Mother’s Day: Baking with Mom

buttermilk scones

Mother’s Day: Baking with Mom

Buttermilk Scones with Blackberry Whipped Cream

By Sara Alexander

I’m the first to admit that I am no food blogger. My kitchen isn’t professionally decorated or styled,  and I am nowhere close to a “real” photographer. But none of these things seem matter when it comes to spending time in the kitchen with my kids and their friends. Whether it’s teaching them to make scrambled eggs (Hello, morning breakfast helpers!) or giggling over sticky fingers while tasting homemade marshmallows, the time spent together strengthens our relationship and creates great memories.

So for Mother’s Day, I am teaching some sweet little friends to make light and fluffy, Buttermilk Scones, with a blackberry, fresh whipped cream topping. It’s purely out of selfishness that I am picking these recipes, because this desert happens to be one of my favorites.

Day dream with me for a minute will you…. After a delightful Mother’s Day where your hubby and kids treat you like the queen you truly are, the kids have gone to school the next day, the house is quiet and you are sitting in your favorite chair, enjoying a beautiful plate of scones and cream alongside a cup of hot coffee.

I can feel the tension leaving my shoulders just thinking about it. For a few blissful moments, the piles of laundry fade away, the crusty dishes from last night’s dinner are no longer waiting in the sink where you forgot to soak them, and your same cup of coffee hasn’t been reheated 4 times already. Sounds like a dream to me.

So, let’s make some scones!

We began by slicing 1 ½ sticks of unsalted butter and chopping the blackberries into small pieces. Both are awesome lessons in self-control and patience because you have to be careful with a knife! Knife cutting is a first for my little friends, and they are so proud of themselves!

buttermilk scones

Next, we learn how to correctly measure flour and combine it with our other dry ingredients: sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda. We use a whisk to stir.

Buttermilk Scones

While one friend is working with the dry ingredients, the other is working with our blackberries. You can use strawberries or raspberries in this recipe. Blackberries just happened to be on sale this week! My friend adds 1 tablespoon of sugar into the berries along with 1 tablespoon of water. The sugar will balance the tartness of the berries and get their yummy juices flowing!

While the berries soak in their sugar bath, pour 2 cups of cold heavy whipping cream into a mixer with the whisk attachment. Then pour in ½ cup of confectioners sugar and turn the mixer on high. The light, decadent, sweet whipped cream will come together in just a couple minutes!

Buttermilk scones

Let’s get back to the scones! Add the chopped, cold butter to the dry ingredients and mix with your fingers to combine. I loved the look of shock and delight when I told my friend to use her (clean) fingers!  We all know that most kids love getting their hands dirty! Once the butter/flour mixture looks like coarse meal, add the buttermilk and mix just until combined.

Buttermilk sconesThis step can take a while, which can make the scones become slightly dense with that much handling, but you shouldn’t worry too much about it. Working with dough can be tricky for any age baker, so be sure to enjoy the process with your kids.
Now that our dough has come together, turn it out onto a floured surface and roll it into a ¾ inch round disk. Remind your child to add flour to their hands and the rolling pin because the dough is sticky.  Once the dough is flat, use a butter knife to cut it into 8 pieces. If you have the time and patience, you can use this opportunity to teach fractions. I am too eager to get those scones baking and into my tummy so we are going to skip the teaching moment. Remember to thoroughly coat the baking sheet with cooking spray!

buttermilk scones

I accidentally deviated from the original recipe in the next step. Instead of brushing the scones with heavy cream, crack an egg into a small bowl and added water to create an egg wash. Brush the wash onto the scones to create a lightly browned top. I keep a 1 inch paintbrush that I bought at our local hardware store in my kitchen for moments such as these.

baking with mom

 

Bake your beautiful scones for 15 minutes in a preheated 400 degree F oven. If you cut your scones smaller, remember to cut back the cooking time. The scones should be lightly brown.

While the desert is baking, carefully add the macerated berries to the whipped cream. Make sure you don’t over stir, but gently fold them in so your cream looks more streaked and not just solid purple.

buttermilk scones

Serve the scones warm, split in half with your fresh blackberry whipped cream!  Remember to set aside a couple for yourself to enjoy while the kids are at school!

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Finding Balance: how does she do it all?

finding balance

Balancing Home & Work

When it comes to finding balance in your life, does it feel like there is not enough time in the day? Have you ever looked at your sister, girlfriend, neighbor, or co-worker and wondered how does she do it all? Real balance means being in flux. It can change from day-to-day.  Here are 9 tips for finding balance in your life:

1. Stop comparing

Too often we women compare ourselves and feel a sense of shame and inadequacy for not balancing our lives as well as others. Stop comparing!! It’s helpful to learn how others are being successful, but don’t let their successes steal your joy. We fall into the trap of believing we have to do it all. But we need to redefine what’s considered “all.” It’s different person to person. You have to balance your time and priorities in ways that best fit your families’ circumstances.

2. Determine your priorities

Think about what is most important for you to accomplish, and why. Circle the top 5 and the bottom 5. What priorities are negotiable vs non-negotiable? Which ones are flexible vs. non-flexible? In our home, church attendance is non-negotiable and non-flexible.

Stop spending time on things you don’t need to do. Figure out what things you do that are fun, but time wasters. (i.e. Words with Friends, Candy Crush) Save those things for the edges of your day.

3. Use at timer

The older I get, the harder it is to multi-task. Multitasking doesn’t equal productivity! I can multi-task all day and get absolutely nothing done. A good way to combat this is to use a timer. Set it in 15 to 30 minute increments and work on groups of like tasks. Also, turn off your phone or other distractions (close the Facebook tab!) while you work.

4. Use a shared calendar

My husband and I use a shared Google calendar to keep up with our busy scheduled. We also hang a separate paper calendar hanging in the kitchen for our boys. If an event isn’t on our shared calendar, it doesn’t happen! Put white space in your calendar.  Track your tasks and To Do lists in a day planner.

5. Learn to say No

What season of life are you in? Do you have little children underfoot? Do you have elderly parents how need your support? Are you working more than 40 hours a week? You may have to delay projects or goals for later. And that’s OK. Remember your priorities and just say NO.

6. Talk about expectations

Ask your spouse what his or her expectations are. You might be surprised! My husband, for example, doesn’t care if I put away all the laundry by the end of the day. But it bothers him if the kitchen is cold when he gets home! He also like for the whole family to greet him at the door with hugs and kisses. He says it makes him feel better and more appreciated after a stressful day at work.

7. Keeping up the House

When it comes to housekeeping, know your triggers triggers. (i.e. dirty dishes, unmade beds, Legos on the kitchen floor) Define what is “clean enough” for you and your family. I use an app on my phone that helps me keep track of my daily & weekly chores. FlyLady.com is a great system to help you create routines. Don’t forget to let your kids help. They can do age-appropriate chores around the house.

8. Know yourself

Know when you are at your best. Are you a morning person? Do you do your best work in the afternoon or evenings? Use that knowledge to your advantage. Be sure to build downtime in your schedule. Even during a hectic day, you can take 10 or 15 minutes to do something that will recharge your batteries.

9. Ask for help!

So don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Don’t let stress stand in the way of your health and happiness. If you are persistently overwhelmed, it may be time to seek help from a mental health professional. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness — taking care of yourself is a sign of strength.

Related Content:

Is your child suffering from schoolitis?

schoolitis

By Peggy Bryson, R.N. Calvary Christian School Nurse

The major decision of the morning – When your child says “I don’t feel well.”

Some mornings we all feel like staying home.  With our children, it can be a real issue to determine if they are truly sick or just having a “schoolitis” day.  Below are some general guidelines that All Parents should follow to help make a decision to stay or go to school.

Determine if your child is truly sick or is having a “schoolitis” day.

If your child has the following symptoms, he or she should stay home for 24 hours without the aid of medication to alleviate the symptoms:

  • Fever that is higher than 99.6 (many schools require children to be fever free for 24 hours without medication before going back to school)
  • Nausea and Vomiting or Diarrhea (Stay home for 24 hours from the last episode of gastric issues. This can be highly contagious and your child would not want to have this occurring while they are at school.)
  • Extreme Fatigue
  • Pink eye (highly contagious and should be treated by a physician)
  • Pain that is not tolerable (such as ear pain with drainage)
  • Breathing issues that are not normal or not responding to prescribed medication

Visit your pediatrician if you have these symptoms.

If your child has any of the following symptoms please call or visit your pediatrician:

  • Vomiting or diarrhea that lasts more than a few hours
  • Any cold or cough that doesn’t go away after six or seven days
  • Cold worsens and child develops a fever
  • Ear pain with a fever, or drainage leaking from the ear
  • Sharp and persistent stomach or abdominal pains
  • Severe sore throat
  • Blood in urine or diarrhea

Remember when a child has a fever or a sick stomach, he or she feels miserable, and, therefore, can exert very little energy for actual learning.  However, those germs are rapidly incubating, and can quickly turn a classroom into a sick room. Following the guidelines above will result in a healthier school environment and in your child’s comfort and wellness. When in doubt, consult your pediatrician. Remember to always check your school’s policy on sickness.

Source: Calvaryknights.com (reprinted with permission)

Is Your Child In The Right Car Seat?

CAR SEAT SAFETY
Did you know that every 33 seconds a child under 13 is involved in a car crash in the United States? That probably isn’t the first thing you think about when you are hauling your kids to school, the grocery store, or anywhere else around town. And really, you shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not your child is safely snuggled into the right car seat every time you get in the car. Instead, make sure your child is in the right seat from the get-go.

Safety seats, if used correctly, can dramatically reduce the risk of fatality or injury. But over half of car seats are misused in a way that could reduce their effectiveness and 1 in 3 children killed in car crashes were completely unrestrained at the time of the crash. Just the thought of that is devastating. So why not select the right car seat from the start?

And just because you THINK you know you have the right car seat, think again. Wouldn’t it just be best to know, without a doubt, that your child is in the right seat?

Unfortunately, there are so many parents out there who are not educated on the ins and outs of car seat safety. It is so important that we get the word out and educate parents and caregivers about the importance of selecting the right seat for their child’s age and size, and to remind them that car seats, booster seats and seat belts offer the best protection for children in crashes and help save lives.
CAR SEAT SAFETY
Don’t wait until it is too late. Check out http://www.safercar.gov/parents/CarSeats/Car-Seat-Safety.htm to make sure you have the right seat buckled in the right way.

Car Seat Safety Tips:

  • Find a car seat that fits your child. As children grow, how they fit in their car seat will change. Make sure the car seat you purchase is designed to fit your child’s current size and age.
  • Not all car seats fit in all vehicles so test the car seat you plan to buy to make sure it fits correctly in your vehicle.
  • Before installing your car seat in your vehicle and putting your child in the car seat, read the manufacturer’s instructions so you know how your car seat works.
  • All-in-One car seats offer you the advantage of using the same seat for the following positions: rear-facing, forward-facing with harness, then booster. These seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time.

Make it your priority to make sure your child or a child you love is safe when they are buckled in.

Family Friendly State Parks near Columbus: Woods and Water Fun

FDR Hiking
F.D. Roosevelt State Park

Looking for a Weekend Escape? Visit family friendly state parks — F.D. Roosevelt State Park and Florence Marina State Park

Georgia shares more than just a border with Alabama. While it’s home to the southernmost start of the Appalachian Mountains and the Georgia’s southernmost section of the Chattahoochee River, two diverse Georgia State Parks lie in between these landmarks and provide a weekend escape for families. F.D. Roosevelt State Park (Pine Mountain, Georgia) is the perfect spot for woods exploration, while Florence Marina State Park (Omaha, Georgia) is a water sports haven.

FDR- PineMtn hiking
F.D. Roosevelt State Park – Hiking the Pine Mountain Trail

F.D. Roosevelt State Park is Georgia’s largest state park and is just 80 miles southwest of Atlanta. More than 9,000 acres are shared with mountainous woods and hiking trails, rental cabins and campgrounds. F.D. Roosevelt is a backpacker’s haven, with more than 40 miles of trails to explore; the most popular and challenging being the 23-mile Pine Mountain Trail.  The trail rolls over hills and meanders past small waterfalls and creeks, showcasing stunning seasonal views for backpackers and hikers. For day hikers, there are seven loops along the Pine Mountain Trail, all of which make good day hikes and range from three to eight miles.

Dowdells Knob-958x768
Dowdells Knob at F.D. Roosevelt State Park

For those interested in the park’s history, visit Dowdell’s Knob that overlooks the Pine Mountain Trail. Here, President Franklin D. Roosevelt often picnicked and the site is marked by a life-sized sculpture of the president. Just like the former president, enjoy a picnic at the picnic tables and take in the scenic views of the valley. The quickest trailhead to reach this overlook is the Dowdell’s Knob parking lot.

FDR camping
F.D. Roosevelt State Park – Amenities

Many of the park amenities were built by FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps during The Great Depression, including the Liberty Bell-shaped swimming pool (one of the few pools at Georgia’s state parks) and the cottages. Stay overnight in one of these fully equipped, historic 1930s stone cottages. The 21 cottages start at $110 for a two-night minimum stay and offer one, two or three bedrooms. Choose from a setting among the wooded mountains or along Delanor Lake. Backpackers also have the option to enjoy the solitude of nature in 16 of the park’s backcountry campsites along the Pine Mountain Trail. These sites are $10 per person, while the park’s campsites (offering amenities) start at $26 per night.

Florence Marina Boats
Florence Marina State Park – Boating

About 75 miles south, Florence Marina State Park sits on the northern edge of Lake Walter F. George, which straddles the Georgia-Alabama line. With access to the 45,000-acre lake, Florence Marina is the perfect weekend getaway for guests to enjoy boating, fishing, camping, and birding. The campground is adjacent to the park’s private marina, which offers easy access to fishing piers, 66 boat slips and a boat ramp.

florence marina fishing
Florence Marina State Park – Fishing

Cruise on Lake Walter F. George, and cast a line to fish for Largemouth Bass, crappie, brim, channel catfish and hybrid bass. A lighted fishing pier allows for a chance to catch fish during dawn or dusk. Jon boat rentals are available from the visitor center for four hours for $35 or eight hours for $60.

Florence Marina- wildlife
Florence Marina State Park – wildlife

For birders, Florence Marina provides spectacular views of wildlife on the 3/4-mile nature trail, such as herons, egrets and bald eagles that live among the oaks draped in Spanish moss. The Kirbo Interpretive Center showcases area wildlife and plants, local history and Native American artifacts.

Florence Marina Sunset
Florence Marina State Park – Sunset

Extend a trip and stay overnight in one of Florence Marina’s 15 cottages or efficiency units. All seven cottages feature two bedrooms and two bathrooms, and two are dog-friendly. Rates begin at $150 for two-night minimum stays. For smaller accommodations that still offer comfort from the outdoors, the eight efficiency units are one-bedroom and sleep four, offering two double beds and a full kitchen. These begin at $75 per night for a two-night minimum.

 

F.D. Roosevelt State Park

GaStateParks.org/FDRoosevelt

Phone: 706-663-4858

Address: 2970 Georgia Highway 190

Pine Mountain, GA 31822

 

Florence Marina State Park

GaStatePArks.org/FlorenceMarina

Phone: 229-838-6870

Address: 218 Florence Road

Omaha, GA 31821

All Photos courtesey of Georgia Department of Natural Resources; Used with permission