Recipe for Happiness

Her Favorite Treat

Her Favorite Treat

 

Energy Balls

Chocolate Balls that Kids Hate

Makes: 4-8 Balls

Name of image (title of post is fine)

Prep time:

Ingredients:
  • 1/4 Cup Coconut Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Coconut Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  • 2 Tablespoons Cacao
  • 1/4 Cup Almonds
  • A few Figs or Dates

Instructions:
  1. Mix it-Here it is...just dump it in the blender or food processor and crush and mix it all up.
  2. Roll it up-Here is another hard part-roll up the concoction into about 4 large balls or 8 small balls. The mixture will be wet and not super solid.
  3. Set it-pop them in the freezer or the refrigerator so they get harder. And then eat them! Easy Peasy!
He loves them!

He loves them!

Okay, one of my pet peeves when looking for a recipe is having to read a ginormous story before I get to the recipe. Dang, I don't need to know all the back story all at once. Maybe the story is great, but maybe I just want the recipe. So I am starting off with the recipe for this blog post. This recipe is an approximation...you know I hate to follow the constraints of a recipe and maybe you do to. I like to just eye it. 

This recipe was adapted from the millions of energy balls or fat balls that are out there. I made them so my kids would have some healthier sweet treats to satisfy our family's sweet tooth. I was so proud of myself. 

As you can see from the photos...my children weren't exactly crazy about them. My daughter acted like I poisoned her and then she immediately ate some candy to get the horrible taste out of her mouth. My son was a little more discreet, but obviously he isn't a big fan either. That is okay. I like them.

We have been focusing on what we eat lately. In my mind we are such healthy eaters, but then I realize that we get lazy and we have to reset. This is our reset. We are loosely following the Mediterranean Diet. It isn't hard because it is basically how we eat, besides the sweets. We have all want a little sweet treat now and then. So I thought I would make a healthy sweet. 

But, nope. They aren't having it.

That is okay...they can have real sweets. It is all about moderation. 

Right now in our family we are having a hard time with a screen time addiction...mainly with the under 10 crowd, but all of us could use a reset as well. This happens nearly every year during this time of the year. We get stuck inside with the weather and screen time fills our time. In the summer the kids are playing and out and about. But winter and even during the wet spring we get too much screen time. 

We are in reset mode. Diet, screens, and I would even say with our house. The first of the year is all about organization and then comes spring cleaning. We all need a reset once in awhile (or once a day, whatever, there is no judgement). 

Isn't that part of the recipe for happiness? Just being able to reset...something isn't working? Then start over. Nothing is set in stone. My kids get hung up on if something isn't right or it isn't how they want it or they screw up at something. They always talk about things not being perfect. Nope, things aren't perfect...but the beauty in this amazing life is that we get another chance, again, and again, and again. Things may not be perfect, but you have the opportunity to change that and make it the best you can. 

And if you don't like these energy balls then hit the reset button and start again. 

See you soon!

 

 

'Twas the Night

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It is the night before Christmas. Like many parents, I am helping Santa do everything in my power to make Christmas morning magical.

I hope this holiday season you have had joy, that you have been surrounded by people you love. If you aren't able to be in the presence of your loved ones I hope that memories sustain you. 

This season is full of activities.

This season is full of crafting.

I thought I would write you a few times the last couple of weeks, but we have had every sickness under the sun. 

Last week, I even wrote a little poem about my family and the sickness. 

‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through the house were sickies who like to wipe snot on my blouse.

Mom is so tired, the only way she shows that she cares. Is to line up the teacups on the counter so germs are not shared.

And the kids were snuggled up in the beds, one with tissue and one with a puke bucket right by their heads.

And mama is in her yoga pants writing this ditty, while dad is away for work again in another city.

I am here texting, emailing, and calling the schools while trying not to cause a clatter. I am praying for the kids to nap, for just ten minutes would really matter.

We have gone through the Netflix Christmas movies in a flash. We tore through so many there’s bound to be some screen time backlash.

The list of ailments between them both seem to grow. I think my weariness is surely starting to show.

When, what to my tired eyes should appear,
But another type of virus showing up here.

With my mother instinct so swift and quick,
I get out all the tools to help with the sick.

An arsenal of goodies the kids thought were lame,
But I persisted and called them by name;

”Honey, tissues, saltines, and soup!
Oh, ginger syrup, essential oils, and Lysol to boot!”

If children are bored mischief they will try,
When they are soon met with an obstacle it is mom’s mad sigh.

So down to the basement they flew. With hands full of toys, that they threw all a-strew.

And then, when I thought I could take no more. A big glass of milk spilled all over the floor.

As I drew in a deep breath, the kids were scurrying around. My yelling and screaming was by far the only sound.

The kids looked scared and it made me feel sad.
As we cleaned up the milk, I assured them they weren’t bad.

My lost temper was not something I could take back. But I could certainly make up for the empathy I lacked.

As we talked, their eyes twinkled and looked so merry. I couldn’t tell if it was the sickness that made their cheeks the color of berries.

I told them I was sorry for yelling and letting my temper show. They ask for some make-up toys and I promptly said “no.”

Christmas is coming much sooner than we think,
The sicknesses, the shopping, and the busyness are making me want to drink;

The pressure is mounting with each passing day,
My to-do lists are really making me cray.

But for today I focus on making my crew not sick,
Some R&R will hopefully do the trick;

The last minute shopping and the prospect of wrapping is something I dread. I have a cold too and I can hear the calling of my bed.

But for now, I am on mama duty and I will get to work. I really don’t want to be that bah humbug jerk,

And as I pop some Day-Quil and I start to blow my nose. The spirit of Christmas in my heart definitely arose;

It isn’t about the presents, the wrapping, or the tinsel. Christmastime is about something much more simple.

So as I am covered in a blankie and sipping some tea. Merry Christmas to all...may healthy loved ones surround you under the tree.

I am pretty sure another member of our family is getting sick. It. Never. Ends.

But these moments are fleeting. The moments of joy that only Santa can bring. 

Wishing you the best day ever. 

Pass the Tissue Please

When your kids are sick you feel a mix of emotions...sadness, helplessness, empathy, a secret joy from them being so snuggly, and you may feel a little bit like you are on lock down.

(Now let's be clear, I am talking about run of the mill every day sicknesses...colds, viruses, bugs...a really sick child is heartbreaking and something we pray never happens.)

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Our whole family has had a variety of colds for the last few weeks. One ends and a new one comes along. It is just the season. Facebook has been kind to remind me that the kids are sick and home from school every year during this time.  

The kids have a cold this week that came with a fever. Both have missed school and that means mama is in deep on the sick front. Little Miss has been hit the hardest and she has gone back and forth with a fever so I have been fooled by her "recovery" a couple of times. Her fever has kept climbing and if she doesn't get rid of this fever she has to go to the doctor. 

A lot of us want our mamas when we don't feel good. She is no different. As I type this my daughter and I have our arms interlocked. I can't go to the other room without her following me.

I am glad she wants me near. I am happy she needs me. I am not thrilled to share the last Hansen's root beer I found hidden in the back of the fridge that I tried to sneak without her knowing, but all in all it has been several days of snuggles. I feel lucky to be here for both kids...even if I have a touch of cabin fever. 

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Let's talk about what makes us feel better when we are sick. I am a Southern mama so I bake when the kids are sick.  Today I made fresh bread, homemade potato soup, and sugar cookies. I promise there is a lot of veg in the soup...this all looks one color...tan.

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What are some things you do to get your house healthy?

Here is a list of things to try to help you or your kiddos heal faster...or at least to help alleviate the symptoms. 

Hydrate-This is a big one. Get plenty of fluids! Have a water bottle by the sickie at all times. And in addition, drinking warm fluids helps to loosen everything up and helps make you feel better faster.

Nourish your body-Warm soups help open your passage ways. Those soups don't have to be home cooking...they can be your favorite take out. Try to get in plenty of Vitamin C (citrus fruits, red and green peppers, kiwis, and spinach are all a good way to start).

Honey-Kids can't have cold meds...they can have pain reliever, but it is best to talk to your doctor about what to do. A lot of times doctors want the children to try to fight off the virus on their own, but each case can be different.  What kids can have (at least those over 1) can have honey. I make a little warm drink of honey, water, and lemon for the kiddos. The honey is supposed to help with sore throats and coughing. 

Take a hot shower or bath. Breathing in steam may moisten everything up. And the heat can also help relax any sore and achy muscles. I love me a hot bath. 

Activities-I don't know about your kid, but mine can only watch so much screen time. We usually monitor screen time, but on sick days it is a free for all. But honestly they get bored. So they color, build Legos, do arts and crafts, play dolls...they do a lot of stress free activities. 

Rest-  This is the MOST important! Sick bodies need rest to heal. Get a fuzzy blanket and cuddle. 

Well, this blog post actually took me all day to finish, because my little sickie comes and gets me every few minutes. Here's hoping she feels better in the morning. And I hope you and yours makes it unscathed during cold and full season...and if you get this crap then snuggle up buttercup!

Okay, I Got Distracted

I didn't have the blog up when I usually do AND I am not going to write about organization when you are traveling with children like I said I would do. I am just not feeling it. I will write about it next week, but not today. Today I am just rolling with the day.

At Home Entertainment

At Home Entertainment

Since we got home I have been cleaning, cleaning, and cleaning and buying a lot of groceries. Yep, that is pretty much the extent of it and keeping two kids, two dogs, a fish, and a hubby alive and relatively happy. There have been friends, some sports, swim lessons, etc. But I am in slomo when I can be. 

I think that after a trip it takes me a bit to get my bearings.  We all crave to be in our place with our stuff.  And with nothing to do. The last part seems to be harder to achieve.

Hanging with Handsome

Hanging with Handsome

This summer I am acutely aware of how fleeting the moments are...the good ones and bad ones. This is the only summer with my boy being 9 and my girl being 4. That is almost double digits and Kindergarten kind of summer. I have spoken about it before, but is a hard balance trying to let them grow and wanting these moments to hold onto forever. Each time my boy grabs my hand my heart smiles and aches at the same time. And my girl is sooooooo wound up I try to remember that this time is also precious and I want to honor that spirit and help it grow while keeping my sanity. This is the Summer of Strength I just didn't anticipate the strength would also be with my mama's heart. 

Eat Yo Veggies

Eat Yo Veggies

Well, besides working on not being an emotional nut job mom, I have more to do. Right now we are having a family "reboot" since the trip. Here is what we are trying to focus on...maybe it would work for you as well. 

  • Sleep- Sleep is magic. Our sleep has been jacked, so we are trying to go to bed early (I mean besides me) and we have been sleeping in (besides dad). 
  • Eat Fresh-Eat yo veggies. Our food choices weren't always ideal on the road so we are trying to eat more veggies, more fruit, and less meat. Our garden is going bonkers so that helps. I will admit that our son has been deep in on the box mac and cheese...that is new, but it is also fine...we will make up for it in other ways. 
  • Move Your Body-The kids have activities that get their body moving and they naturally want to play. BUT for mom, I have to work on it. I have started a new work out program that is very slow, but it is a start! I will have to incorporate more movement to have this really be the Summer of Strength. 
  • Read-We are all reading. Taking time to sit and dive into a book. The kids got a ton of screen time on the road and I think they are craving more than electronics right now. 
  • Play/Art/Etc-Be creative. The kids are playing and doing art. My husband and I have been working in the garden and in the yard...just taking time to be. Use your mind in another way. 

Have a great weekend...slow down and enjoy the moments. See you Tuesday where I WILL tell you about best tips for traveling with kiddos. I mean, I probably will. 

Grow Your Own

Our first haul of 2017. 

Our first haul of 2017. 

When I was a little girl growing up in Fort Smith, Arkansas I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. I was with them every week during the school year, and all of summer, and I even lived with them a couple of times during my childhood. They definitely helped raise me. 

My grandparents had a giant vegetable garden. Once again, in hindsight, it might have not been giant...I was a child...I was 4 feet tall or shorter. Regardless, they had a vegetable garden. I would have to help in the garden and grab vegetables for meals. That was all fine and good until the time I was trapped in there by two large birds.

Now, I know you aren't appropriately picturing these birds. My grandparents had two Emus for a little bit. Yep, the birds that are like ostriches. They look like they may have been around since the age of dinosaurs. 

A  National Geographic  picture Of a Rhea

A National Geographic picture Of a Rhea

I am not 100% sure why my Nana and Papaw had rheas. I am guessing it is because they wanted to raise them for meat or eggs. They had a boy one and a girl one and they scared me. These birds can be around 5 1/2 feet tall! And the rheas that they had were not that nice.

One day my Nana asked me to get some tomatoes, as she finished making dinner. I ran out to the garden and I was a little irritated because I didn't want miss out on watching Wheel of Fortune (hey, I grew up with my grandparents...of course I watched Wheel of Fortune.) Well, I run out to the garden and I go to pick the tomatoes. The garden had long rows of veggies and I remember everything being so huge...so I must have been short. 

I get the tomatoes and I try to leave the garden to see what was happening on Wheel of Fortune and I can't leave. Why you ask? Those damn birds wouldn't let me leave. They came to the garden and started trying to peck at me. Now here is where things can get a little fuzzy...I am remembering something from a LOT of years ago. But for me, I felt like they were trying to attack me. 

I yelled and screamed and cried to get my grandparents attention to no avail. The garden wasn't super close to the house and there were fences obscuring the view. So I hid, for my life, in the tomato plants. My Papaw finally came looking for me after an amount of time that felt like forever.  And instead of rushing to my aid and scooping me up in love and compassion, he completely had zero ideas why I would be huddled and crying. Luckily my Nana had a lot more empathy for the situation and I was coddled appropriately. I am also pretty sure I was excused from helping in the garden for a long, long time. 

While traumatic at the time, it is one of my favorite memories. The garden was a source of food, of fun, and obviously of a little fear.  I can clearly remember the taste of the tomatoes, the sound of my Nana snapping the beans, and the smells of all the creations she would make. 

Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get.
— H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Since my husband and I have been married we have grown herbs, fruit (trees, bushes, and vines), and vegetables. Our children have had a garden most years of their lives. While our garden pales in comparison to my Nana and Papaws. I love how it grows bigger each year and now we have some sort of harvest all over the property...every where you go there is something growing that we will provide for our family.  It is such an amazing thing to plant something, care for it, and watch it grow into something that can nourish your body, all the while nourishing your mind and soul as you tend to the garden. 

And the flowers in our yard are amazing...no filter needed on those blooms. We bought a house that had established landscaping, so we are just reaping the benefits of some else's love and vision (thanks Phyllis). Well, besides a few things like the roses...my husband is a rose fanatic. You would never know it looking at him, but he loves him some roses.

I love seeing what blossoms and when. In the last 7 1/2 years that we have been here some things come back every year, some things bloom once and we never see them again, and every year there are new things that pop up in the yard that I have never seen before. It is always so fun to see what is growing. We do a family tradition called "garden walks" where we walk around the garden to see what is growing and what needs tending to and what changes need to be made. 

You don't need your own piece of land to grow something or to reap the benefits of a garden. Here are some ways you can get your hands dirty...

  • Container garden.
  • Take a gardening class.
  • Walk around your local nurseries.
  • Join a community garden.
  • Help a neighbor with their garden.
  • Go to any of your local gardens...they don't need to provide food...any garden will be great. 
  • Walk your neighborhood to see what is growing.

The point is to be connected to your food, to the beauty of your community, and to get outside. There are probably not any giant birds out there waiting to get you...so what is stopping you?

A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.
— Gertrude Jekyll
Our veggie garden.

Our veggie garden.

Searching for Slo-Mo

Over it

Over it

It seems like everyone I talk to is a little (or a lot) overwhelmed right now. We are in the season of busyness. Granted I talk to a LOT of parents of elementary and preschool kids, but this time of year seems to be insanely busy. I think part of it is a combination of end of school events, sports, and just spring-going-into-summer stuff (like that technical explanation?). I mean for the love, we have to have our summer's planned in early spring to register kids in camps and summer programs. 

Summer is around the corner (a little longer for the kids in the Portland metro area. We had so much snow this winter that we had to add school days at the end of the year so we are in school until June 22)! One of my friends said she felt that it's bittersweet because she wants summer, but gets sad that another year has passed in the lives of her kiddos. 

Life in Motion

Life in Motion

It all goes too fast. I feel like I am constantly behind...for the love, I was able to blog while we were in Disneyland, but I was late for a posting on Monday...and I am home! I am just overwhelmed...I need to get kids to where they need to go, I need to get groceries, or run errands, I need to clean my house...the list is never ending and always growing. I am so stinking tired and I get snappy with my family. I think there has to be a better way...we must be doing some thing wrong because I can't do it all. I read the magazines, the blogs, Pinterest...and I am not living my best life...I am barely keeping it together most days. And just when I think I can't take any more and that something has to give...then summer comes and our load lightens, the days lengthen, and the most magical thing happens...the more we connect as a family.

The school year is so busy with school and sports and yes, we are together all the time, but yet we aren't. The time is fragmented and strained and the downtime we have is so precious that we do, in the words of Little Miss, we do what we want to do. She tells us on a daily basis "I do what I want to do"...shocker. And that is what happens during any moment we have right now. But I feel the moments fleeting. 

It happens before you know it, the handprints get higher and higher, then they disappear.
— Unknown

I sent my husband a text in the middle of the night a couple of days ago to inform him that we only have 9 more summers with our boy being our boy. Seriously it makes me cry. And then I obsess about those years...if he will want to be with us or his friends...or some day a significant other. You want them to grow and flourish, but you also want them with you. 

My daughter, who sometimes makes my days feel longer, has been modeling my obsessive mothering style. She told me that I am going to watch her children when she is older, I will live with them, and I am responsible for purchasing a lot for these future grandchildren. She talks about it all the time. I am game, because as I mourn each stage that is over with them. I store that longing away and I look forward to those stages with my grandchildren...and to the stages with my own children that I can't even imagine yet.

Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don’t wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. Think how really precious is the time you have to spend, whether it’s at work or with your family. Every minute should be enjoyed and savored.
— Earl Nightingale

I secretly hate when people use the phrase "bucket list" for anything besides things you want to do before you die. A bucket list a number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime. I especially hate Summer Bucket Lists...I think it is creepy.  So this is my Summer To Do list...whether you are in a part of the country that is already done with school or if you are in the same boat as our family and you have a few more weeks or you don't have either scenario...you still will be a part of the season so make your own list... or you can totally steal mine too if you want. 

Summer To Do List

  1. Work in the garden.
  2. Pick fruit-berries, peaches, apples, and pears.
  3. Swim. Put on the bathing suit and swim. 
  4. Go to the ocean-or a large body of water if you aren't near an ocean.
  5. Read. Read for me and have the kids read. 
  6. Explore as many playgrounds as we can. 
  7. Go to a drive in movie.
  8. Take some road trips. 
  9. Make and keep dinner plans with friends.
  10. Host another National Night Out event.
  11. Go stargazing with the telescope.
  12. Make homemade ice cream.
  13. Get out on the Slip and Slide.
  14. Have Nerf Wars.
  15. Make snow cones.
  16. Sew. 
  17. Make berry pies.
  18. Refinish a chair-this is pretty specific, but I want to make sure I do it.
  19. Go to the fair. 
  20. Bake-pizza, bread, all of it.
  21. Go on some epic bike rides.
  22. Work out.
  23. Visit some relatives. 
  24. Sleep outside.
  25. Take the dogs on an adventure.
  26. Start a new nature collection.
  27. Build a tree house.
  28. Get crafty with the kids. 
  29. Add to the rock collection.
  30. Play baby dolls or Legos most times they ask.

Well, I think that will start us off.

There is no slo-mo button for life even when we desperately want one to hold onto the moments and the people that we hold dear. I cannot capture this time, because to hold it is to suffocate it and life is all about the breathing in and out. So this summer I am going to try to do less and just be more. I don't want to squander a moment. 

Parents rarely let go of their children, so children let go of them. They move on. They move away. The moments that used to define them - a mother’s approval, a father’s nod - are covered by moments of their own accomplishments. It is not until much later, as the skin sags and the heart weakens, that children understand; their stories, and all their accomplishments, sit atop the stories of their mothers and fathers, stones upon stones, beneath the waters of their lives.
— Mitch Albom

Life is a busy blur at the moment...it ebbs and flows. I am going to try my best to do my best and then be forgiving with myself for the things I will inevitably forget, drop, ruin, etc. And in the meantime, I guess I will be collecting stones as we head into the next season. 

See you Friday!

Play Ball

Little Miss taking selfies with her Little Miss at one of the many games.

Little Miss taking selfies with her Little Miss at one of the many games.

This weekend was filled all sorts of sportsball...baseball games and soccer. And we have had HOT weather...somehow that makes the games/days seem soooooo much longer.  We love sports, but I think we all ready for some unscheduled weekends. 

My favorite lilacs.

My favorite lilacs.

On top of sports, school, and work...like everyone, we still have life happening. We had a dinner date with a family from Libya who treated us by cooking  our first Libyan meal. But I couldn't come to their house empty handed (it is in the Born in the South Handbook...who am I to mess with tradition) so we brought a bouquet of lilacs from our yard and I made a treat.

Since it has been hot I have not wanted to turn on the oven, so I had to search for a recipe that was quick, easy, and cool. So for our Make it Monday (which is a day late) we are making our own sportsballs buy making some chocolate balls (truffles).

First you need your supplies...

  • Cream Cheese-8 oz
  • Sifted Powdered Sugar-3 cups
  • Chocolate Chips-3 cups
  • Toppings

 

Step 1

I used this recipe. Basically...whip the cream cheese, add the powdered sugar (that you sifted), and then add melted chocolate chips. Mix it all together and let chill for a bit. I actually put our in freezer for a bit to speed up the process. You know I hate to wait. Now these aren't gourmet truffles. But they are quite easy and everyone loved them. (I thought they were a little sweet, but my kids didn't share that sentiment). 

Toppings

Step 2

Get your toppings together. I used crushed Lady Fingers, ground almonds, pretzel pieces, and sprinkles. In hindsight, there was a lot of beige happening here. I had a hard time keeping track of the different flavors. 

Rolled Ball

Step 3

Roll it up. Scoop up a bit and roll it in your hands. This is messy...especially on a hot day...that cholocate wants to stick on your hands. 

Sprinkles

Step 4

Roll the chocolate balls in the topping of your choice. The kids all loved the sprinkles. I mean, who doesn't like a good sprinkle. 

Truffles

Step 5

Let them set for a bit in a cool spot...and serve. Look how cute these are!

Can't wait for summer with these knuckleheads.

Can't wait for summer with these knuckleheads.

As we are at the end of the school and baseball season we are looking forward to a whole bunch of nothing and having a ball in a much different way. Counting down the days. 

See you Wednesday!

Your Dish to Pass

If  you ever been to a church dinner,  a neighborhood gathering, or any other potluck you may have been asked to bring a dish to pass. This is something that you make more of and you share with others at the party. Everyone brings a dish to pass and therefore you are fed with all sorts of flavors in little amounts that add up to a meal.  Some of us have things that are our jam for potlucks...you have it dialed...you know what you want to bring, you make it all the time, you are an expert on that dish. Some of us are hit and miss with what dish to bring...the cooking isn't consistent...and you hope for the best. And then some of us freak out when giving the responsibility of providing part of the meal...you stress over what to bring...and you second guess your decision...and perhaps you just pick something up at the store on the way. We all have different potluck strategies and abilities.

Homemade Sourdough

Homemade Sourdough

Just like we all have talents...things that we are good at...things that set us apart from everyone else. Your "thing" is your "dish to pass" in this party called Life. 

Dearly beloved, We are gathered here today to get through this thing called life.
— Prince

We all have something to give, something to contribute, even when we may not think we do. Think about the unique things that make you...you. You have special skills or aptitudes. Whether you are into sports or into arts; or a skilled communicator or a fabulous writer; or are a musician or a chef...you have skills.

Baseball Boy

Baseball Boy

When our son was a little younger he would need reassurance from time to time and he would like to know all the things he was good at or what his strong qualities are. At the time my heart would ache because I was afraid that he didn't think highly of himself and I know that kid and he is the freaking greatest. But in hindsight, we all need those reassurances, those check ins to remind us who we are and what makes us so great. And I would much rather him hear those things from his people, the people that know and love him instead of him making up things about himself because it can be hard to some times see yourself or even worse from people that may not have his best interest at heart. Part of being a parent is raising your kids with a good mix of self awareness, healthy self esteem, and a dash or two of humility. You want your kids to excel at lots of things, but the big ones for us are kindness, generosity of spirit, critical thinking, and a sense of humor...everything else is just gravy. 

Sharp Dresser

Sharp Dresser

Here are some tips to uncover or highlight your potential and to find your own dish to pass...

  • Take inventory. What do you love to do? What are you good at? Make a list...yes, a real one. Talk to the people you love to see what they say. Determine if your job and your values line up with the things you find important or at least are good at. Finding out what your gifts are helps you focus on the positive, it shows you about your own worth, and it is great information to have for yourself or for witty dinner party banter.
  • Do the unexpected. Don't fall into mind traps. Sometimes we can do some damaging mind talk. Don't fall into that trap. See, I pretty much hate karaoke. It embarrasses me and makes me super uncomfortable, but if people ask me to go...I go. This last weekend I had the opportunity to sing a rousing rendition of "Picture" by Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow AND it was in front of some people I love and some I don't know. I had to do the unexpected and I had to just say "yes." How many times am I going to have that situation happen? Probably not a ton and I would rather reminisce about something that happened that made me stretch my comfort levels then have no story to tell. Will I be an expert karaoke singer...probably not, but it is good to do the unexpected. You never know when you might find your "thing" or at least have some good stories. 
  • Set some goals. Now you know what is your "dish" what are you going to do about it? My husband is great at building things and specializes in beautiful woodworking. But what does that matter? At first he did woodworking just for the love of it, the challenge or it, and the beauty of it. But because he does this one particular hobby so well, now he takes requests from people wanting to buy his products. What do you want to do with your talent? How can you share it? How can you grow it? What do you want to do next?
  • Believe in yourself. C'mon people  you have to believe in yourself. You don't think you are the right person for the job? Prove yourself wrong. You aren't all knowing, but you are awesome...focus on that. Below is a picture of a pie I made...the crust doesn't look amazing, but it is soooooo yummy. It was my husband's recipe...he makes the best pie crust. However, I was tired of waiting for him to make pie crust, so I learned how to make it myself. What do you want to do that fear is holding you back? Do some positive talk and believe in yourself dammit. 
Berry Pie

Berry Pie

Learn how to cook–try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!
— Julia Child

Start cooking...metaphorically speaking of course (or not). Invite some people at your table and share some time, share a meal, and make some memories. 

Phoning It In

So magical. 

So magical. 

We are home from vacation. It was great fun. We had a wonderful time in Disneyland. While the rides and the all the entertainment were amazing, the most fun was just being together. It was clear it is something that we all were craving.

My husband works long and hard at his job providing for our family and he feels like he misses out on the little things with the kids. So a week together, just the four of us, was what the doctor ordered. Typically the kids just want me all the time and by the end of the week they were wanting dad instead of me. It was heartwarming to see...even if it meant I rode a ride or two all alone.

The trip was a great reset for our family. We have had some challenging times with my recent medical scare so while we missed school and other obligations, we needed this time together to celebrate the challenges we have overcome and to kick start this new season of our life. We spent our time getting to know each other in new ways, we found out how to travel better as a family, and we really noticed how much we needed to connect.

We are all exhausted, but the world keeps spinning so we have school, work, classes, baseball, etc. Now this is life. This is for real our front room so this is what I will be doing today. 

When we were gone we stayed at a place that had a kitchen so that really helped us not only with expenses, but helped us keep up a similar diet that we are accustomed to eating. Our family doesn't do well eating out all the time. As you know, I don't menu plan and honestly I rarely follow recipes, BUT I do look for inspiration when planning on what to eat for dinner. 

So since I am a little behind and a lot exhausted, I am going to phone it in a bit for Making it Monday. Today I am going to share some new recipes with you that we have tried in the last month...

  • When we left for vacation I had a gallon of milk in the fridge that was going to expire the day we came home. So when we came back, I still had the milk. So I made it into cheese. I saved the whey to tenderize some meat and to make some homemade bread. 
  • One day a family member mentioned on Facebook that they their child wanted to eat school pizza. And then I couldn't stop thinking about school pizza. So I tried this recipe, it was pretty yummy. (We make pizza pretty regularly at our house. It is something that my husband's family made all the time. It is great for me because honestly I don't love marinara so for my pizzas I can put pesto, olive oil, or whatever on them. Here is a recipe similar to the one we use when we make "real" pizza.)
  • These chicken tenders were awesome. Healthy? Maybe not so much, just eat a big salad with this one. 
  • I am trying this recipe today for a Cucumber Quinoa Salad

Enjoy some pizza, chicken, and a salad and I will see you Wednesday! 

 

Whatcha Cookin'?

Sardines with that?

Sardines with that?

I used to be baffled when people wouldn't know what to cook for dinner. I thought "how hard is it to figure out what to eat?" What a jerk I was! Turns out this was before I was a stay at home mom and I seriously only made one meal a day...dinner. At the time, my husband made breakfast and we would fend for ourselves for lunch so seriously I typically made just one meal a day. But now, all the meals and all the snacks...they drain my creativity. Now I find myself trolling my friends to see what they are eating to get ideas, or I look at Pinterest for inspiration, or I read from my collection of cookbooks, or I even try to recreate recipes from my favorite restaurants. 

How do you decide what to make each day? Do you meal plan? Do you use a service like Blue Apron, HelloFresh, or Sun Basket? How do you figure out how to feed yourself and your family every dang day? I am going to tell you what I do, but this is just the beginning of this conversation. Maybe we can revolutionize how prepare food? Well, probably not, but who knows? 

So I don't follow a meal plan, even though I really, really want to, but I just don't work that way. And we don't use a service, not because they aren't great...I know lots of people in our world LOVE them, but I think I may be too cheap for a service. I basically buy staples every couple of weeks and then pepper in some fresh and/or seasonal items until my next big grocery trip.

Grow Your Own

Grow Your Own

We try eat a bunch of fruits and vegetables and focus on whole grains and local proteins, but as the kids get older I do see we have a lot more processed foods in our world. I do try to make sure they are as healthy and as high quality as possible, but it is something I would like to do even better about. It goes back to that balance thing...I can tell you, not all of our food is organic, local, seasonal, nonGMO, etc...but we are mindful about our food. Like I am super mindful my little girl eats her weight in candy. 

One thing that really drives what I am cooking is what NEEDS to be cooked/ate/etc. Take these bananas. There are three different bunches represented here. We eat a lot of bananas (and don't get me started that the bananas that we know and love are being threatened by a banana disease...I am deep in on this story). 

The first couple of bananas from Bunch #1 are VERY ripe...this morning they will be cookies (see recipe below...also I am horrible about following recipes so let's hope for the best on this one), the next few bananas from Bunch #2 are too ripe for about half of us in our family, but the will probably be eaten or they will be peeled and frozen for future smoothies or banana "ice cream," and the bottom bananas from Bunch #3 are a little green, but truth is both kids will eat them this way or they will ripen enough for mom and dad.

This Beat is Bananas

This Beat is Bananas

Now I didn't plan on making cookies today, but the bananas are on the way out and I don't want to waste them so cookies are on the menu this morning. I will plan a whole menu based on what I think may be going blinky. Wasting food is a huge problem in the United States. It used to be a big problem in my own home as well and I really strive to use everything I can...I feel as a parent in particular we need to model being good stewards of the Earth and part of that is not wasting good food.  

Most days our food looks like this:

Typical Breakfast-This is the only meal we have specific things that we pretty much eat every day. 

  • Yogurt
  • Cereal-Mainly Grape Nuts
  • Eggs
  • Toast
  • Bagel & Cream Cheese
  • Banana
  • Coffee
  • Milk
  • Weekend Breakfast may have bacon or sausage and perhaps some breakfast potatoes with eggs

Typical Lunch-This is a free for all. 

  • The hubby will either take left overs or buy lunch at work.
  • The boy will NOT eat a school lunch because it slows him down so I make a lunch that always has these items:        a veggie, a fruit, a grain, and a protein. 
  • The girl and I will eat random items or leftovers, but I try to make sure it is balanced, but I am not always successful.  

Typical Dinner-I usually decide dinner the day of and we don't follow any particular schedule really.

  • I strive for each dinner to have a veggie, a fruit (maybe), a whole grain, and a protein.
  • Things we eat a lot of: tacos, soups, salads, pasta dishes, grilled/BBQ foods, homemade pizza, elk burgers, sandwiches, and we go through phases of making homemade bread.

So if I know I want to cook a certain meal then I will get those ingredients, but if I don't have any idea I use the staple items I bought and then I "shop" my pantry and freezer to help make the meal. How do you do your shopping and cooking? Is there a better way? As you noodle on those questions, maybe make some cookies to help you concentrate. 

These cookies are not traditional cookies, but they are pretty healthy and my kids love that they can have cookies for breakfast...I love these little yummy treats, but these are not my husband's favorite. They are a great quick treat. 

Breakfast Cookies

  • 3 Ripe Bananas
  • 2 1/2 cups Rolled Oats
  • 1 cup Peanut Butter (smooth or chunky or heck another nut butter is fine too)
  • 1/2 cup Chocolate Chips
  • 1 t Almond or Vanilla Extract (or 1/2 t of each) 
  • Pinch of Salt 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line your baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet.  

Smoosh the bananas with a fork or use your hands (make sure you really wash your hands…don’t be gross). Add EVERYTHING else and mix together. It will be VERY thick. Scoop out a large spoonful, roll into a ball, and press dough to form a cookie shape. These things do not move as they cook so plan accordingly. Bake for about 11-14 minutes or until the edges are brown.

Let's keep talking about how we feed ourselves, fine tune how we shop, let's share some recipes, and until next time enjoy the cookies!