Happy Homemaker, Ph.D.

A novice homemaker's attempts to use her engineering Ph.D. to serve her family

Coffee Breaks (Mocha Cooler Mix Recipe)

I grew up seeing adults drink coffee black or not at all.  One taste, and when I was “of age,” I happily became one of the not-at-all category.  I relied on Mountain Dew for the caffeine necessary for all of that late-night studying in college.

But, over the course of ten years and the encouragement of three persistent friends, I discovered that coffee can be wonderful – with good friends and enough cream and sugar.  🙂  (Thanks to Mary (V.) J. for recommending my first caramel breve at Java in 1996, Anna (L.) J., and Susanna (M.) E.!  I miss you dearly, ladies!)

I tried to explain to my students when I would discuss quality management with them that coffee for me is more of an event than a beverage.  (I was giving an example as we talked about who defines quality.  The customer does.)   For me, I like to go to a coffee shop whose atmosphere fits my mood and purpose.  (Am I meeting a friend, going to reflect and journal, retreating to a quiet place to grade papers, etc.?)  I delight (or am disappointed) in the shape and texture of the cup the drink is served in.  I associate the act of drinking coffee with many, many good memories of wonderful friends, long talks, and blessed times of solitude, primarily from my days between graduating from college and getting married.

Though my trips to the local coffee shops are very rare now, I still try to enjoy coffee as an event at home.  Even my simple Folder’s brew, served in one of my china cups, and a moment of quiet before my little ones are up is a bit of a retreat for me.

But, the weather is warming up, and, remembering fond moments of taking Friday afternoon breaks to get a blended coffee drink while I worked an internship for a semiconductor company near Phoenix, I was eager to try a new recipe I found for Mocha Cooler.

I was not disappointed!  I’ve found which glass at home will hold both servings easily (without whipped cream), and as an afternoon pick-me-up, I’m finding this is an EASY and refreshing treat.  Now I just need to convince myself I don’t need one every afternoon…

A refreshing break with flowers from my dear husband and a mocha cooler.

A refreshing break with flowers from my dear husband and a mocha cooler.

Mocha Cooler (from Taste of Home’s 2002 Quick Cooking Annual Recipes, p. 95)

Make Ahead Mix:
1/4 cup instant coffee granules
1 cup sugar
1 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1 cup powdered nondairy creamer
1/3 cup baking cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
Additional ingredients:
1-1/2 cups crushed ice
1/2 cup milk
Whipped topping, if desired

With a rolling pin, crush coffee granules into a fine powder between sheets of waxed paper.  Place in an air-tight container.  Add the sugar, milk powder, creamer, cocoa and salt; mix well.  Sore in a cool dry place for up to 1 year.  Yield:  7 batches (3-1/2 cups total).

To prepare cooler:  In a blender, combine the ice, milk, and 1/2 cup of mocha mix; cover and process on high until smooth.  Pour into glasses.  Top with whipped topping if desired.  Yield:  2 servings per batch.  (Okay, so there’s enough to share, but you may not want to.)

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Here He Comes to Save the Day – Again!

My weekend did not go as planned.

First, my dear husband came home from work early on Friday due to a back injury.  He was unable to see the chiropractor until the following morning, and he was really hurting.  Chad had also invited a friend from work and his wife over for supper the next day, with the plan of grilling tri-tip.   When Chad grills, I’m usually only responsible for the really easy side dishes: heating up some baked beans, maybe baking some crescent rolls, and preparing some potatoes of some sort.

With the cold weather in the forecast for that day and Chad’s pain, I thought it would be nice for me to volunteer to cook the supper.  Not being the grill master that Chad is, I decided I’d make barbecue meatballs (one of Chad’s favorites), scalloped potatoes, some vegetables, and some kind of bread.

I waited for Chad’s okay to take over the plans.

He wanted to talk to his friend first, to confirm that he’d be coming.

The morning passed.  The afternoon began.  I still didn’t have groceries…  I started to stress.

I got our daughter down for her nap and finally headed to the store.  While there, I didn’t get a can of evaporated milk, sure that I still had one in my cupboard.  I purchased the items on my grocery list and headed for home.

I went straight to work, preparing cornbread muffins (from a Jiffy mix, don’t be too impressed) that called for a higher oven temperature, then peeling potatoes while the muffins baked.  I made the sauce needed for the non-dairy scalloped potatoes we like so they would have close to the two hours of baking time the recipe called for.

Without a break, I moved on to the meatballs.  Seeing my can of evaporated milk was 12 oz. instead of 5 oz., I decided to make a double batch that we could then freeze part of.  I put the ground beef and oatmeal into a bowl before opening the can of milk.

Strange.  I don’t remember ever seeing little chunks like that in a can of evaporated milk.  Maybe I just didn’t shake it well enough?  (I hoped.)  I poured it in, or I should say, I tried to pour it in.  The milk wasn’t flowing.  I opened the can more completely, only to have a bad-smelling glob go into my meat mixture.

Ever the optimist, I hoped that it might be alright still, but to be safe, I asked Chad to smell it.  He agreed with me that it smelled like the milk had gone bad.

By now, it’s 4:15, and the guests are due to come at 5:30.  I don’t know whether to cry or to go to the store to start over.  I’m definitely leaning toward the crying!   Chad gave me a big hug and became my hero (again) as he calmly said he’d go to the store and get a tri-tip.

He fired up the grill, went to the store, returned in fifteen minutes, seasoned the meat, and began grilling.  Not only did he save the dinner, but he intervened to save my sanity, and he introduced our guests to something special.  (Tri-tip is well-known in California, it seems, but not as well-known in Kansas yet.)

While he was gone, I continued an internal dialog with my frustration at having ruined the meat, having not been more sensible about the milk when I first noticed the chunks, and probably a million other shortcomings that came to mind.

I am so thankful to have such a wonderful husband who loves me, who works so hard to support our family, who sacrifices for us in so many ways, and who is always there when I need him!  God definitely knew what He was doing when He introduced us over seven years ago!



Dish Discipline – Ugh

Developing new habits is not easy.

Two weeks ago, I mentioned that I’d bought Dana White’s e-book, 28 Days to Hope for Your Home.  You may remember my excitement as I shared the hope I was experiencing in just three days (One Step at a Time – Looking for Hope for My Homemaking)!   Even last week, I shared with a friend how much I was enjoying going through this book.  “I’m good with homework,” I told her, meaning that {usually} if I’m assigned a task from someone else, I am more committed to complete it.

It slipped my mind to tell her the frustration I felt over that first weekend when my selfish, lazy self was whining LOUDLY from inside, “I don’t WANT to do the dishes!”  I think that weekend, I won over that voice one day, and the other day, I gave in.

And, that’s okay.  Nony leaves some room for grace in the book.  She tells you where to pick up and get going again if you get off track.  She encourages me by speaking my language, by letting me know I’m not the only slob out there, by helping me believe I can change and make my home a more comfortable place for my family and guests, and by taking control of a part of my life that overwhelmed me.

Now, I’m on Day 17 of the 28.  I feel like I’m making some real, permanent changes to my, what Nony calls, “Slob Vision.”  I don’t think I like doing the dishes any more than I did a few weeks ago, but I’m more accepting of them.  They’re just something that must be done, like laundry (which has never offended me as much as the dishes).   And I must say, with all the getting up I’m doing at 36-weeks pregnant each night, I do feel refreshed each time I go into my clean kitchen for yet another drink of water.  In the mornings, I don’t start out feeling behind with yesterday’s mess yet to deal with!

Through the end of February, Nony is offering her book for half price ($4 instead of $8)!  Click here to view more details and to purchase the e-book!  I encourage you to give it a try if you, like me, struggle with some of the daily tasks that can quickly overwhelm us.

In the last three days, I’ve had two guests rather spontaneously stop by.  I’ve had the blessing of feeding them lunches I was proud of – in a home I wasn’t embarrassed of – with NO ADDED STRESS!  🙂  Granted, I’m rather shamelessly unembarrassed when my home is messy, but this is kind of a big deal.  Inviting people to stop by whenever, and meaning it, it really, really fun!

With just over 10 more days to go in this book, I’m still excited that I can make some life-changes that will make us all happier at home, just in time for things to be put to the test when Baby comes!  If that’s not enough motivation for me, did I tell you how many more kisses I was getting from my hubby that first week when I started focusing on having a cleaner kitchen?  ♥♥♥