Friday, May 27, 2011

Potluck Fridays!

We New American Homemakers are a humble lot. You'll never hear us bragging about the fact that we accomplish more before 9 a.m. than most people do in an entire day, or that we have the calendar-management skills of a White House social secretary. But there's one realm of life where we throw all modesty aside: The Potluck. When it comes to potlucks (or pitch-ins, or whatever they're called in your neck of the woods), New American Homemakers are in it to win it. It feels great to be the one who hears, "You've got to email me that recipe!"

With the season of summer gatherings upon us, My Kids Eat Candy is featuring four consecutive Fridays of fantastic potluck fare guaranteed to earn you accolades. Each recipe has been double-tested to merit inclusion in the list.

Test #1: I've been introduced to each of these dishes at a potluck where people (myself included) went bonkers asking for the recipe.
Test #2: I, in turn, have made these dishes, brought them to potlucks, and received enthusiastic recipe requests.

So just in time for Memorial Day Weekend, here's Potluck Friday Recipe #1: My friend Bonnie's Raspberry Chipotle Dip. I love this one because it's fresh, interesting, delicious, and stylish enough to hold its own if the Barefoot Contessa herself asks you to drop by for a little gathering in East Hampton this summer. Enjoy—and have a great long weekend!

Raspberry Chipotle Dip

12 oz. cream cheese
1 bottle raspberry chipotle sauce (Bonnie likes Bronco Bob's)
15 oz. can black beans
Small red onion
Fresh cilantro
1 can cashew halves and pieces

Soften cream cheese. Rinse beans and let dry. Give red onion a small dice. Chop cilantro. In small dish (a glass pie pan is good), layer cream cheese, chipotle sauce, beans, onion, cilantro and cashews. Serve with blue corn chips.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Homemade Flip Flops Cake

My friend Kathy makes her two kids' birthday cakes every year. I don't mean she slaps some canned frosting on a Betty Crocker box mix like I do—I mean she figures out a way to turn whatever Elizabeth and Ethan request into adorable, homemade birthday cakes. I've told Kathy that this will be one of her mom legacies. Someday her kids will tell their kids, "My mom made my birthday cake every year. Whatever I wanted! I can remember every single cake she made me..."

This year Elizabeth had a pool party and wanted a flip-flops cake. Kathy used Laffy Taffy for the straps and used crushed graham crackers for sand. So cute! Then she used Picnik (see previous posts about my love affair with this site here and here) to make thank-you cards that included photos of all Elizabeth's friends. Great idea. Thanks, Kathy!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Happy Feet

Band-Aid® Friction Block Stick
Consider this a summer must-have. This product endorsement comes my friend Nicole, a New American Homemaker in Knoxville, Tennessee. She's a Greek beauty with a heart of gold, and she's dedicated the last decade of her life to being an advocate for her two rockstar kids, Fritz and Marina, both of whom have autism. Fritz and Marina love, love, love Disney World, and on the family's last trip there, Band-Aid Friction Block Stick saved her husband's feet. (Nicole is one of those incredible always-prepared moms/wives who has a miniature pharmacy in her handbag.) I've been using it now that I'm finally wearing sandals again. It works! Rub some of this on your tootsies' problem points, and you'll be able to jaunt through your days without fear of strappy-sandal induced blisters. Great for kids and their flip-flops, too. Thanks, 'cole!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Free Magazine Subscription!

I've written before about how one of my favorite ways to grab some "me" time is flipping through a home or gardening magazine. Out of sheer desperation (me time is hard to come by these days), I've gotten pretty creative with how to enjoy my magazines—sudsing up a baby in the tub with my right hand while turning pages with my left, for example.

Subscribe for free! Click here to go to the registration page. 
I've just added a new magazine to my roster of favorites: Creative Ideas for Home and Garden, which is produced by Lowe's. The latest issue is filled with 70+ pages of fun, inspiring interior and exterior projects, several of which have online how-to video tutorials. The best part? The subscription is free! (See the link above.) Yes, Creative Ideas exists to sell Lowe's products and services, but it reads like a newsstand magazine—not like a catalog. Plus, if you really like a particular project, the magazine provides a "Lowe's List" complete with product numbers to make your in-store or online shopping a snap.

P.S. I would recommend this magazine even if my friend Rachel wasn't one of the producers. Nice job on the cover story, Rachel!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Milan's Countdown Chain

This little golidlocks is the daughter of my college friend Robyn, who lives in Alisa Viejo, California. Robyn posted this photo on Facebook yesterday, and I sent her a note right away to see if I could share it on My Kids Eat Candy. Robyn told me that Milan adores her older half-brother who lives in Iowa and has been asking about his upcoming summer stay in California since February. To manage Milan's expectations, Robyn helped her make this chain. (I always knew Robyn was a smart, creative cookie.) Milan gets to tear one off each morning before breakfast. Robyn ended her email by saying, "My parents did ALL kinds of cool stuff like this that I hope to pass along to my kids." Love it, Robyn—thank you for the inspiring idea. And happy birthday to Miss Milan, who turns 3 on Tuesday!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Fancy Knancy Knobs

When my friend Linda was at my house a month or two ago, she availed herself of the facilities. I'm so glad she did. Upon exiting our powder room, she said, "Heidith, you should swap out the knobs on that little table in the corner with some prettier ones." Obedient friend that I am, I was at Anthropologie within a few days, rifling through their wonderful, whimsical selection of knobs and handles. Glass, ceramic, metal. Painted, etched, plain. What to choose, what to choose? I couldn't decide, so got one each of my three favorites for about $9 per knob. Thank you for the idea, Linda!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Treasuring the Yesterdays

Happy Mother's Day to my wonderful My Kids Eat Candy readers! I know not all of us are moms, but all of us have moms—with us or watching us from above—to celebrate this weekend. 

Here's something I made for my son Bennett's baby book five years ago. My mom loved it so much that I printed her a copy, too. Because of her enthusiastic reaction (we all still love to please our moms, don't we?), I thought it might be worth sharing. 

If you give something like this to your mom, I can almost guarantee that she'll look at it for a long time and then quietly say, "Oh my goodness…. It feels like yesterday." And in that moment, it will hit you like a ton of sippy cups that someday you'll say the exact same thing to your grown children. So here's to treasuring the yesterdays, mom friends! I hope your Mother's Day is all that you're hoping for—or at least comes pretty close. (New American Homemakers know how to manage their expectations.)

P.S. Hey, I've had quite a few people say that they wish they could just get an email whenever there's a new My Kids Eat Candy post because, seriously, who has time to check her own email, much less a blog? There's a "Follow By Email" tool at the top right of this site. That should do the trick. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Teen Speak

Last week I and dozens of other moms had an incredible opportunity: Listening to a panel of eight teenagers—boys and girls from private and public middle and high schools—candidly talk about, well, being teens. I wasn't planning on taking notes, but as soon as they started giving their unvarnished perspectives on how their parents raised them to successfully, even happily, navigate teendom, I realized this was going to be information worth remembering and sharing. Even though most of the moms in the audience were at least a few years from having teens in the house, we hanged on their every "like"-laced word. Here are the paraphrased highlights.

How they felt loved by their parents when they were kids:

  • My parents were always sweet to my friends.
  • We had great discussions at the dinner table. I still love knowing that I can ask my parents questions about anything.
  • My Mom made me feel loved by just spending time with me. Walking the dog, playing cards, whatever.
  • She would answer my stupid questions with sincerity. Every time.
  • My Mom always invited my friends over for dinner and offered to drive us places, like to Wednesday night youth activities at church. She always had food at the house. My house is the hangout house. My parents are always asking my friends questions, kidding around with them and getting to know them. 
  • Everyone knows my parents and think they're nice.

Their favorite ways to spend time with their parents when they were kids, or now:

  • Going to ice cream. Praying together about anything, even small stuff about school or friends.
  • I loved it when my parents would play board games with us, and when my mom took us to places like the zoo.
  • I have three brothers, and my mom always made sure to do stuff with us separately. And she kepts stats at all of our games.
  • My dad connects with me and my friends by coaching my sports teams. 

What they thought of the discipline they received as kids:

  • They followed through on consequences. Yes meant yes and no meant no. I might not have liked it at the time, but I know it's helped me in school and stuff.
  • I always knew where I stood with my mom and dad. 

How their parents equipped them to handle peer pressure:

  • They told me to be myself—not to try to be like other kids.
  • They always told me that God created me to be me; not somebody else. 

The biggest challenge about being a teenage girl today:

  • The biggest challenge of being a teen today is struggling with modesty. I want to be cute and look like my friends, but my mom reminds me that I need to glorify God in all of my choices, including what I wear. I need to think about how the way I dress projects who I am. Sometimes I have to trust my mom—if she says it's not okay to wear, I listen to her.

How their parents helped them foster a healthy self-image:

  • I have a younger sister and people are always telling us we look like twins. My mom always points out the things about me that are different and special. She tells us how we're each beautiful in our own way.
  • My mom looks at me the same when I have ratty hair and haven't brushed my teeth as when I'm all put together. She tells me my heart and the way I treat other people make me truly beautiful.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Gear up, Rockstar Moms!

Rockstar Mom Mug ($12) at Uncommon Goods

New American Homemakers, our big day is less than a week away! At my house, Mother's Day means that Nate and the boys make a donuts-and-Starbucks run before church, after which we all take a trip to my favorite garden center for flowers, and then I happily spend the day with my hands in the dirt. My friend Karen has what might be an even smarter approach to Mother's Day: She hoofs it to brunch with her girlfriends, does a little shopping, and then takes in a chick flick (candy and butter-dredged popcorn mandatory!) while her handsome hubby tends the flock at home. I partook of this tradition with her a few years ago when we lived in Savannah, and I must say that it absolutely rocked.

Speaking of things that absolutely rock, how 'bout this mug? I'm ordering one as soon as I click "publish" on this post. It will be my own little Mother's Day present, from me to me. Maybe you need to treat yourself, too?