Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Lemon Crumb Muffins

The floor was scattered with legos, blocks, cars, and who knows what else as we quickly hurried through our morning routine in order to get to school on time.  I yelled for the kids to make their beds and pick up legos and reminded them we had to leave in just a minute, while I frantically finished getting myself ready.  We somehow managed to make it to school on time that morning and get everything picked up.  We even managed to get to school with smiles, even though one kid hated his breakfast options while the other gobbled them all up and asked for more.  

Despite our jam packed day, I had invited a very dear friend over for coffee.  I quickly whipped up a batch of muffins and took a sigh of relief that she was running a bit behind and would be little bit late.  I had time to sit and breathe. . . and pick up a few forgotten legos (they are everywhere!) that had been played with the night before.

Once she and her littles arrived, we sat and chatted over hot cups of coffee and muffins and watched her sweet ones play.  Eventually, we took advantage of the beautiful morning and moved outside.  It was really a perfect morning.   After a couple of hours of beautiful chatting they headed home with extra muffins for an afternoon snack, and I moved on to to the next thing on the schedule.  I was refreshed and encouraged.  I was blessed. 

Several days before this coffee date, I was putting together our weekly schedule and considered canceling our date, but I knew that I couldn't.  This was important.  I needed this.  Taking time to sit and really talk with friends is probably one of my favorite things.  The house doesn't have to be perfect, there doesn't even have to be food.  You just need yourself and a friend (or two).  An old friend.  A new friend.  It doesn't matter.

The truth is we get busy.  Our schedules will always have something that could stop us from investing in our relationships and if we keep coming up with excuses not to invite friends over or hit the local Starbucks after the kids are in bed we will be lonely, sad people.  People. . . friends. . . they are important.  Even those once or twice a year friends.  Face to face talk is so vital and while the introvert in me screams stay home in my pajamas and hide from the world, I go. I talk.  I listen.  I leave encouraged and energized.  Find a friend.  Meet for coffee.  Be encouraged.  

In the meantime, my lemon tree produced a CRAZY amount of lemons and so I had to try some new recipes.  I made these the morning of my coffee date and I am still thinking about them!  The original recipe was HUGE. So, I halved it and they were wonderful!  Maybe make these and invite someone over.  

Lemon Crumb Muffins
adapted from Taste of Home

3 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 cup melted butter
1 1/2 Tbsp lemon zest
1 Tbsp lemon juice

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp cold butter

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice

Mix together dry ingredients and wet ingredients together, careful not to over mix. Set aside.  Combine flour, sugar, and butter in a bowl.  Cut the cold butter in until you get a nice crumbly mixture.  Fill your paper lined muffin cup 3/4 full and sprinkle topping over batter.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  In a small bowl, whisk together sugar and lemon juice.  Drizzle over warm muffins once they are finished baking.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Easy Magnolia Leaf Tutorial

My tree is lined with these fabulously HUGE magnolia trees.  They produce these lush, green leaves that are hearty enough to have a nice life off the tree.  I don't actually have one of these beauties in front of my house (we might be the only house not to), but I have a super sweet neighbor who let me come and cut some clippings.  Before that, I noticed the city was tripping some of the trees on one of our nearby streets, and so I grabbed a few before they got chipped.  I have been putting them everywhere.  Branches in vases are great, but my favorite product of these "Free" leaves are the wreaths that I've been making.

I tried it out on a whim, because I had so many leaves left over from putting them in vases, so I thought that maybe I could make a wreath.  I searched pinterest and found a lot that had some great suggestions, but all involved way more effort and leaves then I was willing to put put forth.  I really wanted this to be a quick and unintimidating (is that a word?) project that anyone could do. 
Last week, mine that I made during the superbowl last month was starting to look a little sad.  It was turning brown and yellow, but in many ways, still had a little bit of charm.  I might be weird like that.  It was a beautiful day and I had a few minutes, so I thought it was time for a tutorial.  I even made one of those cool instastories as I was working (did you watch?). 

But first, you will need:
You will need a wreath form, some magnolia leaves, and some tiny pins with a tiny little head.  You can probably find these at your local craft supply store.  

My wreath form was leftover from a balloon wreath that I made for Ethan's soccer party last fall and it was already wrapped with some green ribbon.  You can wrap yours, you don't have to.  You can't really see the wreath because the leaves kind of curl around it.  That part, is completely up to you. 
When I was talking my leavves off the branches, I wanted to let you know that I used mostly the two middle sized leaves for this project.  The big ones are great, but the take up a lot of space.  If you are using a larger wreath form, then that might be a great option.  I used the tiny ones to fill in as I went. 
Grab a pin and a leaf and start pinning a leaf somewhere. Stem side down. 
Pin it close to the stem and towards the part that will be hidden.  You are going to cover the stems with the next layer of leaves.

Add the second leaf, stems facing downward, and make a v shape with the leaves.  That way, they are sticking out.
Keep on pinning those leaves on. 

Keep on pinning. . .

As you get closer, carefully tuck the rest of the leaves under the first ones you pinned. 
Ta-Da!  You have a Mulberry Leaf Tree (and my cute shoes)!

And then hang in on your door. 

Easy Peazy! 

Have a great weekend!

Friday, March 10, 2017

What's for Dinner {February 2017 edition}

Dinner.  It's becoming one of my favorite parts of the day.  The kids pallets are broadening.  Ethan eats almost anything.  Almost.  There are a few exceptions, but we deal.  Weston is slowly adding foods to his like list and we can now celebrate the addition of hamburgers.  Guys, this is a big one.  We don't have to plan our meals around hot dogs or chicken nuggets.  Dinners now have less whine to them and more talking and conversation and I absolutely love it. 

Last month, we added soccer to our schedules twice a week . . . at dinner time.  I have a love hate relationship with it because it's at dinner and that just throws menu planning for a loop, but I LOVE having weekends free.  The Soccer program is more skills based, so Ethan likes to call it off season training (he's obsessed!).  Because of this we don't have to deal with games, or leagues, or snacks.  It's really quite wonderful.  It just adds a bit of complication to the menu planning week. 

When I menu plan for weeks like this, the goal is to not eat out.  So, instead of going easy on Monday nights, I plan a meal that will guarantee leftovers for the next night, a soccer night.  Some weeks, this works out, and others, we hit some kinks like yesterday, where there were no leftovers, because dinner ended up lasting 3 nights and we were so busy, there just wasn't time to make the next thing on the menu plan.  So, we grabbed fast food on the way home.  It just made things so much easier!

So, despite the craziness of our schedules, we were able to fit in some really delicious stuff! 

1.  Korean Beef Bowls
 I know I probably posted this awhile back, because it's super delicious and crazy easy.  I had completely forgotten about it and a friend posted that she made it a few weeks ago and I quickly added it to our menu.  I was so sad to realize I had forgotten all about this one.  We ate this one on a busy night where the kids probably ate chicken nuggets or something because Weston can't have soy. . . and one of the main ingredients is soy sauce (insert sad face here).  The ingredients are super basic and are ones that we keep all the time, so this really is the easiest, quickest recipe! 

2.  Caramelized Pork Tacos with Pineapple Salsa
This recipe was so simple and I absolutely could eat this every night!  The pork came out perfect and the extra touch of caramelizing the pork was great!  The combo of the pork and salsa just makes my mouth salivate as I type this.  I think tacos are my love language.  Is that a thing.  Can food be a love language.  hmmmm. 

3.  Beijing Beef
This is recipe I have probably pinned several times with the intent to make it.  I'm not sure why it didn't, but probably because there are just a lot of yummy recipes out there.  This one turned out really good.  Not as good as the Panda kind, but pretty close!  Close enough, we will perhaps make it again!  The hubs liked it, so it's a win in my book! 

I thought I had more ideas, but I cannot remember.  I am trying to post my weekly menu plans each week on instagram, so feel free to come follow me and stock me for recipe ideas.  My instagram feed tends to be more real time than the blog, so feel free to come join me!

Other things worth noting:  

The Lemon Oregano Chicken Kabobs in the Against all Grain cookbook are amazing.  I can't find the recipe online, so check the book out of the library and make it.  It's wonderful!

One pan Sausage and Veggies have been on repeat!

Pioneer Woman's Chicken Tortilla Soup made an appearance because it was in the freezer and all I had to do was heat it up.  I'm pretty sure I posted that one previously.

Have you made anything yummy lately that I should add to my menu plan?  Leave a comment and let me know!  Thanks!

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Thursday, March 09, 2017

Weston's quilt

I am really good at starting projects.  Like really, REALLY, REALLY good. Seriously.  I buy the supplies, I get the project started and then. . .

and then. . .

LIFE happens.  You guys, this life thing.  It's really getting in the way.  Just kidding. 

The problem is that life happens, I stop working on something for a while and then "awhile" turns into months and, in this case, years.  It must stop.  This year, I am working on finishing things that have been previously started, set aside, and kind of forgotten. 

One of my first projects, I worked on this year, was finishing Weston's quilt.  I bought the fabric at one of my favorite quilt shops on a trip to Morro Bay.  We fell in love with this line of fabric  with surfboards, plaids, turtles, and hibiscus flowers.  We loved the blues and oranges.  The fabric is called Little Surfer Boy, by Jamie Wood for Clothworks.  I knew instantly that this was the fabric that I wanted to make Weston's quilt out of.
I came home from vacation and cut out my pieces and then got right to work.  I used the tutorial for the disappearing nine patch by Cluck Cluck Sew.  It was super easy. I just got busy with other things that came up, that it actually sat almost finished for over a year on our office chair.  Yep.  I sat on it to get things done.  So this year, I made a plan and got focused.  This quilt would be finished before Weston's 6th birthday.  I was sure of it.  

Then, I messed up.  I was in a hurry and was quilting the top with simple straight lines.  And I ended up going all the way through instead of stopping.  I was so frustrated.  My mom, graciously took it home and seam ripped it (I think she's a saint!), and then finished binding it for me.  If it wasn't for her, we wouldn't have this done in time for his birthday.  She's a life saver! 

This year, I am working on finishing some project that I've started and have been forgotten due to life just getting busy.  Be on the lookout for more quilts and other fun stuff!

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

On feeling overwhelmed.

This post is about being overwhelmed. 

I said it.


Raise your hand if you're overwhelmed. Don't lie. (I am raising my hand sooo high right now. . . trust me.  It's raised!) There's a ton of stuff to get done. There are kids.  Messes.  Food.  Legos (LOTS of legos!). Laundry.  Projects.  Schedules.   It can all be overwhelming.  Life in general can be overwhelming.

This is NOT a bad thing.    

It happens.  It's a part of life.  It's not necessarily bad, because we all have it and often times it can't be helped.  Sometimes, it sometimes feels like you are hanging there waiting for someone to catch you.  And sometimes it doesn't feel like anyone is there to catch you. 
But there is.  We have a God who hold our hands as we walk through the hard, messy, and overwhelming.  Our mess and overwhelming feelings may not be the same as our friend next door, but we all have these feelings.  We have a God who will catch us when we fall down.  It's pretty cool! 

This week, I was trying to get at least one day done for Bible Study (As a table leader, it is probably a good idea that I come prepared).  Last week, we were on vacation, so I was super behind.  Then, I read 2 Sam. 22.  It's a song that David sung to the Lord after he had been rescued from some pretty terrible things and after he had messed up a bunch of times (Isn't in nice to know that the man that was titled a man after God's own heart messed up.  I find that so refreshing!). 

I am in no means being chased by my enemies.  But, when I am overwhelmed the arrows of insecurity and my anger come flying at me and I know that I have to protect myself.  I was reminded that we can cry out to God and he will hear us and help us.   He will help us when we are overwhelmed. 
Maybe you are overwhelmed by more than just a mess and schedules.  Maybe there's just some crazy stuff going on in and you just don't know where to start or those things that are overwhelming you are out of your control. I wish I could just wrap my arms around you and give a hug.  Know that I am praying for you, dear, sweet reader. 

Today, I am reminding myself this:
I don't have to do it all.  In fact, I can't.  There just aren't enough hours to get it done.  I can get the important things done.  I can be okay with imperfection.  I can trust that God has my back.  
Here are some of the ways that I deal with my overwhelming moments:

1.  Go to God's Word. 
This is probably my favorite one and probably for some reason one that I don't do as often as I should.  The time where I dig into the Bible is in the evening (I am a night owl, so it suits me).  However, I have found that by doing a small devotional in the mornings or choosing a verse for the day or week to till on as I go about my business really helps those feeling. If you aren't sure where to start. . . go look up 2 Samuel 22.  It will encourage you!  

2.  Make a list.  
When my lists get long and crazy, I separate them into categories:

Around the House
If I have time

Then, when I know what I am focusing on and get to it.  I also sometimes put it on the fridge so I see it whenever I walk by.  It helps keep me focused. 

3.  Blast Music. 
Music is a wonderful thing.  A friend last year shared how she turns those mundane household tasks into opportunities for worship.  Blare some Worship Music.  Create a playlist that gets you moving.  My favorites are some worhsip and Disney music.  I also listen to podcasts to help me focus. 

4.  Avoid the TV.  The TV sucks you in.  Save the TV for a reward for getting some things done.  Or save it for when you are tackling that mountain of laundry.  I love a good chick flick and laundry!

5.  Take 15-30 minutes.
Before I take on the day, I make myself a cup of coffee, sit down, find a verse, and pray about the day. . . this kind of goes along with point 1. Find that time to just give yourself.  On days where I am home all day, I walk the kids to school, work out, eat breakfast, and have my coffee time in the office.  It has become one of my favorite times of the day. 

6.  Set the timer.  
Speed Cleaning is one of my favorite and most productive ways to get through each rooms.  This is what I am doing today.  I think a bomb might have exploded while we were on vacation.  But, I know when I am focused, even if for a short time, it's amazing what can get accomplished.

What is overwhelming you today?  How do you handle your overwhelming days?


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