I bought some peanut butter the other day and the wee tot is in love. It’s not often we have a jar of the stuff in the house because I’m apt to stand in the kitchen with a spoon savoring with glazed over eyes. And, the preschool we hang out at is peanut free. But, the other day, that jar of peanut butter caught my eye and it made its way into my shopping cart.
Well, within a couple of days, the babe was saying, “peeeut buuter,” for everything. She wanted peanut butter on her pasta, peanut butter on her banana bread, peanut butter on crackers….
And, peanut butter is a major mess. Even when you think you’ve properly cleaned those baby hands, peanut butter gets everywhere. And, it stains.
I figured there had to be a better way to offer the wee tot peanut butter and somewhat contain the mess.
Peanut butter and jelly buns!
This recipe is really very simple – so don’t be afraid of the bread-dough-making aspect of it. But, if it all seems too overwhelming for you, simplify the whole thing by using store-bought bread dough!
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup hot water
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon honey
1 Tbsp yeast
1/4 teaspoon salt
3+ cups flour
Your favorite jelly and peanut butter
Milk for glazing
How to make the buns
Start by making your tasty bread dough. Really, it is easier than you think. And once you’ve figured out how to make bread dough, you can make your own fresh-baked bread whenever you want! In a large mixing bowl, add the yeast, sugar, honey, and butter.
In a separate bowl, measure and add the milk along with the hot water. You want the milk and water to be about 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which activates the yeast. Gently pour the milk and water over the yeast mixture and let things bubble for about 3-minutes.
Now you can add the salt and egg to the frothy stuff and give everything a stir to incorporate the ingredients.
Slowly add the flour 1/2 cup at a time until a soft, sticky dough comes together. Dust your work area with flour and turn out the dough, dusting the top, and then knead for 2 to 3-minutes. If you haven’t kneaded dough before, it means rolling and squishing the dough into itself. Basically, regress to childhood and channel your inner playdough diva. If the dough sticks to your hands, dust everything with more flour.
Place the dough back in the mixing bowl and cover with a fresh kitchen towel. Find a nice spot for it, like in a warm corner of your kitchen, and forget about it for an hour or so.
After an hour, your dough will have poofed-up, which means it is ready to go! Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and get out your muffin tin, along with your peanut butter and jelly.
Give your dough a couple nice jabs and a quick knead in the bowl and then pull off a golf-ball amount. Roll the dough into a ball and then use your thumbs to make a little indentation. Use a small spoon to scoop and add your peanut butter and jelly, then pinch the dough together and then roll back into a ball. We’re talking like 1/4 teaspoon of each peanut butter and jelly, not a big heaping spoonful!
Keep rolling and filling until you have about 10 to 12 finished peanut butter and jelly buns.
Lightly grease your muffin tin and place a bun in each tin. Let them relax for about 10-minutes and then gently brush the tops with milk. Place those buns in the oven for about 15-minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
Let the buns cool for a couple of minutes and then use a butter knife to help remove the buns from the muffin tin. Some of your buns may have leaked some of the yummy peanut butter and jelly, so just use that knife to smooth the internals back in place.
Well, we ate about three of them right away.
The other day it happened. After spending just about half-an-hour at the market gathering all the items I thought I needed while keeping the wee tot entertained, we pulled into the time-to-pay aisle and while the checker enthusiastically scanned my items while desperately trying to look cool and aloof at the same time, my eyes just about bugged out of my head while realizing I had no form of payment anywhere on my body.
I had left the house with most items intact – child, shoes, and shoes on child, snack to divert child, car keys – but no MONEY! What was I thinking?
Obviously, not much.
Recently, I wrote an article about meditation and memory and how it benefits the young (and old) mind. I even tried meditating with grand hopes my memory would miraculously bounce back to what it was before baby. But, after a couple of mornings locked in the bathroom chanting while the child slammed against the door and the husband audibly tapped his foot in the other room, I gave up.
There has to be an easier (and more fun) way to encourage my synapses to snap into action and build my brain back to what it was. My memory skills are totally lacking. I couldn’t endure another visit to the market where I forgot any of the essential items (cheese, grapes, milk) and then had to shove the babe back in the car and do it all over again.
Seriously. One day I was at the store three times.
I did a bit of research and found there are so many brain-boosting things to eat out there – and lots of entertaining ways to keep the intellect intelligent. Foods like avocados, fresh fruit and veggies (especially the green leafy kind), fish, and nuts are all crammed full of great stuff. Avocados are loaded with antioxidants and vitamin E, and green leafy veggies are packed with iron, folate and calcium, which help keep things moving in the brain by encouraging healthy synapse connections.
I found an article that reminded me about all these magnificent things, along with some fun ways to build my brain up this summer while enjoying time with the family. The husband recently purchased an iPad, and since he’s busy loading it with apps, I got him to splurge on Scrabble. Let me tell you, we’re already battling over who can get the highest score. And, I loved the Motherboard’s suggestion to play more card games! I dug some out and the babe and I are having a fabulous time creating our own silly games, matching, counting the numbers, and organizing the colors.
I’m not sure if my brain is building better memory skills, but I’m having fun trying!
What’s your favorite way to keep your memory sharp?
The other day I had a cookie fix like you couldn’t believe. I wanted crisp, light cookies that were tasty but weren’t going to make me feel horrid for eating a few. Yeah, there is no such thing as a truly healthy cookie, but an okay-for-you-with-some-healthy-ingredients cookie was possible. I didn’t have much in the cabinets, but I knew I had enough of this-and-that to concoct something good.
I had some wayward pecans hiding in the freezer where they were staying fresh and happy. Pecans are a funny little nut packed with tons of health benefits. From aiding in heart health to keeping the brain working right, pecans contain antioxidants, plant sterols, and vitamin E. So, I figured adding them in with some fiber-fantastic oatmeal, sweet raisins, and brain-boosting cinnamon, I’d have some flavorful and healthy cookies!
Here’s what you need
1/2 cup room temperature butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon peanut butter
1 cup flour
1 cup oats
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup pecans
How to make the cookies
Start by mixing the butter, sugars, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon in a mixing bowl. You can also pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit so it’s nice and hot.
Now stir in the egg until the mix is nice and frothy and then slowly add the flour, oats, peanut butter, baking soda and baking powder. This cookie dough is pretty dry, so take your time – and work out those arms! Once everything is incorporated, the dough should be bit crumbly but yummy looking.
Sprinkle in those pecans and raisins and mix everything together.
Cover a baking pan with some parchment paper and begin rolling golf-ball sized bits of the cookie dough. Place them about 2-inches apart and then flatten with the palm of your hand.
Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the tops of the health-nut cookies are nice and lightly browned.
We couldn’t resist enjoying some fresh from the oven with a nice glass of milk – tasty!
Although spring is in the air, the weather outside is still a bit cool. So, the other day when the babe woke up from her nap and it was drizzling outside, I knew we had to figure something out to fill our dreary afternoon. Toddlers may not be able to do much as far as art projects go, but they sure know how to make a mess. And I know of an artist that also knew how to make a big mess with awesome results.
Pollock hit it big in the mid 1940’s with his drip and drizzle method of painting on large canvases flat on the floor. Instead of using brushes, he would pour paint directly from the can, or use a stick or spoon to drizzle all over the place. No one else was really doing this style of abstract painting, and Jackson Pollock had an artist attitude to match. He was grumpy, kept to himself, liked to drink and have a good time. Pollock took painting to a whole new level, sharing with the viewer a place both chaotic and comforting. Although it may have seemed Pollock had no plan for his paintings, the amazing combination of texture, line, and balance creates artworks that completely work.
Often, Pollock worked with darker shades of color alongside one color to create contrast. One of my favorites, Blue Poles: Number II (1952) has areas of dark browns, blacks and gray, making those reds and yellows really pop. I shared the picture with my wee tot and then got out the paints.
I figured we could explore the simplest combination of colors – the primary colors! Red, yellow, and blue mix together to create any color combination imaginable, and why not use Jackson Pollock as influence for creating a really fun art activity? I figured we could get a bit messy, make something special together, and learn about color theory at the same time!
Before we got started, I cleared our work area of other items I didn’t want paint-covered. If you don’t have a dedicated art project area, you can always put down a couple of sheets of old newspaper or a large garbage bag over the kitchen table. It’s not a bad idea to cover yourself and your child, too!
Now get out the red, yellow, and blue tempera paint along with three paintbrushes. You can pour a small amount of each color of tempera paint in a small dish and add a couple of drops of water. Your child can use one paintbrush for each color and mix the paint and water together.
Offer your child a sheet of paper. But, before getting started, help your child fold the paper in half. Along with exploring mixing colors and dripping some paint like Pollock, your child will learn more about symmetry! Symmetry is when things are the same on both sides – just like butterfly wings. Encourage her to drip paint on one half of her paper, using her brush to drip and drizzle each color of paint.
Invite your child to fold that paper back in half and gently press on the top of the paper squishing the paint all over and mixing it together. Now she can open the paper and see what interesting design is left!
Our finished creation reminded me of a spring bug. If you’ve got an older child, once her primary colored symmetrical Pollock is dry, offer her a black marker and she can use it to outline the shape of a butterfly or other interesting bug, just like the ones popping up all over this time of year!
Well, at my house, it’s a mix of times right now. We’ve got a bit-o-Passover happening, and a some Easter stuff, too. Because we just got back from vacation, I’m not really prepared for either.
Yes, we dyed some eggs naturally last week before we left – the wee tot really enjoyed eating them – and we did some Passover stuff while on vacation. But this time of year really means one thing to me.
We stopped our mail while gone, and on our return, I got word from my mother there was a special little package waiting for the babe. I frantically called the post office to see if there was any way that package could arrive yesterday. But no such luck – all the carriers had left for the day. I was a bit bummed, but figured we would do a little Easter celebration on Monday.
Well, the husband had a different idea. After we had run desperate errands (food and booze) and amazingly finding a couple of places open even on Easter, the husband said he had to run out for one last thing before cozying in for the day.
And this is what he returned with…
*So, Mom, whatever you sent will be greatly appreciated tomorrow because the wee tot didn’t understand the Peeps were to eat, she just wanted to play with them. And, the minute she squished them, or did actually give them a taste, she totally threw a fit that they weren’t the proper shape any longer. The chocolate bunny was just as bad. She LOVED playing with it, and when it was removed from its shiny plastic wrapper, she was completely freaked out by it.
The big winner was an empty box of animal crackers that the babe had been carrying around for days filled with chocolate covered animal crackers the hubs found while on his last-minute Easter shopping spree, which she shoved in her mouth as quickly as possible.
Oh, just so you know, she’s running laps around the house this very moment. She’s been at it for about 20-minutes now.
Tomorrow, treats with matzo….
This has been a fun-filled week. We’ve all had our ups and downs as a family on vacation learning more about each other and spending time together. I’ve been with my husband just about 10 years now and he still does things that surprise and amaze me. The wee tot has been around for a little over two years and she’s so fun to spend time with. Enjoying new and exciting things with her reminds me not to take stuff for granted and to maybe look at everything with fresh eyes, too.
I always wanted to be a mom at some point in life. When we had such challenges getting pregnant, I really was worried I wouldn’t get my chance. Luckily, our daughter came along, and I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed just about every minute of it.
Hey, I’m not going to lie. There are times I wish I wasn’t a mom. There are many a morning I would love to cozy back into bed and not get up to tend to an awake-at-5-am child. Sure, I miss eating in fine-dining restaurants while sipping a fantastic glass of wine. Yes, I’d love to be able to read a book while relaxing on the beach….
But, instead, even while on vacation, you get up and deal with the child awake at 5am, eat in family friendly places where it’s okay if your child tries something new and then spits it out on your plate, and spend more time chasing after your child than snoozing in a beach chair in front of the waves.
It seems I can’t visit any websites lately without coming across a “what you wish you would’ve known before becoming a mom” list. Being a mom is being a mom. There’s no other way to explain it. You can’t “prepare” or think spending copious amounts of time with other people’s kids will make you the prefect parent or know what to expect once that baby comes along. You can totally change your way of life, hide away all your fancy stuff, spend all your time shuffling your kid from one thing to the next to keep her busy, but the real deal is that being a mom is being a mom.
And, being a mom kicks some pretty serious awesome booty.
Not too long ago I was asked by my friends over at the Motherboard what I find special about being a mom. I was stumped – picking one thing was a bit tricky. But, for me, it all comes down to enjoying the wonders of a new little being experiencing, learning, and loving.
So, if I was going to make my own mommyhood advice list, here’s what it would include:
1. Take out all your most beautiful clothes that you wore before you were pregnant. As soon as you can fit into them again, wear them. Don’t hide those clothes away worrying you might dirty them up with baby spit-up and peanut butter covered hands. Washing machines take care of that. Mamas look great when they are wearing clothes they love – and kiddies love a happy mama.
2. Let your child explore, touch, and feel things in your home. Yes, put your favorite stuff up high, but if you teach your child at an early age that you find certain things special and important, she will, too. And, if she breaks something along the way – so be it. Things break – get over it.
3. Sleep while the child is napping, or learn to not complain about your constant lack of sleep. People get tired of hearing how exhausted you are. Really. Or, go to bed early. What are you staying up for anyway?
4. While pregnant, do tons of push-ups to prepare for all the baby holding you’ll be doing. Along with having really hot-mama buff arms, you’ll be able to cuddle and carry your babe for hours and hours. You’ll miss not being able to carry her when she’s too big.
5. Before having the baby, drop small items on your toes several times daily, run into all furniture in your house shorter than three feet high, and watch as many heartbreaking and laugh-till-you-cry movies as possible. Prepare to endure the same heartache/happiness and pain at least five-hundred times a day once your child is born.
I love being a mom.
What would your mommyhood list include?
No matter where you are on Friday, take a moment to respect and love the Earth. Spend a minute thinking about the things the Earth provides that you take for granted, like water, beautiful flowers, tasty foods, and natural wonders. An easy way to celebrate all the pretty things around us this Earth Day is to create a simple and interesting outdoor art installation.
There are several artists out there using the Earth as their canvases. One of my favorites hangs out in the Bay Area creating his own unique and awe-inspiring rock formations. Bill Dan creates gravity defying sculptures using rocks along the banks of the San Francisco Bay. It’s easy to spend hours watching him deftly balance and arrange big and small rocks into perfectly balanced natural formations. Andrew Goldsworthy finds interesting colored leaves, rocks, and grasses to form free-standing or ground based outdoor installations that draw the eye and amaze the viewer. And, he’s well versed in turning snow into something creative, too, so all you people suffering through crazy-winter-in-spring weather can’t use that white stuff as an excuse not to get outside and create something special on Earth Day!
So, the other day, while listening to the pounding waves and enjoying a nice stroll along the beach with the babe, we took the time to collect some of our favorite rocks to create our own Bill Dan/Andrew Goldsworthy inspired outdoor installation. Although she’s a bit young to understand the concept of Earth Day, she sure loves being outside and all that nature has to offer. We felt the rocks, talked about the colors of the rocks, and found a few other interesting things along the beach to use, too.
Our final creation was very simple, but it was fun to create something together – and my wee tot had a hard time deciding if her creation was, indeed, “finished.” Along the way I snapped some pictures to remind ourselves of our first Earth Day outdoor art creation.
Earth Day is a great opportunity to head outside with your child and gather a collection of beautiful and interesting things while amongst nature. Then you can help your child turn those items into her own special outdoor installation piece by finding a nice level spot to work. Your child can either begin balancing her items to create a free-standing balanced creation, or position those items flat on the ground, thinking about design and pattern.
When your child is satisfied with her creation, offer her a camera to use for documenting her work. Make sure to create several prints of the finished Earth Day installation, which can be turned into unique Earth Day cards your child can share with friends and family!
Happy Earth Day!
What more can I say than this is how the day goes while on vacation. Yeah, the weather has been a bit finicky, with warm and humid mornings breaking to sunny beach afternoons. But, we’ve been enjoying every minute of it.
Thanks to the hubs for some great pictures…
Basically, we get up, we walk down the pier and look at the surfers, we walk into town and find something to eat, we head back to our place, change clothes, go to the beach or pool, maybe eat some more, go change clothes again, go to the beach or pool, head back to change clothes again, and then walk back to the pier, watch the surfers, and then walk through town and back to our place again.
So, since heading out for our adventurous vacation at 4:30am Saturday morning, we’ve had a couple of things happen that are just too funny not to share. And, you’ve had stuff like this happen to you while on vacation, too, right? Right??!
1. While making amazing time on the drive to our beach-y destination, I passed the babe a new and interesting collection of books, some nice warm milk, and cereal for a tasty road trip breakfast. Just after the hubs and I had commented how well she was behaving we heard an interesting noise coming from the back seat. I turned around to see the wee tot tossing up that nice milk and cereal all over her just washed – and essential-to-happiness blanket. As the husband quickly pulled over I grabbed at anything to wipe up the mess, and deftly removed the blanket from babe’s clutches. We spent the rest of the five hours we had to drive with the windows open and trying not to breath through our noses.
2. Because I am cheap and didn’t want to spend the first hours of our beach vacation at the laundry-mat, I washed out the smelly uber-important blanket in the bathtub and then hung it out to dry, assuming I had fixed the situation and the rest of our vacation would go smoothly. When I returned to the bathroom to use the potty, I discovered the bathroom door had miraculously locked itself. I spend several minutes building up a sweat while using a nail file to unlock the locked door. Just when I was about to break the door down from having to pee so bad and utter frustration, the door magically opened like nothing ever happened.
3. The husband somehow got sick and lost his voice no less than three hours after arrival. We decided it was imperative to head to the drugstore to get some sort of medication. While dragging the child to the car to hit the store, she screamed like a banshee, “NOOOOOO CAAAAAAR! NO. CAR!” The husband resorted to taking a long hot shower and drinking some orange juice.
4. While at the beach the child refused to go anywhere near the water and proceeded to grab and run with any beach toys she could get her hands on – especially if they weren’t hers.
5. Yesterday, while slathering sunblock on the wee tot, the husband and I forgot to slather-up ourselves. The babe is good-to-go in the sun today, the hubs and I, on the other hand, both look like lobsters.
*Here’s a special bonus. While walking yesterday, we observed a family out riding bikes. The dad let the daughter take a pretty big hill all on her own. As a group of us watched with total anticipation (and fear) the daughter started losing control of her bike and several gasped – but I exclaimed, “ohhhhhh, SHIT!” as she went slamming into the curb before regaining enough control so she didn’t go crashing into some serious rocks. And, then, our lovely daughter yelled out, “AW SHIT” and everyone looked at us instead.
And those are just the highlights from our first two days!
I love this time of year. The blossoms are blossoming, the trees are busting buds, the grass seems extra green, and sadly, my allergies don’t like any of it. But, I love it. Really, I do! Something deep inside me gets all buzzely with excitement. It’s spring – a fresh new start!
And I love all the stuff that comes along with spring – like candy. Easter candy is the best. Sweet little jelly beans, chocolate bunnies, and marshmallow things that you wouldn’t eat any other time of year but can’t get enough of during the month of April. Along with all that sweet stuff, there’s egg dying. I have fond memories of dying eggs during this festive time of year, and wanted to help create some of those memories with my wee tot, too.
But, I’m not super excited about that box dye stuff. Yes, they create bright and vibrant eggs, but I wanted colorful, saturated, AND creatively-naturally-dyed eggs. I did a little research, conducted experiments, and inspected the outcomes. I think the results speak for themselves – beautiful!
There were a couple of disappointments along the way, and my second runner-up for favorite was created from non-natural elements, but still, they all turned out pretty darn cool. Once my eggs were all naturally dyed and dried, I needed a way to share them with everyone – I couldn’t keep those beauties hiding in the fridge! I found some inspirational decorating ideas from the Motherboard, which motivated me to create this lovely centerpiece for my table. I got out a decorative plate, repurposed an old urn, filled it with some light green raffia, a few springs of rosemary and ivy, and then topped it all off with those lovely eggs!
Want to make your own awesome natural dyed eggs? It’s simpler than you think – and you’ve probably got all the ingredients hanging out in your pantry!
1 dozen white eggs
Skins from 3 onions
1/2 cup blueberries
1 small beet
2 green tea bags
Small sauce pan for each dye
Mugs and bowls
Stuff – like thread, paper towels, tissue paper, stickers, and rubber bands…
How to make the dyes
Hard-boil your eggs. I tried boiling the eggs in the dye to hard-boil them, and none of them really boiled all the way, resulting in beautifully dyed eggs that were nasty in the middle. Ick.
Start out by prepping your ingredients. For each dye you can bring 1-cup water to a boil in a small saucepan. Go ahead and add 2 teaspoons of white vinegar to each simmering pot.
Now add your dye stuff to the pot. I used beets, onion skins, blueberries, and green tea for my natural colorings. There are other options out there, such as turmeric, red wine, and coffee, but I was interested in seeing what I could create with what I had on hand. I diced up the beet, added it to one pot, put the onion skins in another, the tea bags in a third, and whole blueberries in the fourth.
While my four pots simmered away, I prepped my eggs for dying by wrapping a few with thread and a couple with rubber bands – which didn’t work really well. My wee tot even pressed some star stickers on one egg to see what might happen. I also wrapped two eggs in onion skins and then paper towels, and then secured with rubber bands.
Once the dyes had simmered for 20-minutes, I turned off the heat. My daughter enjoyed gently placing the eggs in containers (such as bowls or mugs), and I poured the dyes over the eggs. If you need more liquid to cover, just add a bit of warm water.
Let the dye come to room temperature and then everything can go in the fridge and hang out overnight. The longer the eggs sit in the dyes, the stronger the color will be.
Once I’d had my fun with the natural dyes, I decided to try another idea. I tore up some bits of tissue paper, and just like I’d wrapped the eggs in the onion skins and paper towel, I did the same with the tissue paper – one with pinks and another with blues. I soaked them in some hot water mixed with a 2 teaspoons of white vinegar, and once they had cooled, put them in the fridge to chill with the other natural dyed eggs.
The next day we were so excited to see what those natrually-dyed eggs looked like! After the babe awoke from her afternoon nap, we carefully removed the eggs from the dyes and oohed and ahhhed over the colors! I thought the blueberry and green tea created bold and vibrant colors, with the onion skin dyed eggs shining a bright orange. The biggest disappointment were the beet dyed eggs, which had turned a boring brown – although the babe’s star stickers had created some cool patterns.
But, the real winners were the tissue wrapped eggs, creating eggs that looked so bright and interesting – I wanted to make another dozen!
Happy egg dying!
*Here’s which eggs were made with what. Starting from the upper left corner – red beet with rubber band, then star stickers. Next were thread wrapped eggs dyed with blueberries (my favorite!). The next two eggs were the onion skin wrapped eggs that also soaked in the onion skin dye. The two bright yellow eggs came from green tea, and then there are the blue (my second favorite) and pink tissue paper eggs. The two bright orange eggs in the center are the onion skin dyed eggs.