What’s Your Favorite Kind of Cake?

It’s homecoming weekend at York College, our local Christian college (and our alma mater). We’ve got a house full of guests and we’re lovin’ it!

We celebrated the birthday of one of our guests yesterday – a great excuse to make and eat cake! I made this Lemon Pound Cake recipe, but instead of baking it in a bundt pan, I made it into a sheet cake then frosted it with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Instead of butter, I used coconut oil to make this cake. The coconut oil flavor was a bit overpowering with the lemon juice, but wow, it’s tasty. And, in my opinion, you can never go wrong with cream cheese frosting. ;)

My very favorite cake flavor would have to be Buttermilk Chocolate Cake (with Chocolate Fudge Frosting). Unless we count cheesecake, and then I’d have to say that my favorite kind of cake is cheesecake. I suppose we could count both, but we really shouldn’t eat them both at the same time because goodness, that’s a lot of cake.

Just because I’m curious – and because maybe I can come up with healthy varieties of your favorite cake flavors, my questions for you this weekend are:  What is your favorite kind of cake? What kind of frosting would you like on that? With ice cream or without?

When to Leave Kids Home Alone?

Now that I’m able to run to the store for a few items without buckling all my babies into car seats and lugging them in and out of the car – I feel like I’ve been handed a lovely little gift. It’s really quite nice to be able to holler at my boys, “I’m running to the post office – Asa’s in charge!”

It’s really, really, really nice to have this lovely perk. After so many years of “kid lugging” – I still haven’t gotten over the joy of how nice and easy it is to simply grab my purse and run out the door for a few minutes. If you are still in the “take your kids everywhere you go” phase – take heart! Some day, you too will be able to run to the library to return books without buckling in anyone but yourself.

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They look like they can hold their own – don’t you think?

It’s not that I don’t like being with my kids. I love taking them places. It’s just that when they were babies – hooking in car seats, bundling up babies, making sure everyone is pottied and fed – took longer than the actual trip to the store in the first place. Sometimes it’s nice just to be able to run in, run out and call it done.

It was with quite a bit of hesitation that we first began to leave our kids home alone for a few minutes. I did quite a bit of research to find out how old the “legal” age was to leave kids home alone. And how old should they be before they should be left in charge of other kids?

Turns out, there is no legal age – at least none that I could find. It’s really up to you.

I think the answer to this question is dependent on many factors:

  • How responsible is your child?
  • How old are the other kids that will be in his/her care?
  • Will the other kids respect and listen to the authority of the child in charge?
  • How large and safe is your town/city?
  • How comfortable does your child feel being left alone?
  • Have you prepared your kids to know how to handle phone calls and knocks on the door while you’re gone?
  • How long will you be gone?
  • How far are you going?
  • Does your child have a way to get in touch with you while you’re gone?

We seem to be a little bit later than many people around here – waiting until our boys are around 11 to be left alone, and even then, it’s only for a very short time. I think they could probably handle it before age 11 – they just haven’t seemed comfortable with the idea, so we haven’t pushed it.

Please share! At what age do you feel like it’s okay for your kids to stay home by themselves? When do you think it’s okay for a child to babysit or be in charge of other kids?

 

 

How to Get Rid of Ants Naturally

My favorite way to get rid of ants – cornmeal :)

Have I ever I told you about the time several of my aunts (which I pronounce “ants”) were in town helping me in the kitchen? We were having a lovely time capping strawberries and telling stories and laughing. Suddenly, a big, fat ant crawled across my kitchen counter and I let out a breath of frustration while exclaiming, “I wish these stinkin’ ANTS would get out of my kitchen!!!”

Well, my aunts hadn’t seen the ants that had so suddenly caused my outburst. They all dropped their knives and looked at me in astonishment because surely I wasn’t asking THEM to get out of my kitchen was I? I mean, what had they done except to help me so graciously with my load of strawberries?

Oh dear.

I quickly realized my mistake, and they quickly realized that I wasn’t talking about my aunts but about the ants – the nasty, little bugs that like to make a trail from one part of the kitchen to the other all while making away with our dinner roast beef. My aunts on the other hand, while they would surely enjoy my roast beef, have never formed an assembly line across my kitchen in order to steal away my supper. Nor have I ever had the urge to scream at them or squish them with my flip-flop. Goodness.

Now, isn’t that a great story? Laura screams at her ants. Laura’s aunts become shocked.  The ants get squished. The aunts have a good chuckle. Laura enjoys her aunts while trying to figure out a good way to get rid of her ants.

All that to say, let’s have us a little discussion about getting the ants out of your kitchen. Regarding the aunts in your kitchen – you’re on your own, but I highly recommend figuring out a way you can all remain together harmoniously.

Recently, Mary emailed this question:

I have a one-year-old and don’t want to use RAID around the house. The warm weather is starting to bring ants around and my little girl loves running barefoot. What do you suggest? Mary

Here is a list of all the “Getting Rid of Ants Naturally” tips I have up my sleeve (if in fact I do have sleeves):

  • Keep your floors and counter-tops clean. Crumbs and stickiness just give ants the incentive to stay. They call or text all of their friends, then they come into your kitchen and have a great, big party.
  • Seal all leftover food very well, or put it into your fridge. There have been too many times I’ve made a lovely baked item for breakfast, only to find that ants have gotten up under the plastic wrap during the night and had their party in my Pyrex. If you think I screamed at my ants when I saw them on the countertop, you ain’t heard nothin’ like when I saw them in my fresh-baked whole wheat cinnamon rolls.
  • Sprinkle some cornmeal around doorways and places you normally find ants. They eat it and become bloated and it does them in.
  • Ants don’t like vinegar, bay leaves, peppermint oil, cinnamon, black pepper or whole cloves. You can make a picnic of any of these items for them in various places in your kitchen but their noses (ants have noses?) will be offended and they are likely to refuse your picnic invitation.

What else? Do you know of any natural, non-toxic ways to rid your home of ants?

The aunts, well…we’d like them to stay.

 

Do You Like to Clean?

I’ve heard it said that some people like cooking and some people like cleaning, but not many people like to do both. I’m not sure how true this is, but I will speak for myself. I LOVE cooking, but I really, really don’t like to clean.

I do like to have a clean house though, so I clean whether I want to or not. I just don’t understand these people who say, “Oooh, I love cleaning!!”  My idea for all you people who like to clean is this:  If I cook for you, will you clean for me? I think this sounds like a nice arrangement. Keep in mind that it may not be a fair trade-off. Four boys, bathrooms, muddy soccer cleats. Need I say more?

Abigail, consultant with Norwex, recently sent me some of their wonderful,
non-toxic cleaning products to try. Now that is a pile of goodies that inspires me to clean.
I’ll share more about Norwex products in a couple of weeks.

Just for fun (but not so that we can have a cleaning whine fest, because truly we are called to take care of our homes without grumbling), I just wanted to throw out the question this weekend:  Do you like to clean?

 

What Health Food Co-op is Near You?

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I’m always talking about Azure Standard, my favorite health food co-op. I love what it provides for my family! 

Many of you have been able to join an Azure Standard group near you…hooray! But what if Azure Standard doesn’t deliver where you live? Great as it is, it does have it’s limits. In the past, I’ve discussed health food purchasing options beyond Azure Standard that I recommend, and many of you left a comment on that post, sharing your sources for healthy foods. 

But, because of the number of questions I get regarding this topic, I was hoping you’d all help me out by sharing on this post the great real food sources you have where you live, specifically any health food co-ops that deliver to your area. Having a big list compiled here in the comments section would be a wonderful resource for many.

So I’ll start:

I’m Laura. I live in Nebraska. I use Azure Standard. They deliver once a month and carry wonderful produce, bulk grocery items and frozen foods.

(Did you guys know that already?)

Okay, your turn…

Gluten Free Websites?

I’ve been asked several times and I’m wondering a little bit myself…what are the best Gluten Free Websites out there?

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These Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies are TOO good.  :)

We’re doing a little bit of Gluten Free experimenting at our house (I’ll explain more next week), and I know many of you need to eat, or have family members who need to eat a Gluten Free diet. I’d love for you to fill the comments section here with great GF resources to draw from. (If you’re interested, here’s a nice list of all of the Gluten Free recipes on the Heavenly Homemakers site!)

It would be an added bonus if the Gluten Free Website you refer us to also encourages healthy eating. :)

So, what do you know?  What are your favorite Gluten Free Websites?

Gas or Electric?

I posted this about two years ago, but if you weren’t reading this blog back then, you would have missed out on all the fun.   I can’t have you miss out on all the fun. And really, I just like knowing which of you has gas. Or electric.  :)
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I giggle everytime I think about this, so I thought I’d really better share it with you.

When we first got married, we lived in an apartment in someone’s basement. It had a little kitchen with a tiny gas stove. I had never cooked on a gas stove before and I soon learned to really enjoy it. One day a friend of mine came over and walked into my kitchen. And she said,

“Oh!! Do you have gas?!”

I jumped a bit from the shock of her question because of course, I had no idea she was asking about my stove. I really thought that she was randomly asking me if I had gas. 

 You know…gas

What in the world would make her ask such a thing? Had my stomach just gurgled? Had my shoe made an unbecoming sound on the floor? 

Completely oblivious to my distress, my friend went on to talk about how she just loved it when she used to have gas, but she didn’t have gas anymore and oh how she missed it. How lucky of me to have gas. And, maybe someday, she too would have gas.

Uuuuhhhhhhmmmmmm.

I don’t know how long it took for me to understand that she was talking about the fact that her stove was electric and my stove was gas. Sometimes I’m not that bright. (Possibly an effect from having gas.)

She and I had a huge laugh over that one…and I seriously still giggle about it (16 years later) whenever I think about it.

So, I’ve just gotta ask.

Do you have gas? Or do you have electric? 

I know some people LOVE their gas stoves and feel that they are must-haves in their homes. I currently have an electric ceramic top since that was in the house when we moved here. I don’t really have a preference. I could take gas or leave it. :)

How exciting for those of you who have gas. You get to leave a comment saying,

“Hello. My name is ___________. I have gas.”

Those of us with electric just won’t have as much fun with this one. Ah but some day. Someday, we too might have gas.

What ARE the Seven Layers in the Seven Layer Chip Dip?

Five women friends and I were standing around after church Wednesday night talking about and planning our upcoming Super Bowl party.  If you could have listened in on our conversation, you may have rolled your eyes. Or maybe you would have shrugged along with us? 

“What time does the game start?”  “What channel is it on?”  “Who’s playing this year?”

Clearly, we are a well informed group of ladies, always keeping up with the latest trends and world events.

One of the girls jumped in excitedly with, “No wait. I’ve got this one.”  Then she told us not just one, but both of the teams playing. Very impressive. I can’t for the life of me remember what she said now.   I was just in awe of the fact that one of us actually knew.

We should have stopped talking right that minute, or at least began to focus on the food part of our planning. But no. Instead we had to discuss where we thought the teams were from. Why? Why would we do that?

It would appear that we don’t know our football geography very well. I’m not going to rat anybody out, but somebody thought the Steelers were from California

(Just so you know, in case you are also going to a Super Bowl party, the Steelers aren’t…from California. There is no end to the helpful information you can learn while reading this blog. I am always glad to be of service.)

Finally my friends and I moved on to territory we are well informed about:  FOOD.

My pregnant friend who was helping to plan the party suggested hinted BEGGED that someone should really make “that seven layer chip dip thing”. Hey, I’ll make anything for my pregnant friend, since she finally figured out something that sounds good.

In addition to the dip, I’m planning on taking something else fun (suggestions???) in that above pictured  football dish someone loaned me. 

And I could do a Swag Search to find a recipe for Seven Layer Chip Dip Thingy. But you all are so smart and have so many fun ideas…I decided to just ask you.

What seven layers should I layer?  Meat or no meat? Onions or no onions? Never mind. I don’t think she’ll want onions. But she does want avocado. (Don’t you love it when I think out loud?)

I’m afraid with all of your answers I’ll end up with a Twelve Layer Chip Dip Thingy. That will probably be okay though, won’t it? We will, after all, be needing a large container of dip while we visit in the background watch all the commercials thoroughly enjoy the game.

In addition to your Seven Layer Chip Dip ideas…please let us all know if you’re hosting or going to a Super Bowl Party and more importantly…what are ya making to eat??

Which Boots?

A Nebraska girl should have boots.

I keep putting it off, but I really need some new boots. My cute little brown slip on shoes are not terribly graceful on ice. Nor are they warm when snow gets into them and you know…melts.

I do actually have a pair of boots that I got a few years ago. They’re really cute and I found them on sale and they look really nice. They really dress up an outfit. But they are incredibly uncomfortable. So much so that each time I give in and wear them, people ask me why I’m limping and please can they can help me get to a chair. Pitiful.  Cute boots aren’t so cute anymore when the wearer looks like she’s just lost a kick boxing match.

I also have some really cute slippers that look like boots that I got from Target last year. I’m finding that I wear them now all the time. By all the time, I mean that I tuck my jeans into them and wear them like real boots. Everywhere. Out and about. To church fellowship nights. To the store. To basketball games. Yes, my boot slippers.

They don’t hurt my feet in the least and when I wear two pairs of socks with them, my feet stay relatively warm. They actually have tread on the bottom, so they don’t do too bad when I’m walking down icy porch steps. I’ve received compliments on my “cute boots” and I’m never quite sure if I should say, “Oh thanks…they’re actually my slippers” or maybe, “They also look great with my Mickey Mouse pajamas” or if I should just keep my mouth shut, nod and smile. 

So, because the cute slippers look and act like boots…I’m having a hard time breaking down and buying any real boots. But for real – I live in Nebraska. I think I need to buy myself some boots.

I’ve been looking over at Coupon Trunk, a great site full of (obviously) coupons, specifically at their shoe section to see what kind of boot coupons I can find.

My question for you all though – because I’m assuming you have more boot knowledge than I have – and no pressure but I’m counting on you all here…what’s the best boot for my buck?

What kind of boots do you have and like? Which ones are the warmest? Which ones last the longest? Which ones are the most comfortable? And shucks…do you think the ones you have would look cute with my Mickey Mouse jammies?

Staying Up Until Midnight? Question #76

The big topic of many conversations right now is:  What are you doing for New Year’s Eve?

In case you’d like to hear about our super exciting plans…We will be spending some time over at our friends’ house…then come home and go to bed. Around 10:00. We’re oodles of fun like that.

Okay, actually… I’M the one that will probably go to bed around 10:00. Others around me may stay up and play games…we’re spending some time with family right now, so I’m not really sure who will be around and who will have other plans. There certainly may be a game of Manhattan in the works.

Last year I was so excited for New Year’s Eve and made big plans to stay up and celebrate with the family. The first part of the night was great…but then I think I started “resting my eyes” around nine and the next thing I knew I was waking up on the couch when Matt and the boys said, “Oh look…it’s midnight.”  

I throw a wild party, don’t I?

I figure the new year will come whether I’m awake or asleep, right? So there you have it. My boring and non-traditional plans. 

What do you have going on for New Year’s Eve? Planning to stay up until midnight…or celebrating with a pillow and quilt?