Thursday, February 20, 2014

Grandma Tupper's Oatmeal Cookies

Last week I wanted to make oatmeal cookies, but I couldn't find my grandma's recipe. I know I received it as a wedding gift, but I couldn't locate it. So got my business and I quickly texted my (recently texting) mom and asked her to send me the recipe for next time. Those allrecipes cookies turned out pretty good, but lacked a little flavor and A LOT of family history (my grandma was well known for her oatmeal raisin cookies). So today the girls and I pulled out all of the ingredients from grandma's recipe and started baking.

I've concluded that my mother has great confidence in my baking skills because she often just sends me the list of ingredients for a recipe with a "mix all together" for directions at the end. Lucky for her...or me...well, us...I've baked a few cookies in my lifetime and can make up my own instructions and get the desired result. Though I did have to text my (recently texting) mom for clarification on the raisin part...more on that later. So, thank you mom for sending this recipe! Now it's not just written on a 4x6 card, it's photographed and imprinted in the blogosphere forever.

First we gathered the ingredients

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and poured a nice hot cup of coffee (for me, not the girls) into this cup that has been owned by my parents for as long as I can remember and is now owned by me (I must've been feeling nostalgic).

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Ok, now the raisin part. The instructions said to boil the raisins (2 cups, but I halved the recipe) in water (1 cup, but again, I halved the recipe) for five minutes. Do I boil the water and then add the raisins or do I mix it all together and start the time when the mixture starts to boil? Mom to the rescue (again). The answer is the latter, but now that I think about it, I'm not sure it really matters. I also learned that the raisins shouldn't sit in the hot water on the warm burner while you mix up the rest of the dough because the raisins stay warm so when you mix them in with the dough, it gets warm. And not really like any cookie dough I've ever worked with before. So I would suggest putting them in the refrigerator or at least draining them and putting them in a separate (cool) bowl.

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This is what the raisins looked like when they were done.

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Then it was on to the dry ingredients: flour, oats, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.

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Elise measured the flour and oats while I added the spices.

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Once this was all combined we set it aside and pulled out the mixer.

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Grandma's recipe calls for only shortening, but I like my cookies to have a slight buttery flavor so I used half butter and half shortening. We creamed these with the sugars (1/2 brown, 1/2 white) and then added our eggs and vanilla.

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Then we added our dry ingredients and watched it mix for a minute.

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Once the dry was incorporated, we added the raisins and the toffee chips. Grandma's recipe calls for nuts, but I substituted the toffee because not everyone in our family likes nuts but we all like candy. We let it mix on low just until the raisins and chips were incorporated.

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This is the face of a girl seconds away from licking the beater. In responsible mom world I was telling myself that she could get salmonella from eating raw eggs and that she really shouldn't be eating all that sugar and butter. In fun mom world I let her lick the whole thing, left some extra dough on it and even gave the baby a taste. Take that responsible mom!

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It was time to drop our cookies.

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Now grandma's recipe says one recipe will make 81 cookies (I know it seems random but it's 6 3/4 dozen). Apparently grandma made much smaller cookies that I did because I expected about 40 cookies (remember, I halved the recipe) and ended up with 27. Now, I usually end up with fewer cookies than a recipe, but it's like 3 or 4, not 13! What can I say? We like our cookies big around here, I guess.

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Into a 350 degree oven they went for 17 minutes (I had to add time) and out they came looking like this.

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We let them cool on the cookie sheet for two minutes then we transferred them to the cooking rack. 

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But not for long.

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Both girls agreed they were delicious. They tasted just like the ones my grandma used to make.

Grandma Tupper's Oatmeal Cookies
2 c raisins
1 c shortening
1 c brown sugar
1 c white sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 c flour
1 c oats
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt (cut back if using salted butter)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1 c nuts (or toffee chips)

1. Bring raisins and 1 cup water to a boil. Boil 5 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and transfer to separate bowl. Set aside
2. Whisk together flour, oats, baking powder, salt and spices in a medium bowl. Set aside.
3. Cream together shortening and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla and mix.
4. Add dry mixture to creamed mixture until incorporated.
5. Stir in raisins and nuts (or toffee chips) just until combined.
6. Drop onto cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes.
7. Remove from oven and let cool on sheet for 2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Makes about 4 1/2 dozen

Monday, February 17, 2014

Vitamins, Veggies, Soy, Rice

As I attempt to give some updates on what we've been doing since the beginning of school, the timeline will probably jump all over the place. If time is flying anyway, why not encourage it to fly backwards a little?
Yes, time flies. And within the last three-and-a-half months, three fourths of our children had a birthday. For two months at the end of every year we are bombarded with three birthdays and three holidays. Don't get me wrong, these are all wonderful reasons to celebrate, but it's a little hard on our schedule. So in the interest of ensuring our children have a sane mother, we have small family celebrations for each of the children on (or near) their special day, followed by a combined kids' party after most of the chaos has passed.
This year we decided to celebrate at Feed My Starving Children (FMSC). While the two middles were skeptical (they'd been too young to participate in prior FMSC events), it ended up being a wonderful experience. I'll admit that I was skeptical when Sean first mentioned it as well. Thoughts like "Is there a party room? Where will we serve the cake? How will I keep the ice cream cold? What about singing happy birthday? Will they feel special enough? celebrated?" went through my mind.

The truth is, our kids need a me-focused day like they need a hole in the head. Don't misunderstand me, we cherish our children and think they're the most awesome kids in the entire world (which probably results in enough me-focused days the rest of the year), but because we love them we want them to grow up to be loving, serving, gracious, merciful ambassadors for Jesus and this was a great way to give them an opportunity to do that at a young age. Once I wrapped my head around this, I stopped worrying about the cake and ice cream and got excited about celebrating the number of children we would feed around the world.

Each of the birthday kids got special aprons to wear and we all got those fancy hair nets.

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After taking it all in

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Wes chose to scoop soy into the Manna Packs.

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I think he had a lot of fun once he got the hang of it: vitamins, veggies, SOY, rice

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Elise found a station with mostly girls and opted to scoop with the long handled veggie spoon.

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Jack navigated his way to his favorite station: the packing. He is an expert at counting the bags

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and packing the boxes.

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Sean manned the sealer (an adults only job because of the high temp machine)

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while lots of other friends and family filled the stations, holding empty Manna Pack bags, weighing the contents to be sure FMSC is operating efficiently,

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and working together to feed starving children around the world.

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When our two hours was up, we gathered together again for a sample of the life-saving food that this organization ships all over the world and to find out what our contribution had been. 

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The result? We packed 80 boxes and, in two short hours, fed 47 kids for an entire year. What a great reason to celebrate!

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Now because it was a birthday party, I couldn't just send the kids on their way empty-handed so, as a way to say thanks for helping and celebrating with us, I wanted to put together some party favor bags. So where did I look for ideas? Pinterest, of course.

I have a love hate relationship with Pinterest (though, I'll admit it's mostly love). On it you can find a myriad of ideas and how-to tips for painting stripes on your bathroom walls or throwing together science experiments for your kids when you're stuck at lucky enough to have them at home on a school day cancelled for cold. But it also encourages the ugly habit of comparison.

Her pantry is so organized. Why haven't I spent an arm and a leg at The Container Store and an entire weekend organizing mine?

She only ever uses natural cleaning products. What is this bleach doing in my house?

The pillows on her couch change every season? Pottery Barn here I come!

She serves her family clean organic gourmet 30-minute meals every night? Okay, double the grocery budget and send me to bon appetite!

And then I remember that I am not defined by the neatness of my pantry, the cleaning products on my shelf, the pillows on my couch (thank goodness because the children have spent 8 years jumping on them! Wait, maybe I am defined by those - I'm sensing some kind of metaphor here) or the average (sometimes processed) meals my family eats. I am defined by Jesus living in me and my desire to serve Him by serving the family He has blessed me with and equipped me to love and serve.

And now we'll move on to why I love Pinterest. It's so full of GREAT ideas. Except when it came time to find ideas for party favors for a charitable birthday party. You can imagine my disappointment. So I put on my thinking cap and came up with the following favor bags. (Once I determined what would be in the bags Pinterest did come through for me on design and how-to).

Each bag contained a utensil pocket {because we were feeding people},

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a globe pencil sharpener {because the food is sent all around the world},

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a pencil {to remind the kids of the good they did that morning},

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and a tube of m&m's that, when emptied of the candy, can be filled with quarters and returned to FMSC to provide 63 meals.

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I threw in a few other types of candy {no cake, remember?}

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and packaged them up for the kids to take home with them after our time together at FMSC.

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So was it a success? At the end of the day our kids felt celebrated, we spent time serving others with friends and family, 47 kids will eat for a year and we had a lot of fun. I say yes.

Friday, February 14, 2014


While I can't believe it's been nearly 6 months since I've updated this blog, I don't have the time to fill in the blanks so I'll leave you guessing for awhile longer (hopefully not six more months) and just start with today.
Normally I'm not a fan of valentines day. I don't like all the hype about gifts and candy and flowers and romance. Don't get me wrong, I like all that stuff. I just don't think it should be reserved for once a year. This year has been different, though. We're still skipping the gifts, candy, flowers and romance (this for the sake of the eight-year-old who exclaims "GROSS!" at the mere mention of kissing), but we are doing a few extra things to recognize this day dedicated to love.
The boys both had valentines parties at school so I spent some time "researching" (read: a GREAT excuse to use pinterest!) easy homemade valentines. We opted for simple and cheap and modeled our valentines after these. Ours weren't nearly as pink or witty, but they did point to One who is love {1 John 4:8}, the reason we have the ability to love {1 John 4:19} and the One who loves us more than any other person possibly could {John 15:13}.

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I had visions of grandeur when I started the week and thought the girls and I would do a valentines themed craft each day. It only happened Monday and Friday. But we did two! It's more than zero. On Monday we made this heart chain. It gave us a chance to talk about math - we practiced measuring and talked about patterns. Yeah for everyday teaching opportunities!

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Today we got out the paints. My girls love love love to paint.

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We don't do it nearly as often as they want, but today seemed like a good day (and I had no other crafty plans) so I drew some hearts with white crayon on some papers and let them discover the secret design as they painted.

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Needless to say, Elise's work showed a little more purpose than Evie's. Evie just likes to transfer water from the cup to the paints.

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But she sure looks cute doing it! {I have no idea what motivated the hat. She came downstairs with it on and insisted on wearing it while she painted}

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I couldn't let the girls have all the fun...

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After we cleaned up our paints it was time to show a little love through food (a popular way to express love in our family) so we melted some chocolate and dipped strawberries.

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And then, as quickly as we could before the chocolate hardened, we grabbed anything we could get our hands on that we could dip in the rest of the chocolate. I found some marshmallows (kids like those right?)...

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...and graham crackers (Ree Drummond style - thank you Amazon Prime for access to The Pioneer Woman).

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And then, just for fun, I melted some white chocolate and dedicated a marshmallow to each of the kids.

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Valentines activities are hit-or-miss at our house, but not love. Love for the Lord and love for each other are never in short supply.