Pick Me Up Instant Gingerbread Latte Recipe

I’m so behind on my Christmas preparation schedule that it doesn’t make sense. Three days til Christmas and my decorations are pretty bare.  Not to mention, I’m supposed to be spending today preparing my special cookie doughs for our family tradition of Christmas Eve cookie baking and decorating.

With that in mind, I’m going to have quite a bit to do  over the next couple of days.  Today, while my twelve year old does laundry, I’ll be putting some time into making the family room a Christmas room. It’s the room where we have our main Christmas tree. (We also have a tree in the foyer surrounded by red poinsettias.) However, the family room is where our family will spend the most time doing Christmas activities so I’ll be really putting my efforts into that room today.

I’m looking at it now and it’s got a grim look to it. Christmas tree is nice but it’s just so dull in that room. I’ll be adding some fresh garland around the fireplace, hanging stockings, and putting up more poinsettias. Then I’m going to place a few soy candles in the room. I like a blend of Christmas fragrances so I’m going to do a blue spruce, a cranberry, and a sugar cookie.  Since our tree is artificial, the blue spruce will give that wonderful pine fragrance that brings in the fragrance of winter. The cranberries will offset the sweetness of the sugar cookie fragrance that will travel throughout the house. I think that will get everyone’s senses ready for Christmas!

While I’m doing my last minute preparations, I’m going to share a wonderful instant latte that I make during this time of the year and keep on hand for guests. I call it Dawn’s Gingerbread Latte. Here it is:

Dawn’s Gingerbread Latte Recipe

Mix together in a blender:

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon powdered vanilla (optional)

1/2 cup sucanat (my choice) or brown sugar (*note that the taste will vary with brown sugar)

1/2 cup raw sugar

1 cup instant coffee

1/2 cup powdered creamer or milk

This makes enough for a crowd because you only use two heaping teaspoons per 8 oz cup of water. It has really good gingerbread flavor with the sucanat because of the molasses in it. You could also add about a half teaspoon of molasses in the mix after you blend all of the dry ingredients first. The molasses is the key ingredient in gingerbread (besides ginger) so you don’t want to overlook it. The other thing is I love a sweeter coffee. This one; however, is not as “sweet” as I like my coffee but I make it lighter on the sugar so that others can adjust it as they see fit.

Off to begin my mission of Operation Family Room. All the best in your day!

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Goodbye KitchenAid – Hello Bosch!

After a year and a half of dealing with the quirks of the KitchenAid “Professional” mixer, I’ve finally decided to let it go. The relief feels similar to realizing, after hearing a loud continuous booming sound coming down the stairs, that it wasn’t your toddler falling. It’s been a total nightmare with that machine and, worse, the company is not helpful at all when there’s a failing product.

My dear heart bought a KitchenAid mixer for me around October 2008. I needed a larger one because I had a KitchenAid standard and it just wasn’t working for a family of nine. However, after about six months of having the “Professional”, I noticed that there were times the machine would completely cut off. Now KitchenAid said that this was due to a mechanical feature that kept the motor from burning out. So essentially, the machine cuts off to protect itself. That was great; however, it was cutting off EVERY time I used it. I called again and they told me that it wasn’t a malfunction and that they couldn’t replace the machine. So I ended up using the thing until it would stop and then continuing the process manually after that.

This went on for about nine more months until I started paying attention to the raving reviews from Bosch mixer owners. I was a little discouraged to say the least. Then, in such great timing, my mixer apparently wore out one of the spurs. So I called KitchenAid again with hope that they would at least replace the machine (so I could avoid the hefty expense of purchasing another) and they confirmed that a spur may have gone bad, only this time, my mixer was already past the warranty period. So, of course, KitchenAid told me that there was nothing they could do but give me a list of places I could pay to get it fixed or give me a coupon worth $30 towards a refurbished one. Okay – are you kidding? I had to solely focus on the grace of God here. I paid $400 for that mixer so KitchenAid’s response to my problem was a bit annoying (to say the least). Obviously I didn’t want anything refurbished, and at that point, I was willing to just “give” them the machine back so they could refurbish that one.

Long story short, I’m expecting my new Bosch mixer to come in today. It may not seem like much to be excited about but I have to tell you that it’s quite exciting to me considering I’ve been kneading and mixing by hand for months. (What a glimpse of life without modern technology!) So although it hasn’t arrived yet, I sort of feel like an expectant mother (well — I’m also, literally, in that category). I’ve already put my mixer on eBay and I’m looking forward to 800 watts of mixing and kneading! Plus, did I mention there’s a 3 year warranty on the Bosch as opposed to the 1 year on the KitchenAid. That’s one great way to have one up on the competition.

Well that’s today’s story. I hope to have great reviews on the Bosch Universal Mixer. I’ve heard many testimonials from people I know who own one and have had the same one for over a decade! Hopefully, I’ll also have one of those testimonials. God bless!

 Goodbye Kitchen Aid…Hello Bosch!

When Order Fails

Yesterday was not one of my better laundry days. I had a few children hold hostage some clothing and dump it all on me at one time. So whereas I thought my job was light, I was attacked, once again, by that dreadful laundry monster. So today I’ll be dealing with laundry again today. I’d better put on my iPod and listen to Nancy Cambell for some inspiration.

Since today, technically, is kitchen day. I’ll have the girls get in on the action and shred some carrots. We have a couple boxes of baby carrots that we have to put to use. So the oldest asked to make a carrot cake and we’ll be having some carrot raisin salad. I’ll also throw in some carrot muffins to freeze. There are so many of them! What a busy day today will be.

Speaking of kitchen day, here’s another blurb from The Complete Home by Clara Laughlin. This one is specifically about order in the home, scheduling days of the week to get things done, and what happens if you don’t get it all done (like me). This is a short excerpt as the entire section was pretty lengthy so if you’d like to read beyond what I have here, please go to the link “The Complete Home. Hope you like it.


Third Place in the Bake Off!

Teaming up my daughters for the bake off turned out great! All four of them felt the sense of accomplishment for having chosen their projects and seeing them through. It was a lot of hard effort but they did it and two of them won the third place prize for “Apple Cinnamon Buns.” What joy to experience the fruit of such labor (and trust me, for the two that did this project, it was labor).

After a crazy day of baking, my girls gathered their finished “masterpieces” and carried them to the homeschool picnic. There was lots of food and fellowship and we all had a great time. After stuffing ourselves with all of the wonderful variety of foods came the “daddy dessert judging.” Kids made so many tasty treats. There were cookies and cakes, cobblers and puddings. The first place winner made a Twix pudding cake. Although I didn’t taste it (watching my figure a bit as I get closer to birthing day), I heard the dads talking about it.

The second place winner made a strawberry cake. I heard one dad taste testing the cakes and, although the cakes were apparently all quite tasty, my eldest and younger daughter won him over with the moistness of their blueberry frosted yellow cake (which they named “the lavender”). That was a great sense of accomplishment for my very insecure eldest baker. She’s always self conscious of her skills in the kitchen. However, she was really pleased to come home with only two slices of cake (that Daddy demolished as soon as he got home). I was pleased to hear that she’s going to do something more creative next year.

I promised that I’d get some pictures up of them slinging flour all over the place. As soon as I can get to them, I’ll certainly do that. Meanwhile, I want so share with this little poem:

Like Mother Made

(Hariett Ford)
Of all things said about the cake
Unkindest were the words,
“It’s not like Mother used to make.”
I wish I hadn’t heard.
Like Mother used to make indeed.
Of course not, you forget,
Mixes, Teflon, microwaves were not
invented yet!
But just to please my gourmet groom,
I baked a cake from scratch.
No mixes, nothing artificial
Went into the gooey batch.
It had the strangest sunken place,
The center was a pool of runny
frosting poured thereon
Before the cake was cool.
I stood with rolling pin in hand and
dared him to criticize my cake.
“Why, Darling,” said he, “this is grand.”
“It’s just like Mother used to make!”

A Baking Day

The end of year homeschool picnic is today and my girls are entering the bake off. They’re a bit nervous. I’m not sure if they’ll all get to make something different because time is of essence here. However, I think they’ve collaborated on something they can do together.

I was actually thinking that one of the older ones should partner up with one of the younger ones and do two desserts. That way everyone will feel as though they’ve accomplished something. I just don’t think that four girls on one dessert will be very…well productive in the sense that everyone will get to do something. So today will be a day of baking. I’ll supervise (while doing some office work) today. I’m sure it will turn out fine.

I’ll post some pictures of the girls as they bake away for the bake off. Although I’m in the process of sewing more aprons, I don’t currently have ones for the littler girls. They’re coming though…they’re coming. (That’s what I have to keep telling them.) I know they’d love to take pictures in their little aprons so I’d better get them all sewn up soon. They’re really simple but being 7 and a half months pregnant can slow a lady down (smile).

If you have any mini apron patterns you’d like to share, please do. I’d like to have a variety to pull from. I’ll share some of mine as I complete them. Oops – I hear one of the girls so I’d better get them rolling on breakfast so we can get an early start on baking. Have a blessed day!

A Busy Day Takes the Idleness Away!

Today is quite the busy day – Laundry Day.  My son decided to skid across the lawn in his jeans yesterday, creating a HUGE grass stain but mommy saved the jeans with old fashioned stain remover! It helps when laundry day falls on a wonderfully sunny day; however, today isn’t so sunny so I couldn’t take advantage of the sun as an alternate dryer (smile). Seems like the laundry is running extra long, likely because I’m waiting for it to stop. I have much ironing to do while I wait so there’s definitely no time to sit around.

On another note, I had to go and take the gestational glucose test today. Yuk! Nothing like drinking a cup full of syrup in five minutes, sitting around for an hour and having your blood drawn. With my other children, I was able to bring the yukky drink home and just arrive at the doctor’s office in an hour for drawing. I think I liked that much better. Anywho, it’s done and considering I had my beautiful bouncy two year old with me (who insisted upon watching repeated YouTube videos of Fraggle Rock and Yo Gabba Gabba on my Touch phone) the wait wasn’t too bad. Now it’s back to work at home.

Whenever I have a break in the day like that, it’s very hard for me to pick up the pace and get things done. Yet I look around me and I need to get up from here and do stuff! While the laundry is a-going, I have to do a serious de-clutter of those desks again. I promise that as long as they’re visible, people are going to put things on top of them. So that’s one more task for the liking. 😉

I did manage to bake five loaves of bread this morning. I’m pleased to say I got something accomplished. I also ordered my kefir grain starter. I wasn’t very pleased with the powdered starter. Though I still have a couple of packages of it left, I’ve heard that the grains last longer so I’m going for the grains. Can’t wait to get them. I heard raving reviews about CulturesForHealth.com so I’m giving them a try. I’ll let you know how it turns out. In addition, I’ve got more grains to soak for dinner rolls tomorrow. Gotta use up some of my sourdough and the rest of the kefir I already have in the fridge to make room for more.

I was also given two large boxes of baby carrots that I’ll need to be canning this evening. Like I said, it’s a busy day. So I’d better go get started since I’ll can just see there will be much more to do if I don’t get going now.  Be blessed!

Garlic Hummus With Kefir

Just made a tasty hummus dip for the kids. Instead of using sour cream, I used kefir and it turned out splendidly! Here’s the recipe:

16 oz of Cooked Hummus, drained
1 TBS Minced Garlic
1/2 to 3/4 cup Kefir
Salt to taste
A Handful of Fresh Cilantro
A Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp Lemon Juice

Place all ingredients except olive oil into the blender and blend until smooth. Add a drizzle of olive oil (about 1/4 cup) and blend to a creamy paste. Let stand in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Yum!