Friday, December 31, 2010

Now Showing...


Ah, that little blogging hiatus felt good, and it was absolutely necessary. My fellow elf and I were up late, late a few too many nights getting ready for Christmas. With the presents to make and wrap, all of the fun to be had while Jeff was on vacation, and then my birthday to celebrate, there just hasn't been time to blog.

We had a great Christmas, and the cause of all the adult sleeplessness was a huge hit. Our big gift to the kids was to reorganize the basement playroom and build a little stage, complete with velvet curtains and a cabinet to house all the dress-up clothes. We also set up a new play area for cars and trucks that included a new-to-us racetrack with two remote-control cars. When the kids started jumping up and down on the stage and singing, we knew it was worth the three days' madness of building, painting, and sewing.

Check out the results:


Pretty spiffy, if I do say so myself. We were able to find mis-mixed paint that almost exactly matched our walls, the cabinet was $10 at the Salvation Army, and I got the already inexpensive "velvet" on sale, so this was a bargain project all the way around. We've decided to finish it off by using chalkboard paint on the wall behind the stage so the kids can draw scenery or anything else they'd like.

Jeff and I have already been treated to a number of shows, and believe me -- they are worth the price of admission, no matter how great the cost! Where else can you get entertainment like this?


Hope you all had a great holiday season, and I wish you all the best for the coming year! I hope you'll continue to join us on our journey. I have no doubt there are many laughs and surprises ahead of us.
© Trippin' Mama 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dear Santa 2010


Dear Santa,

Ho, ho, how are you? Just a little Kris Kringle humor to start things off right here.

I know this time of year is crazy for you. It's crazy here, too. Well, to be honest, every day is a bit crazy here, but it's a good kind of crazy.

But I digress. I'll keep my wish list short so you can get on with everything else on your to-do list.

For starters, I'd love to have a few of your elves help around here, during your slow season of course. I'll gladly pay them a small salary. No pun intended. Just be sure you send me your best multi-taskers. Housekeeping, cooking and laudry know-how are a given. Climbing skills and the capacity to do some heavy lifting would be a bonus. Whoever you send has to be able to keep up with the boys, and as you know they are big climbers. They are also getting big, so it would be great if I didn't have to lift them so much.

Second, I'd love to see the end of the era of diapers in my house. We're getting close, so maybe you could help things along with a little Christmas magic? I'd really appreciate not throwing away all that money, and I'd love to spend less time in the bathroom talking about going potty with my boys. I'm just not sure how many more potty, winky, pooping, flushing conversations I can stand.

And since you'll be pulling off one Super Nanny feat already, how about weaning the whole crew off pacis while you're at it. If you could accomplish that with a minimum of parental sleep disruption and crying, that would be great. If you can't, then don't bother. I'd rather have my uninterrupted sleep than be paci-free. As far as I'm concerned they can have those things until they move out of the house as long as I get to sleep all night.

Toss in another year of good health and lots of laughter and I'll be all set.

I realize I may be a bit older than your average letter writer, but I've been pretty good most of the year, so I'll hope you'll overlook that tiny detail. Travel safely on Christmas Eve, and thanks for considering my requests.

Love,

Christy


© Trippin' Mama 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Graham Cracker "Gingerbread" Houses


Aren't these cute?

Amelia and I made these "gingerbread" houses out of graham crackers yesterday. I've seen them before, but never made them.

We had a blast!

It was easy to do, and the building went quickly, so we were able to get to the fun part -- decorating!

You can find directions all over the Web on how to make these. I happened to check them out on Martha Stewart's Web site, which has a photo tutorial. Her adorable creations make ours look like shacks, but I'll bet she didn't eat the candy, lick her fingers or laugh nearly as much as we did!

Besides, it was totally worth the inferiority complex to read the comment someone left saying "I made these and CitiBank foreclosed on them."

Amelia shows off her creation.
You can check out Martha's picture-perfect instructions if you want, but here are the basic how-tos with some handy hints I learned along the way.

1. Mix up a batch of Royal icing. You can find the recipe in most cookbooks or on the Web. I got mine out of my Joy of Cooking cookbook. If you don't want to make icing, you can use Wilton's candy melts of melted almond bark. This is the mortar that holds everything together.

2. Use a sharp serrated knife to cut two crackers into squares (walls and roof) and two into peaked ends. Use the lines on the crackers as a guide.
Handy hint: It is best to start your cut at the top of the peak. The crackers tended to break unevenly at the end of my cut, and it's easier to fix an uneven side than a flat peak! Mortar hides a lot of flaws.

3. Put your Royal icing or other "mortar" into a zip-top bag and make a small hole by snipping off one corner. Using a paper plate turned upside down, build your house by piping the icing onto the bottom and side of the crackers to keep them in place on the plate and stick them together.
Handy hint: As Martha suggests, use a small spice jar to help the first couple of pieces stand upright. Just don't forget to remove it before you add the roof! 

4. Let the house stand for about 5 minutes so the icing will firm up enough to withstand a fair amount of handling. Give it 10 minutes if you're decorating with a preschooler. If it's not pretty dry, give it a few more minutes until it's good and solid. It's no fun to start decorating and have your house fall down!

5. Get creative! Use the mortar of your choice to attach a variety of candies, cookies, pretzels and whatever else you can dream up to decorate your little house.
Handy hint: These houses are pretty small, so look for some small-scale candy. Next time I'll have mini chocolate chips and mini M&Ms on hand. Oh, and buy lots of green gumdrops. We ran out of green because we were using them for bushes and trees.

We gave our houses chocolate graham cracker doors and windows. We used Spree for windows, and Skittles, M& Ms, mint meltaways, and colored marshmallows on the roofs. We made trees, bushes and fences out of gumdrops and added jelly bean patios out back. Pretzels became fence rails and hard peppermints became stepping stones.

Beautiful and delicious!

Mom & Amelia with their graham cracker gingerbread houses.

I think we've just started a new Christmas tradition in our house!
© Trippin' Mama 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

From My Kitchen: Hot Cranberry Cider


Now for something entirely new to My Kitchen--a drink! Despite what you might expect from a mom of four kids 4 and under, it's non-alcoholic.

These cold days and frosty nights in my neck of the woods call for something hot to drink to warm us from our toeses to our noses. Hot Cranberry Cider fills the bill nicely. This sweet-tart cider is nicely spiced with cloves and cinnamon. It's just different enough to be a little special for your holiday guests, and easy enough to make anytime. And it is oh so good!

This recipe came from a Taste of Home cookbook years ago. It makes a full gallon, so cut it down if you'd like, but it does keep well in the fridge for a week to ten days.

Here's the recipe:

Hot Cranberry Cider
3 quarts unsweetened apple juice or cider
1 quart cranberry juice
2-3 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick

Combine all ingredients in a large kettle, and bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the cloves and cinnamon stick. Serve warm.

Makes 1 gallon, approximately 25-30 servings.

This is a great drink for a holiday party or just to sip while sitting by the fire in the quiet that reigns after the children are all in bed. Toss in a few Christmas cookies, and that is how I intend to savor mine!

Enjoy!




© Trippin' Mama 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Writer's Workshop: Working in a Barrel of Monkeys


I know lots of people are braving cold temps and trudging through the snow and ice to get to work these days. Many of them are probably wishing they could just work from home.

Let me just say, some days I'd rather brave the weather than weather the storm here at home -- let alone try to get any work done in the midst of it!

It's not unusual for me to have to break up a fist fight, fish a child off a the top of a table or out of a cabine, take someone to the potty, or serve a meal all while I'm working from home.

I'm very efficient, and I can get a LOT done during naptime and after the kids go to bed, but sometimes I have to take a business call while the kids are up and active. I always explain the situation, and people are very understanding and accommodating, but still, it's mildly insane to juggle things on my end.
Thank heavens for the mute button on my cell phone. It saves those I'm talking to from the insane noise levels we can reach around here.

Despite the mute button, I'm almost certain that yesterday a client heard me ask "Where is your diaper?" before my call was completely disconnected.

Thankfully he wasn't still on the line for the "I was poopy," response that followed. That sent me on a four-room hunt for the phantom poopies. I didn't find anything, and I think that the perpetrator only tried to poop, but failed.

Oh well, if I'm wrong about that I'll find out sooner rather than later.

Today I had the misfortune of being on a dying cell phone. In order to finish my business I had to plug it into the wall. About that time the triplets pushed down the baby gate keeping them out of the kitchen and the bedrooms.

Note to self: Pressure gates were not made to contain triplets.

This is exactly the situation for which the phrase "run amok" was created. Exactly.

Those boys ran screaming through the house as fast as they could go. Almost everything was closed up, so I knew they couldn't harm themselves, but I shuddered at the thought of the damage they could do.

It took me seven minutes to finish my call. It took me an hour to clean up after the boys. F3 tornado, anyone?

To make matters worse, the boys knew they had me over a barrel. They would come running into the kitchen shouting and grinning at me and then turn and run away with a you-can't-catch-me look on their faces. That spells trouble, doesn't it? Whatever did moms do before cordless phones and cell phones? 

So to all you rush hour warriors out there, know that your commute may be bad, especially in this winter weather, but working from home ain't always what it's cracked up to be.

At least not when all three of your colleagues are two years old.

My little helpers: Isaac, Sam and Alex

Play along with Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop.

Mama's Losin' It

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

From My Kitchen: Oreo Truffles


I have lots of tried-and-true recipes, but I always like to try something new. When I saw the recipe for Oreo Truffles in the December issue of Better Homes and Gardens, I thought it was worth a go.

This recipe met my standard of being easy to make--crushed Oreos and cream cheese--but you do have to dip the truffles in white chocolate by hand, so they aren't exactly fast. Sometimes though, it's fun to do some fussing around in the kitchen. And the results were beautiful.

Almost too pretty to eat!

I have to admit that this was not a knockout recipe for me, but Amelia LOVED them and Jeff thought they were pretty good. Those endorsements make it a recipe worth sharing. I did like the fact that it was different and something that looked special on the cookie and candy plate.

Here's the recipe:

Oreo Truffles
1 package of Oreos (16.6 oz.), crushed finely
8 oz. cream cheese
White baking chocolate, melted

Pulse Oreos in food processor until they are finely crushed. Combine with 8 oz. softened cream cheese. Roll into small balls. I found that a nicely rounded teaspoon of filling was about the right size.

Refrigerate or even freeze until firm to make the dipping easier.

Melt the white chocolate (not white almond bark or vanilla-flavored candy dip, but real white chocolate) according to package instructions. Dip each truffle into the white chocolate and coat evenly. I found it faster and easier to dip by hand, leaving the bottoms uncoated rather than trying to coat the whole truffle and fish it out of the white chocolate with a fork.

You can leave these as is, or decorate by using a tube of decorating gel or by piping a little colored frosting on them. You could also color the white chocolate and pipe that on if you want. If my chief sprinkler hadn't been in bed, we might have tried adding decorator sprinkles before the chocolate dried.

I used decorating gel, but next time I might buy a tube of frosting instead. The disadvantage of the gel was that it stayed a bit sticky, so I couldn't stack the truffles. Hence the recipients of my goodie boxes only got five truffles because that is all that would fit. Since the recipe made about 50 truffles and I only gave out six goodie boxes, that left quite a few for us to devour, which made Amelia very happy.

Enjoy!
© Trippin' Mama 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sugar Wins!


Blog or bake? Bake or blog?

Sorry guys, but the sugar won out! I know you all understand.

I wish I could share the deliciousness via the Internet, but we're not that advanced yet. (And I'd have to do a LOT more baking!) So you'll have to settle for a feast for the eyes instead.


Clockwise from top left: Chocolate-covered Toffee, Oreo Truffles, Crockpot Chocolates and Mock Turtles

Yes, it's chocolate overload, but isn't that part of what Christmas is all about? Yum!

You can find all of these recipes in my kitchen, except for the Oreo Truffles. I'll be posting that one later this week. They are all super easy, so go bake up some homemade goodness of your own.

I'll be back to blogging soon. Promise!


© Trippin' Mama 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

Of Coyotes, Christmas and Children


Time for a quick update.

First, there's no news on the coyote. Apparently someone spotted it in a neighborhood a mile or so south of here. It was acting strangely, just like the one in our neighborhood was, so we assume it's the same one. Either way, Tim the Wildlife Guy hasn't caught it yet. Maybe it went off into the woods and died. We may never know.

Christmas is coming fast! This week I'm pounding out some work before everyone starts leaving for the holidays, and it become impossible to get anyone on the phone. Next week is a whirlwind of my early birthday celebration, two Christmas programs for Amelia (church and school) and probably six other things I'm not remembering right now. We've got most of the Christmas shopping done, so there's just the wrapping to do. Whew!

This weekend Amelia and I baked up some more goodies for some treat boxes for a few people. I'll be posting the recipe for Oreo truffles this week. I wasn't a big fan, but Amelia loved them and Jeff thought they were pretty good. So, that's good enough for me. And, as usual, it's an easy recipe.

Jeff decided that this would be the year the Christmas cards went out BEFORE Christmas. God love him. If it weren't for his commitment to getting those out they really would be Valentine's Day cards. Unfortunately, we ordered some extras online with a coupon for free overnight shipping. That was four days ago and they haven't arrived. Hopefully the customer service folks can sort that out for us tomorrow.

Once we get our cards out to all our friends and family, I'll share it here with you, too.

On the freedom front, we are figuring out what works to give the boys a little more room without driving me crazy trying to keep up with them. We installed a gate to keep them out of the living room -- critical since that also keeps them away from the Christmas tree. And today I texted Jeff my list of childproofing needs. It was a pretty lengthy one.

Unless you've lived it, you can't imagine what three two-year-olds can get into. The other day two boys got into the pantry while I was busy getting someone else out of trouble. They started throwing the little plastic containers of blueberry applesauce and split two of them open all over the kitchen floor, cabinet and refrigerator.

Yep, time to lock that door up!

And just when I think I've removed everything they can use to climb in the playroom, they prove me wrong. Yesterday Isaac got stuck on top of the play kitchen. Later he and Sam were on top of my sewing table behind the TV. Then Isaac climbed out of his crib during a time out. Uh-oh. Crib tents here we come!

I can't keep up. Well I can, but I can't get anything else done in the house and I collapse in exhaustion the second Jeff comes in the door. So, a few changes are in order. Like everything else in tripletdom, we've had to figure out what works best for us. I am looking forward to the day when we aren't living in a maze of baby gates, though it seems we will have to add a few more before we're ready to get rid of them entirely.

Our potty training efforts are going pretty well. The boys mostly stay dry, and we've had a couple moments of major celebration over something else happening on the potty, too. We handed out Tootsie Rolls as rewards. (Don't think about that too much or ewww!) I managed to restrain myself from running through the streets shouting the good news, but barely.

Now it's time to get back to burning my candle at both ends like everyone else in this holiday season!

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

From My Kitchen: Crockpot Chocolates


Looking for a fast and easy addition to your cookie and candy plate for the holidays? Of course you are! These nutty, chocolatey goodies are a snap to make thanks to your handy-dandy crockpot. The salty-sweet combo is always a winner in my book.

And, of course, fast and easy is an absolute necessity when you're trying to keep four kids in line or just trying to keep up with the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Santa could make big bucks hiring out those elves this time of year!

Here's the recipe:

Crockpot Chocolates
1 16-oz package white almond bark
1 4-oz German chocolate baking bar (sweet)
1 12-oz. package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 24-oz jar of dry roasted  peanuts

Put all ingredients in the crockpot on high for 1-2 hours, until everything is melted. Stir and drop spoonfuls onto waxed paper. I try not to make these too big because they are pretty rich. Pop them in the fridge until the chocolate sets.

It pays to check your progress at an hour, just in case your crockpot is pretty hot, or it has a hot spot, like mine. The first time I made these I burned a bunch of the peanuts. Yuck.

Delicious with almost no effort on your part. How can it get any better than that? Well, OK, they could be calorie-free, and the crockpot could clean itself, but I'm afraid I can't help you out there.

Enjoy!

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Enchanted In Her Eyes


Christmas is not my favorite holiday. There's just too much to do in such a short time. Even the admonishments to "simplify and have your best Christmas ever" come wrapped in ecologically-friendly handmade paper ("So much fun to make with your kids!" ) adorned with the bounty of nature collected on walks with your little ones. 

I can start to feel a bit bah humbug pretty quickly in the face of a monstrous to-do list. Thankfully, I have Amelia.

Amelia is four and a half, and she is enchanted with Christmas. She loves Santa. She loves Baby Jesus. She loves Christmas songs and picking out presents and telling Santa what she wants him to bring her. She loves the decorations, the cookies and the tree. She even loves the snow and cold because it means "Christmas is coming!"

Every time she talks about Christmas exclamation points punctuate every sentence. "And Santa has reindeer, Mom!" "Baby Jesus is going to be born!" "We get to make cookies!"

You might think that her delight over Christmas would add to the pressure and the to-do list, but it has been just the opposite.

Amelia is thrilled with every little thing. "You got the stockings out!" Why, yes I did. Never mind that they aren't out of the box. The mere fact that I brought the box up from the basement is enough to make Amelia dance around the room.

That's a standard I can meet.

Since Amelia is so enchanted with all things Christmas, I've found myself focusing on the things that will bring her the most joy. I dug out a little tree and we spent an afternoon making ornaments and decorating "Amelia's tree" with snowflakes, bits of colored paper and ribbons. I gave her some small ornaments to put on them and she could barely contain her glee at getting to put them on her tree by herself.

When it snowed we shelved the efforts to get a Christmas card list in order and went outside to play in it for hours.

We got out the nativity sets and played with the kids' soft set for hours before we ever set the big one up. All the people and animals talked to each other and went on adventures. Turns out that shepherd is a pretty funny guy. Who knew?

I baked Christmas cookies with Amelia instead of cleaning the house. We made spritz, "the most fun cookies ever!" Not only did Amelia get to use the cookie press, she also got to sprinkle colored sugar on each and every one. And, after careful testing, she determined that all of the cookies tasted the same, even though they were different shapes.

So here we are, just a little over two weeks away from Christmas. We don't have our tree yet. We've only baked one kind of cookie. There's shopping and wrapping to be done. I have no plans for Christmas dinner. Oh, and I'm wishing my Christmas cards said "Happy Valentine's Day" instead of "Merry Christmas."

But none of that matters, because I am seeing this Christmas through the eyes of a four-year-old.

Amelia doesn't need the Martha Stewart decorations or the Paula Deen cookie platter. She just needs Christmas to get here, and quick! Well, that and a few presents under the tree, preferably a Barbie horse.

Amelia is enchanted with every little piece of Christmas this year.

And I am completely enchanted with her.

Play along with Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop.

Mama's Losin' It

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Warning: Helmets May Be Required


A couple weeks ago I heard the boys giggling and giggling as I unloaded the dishwasher, so I went to check it out. They were all sitting side-by-side on one of their little couches doing this:



Further proof that we should wear our bike helmets at ALL times...

Sam and Alex

Isaac

...even when we're hanging out in our jammies!

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Animals Are Running The Zoo


Sorry for the radio silence all weekend. We were crazy busy Saturday and on Sunday we had Internet problems.

Today I've been chasing -- literally chasing -- kids most of the day.

You see, Jeff and I inadvertently created a problem for ourselves over Thanksgiving. The kids were sick and grumpy, and we were both here to keep small boys out of trouble, so we let the triplets have more freedom than usual. It kept them from fussing and whining so much, so it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Now they aren't satisfied to be in their gated play area. Think screaming. Times three. The boys will all scream and wail while holding their ears and saying, "That hurts my ears!" Apparently they are not bothered by their own screaming, just their brothers'. I'm bothered by all of it.

So, for the last week I have tried to make the boys happy in their play area and give them a little "run" time every day. But the more freedom they have, the more they want.

Since they've been able to open the baby gate for months now, they can get out of their play area if they want. And now they WANT, so breakouts are not uncommon.

Right now if I let them out of their gated play area they have the run of the house, and I get to run around the house, too, trying to keep everyone out of trouble. Nothing zaps productivity like three two-year-olds on the loose!

So it's time to make another round of changes here.

The question is what to do, and when?

I can barely muster the mental energy to think about moving furniture around on top of work, Christmas and everyday survival.

Maybe I'll just toss some Christmas cookies into the gated play area to keep the boys happy.

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Friday, December 3, 2010

From My Kitchen: Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting


These are some of the best pumpkin bars you will ever taste. Promise! This is an old recipe from a church cookbook. Nothing fancy, but bursting with spices and oh so good.

I made these for Thanksgiving because my house was awash with sick children and I didn't have time to make a homemade pie crust for a pumpkin pie. And I don't keep the ready-made ones on hand. So, no crust, no pie. But these were a delicious substitute that just might become a Thanksgiving tradition for us.

I had to borrow powdered sugar from my neighbor (thanks, Libbie!) to finish making the cream cheese frosting, and yum! Isn't everything better with a little cream cheese frosting on top? And I'm almost positive that the healthy pumpkin cancels out the fat in the cream cheese, so I declare these bars downright healthy!

Here's the recipe:

Pumpkin Bars
4 eggs
1 C. vegetable oil
2 C. sugar
1 can pumpkin (16 oz.)
2 C. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Frosting
8 oz. cream cheese
6 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
4 C. powdered sugar

Mix eggs, oil, sugar and pumpkin together. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour into a greased and floured pan. You can use an 11x17 cookie sheet or a 9x13 pan. I like to use the smaller pan so the bars come out more like a cake than a flatter bar. They are delicious either way.

Bake at 350 degrees for 28-30 minutes if you use an 11x17 pan, and 38-40 minutes if you use a 9x13 pan. Cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, beat cream cheese, butter, milk, and vanilla until soft. Add powdered sugar until you reach a spreadable consistency. I find that this makes too much frosting for a 9x13 pan of bars, so if you want to be frugal, you could halve the frosting recipe. Or you can spread the leftovers on cinnamon graham crackers for a treat your kids will love.

Enjoy!
© Trippin' Mama 2010

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

One of Those Days


How about a little honesty today? Lately we're really up and down around here on the behavior front. Some days are great, but others--whew! Just plain awful!

Makes me wonder if I'll survive three kids in the midst of the terrible twos and one four-year-old drama queen.

Yesterday was one of those days.

The kids woke up crying and whining. They stomped their feet defiantly and shouted, "No!"

Amelia left the house with a scowl on her face.

The boys fought with each other. They kicked. They screamed. They wrestled.

They refused to eat what I made and demanded something different.

I tried books, Play-Doh, coloring, puzzles. I dispensed ibuprofen just in case it was two-year molars. Nothing made them happy.

I prayed for naptime and decided that until then I would settle for having one child not crying or screaming at any given time. It was still a tough standard to meet.

Naptime came at last, but that didn't go particularly well either. I started to wonder if the moon was going to be full. Or maybe it was the cold, rainy weather?

We forged ahead with Legos, dress-up, a favorite video.

Finally I put everyone in the van to pick up Amelia, thinking we just needed to be out of the house for a while. I traded three crabby kids for four. Good thinking, Mom.

*sigh*

It was just one of those days. One of those days when I want credit for STAYING. Because I certainly thought about leaving a time or two. What normal person wouldn't fantasize about that on a day like today?

I even would have happily traded in for a nine-hour layover in an airport full of angry travelers.

At least there I didn't have to change anyone's poopy pants.

Then, miraculously, everyone slept all night. And today was one of those shiny, happy days that the parents who live in diaper commercials always have.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Guess we'll just have to buckle up and hang on for dear life!

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Simplify, Schimplify


It's all the rage this Christmas. The watchword of the season. No, it's not some hot new toy or electronic gadget I'm talking about. It's: "Simplify."

I spent a little time waiting in the doctor's office yesterday to get a new antibiotic to finally squash this cough I've had for three weeks now. Surprisingly, there were a number of current magazines to flip through while I waited for an hour.

I looked at page after page of beautiful trees, gorgeous mantels, and chic centerpieces for the table. And almost every article waxed poetic about "simplifying" so we can take time to keep the spirit of the season.

I'm all for simplifying, but my idea of simple and the home magazine editors' ideas of simple are worlds apart.

Sure, that centerpiece of cranberries, oranges and pomegranates is fast and easy if you just happen to have a few antique compotes or glass hurricanes on hand. I think the effect would be lost a bit if I used my eclectic Tupperware collection.

Looking for a cool, free way to decorate your Christmas tree? Why, walk through your neighborhood and find some sticks and pinecones! Just spray them with glitter or craft snow and arrange them in your Christmas tree.

Let me just say, unless you have an eye for decorating, this idea is a guaranteed disaster. The tree in the magazine looked like, well, a tree in a magazine. Such an attempt in my house would more likely conjure images of a porcupine than a glamorous holiday decorating statement. Not to mention that walking through my neighborhood collecting nature's bounty with four small children in tow is anything but simple!

The magazines' simple mantels showed nature-inspired garlands, made by the homeowner, of course, and color-coordinated decorations piled in the homeowner's red and white stoneware collection. Yep. I'll get right on making that garland and collecting my stoneware.

What's wrong with hanging the stockings and throwing a little store-bought garland on the mantel? Now that's simple!

This Christmas my mantra is not: "Simplify." It is: "Prioritize." 

To get some holiday things done around here, something else will have to give. I'm sure the kids won't mind a few meals of Christmas cookies, since they often don't eat what I serve them anyway. And who needs both lights and ornaments on the tree? No need to gild the lily, after all. Without hesitation I choose decorating over cleaning. That's only logical. The decorations will hide the dust.

The second half of my mantra is "Ignore." That's about trying to tune out the magazines, and remain calm and focused under the pressure of elaborate lighting displays and early Christmas cards all around me. As a bonus, "Ignore" neatly handles anything on the priority list that doesn't get done. And that's a Christmas gift for me!

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Sunday, November 28, 2010

He Gets That From YOUR Side Of The Family


Isaac was cracking us up the other day when the boys were having their noisy fun. We laughed and laughed, and then we started pointing fingers at each other. "He must get that from YOUR side of the family!



No matter where Isaac gets it from, (His daddy! It's MY blog!) this is just further evidence that the children should wear their bicycle helmets at ALL times!
© Trippin' Mama 2010

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Mayday! Mayday!


Yesterday morning at 6:00 my wing man went down. The stomach virus took him hard.

Then last night at 10:30 I succumbed.

By suppertime I knew it was coming, so I rushed to get the kids fed, the house picked up and everyone in bed before I curled up and tried not to think about throwing up.

Unfortunately, the kids didn't cooperate, and both Jeff and I were up multiple times last night.

Fortunately, Jeff was recovered enough today to deal with our now healthy and energetic children. I spent much of the day dozing on and off and gradually reintroducing fluids to my body.

So forgive me for not posting a recipe yesterday or today. I still can't face the thought of food.

This is not how we wanted to spend a long holiday weekend, but if we were going to get it, the timing was perfect. We were all here just hanging out with no real plans, which meant plenty of hands to hold sick kids and lots of time to swap back and forth and get the adults some extra sleep.

I promise a return to our regularly scheduled humorous and less disgusting programming soon. Thanks for hanging in there with me in the meantime.

Tomorrow one more round of Lysol. But for now, please pass the ginger ale.

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful For All Of It


Today I am thankful for kids who are mostly healthy.

And because today they are mostly not, I'm thankful for Lysol, my washing machine and Spot Shot carpet cleaner.

I'm thankful for my husband, the best father I know.

I'm thankful for the peace of naptime and bedtime, and the noise and laughter that fills the rest of our days.

I'm thankful for everyone who reads my (mostly) daily musings and shares in my family. Here's a little noise and laughter for all of you:



Happy Thanksgiving!

Play along with Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop.

Mama's Losin' It

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Wedding and The Aftermath


Travel to and from San Diego was rough. The weather in sunny California was cold and rainy. But considering I returned home to the beginnings of the plague invading my house, I kind of wish I'd stayed in California!

I stayed in the charming La Jolla Shores Hotel, and sat on the third-floor balcony looking at this beautiful view.


I listened to the surf, drank my hot chocolate, and watched the rain.

It's not good when you wake up in San Diego, where the weather is almost always nice, and the weather man is excited. It rained the entire day and a half I was there. Nothing torrential, mind you, but still the weather man said, "RAIN!" An INCH in the next THREE DAYS folks!" Made his week, I think. It was supposed to be 70 there today. It is decidedly NOT 70 here.

As I sat, I watched a whole group of people donning their wet suits in the rain. Ironic, hmm? They were headed out to boogie board, scuba, swim and generally enjoy the ocean. There were lots of people walking on the beach with their umbrellas, so I decided I could do the same. It was nice, even in the rain.

I met up with Sheila, who also roomed with Kris and me in London, and our friend Caryn, whom I also met in London.
Caryn & Sheila

We enjoyed breakfast at a nice restaurant with a great view of the ocean and caught up on more years than I care to think about. Then we did a little shopping before it was time to get ready for the big event.

The wedding was held in a historic home, and it was beautiful. Kris looked amazing and the ceremony was perfect -- personal, sentimental.

The reception after was a blast. The food was amazing, from the garlic cilantro shrimp to the basil risotto to the grilled asparagus to the steak au poivre. Yum! Plus I never once had to get up to get something for someone else.

We ate, we drank, we danced. It's been a long time since I spent an evening in killer heels. And by killer, I mean my ankles killed me the next day. Dancing on a brick courtyard where I was in imminent danger of getting a heel caught between the bricks certainly didn't help my cause.
Caryn, Kris, and me

Turns out that those couple of nights I sacrificed sleep for fun were good practice for sacrificing sleep to hold sick children for the next couple nights once I arrived home.

I just pretended I was listening to the surf, instead of listening to my children's stomach contents resurface.

It appears the storm of sickness has passed now, so hopefully we will be able to enjoy Thanksgiving without any premature "leftovers."

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Wedding, Some Weather, and A Long Wait


I went to my friend's wedding in San Diego this weekend. I'll give you the details later, but I'm still exhausted and headed to bed. So here's the short version:

The wedding was wonderful.

The weather was rainy and cold.

The travel was horrendously bad, to the tune of two cancelled flights, nine hours of sitting in an airport on standby, and the offer of a child to anyone who could get me out of the airport and home.

I finally arrived home at 10:30 p.m. bone tired after 16 hours of traveling.

I was greeted by a child who had just vomited in his bed.

It was still good to be home.

And watching my friend get married was worth every minute of the hassle.

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

From My Kitchen: Cornflake Cookies


I know, I know. Two cookie recipes in a row. Sorry about that, but I'm in a hurry today and this one was all ready to go. Besides, we are coming into the holiday season, and these cornflake cookies are deliciously different. They are yummy enough for your office carry-in or church potluck, but chances are, no one else will show up with them!

Here's the recipe:

Cornflake Cookies
1 cup white sugar
1 cup margarine
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cream of tartar
11/2 cups flour
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups cornflakes ( I crush them a little)
1/2 cup chopped nuts ( your choice)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter and sugar. Add baking soda, cream of tartar, vanilla and flour. Mix well.

Stir in cornflakes, lightly crushed, and chopped nuts. I love these with pecans, but they are pretty versatile, so you can use what you have on hand or experiment a little.

Roll the dough into balls, roll in sugar and place on baking sheet. Press with a cookie stamp, glass or fork.

Bake for 12 minutes.

The result is light, crisp, and oh so good.

Enjoy!

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Just Call Me "Coyote Christy"


The neighborhood association president sent out an email about the sick coyote and noted that, "Christy is taking care of it."

Thankfully he gave specifics about how I'm hiring Tim the Wildlife Guy, so my neighbors don't have to worry about me stomping around with my twelve gauge.

So now, muyc to my amusement, all the neighbors are calling me with their coyote sightings.

This afternoon Jane called me. She has a little spaniel that would make a nice hors' d ouvre for this coyote. Jane wanted to walk her dog, but the coyote was lying in her back yard. We're no wildlife experts, but we readily agreed that probably wasn't a good idea.

I talked with Tim the Wildlife Guy again to confirm he'd be coming out on Friday. I have to say, he sounds exactly like I expected (sterotypically, I admit) someone in his line of work to sound. I sure hope his appearance meets my expectations, too. Even though the coyote has mostly been sighted elsewhere in the neighborhood, I hold out this hope that Tim the Wildlife Guy will set up camp on my back deck with his shotgun long enough for me to get a picture for you guys.

The coyote saga continues. In the meantime, try not to look like prey.

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Coyote In The Burbs


We caught two more mice: one yesterday and one last night, which reminded me of a story about one girls' weekend with my sisters. It involves a cabin in the woods, a mouse problem and the worst hospitality EVER.

But that will have to wait. Because when I took the boys outside to play after lunch we walked around the garage to the backyard to find a COYOTE sitting out by the swing set.

He was lying down, so at first I thought it was a strange dog, which was enough to slow me down. Then he stood up. I saw the long legs, bushy tail and brown-gray color, and something in the back of my brain fired up. "Hey, didn't someone at the neighborhood meeting say something about seeing a coyote around here? Coyote?  COYOTE?  HOLY CRAP THAT'S A COYOTE!"

I immediately yelled at the boys to go to the garage because we had to go inside RIGHT NOW. I'm thinking "Don't look like prey. Don't look like prey. Don't look like prey."

I must have scared the kids, because they ran to do exactly what I ordered. I shepherded them to the garage door, away from the backyard and the coyote, punched in the code, rushed them in and closed the door behind us. 

We went in the house and I grabbed my phone and went out the back door. I yelled at the coyote and it just looked at me for a minute before turning and trotting off into the trees.

Have I mentioned that I live in the suburbs?

And it was noon?

And my yard is pretty wide open?

YIKES!

I didn't even have the presence of mind to take a picture for all of you!

When I decided to stay home with the kids I expected to deal with sickness, but I did not expect to have to drive off wild animals.

I made a flurry of phone calls, and was told Animal Control wouldn't come out unless the coyote was in my living space. Note to self: Hotline operators do not appreciate sarcasm. Asking if I should invite it into my living room did not go over well.

Anyway, Animal Control did send someone out within the hour, and thankfully the lady saw the coyote when she was driving around our neighborhood. She said it shouldn't be out in the open in broad daylight and she thought it looked sick. So now DNR will come out and trap it.

Until it's gone I'm not taking my kids outside. I don't even want to think about what could have happened if one of the boys had gone to backyard to play in the sandbox while I helped someone else off a bike and brought up the rear. After all, compared to our friend Wile E., they are snack-sized.

At some point in my mildly freaked out back and forth with my hubby, he texted me this: "Neither of us would have lasted long on the frontier!"

I beg to differ. My first thought was to kill that bugger. And he sat there so long I could have loaded my rifle (if I were living on the frontier and had one hanging over the door, mind you), straightened my apron, smoothed my hair and stepped out on the back porch to solve the problem. I texted that to Jeff and finished with, "Of course then you'd have to deal with it. I might kill it, but I don't do dead."

Nothing like a brush with a coyote to make you appreciate little problems with mice and dead squirrels!

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

An Act of Thanksgiving


On Sunday Jeff and Amelia helped accept Thanksgiving donations at our church's food pantry. The need is greater this year than in years past. We have 400 families who have requested assistance. Heaven only knows how many are in some kind of need, but didn't ask. Thanks to the generosity of many, all 400 will get a Thanksgiving basket full of the makings of a turkey dinner with all the trimmings, right down to the pumpkin pie and whipped topping.

Amelia had a great time helping unload food from people's cars and stack things in the right piles. It was a good lesson for her in helping others and recognizing the many blessings we have.

I am grateful that Amelia really can't understand that some children don't have enough to eat, because she has never had to go hungry.

But I am also aware that is not the case for many, many kids.

I think about this when my kids ask for a certain cereal and I go to the cupboard to discover we're out. Already at age 2, the boys will say "Mommy will get some more at the store," when I tell them that their item of choice is all gone. Then we move on to the other hundreds of available selections.

But what if "we're all out" meant just that. ALL out. As in no more food?

I can't even imagine what it must feel like to tell your child that there's no food, and no money to just run to the store and get whatever they want. How painful it must be to hear your child cry because he or she is hungry.

I hate the idea of anyone being hungry.

I come from German/Irish heritage where food is love, and food is plentiful. My mom fed 10 people on a small budget, so we ate lots of inexpensive meals when I was growing up: spaghetti, casseroles, meatloaf with plenty of cracker crumbs in it. In the early days of my marriage, I scrimped and scraped to put meals on the table, and we ate on the cheap plenty. But I have never truly been hungry.

Jeff and I have always given to our church food pantry, but often we were motivated by special requests like the Thanksgiving food drive. Perhaps it's more obvious during the holidays when we celebrate with huge feasts, but hunger is a year round problem. So lately we've been trying to pick up a few things for the food pantry every time we shop. We drop them off after church so Amelia, Sam, Isaac and Alex can be part of the effort.

Are we saving the world? No. But we are making a difference for someone. We're teaching our kids to take care of other people. And we're reminding ourselves over and over just how fortunate we are.

How about you?

Thanksgiving is just over a week away. There's no better way to celebrate the many blessings you've been given than to share your good fortune with others. Find a local food bank, a church food pantry, a community Thanksgiving dinner, someone who is feeding the hungry, and make a donation.

Someone, somewhere will be very grateful.


© Trippin' Mama 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

From My Kitchen: Carmel-filled Chocolate Cookies


You thought I didn't realize I'd thrown your weekly recipe out the window on Friday in favor of a picture of a dead rodent, didn't you? I knew it, but that story just wouldn't wait!

To make it up to you, here's a cookie recipe that you shouldn't wait to try. When people bite into these gooey caramel-filled treats, they'll think you spent a lot of time on them. Only you have to know better, unless you choose to share the secret.

The secret is Rolos! That's right. Just wrap this chocolatey dough around a Rolo and bake. When the cookies are done they've got a gooey caramel center, and all you had to do was open the candy. This was a Pillsbury Bake-off Winner, so it's a guaranteed smash hit.

The original recipe included 1 C. of chopped pecans. Because I usually make these for kids, I never use the nuts, though I'm sure they would be delicious. If you wish to use them, stir 1/2 C. chopped pecans into the cookie dough. Combine 1 Tbsp. sugar and the remaining 1/2 C. pecans and press one side of each shaped cookie ball into the mix. Place pecan side up on the baking sheet.

Here's the recipe:

Caramel-filled Chocolate Cookies
2 1/2 C. flour
3/4 C. unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1 C. sugar
1 C. firmly packed brown sugar
1 C. butter or margarine, softened
2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
48 Rolo candies (9 oz. pkg.), unwrapped
4 oz. vanilla-flavored candy coating, if desired

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In small bowl, combine flour, cocoa and baking soda. Blend well. In large bowl, beat 1 C. sugar, brown sugar, and butter until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs. Beat well. Add flour mixture and blend until combined.

For each cookie, shape about 1 Tbsp. dough around 1 caramel candy, covering completely. Flour your hands lightly to prevent the dough from sticking. Place 2 inches aparts on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake at 375 for 7-10 minutes, or until set and slightly cracked. Cool 2 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet and cool completely on a wire rack.

I always stop here, but it you want to do a little more work for the sake of prettiness, feel free to melt the candy coating over low heat until smooth, and drizzle over the cookies. Trust me, these cookies don't need it for flavor!

Now wasn't that worth the wait? Enjoy!

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

Another Rodent Trauma!


Today I did this:


Multiply by almost an acre. I ended up with 30ish bags of leaves. Each one representing roughly 287 square feet of leaves, give or take a bajillion leaves.

I am pooped!

I have been taking advantage of the unseasonably warm weather this week to get the kids out in the yard and do the raking a little at a time. I was counting on a nice Saturday so the WBH could help finish the job.

But it's supposed to rain tomorrow, so I powered through it by myself today.

Of course, sacrifices had to be made. I threw the kids a jar of peanut butter and a loaf of bread for lunch. They are two and four. I figured they could take care of themselves.

Anyway, I tried to think good thoughts about what a great yard we have and how much we appreciated all those shade trees during the heat of the summer.

But by naptime I was running out of positive energy.

And that's when the rodent trauma happened.

I'm starting to think they have it in for me. First it was the dying mouse I mistook for a dust bunny and nearly picked up. Then there was the epic battle Jeff and I did with a bat in our first home. That's a story worth telling! It involves accusations of delusion, duct tape, a hungry neighborhood cat and a plea for mercy. That'll keep you coming back, won't it? I promise to share that story soon.

Anyway, today's rodent trauma looked like this:


It's a squirrel, I think. It was dead. At the bottom of a leaf pile. The remnants of which I was scooping up with my bare hands. I almost picked it up, but at the last second I realized what it was. I leapt back and stifled a scream while doing the heebie-jeebie dance.

Then I put on my big girl panties and scooped the thing onto a shovel and disposed of it. To be honest, I was sure if I left it there the boys would find it and play with it.

I should get MAJOR credit for finishing the second half of the yard after this trauma. After all, I'm still using the mouse incident as an excuse not to pick up dust bunnies, and that was 16 years ago. Who could blame me if I never picked up another leaf again?


© Trippin' Mama 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

More Mischief


We've got a new problem in the house. The boys have learned to stack up things in the toy room to reach the cabinet where we keep our keys.


Alex is usually the culprit, but everyone has been in on the act.

What really worries me isn't that they have figured out how to get what they want.

It's these looks that concern me!




I don't know which is worse: Alex's glee or Isaac's feigned innocence.


© Trippin' Mama 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Official Two Year Stats


The boys had their two-year doctor's appointment yesterday, so here are their official stats.

Sam - 34 3/4 inches tall, 28 lbs. 4 oz.
Isaac - 33 3/4 inches tall, 23 lbs. 4 oz.
Alex - 35 1/2 inches tall, 28 lbs.

This was the first time they got to stand on the scale like the big boys they are. Sam went first, and then Alex and Isaac began clamoring for a turn. We're pretty good at taking turns, so they all did great. Of course, after all three had taken their turns, Alex turned to me and said, "Mommy's turn!"

Thanks, but I'll pass. I had to step on the scale PLENTY when I was pregnant with the three of them!

The boys had to explore every inch of the exam room, of course. And I do mean every inch.

Look! Three two-year-olds will fit in the cabinet under the sink!

Fortunately I had extra hands along to corral them. Even more fortunately, we're a very healthy lot and at two, they all were able to get the FluMist instead of the shot.


I just hope we don't get a plumbing bill along with the doctor's bill!


© Trippin' Mama 2010

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

An Uninvited Guest


We recently eliminated an uninvited guest of the mouse variety from our basement. There's really nothing to say about it except that peanut butter makes great mouse bait. I learned that years ago when we had a major mouse incident.

It was 1996 and Jeff and I were living in married student housing while he was in his first year of his PhD in chemistry. It was not a luxurious place -- 400 square feet with linoleum floors and cinder block walls -- but the price was right and the location was great.

The weather had just started to turn cold. I got up early one morning and went to the kitchen, a full 10 steps away from our bedroom, to get a drink of water. Since I had just crawled out of bed, I didn't have my glasses on and I'm near-sighted like you wouldn't believe. Unless something's a few inches from my face, I can hardly see it.

As I was drinking my water and looking around the apartment, I spied something under the table and thought "Wow! That is the biggest dust bunny I've ever seen in my life!" I'm no neat freak, and even I couldn't go back to bed until I'd gotten rid of it.

I walked over to the table, leaned down, and when I was just inches away from picking up the "dust bunny," its tail twitched.

I stifled a scream and I'm pretty sure my feet didn't touch the floor on the way back to the bedroom. There I woke my soundly sleeping husband and demanded that he do something about the mouse, even though it was barely light out. Jeff got up and determined that the mouse was in the final stages of dying under our table, so he put a shoebox over it and went back to bed.

I called maintenance and left a semi-hysterical "Get this thing out of my apartment!" voice mail.  When the maintenance man arrived he discovered that there was a hole in the foam around the stove vent. The mouse had apparently chewed its way in, and died under our table from eating the foam. The very helpful maintenance man sealed up the hole, set a bunch of traps with peanut butter, and removed the dead mouse and cardboard box -- after asking if we wanted the box back. Um. No. Thanks. I can always get another shoebox. One that hasn't had a dead mouse in it.

By the time it was all said and done, we caught and disposed of seven more mice. And by we, I mean the maintenance man and Jeff. My contribution was to throw the phone at a mouse on our counter, to scrub everything in the kitchen multiple times, and to cover my ears while Jeff finished off a mouse that got its leg caught in a trap.

I did learn that peanut butter makes the best mouse bait.

And I've never picked up another dust bunny since.

Hey, some traumas run deep! And besides, what a great excuse for my less-than-stellar housekeeping.


© Trippin' Mama 2010

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Return to Health...We Hope


It appears we have survived the puking, though I won't consider us out of the woods until the end of the week. It always seems that a virus that we should be done with, sneaks up back up on us. Remember the doctor's assurance that Sam and Alex weren't going to get the chicken pox because it had been almost two weeks since Isaac had them?

So, we'll hold our breath for a while. In the meantime, we're having some beautiful fall weather here, so the kids and I have been out enjoying it while we can. We spent the morning at the park and the afternoon in the yard. In between those two things the boys napped and I put on my grownup clothes and went downtown for a client meeting.

I sometimes have trouble shifting gears between the playroom and the meeting room, but I am enjoying the work immensely. And today was ideal -- I had lots of time to play with my kids and get some things done around the house, and the I did my work outside the house during their nap time. I got home just as they were waking up, so I didn't miss anything while I was gone. Except for the silence. The precious, precious silence. I compensated by driving with the radio off.

Tomorrow the boys have their two-year checkup, so we'll see how much everyone weighs. Isaac is still a lightweight compared to Sam and Alex, but everyone's getting tall fast. Our appointment is during the boys' usual lunch time, so I'll take lots of snacks with to stave off starvation. Although tonight they ate almost nothing for supper. Even Alex didn't really eat, which is unusual. I hope that's just a sign they are going to be typical toddlers who seem to be able to live on air for weeks on end, and not a sign that they are getting sick.

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Saturday, November 6, 2010

An Ode to Vomit


Vomit on the pillow,
Vomit on the floor.
Vomit in her pretty hair,
A peaceful night no more.

Crying in the bathtub,
Wailing in the hall.
Mom & Dad are busy cleaning,
not getting any sleep at all.

Laundry by the load,
Laundry by the ton.
Hope the laundry soap holds out,
Until this bug is done.

A request for breakfast,
We agreed and held our breath.
Whoops, here it comes again!
Guess we're not done quite yet

The washer kept on running,
We bleached and mopped the floors.
The afternoon was quiet,
The vomit was no more.

We hope this yucky virus,
has really run its course.
For while it was a long night,
It could have been much worse!


© Trippin' Mama 2010

Friday, November 5, 2010

From My Kitchen: One Crust Chicken Pot Pie


There's a chill in the air, which can only mean one thing: It's chicken pot pie time! I happen to love, love, love chicken pot pie, although I don't think my mom ever made it when I was growing up.

The WBH used to eat those cheap frozen pot pies, but yuck! So I started to search for a good recipe that didn't take all day to make. This one was my winner. And I'm happy to report that Jeff wouldn't even think about eating one of those frozen cheapies anymore.

This is the basic recipe, but my pot pie is rarely the same twice. I tend to use up whatever veggies I have on hand, and it's all good. This is the perfect way to use up any leftover turkey you might have the day after Thanksgiving. I often make a large batch of filling and freeze half. Since there's only one crust and it goes together fast with a baking mix, you can put one of these babies in the oven in no time if you have the filling on hand.

Here's my freezer tip: Pour the filling into a large Zip-loc freezer bag and place the bag in the pan you'll use to bake your pot pie later. Put the pan with the bag of filling into the freezer. When the filling is frozen, remove it from the pan and put that pan back in the cupboard. You now have a block of frozen pot pie filling that is guaranteed to fit your pan when you're ready to use it.

I do recommend thawing the filling before topping the pot pie with a crust and baking. On good days I'll remember to pull it out of the freezer ahead of time. On bad days, I'll throw it in the oven while the oven preheats and I get my crust ready. If that doesn't quite do the trick, I'll rely on the microwave.

This recipe came from an old church cookbook, so a big shout out to the ladies of Holy Family! Don't forget to double it if you want to put some in your freezer.

One Crust Chicken Pot Pie
Makes one 9" square pan
Filling
1/3 C. margarine or butter
1/4 C. Bisquick baking mix
1/3 C. onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 C. chicken broth
2/3 C. milk
2 C. chicken or turkey, cooked and chopped
1 large baking potato, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, sliced*
1 stalk celery, sliced
1/2 C. frozen peas
salt & pepper to taste

*You can leave out the fresh carrots and use a 10-oz. package of frozen peas & carrots instead

Crust
1 1/2 C. Bisquick baking mix
4 Tbsp. hot water
3 Tbsp. margarine or butter, softened

Boil all veggies except onion and frozen peas until tender, about 10 minutes. Heat 1/3 C. margarine or butter over low heat until melted. Stir in 1/4 C. Bisquick, onion, and bay leaves. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is bubbly. Remove from heat. Stir in chicken broth and milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Stir in chicken, and ALL veggies. Salt & pepper to taste. Heat through.

Pour chicken mixture into an ungreased, 9-inch square pan. You can use a 9-inch pie plate or an 8-inch square, too. I always make mine in an 11x7 glass pan. It will taste delish no matter what the shape! Remove and discard the bay leaves, if you can remember. I never remember. I just tell folks that getting a bay leaf is good luck, but not if you try to eat it.

Mix crust ingredients until dough forms. Smooth dough into a ball. Sprinkle a little Bisquick or flour on your countertop and roll the dough to fit your pan. Place dough over chicken mixture. Cut slits in center of crust.

Since this has a tendency to boil over, I always set my pot pie dish on a baking sheet while it cooks. Bake at 425 for 25 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.

Mmmmm, chicken pot pie! Your kitchen will smell amazing and your family will love you for it.

Enjoy!

© Trippin' Mama 2010