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!


Grandma’s Cookbook – Hard Boiled Eggs

This is my grandmother’s cookbook.

Grandma's Cookbook

Inside the marked cover – she had written a note.  I pause and think about that.  Let me clarify – She wrote me a note – just seeing her writing again is so precious to me.   I remember few weeks went by that I didn’t have a letter from her.  They always ended the same way –  XOXO (hugs and kisses) and a reminder to be good to one another.   The book was published in 1940 and her words state that it was a gift early in her marriage to my grandfather; and she thought I’d enjoy it.  When I open the book I can’t help but fan the pages and breathe deeply.  

Although I have had this cookbook in my procession for years, I have not seriously taken the time to see what I could learn from this book and in a way my grandmother.   I started to thumb through it and soon I had a list of recipes I’d like to try and perhaps put my own slant on or use as is.  

The first recipe that caught my attention was for hard boiled eggs.  I want to come clean..I’ve always had a hard time cooking a decent hard boiled egg.  Up until 10 years ago this wasn’t much of a problem because eggs weren’t one of my favorites.  Okay – my parents would be rolling their eyes right now because as a child I DESPISED eggs.  I tried every trick in the book to not to have to eat them and if they were part of the lunch tray at school there was a good chance my mom was going to receive a call from the school nurse because Debbie was complaining of a stomach ache.  My mom would tell me that I didn’t need to eat the egg but just having it on my tray put my tummy on a ferris wheel.  But then I started liking them – strange  but true.

When you work outside the home – you start looking at food differently and hard boiled eggs have a lot going for them.  They are a good source of protein, are very portable and keep for days.  But I have been frustrated with underdone eggs and had trouble peeling the shell until I opened my grandmother’s cookbook.

Hard Boiled Eggs
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  1. Eggs
  1. Get a large pot of water boiling. Prep another large bowl with ice water.
  2. In a separate bowl, place uncracked eggs in and cover with cold water
  3. Heat until boiling.
  4. Turn down to low for 18 minutes.
  5. Place cooked eggs in ice bath for 10 minutes.
  6. Dry eggs and place in bowl in the refrigerator for 6 hours.
  7. Crack and peel.
  8. Store peeled eggs in sealed container.
  1. Eggs that have set for several hours in the fridge tend to peel easier.
Adapted from The Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cook Book
Adapted from The Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cook Book
Deliciously Inspired
Hard Boiled Eggs - peeled

Hard Boiled Eggs - boiled water

Hard Boiled Eggs - Add hot water

Hard Boiled Eggs - Ice Water

The written word is preserved in a way that can be picked up and revisited.  It means that someone was thinking of us and the words reach past the constraints of time.  Let us choose our words carefully (whether written or spoken) for WORDS are powerful.  They either build up or tear down.   

If you were to rate your skill making hard boiled eggs, where would you fall?….10 is EGGcellent – 1 is I’d rather not talk about it.



My weekend was full of wonder and I thought I’d share a few snapshots and ideas with you.

A first….On Friday I went to the zoo and rode on a merry-go-round.   

Easter 2014 - Good Friday - Zoo - My first merry go round ride with Caden

No, it wasn’t my first time at the zoo or my first time on the merry-go-round.  What made this a first was that I rode on the amusement ride with my grandson.  I am often surprised by the moments of grandmotherhood – is that a word?  If it’s not – it should be.  I was happy to be able to take him but little did I know that I had a few things I needed to learn.  You see it’s very important to pay attention on what is being said before your ticket is taken.  I learned that not all animals go up and down and my grandson likes to go up and down.  I lifted him up on the cheetah we had chosen only to realize that I wasn’t very proficient at buckling him.  The attendant took pity on me and came to help – I had him in a little tight.  We waited patiently and soon the motor started to sing and we started to go round and round – up and down.  With each turn his delight grew and so did mine.  He became brave and lifted one arm from the pole to wave to his mommy and daddy.  We both enjoyed our ride very much.

I then explored a french bakery.  I had a lovely lunch of crab/shrimp in a puff pastry and then tried my first macaroon – Caramel.  There was a light sprinkling of rain (we get excited here in Arizona about rain) and sitting outside was so pleasant.  The food was amazing;  and I learned a french macaroon is gluten free.  Since my husband has wheat sensitivities the caramel, mint chocolate and expresso macaroons I brought home were happily received.  If you live in the Phoenix Area here is the bakery I visited Essence Bakery 

Easter 2014 - GF - Essence Bakery - First Macaroon

 Our Easter was celebrated by a Saturday evening church service and a Sunday brunch.

Here is how I decorated our table. 

Easter 2014 - Table

I used a free printable from the Clumsy Crafter and placed it in an existing picture frame.  The flower arrangement was enhanced with some Easter Egg Sticks.

Easter 2014 - Egg Napkin Rings 

I have had these Easter Egg napkin rings for many years.  Imagine my delight when I pulled them out and they matched the printable perfectly.  Tablecloths aren’t working well with a little one and I didn’t have placemats that would work so I raided my card stock.  The piece of blue paper allowed the white plate to pop and could be thrown away after the meal.

Easter 2014 - Caden plate 

This was my grandson’s placesetting.  I really like this gummi mat from Kidkusion which fits nicely under his Chicco Seat for the table.  

Here is what we had for brunch: 

Easter 2014 - Mini Muffins
Banana Mini Muffin Recipe

Waffles - Baked and Whole
Waffle Recipe

Orange Juice

Fresh Orange Juice – We picked and peeled 40 oranges from our tree

I hope you all had a sweet Easter.