Monthly Archives: April 2014

Breakfast for Dinner: Vanilla Pancakes with Cranberry Mango Sauce

The end of the month is always rough on my little family, but something about April *CoughBIRTHDAYPARTYPREPCough* that really wiped us out. I’m talking $3 left to my name broke.
Feeding three people on a barely there budget is hard, but not impossible. Usually it takes a heck of a lot of creativity, really digging through that cupboard and using stuff up before it goes bad.
The easiest type of dinner to prepare when you’re lacking groceries and funds?

Breakfast for dinner.

I tend to keep a box or two of instant pancake mix in the cupboard because it is so easy to beef up. Add shredded carrot, cinnamon fruit etc, you have carrot cake pancakes. Try raspberries and some beet puree and you have delicious pink pancakes. Both are easy to get kids to eat and have a serving of fruit and veggie.

Tonight’s Pancake recipe was paired with a delicious homemade sauce because I made batter before realizing we ran out of syrup!

Vanilla Bean Pancakes with a Cranberry Mango Sauce

Vanilla Pancakes Ingredients
1/4 box of Pancake mix. Oh crap, we’re almost out of Pancake mix! Uuhhh……

3 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar, any kind

2 very small eggs. Gotta use up these really tiny eggs!

Baking Powder. Shake the container until it looks like there’s 1 tbsp

2 cups water, still out of milk!

Dash of cinnamon

1 tbsp of Vanilla. Still using that giant resturant size jug!

4 tbsp coconut oil because I am outta butter and coconut oil is delicious.

Cranberry Mango Sauce Ingredients
1 bag frozen whole cranberries left over from Christmas

1/2 bag frozen Mango but seriously, these could be any fruit, this is just what was on hand.

2 cups water

1 cup sugar

1 small children’s Apple juice. Or any juice you have on hand. Orange would be delish!

Two spoonfuls of Orange Marmalade. See? What did I tell you about the orange? Delish.

Dash of cinnamon

Directions

1. Empty box of pancake mix. Realize you only have 1/4 a box. Swear. Grab flour, sugar, all dry ingredients. Mix.

2. Add water, vanilla extract, eggs, coconut oil. Struggle to mash the coconut oil if you forgot to run the jar under water like I did. Mix until no solid lumps.

3. While you heat up the frying pan or whatever surface you will be cooking on, start the sauce. Add everything together in a pot, mix and turn up to high until boiling. Once it hits a boil, lower the temperature until med-low. Let cook until the sauce has reached it’s desired thickness. Realize you don’t have a clean spatula.

4. Wash spatula. Almost trip on cat that decided to get under your feet. Drop spatula. Re-wash spatula. By this point either a child or significant other will have come in at least twice to ask when dinner will be finally ready. If it is a child, offer them the job of setting the table. If it’s a significant other, feel free to throw the spatula.

5. Cook pancakes Wait! Grease the pan. Now cook pancakes. Use a butter knife to flip the pancakes if you threw the spatula and are kind of a badass.
Feel free to snack on any that are “throw always” because, seriously, who throws away a pancake?

6. Serve, topped with Cranberry Mango sauce. Eat and enjoy. Ask the significant other or any age appropriate kids to do the after dinner clean up because you deserve a break!

Post your favorite pancake recipe in the comments!

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Story time: How to Become an Honorary Firefighter or Dumb Stuff Young People Do.

Let me take you back to a time before Facebook. A time where your only choices for digital media were Myspace or Xanga. A time where Hot Topic thrived and teenagers drank Smirnoff Black Ice at douchy high school parties.
This is the 2000’s.

I was an angsty 18 year old who just walked out on her job at JC Penneys as a photographer after yet another parent of a clan of sh$%tily behaved children had mouthed back at me because there was still 3 families in front of her getting Christmas cards taken 2 1/2 weeks before Christmas because two of our three camera rooms were down. I yelled something about how her children would have been better off swallowed, threw a ton a paperwork everywhere, walked out and never came back. But that’s a completely other story.

I was still pretty pissed. Thinking a long drive from my apartment to my hometown might calm me (And to be honest, there was nothing like listening to a Radiohead cd at full volume while chain smoking clove cigarettes.)
I knew my at-the-time boyfriend wasn’t around, so I stopped by a mutual friend’s work where we all some times hung out. It was a crappy little gas station that belonged in some dusty deserted long stretch of highway in the middle of nowhere but some how was right near the center of our little town.

My friend S saw that I was a complete mess. Walking out of locations by thowing a huge scene was very out of character for me, especially in the presence of children. I was pacing back and forth in the bay of the empty garage, smoking and muttering to myself as I ignored calls from a frantic manager at the portrait studio who was pleading that I come back and finish the sessions.

S decided to distract me with a story.
“Did B tell you about what I and A did the other day?”
I stopped pacing. I knew this would be good.

I and A were twin brothers who lived across the street from gas station S worked at. They were a towering 6 ft something, blonde and quiet. In fact, if I hadn’t heard stories and seen film photage B captured I never would have expected the amount of mischief created between them. In school they had always been quiet and seemingly well behaved. I was one of the lucky few who knew better.

From starting a paint ball war with S at the Gas station to one of them doing a spot on impression of Howard Stern in costume, wandering into random stores demanding free stuff because “I’m f#$cking Howard Stern, b#$ch!”
And don’t get me started on the Strip dance mobile, D’s giant ass van with only two seats as the rest was of it was occupied by giant speakers and a disco ball. The bottom of the van lit up in rainbow colors and flashing lights.

“No, B didn’t tell me, what happened?”

S began his story.

” I was here the other day, at work. It was really drizzy out. I and A showed up. A was carrying a flattened cardboard box. They came up to me and asked to buy 10 cents worth of gas. I immediately told them to F#$k off.
They took off for a few minutes, then came back.

‘How about 5 cents?’ A asked.
‘How about 1 cent’ I said.
It was a deal. I asked them what container they wanted me to fill and A pointed to the box.
I told them to f#$ck off.”

They left and quickly returned with some sort of container. This happened so long ago (Can you believe that the 2000’s are 14 years ago?) that the details are a bit fuzzy.

S filled the container with about a penny of gas and instantly regretted it as I and A went to the middle of the busy street, placed the cardboard down on the yellow line, poured the gas and immediately lit in on fire and ran away.

As S panicked and was suddenly grateful for the slight drizzle, one of the twins came back stomped out the fire, and disappeared again just as quickly.

“But why?” I wondered out loud. “What was the point in all that? Why did one of them run back”
“I don’t f$#cking know, but I better not see them again for while.” S grumbled. I believe it was almost a week later that they paintballed the gas station for a second time.

I wouldn’t hear the rest of the story for a few months, and it came from a different source.
B was my at-the-time asshole of a boyfriend’s little brother. He was a film student obsessed with Sam Rami and Bruce Cambell. We both had a love of classic rock, taking last minute poorly planned adventures and horror movies. We got along well and hung out often.

I asked B about the the twins, the box fire, and why one of them ran back. He immediately burst into laughter.

Apparently, strick with panic, one of the twins had decided the best way to not get busted for the fire was to call the fire department and file an incident report themselves. 

As one stayed on the phone, the other did as directed and stomped out the fire. The Fire department thanked them for their couragous effort and sent them a certificate for being good citizens.I believe it is still proudly framed somewhere.

That is how I and A received a certificate and became honorary fire fighters.

Today I made cookies.

Today, I had a major accoomplishment. I baked cookies. Not just any cookies. They were “Healthy” cookies.

There were four possible reactions to that statement.
All the Supermoms and non-breeders said “So what?”
All the stressed moms out there said “How did you have time?!? Did you sacrifice your shower? And they’re ‘good for you cookies’ goddamnit!?”
The third reaction, “Why not just regular cookies” as you shove oreos in your mouth…. shame on you for not bringing snacks for the rest of us!
And the recipe hounds are probably skimming the page for the recipe part and skipping the bulk.

Ok, I will give you the recipe, you can stop begging. But you’re also going behind the scene.

Amber’s “Heathy” Double Chocolate Nutty Crunch Cookies. Or something.

Everything is measured by eye as all my measuring cups, spoons etc. disappeared when I had a kid.

About 1 cup flax seed flour. Gotta use this crap up before it goes bad.

About 1 cup the absolute whitest generic flour out there, these have to at least be edible, and let’s face it, nothing tastes better than a white flour cookie!

About 1 cup of white sugar that also gets all over the counter(Crap, the brown sugar is hard as a rock…. should have used that clay disk thing Aunt A brought from Arizona…..)

3 drizzles of olive oil because the boyfriend used the rest and didn’t put it on the shopping list and I only wanted olive oil anyway because we’re out of butter.

1 cup hemp nuts. Eh just shake the damn bag,  gotta use them up, my health nut of a Mom gave me six bags and there’s four left….

3, no 4 very small eggs. Damn these eggs are tiny!

Shake the baking soda into the cup of your hand until you get about 1 tsp. Where the hell is my baking powder?!?

1 tsp Baking Powder.

Take the giant resturant size jug of Vanilla extract that you got from your dad’s friend and try not to spill more than a tablespoon into the batter.

A drizzle of Maple Syrup because the batter is looking a little thick.

A sprinkle of cinnamon.

1/2 Tablespoon of sea salt, and if you’re not putting sea salt in your cookies yet, you’re missing out!

1/2 cup Cocoa Powder, because no kid is eating a brown cookie with weird seeds in it unless its chocolate. Chocolate hides all sins.

1/2 bag of Chocolate trail mix.

Yeah, you read me right. Trail mix. I once made chick pea, pretzel cookies with trail mix and my kid still says they were the best cookies ever.

1. Pre-heat oven to…. I don’t know, what’s the temperature of the oven for the pizza that’s in there? Nah, that’s too high, try pre-heating to  350.

2. Mix everything but the trail mix together either by hand or by mixer.

3. Add Trail mix. Mix again. Slower, stuff was just jumping out of the bowl.

4. Scoop out with that one really big spoon you have with the other silverware. Kinda make them round by hand. Wait, grease the cookie sheet first. Place the cookie on greased sheet.

5. Bake for 20-28 minutes, or until they look done and aren’t wet in the middle.

6. Shoo children away because the cookies have to cool before you can eat them. Immediately eat one off the tray the moment you’re in the cleat. Damn, you burned your mouth again, oh well! Worth it, because, cookie! Serve.

Okay, I admit it, these cookies aren’t really all that healthy.
What was this really about? Emptying the cupboards and creating food for my family.

Times have changed. Groceries are expensive. But food still needs to be made. Some days you just look in the fridge and say “There is no food” We’re all guilty of this. Food is all around us, it just takes time, creativity, and effort.

So the next time you open that pantry and groan “Ugh, there’s nothing to eat!” Make something. Use substitutes when needed. And then, share your recipe. Share your food with a loved one. Share a photo on Facebook and Instagram. Because, damnit, you accomplished something today. You made food! How awesome are you?

Share your favorite recipes below!

A Confession: Why I Overcompensate with Birthday Parties.

 

Confession time. I go overboard every year for my son’s birthday. When I say overboard I do not mean that my child becomes spoiled by a raining shower of presents ala Dudley Dursely. My son G is probably one of the most grateful children you will meet. He is truly thankful for each and every gift he receives be it new socks or a pony.

No, by overboard I mean that whatever theme my son chooses I tend to take a Lord of the Rings stance; “You have my blade!”

For example, G’s 4th birthday was a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory theme. So I turned the house into the factory. I really did. We had the main floor where kids went bonkers running back and forth filling bags with various candies. There were giant candies and lollipops lining the walls. A tree with balloons that once popped exploded with candy. A bubble room overflowing with balloons and bubbles. And themed foods galore.

G’s 6th birthday was Batman/Super hero the ed. Kids dressed as superheros and battled super villians like the Joker and Mr. Freeze. We captured them in giant bubbles and set up a photo booth station so children left with a photo of themselves in costume captured by Mr. Freeze. There was a Batcave in the yard and again, tables overflowing with themed food.

I know what you’re thinking. “How the hell does she afford this?” The truth is that I live on a very limited budget. I caught costs by making everything from decorations to costumes and food. I make the pinatas, the signs, the invitations, and some years when I have my s#$t together, even the cake. I start planning two months in advanced, I also get people involved.
“It takes a village to raise a child”, there is so much truth in those words. I plead, bargain, and bribe family members and friends. I get EVERYONE involved. When G’s birthday is coming, no one is safe or relieved from duty.

Why do I always go big around birthday time? Because my child deserves it.

At 7 years old G has undergone 15 surgeries. He has had a shockingly large amount of hospitalizations, appointments, physical therapy, visiting nurses, doctors poking and prodding him, and taken it all with an easy going additude. Not only has he gone through more proceedures than the average adult, G’s father, an army veteran, passed away suddenly when he was 5. This was a devastating loss for both of us. No child should ever suffer the loss of a parent.

When you are the mother to a child with special needs, sometimes you can feel guilt. Even when there is absolutely no way you did anything to cause the disability, you feel guilt. After all you carried the child for 9 months, or 7 1/2 in my case, and you always wonder “Was it that one time I pumped my gas?” “Was it when I ate that sushi?” “Maybe I shouldn’t have dyed my hair!” You always blame yourself.

I know that part of me has to make a big deal out of G’s birth because it could so easily be a somber event. All the memories of living at the hospital after G’s birth, the procedures he went through at such a young age, being unable to explain to a 3 month old why his chest hurt, it is haunting.
The general public has no idea what parents of children with disabilies go through on a daily basis. And how could they know? The idea of babies who are not born perfect is foreign concept to society. Babies are cute, and little , and perfect. No parent dreams of giving birth to a child with special needs.

And if a child starts to have many procedures the people around them get used to it. By the 7th surgery, no outside family or friend shows concern. The idea is no longer scary, because they can step back. It is not their child. They’ve made it through before fine, the child will make it through again.
As a parent I can assure you, the first surgery is still just as frightening and nerve racking as the 15th. I will let you know when we hit number 16 if anything changes.

The parents of special needs children are brave. We put on smiling faces. We brick up the pain and fear behind large walls. We tremble underneath hoping no one sees how upset we are, how terrifiying it is to tell your child they need another proceedure when all you want is to protect your child from going through any more pain.
Now I make up for it all, once a year by making my son’s dream come true just one day.

This year the theme is Doctor Who and I have sworn that there will be a Tardis there, be it wood or cardboard. My search moved towards the internet, and I placed the following ad on Craigs List.

Searching For A Tardis

Because of this ad, 5 amazing Doctor Who Cosplayers are coming to help make G’s birthday an incredible one. I took a risk, and I couldn’t be happier with the results. I am so thankful for the wonderful people who will be volunteering their time. I am sure this will be the best party G has ever had.

Today G and I continue to prepare for the party.
I have been making red bow tie pins for all the guests, and G and I both made clay pen sonic screwdrivers for examples at the party. As we made the screwdrivers we watched Goosebumps and talked about G’s dad. I couldn’t be more thankful for my life. Right now it is absolutely perfect.

Allons-y!

How I Met Your Mother, I Blame You!

How I Met Your Mother. Amazing, am I right? A very witty plot with original, hysterical punchlines. Catchphrases that make you laugh time and again. A dream cast that plays off each other brilliantly, chemistry flows through all members. The entire plot cloaked like magic but also seeming to weave from beginning to end like lyrical gold.

I am a fan. My beef is not with the series as an entire piece, but just one slice of that masterful dessert.

The Naked Man.

Yes, go ahead and chuckle. “The Naked Man? That s$%t was f@#cking funny!” You all swear a lot in my head. Filthy.

I assure you I am not a prude. I thoroughly believe that it is only those who sleep naked that can truly fly in their dreams. Or some s$%t.

I also have a wonderful and slightly dark sense of humor. I once called after my 7 year old son while he was fleeing the living room where a Weird Al Yankovic documentary played, “Wait, don’t you want to see how he made the weasel stomping sounds?”

My grief with the Naked Man comes from experience.

I was sitting upstairs in the bedroom. My boyfriend and I were discussing the difference between fears and phobias after I had snuck a Mr. Bean dual dvd set in my 21 year old sister’s Easter Basket. My sister is afraid of Mr. Bean.

I was arguing that, while I was teasing her, it wasn’t that terrible because fears aren’t as bad as phobias. A phobia is irrational and panicky, like a phobia of baked beans. A fear is “Oooh! That clown is scary!”I am not saying that there aren’t people irrationally afraid of clowns, I am saying that clowns are creepy.

I have ichthyophobia. The irrational fear of fish for those who didn’t go open another tab to Google it. If I see a fish I will freak the f#$k out. I will. Blob fish are in my nightmares. I used to have a phobia of lobsters. Not a lot of people know that a lobster used to make me burst into tears. It took a very long time to outgrow that phobia. Now I just think they are creepy.

My boyfriend N starts to talk about my fear of fish. He starts talking about different types of fish, I tell him to knock it off. He jokes about surprising me with fish. I say that would be mean, a fear for me would be lobsters or old age. He says he’ll order lobster next anniversary, I say “Unless you wanna be wearing it. I’d be pissed. There better be a freaking diamond to make up for it.” N gasps and says “That’s how I’ll propose, I’ll put the ring on the little antenna!”

The thought of taking a ring of off…. touching with my bare hands… the little black eyes….

The room spins, and I start to panick. My brain comforts me with images of other terrifying sea creatures. N sees me panicking. He starts to try and comfort me by placing his arms on me. I am imagining his hands have suddenly become jellyfish…

N gets a strange look on his face. He sticks out the tip of his tongue from the side of his mouth.He pulls down his boxers.

“Maybe this will take your mind off of it!” He says with a flurish.

My heart pauses. My jaw drops. No one says anything for 5 minutes. My heart restarts.

“What the fu… what! What were you thinking?!?! Are you kidding meeeeeeee!?!?!”

“Uh,” N shuffles in place.

“Were you really expecting that to work?!?!”

“I’m, uh, I’m just going to…”

And I burst out into laughter. We both laugh for a few minutes until my laughter suddenly turns to sobbing because my fucking boyfriend thought that taking his pants off was a cure for my panick attack.

And that’s how I got an idea for my first blog.