Adventures in Housewifery — Homemade Coffee Creamer

Hi, my name is Wendy and I am addicted to coffee.

The sweeter and more flavorful the better. I love me some lattes and cappuccinos and mochas and frappucinos, oh my!

If I’m on a car trip that’s three hours or longer, I stop at a Starbucks at a rest stop each way.

If I’m visiting a new town or someone else, I request a stop at a local cafe. I LOVE sitting with a great cup of coffee people-watching from a window.

And do not even TRY to talk to me before my second cup of coffee. No bueno.

So at home, I make my own little caffeinated concoctions — mixing this K-cup flavor with that coffee creamer flavor. I can tell you all about how some of the Girl Scout Cookie flavor creamers just don’t work in any nut-flavored coffee. And too much vanilla is a bad thing when it’s vanilla creamer in vanilla coffee, especially in a cream or white-colored cup.

No, seriously, I should be a connoisseur.

The thing about my sweet, creamy coffee cravings? It’s expensive, yo.

 

So, in my quest to save my hard-working man some money, I continue brave housewifery adventures — like homemade coffee creamer.

 

Again: simple, cheap, fun. WIN!

 

Here’s what you’ll want:

 

SWEETENED condensed milk

Half-and-half and/or some heavy cream

various extracts/flavorings (think: vanilla extract, almond extract, ground-up coffee or espresso beans, maple syrup, etc, etc)

A couple of containers with lids that are easy to pour (I purchased a two-pack of those water bottles with the snap-close lids — they’re like 20-ounce bottles so they can hold a good amount of creamer that will last a while)

 

 

I would recommend starting small with this one until you tweak it just to your liking.

My first batch was basically Prohibition-era stolen rum. It made Scott drunk just smelling it the first morning and I had a buzz for three days after my first cup of coffee.

 

Less is more when it comes to extracts, folks. Less is more.

 

What I like to do is take care of two creamers at once. So, I use one can of the condensed milk and split it between the two containers. I add just about the same amount, maybe slightly more of the Half-and-Half and/or heavy cream (the latter makes for a much richer flavor but of course is heavier in calories if that really means anything to you for your one teaspoon of creamer a day. I’ve noticed not much of a taste difference. Use what you have). Then add a few DROPS of extract/flavoring gradually. SHAKE VERY WELL! (With the lid on or else you decorate your kitchen counter with maple-almond creamer, tee hee) Do a sniff test or a drop on your fingertip test for flavor and throw it in the fridge.

I just label with scotch tape and a Sharpie, but you can get as creative as you want. Mason jars would be so cute for company, but really, people, I slaved away for HOURS, errr minutes, on this HOMEMADE COFFEE CREAMER. Be grateful I’m sharing my coffee… I mean…

 

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My first two creamers consisted of a little coffee and some vanilla extract in one and a maple syrup-almond extract combo in the other. I love them BOTH!

I find I’m not using as much of this as I used to use of the store-bought creamer and as long as you keep in mind the expiration dates of your milk products (usually about three weeks), these ought to last you a while.

I’ve got peppermint extract and cocoa to mix for my next batch — can’t wait!

 

Cost:

My favorite coffee creamers (flavored CoffeeMate ones, 16 ounces) typically cost $5-6 each. Two last a week if I’m lucky. We used to buy 2-3 each shopping trip.

Half-and-half: $3.50 for 1 quart (lasts several weeks, makes at least three creamers)

Sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces which makes 2.5 creamers): $3

Now the extracts can cost as much as $3-5 each. I stocked up on about four I didn’t have in stock that I could use for this but also figured I would use for other creations, so keep it simple and remember, you’re only using a FEW DROPS per creamer!

(I’ll be creating my own extracts down the road so WHOA will I save money!)

 

I figure you’re cutting your coffee creamer cost in half, doubling cute factor and tripling creativity and imagination. That’s good math to me.

 

Now I need a cup of coffee.

Enjoy!

 

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3 hours and 47 minutes

Addie went to “school” for the first time today. 

For this little almost-two-year-old, it means she went to the same church her brother does three times a week, stomped down the stairs wearing her little dinosaur backpack and marched down the hall from Zack to a little toddler room with blocks and a fish tank and six boys and girls that had no idea what they were in for with this little pink blur. 

Haters be hatin’ because when you say she’s too young and it’s not necessary and it’s whatever, well let me tell you what. I didn’t see a suffering baby girl screaming to be released from the pain and torture of (GASP) playtime with kids her age; nay, I opened up a door and saw a little girl lying down nicely on her mat, a smile creeping over her face as she showed me drawings, all with purple crayon, that she made for Momma. 

For one day a week, she doesn’t have to remain in the car watching Princess Sofia while I take her brother into this mystical place of mystery. For one day a week, she gets a break from Momma, and yes, oh yes, Momma gets a break, too. 

From the time I tiptoed sneakily out the door while she knocked on poor Fishy’s tank to the moment those blue eyes gazed up at me during Quiet Time, we had three hours and 47 minutes. 

 

I went grocery shopping. (No squirming or singing songs about squeaky wheels or condiments)

I put said groceries away. (All at one time)

I talked to my stepmother on the phone. 

I had a second cup of coffee (in one sitting).

I ordered food for Addie’s birthday party. 

I listened to (rap) music REALLY loud while driving by myself with all four windows down because I could.

I made playdates. 

I finalized Mothers Day items.

I worked on some Mary Kay things. 

Organized upcoming photo shoots.

I sat on a step outside, coffee in one hand, pretending to be planning some garden plants, but really and truly, I was planning (and, in a way, not planning at all) the potential for these Monday mornings. I could do nothing. I could do many things. I could do everything. That’s the thing. For four freakin’ hours a week, I have no said plans and no kiddos. 

I truly believe that these four hours will help me appreciate the good bad and ugly of the other 164 hours I’m focused on the kids and/or other people. 

But what these four hours mean to Addie are even greater. These could be her first best friends; her first lessons, her next burst of vocabulary or skills. 

So for three hours and 47 minutes, we all regrouped. 

We joined forces, marched out of that church, backpacks worn and steps being counted. Zack yelled “white car!” as he always does when we get to a parking lot and he and Addie proceeded to “gab” to one another for no less than five straight minutes. And we didn’t make it five miles down the road in that time, or even two miles, because there was one very happy Momma sitting in the front seat watching the interaction from a rearview mirror. She had many accessories — a headband, some sunglasses, and a badge of immense pride, hanging right there next to her heart on her Momma Sleeve. 

All because of three hours and 47 minutes. 

All better!

Addie’s newest phrase to say is “Allllll betta!”

I got her out of her crib this morning and received an “Alllll betta!”

Gave her her breakfast. “Alllll betta!”

Got her sidewalk chalk so we could color pictures. “Alllll betta!”

There is a glimmer in her blue eyes and a little proud smile to accompany her phrase. 

I have told her “All better” a thousand or a million times to let her know I took care of the problem, changed the diaper, kissed the boo-boo, helped make her wish come true. And now she shares “All better” with me — I am so, so lucky. 

She says “Dank oo” for every good deed done to her and done by her and even started this thing where she does a fake sneeze and says her version of “excuse me” while covering up her mouth. She waits… and you better deliver a “Bless you” or she will for you. Then she says her “Dank oo” and the cycle continues. 

 

I think my post with the letter from the kids the other day confused and worried some of you. I intended it to come across with a message of I am doing pretty well and I see that. Sometimes it just helps me to write things that have been bothering me or things I know my other Mommy friends will “get” and I don’t always stop to make sure my writing is doing my goal justice. 

So, as Addie would say, that post made everything, “Alllllll betta…”

 

We are enjoying Spring temperatures and sunny skies. We have family get-togethers to look forward to next week and a super-special wedding to celebrate; we have dirt to get under our fingernails and sunshine to land on our faces; there is a certain polite little girl’s second birthday party to plan and a thousand memories to make in between. Our world is very, very good. 

From a year ago (can you believe a year ago we started words like distrust and separation and ultimatums and even worse ones?!), it’s:

ALL BETTER. 

 

Addie loves to transfer things from one container to another. She has a little bowl of goldfish that have, in just the last ten minutes, gone into a toy coffee pot from her play kitchen to a toy plate, back into the little bowl, and now in a little yellow pail. Zack is at school, where he was greeted by high-fives and “HI Zacky” exclamations and teachers that love him and help us. We’ll pick him up soon and, like I do three times every week, I will watch those two faces in the backseat of my car and that white Jeep will be filled with happiness, joy, contentment, blessings. I do not take for granted what I’ve gained and learned; I do not wish it to fly by and leave me with independent kiddos too cool and busy for their mom and fake sneezes. 

 

I love our crazy, busy, confusing, hectic, messy, non-stop, interesting journey. 

It makes me feel “Allllll betta….” 

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Have a great weekend!

Dear Momma (A letter from the kids)

Dear Momma,

Zack and Addie here. We thought you might need us to remind you that you’re doing a great job.

We’re pretty young but we definitely know a few things.

We know you’re too hard on yourself. We know there are a hundred moments every day where you wonder if you’re just doing alright. We know sometimes you crave a moment by yourself, with a good song and sunshine on your face. And there are other moments you feel like you’re the only adult in the world; the loneliness sneaks up on you and digs firm roots in your heart like the viney weed in the dirt.

Momma, you’re doing more than just alright.

We certainly don’t make it easy on you.

There’s no telling when we will take advantage of you standing over the dinner on the stove to dump the cat food bowls onto the floor. Or when your bladder needs to be relieved in the worst of ways and we choose those 90 seconds to grab a cell phone, checkbook, wireless mouse and remote control off of the desk, but not before we enter some Japanese food store into the search bar of the Internet.

We see the hand smack on the face when you’ve just put clean cushions on the couch and we crunch a slobbery goldfish on it, all while holding up our now empty bowl asking for more crackers as crumbs crash on the floor.

We see the way you come up the stairs for bedtime some nights, moving so slowly, holding your back from bending over weeds during nap time and carrying four clean loads of laundry upstairs after our impromptu dance party in the living room. You still pick us up and sing to us and squeeze us as tightly as you can, but we bet you go downstairs and fight back tears from the pain.

You think sometimes you can’t handle two kids alone — how the simplest tasks like groceries or mailing a package become insane. How one of us is running up the hill on the driveway while the other one screams in their carseat, kicking wires out of the DVD player as you glance at the clock because, again, we are running late. But then some days, Mom, you watch us and our bestie Aubrey and you’re a pro. We all feel equally loved.

We know this is still a transition for you. You’ve gone from business suits and time clocks to jeans and diarrhea diapers. You don’t know if you’re even appreciated some days, or if every one of your friends even remembers your phone number anymore.  There are no bonuses or holiday presents for your new job.

Speaking of jobs. Your kicking some butt balancing Mary Kay and your photography business in all of that free time we give you. You know, the 20 minutes we aren’t fighting or crying or asking for more freakin’ CRACKERS.

Or at nap time when all you really want to do is put up your feet and watch a Hepburn movie. Sometimes from your phone in bed while Da-da is snoring and you can barely keep your eyes open.

You quit your anti-depressant a month ago. You held us both in your arms that afternoon and said you were scared of the lows but wanted to feel the joy we brought you stronger than ever before. You hated the numbness, missed the way that excitement and laughter could fill up your belly, fly up your throat and come out in happy tears and silly giggles. You wanted to feel, you told us. You prayed for you and prayed for us and we petted  your hair which made you so happy.

We saw you the other day. The way you appreciated us listening and behaving so that we could all spend hour after hour of uninterrupted bliss outside in the sunshine on a beautiful Spring day. You stopped as Zack held a leaf and ran it along the edge of a wall telling a story with words like “people” and “go” and “walk” and “outside” and Addie colored a chalk picture on the sidewalk, looking up at you with pink smeared across her cheek and a spot of blue on her hand. “Everything has come alive,” you said softly. You wiped away a tear and the dirt from your gardening glove smeared by your eye and we laughed. “You’re both so smart, so happy, so big, so full of life,” you added, talking more to the ivy on the sidewalk than anything else. We saw you that day, Momma.

 

You’re doing a great job, Momma. But here’s a few requests:

– Stop sweeping the floor so much. Wait until we’re asleep. Or we’ve moved out. Either option is safer and less frustrating.

– Way to go with the homemade laundry detergent and other housewife adventures you’re trying. And remember, you haven’t burnt down the house yet and we’ve had three meals every day.

– Don’t be so hard on yourself. About us or about yourself. You’re a good mom and you’re a great person.

– Pick your battles. Addie loves “washing hands” in the bathroom. It’s annoying but she can’t drown. Good hygiene is a nice habit to get into, too. So what if her sleeves get wet. Pick your battles.

– Keep taking risks. Create spontaneous memories for yourself. You’ll create beautiful memories for us, too.

 

By the way, we know you’re hiding the cinnamon jellybeans somewhere. We will find them.

Oh, and we’d like more crackers, please.

 

Seriously, you’re a pretty great Momma.

We love you.

Zack & Addie

 

 

 

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