Gingerbread Kit – Beware

When my children were small, we used to make Christmas gingerbread houses out of graham crackers, clean meat trays and small milk cartons.  But in today’s world gingerbread kits are widely available for most holidays as “convenience products”.  My daughter loves gingerbread so the marketers definitely have her attention.  In fact this past Sunday as my husband and I watched the grandchildren (ages 5, 3 and almost 1) while their parents attended a training at church, there on the kitchen counter sat this box promising a creative masterpiece – the turkey kit that my daughter had provided for something to do after dinner and Grandma would help them.   I remember looking at the kit with a bit of concern because construction isn’t an area I’ve been gifted with.

So after dinner, my husband took the baby over to the carpet to watch and we broke the box open.  In front of me lay several gingerbread cookie pieces, some gummy type of candy, a package with a few m&m’s and a packet with the smallest round candy balls I’ve ever seen.  I was looking for the frosting, thinking there would be a can of ready made but instead there was a small bag of powdered sugar with these directions – whip an egg white until firm (what? are you kidding me), add sugar and a few drops of vinegar.   I needed to find the mixer and the beater, I needed to divide the candy in two bowls (already foreseeing the future of those little ball candies all over the place).  But there was no way I could tell two children looking expectedly at me that we weren’t going to make the turkey gingerbread.  

The mixer was found and two chairs were pulled up to the kitchen counter, safety instructions were given and my grandson became the power source of the Kitchen Aid Mixer while my granddaughter was in charge of the lever that locks the  machine down.  Two roles they were delighted to take on; this was happiness for them.  We talked about how important it is to start out slow when working with powdered sugar because it can go everywhere.  They were very good listeners and soon Caden was asking me if he could increase the speed to 4 miles an hour (the four on the speed control) and Maisie was ready to unlock/lock so we could scrap the sides of the bowl.

For me the day had already been filled with baking and decorating the baby’s birthday cake for later in the week; and I’d cleaned up several colors of frosting in pastry bags.  But the frosting we made for the turkey was similar to thick cement – I kept looking at the front of the package thinking how did they get the outlining of frosting around the pieces so the tiny ball candy could adhere to it.  If you’re a grandma and have been in a similar situation, I know you’ll understand how sometimes you miss essential pieces like the pastry bag – although I don’t think the frosting would have come out very easily – when managing a project with two little ones.  I found a butter knife and started loping frosting on the turkey cookie pieces only to discover those little candies just rolled off onto the floor.  Then my grandson’s elbow caught his bowl (yes, full of the little rolling devil candies and off they went on the floor.)  Caden glanced over for my reaction.  By this time, I laughed the laugh of a person knowing that this would soon be over.  The only thing left was for the limited gummy and m&m candy to be pushed into the unattractive gobs of icing I had sloped onto the turkey because what the children really wanted to do is eat the 12 pieces of candy the kit had allotted each of them.  While they pushed the candy into the drying cement frosting, I was still trying to figure out how to brace the bird so it would quit toppling over.

Finally the candy that was adhered  5 minutes before had been picked clean by the children’s hands and was sitting in their little tummies, sticky hands had been washed, teeth brushed and Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving was on the tv.  I gave my husband the option of getting the baby ready for bed which included a diaper change or cleaning up the turkey fiasco which had left the dining room and kitchen a disaster.  He chose cleaning up the destruction the now naked turkey had left; and I wrestled with a wiggly precious boy getting clothes off – pjs on.  While diaper changing I noticed Jesse pushing something back and forth with his tongue and discover a small piece of gray lego in his mouth.  I am able to remove this and look forward to sitting in a dark room in a comfy rocking chair feeding him a bottle.

In the dark, I am in awe of my daughter and son-in-law – how do they do it day in and day out?  I wonder how could a simple turkey gingerbread kit make me feel like I’ve been to battle and lost?  In a brief moment of self pity, I even think why would my daughter do this to me?

Soon all the children are asleep in their beds, their grandpa has headed home because he has an early bedtime; and I hear the garage door open.  My daughter sees the turkey on the counter without any adornment except the splotches of frosting that look more like a bad skin condition and asks how the project went; the turkey mocks me.   I told her from now on, I can’t do these type of projects with the children – it’s too much.  These people who design these kits can’t have tested them out with real children and tired grandmas.  No one in their right mind has you mixing up frosting with eggs – don’t get me started on the raw egg in edible frosting for children and those ball candies that are barely visible to the naked eye and then have the audacity to not stick to the frosting – there are no words.  

My daughter smiles at me and the turkey; then looks at the back of the box and explains when she has bought the kits in the past they always came with ready-made frosting and bigger sprinkles.  We laugh as Tamara begins breaking off pieces of the turkey cookie and saying how good it tastes. While her eyes glaze over from the gingerbread happiness, I repeat there will be no more gingerbread kits for this grandma.  A note to the wise – if you see this kit in the store or in your adult child’s home – run!

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Downsizing – Spare Bedroom 1: Library

The summer of 2017 was officially the start of Phase 2 of our fixer-upper.  This means we had saved enough money to conquer partial bathroom renovations, master closet makeover, a cooling vent and insulation for the garage (I didn’t really get this but Jeff thought it was a priority) and doing something with the two spare bedrooms.  After a year and a half everything had found a place but it wasn’t organized in a way that felt like home.  This was especially true in these two bedrooms which were filled with a hodge podge of what we had brought with us and most of it was oversized for this house which made the rooms seem smaller than they were.

It took me a little while but with some strategic thinking I began to list what I’d like to use each of these rooms for which helped me envision what would be needed to make that happen.

Bedroom 1 which measures 11′ x 9’10” was to have 3 purposes:  a place to hold books and read (aka – the library),  exercise and to sew. 

This is how the library portion of the room came about.  I love books and often read a favorite more than once.  There is something soothing in tangible pages to flip through, being able to mark the margins and turn down the corner when something touches my heart.  Yes – I have an iPad and think it is wonderful, especially for travel, but I don’t ever want to live in a house without my favorites:  A Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindberg, Adventures in Prayer by Catherine Marshall, Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard, The 10 Faces of Innovation by Tom Kelley, Live Carefully by Jerry Traylor, Beautiful in God’s Eyes by Elizabeth George and so many more.

We had brought two bookshelves with us – one was ours and the other had belonged to our daughter.  They were different woods and heights but when we first moved in they had the most important quality,  providing a place to remove books from moving boxes and store.

I began to dream about furnishing these rooms with a focus on function and price.  I didn’t need brand new and when my friend, Angie, introduced me to Facebook Marketplace, I found a resource that fit those goals.  As I found a few pieces for other parts of the house and learned how to use chalk paint, my confidence grew.  Soon I was ready to move the mismatched bookshelves out and begin my search for matching bookshelves.  Fortunately for me someone else was ready to say goodbye to two Broyhill units for $200.00. 

It is fun getting something new (well, new to me) but it also means some effort is required because the bookshelves that were there now needed to be emptied and moved to make room for the new.   In a very short time I went from organized to chaos.  This is often the point in a project where I ask myself “What was I thinking?”

One of our bookshelves we sold on Facebook Marketplace for $35.00.  The other bookshelf which was sturdy, well made and solid wood still had some life in it and soon I was placing two coats of white chalk paint and later distressing before a clear coat of wax was buffed in. As if I hadn’t created a mess already, I decide to add painting to the mix. There are times it is good that Jeff is at work.  

Here it is in its new home in the den waiting for the wax to dry before books are placed on shelves.  I am happy to say it now holds a variety of books, including my cookbooks.

I need to give a big shout out to my dad who is always available to pick me or my husband up in his truck as I procure another treasure.  My son-in-law, Josh, has also come over to move some of the heavier pieces.  It takes a village to make a house a home.

Finally, the bookshelves were picked up, dusted and vacuumed (let’s just say they came from a house with cats) and it was time to move the bookshelves in.  Not shown in this picture but new brushed nickel knobs replaced the bronze ones.  The shelves have lighting and are 19″ deep which allows for a nice display.

One of the last pieces for this room, has been the chair.  I wanted a comfortable chair for reading and hand sewing.  I found this one on Offered Up (another site to look for treasures) for $50.00.  It had recently been recovered in gray  and fit into the corner.  

I will be showing completed pictures of the room after I have shared the different sections.

What was Jeff doing while I tackled the room?  This guy is such a hard worker and is as committed to making this house our home as much as I am.  He replaced all our baseboards – so much work but what a difference this has made.

Coming up next – Spare Bedroom 1 – Exercise

Related Posts

Downsizing and Our Kitchen Makeover

What’s In My Library

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Caregiving

I am helping to facilitate a group of young women as we read and share insights together from a book by Debbie Macomber.  This week’s chapter was about caregiving and the author stated that everyone falls into one of four groups:  those who have been caregivers, those who are caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.  She then asked where do you fall in this continuum?  What advice do you give for those who are called to care for their loved one?

Scripture – I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.  Matthew 25:35

During my life I have had and will again fall under each of these groups.  By no means is this list extensive but it is much of what I have experienced so far.

Been a caregiver

  • Learn to rest. Sometimes we become so busy caring for others, we forget to care for ourselves.
  • Learn to laugh. Caregiving can be a messy business, full of tasks that are endless and pretty heavy.  Laughter is good medicine and can lighten the heart.
  • Make plans and dream. Your calendar will have space for it.  You lived the past.  Don’t let the past shape your future days.  It is good to remember those we have lost; it is good to feel we have honored our loved one but in most cases that person would want us to move on – be careful that you don’t find yourself 2 years later living as if this time of caregiving is still your reality.
  • Don’t be a martyr. Do what you did because it was the right thing to do not so you can remind others of what a saint you were because more than likely they might see it a little differently than you do.
  • Pray – seek God for next steps in your life.

Are a caregiver

  • Take a long hard look on where you can delegate and ask for help.
  • A tired person often becomes resentful.
  • Keep your doctor’s appointments. You can’t care for others well if you aren’t taking care of yourself.
  • Don’t be a martyr. Do what you do because it was the right thing to do not so you can remind others of what a saint you were because more than likely they might see it a little differently. (This one is worth repeating.)
  • Pray – ask God for strength and wisdom in this role. Stay in His word.  The bible is similar to a well-stocked refrigerator but we often refuse to open the door and nourish ourselves for what the day will bring.
  • Decide what you can let go of and what you can’t. When a person is ill and they are telling a story differently than you remember it, can you be still and let it be – not needing to be right?
  • Do what you do as if you were doing it for the Lord.
  • Treat those you are caring for with respect. Bring them into the conversation about their care when appropriate.

Those who will be a caregiver

  • Start giving of yourself in small ways – there is always someone you can care for. These practices will give you a skill set as a foundation to grow upon.
  • Read a book about caregiving so you have a basic understanding of what others in this role may be going through.  
  • Pray that God would grow a generous nature in you, give you the eyes to see how you might be the legs and arms to someone in need.
  • Come alongside a caregiver who is caring for someone else. They are tired – bring them an unexpected meal, send them a card stating your admiration for what they are doing, leave a bouquet of flowers on their doorstep, listen when they need to process.
  • Spend time in God’s word. There are many distractions but there will come a day when what you have stored in your heart will see you through times that ask much of you.

Who will need a caregiver?

  • The truth is that unless we have an immediate death, all will find themselves in need of someone to look after them.
  • Start now to become a good listener because there will come a time you need to rely on others to make decisions or process with you.
  • Do what is within your power to care for yourself. Take your medicine; do your exercises, eat healthy, don’t over medicate.  Some of the disability in this life has happened because people choose to stay stuck. This will give you confidence and allow you from relying on others more than you need to. 
  • Remember caregivers have other responsibilities.  Be patient about having your needs met.
  • Place good messages into your heart and brain. Instead of too much TV – listen to Christian books, music, or have someone read to you.  The ears are often the last to go – God’s truth is needed as we journey through times of recovery or as we leave this world and go home to Jesus.
  • Remember you may be on pain medication which can slow down or alter our thinking. There will be times you may need to rely on someone else who has a clearer perspective than you can on any given day.
  • Remember God can heal and although today you are in need; it doesn’t necessarily define your tomorrows.

Please feel free to add other insights in this area that may help others.

 

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