Happy Birthday USA!

Today is the United States of America’s  239th birthday. I read an interesting article from NBC News. Here are some interesting facts from the story.

IMG_1942

I Love the USA! I like the Fourth of July because I get to spend my time eating at our annual cookout and watching fireworks. I love to do special crafts or cook special deserts on holidays.  When i craft and cook, I do it better than Martha Stewart! Just kidding.

Today I made some firecracker cookies. I found the recipe on the Cookin’ Cowgirls blog. Stephanie Hann is the blogger and she now has a business selling hand made jewelry.  Talk about coincidence, Stephanie is from Stillwater, Oklahoma.  The same state as I! Please check out her blog here.

DSCF3688

Firecracker Cookies
 DSCF3663

Ingredients

1 box french vanilla cake mix, 16.25 oz
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 C vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 C red sprinkles
1/2 C blue sprinkles

DSCF3665

DSCF3668

DSCF3673

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix and baking powder. In a small bowl, mix together the eggs, oil and vanilla. Add the egg mixture to the cake mixture and stir to combine. Stir in the sprinkles. Drop by spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to cooling rack. The cookies will be very soft at first. Cool and enjoy!

Happy Mother’s Day

Today is the day we celebrate Mother’s Day. I read about the origin of Mother’s Day on History.com.  What I found interesting is that a number of people promoted celebrating Mother’s in the late 1800’s.   In 1868 Ann Reeves Jarvis organized “Mothers’ Friendship Day,” at which mothers gathered with former Union and Confederate soldiers to promote reconciliation. It was actually her daughter, Anna Jarvis, who conceived Mother’s Day as a way to honor the sacrifices mothers made for their children.  In 1908, the first official Mother’s Day was held in West Virginia.  Anna did not get married or have any children of her own; yet she pushed for Mother’s Day to become a national holiday.  What’s strange is that once it did, she later fought to have it removed as a holiday because she thought it was too commercial. Much like today, both the floral and card companies were a part of Mother’s Day celebrations. According to Statista.com, in 2014,  jewelry and dinner/brunch were the two largest planned expenditure categories in the United States for Mother’s Day (more than $7 billion!). Flowers were $2.35 billion.  At my dad’s church, everyone whose mother is alive wears a red flower, usually a rose or carnation. For those whose mom is deceased, they wear a white rose or carnation. This tradition is meant to honor all mothers. We rarely go out for Mother’s Day. Instead, my dad, you know the master chef (at least that’s what he calls himself) always cooks dinner.  This year, we had baked salmon, lobster mac and cheese, and salad. I made the red velvet cupcakes (see the recipe below).

Duncan Hines Decadent Red Velvet Cupcake

DSCF3451

DSCF3399
Cupcake Ingredients: 2 Eggs, 2/3 cup of water, and 1/4 cup of oil.
Frosting Ingredients: 2 teaspoons water and 8 tablespoons butter.

This recipe is so simple all you have to do is follow the instructions on the back of the box:

DSCF3456

Salt Dough Handprint

I also made a simple craft. My brother made one of these for my mom when he was in the second grade. I’ve always been a little jealous that she’s got one of his hands (and she keeps it on her dresser and puts her jewelry in it).  Now she has one of mine too (and mine is much bigger than his!).  Ha, take that, Jacob!  I found this recipe on Mommymoment.ca

Ingredients: 1 Cup Flour; 1 Cup Salt; 1/2 Cup Water

Instructions:
Mix the salt and flour in a large bowl.
Make a well in the salt/flour mixture and add the water.
Knead until smooth and shape into a bowl.
Place the mixture in a tin pan and imprint your hand.
I pressed my hand into the pan but it did not make a good imprint. So I wet my hand and tried it again. This time it worked.
Decorate with food coloring.
I baked it at 200 degrees F until dry.