Monday, December 30, 2013

Granny-Guru: The Iron

On January 4th my husband and I will celebrate our 12 year anniversary.  I laughed when I read the post today from Miss Carol, there have definitely been some "training" gift moments in my marriage! Sometimes a good tool is fabulous, like the Kitchen Aid I opened up for Christmas!  This one I specifically asked for that and hinted and hinted and hinted for.  However, I must say if I had received an Iron my reaction would probably not have been as calm as Carol's :).  It is possible, you can train your hubby to know what to get you for a gift, even if you have to slap him over the head with it, i.e. my new Kitchen Aid!

The Iron

A soon-to-be cousin from the other side of the family, young and single, at a recent family wedding asked me if it is true that men have to be trained after they are married and if they are trainable.
My husband and I looked at each other and both said, “the iron.”
My husband broke the ice.
“Both people train each other to what they need.”
Then, I told the story.
On some occasion, I no longer remember whether it was a birthday or Christmas, but let’s just say it was Christmas, my husband gave me an iron.
He knows better now than to give such a practical gift. But, it was a nice iron, irons aren't cheap and it was early in our marriage when money was not spent lightly.
To a guy, there is nothing better than a good tool.
And, to a guy, they’d rather have something they could actually use rather than one more tie to hang in their closet.
Even a dozen nice handkerchiefs are better than another tie, but pretty much any tool is a good gift.
So, of course, he thought I would appreciate it.
And, this is where the training comes in.
You have to learn that just because you would like something doesn't mean it would be special to the other person.
For me, as I imagine for most women, a household tool or appliance as a gift does two things.
It suggests her husband thinks of her primarily in terms of her function as a housekeeper.
I know now that this is not what he intends. He intends to make her life easier with a good tool just as he imagines how much easier his life will be every time he buys himself a tool.
It also suggests he has not been paying attention to hints she has probably dropped by commenting on something she particularly likes but won’t buy for herself because she doesn't need it and it would be an extravagance.
In my family, we were not allowed to ask for things directly because our parents wanted the freedom to give us what they thought we would like and what they could afford.
So, we were only allowed to hint and we were supposed to be watching out for what others in the family liked when we bought gifts for them.
I thought all families did this.
This is where the mutual training comes in in a marriage.
For me, a personal extravagance, preferably one I’d been hinting at, was exactly the kind of gift I wanted my husband to get me.
In my husband’s family, by contrast, they flat out told each other what they wanted, a practice I found crude and rude, but learned to adopt after the blue-watch incident.
In the early years of our marriage, since my husband didn't have the drop-hints or express wishes habit common in my family, I started going Christmas shopping with him a few weeks before Christmas.
If he showed an unusual interest in something, I went back later and got it for him.
One year, he lingered over and commented on how beautiful and interesting a watch was that had a blue face.
When he opened it on Christmas morning, he said, "What is this?" "Well, you really seemed to like that watch, so I got it for you."
"I liked it, but that doesn't mean I wanted it." Oops. After that, we had a serious discussion about how to buy gifts for each other.
The first time he asked me what I wanted, after the iron-as-a -gift and blue-watch incidents, I cried. I’d never been asked before.
The last time my watch broke, we went watch-shopping together. My watch now has a blue face.
My reaction to the iron? Not just vague disappointment that he hadn't been paying attention to what I liked, but also curiosity.
“But, I have an iron,” I told him questioningly as I held it up.
“Yours doesn't work.”

Friday, December 27, 2013

Merry Berry Eggnog Cake

I have always wanted to make an Eggnog cake but had never sat down and tried it.  This was my first try and I must say it was fabulous.  The filling was the highlight and the frosting was good enough to eat on it's own!  The cake itself is really dense, like a pound cake so the filling really helped not only with flavor but with the dryness of the cake.  Maybe with some more experimenting I can get a moister version for you but until then I have a feeling you won't mind this one little bit!  Yummo :)

Print Recipe

Merry Berry Eggnog Cake

3 Parchment Paper circles


1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp milk
1 whole egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
3 cups cake flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
4 egg whites


1 cup fresh cranberries
1 cup frozen raspberries
1 cup frozen strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp cold water
2 Tbsp butter


1 cup butter, softened
1/4 tsp kosher salt
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4-1/2 cup milk
1 Tbsp vanilla extract

For the Filling:

In a heavy bottomed sauce pan combine the cranberries, 1/2 cup sugar, and 3 Tbsp of sugar.  

Cook over medium heat stirring until the cranberries begin to pop about 4-5 minutes.  Whisk together cornstarch and cold water to make a slurry.  Add to the cranberries and cook stirring constantly for 1 minute until thick.  

Add the strawberries and raspberries.   

Add the butter and stir until melted. 

Cool for about 30 minutes until the filling reaches room temperature.  

Cover and chill in the refrigerator at least 3 hours until set.

For the Cake:

Preheat oven to 350˚ F or 325˚ F if using dark pans. Stack 3 sheets of parchment paper on top of each other. With a pencil trace the bottom of your 8" cake pans.  

Cut out the circles.  Spray a small amount of non-stick cooking spray in the bottom of the cake pans, then place the parchment paper circles in each pan and liberally spray each pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Stir together the cream, milk, whole egg, vanilla, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

In a kitchen aid beat the butter until creamy.  Add the sugar and beat for 2 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy.  

In a separate bowl sift together the cake flour and the baking powder.  

Add the cream and the flour in three additions mixing just until incorporated and scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber scraper after each addition.

With an electric mixer beat the 4 egg whites to medium peaks.  

Gently fold the egg whites into the cake batter.  


Divide the batter into the 3 pans.  

Bake for 20-23 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of each round comes out clean.  Cool the cake in the pans for 10 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the Frosting:

Add the butter salt and vanilla to a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes until creamy.  Add 2 cups of the powdered sugar with 1/4 cup of the milk.  Beat until smooth.  Add 1 cup of powdered sugar with 1 Tbsp of milk and beat until smooth.  Add in the final cup of powdered sugar and more milk 1 Tbsp at a time if needed to reach desired spreading consistency beating well.

If the cake layers are rounded, choose the nicest one and set aside.  For the other two layers, use a bread knife and cut off the excess cake leaving a flat surface.  Place the bottom cake layer on your serving dish.  For easy cleanup cut strips of wax paper and slide just under the edges of the cake.

Spread filling evenly between each layer of cake.

Generously frost the sides of the cake and the top.  
Use an offset spatula to create a desired pattern in the icing.  

Top with fresh cranberries and red sugar sprinkles as a garnish.

* Recipe Adapted from December 2012 Southern Living pg.133 Mrs. Billet's White Cake with Merry Berry Filling

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

I wanted to pause and take a moment to wish my readers a Very Merry Christmas and a spectacular New Year! Thank you for sharing your time with me @ A Handful of Everything! 

When I started this blog I had no idea it would become such a wonderful part of my life.  This has given me a way to do more of what I love and to share it with others! Which to me is the most fun part.  If I make things for myself it's ok, but it is much more fun knowing that other's enjoy what I make and can make a difference for them.  Thank you so much for your amazing comments! I look forward to them.  And thank you for sharing your talents with me every week at my Great Idea Thursday's Link party! I am so blessed with such amazing followers and Bloggy Friends, You are the best :)  

From my Family to yours, Happy Holidays.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Granny-Guru: Bedtime Math. Modern Children's Book

I am happy to introduce a new Contributor to A Handful of Everything! Miss Carol Covin aka the Granny Guru! She has a fabulous blog  Check it out for some great posts from her 4 fold mission: To inspire grandparents to write their autobiographies, highlight inspirational cancer survivor stories, to show how parenting has changed, and to describe fun activities to enjoy with your grandchildren.  And lets face it, kids always love to go to Grandma's house! We can learn a lot from the experts!  So without further ado, please welcome Miss Carol Granny Guru!

Bedtime Math. Modern Children's Book.

Pumpkins, photographed in Canada.
Last summer, my grandson took some of the money he’d earned from cleaning off shelves for me and we went to the bookstore so he could buy a book of his own.
He looked through biographies and fiction, then picked a Math workbook.
This shocked the bookstore clerk, who could barely contain her delight when he put the book up on the counter and brought out his own money.
He asked his grandfather to read the exercises to him while they did the math problems together.
His mother, of course, an accountant, approved when she heard the story.
My granddaughter, similarly, loves math and is good at it. Her parents have taught her to recite the numbers of pi when she has trouble drifting off to sleep.
It is with this backdrop that I ran across a site a few months ago called Bedtime Math.
It seems that Laura Overdeck, an astrophysicist, has been putting her children to bed with math problems, or rather stories with math questions, since they were two.
When I told my son's family about this book, my daughter-in-law, a computer consultant, said that her mother, too, had put her to bed with math stories.
Eventually, other parents began asking Overdeck for her problems. She put together an email and sent it to 10 parents.
Her email list doubled practically overnight and continued to double quickly.
She began to realize she wasn’t the only parent interested in “mathing” her children to sleep as often as reading them to sleep.

Her book, Bedtime Math: A Fun Excuse to Stay Up Late, illustrated by Jim Paillot, was released in 2013.
It is now accompanied by a web site where, not only can you get more math stories and activities, but you can sign up for a daily activity to be sent to you.

Her format is approachable, slipping math in quietly after explaining something in the real world.
And, by giving three levels of difficulty of the activities, it allows children to find their own level.
Here’s an excerpt of one:
“Totally Squashed”
“A large cucumber or a bag of potatoes can get really heavy.”
“That’s because veggies are made mostly of water, and water itself is pretty heavy.”
“Wee ones: if you have 4 giant squash and 5 giant pumpkins, how many enormous vegetables do you have?”
“Little kids: If each giant pumpkin weighs 1,000 pounds and your car weighs 4,500 pounds, how many whole pumpkins do you need to outweigh your car?”
“Big kids: What weighs more, 4 of your 900-pound pumpkins or 5 of your 700-pound zucchinis?”
Overdeck hides the answers on each page and lays out the math equation it takes to solve the problem in an answer sheet at the end of the book for parents and grandparents.
If your grandchildren are like Overdeck’s children, they’ll be asking for their bedtime math every night along with their bedtime stories.
You can start off with the book from amazon, by clicking on the title, Bedtime Math: A Fun Excuse to Stay Up Late.

Or, sign up for Overdeck's daily math post at to get started today.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Guest Blogger Chef Linda Rosario: Healthy Holiday Recipes

I am so happy to welcome Chef Linda Rosario as a Guest Blogger to A Handful of Everything! She is a food blogger from Chef Needs, one of the trusted suppliers of deli display cases. Miss Linda also loves to paint and dreams of having her own art gallery. Aside from painting and drawing, Linda has a heart for cooking and food.  Please give her a big welcome!

Healthy Holiday Recipes

Christmas is almost here. This is the time when diet goes out the window. After all, Jesus being born is one good excuse to pig out, right? Lucky for you, you can now eat healthily during the holidays. Here are some of the healthy holiday recipes that you should try out:

Eggplant Ricotta Bites

If you are looking for a healthy appetizer to jump-start your holiday parties, this is the perfect thing for you.

For this healthy recipe, you will be needing the following:

1 medium sized eggplant
a pinch of Kosher salt
All-purpose flour-- should be used for dredging
2 large sized eggs
3/4 cup of breadcrumbs
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp plus 2 tsp of extra- virgin olive oil, add more as required
2 large sized plum tomatoes, diced
2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar
1 cup of ricotta cheese
Shredded fresh basil as topping

Slice the eggplant thinly into rounds. Season with salt. Place a bit of flour in a dish. In another dish, beat an egg. On the third dish, place Parmesan and breadcrumbs. Afterwards, dredge your eggplant slices into the flour. Next, dip the eggplant slices into the egg. Lastly, coat it with your breadcrumb mixture.

Place large skillet over medium heat. Add oil and wait for it to be heated. Cook the eggplant slices in batches. Cook until it turns golden brown. This will take about 2 minutes for each side. If needed, add oil in between your cooking batches. After cooking, drain this into paper towels and season it with salt.

Mix vinegar and 2 tbsp of olive oil in a bowl. Toss the tomatoes. Place some ricotta on your cooked eggplant slices. Top it with a mix of basil and the tomato mixture.

Roasted Balsamic Onion

This simple onion dish is not only healthy but delicious as well!

For this, you will be needing the following:

3 large sized white onions, quartered  and peeled
3 tablespoons of olive oil
add freshly ground black pepper and Kosher salt
1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon of sugar

Here is what you need to do:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss balsamic vinegar, quartered onions, olive oil, sugar and season with pepper and salt. Place the resulting mixture into a large non-stick, oven-proof skillet. Spread this out, creating an even layer. Cover this skillet with the use of aluminum foil. Roast this for 20 to 25 minutes. Afterwards, remove the foil. Toss the onions so that it will evenly coated with the reduced balsamic glaze. After that, place it back in your oven. Roast this for 20 to 25 minutes more. Serve right away.

These are healthy recipes that you can enjoy during the holidays. When you eat these recipes, you can indulge in a guilt-free holiday eating!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Great Idea Thursday's - 35

Welcome to:

We are officially on the Christmas Countdown!  Holiday parties and Christmas Carols abound :) I hope that in all of the business that comes with this time of year you are still finding time for your family and remembering the true spirit of the Holiday Season!  I had so much fun with my scouts last night.  We made ornaments, snowflakes, greeting cards, read the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, and had cookies and punch followed by singing Jingle Bells, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and Frosty the Snowman.  I had so much fun and I hope the boys did too.  However we had to restart Rudolph because I totally skipped a verse in the middle.  How I forgot words to a song I've known my whole life I don't know but it happened, the kiddos laughed and we tried again :)  Hearing those voices fill the room just warmed my heart.  Christmas truly is magical for children and I love watching the excitement in their faces as it draws nearer.

I have been thinking about some of the traditions that we have in our house: Advent calendar, Reindeer Food, Christmas cookies and milk for Santa, Christmas tree ornaments and village and I was wondering what other fun things I could add.  What do you do special for Christmas/the Holiday's? What are your favorite traditions from when you were little?

Whether or not Christmas is celebrated in your home I hope you feel the magic of the season! Virtual hug! I will see ya'll again back here on Thursday's in the New Year!

Give a great big howdy to my fabulous permanent Co-Host:
Joybee, What's for Dinner?

See Great Idea Thursday's There too!
Follow Miss Joy Bee:

Great Idea Thursday's #35

Come share what you have been doing every week! If you are interested in Co-Hosting this party with us, shoot me an e-mail me:  kristascookin {at} gmail {dot} com.

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