Care Packages for my College Kid

Living in a college town has made it fairly easy for me to accept the fact that my children are growing older and beginning to make their own ways in their lives.   Barbi lived at home during her four years at college, so the transition of her leaving home didn’t hit me until just last summer.  Russ has also been living at home during his college days.  But Ben decided he wanted to attend The Citadel…the military college of SC located in Charleston, 3-1/2 hours away.  Having a child living in the dorms barracks has made preparing care packages a necessity.  However, Knobs at the Citadel are the lowest guys on the Totem Pole, so to speak.  Any Knob can be stopped by any upper classman and asked to do all sorts of crazy stuff, including opening up care packages and “sharing” any goodies.  So it became a necessity to figure out how to mail said goodies to my Knob so that he could have them for himself and not have to give them to upper classmen.  Packages must be small enough to fit inside Ben’s Knobbie bag so that he can slip them into his bag before he leaves the post office.  This means using a flat rate bag  or box from the PO…the smallest size they have!  But the package must also be sturdy enough so that home baked goodies do not get crushed in the process of going from here to there.

The workers at The Citadel post office were actually the ones who gave me the idea that I am about to share here.  I can use a small priority mail box and a small flat rate envelope together.

I fill the box with cookies, pop tarts or other items that could get crushed. Then I slip the box into the flat rate envelope and stuff other items around it.  This flat rate envelope costs me $4.95  $5.30  (postage just went up)  no matter how heavy it is!  If I mailed the box alone, it would cost according to weight.  The first and only time I did that cost me almost $7.00!

I got some really good deals last week on a trip to my favorite Bargain Food store, so this particular package doesn’t have any homemade goodies.  Here is what I put inside this package for Ben:

3 applesauce cups; 5 hot chocolate packets; 6 craisin snack packs; 2 Chex mix snack packs; 4 disposable razors; 1 regular size tube of toothpaste;  and 2 sticks of chapstick.  Oh, yes, also a letter from Mom!

I also discovered about half-way through the school year that knobs always share care packages. They will often go to the post office together and split up packages into several knobbie bags before they head back to the barracks. I began to send extra home made goodies to my son so that he had plenty to share!

**Edited for my new readers–The first picture below shows my son as a very scared knob on Matriculation Day, 2011. The second picture is when he received his ring in October,2014.The confidence he shows in the second picture is just amazing! The same transformation will occur in your cadets as you journey on the Road Less Traveled!

Quick and Easy Pie Crust

Thanksgiving Dinner….lots of favorite recipes….that dish that just has to be made because “it’s a tradition!” ….means lots of work for us wives and mothers.  As most of us are planning and preparing delicious Thanksgiving feasts for our families, we are also trying to make the work a bit easier on ourselves.

My mom was the expert on making pie crusts. She used the traditional method of cutting in the shortening, adding water, and mixing gently until it would hold together.  I have tried to develop my skills with pie crusts, too, but have never quite gotten them to be as light and flaky as she made hers.  I know that frozen pie shells are available, but I’ve not yet resorted to that!  I still like the home made crusts!

My friend Lori shared a very easy pie crust with me last night.  I used her recipe today and was amazed at how fast and easy it was! I can’t wait to savor the flavor of my pecan pie and my pumpkin pie!

2 c. flour

1-1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 c. oil

5 tbsp. icy cold water

Combine flour and salt.  Combine water and oil and add all at once to the flour mixture. Stir with a fork until a ball forms. Divide dough in half.

Roll one half of the dough between two pieces of waxed paper to the size of a 9-inch pie plate.

Peel off top layer of waxed paper, turn crust with bottom layer of waxed paper upside down and place crust in the pie plate, gently pressing it into place.  Peel off bottom layer of waxed paper and flute the edges.

Fill pie crust with your favorite filling and use the remaining half of the dough for the top crust.  Since my family enjoys pumpkin and pecan pies, I used the dough to make two single-crust pies.

Charleston Weekend

We had a busy weekend in the Gardner family.  We drove to Charleston on Friday and spent most of the day on the beach.  Barbi was able to drive up from Savannah, so we had about 5 hours with the family complete one more time!  On Saturday  our son, Ben, officially became a Knob at The Citadel, the military college of South Carolina.

Even though he’s been looking forward to this for almost 2 years, leaving him was not easy!

I did bring 2 recipes home with me that we  were able to taste when we stayed with friends.   Tim, Ben and I enjoyed Grits Casserole for breakfast on Saturday before we took Ben to The Citadel.  Sam and Russ enjoyed Bean Dip with Feta Cheese when they ate lunch.  Once I make these myself, I will add them to our blog.

She’s Done!

Four years we waited for this day! Homework, papers, projects, odd work hours, tears, stress, papers, projects, school bills,  exams, and did I say papers and projects?  Such was college life for Barbi! May 7, 2011–the day that we thought would never get here finally arrived– graduation day!  It was a beautiful day with very clear blue skies and a cool breeze.  Couldn’t have asked for better weather!

An added blessing to the day was the knowledge that a job awaits her starting in June!  Soon she will be settled in Savannah, GA beginning her position with Belk as an executive trainee!  There is much to do between now and then, but at least none of it has to do with homework, tests, papers and projects!

Congratulations, Barbi!  I am so very proud of you!

Thanksgiving Desserts!

Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, cranberries. . .the menu items at our Thanksgiving Day dinner remain the same from year to year.  Yours probably do as well!  We enjoyed Thanksgiving Day this year with Tim’s brother and his family for the first time in 8 years!  With four parents, 8 kids ages 12-21, and one girlfriend, we knew we needed plenty of food. . .and plenty of food we had!  Two turkeys, two types of cranberries, and two types of dressing, plus lots and lots of other side dishes and desserts made for quite a feast.   Here are a few recipes for desserts that we enjoyed this  year.

PECAN PIE  This is my mom’s recipe with just one tweek. . .chocolate chips!

1 c. light corn syrup

3 eggs

2/3 c. sugar

1/3 c. butter, melted

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. salt

1 c. chopped pecans

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1 (9-inch) pie shell

Preheat oven to 350. Combine corn syrup, eggs, sugar, butter, vanilla and salt in large bowl; mix well.  Stir in pecans and chocolate chips; pour into pie shell.  Place pie on baking sheet. Bake 50-55 minutes or until filling is set about 3 inches from the edge.  Cool completely on wire rack.  Serve each piece topped with whipped cream.

Apple-Cranberry Crisp

5 large apples, peeled and sliced

2 c. fresh cranberries

1 cup chopped pecans

1/3 c water

3/4 c. flour

1 c. sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. salt

1 stick butter, softened

Spray bottom/sides of 13×9 pan.  Layer apple slices, cranberries, and pecans in pan.  Pour water over all.  Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in mixing bowl. Cut in the butter until it resembles course crumbs.  Spread over fruits and nuts.  Bake for about 30 minutes or until crust is browned.