We are Praying for our Teachers

In Georgia we are enjoying our last week of summer. It seems crazy that it is coming to an end and our school year is about to start.

As a momma, I get sad and emotional. I wonder if our summer was enough. I question myself and ask, “Could we have done more?” I know school will start and our lazy routines, spontaneous lunches, travel and late nights will come to an end.

I begin to get anxious about what the school year will bring. Are my boys ready for the new challenges and responsibilities? And sometimes I begin to worry about their teachers. Like all parents, I want the best teachers for my kids.

God has laid it on my heart to start praying specifically for all the teachers that will be teaching my boys this year. My worries and anxiety will not help. But I know I can cast my cares on God.

I will be praying that our teachers feel rested coming into the school year. I will be praying for their health and health of their families. I will be praying for supportive parents and administration for our teachers. I will be praying that our teachers have all the resources they need for the year. I will be praying that our teachers are shown the respect they deserve. I will be praying for rest for our teachers. I will be praying for my eyes to be opened to opportunity to help our teachers.

These selfless teachers devote their time, energy, and resources to our children. We know they don’t do it for the money or the fictitious summer break. Teachers have a heart for children and education. They love to see the lightbulbs go off and things start clicking.

Will you join me praying for our teachers?

Please repost this blog and/or image to let others know you value teachers and you will be praying.

Our worries and anxieties can’t change anything. But PRAYERS change everything.

Looking Forward,

Amanda

Oh, The Places You’ll Go- Graduation Book

I was a classroom teacher for many years.  Actually, I was one of the lucky one that taught Kindergarten when children were able to play in centers, learn to get along, and get a solid academic start to school.  I know education has changed so much.  But that’s not even what I’m going to talk about today……

As a teacher, I was blessed with so many amazing parents.  Before I was ever a momma, I was learning how to be a great momma by watching moms in action.  I would see an idea and file it away in my “when I’m a momma one day” file.

My fifth year of teaching, in May, I had a mom send me a message about signing a book for her child.  This book was a secret to the child so we had to be clever with the pass off of the book.  I was honored and excited to be a part of this tradition. Basically, this mom had bought a copy of Oh, The Places You’ll Go and has asked all teachers to write a little message in the book.  She started this book back in preschool.  As the kindergarten teacher, I was able to read what preschool teachers said and then I added to the love for this little girl.

I wrote about her sweet personality and how much I enjoyed teaching her.  The mom’s goal was to have all teachers that were a part of this little girl’s life sign the book.  Then at her high school graduation, she would be presented with this book and all the wonderful memories of her education.  How cool is that!?!

Well, I tucked that idea away and now I have it going for both boys.  The preschool and elementary years were very easy to accomplish with Will.  BUT I am learning to navigate the book signing in middle school.  I sent all his teachers an email and they were happy to be part.  They even gave me the idea of giving the book to the grade level counselor and she would help make sure it got to all the teachers.  (HOW NICE IS THAT!)

Each year I pull out the books and I love to read the letters from all their teachers.  It allows me to walk down memory lane and remember each teacher that has impacted their lives and sweet memories of their personalities.

So, help me keep this a secret for a few years but I wanted to share!

Looking Forward,
Amanda

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Shaving Cream Decorated Easter Eggs

Each year it is fun to experiment with different ways to decorate your Easter Eggs.  There are so many fun options out there.  This year we used shaving cream.  Not shaving gel or shaving butter, good ole’ shaving cream.

Whitaker and I had so much fun picking out colors for our designs.  He also loved rolling the eggs around in the shaving cream.

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It is so basic and easy!

You need:
Hard Boiled Eggs
Shaving Cream (we used )
Assorted Food Gel or Food Coloring
Rubber Gloves (my PSA- I got a little carried away with the color and had stained hands for 3 days!)

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Spray a 1″ layer of shaving cream in the bottom of the glass or metal casserole pan. If you want no clean up, use a disposable aluminum pan. Spread the shaving cream to make a smooth top.

Then using your selected colors, beginning adding small, random dots of food gel to the shaving cream.  We used 2-3 on each design.  If you use too many you will end up with a nasty brown or green color.  (that does not say “Happy Easter!”)

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Then using a wooden skewer or popsicle stick, drag the skewer through the shaving cream making lines.  You can make swirls, loops, zigzag, whatever!

Once you have the design the way you like, place an egg in the shaving cream on one end.

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Gently roll the egg in a straight line from one side to the other.  My little guy liked using a spoon to roll his egg.  Then carefully pick up the egg and place it on some paper towels. Leave the egg there until the shaving cream starts to dry up. Usually 10 minutes. Then you can rinse off the extra shaving cream under water or clean off with a wet paper towel.

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Each Easter Egg will have its own personality based on colors and swirl designs.

Happy Easter!
Amanda

The Best Hard Boiled Eggs

How do you cook hard boiled eggs?  It is actually a question that has a lot of debate. Most cooks have their way they like to cook hard boiled eggs.  But you must be careful to not overcook.  I have tried it several ways and this is my favorite way to do it.  Another tip in cooking hard boiled eggs:  don’t use fresh eggs.  It is okay if they are a few weeks old.  That actually helps the shell peel easier.

So whether you are about whip up some deviled eggs (my sister’s recipe), egg salad, or just decorate Easter eggs, this is the easiest approach I have found.

Enjoy!
Amanda

Hard Boiled Eggs

You need:
Dozen large eggs
1 T Kosher salt
2 T white vinegar
Tap water

Start by gently placing your raw eggs in a large saucepan.  Cover with at least 2 inches of water. (If you don’t have enough water, your eggs will not cook throughly) Add salt and vinegar.
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Place the pan over high heat until it reaches a boil.  Let boil for 3 minutes.  Then turn off heat, cover and let it sit for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the eggs from the pan and place them in an ice-water bath and let them cool for five minutes.

 

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Soak Your Eggs In An Ice Bath

Now you can either carefully crack the egg shells and gently remove the shells.  OR  you are ready to decorate your Easter Eggs.  These eggs can be stored in the refrigerator for four days.

Ooey Gooey Butter Leprechaun Cookies

I  wanted to created some cookies to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.  We combined a few recipes to get this final result.  This recipe allows for different extract flavors to achieve the flavor you want.  Also you can use a different food coloring gel to match whatever you need.  These cookies live up to their name.  They are ooey and gooey.  If you like a crisp, crunchy cookie, keep on moving.  Add a little fun to your St. Patrick’s Day celebration!

Looking Forward,
Amanda

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Ooey Gooey Butter Leprechaun Cookies

2¼ cups all-purpose flour

2 t baking powder

1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese,  softened

½ cup unsalted butter, softened

1½ cups granulated sugar

2 t  vanilla extract (I used Mexican vanilla)

1 t  almond extract (you can use mint extract if you want to give that edge.  A good friend of mine said she might use Key Lime extract)

Green food coloring, gel based (this is where you can change colors for other celebrations)

1 t kosher salt

1  egg plus 1  egg yolk

1 cup powdered sugar for rolling & dusting cookies

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder until well blended. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer cream together cream cheese and butter until creamy and smooth. Beat in granulated sugar, extracts, salt, and desired amount of green food coloring.   Mix until well combined. Be sure to scrape sides of the bowl to make sure all gets mixed in. Add egg and egg yolk and beat until creamy and light.

On low-speed, gradually add flour mixture and mix until just fully incorporated. Dough will be very sticky. Cover bowl and refrigerate at least 5 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Place powdered sugar in a pie plate; set aside.

Use cookie dough scoop to measure dough.  Then roll dough in hands to create 1-inch balls.  (your hand will turn a little green if you used a lot of green food coloring you can live with it or use disposable rubber gloves)

Then roll in confectioners’ sugar to lightly coat. Place dough balls on prepared baking sheets at least 2 inches apart.

Bake cookies for 12-14 minutes.  Cookies should look puffy and crackly.  The cookies will still be soft in the centers. If they start to brown around the edges, they have baked too long. The underside of the cookies should be only very lightly browned.

Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool on baking sheet.  Then move cookies to a wire rack.

Keep cookies in airtight container.  Then can stored at room temperature or in your refrigerator.  

 

The Garden, The Curtain, and The Cross

Here in Atlanta, trees are beginning to bud, daffodils are blooming, and every one is beginning to complain about their allergies.  Yes, Spring is on its way.  I love watching all of God’s creativity show this time of year.  The incredible colors and breathtaking views of a new season get me excited.

With Spring on the way, We know EASTER is almost here.  We will put bunnies, eggs, and baskets in our decorations.  We will make plans for a perfect Easter dinner with family and friends.  We determine the best Easter Egg Hunt to take our children to.  We coordinate our family’s wardrobe to make sure we look our best on Easter Sunday. And we shop for the perfect items for our children’s Easter baskets.  We will talk about the Easter story and why we have a Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  But for many years, I felt that my children needed to know the Easter story but maybe I would leave out parts because they were not ready.  I felt maybe saying “Jesus died on Good Friday” was a little too much for my preschooler.  I would do the “Good Christian Mom Thing” and make sure there was a Bible story in their baskets along with chocolates and prizes.  We went to Easter Sunday Service and at Easter Dinner our prayers thanked God for sending Jesus to save us.  I felt good about what I was doing and then….

It was so clear the day I realized I had been watering down Jesus to my children.  I had not been talking about how we were sinners and God sent his only Son to Earth to ultimately die for us.  My words never said because of Jesus we have hope.  Easter was about Jesus to us but not letting them know how it is only about Jesus was my conviction. I would teach them that Jesus taught us how to live, love, and obey God.  I guess I didn’t want to scare my preschooler.  I didn’t want them to worry about death and how Jesus was beaten and hung on a cross for them.  But why?  It is the story they need to know more than any other story out there.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love to decorate with all the beautiful eggs, sweet bunnies, and monogrammed baskets. I will create yummy Easter treats and attend a fun Easter Egg hunt.  However, I am clear the whole purpose of Easter is to celebrate Jesus.  It all points to Jesus and what He did for us.

Recently I found the best book for children.  The Garden, The Curtain and The Cross is beautifully illustrated,  Biblically accurate, and captures your child’s attention. The book begins with God’s creation of The Garden of Eden.  Quickly we learn about how our sins keep us from living in a perfect garden with God.  We had a true separation from God. But God had a wonderful plan.  He sent His son, Jesus, to come live on Earth and die for us.  After Jesus had died on the cross, He was placed a in tomb guarded by soldiers.  But spoiler alert:  On the third day, the tomb was empty!  Jesus arose!  He conquered the grave.

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As a mom, I want to make sure that I am representing the truth of Jesus to my children. We read from the Bible on many nights.  When we read other Bible stories that are not out of our Bible, I want to make sure they are telling the true, Biblical story.

The Good Book Company has published this wonderful book and so many more.  The talented Carl Laferton and Catalina Echeverri made this book come to life.  I encourage you to check out their other books.  I hope to feature more soon.

And now……

arrowgiveaway

I am so excited to announce my FIRST giveaway!  The great people over at Good Book Company have given me FIVE copies to giveaway to those who follow Sing and Dance in the Kitchen blog, Instagram & Facebook.

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Follow this blog.  Follow Sing and Dance in the Kitchen on Instagram and Facebook.
  2. Comment on this blog and tell me what you love about Sing and Dance in the Kitchen and what you would like to see more posts about.
  3. Tag at least 3 friends in the comments of Instagram and Facebook.  Make sure they begin to follow and you will get extra entries.
  4. Winners will be selected at random and will be announced on Friday, 3/9.  Good Luck!

Chocolate Corn Flakes Chocolate Chip Cookies (It’s a Yummy Mouthful)

It should be pretty clear by now that my boys LOVE cookies.  I am raising actual Cookie Monsters!  We have a glass cookie jar that sits on the counter.  Usually that cookie jar displays the recent cookie that have been made in our kitchen.  I love hearing the sound of the jar being opened up.  A slight clang of glass and you know someone is in the cookie jar.  I love hearing my oldest and his friends getting into the cookie jar.  There is something magical about boys gathering around for a snack after shooting hoops or a long day at school.

As the cookies start getting low, I am quickly reminded that we will need more soon. We have several recipes that are always classics in this home.  The Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie and  M&M Cookies are our usual standbys because the ingredients are simple and always on hand.

My soon-to-be four year old was eager to make cookies last week.  I told him we were going to mix it up and add one of his favorite cereal- Kellogg’s Chocolate Frosted Flakes. He was beyond thrilled to help with the process.  The cookies were super easy to make and turned out perfect.  You can always use plain corn flakes for your cookies.

Looking Forward,
Amanda

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Chocolate Corn Flakes Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup shortening

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

2 eggs

1 1/2 t vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 t baking powder

1 t baking soda

1 cup regular oats, uncooked

1 cup chocolate corn flakes cereal (picture below)

1 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips and additional 1/2 cup for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line your baking sheets with parchment paper.

Beat shortening and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugars.  Beat until all combined.  Add eggs one at a time.  Then add vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and soda.  Gradually add to butter mixture.  Mix well.  Stir in oats, chocolate corn flakes, and chocolate chips.

Using a cookie dough scoop, drop dough 2 inches apart on your baking sheet.

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I always add extra chocolate chips to the top of my cookies before baking. It adds more chocolate and makes your cookies look good too!

Add additional chocolate chips to top off cookies.  Gently press in the chocolate chips. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.  You want the cookies to be lightly browned.  Remove cookies and place on a wire rack for cooling.

And yes, this is Whitaker’s current favorite cereal:

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