Taking Time Off

In order to spend more time focusing on my family and schoolwork, I’m going to be putting this blog on hold for a while–probably for the next year.

Be sure to sign up for the email list so you’ll get notified when I start blogging again. Meanwhile, enjoy the archives, and try out the recipes for root beer ice cream or chocolate tapioca pudding–they make everything better.

lunches, Recipes

Hicka-Mucka Bobs (Recipe)

By Alice Workman

This easy-to-make recipe has only two ingredients, but is a nice blend of spicy and sweet. Make a plateful for your Memorial Day celebration lunch, or stick a few in a baggie in a child’s school lunch for a nice change from the usual tuna sandwich.


(Jicama Kabobs)HickaMuckaBobs (Jicama Kabobs)

  • Jicama
  • Summer sausage
  • Bamboo skewers

Peel jicama, and remove the wrapper from the summer sausage.  Cut both into 1” cubes.  Thread alternately onto skewers.

These are best when served within 24 hours, otherwise the flavors blend too much.


  • For safety sake, don’t use skewers for very young children.
  • Cover the tip of each skewer with one last piece of jicama, to avoid having it poke through your lunch bag.
  • If necessary, before adding food, cut the bamboo skewers a little shorter so
    they’ll fit in your baggie/container, or use toothpicks instead.
  • To avoid skewering yourself, place the food cube on the counter and poke the skewer down into it. Then you can pick it up and wiggle it into place.  Don’t try to jam the skewer into food that is being held in your other hand!
  • Make sure the jicama cubes are roughly the same size as, or a little bigger than, the sausage, or the meat flavor will overwhelm the jicama.

Thrifty Tip: Saving on Dishwasher Detergent

piggy bankDo you completely fill the soap cup of your automatic dishwasher with detergent every time you run a load? You may be wasting money.

The detergent label usually recommends the highest amount that may be needed, ignoring variables such as water hardness and whether you are washing relatively clean water cups or pans with caked-on grease.

The next time you do dishes, try using a smaller amount of dishwashing detergent than the label instructs you to use. Try half the normal amount. If your dishes don’t quite come clean enough, use ¾ the recommended amount next load and see what happens.

If your dishes do come clean with half the normal amount, you’ve just found a way to save 50% off your detergent costs!

If you do have a load that has more grime than usual, you can always add a little more. Meanwhile, why use more than you need?

Christmas, Holidays, Sharing

The Real Santa

Today we have a guest post, from my daughter who is home from college for Christmas. I appreciate her taking the time to write this when she’s been overwhelmingly busy with finals, wisdom teeth extraction, etc.

I love you, Sarah!


By Sarah WorkmanSanta

“HO HO HO, Merry Christmas!” is widely known to be what Santa Claus says. Many people, especially children, love to learn about Santa, the jolly fat man in a red suit who flies with his reindeer all over the world on Christmas Eve to give gifts to all the good girls and boys.

As children grow older though, they stop believing that Santa is real. Some parents try to make sure the children believe as long as possible, while other parents think that they should tell their children the truth about Santa before a playmate cruelly dashes their hopes. But do parents even know everything about Santa?

The most basic and widely held view of Santa in my culture is that he is an old man who loves to give presents to good little girls and boys. He and his elves watch and make a list so he knows what to give to whom, and he knows when they are asleep so he can deliver the presents without being caught. He also loves milk and cookies. Many songs and poems have been written about this Santa.

My view of Santa, which keeps me believing (even though I know that some people put presents under the tree and label them From Santa), is that Santa is simply the spirit of giving and good cheer.

Think about it. Would you like to work all year long just to lose a night’s sleep flying in the cold air to give away all your hard work? And only get a few cookies in return?

One attribute of Santa is that he gives everyone gifts because he wants to give. He also gives to everybody, regardless of how rich or poor they are, and he does not justify not giving a gift on circumstances that the person cannot control.  He also spreads good cheer to everyone, even if they do not return the good cheer. Each time he does this, someone’s life becomes a little better.

I don’t know if there is a man in a red suit, but I do know that if people believe in Santa, the Santa that gives freely and spreads happiness, if we believe in him and follow his example, we will be doing what Christmas is about, and Santa will be kept alive.

Allergies, Chocolate, Dairy-free, Desserts, Recipes, Sharing

Recipe: Milk-free Fudge for Christmas

I came up with this recipe last Christmas when my daughter felt left out because “everyone” got to have fudge but her. (Never mind that she had more non-fudge goodies than Mrs. Claus’ candy kitchen!) I am sharing the recipe here so that other children (of all ages) can also have their fudge and eat it, too.


By Alice Workman

fabric snowmen
1 C cocoa
3/4 C sugar
1 C brown sugar
2 TBS flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 C butter*
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 C walnuts or pecans (opt)

In a medium saucepan, mix together cocoa, sugar, brown sugar, flour, baking soda and salt.

Add in eggs and mix a bit (parts will still be dry.)

Add butter, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. When butter is melted and mixture starts to bubble, remove from heat. Add in vanilla. Pour into greased, 8″ square pan. Press nuts (chopped or whole) into top, if desired. Cool.

*Although many people who can’t have dairy are okay with butter, some are not. To make this completely dairy free, use coconut oil instead, and refrigerate the fudge before cutting into squares.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good fudge!  

Holidays, Sharing, Thanksgiving, Traditions

A Door Full of Thanks

Door decorated with "thankful leaves"What are you grateful for today?

Some days it’s hard to feel grateful. It’s much easier to focus on what went wrong:

  • You wake up to the clock blinking 12:00 over and over, and jump out of bed wondering how late it really is. (Late enough that the kids will NOT be taking the bus this morning.)
  • Your four-year-old decides to “help” with breakfast, dropping all the eggs on the floor, so you end up eating microwave oatmeal. Again.
  • The ice on the car was an inch thick and you couldn’t find the good scraper, so it took a half an hour to clear the windows. The kids, who sat inside the car jabbing and making faces at each other while you worked up a sweat in the 20° weather, were not happy that they were late for school–and made sure you knew it. While their complaints filled the air, you suddenly remembered that there is a bottle of de-icer in the garage.
  • After dropping the kids off, you make a quick trip to the store. After standing in line for 20 minutes the one person ahead of you finally finishes up. Then you realize that you left your purse at home.

Our family has a tradition of decorating a window or door with Thankful Leaves each November. We start by cutting out a number of construction paper leaves, and putting them in a basket near the door, along with a pen or pencil.

Each day of the month, each person in the family takes a leaf and writes on it something that he or she is grateful for. (Pre-writers can either draw a picture, or ask someone older to write it for them.) Then we either tape them to the window with clear tape, or use poster putty to stick them on the door. Family members know that they can add more leaves to the door at any time, as long as each leaf has something written on it.

It’s fun to watch the pile of leaves grow. Even better, is watching the attitudes change. Knowing that you will be writing down something you’re thankful for every day somehow gets you in the mode of thinking all during the day about what you want to write next, so you’re more aware of your blessings.

The electricity went out last night?

Bummer. Have you ever gone a whole week without electricity? A month?   How about a lifetime?  Electricity is one thing to be grateful for–one thing that we take so much for granted, that when it’s gone, even temporarily, we somehow feel that life is out to get us and forget how lucky we were to have it to begin with.

The car was covered in ice.

You own a car? And you not only know how to drive, but are physically able to do so? If you don’t think that’s something to be grateful for, try walking or riding your bike to school or work in that icy weather, or having to depend on others for rides every time you go anywhere, and you might just change your mind.

The eggs were ruined.

But you still got to eat. Right? Write “food” on your next Thankful Leaf.

We all have bad days. But we all, every one of us, have good things in our lives as well.  I’m not suggesting that you should never grumble or complain when things go wrong (I’d be a hypocrite if I did!). But we can all be a little more grateful for the good in our lives.

I am grateful for you, my readers, and for my dear friends and family. And I wish you all a very Happy (and thankful) Thanksgiving!

With love,

Aunt Alice

Baking, Breads, Recipes

Got Pumpkin?

PumpkinsPumpkin Muffins

Makes 1 dozen muffins

1 C sugar
1/4 C oil
1/4 C melted butter
2 eggs
1 C pumpkin, cooked and mashed
1 C flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp each cloves & nutmeg
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 C chopped nuts (opt.)

Preheat oven to 450°. Grease muffin tin, or line it with paper baking cups.

In a medium bowl, beat sugar, oil and butter. Add eggs and beat until light and fluffy. Mix in pumpkin.

In a separate bowl, mix together remaining ingredients. Add to sugar mixture and stir just until mixed.

Fill muffin cups about 2/3 full, then bake for 20 minutes.

*Note: you can double this recipe to make three loaves of pumpkin bread, instead of muffins. Grease the loaf pans well, and bake for 60 minutes at 325°, or until a toothpick poked into the center comes out clean.