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Thursday, December 23, 2010

change and cookies

i've been looking forward to this day for several weeks now.

a few weeks ago i collected our penny jars and piggy banks and dumped everything in a large bucket.  i planned to cash in the change at a coinstar machine and use the money to buy groceries for haven ministries, a homeless shelter in our community.  i wanted to do this with the boy, becos i wanted him to show him a lesson in charity.

i should have taken a picture of the bucket before we started to unload it.  it was about 2/3 full of change.

i never used a coinstar machine before.  i knew that the machine would take a cut of our profits but i figured it was easier than doing penny wrappers (remember those?  that used to be a task mom made me do when i was little - count out change then put it in wrappers for the bank).

we'd dump the money in by the handful, and often had to help it go down the chute.  several times a message came on the screen to be patient as it was taking the machine extra time to count our change.

all told, this was our total:

we only lost $6 and change.  not a bad haul!  hubby couldn't believe we had that much change in the house.  i couldn't help but think that much of the change was from his quart jar that sat on the bathroom vanity upstairs!

we took the receipt to the courtesy desk and cashed out.  $55.55, not a bad number!

we then went over to aldi's becos i thought we could get more food for our money.  we picked up crackers, cereal, flour, sugar, canned fruits and vegetables, rice, bottles of juice.  i got a cake mix and can of icing, so someone could make a cake - for a birthday, special occasion, whatever.  marshmallows (but forgot the cocoa!).  pasta and sauce.  the manager at haven likes for people to learn to make real meals, not to buy convenience foods, so i tried to stick with that.  by the time we spent the money, the cart was loaded - and i still hadn't bought canned meats!  so i chipped in and bought those.

i didn't get a chance to take a picture of the cart or the bags.  *sigh*

we drove to haven to drop off the food.  residents helped us haul the bags in.  unfortunately i didn't have enough plastic bags and had to use my own canvas ones, and wound up leaving my two good aldi bags with them.  oh well.  i can always buy new ones, and one of the ladies there said they liked to use them when packing up food for a family.  so i know they will get good use.

i cried after we dropped off the food.  it was amazing how much food $55.55 (with a couple bucks thrown in) could feed a family for a week.  it's quite humbling.

i'm not sure if the boy got anything out of our little grocery trip.  i explained what haven ministries did for people with financial or housing difficulties.  i told him how, as a caseworker with c&y, i used to call the manager for food for my families when they had no money for groceries, and how generous they were with providing several meals worth of food.  i told the boy how so many are struggling in this economy, and how many people are grateful for this small gesture we made.  i reminded him how lucky we are, that we have the luxury to go to the grocery store and know we have money for milk, eggs and vegetables.  how lucky he is when hubby brings him a pack of cookies from the surplus store, or the (very rare) cupcake i bought him this morning (for breakfast.  i know, i'm ashamed too).

i realize we should do this all year long.  charity never takes a holiday.  i don't know if this morning made an impression on the boy, but i know it did on me.

i'd like to do this every year, as a new tradition for me and the kids.  we always have loads of change.  might as well put it to good use.

after a quick "brunch" break (since we went grocery shopping without eating, shame on me!) and putting away our groceries, i baked.  i made cranberry nut bread and cookies.  i'm not a baker and i use tubes of cookie dough, i still wanted a few treats for us to nosh on over the holidays (never mind hubby got a cookie tray at work and we'll get more treats at my ILs).

i made the bread first.  i tripled the recipe becos i wanted to give loaves to my ILs, mom and dad and grams, plus a loaf or two left over for us.  i used some whole wheat pastry flour, remembered the salt and almost forgot the chopped walnuts.  i had loads of batter - i had hubby get our regular loaf pan out becos i thought we'd have a lot left over.

my batch at thanksgiving collapsed in the middle too.  can anyone explain why?  i tried to not over mix the batter this time (which is what i thought happened last time).  even tho the pans were half full, they still overflowed (and i have a mess to clean in the oven now).  they may not look purty, but dang they taste good.  can't wait to toast some up!

i also made peanut butter blossoms with a tube of peanut butter dough.  i thought it would make the same kind of cookie we get as gifts, but the cookies spread.  next time, i'll just google the recipe instead and make it from scratch.  i have a feeling that dough isn't the same consistency of regular peanut butter cookies.  :/

i bought two tubes of sugar cookie dough becos the boy likes cut out cookies.  i had a pickle of a time rolling it out - i guess i should have stuck it in the freezer for a bit to firm it up a bit.  i put the boy on sprinkle duty - he didn't do half bad.



the boy wanted some gingerbread men, so i obliged:

they're not perfect.  i don't spread the cookies out and they often bake into one another.  but they taste just as good.

i was going to make CC cookies with chocolate covered pretzels instead chocolate chips, but i petered out.  i can bake for only so long!

hubby helped clean dishes as i dirtied them, and the boy decorated.  it's fun to do things like this as a family.  it's something i hope the boy remembers fondly, when he's older.  and when the kiddos are older, they'll get to help too.

i'd also like to add that i loved*loved*loved baking on the new kitchen island.  i had a ton of room to spread out my ingredients, bowls,  and racks.  so much easier than a small dinette table!

i bought more film packs with the hipstamatic app, hence why i have some funky pictures here.  i'm having fun experimenting with the different films, flashes and lenses.

taking a bit of a blog break for a few days.  i have a couple goodies waiting in the wings while i'm gone - make sure to come back and check them out every day!

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