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February | 2016 | February 2016 – A Grand Journey
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February 2016

Some Bathroom Advice

Family By February 28, 2016 Tags: , , 10 Comments

Yesterday, I was in a public restroom that had three stalls, two small and one large. A young girl had rushed into the bathroom before me, quickly claiming the largest stall.   I found it curious, but nothing special. It was just the two of us in the bathroom, each behind our chosen stall doors. Then she spoke, “I really love the big bathroom, mommies with little kids also like it, it gives them room”.   I paused a second and then agreed.  She continued, “I wish all the bathrooms in here were large, they should make them all large, that would be great”.  I said, “Maybe when you grow up you could design  bathrooms with only large stalls”.  Then she declared, “Oh no, I couldn’t do that…”   Curious, I asked , “Why?”. She replied, “I’m not very smart. I am in second grade and don’t even known my times tables yet.  I try to remember them, my dad helped me with 8 times 8, but then I forgot it. All I remember is 100 times 100”.  I caught my breath and felt a tug on my heart. Here is a little girl, all of 7 or 8 years old, who already thinks she is not smart enough. I wanted to help. “So what is 100 times 100?” I asked.   She answered.   I gave her some praise for knowing the correct answer. She said, “Well, I tried to learn 8 times 8, I knew if for a few days but then I forgot it”.  By now I had washed my hands and was leaning against the counter talking to the still closed, stall door. I needed to pull out some nugget of wisdom to impart to this young person, in the next 20 seconds. The word that came to my mind was practice. So that is what I told her. You just need to practice. I reminded her of the answer to 8 x 8, suggesting that she repeat it to herself several times every morning and every night. Then I reassured her that if she says it over and over, she will eventually remember it.  I was rewarded with an extended “Oooh…!” My mind visualized a cartoon light bulb going on over her head. The idea of practicing, until you remembered it had given her some hope.  I smiled, told her I had to go and to have a wonderful day.

Who knows…one day restrooms, full of over-sized stalls specifically designed for mommies with little kids, may be a new trend and it will have all started with a little advice on how to memorize 8 times 8!


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Simple Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipes By February 21, 2016 Tags: , 9 Comments

I have hosted a cookie baking/decorating party, every December, for the past 7 or 8 years. This year we had a newbie in our group, who I later found out was gluten intolerant. She was a trooper, not mentioning it, despite being surrounded by mountains of cookies and then being offered pasta for dinner. In my defense, I didn’t know. Thank goodness I made a nice salad to go with the pasta! To make it up to her, I found and tweaked a gluten free cookie recipe I found on the minimalistbaker. I have made these cookies several times now.  My husband likes them, even though he knows they are gluten free. That says a lot!

Simple Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 40 small cookies

  • 2 ½ cups almond meal (I purchased mine from Trader Joe’s)gluen-free1
  • 1 ½ cup chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 Tbs. butter (softened)
  • 1 ½ tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Cream butter, sugar and vanilla. Add eggs. Stir in almond meal, baking powder and salt. Stir in chocolate chips. Do the whole process in one bowl.

Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Drop by heaping teaspoonful, on to parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 7-8 minutes. Just until the edges start to turn brown.   Let them sit for a minute, then remove to plate or wire rack to finish cooling.gluten-free4



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Snowy Day Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Recipes By February 14, 2016 Tags: , , 14 Comments

Our wonderfully mild New England winter has drawn to a close. We are now in the mist of our 4th or 5th snow storm of the New Year. To celebrate yet another snow day and to make something warm, comfy and satisfying for dinner, I pulled out my crock pot beef stew recipe.

This stew is simple and delicious. I usually put it together the night before and store it in the refrigerator, but it can be done early the same morning. I use a 3 ½ quart crock pot. This makes enough for dinner and lunches over the next few days, for my husband and I. It can also be separated into individual servings and frozen. If you are feeding more people, then use a bigger crock pot, increase the vegetables and add another can of chicken stock. When I developed this recipe, we had stopped eating white potatoes, but of course they can be added if you like.resized-stew-vegetables

Delicious Slow Cooker Crock Pot Beef Stew

  • 1 ½ pounds stew meat (it usually comes in large chunks, I just cut them into smaller pieces)
  • 7-8 large carrots (peeled and cut into chunks)
  • ½ of a celery bunch (rinsed, chopped including the leaves at the top)
  • 1 medium yellow onion (peeled and chopped)
  • Sliced mushrooms, if I have them
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (I like to get the one with added ingredients, like garlic)
  • I can Rotel tomatoes with green chile (this adds just a little spice but if you don’t want spice just skip it)
  • 2 cans chicken stock
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of garlic salt


Brown meat quickly, on medium heat, in skillet sprayed with cooking oil. Don’t cook it though; just turn it over a few times (season with a little garlic salt). Put meat in crock pot. Add the rest of the vegetables, canned tomatoes, Rotel and chicken stock. Add garlic salt and put on the lid. Turn on high for two hours and then low for 4 more. Stir when you turn it to low (or after about 2 hours). Check the carrots for tenderness and then turn it off.

It can be served alone, over rice or noodles and with crusty bread. Yum. Stay warm!




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Where Are the Bath Toys?

Grandkids, Toddlers By February 3, 2016 Tags: , 10 Comments

My oldest granddaughter (who was two and a half at the time) was spending the weekend with us. I decided to give her a nice, warm bubble bath before bedtime. She patiently stood next to me, supervising my work, as I filled the tub. I added extra bubble liquid, probably over the top, but I like bubbles. When the bath was ready I said, “Ok, you can get in now”. With both hands resting on the edge of the tub, she peered in and asked, “Where are the bath toys”? Surprised, I stopped in my tracks.  Bath toys had never even crossed my mind. We both stood for a moment looking at the fluffy bubbles, I looked at her, she looked at me, then I said, “Come on, let’s find some”. We hurried to the other room where I had put away all her teething rings and baby toys. Once I had found them, we headed to the kitchen where I picked up a small plastic cup, a funnel and some old measuring cups. With our hands full, we both hurried back to the tub. Satisfied, she tossed in all the ‘bath toys’ we had managed to find. I had picked up a pink rubber duck along the way and I tossed that in as well. She seemed very happy with her makeshift bath toys.  With a small sigh of relief, for a possible disaster avoided, I sat down on the toilet lid and watched her happily play in the mountain of bubbles.


A few weeks later, the bath toys ended up doubling as pool toys. I just changed their name. I wasn’t going to get caught being unprepared twice!


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