I bought some yummy Starbucks frappuccinos at Walgreens this past week, courtesy of a sale + coupons. After I drank my first frap, I noticed how pretty the bottle is. See?
It looks like a miniature old-fashioned milk jug. I wanted to keep it, because it's pretty. But I wanted to USE it, not just keep it around, taking up space. I tried putting pens in it, but the mouth is too narrow, and the glass is too tall. Jelly jars work better for pen storage. Then I tried using it as a vase for a couple of flowers:
Fuzzy picture and my poor photographic skills notwithstanding, that didn't work, either. So I have three of these little bottles hanging out in my stockpile space, waiting for a use. Ideas?
My children will not eat the heels of a loaf of bread. Occasionally I get creative when making PB&J, and I face the heel inward, tricking the little monsters into eating their sandwiches. But those little people are crafty, and I'm afraid they'll catch on to my scheme, so I have taken to collecting bread heels in my freezer. I can't bear to throw perfectly good food away. (And because I know you're going to ask, I don't eat sandwiches at lunch, I eat leftovers. No heels for me, either.)
Eventually, all this saving leads me here (and keep in mind this is about half of what I had in the freezer):
What to do? Hubby gave me the idea of making croutons! (Forgive the picture below. I was holding a wiggly toddler.) I stacked my heels about 2 or 3 high on a cutting board, and sliced through them with a pizza cutter, making crouton-sized squares. Then I spread out the croutons on a wire rack and let them get a little hard & stale. (That's an important step, if you like crunchy croutons!) I had to wait a couple of hours.
Next, I put the stale bread cubes in a bowl, poured some free (after sale & coupons) dressing on them, lidded the bowl, and shook like mad! (The kids got a kick out of that!)
After putting my cubes on a cookie sheet, I baked them in the oven at 350 for about 10-12 minutes, opening the oven a couple of times to turn the cubes, preventing burning. After letting them cool, I stored them in an airtight (garage sale find) container. Now I have "free" croutons to go with my garden cukes and tomatos that are coming in right now. I confess that I was a little puzzled about the color of my croutons - they're darker than the store-bought kind. But then I slapped my forehead - aha! - we only eat whole wheat bread! Of course my croutons are darker!
Below, you can see Joey holding the freezer bag full of bread crumbs we made from the other half of the heels. I just threw the rest of my bread in a food processor and gave it a quick buzz. "Free" breading for recipes!
I wanted to share a picture that Adam took on Banana Bread Morning. It's of a tiny shelf above our kitchen sink, that holds a statue of the Blessed Virgin and a couple of holy cards. You never know what your children notice in your household... things that you may take for granted. Things you may see so often that you don't really notice anymore.
It's a little reminder to me to guard my thoughts lest they become words that I'd rather my children didn't hear. If I want to cultivate good virtues in my children, I must first master them in myself. Patience, kindness, meekness, humility.
Once upon a time there was a thrifty mom who thought, instead of composting or throwing away her over-ripe bananas, it would be a good idea to make banana bread out of them. Since it was a nice day outside, and there was no need for air conditioning, she thought it was a splendid undertaking, and set out, immediately, to, well, undertake it!
As she pulled out ingredients for her yummy treat, her children, being the bloodhounds that they are, discovered what fun their mother was about to have in the kitchen, and decided that they, too must be a part! So their mother, having nothing but warm and loving feelings for her children, and knowing that they were culinary geniuses who never make kitchen messes, welcomed their help without reservation.
And then I woke up.
It is a struggle for me to watch a mess being made. Don't get me wrong - I have no trouble cooking or baking with one child. That's (pun intended) a piece of cake. But when all four help at the same time - I really have to turn my patience on to full. But I take a deep breath and remind myself that we're creating more than banana bread - we're creating memories. Whew. Okay. I can do this!
Look at the pride on Luke's face as he helps teach his sister how to stir! How could I squash that? His pride is much more important to me than a little spilled flour.
Look at Gracie being a "big girl" and getting the bread pan for Mommy! (No, safety police, the oven and stovetop are NOT on. Good grief, give me some credit, would ya?)
I won't tell you how many times the little stirring hands dropped the spoon in the batter, or how many times I fished it out.
I had to find jobs for everyone, of course. Joey mashed bananas and used the butter wrappers to grease the baking pans.
And Adam took the pictures. I think he did a pretty good job. At least as good as I would have done! (No, we don't always bake shirtless.)
Voila! Two ready-to-bake loaves of banana bread. I would love to show you the finished product, but if I had paused to take a picture before slicing, my children would have eaten my arm.