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Family Matters: Family Road Trip

We all hear people reminisce about family trips they have taken over the years and what a great time it was for their family to bond.  It is funny to hear someone talk about it and then to sit and recall some of your own family road trips – or adventures, we call them.  There are a lot of fun times that come out of a road trip, but for some reason we seem to always forget (or block out) the rest of the road trip.

As a mother of four teenage daughters I can tell you first hand that a seven hour road trip is an adventure.  Oh, it was fun and we laughed a lot but what about having to stop every hour (or more) because they can’t all seem to need to make a bathroom stop at the same time.  Or, everyone seems to have lost or broke their charger for the electronic devices they are glued to, so you have six people sharing one or two chargers…you can hear the laughter right…

I was really surprised our air conditioner did not burn up from the multiple times I heard it was too cold or too hot and had to adjust it.  Finally after a few hours of that, the cold natured girls were given blankets to cover up with…that took care of that.  What about the four things of snacks you open up and pass back and forth (sharing, that is nice) and then someone ends up spilling the box or bag of goodies all over the car…laughing again?  After eating the snacks they are all thirsty…and yes, time for another pit stop.  You would be amazed at the great souvenirs you find in truck stops.

Don’t get me wrong, after you return these things are really funny when you look back but at the time you feel like you want to pull your hair out or take a vacation by yourself.  You love your children but honestly there are times they make you want to trade them in or tie them to the top of the car for a little peace and quiet.  This does not mean you don’t love your kids it just means that you are human and that things do seem to overwhelm us sometimes, but in the end what great memories we do make and what funny stories about family road trips we will have to share with our grandchildren.

Count your blessings daily and give thanks for the time you have to share with your family…on and off the road!

Product Talk Monday: Cookie Cake

My younger son’s birthday is coming up in just over a week and, as always, he’s requested a giant chocolate chip cookie cake.

Brookshire’s bakery cookie cakes have become the birthday celebration staple in our house. Both of my sons ask for them every year and, truth be told, we sometimes eat cookie cake for birthday breakfasts.

The cookie cakes are generously sized and we’re able to feed our family, plus birthday guests with one or two cakes. The friendly staff at Brookshire’s bakery has always helped me get just the cake my boys want. Last year, Luke wanted a soccer cookie cake. Curt chose primary colors with EXTRA icing and sprinkles for his 10th birthday last January.

The cookies are deliciously chewy and chock full of chocolate chips. You can get icing in any color or colors with sprinkles and candy confections if that’s what your heart desires. They’ll also write a message on the cake. My boys love seeing their names in sugary icing.

The only thing wrong with Brookshire’s cookie cakes is that they disappear too quickly in my house.

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Posted in: Kids, Product Talk

Dine In: Camp-IN S’mores

Fall and spring weekends – even winter weekends here in the South, were made for camping. And when you’re camping, you MUST have S’mores.  I’m pretty sure it’s a rule.

Every time we went camping, one of the first things I’d pack in the cooler was the giant-sized Hershey bar and the marshmallows. The graham crackers went on top of the grocery sack so they wouldn’t be crushed.

Sitting around the campfire on a Friday night, after arriving, setting up camp, a hike or bike ride and a dinner cooked over the open flame, we’d break out the ingredients for S’mores.  We’d find sticks and clean them of their crusty bark and whittle the ends into points which could pierce the flesh of the marshmallow just perfectly. We’d roast our marshmallows over the flickering campfire until they were just browned outside and gooey inside. Someone, usually me, would always catch their marshmallow on fire (that’s OK, I ate them burned, too).  We’d pull the melty confection off the stick and quickly smush it on top of a graham cracker topped with Hershey bar rectangles. Pop another cracker on top and there was a little bit of heaven right out at the camp site.

Just because it’s summer time doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy S’mores. But I don’t often want to cozy up around a roaring fire on 100 degree nights. So this version is one you can make inside, in the comfort of your own, air-conditioned home, and pretend you’re spending a Friday night by the campfire.

S’mores Dip
Serves about 6

1 (14 oz) can Food Club sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups Food Club chocolate chips
1/2 cup marshmallow cream
graham crackers, for serving

In a small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips and condensed milk on high for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring about every 30 seconds, until chips are melted. Mix well. Pour into 9-inch glass pie pan, spreading evenly. Drop marshmallow cream by tablespoonfuls randomly over chocolate mixture. Microwave on high about 30 seconds or until marshmallow cream is softened. Immediately make several swirls through marshmallow and chocolate, creating a marbled appearance. Serve immediately with graham crackers for dipping.

Nutritional Information for Dip: Calories: 640.3; Carbohydrates 100.83 g; Protein 9.7 g; Total Fat 22.71 g;  Cholesterol 32.01 g; Dietary Fiber3.82 g

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Posted in: Cooking, Dine In, Kids

Family Matters: Grace’s Garden

My daughter Grace, who is 10, is my outdoor, nature-loving, recycling type of girl. She wants to garden, save all the animals and recycle everything in the house. So it didn’t surprise me, in early spring, when she started saving all the seeds from the fruit she had eaten. She would dry the seeds out and then plant them, hoping they would grow into big fruit trees someday. Most of the time, she usually forgot where she’d planted her seeds.  

This year, she planted cantaloupe seeds from a cantaloupe I had bought at the store. She put up some fencing and made a scarecrow to decorate her little garden. She watered the seeds everyday, and would you believe they started growing?  At first, I thought they were weeds or bull-nettles and was thinking about pulling it all up. But instead, I let her keep watering them and continued to watch them grow.  

I’m so glad I didn’t pull her garden up because it produced a handful of cantaloupe. And may I say, the best tasting cantaloupe we’ve had all year. My daughter is so proud of her garden and already has plans for a bigger garden next year. 

So the next time your kiddo wants to plant a garden, love on nature or recycle everything in the house, let them do it and give them the tools to do it with. You may just reap the benefits!

Family Matters: Lavender Baby Bath

As most parents know, multi-tasking becomes a way of life when you have small children, especially babies.

My boys are close together in age, about 18 months apart, so the ability to multi-task was critical to the smooth flow of our household.

Plus, as a new parent, I was tired. Did I mention, TIRED?  Luke, my younger son, needed to eat every 90 minutes, at most, for the first several months of life. I remember waking up to his hunger cries, incredulous that he was hungry again. But sure enough, he’d eat vigorously and fall back to sleep…until the next time his belly needed filling.

Needless to say, I was exhausted and more-than-a-bit stressed out those first months of both boys’ lives, but then I discovered a way to double up on a task and get much-needed-relaxation.

Enter Lavender Baby Wash – Brookshire’s carries several brands of the lavender scented-baby wash.

Each evening, I’d fill my large bath tub (it was such a blessing to have!) with warm water and add a capful of lavender-scented baby wash, which bubbled up just enough to entertain the babies.  I’d put the boys in the tub together and inhale the soothing, steamy scent of the lavender-scented bath water. Both boys were bathed at once and we’d take advantage of the comforting, tranquil properties of lavender at the same time.

Lavender, sometimes called the “Mothering Oil,” is known for its relaxing properties and is used to alleviate not only stress but also anxiety. The ancient Egyptians added it to their baths for extra relaxation. Lavender settles irritability and is gently sedating, restoring mind and body to a state in which healing – and rest – can take place.

In closing, I have a confession: my boys are now 8 and 10 years old and I will STILL buy lavender baby wash.

No, they don’t use it; it’s for me.

Family Matters: Summer Camp At Last

Summer has arrived and kids are packing up for summer camps. My oldest child, Luke, has always loved going to camp. He has never had a problem being away from home for a week’s time. On the other hand, my daughter Grace, who is 10, has never had the desire to attend an overnight camp….not until this year. Grace has decided to attend camp as long she can take a friend and they can be bunkmates.

Packing a kid for camp can be a real challenge. Unpacking them from camp can be even more of a challenge. The last thing you want is your camper to come home with a sticky and wet suitcase. I am so thankful I had a good friend give me her tips to packing up little campers.

Packing For Camp – What You’ll Need:

6 extra-large resalable plastic bags
Sticker labels
Permanent marker

On each of five bags, or depending on how many days they are staying at camp, write the day of the week on the bag. Pack enough clothes for that day in each separate bag. You should include a T-shirt, a pair of shorts, and under clothes in each bag. On the sixth bag, write “Wet Clothes.” Tell your camper that this is the bag to put all their wet clothes in. This way their suitcase does not become a wet mess.

I have packed up my son’s clothes this way for several years now and, for the most part, it works pretty well. However, there were years he came home with only two of the bags ever being opened. I guess he wore the same clothes all week. I’m sure this system will work out perfectly for my daughter on her first overnight camp experience.  Hopefully, she will not be like her older brother and come home with none of her clothes having been worn.

Family Matters: School’s Out Celebration Picnic

My kids are home from school today, and we’re celebrating with three of their favorite summertime casual recipes! These are easy and delicious – and the pasta salad and lemon cookies pack nicely for summer picnics at the lake. If you want to take the sliders with you on a picnic, I suggest keeping the ingredients separate until you are ready to assemble and enjoy!

My younger son likes lime more than lemon, so I tried the cookies with fresh lime and lime zest and they are just as delicious!

Kids of all ages love picnics – even if you just throw down a blanket in your back yard and invite the neighbors over for food and an evening of flashlight tag!


BBQ Meatball Sliders 

24 purchased frozen meatballs
1 cup purchased barbecue sauce
3/4 cup sliced Mozzarella cheese
24 sliced dinner rolls, sized for one meatball
3/4 cup diced cooked bacon
24 bread and butter pickles (sliced)

Place meatballs in 9×13-inch baking pan and cover with barbecue sauce. Bake according to package directions until cooked through (cooking times vary with different meatball brands).  When ready to serve, place one slice of cheese on bottom of each roll. Top with meatball, bacon and one pickle slice. Top with other half of roll and serve. Tastes just as great served cold as well.  

Picnic Pasta Salad 

1 lb cooked rotini pasta
2 cups raw broccoli florets or diced zucchini
1 cup tomatoes, diced
6 oz sliced pepperoni, diced
1 (14 oz) can black olives, drained, sliced
1 1/2  cups Italian dressing
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese 

Combine all ingredients with pasta. Refrigerate until cold. Tastes better over time. 

Glazed Lemon Cookies 

3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large egg yolks
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1cup powdered sugar
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice, plus more if necessary
1 tsp grated lemon zest 

With an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg yolks, vanilla and salt and beat to combine. Gradually add flour, mixing until just incorporated.  Divide dough in half and shape into 1 1/4-inch-diameter logs. Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Heat oven to 350°. Slice logs into 3/8-inch-thick pieces and space them 1 1/2 inches apart on parchment-lined or greased baking sheets. Bake until lightly golden, 16 to 20 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling racks to cool completely. In a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, lemon juice and zest until it forms a thick but pourable glaze (add more lemon juice if necessary). Dip the top of each cookie into the glaze and let set, about 15 minutes.

Healthy Living: Father’s Day Fun

With Father’s Day quickly approaching, I’ve been thinking a lot about my dad.

Growing up, my dad spent a lot of time playing with me and my brother.

When my brother started getting serious about basketball, I can remember my dad and my brother playing basketball on the driveway almost every night.

When I got serious about soccer in the third grade, my dad and I would always go running together. I remember the first race I did together was the Azalea 2-mile run in Tyler. I still have the T-shirt from that spring race.

Later that fall, my dad and I did a 5K at UT Tyler. Up until my dad had his heart attack when I was a sophomore in high school, my dad and I would frequently run together. I would also enjoy running with my dad and I know my brother really cherished playing basketball with my dad. After my dad had quadruple bypass surgery, he could not play basketball with my brother for a long time and running was out of the question.

Back in October, I decided to start running again and signed up for my “first” 5K. It was quite an emotional race. About a quarter of a mile into the race, it hit me like a bolt of lightning that my running partner, my dad, was not able to run with me.

Shortly after that I saw him on the side of the road, cheering me on. In November, I started to see my mom and dad at the trails where I ran. My dad would tell me he was training for a 5K. He wanted to walk 3.1 miles in 45 minutes. Later in that month, my dad and I signed up for the Turkey Trot. As soon as I got done running the race, I turned around and ran back to finish the race with him. I do believe he did meet his goal of 45 minutes. In January, I started training for a 10K. My dad started telling me if I was going to run 6.2 miles, he was going to walk it. I was so happy that my running had really rubbed off on him and he started to get physically active again.

Some of my favorite memories with my dad were running races, playing basketball on the driveway and kicking the soccer ball around in the backyard.

Playing with your kids not only creates memories, but it also benefits you and your children’s health.

This Father’s Day, instead of sitting around and letting dad watch T.V., get him outside. Organize a family or neighborhood game of kickball or basketball with all the dads.

Instead of eating at a restaurant, pack a picnic and after eating, kick a soccer ball around the park. There is nothing better than giving a gift that will benefit your dad’s health.

Dads are important people in many of our lives, so we must try to keep them healthy!

Family Matters: Will Eat For A Snow Cone

Meat, corn, carrots and fruit are all the foods my daughter will eat. That’s it! She will not eat bread, sandwiches, peanut butter, cheese, pasta, nuts—nothing else! Oh, do we have a challenge packing her lunch everyday for school.  On the other hand, my teenager son will eat everything on his plate and in the house!

Like other Moms, I come home from work and head straight to the kitchen to prepare dinner for that night. After slaving in the kitchen, I proudly sit dinner on the table thinking I have accomplished this grand task and that I’m truly an amazing Mom! Then out of her mouth comes the dreaded words, “I don’t like this, do I have to eat this, what is this stuff?” My self-accomplishment just went into the trash along with her dinner.

I knew I had to devise a plan to get my picky eater to start trying new foods or she would be eating meat, fruit and those two vegetables for the rest of her life.  So she and I sat down and developed the “Will Eat For A Snow Cone” picky eater plan.

Here’s how it works. For every new food she tries, she gets to put a sticker on a chart, when she earns 10 stickers, she get a reward. When earning 10 stickers becomes to easy for her, then we’ll raise the bar to 20 stickers for a reward. Right now her reward is walking the dog 2.5 miles round trip to the snow cone stand. She looks forward to this every weekend and is working hard to earn her 10 stickers so she doesn’t miss out on her snow cone treat and walking the dog adventure.

So in the future, I’ll keep preparing new foods for her to try. Hopefully she will find a few that she really likes. If not, I pray that when she becomes a teenager she’ll be somewhat like her older brother and eat everything on her plate too!

Hunting for the Golden Egg

I wish I could tell you that as a child I woke up on Easter morning thinking about my salvation and who gave it to me. Instead, the truth is this: I woke up wondering if I would be the lucky one to find the Golden Egg in our family’s
Easter egg hunt.

My parents always bought one of those huge golden eggs that had pantyhose inside. I don’t think anyone wore the pantyhose, but my brother, sisters and I sure fought over the egg. Mama and Daddy always hid money inside, and then skillfully hid it in the yard among the other colorful plastic jelly bean eggs. I was six years younger than my older siblings, so I was rarely the one to find the golden egg before anyone else did.

I wonder if now is a good time to confess to my siblings that my father always snuck me $20 later that day.

After church and a roast beef lunch at Morrison’s cafeteria, it was time to investigate my basket. The Easter Bunny was nothing if not consistent, year after year: New Sunday dress, new white knee socks, a new book and a chocolate peanut butter egg.

I don’t know what it was about those eggs, but there was something different about them than any other time of the year I ate peanut butter and chocolate together. A few years ago, I stumbled upon a recipe that brought me right back to those childhood memories, and I finally figured out the secret ingredient that gave the eggs the perfect texture: graham cracker crumbs.

You get to use your hands, lick your fingers and use candy sprinkles. And best of all, you get to make sweet Easter memories with those you love.

View a video of the chocolate peanut butter egg preparation or view the recipe to print or add items to your Shopping List.

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Posted in: Kids

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The products mentioned in “Share, the Brookshire’s Blog” are sold by Brookshire Grocery Company, DBA Brookshire’s . Some products may be mentioned as part of a relationship between its manufacturer and Brookshire’s.

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