Friday, August 31, 2012

Banana Oatmeal Muffins

When I saw this recipe on Pinterest for easy banana muffins, it was one of those no-brainer pins. I didn't look at the full recipe right away because the description was enough of a sell. Easy? Good. Banana? Good. Muffins? Goood. (Name that show!)

The recipe on Keeping Up With the Joneses is super easy and uses basic ingredients. I also read a few of the comments to see if anyone had done anything differently. It's always nice to have options right?! Both kiddos helped me and the muffins turned out to be so yummy! Even my fussy little guy likes them.

You can see the original recipe here and how Jess made them, but I'll tell you what I did differently. For one, I used my food processor instead of a blender. Basically our blender sucks and my food processor doesn't so it was an easy decision.

I gave the oats a spin in the food processor before adding anything else to make them smoother and easier to blend in the batter. I also used a 6oz vanilla yogurt instead of Greek yogurt because that's what I had on hand. Because I was using a sweeter yogurt, I cut the sugar back to a 1/2 cup based on some of the comments on the post. Otherwise I stuck to the ingredients and followed the instructions.

Next time I make these, I would use riper bananas. I usually wait until my bananas are softer and a little brown before baking with them, but I'm impatient and these sounded good. I also might throw in some mini chocolate chips and see how that goes. The muffins are more dense than traditional muffins because they don't contain flour, but they are delicious and actually a good size for little ones. They take a few minutes to whip up and only 20-25 to bake. Success!

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thankfulness Thursdays/ Week Five

So glad you could join me for week five of Thankfulness Thursdays! Ashley at Domestic Fashionista started this link-up as a way to spend one day a week focusing on how we are blessed in the months leading up to Thanksgiving (which is not as far off as it seems.)

This week I am thankful for our parents. Both my parents and my husband's parents have been such an amazing gift to our family. I am grateful to my own parents for raising me in a loving home and giving me every opportunity to succeed and be happy. I am thankful that my parents-in-law brought up my husband to be a good man and a loving husband and father.

Throughout our lives, our parents teach us what we want to be like (or not be like at times), they help us discover our own personal values and beliefs, and they help form the people we become. Now, as a mother to my own little ones, I see what a heavy weight that is, and it makes me wish I would have given my own parents a little slack sometimes. But of course, that's part of the process that doesn't come around until later for most of us. My parents taught me how to love and be loved, and that might be the most important thing they gave me. To instill that love in my own family is a daily priority. If nothing else, I hope and pray that my kids will always know that I love them unconditionally.

I've always had a great relationship with my mother and father-in-law. The first year that my husband and I were dating, I was planning to go back to Colorado for Christmas with my family. Two days before my flight home, it started snowing and by the day of my flight, the Denver airport was basically closed. The earliest flight I could schedule was five days later, departing the morning after Christmas. At 26 years old, this would be the first time I wasn't with my family on Christmas morning. I was devastated, but without even batting an eye, my then-boyfriend told me that obviously I would spend Christmas with him and his family. When we arrived at their house, they welcomed me with open arms and included me in all the festivities. They even had presents for me on Christmas morning. Before this trip, I had met his parents once.

I feel very fortunate that both my parents and my in-laws are such incredible people. They set the tone for the life we live now and for the family we started together.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Command Center

Recently I shared our new week-at-a-glance calendar that I nicknamed "mission control" and today I'm going to show how I made our new "command center." Apparently I think I'm working for NASA over here!

The school year is off to a good start and the new calendar has been a great way to keep track of what's going on this week. But we also need a spot for all the other crap that needs to be organized and easy to find. You know, emergency info, babysitter info, etc. I wanted a bulletin board for our command center, but I didn't want to hang a boring old cork board in my lovely new kitchen so instead I got a little crafty.

Cork canvases
Fabric (as much as you need for the size and number of your canvases)
Spray Adhesive
Staple gun & mid-weight staples or a hammer and brads or small nails
Ribbon, etc for trim (optional)

I started out with two 13x13 cork canvases that I found at Joanns for about $8. I wanted something with a little dimension and the canvas style was perfect. I also found a fabric I liked at Target... in the curtain aisle. Sometimes fabric pops up in unexpected places!

Lay the cork board on the fabric, wrong-side up, using the hemmed edges as a guide. 
Measure about 3 1/2" from the larger seam so the fabric wouldn't lay to thick on the finished side of the cork. I only measured in about 2 1/4" from the smaller seam because obviously there isn't as much thickness to worry about.

You can use chalk or anything that won't bleed through the fabric to mark out cutting lines so the fabric wraps all the way around the canvas. Then trim along the lines.

Coat the cork with a thin coat of spray adhesive and center on the fabric, making sure that the pattern is running straight across the front of the cork board. If the pattern is lopsided, it will look funny when the cork board is hanging. 

Then wrap the edges of the fabric over the back of the cork board and staple along the edges using a staple gun. You could also use small finishing nails or brads, but a staple gun is faster and easier (and not very expensive). Staple fast... the baby will be waking from his nap soon!

Staple two sides that are opposite one another, being sure to pull the fabric taut. On the ends, I tucked the corners in like I was wrapping a present and folded it over as I stapled along the edge. Once everything is stapled down firmly, trim the excess fabric. 

The cork boards that I bought came with Command strips for hanging. I figured since nothing too heavy will be hanging on these boards, I'd give it a try. I can always attach picture hangers later but for now here's hoping they just stay up without any nail holes. 

Next to our bulletin boards, I put up a new calendar that I printed out on mid-weight cardstock from a blog I found on a link party. I can't find the link now though so if it looks familiar, please let me know so I can give credit. The calendar is super cute and FREE and runs August 2012 to July 2013. 

Obviously more will be going on the bulletin boards, but I really wanted to snap a picture of the project before it becomes a cluttered mess organizing masterpiece. Here's our new command center!

Linking up to these awesome parties...

   Home Stories A2Z   The 36th AVENUE   Becoming Martha

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thankfulness Thursdays/ Week Four

In the fourth week of Thankfulness Thursdays, inspired by Ashley at Domestic Fashionista, I am thankful for my sister.

My sister is seven and a half years younger than me and when we were young, we fought like cats and dogs! It's hard for a 12 year old and a 5 year old to find common ground I suppose. Luckily we managed to grow out of all that and over the years, she has become one of my best friends.

Even though she's my little sister, she has become such a great friend and someone I turn to whether the news is good or bad. She is creative, smart, and one of the most hilarious people I know. The hours we have spent laughing together are some of my very best memories.

While she doesn't have any kids yet, I know that someday she'll be the best mom. I can't wait until those days when I can share all that I've learned with her as a mama and see her with her own family.

I'm so grateful to have not just a sister, but a best friend as well.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Mission Control

I don't know what it is about a new school year, but it makes me want to reorganize every square inch of our house! I've been on an organizing rampage... not that you can tell for the most part because everything is "in process"or at least that's what I keep telling my husband ;)

One thing we don't have since we renovated the kitchen is a family message center. I've been on a mission to get this set up before school. I really wanted to have a weekly preview calendar in addition to a regular monthly calendar. I think it will be helpful, especially for me, to see what's going on for the current week.

I found a great printable week-at-a-glance calendar at Mommy Tracked. They have a bunch of other options but this one looked like it would work best for us. It has a space for each day of the current week, plus small sections for kid's activities and the dinner plan for that day.

I printed the calendar out on card stock and framed it in a simple, black frame I picked up for $5 at Walmart. It's pretty lightweight so I just used adhesive Command strips to mount it on the wall. There are so many cute options for making your own vinyl calendar, but this is a really easy and quick alternative that still allows you to use dry erase markers on the glass in the frame.

I like that the frame makes it blend in a little better and that it puts our weekly plan front and center. Hopefully this will help us stay on top of all our activities!

Linking to...

Positively Splendid The 36th AVENUE It's Overflowing

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thankfulness Thursdays/ Week Three

Another week gone by already?? The days seem to be flying by as school approaches. Here I am for the third installment of Thankfulness Thursdays, inspired by Ashley at Domestic Fashionista. Hop over there and check out her post and link up your own if your feeling especially grateful this week.

Today I am really thankful for our babysitters.

I know that might not seem like the logical progression after weeks one and two. But in order to have quality alone time with the husband and leave the babies that I hold so dear, it is absolutely necessary to have babysitters that we trust a whole heck of a lot.

Some people have family members nearby who are willing to watch their kids whenever they want and that is wonderful. We do have family that is close, but we prefer to save them for big deal time away from home. I'd rather leave the kids with the grandparents for a weekend than call them in for any random thing. My sister also flies in occasionally to help us out for big events and that is a treat for everyone. Although my mom is always available in a pinch and loves being with the kiddos, it just works better for everyone if we also use paid babysitters.

With our baby girl, we initially used sitters that were recommended by friends, but that can get tricky if both families are invited to the same event and trying to use the same sitter (umm... awkward). Eventually I decided to try out, which allows you to post jobs and see sitters' experience, resumes, background info, etc for a very reasonable fee. I found our two favorite sitters that way and they are awesome. I mean, absolutely fantastic.

I am so grateful that we have these gals who are willing to watch over our precious little ones with the utmost care. Both girls are mid-twenties with lots of experience and have been with us for almost two years. One comes over regularly during the week so mama can break free and get a pedicure errands done. The other decided she didn't want to nanny forever and started law school so we use her on an occasional basis. The kids love them both and always have so much fun when either girl is here. In turn, I love that I can leave the house, knowing that my kids are in good hands.

So thank you, sweet babysitters, for caring so well for my children... and I appreciate it when you do the laundry and clean up the toys too!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Vacation & A Staycation

Last week was my mother in law's 75th birthday. Can you even imagine being 75?? Me either. Ironically my MIL is more like 75 going on 45, and I hope I'll be going that strong at that age.

We decided sort of last minute to take a trip up to LA to spend the birthday weekend with my in-laws. The grandparents were thrilled to see the little ones and we couldn't have asked for better beach weather.

I mean how beautiful is that?!

Then even more last minute we decided to try to squeeze in one last vacation day at home with a little staycation for the hubs and me. One of our fave sitters was available to stay the night, the hotel we wanted to stay at had a room and it was a done deal. We had some wonderful time just the two of us and again the weather was perfect!

Can't complain with a view like that! We lounged at the pool all day, ate room service and watched a movie. You know you have young children when staying in your room watching a movie sounds better than a fancy dinner ;) This simple but beautiful floral arrangement was in the main lobby of our hotel. I love how the simplicity makes the color really pop.

This morning we came home and now I'm trying to get us all back in the swing of things in time for school to start up next week. I can't believe the official summer break is almost over. I have some great posts planned for later this week and next. For now, check out my new Projects & Tutorials page.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Thankfulness Thursdays/ Week Two

It's week two of Thankfulness Thursdays, inspired by Ashley from Domestic Fashionista, and I'm going to choose another really obvious one. I am thankful for my little ones.

My two kiddos have been an abundant blessing in my life. For as long as I can remember, I dreamed of becoming a mama and these children make me feel that I am realizing my purpose in life. Of course I have other roles, but my husband and kids have molded me into something that feels supremely right. I am still a daughter, a sister, a friend, but my place as wife and mother fulfill me in a different way.

While I teach my kids hundreds of lessons day in and day out, they have taught me and strengthened me so much as well.

When I didn't think I could possibly function from shear lack of sleep, they showed me that a tiny hand grasping my finger is enough to help me push past the exhaustion.

When I am so concerned with keeping track of time and juggling my to-do list, they show me that sometimes the clock doesn't matter if it means savoring the moment instead.

When I feel overwhelmed with the responsibility of raising these children to become decent, kind, loving adults, they remind me that it is usually the simplest acts that teach the most about love and kindness.

Even when I'm exhausted or cranky or irritable, I can't imagine my life without my sweet girl and my precious boy. I am by no means the perfect mother and they are not always perfect children, but I am perfectly their mother and they are perfectly my children.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

All-American Weekend

It's been a busy week and it's only Tuesday! We had a very fun weekend at our house so it's worth it to be playing catch-up a little. With just a couple weeks until school starts again, we are getting our fill of summer fun.

A backyard camp-out was a great time for Dad and baby girl. At 4 years old, this was an easy way for her to experience sleeping "under the stars" for the first time.

Every camp-out needs a campfire! Ours was roaring but contained :)

What would a camp-out be without s'mores??

Rounding out our fun-filled weekend was a trip south for the kiddos' first major league baseball game! Thanks to a generous gift from the hub's company, our seats were a-mahzing. So fun and the little ones made it to the bottom of the 5th, while amusing all the folks around us with their antics.

How are you celebrating the last days of summer before school starts??

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Thankfulness Thursdays/ Week One

Every Thursday until Thanksgiving, I'll be linking up with Ashley at Domestic Fashionista to share a post on thankfulness. Ashley came up with the idea to celebrate the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving with a simple post each week on something for which we are thankful in our lives.

I love this idea. So often I find myself focusing on what I need or want, rather than what I have. Recently I was trying to explain the notion of charity to my four year old daughter. There is a charitable organization for disabled veterans that parks in front of our local Target most days of the week. When we finish our shopping trip, almost always with things in our cart that we don't really need, I often give my sweet girl a dollar or some coins to drop in the jar. The other day she asked me why we give them money.

"We give them money to help people having a hard time. Right now we can pay for all the things we need and a lot of the things we want too. Not everyone can do that. So we share what we have with people who are having a hard time getting the things they need."

She seemed to understand this answer so we went along our way and drove home. It was a simple question but enough of a reminder to me to shoot out a quick prayer of thanks for all that we have.

Today I'm thankful for my husband.

It might seem like the obvious choice, and it should. I would not be where I am today without him. I would not have my precious babies, our home full of love and laughter, or a sense of peace about the person I am meant to be.

My husband loves me completely in spite of all my faults and quirks. He knows me through and through and chooses to love me even when I am being stubborn, selfish or moody. He works so hard for our family and asks so little in return. Even on our worst day, I would rather be with him than without. I am so thankful that we found one another and that every day we choose us. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Fixing A Fidgety Duvet

In our house, all our beds are made with duvets rather than quilts or comforters. It's just a personal preference for both me and the hubs. But while they are warm and squishy and comfy, duvets can also be a major pain in the rear. They shift and shuffle around inside the covers until one of two things happens. Either one person has all the comforter and the other person is basically under a sheet OR the duvet shifts to the bottom of the bed and the top portion is thin and empty. So what can you do?

Word on the street is that some duvets come with built in corner loops and some duvet covers come with ties sewn into the corners and sides to keep your comforter from fidgeting around inside its case. That would be most helpful. However, if your duvet and/or cover didn't come this way, as ours didn't, you can do this on your own quickly and easily. 

What You Need:
*thread (I used white)
*a small needle
*strips of ribbon cut to about 18" for the ties (for a king comforter I used 7)
*strips of ribbon cut to about 6"for the loops (one for each corresponding tie)

Lay out your duvet cover inside out on the floor. Then lay your comforter on top of the cover, matching up the sides and corners. 

Starting with the top-most corner (as it will lay on your bed), fold one of the 18" pieces of ribbon in half and hand-stitch to the outer edge of the corner of the duvet cover. I doubled up the thread to make the stitches stronger. You're just using a simple stitch to hold the ribbon in place, nothing fancy. Trust me - if you could see this up close serious seamstresses would be horrified! 

I stitched a tie in each corner and then one in the center of each side except where the cover opens at the bottom. 

Next, take one of the 6" ribbon pieces and fold it in half. Stitch the folded "loop" in each of the corners of the duvet itself, being careful to match up the placement of the loops to the placement of the ties on the cover. 

Once you're done stitching all the ties and loops in place, just slip each of the ties through the loop and tie a nice tight bow. You could knot it too, but I wanted it to be easy enough to remove for washing.

Here's mine back on the bed. Easy as pie and now the comforter won't be slipping all over the place. No more shaking it out every couple days to get it back in place! 

Linking up to...

Positively Splendid The 36th AVENUE
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