Monday, November 14, 2011

Some Things You May or May Not Know About Four-Year-Olds

So sometime in the not-too-distant past, J turned four.  Ah yes, that age filled with wonder and a superfluity of naughtiness*.  And although having a four-year-old in the house is still new to me, I have already received quite an education about the things that make them so special:

1. Their bodies are bilingual.  Did you know?  I will explain.  Lately our formerly fully potty-trained son has started to have accidents as frequently as an excited puppy.  Consequently we have had several conversations about listening to one's body and noticing when a bathroom break is in order.  J realized, though, that there is one major obstacle to listening to his body.  He told Peter the other day, "Daddy, my body is trying to tell me something, but I can't understand it.  I think it's speaking Spanish."  Yes, that would make it hard to understand.

2. They can have strange diseases.  I was visiting my parents and had just given the boys a bath.  While lotioning J, I remarked to my mom what beautiful skin he has.  She agreed and mentioned that he has had beautiful skin ever since his cradle cap cleared up as an infant, to which he replied, "now I have cradle butt."  Unless he has suddenly contracted tinea cruris (do NOT do an image search on that one), I have no idea where he got that idea, nor when he started using the word "butt."

3. They have sensitive souls.  While driving to a family dinner last night, J started telling us, in a forlorn voice, that: "Some houses are all alone.  Some trees are all alone.  Some animals are all alone.  Some mountains are all alone.  Some gardens are all alone.  Some composters are all alone. . .etc."  Why yes, yes they are.  I weep for them.

*"Superfluity of naughtiness" is actually a scriptural phrase.  Is that not fabulous?  See James 1:21.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Caramel Apple Cider Bars

I know, that isn't the greatest picture, but by the time I got around to taking a photo of these cookie bars there were only some sad looking edge pieces left, I had to scramble and take this picture before I lost my light, and my four-year-old was "helping," so this is what you get.  Sorry about that.

So some of you may have seen these cookies floating around on Pinterest.  I have become slightly addicted to Pinterest, and when I saw these I knew that I had to try them.  I did, and they were delicious, but please forgive me, but I couldn't leave well enough alone.  You see, when it's fall, I want something I can really sink my teeth into,  I want some texture.  So I decided to take the main principles of the original caramel apple cider cookies (apple cider mixed in, lots of caramely goodness) and put them in oatmeal bar cookie form.  I did, and ooh de lally!

Oh mama, just look at that caramel.  I used a whole bag which was about 50 caramels, and you don't have to use quite that many--you can adjust for your personal preferences.  Bake a batch of these on the next blustery day that comes your way.  They'll warm you up from the outside in.

Caramel Apple Cider Bars
Printable version

1 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. white sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 box (7.4 oz.) Alpine brand Spiced Apple Cider Original Instant Drink Mix (not sugar free)--yes, you use all 10 packets
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3 c. quick oats
1 bag Kraft caramels

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 
Unwrap caramels (I would go with about 3/4 of the bag, but you can add more or less depending on your personal preferences), and chop them into fourths.  Set aside.
In a small bowl combine flour, soda, slat, and cinnamon; set aside. 
In a large bowl combine butter, sugar, brown sugar, and all then packets of apple cider mix.  Beat until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix in well.  Gradually add flour mixture.  Stir in oats and caramel bits.  Spread into greased 9x13" pan.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until top is good and golden.  Don't panic if the top seems to slip around a bit as you remove it from the oven--the center is probably done, the top is just sliding around on all that liquid caramel.  Allow to cool for about an hour (or just as long as you can stand it) before serving.