A Season of Thankfulness

Thanksgiving is over.

Black Friday madness has already begun.

And I can’t help but wonder if with all the distractions of gorging ourselves on turkey and pie and then disturbing our natural sleep patterns to fight for discounted stuff is the right way to celebrate this special time of year…

I’m not opposed to eating or shopping.  I actually like both of them and participate when I can but I do not like how distracted we all can get from the frenzy of it all.  I’m a victim of it too.

 This Thanksgiving I cooked all day while I shooed my kids out of the kitchen until the hubby took them out on a hike until nap time.  It was nice to not have the stress of trying to baste a turkey while holding back tiny hands from the oven or mashing potatoes one handed with a toddler on my hip but… on a day of thanksgiving, aren’t I most thankful for my family?  And if that’s what I’m most grateful for (it is), then why push them away when I should show them how important they are to me by spending real time with them?  So I can have 3 dozen homemade rolls to serve?  Even when they are the best rolls ever?

Later, I found myself engrossed by the Black Friday ads and Facebook updates plotting a grand shopping scheme.  Again, ignoring the precious opportunity to show my love for my family.  And if I get up before the sun peeks over the horizon to grab the one thing I supposedly need to have, will that mean I won’t have energy to spend time with them during normal waking hours?

Is it really worth it?  For just a thing?

No, probably not.

I am always battling to strike a sort of balance between things I need to do and things I want to do and I expect that I’m not the only one.  As the Christmas season starts, I want to remember to not get distracted by the pretty things of this world because they are just things… and definitely things I can do without.  But my family is something that won’t always be there.  My 2 yr old won’t always want to play choo choo with me.  My 7 yr old won’t always want to discuss his new treasure hunt club.

We have no guarantee that things will be the same tomorrow.  In just the past 3 months, we have felt the effect of 3 tragic deaths of loved ones to those who are close to us.  None were old and decrepit.  All were young vibrant people with their own families.  In an instant, there was no tomorrow for their families and friends.

I know I don’t want to just say I’m thankful, I want to show I’m thankful by my actions.

Learn more about my beliefs here.

My Faves: Shower Edition

I’ve already shared my Holy Grail shampoo and conditioner here.  Now I want to share some other favorite products that I use!

Dove Deep Moisture Body Wash truly lives up to its claim of being moisturizing.  During the summer, I don’t have to worry about using lotion unless I have time to indulge myself.  During the winter, I sometimes need to use lotion but if I’m in a rush to calm a screaming toddler and skip out on the lotion, then my skin doesn’t feel deprived for about 3 showers.  I’ve bought this multiple times and I’ve given it away in baby shower gifts (great for new moms to cut down their beauty routine!).  I’ve tried the generic versions and they don’t live up to the original in my opinion.  Also, the generic ones kinda smell like a weird plastic.  No likey.  This is a newer version.  The original didn’t include nutrium moisture but I don’t notice a difference honestly.

Kiss My Face Moisture Shave really helps with the maddening red bumps I used to get from shaving.  My skin is sensitive and likes to react in horrible ways when it’s irritated.  So rubbing a blade down my leg to scrape off hair and dead skin is ultimately irritating for my skin.  I used to just live with the ingrown hair bumps (shudder!) and itchiness and whatnot until I realized that shaving doesn’t have to be that way while reading one of my life changing websites, Acne.org.  Many people liked Moisture Shave and it came in one of my favorite scents, lavender.  After using it for a couple weeks, I noticed that my skin wasn’t irritated as badly when shaving.  If you don’t like lavender, they have other scents and an unscented one.  I’ve tried the pomegranate grapefruit scent and I don’t care for it.  It smells slightly fruity and not unappealing, I just prefer my herbal lavender.  The Moisture Shave is not like your regular shaving gel that foams out of an aerosol can.  It is a medium consistency lotion that you smooth on and shave like usual.  If you get irritated skin, you must try it!

These two products I will always have in my shower along with my Giovanni hair stuff.  What shower stuff do you love?

Perfectly Scrumptious Sugar Cookies

I can’t lie.  I got this recipe from a friend who got it from a friend who got it from… who knows where?  But I did alter the recipe some and did some fraction math for you.

The original recipe made a batch so big that it didn’t fit in my KitchenAid Artisan Mixer.  Not good.  I’ve tried halving the recipe and the cookies were gone too soon.  So this is 75%.  Makes tons of cookies for you to decorate and eat the cookie dough (don’t pretend you don’t do it!) and I’ve got cookies for more than 2 days.  Score!  One note about the recipe.  Notice that the milk is optional.  Only add the milk if you notice that the dough is crumbly.  Make sure to check the bottom of the bowl!  While mixing, add the milk a tablespoon at a time.  Stop adding when you see no dry crumbs.

After making this dough, take out a third or so of it to roll out and keep the rest of the dough in the refrigerator.  If you keep it sitting out, then the butter will start to melt and will make rolling out the dough much more harder and ickier.  Also, when you’re rolling out this dough, you don’t need a ton of flour to keep it rollable (my new favorite word!).  If you add too much flour, then you no longer have nice soft cookies.  😦   So how much flour should you add?  I take a big pinch of flour and sprinkle a dusting of it on my counter.  With that same flour in my hand, I sprinkle a tiny dusting on top of the dough.  Then I take the rest of it and rub my rolling pin with my fingers.  One of the reasons why this is such a great recipe is that it is super easy to work with so you shouldn’t need to add much flour.  Once I do my initial dusting, I sometimes need to lightly dust the top of my dough and rub my rolling pin.  You should only add flour after the first dusting when the dough is sticking to the rolling pin.  Don’t add for fun.  😉

When you’re ready to transfer the cut-out cookies to the cookies sheet, it can be a little daunting!  I find the best way is to use a thin edged spatula.  You can even rub the edge with flour if you’re having trouble with sticking.  This recipe doesn’t do much puffing during baking so you can keep the cookies pretty close together.  I find the only problem I run into is not leaving enough room for my spatula!

Let’s chat a bit about baking…  Make sure you don’t leave them in the oven too long unless you want crispy (ewwww!) cookies.  You can refer to this post to learn how to make sure you’re not over-baking.  With these sugar cookies, you can even take them out when they are more wet-looking than the cookie in that post.  Don’t decorate until the cookies are completely cool unless you want melted icing.  I decorated the circle cookies.  My 4 year old made a monster star cookie.  And I helped my 2 year old decorate the heart.  He got a little overzealous pushing the mini chocolate chips in the cream cheese icing.  Enjoy the cookies!

Perfectly Scrumptious Sugar Cookies

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup shortening

2 1/4 cup sugar

3 eggs

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

4 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

5 1/4 cup flour

1 to 2 Tbsp milk (optional)

Cream the butter, shortening, sugar, eggs and vanilla.  Add the baking powder and salt.  Add the flour mixing one cup at a time.  Check the dough for any crumbling.  If there is, add the milk one tablespoon at a time until there are no crumbs.  Take a third of the dough to roll out and keep the rest of the dough in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use.  Roll out to about a 1/4 inch thickness and cut out desired shapes.  Transfer to a cookie sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 350 for 8 minutes.  Cool cookies completely before decorating.

You Know: You Have a 2 Yr Old When . . .

You start to lose random important things like one dress shoe or a new pair of sunglasses or the cap to your chapstick.

You instruct everyone to just give him what he wants so there is one less melt-down.

You find yourself speaking in no more than two word conversations.  Eat?  Drink?  Change diaper.  Help please?  Come here.  No no!

You have to retrieve things from the toilet at least once a week.

You find cereal in your file folders in your filing cabinet.

No one can understand what he says except for “Elmo” and “snack”.

You wait until nap time to shower, make phone calls, pay bills, do anything involving writing instruments, scissors or anything else you don’t want spilled or strewed all over the house.

You get disappointed when he figures out how to open doors.

You don’t have to look further than your lap to find someone to cuddle with.

His cuteness makes you forget for a few moments what a bugger he can be.