Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sea Salt Caramel Coffee

It's National Coffee Day!!

To celebrate, here is my version of a Salted Caramel Mocha Coffee.

You will need:
-half & half (or your favorite creamer or milk)*
-chocolate sauce
-caramel sauce
-whipped cream
-sea salt
-brewed coffee

 Place 2-4 Tbsp. of half & half (depending on how creamy you like it) into a cup.  Add 1 tbsp. each of caramel sauce and chocolate sauce.

Heat in microwave for about 15 seconds, till warm.  Use a whisk to blend together and make it a bit frothy.

 Add coffee.  Top with whipped cream.  Drizzle whipped cream with a bit of chocolate sauce and caramel sauce (if desired).
Sprinkle the top of the coffee with a little bit of coarse ground sea salt. I rubbed the sea salt together in my hand over the cup.  Just a pinch goes a long way, but adds a delightful sweet/salty flavor to the coffee!


*You can also make this with milk, up to a 1/4 C. just heat and froth the same way as above.  


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Taking the "Crazy" out of Mornings

The other day a friend shared how crazy and stressed out her mornings had been lately trying to get three kids up, fed, dressed and out the door on time.  Tears, frustration, and unkind words are not a great way to start the day, not to mention the stress of misplaced items, missed buses or being late because of a chaotic morning.

It wasn't all that long ago I used to have to get 9 kids (my 3 kids plus our 6 foster children (all 6 of which were under 6!) up, dressed, delivered to 2 different schools, one or more to the agency for an appt. or visit--usually before 9 am.  I know what crazy mornings are like!

Here are some ideas that helped take some of the craziness out of our mornings (these ideas aren't new or even all that original, but hopefully having them in one spot will inspire you):

Plan the night before (the more you can do the night before, the easier the morning will be, especially if you are not a morning person! If you are a morning person, a lot of this could be done before anyone else is up)

*Get the coffeemaker ready

*Lay out clothes (including socks, underwear, etc...)-including any uniforms, etc..  needed later in the day

*You could also have kids put on some of the next days clothes to wear to bed (if appropriate), Example, t-shirts, sweat pants, etc....

*Plan breakfast and prep as much as possible
               -set the table
               -if you are serving cereal place the cereal in bowls the night before and cover with a napkin or plastic bowl cover (older kids can grab their own milk and pour over cereal or              help the younger kids)
                -pour milk into cups the night before and place in fridge
                -pre-cook bacon so all it needs is a quick reheat
                -bake muffins and wrap in plastic wrap-set on table
                -cut up fruit and place in bowl of 7up or Sprite, in fridge, ready to drain and serve
               -portion out peanut butter and jelly in small cups or baggies to be squeezed on toast
               -make your oatmeal in the crockpot so it is ready to go in the morning

*Pack lunch or set out lunch money the night before

 *Make sure homework is checked, bags are packed and set by door

 *Write reminders on sticky note and stick to door (IE...don't forget lunch from fridge, etc....) or have a specific place for memos.  Our back door was metal so we just used magnets to stick stuff to the door that needed to go out with us.

*Place toothpaste on toothbrushes (this also lets you know who forgot to brush in the morning)

*Don't forget to set out things like shoes, boots, coats, hats, gloves, etc...  Have a specific spot for everything by the door so no one forgets.  We made bags for each kid that hung in our entry where they placed their stuff--if we were in a hurry we just grabbed the bags and then they could put on hats, gloves, etc.. in the car.

In the morning:

*First things first--pray before your feet even hit the floor for a smooth morning and a good attitude for everyone involved!

*Don't sweat the small stuff--unless you are having company the minute you walk through the door, ask yourself if it really matters if the beds don't get made till afternoon. (I know, I like the beds made in the morning too, but I learned that it was just one more source of stress in the morning)

*Set the mood for the morning--turn on some fun music (or sing a favorite song)  to get everyone moving and greet everyone with a kind word and a hug. My kids still remember being woken up to a silly song called "Wake Up, You Sleepyhead!" 

*Use a timer to help keep everyone moving.  Challenge them to get dressed and to the table before the timer goes off (2-5 minutes depending on age).  You can make it into a game or even have stickers or prizes (like choice of seat at table, etc...) for the first person to finish (make sure the winner didn't skip a step (like socks, etc...)).  We tried to have each kids get to pick something as they finished (1 st kid--choose seat, 2nd kid--favorite cup, 3rd kids--napkin, etc.... so everyone felt like a winner.  Sometimes the last kids simply got a big hug and a "good job".

*Plan to leave 10 minutes early, that way you have a little cushion (just don't tell the kids (or maybe even your husband))

*Assign older kids to help younger (if you can)--it helps them feel important and keeps them focused

*Remember that no matter how well planned you are, things can still go wrong (the baby blows out a diaper, the toddler toss his cookies on his shoes, etc...) just take a deep breath and keep calm--your reaction will help determine the reaction of those around you.

*No matter what--send your kids out the door with a hug and a kind word--even an apology if necessary!

Mornings can be busy and chaotic, hopefully you will find something here that will help you take just a little bit of the "crazy" out of your morning and help you to enjoy those brief moments that you have together!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Maple Brown Sugar Oatmeal Mix

Here is another mix recipe for your collection:

Maple Brown Sugar Oatmeal Mix

1 C. quick oats (grind in blender or food processor till finely ground)
1 C. quick oats (leave whole)
3/4-1C. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. maple flavoring
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2  tsp. nutmeg

Combine brown sugar, maple flavoring, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl.  Stir to thoroughly combine the sugar and extract (a mixer is really helpful for this).  Add in oats and ground oats.  Stir to combine.  Store in airtight container.

To Serve:

Place 2/3 C. oatmeal mix in a bowl and add hot water to desired consistency.

For Apple-cinnamon oatmeal-substitute vanilla extract for the maple and add 1/2 C. dried apple pieces.

*Just like the packets you buy in the store, only you can control the ingredients.
*Package in individual baggies for quick, single serving sizes.
*Add more oats and ground oats to make a less sweet mix.
*Double, triple or quadruple the recipe and store in a large jar, scoop out how much you need.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Vacation Time

I am taking some time to spend with my family--we have had so much going on this summer and need some time to relax, do some fun things together and get ready for school.  We have company coming in for a while and are hoping to take a few "field trips" around the area.

I will be back to regular posting on Sept. 19th.

Have a great couple of weeks!