookies for a time of fellowship afterwards” as if this were no big deal and we all have our Christmas cookies made and waiting for just such an occasion.  I wouldn’t mind this nearly so much if (A) “A time of fellowship” wasn’t really more like a time of unrestrained gluttony on the part of the participating children  and (B) I wasn’t already short on time this year.  To address these concerns I have been making these super-easy cookies on Sunday afternoons and storing them in the freezer (with the admonition to family that these are to be saved for later).  I thought I’d share a couple of them with you.

Sweet Grahams

24 square graham crackers

2 sticks butter (not margarine)

1c. brown sugar

1c. chopped nuts

4 oz. Chocolate

powdered sugar for garnish

Preheat oven to 325.  Arrange crackers on lightly greased springroll pan (or any cookie sheet with edges).  In a saucepan, bring butter and sugar to a boil for 2 minutes, then pour over crackers covering them well.  Sprinkle with nuts and bake for about 10 minutes.  Melt chocolate in microwave or over a double boiler and pipe/spoon over crackers. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.  When cool cut into 24 squares  (I would do more like 48) or break into pieces.

 

 

Easy Oreo Truffles

 

1 pkg  Oreos

1 8 oz brick cream cheese, softened

16 oz. Semi-sweet chocolate, melted

Crush 9 cookies in the food processor into fine crumbs, set aside for garnish.

Crush remaining cookies in the food processor into fine crumbs.  Add cream cheese and mix until well blended.  Roll mixture into 42 balls, approx. 1” in diameter.  Dip balls in melted chocolate, place on wax paper.  Sprinkle with reserved crumbs.  Refrigerate until firm or store in freezer for later use.

These are both super easy and rather decadent. MMMMMM.  Let’s not also forget the ever-popular white pretzels.  Oh Lord, give me strength to stay out of my freezer between now and then!

I Think I Must Be Coming Down With Something…

It’s Fall Fever!  The days are a little cooler.  As much as I’d like to bundle up and do my quiet time on the porch, it’s just too dark to read!  I actually covered up with a comfy blanket over my toes for this morning’s time with God.  I’m feeling the need to make soup and bread, maybe even some bagels for breakfast.

Anna and I are studying leaves for science.  Therefore, we are making acorn, apple, and leaf shaped cutout cookies.  In all fairness the following recipe came to me via The Baker’s Catalogue ( http://www.bakerscatalogue.com), but they were labeled as Halloween Cutouts and I can’t figure wasting these perfectly good cookies on cats, bats, pumkins, and such when they make such adorable acorns, apples and leaves!

Autumn Oatmeal Cutout Cookies

1 c. butter¾ c. brown sugar1 egg¾ tsp. salt½ tsp. baking powder2 tsp. vanilla extract1 tsp. cinnamon½ tsp. ground ginger2 c. flour½ c. whole wheat flour1 c. old fashioned oatscinnamon sugar Cream butter & sugar.  Add egg, salt, baking powder, vanilla, cinnamon, and ginger.  Add in flours and oats.  Mixture may look dry at first but it will come together.  Wrap dough and refrigerate for 30 min.  When ready to cut out, take dough out of frige and let it come to room temp (so much easier than trying to roll out cold dough).  Divide into 2-3 larger pieces and roll out each piece to desired thickness.  Cut out with favorite shapes.  (These cookies don’t spread so you can place them fairly close together on pan.)  Sprinkle cutouts with cinnamon sugar and bake at 350 for approx 10-12 min or until they are as soft or as crispy as your family likes them.  (Mine would be happy if I just left them in the oven with the light on to warm the dough a little.  Yours might actually want them baked.)There’s a raisin-oatmeal-cookie-candle that I picked up at Wal-Mart a couple of years ago burning in the kitchen (along with the rest of the oatmeal cutouts Nathan is baking up) along with  a barn-special candle from Barn Candle Co. that I bought from a friend at our homeschool coop last year.  The last one has a cinnamon-candy kind of smell.  It’s all very autumnal and yummy.  I think, with all deference to my Java-lovin’ friends, the moment calls for hot tea, most likely Constant Comment decaf, but The Republic of Tea’s Ginger Peach Decaf would be a close runner up and imminently satisfying as well.