Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

Let me invite you into the craziness that is my brain on a Friday morning at 7:03. This particular Friday, we were going out of town for the weekend as soon as Gray got home from work, leaving Landon with my in-laws, and of course, my laundry basket was overflowing. Instead of sleeping (which I probably should have been doing, considering after baby #2 makes her appearance, I’m expecting to never sleep again) I started making a list of things to do in the “notes” on my phone. I don’t like to go out of town with the house out of order, and I can never sleep when I know I have a lot to do.

Do laundry, pack Landon a bag, pack mine and Grayson’s clothes, get food together to take with us, write Women’s Ministry email, take out trash, sweep, unload and reload dishwasher, clean out refrigerator, wrap baby shower gift, take a shower…

And yes, I have to put “take a shower” on my to do list, or it most definitely will not get done (#momlife).

So, I put on my favorite fuzzy robe and walked into the kitchen. I made myself some coffee and decided to sit down and enjoy it with an oatmeal bar while I typed up my Women’s Ministry email before Landon woke up.

And then, I saw some overly-ripe bananas on my kitchen counter. They would be completely rotten by Monday, Landon wouldn’t be here to eat them all weekend, and Gray and I wouldn’t eat them. I didn’t want to throw them away. Hmmm… wonder what I could make with three overly-ripe bananas?

I quickly searched Pinterest for “banana and chocolate chip muffins,” and lo and behold, I ended up with cold coffee and a whole bunch of homemade muffins. I personally am no fan of bananas, but my little bear loves them and he was delighted to wake up to warm “cake” as he calls it. I tried one and despite not liking bananas, I have to say they were delicious. They’re moist and buttery and have the perfect amount of sweetness, the tops are golden brown, and there’s just enough chocolate to compliment the banana. YUM!

If you are lucky enough to know my Mama, you’d agree with the statement that “I am my Mother’s child.” This is totally something she’d do. So naturally, I have to share this spur-of-the-moment recipe with ya’ll. Enjoy with an ice cold glass of milk or your favorite coffee!

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Ingredients:

  • 3 large overly-ripe bananas
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Instructions:

  • First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and coat muffin tin well with cooking spray.
  • Then, in a large bowl, mash bananas with a fork and stir in melted butter.
  • Using a hand mixer, blend in sugar, egg, and vanilla extract.
  • Mix in salt, baking soda, and flour.
  • Stir in chocolate chips until just combined (do not overmix).
  • Divide into muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes.

 

*Recipe adapted from The Baking ChocolaTess

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No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Bars

These yummy no-bake bars are quick and easy to make, require just a few ingredients, and are so delicious. If you like traditional no-bake peanut butter oatmeal cookies, you’ll love these. The hardest part is waiting the two hours that they have to be refrigerated before you slice them!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter (two sticks)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (and a handful to sprinkle on top)

Instructions:

  • First, line your baking dish with wax paper. You can use a 9×9 or 9×13 (depending on how thick you want your bars to be). Be sure to over-hang the edges and spray with cooking spray to ensure that your bars remove easily from dish.
  • In a medium-sized pot over medium heat, melt butter and brown sugar. Stir frequently until all sugar has dissolved.
  • Stir in vanilla extract and oats. Cook on low for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Be sure to coat all oats well (if not, bars will be crumbly and not hold together well).
  • Pour half of the oats mixture into prepared baking dish (the other half will go on top) and use a spatula to press down evenly like a crust.
  • In a microwave safe bowl, melt peanut butter and chocolate chips. The easiest way to do this is to microwave in 30 second increments, stirring between each increment until it is smooth and creamy.
  • Pour melted peanut butter and chocolate mixture over oats, using a spatula to evenly distribute.
  • Then, top with remaining oats mixture and sprinkle chocolate chips on top. You may want to slightly press them into oats and be sure that the mixture is well distributed across the dish.
  • Refrigerate for 2-3 hours, then slice and enjoy with milk or coffee!

 

*Recipe adapted from Sugar Apron.

Cheeseburger Soup

My friend Amanda introduced me to this delicious recipe and I’m so glad I finally made it. If you want the ultimate comfort food, perfect weeknight dinner, or just something to warm you up on a rainy day – this is the perfect thing and you’ll be amazed how easy it is to whip up.

Most of the ingredients you need are things I normally keep on hand (in fact, the only thing I had to make a special trip to the store for was the celery). The one thing I should note is that this recipe doesn’t make a whole lot (and if you’re cooking for more than two adults or want to have leftovers the next day, I would definitely recommend doubling the recipe).

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Ingredients:

  • 1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 medium sized onion, chopped
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour
  • 3 cans of chicken broth, divided (see instructions)
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 8 ounces of Velveeta cheese product, cubed
  • Paprika to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  • In a large frying pan, saute garlic, onion, and celery until tender. Transfer vegetables to crockpot.
  • In the same frying pan, brown ground beef. Drain off grease and add meat to crock pot.
  • In a small dish, whisk together flour and 1/2 cup chicken broth until completely lump-free. Pour into frying pan and stir continuously until thickened over medium-low heat.
  • Add remaining 2 1/2 cups of chicken broth to frying pan and allow to simmer on low heat for about 5 minutes. Then, pour into crock pot.
  • Stir in evaporated milk, cheese, paprika, salt, and pepper.
  • Cook on low for two hours (stirring from time to time) and serve topped with shredded cheese, crumbled chips, or whatever your little heart desires.

 

*If you leave soup in the crock pot for too long, the cheese may begin to separate. It’s really only necessary to cook for two hours to allow all the flavors to blend together and slightly thicken.

 

 

#ASKFACEBOOK: Second Baby Preparations

This is the second #ASKFACEBOOK post I’ve done (here’s the first one, if you missed it) and I just think they’re so fun!

I asked, “In what way was preparing for your second baby different than preparing for your first?”

So, today I am sharing the responses I got (anonymously) and if you have anything you’d like to add, please feel free to share in the comments!


“Not as much rest time!”

“You’re more aware of what you actually need. You realize certain things aren’t a huge deal, like if your son sleeps in a pink pack-n-play (or reverse in your case lol). You know that getting rest after delivery is critical and to actually sleep any change you get, for me at least, with [my first] I tried to do too much, when [my second] came I didn’t leave my bedroom for a week.”

“It’s easy. More of the same. Except the stuff you wouldn’t do again.”

“I’m anticipating more takeout, more dry shampoo and more disposable dishes.”

“When I was pregnant with [my second]….I was so sick all the time….all day er-day. So it was hard with a toddler. I felt bad….she watched a lot of TV then. Also, I realized all the stuff I registered for with my first that I really didn’t need some of it. I didn’t over stress and over worry about the house work as much with the second.”

“Ummm the difference right now is that I still don’t have the hospital bags all packed or the crib put together… More relaxed I guess!?”

“Obviously the clothes were different. I spent as much time with the first one as I could because I knew i would soon be splitting my time. I was much more laid back and realized what things were really important to me and what things could be tossed to the wayside. I didn’t have as many gadgets or clothes, I just got what I really needed. I worked on making sure the first one would respond to voice commands so I wouldn’t have to get up from nursing, diapers, or rocking every time I asked her to do something. I tried to focus a little on myself because naps etc were going to be short lived soon. Other than that, not very different. One to two was a transition but then 2 to 3 was a piece of cake. My babies are all a year apart and I loved it. Kinda hard at newborn, 1 and 2 and then 1,2,3 but after that became best friends and are still very close. Thankful we chose to do that.”

“Night and day. Realized you really didn’t need a whole lot that’s out there and could really do a whole lot with very little with the first. Just preparing lots by sleeping as much as I could!”

“Well, there’s the elephant-sized fact that there were two coming. But aside from that, I focused more on organization…what can I do now to make it easier on us then. Like freezing meals, buying extra essentials and toiletries to avoid quick trips to the store, etc. but I also thought a lot about how to spend time with my 1st child so they didn’t feel neglected. Like making sure I carved out time each day for him (away from the new baby). Sticking to a schedule if at all possible. We gave him a twin set of dolls so he could start getting used to there being someone new in the house that needed taken care of. Also maybe get him some new toys to whip out when you really need to entertain him so you don’t depend on the TV. And if you didn’t stay on top of something for your 1st, you likely won’t your second. Like baby books. I got behind on [my first’s] and by the time the twins came, I just gave up altogether.”

“Less stuff!”

“I tried to prepare some things for [my first]. He had a back pack with stuff to do at the hospital (some people don’t want their older kids there but I had been on bed rest for 8 weeks and wanted him with me). We put together a little basket of books and games we could play together while I was nursing [my second] and had some activities easy to grab if I needed him occupied while I did something with the baby. The only other thing not mentioned is I tried to be better prepared food wise. I had snacks stocked up and easy breakfasts. Try and prepare a few freezer meals or easy convenience meals.”

“I’m six weeks out and have nothing done!”

“I had everything ready for whenever [my first] got here (hello, extra time!) and I finished up [my second’s] room after he was born. You will definitely recognize that you have far less time but you’ll already be used to it so it won’t matter much. You don’t need as much because you’ll end up using most of the things you used with the first. With the first delivery you don’t know what to expect but I was more anxious with the second because I had been there before and knew what was coming, not dread, just aware!”

… and then my personal favorite:

“Imagine you’re in a pool, drowning, with a baby in your arms….and someone throws you another baby! THAT’S the difference in one baby and two! Cheers!”

 

 

 

 

Just Give it to God

Have you ever taught a two year old to share?

That’s a big focus in my household, right now. My little bear is as sweet as pie, but he isn’t around other kids his age very much (except at church), so his sharing skills really need some work. Lord, bless him. Gray and I have been making intentional efforts to try and teach him what it means to share and we’ve been careful to avoid saying things like, “that’s mine!” We try our best to model the behavior we want him to mimic, emphasizing our “pleases” and “thank yous” and making sure he sees little gestures that we hope communicate generosity, politeness, and just overall good character.

But, here’s the thing – he’s a toddler. Toddlers don’t like to share. It doesn’t come natural.

Last night, I sat in the nursery at church and watched him interact with another precious little boy who is just a few months older than him. For the most part, the two of them play together really well and there’s so many fun toys in the room, they don’t have too hard of a time finding things to keep them occupied. But, there were a few times that they would both want the same toy and had to be redirected, and when Landon was eating a little box of raisins, the most profound thought occurred to me.

I would say, “Landon, why don’t you share your raisins with Philip?” and he would hold out a raisin with a sheepish grin on his face. When Philip, clearly delighted that Landon was sharing a snack with him, reached out to take the raisin, Landon would snatch it back at the last minute and turn away!

Oh dear.

I’m hoping and praying that he learns, and I’m trusting that he will, with time. But can I just tell you, friends, that in that moment, I saw myself and my unwillingness to give things to God. How often do we start to give something to God – whether it be our hopes, our dreams, our failures, our worries, our brokenness, or our plans – and then, for whatever reason, snatch it back with that white-knuckled control that always hurts us more than it helps us? What is it in our hearts that makes us think we can do it on our own? Is it a lack of faith? a lack of confidence that He is who he says He is? just plain stubbornness?

It never ceases to amaze me how Jesus can speak to us through our children. Just watching them can teach us so much about ourselves, about who we are called to be, and about the way Jesus has called us to love. I pray that my heart never becomes hardened to these little snippets, and that I’ll be able to instill a love of Jesus so deep in my little one’s hearts that they crave Him more and more every day.

Whatever it is that we’re holding onto today, friends, let’s just give it to God. Let’s lay it all at the foot of the cross!

The Lord Looks on the Heart

I feel a twinge of “yeah… but…” every time I hear someone criticize people that post pretty pictures of their Bible study or are into Bible journaling. Bible journaling is a fairly new concept, and while I’ve dabbled in it a little, and even made a pinterest board full of inspiration and ideas, I haven’t really had time to put my journaling Bible that Grayson got me for Mother’s Day to good use. But, I love the concept because I feel like it helps you “park” on a certain passage of scripture, really soak it in, and is an outlet of creative expression.

As far as sharing “pretty pictures” of Bible study goes, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been waiting on Landon to wake up, mindlessly scrolling through instagram, when I’ve seen a picture that’s inspired or prompted me to get up and pick up my own Bible. I follow one account on instagram in particular, Well Watered Women, a ministry started by Gretchen Saffles, that is constantly encouraging me to get into the Word, and you know what? Those pretty pictures of Bible study are doing their job.

I realize that when people are critical of this kind of thing, they usually mean it with a good, genuine heart that is expressing their own desire to be near to God without feeling a need or desire to share in this way. Of course, Bible journaling or sharing photos of your quiet time doesn’t make you any “better of a Christian” or mean that you love Jesus any more than the next girl. From the outside looking in, I can see how some people would think why do you need to color in your Bible? or why do you feel the need to post a picture of your open Bible with your coffee and highlighters all spread out in front of you?

But, here’s the thing:

What it really all comes down to is the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7 says, “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” And, that goes both ways. If someone is not genuinely trying to have a closer walk with the Lord, and just shares photos to make it seem like they are truly studying His Word, that is deceitful. You might fool others, but God knows. If you care more about letting others know that you’re reading your Bible than actually growing in your walk with Christ and soaking in Scripture, that’s ineffective and sad, because you’re more focused on what the world thinks than having intimacy with the One who created it. If you’re literally just coloring in your Bible without worship and thoughtfulness about the passage at hand, you just need to buy yourself a coloring book.

But, what if it is genuine? What if you crave time with the Lord each day? What if the stillness of the morning and the hot coffee and crinkling of the pages fuels your spirit each day? What if you are so in love with Jesus and your time with Him that you can’t help but share? What if, with every stroke of colored pencil over those sacred words, you’re praising Jesus for His promises and you soak them into your heart so deeply that you dwell on what He’s teaching you all week long? Should you have to feel hesitant when you’re prompted to share for fear that other’s might misunderstand your motives?

When you criticize others for how they worship, you’re judging them in the worst way. It’s a terrible thing, to believe your worship is the “best way.” We all express ourselves in different ways, and for even the most seasoned believer, there’s always room for growth. You might not “color in your Bible.” You might not feel compelled to share “pretty pictures” of your time with Jesus. You might not raise your hands in worship or fall at the altar each Sunday morning with tears that can’t be explained. But that’s between you and God, not you and your neighbor. Now, of course I realize that we all judge others for countless things each day, and sometimes don’t even realize we’re doing it, but in this particular post, I’m speaking of judging other’s worship and creative expression, nothing else.

Let’s not let our hearts become hardened, friends. Let’s encourage others in their walks with the Lord, not criticize them for how. Let’s look for the best, not assume the worst. Let’s have open hearts towards our sisters as we see them making an effort to learn more about our Father and pursue His heart.

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Image does not belong to me, Image belongs to Well Watered Women

 

Breathing Treatments

My grandpa passed away in November 2010, my first semester of college. He had lung cancer and the last few months of his life, watching him struggle to breathe, often gasping for breath, enduring breathing treatments, having to be constantly connected to an oxygen tank, and too many doctor’s visits to count was completely heart-wrenching. I was his girl – he had always been my best friend, a Daddy to me, and a constant joy in my life. He meant so much to so many people who adored him and we all lovingly called him “Paw.”

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost eight years since he went to be with Jesus. I am still processing through my grief, and it’s still very raw and hurts to talk about. No matter what I said, I don’t think I could ever adequately put into words what losing someone like that is really like. Even just typing this has opened the floodgates – so never believe it when you hear people say that “time heals all wounds.” It doesn’t. Only Jesus.


This past weekend, Landon started coughing and I tried for several days to doctor him as best I could at home. I had the humidifier going, chicken noodle soup, cough medicine every four hours, was working hard to keep him well hydrated, and giving him Tylenol when his fever got up to 100. But, despite my efforts, his cough didn’t go away or even get better, so I decided to go ahead and make him a doctor’s appointment. He was barely eating and not sleeping well at all (both very uncharacteristic of him). I thought maybe he had an ear infection or maybe he’d picked up a virus or maybe he was on the verge of getting the flu (because so many friends have had it this year). The doctor checked him out and ruled out all of those worries, but when she listened to his breathing, she heard a rattle and noticed that he was wheezing. She told us that he has bronchiolitis (similar to the adult equivalent of bronchitis) and brought in a nebulizer to do a breathing treatment. It helped tremendously and so she sent us home with one, which I can already tell is working wonders for helping loosen up his cough and helping him breathe better.

Now, you may be wondering how these two stories are connected, but let me just tell you… the last time I put together a breathing treatment (little vials of liquid medicine are poured into a container attached to a facial mask, with a machine that diffuses it and when breathed in, helps the patient breathe better) was for my Paw. I was SO emotionally unprepared to see that machine and that mask on his little face. I lost it. My mother-in-law was with me at the appointment and bless her sweet heart… she was trying to calm Landon down (as you can imagine, being in an unusual environment already, having to wear a mask with a machine that’s smoking that he’d never seen before, and just not knowing what was going on scared him and he was fighting it big time) and console me at the same time, not fully understanding exactly why I was so upset. I couldn’t stop crying, and I was trying to explain to the nurse that I wasn’t really upset that Landon was having to do a breathing treatment – if anything, I was so glad I went ahead and took him in so they could treat him and help him get better – but it was just so emotional for me because of the memories and the hurt that it stirred up in my heart.

To add to the emotional fiasco, I started thinking about how blessed and just truly fortunate we are to have such a wholesome, healthy baby boy. It’s so easy to take for granted if you’ve never had a sick child, but I couldn’t help but think about the Mama’s who have to watch their babies go through so much – time in the NICU, surgeries, physical therapy, chemo treatments, mental or physical disabilities, extended hospital stays, you name it. A breathing treatment is nothing compared to those things, and I had to really force myself to think about it from a perspective of gratitude. I am so thankful for doctors and their wisdom and for medicine and I never want to take having a healthy child for granted.

I almost didn’t share any of this publicly, for a thousand different reasons. I know so many friends going through far worse trials right now, so I don’t want to share anything that may seem “petty.” I don’t want to seem like I’m being overdramatic or negative, or “putting all my issues out there for the world to see.” But you know what? We can’t just share the pretty moments. We can’t just share picture perfect little squares that make our lives seem better than they are. Everyone is fighting a battle that you usually know nothing about, and I pray that through vulnerability and transparency, we will continue to grow in community and friendship with one another. It’s always my prayer that my heart is reflected through this blog and the pieces of our life that I share here, and if it just encourages one person, I’m grateful that Jesus used my willingness to be open about where we are and what we’re going through – no matter how big or small. We are doing the breathing treatments at home now, and he is getting a little calmer and more used to it each time – which I’m so, so thankful for. If you would, please just pray for my little guy as he continues to get better.

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At-home stain remover (that works!)

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My only regret is that I didn’t take a before picture. Ya’ll, my (almost) two year old destroyed this shirt. There was chocolate. ALL. OVER. IT. and I let it dry and set in overnight…

We went to dinner at a Mexican restaurant with my family for my cousin’s birthday and with the sombrero-wearing-birthday-chanting festivities came a plate full of sopapillas drizzled with honey and chocolate for our whole table to share. Yummy for sure, but you can just guess the rest.

This particular shirt is a little different than most of his button up collared shirts in the sense that it is textured, not smooth. It’s a favorite because it’s monogrammed and was a gift from my sweet friend, Lee. When I realized this morning that I had totally forgotten to treat the stain last night, I just knew that I’d never get the stains out.

Then, I remembered my Mama telling me about a solution of blue dawn dish soap, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide. I gave it a shot and it was like straight up MAGIC!

I’m pretty sure when my sweet Mama does it, she measures out each ingredient and makes a paste in a little dish and then applies it to the stain, lets it sit for a certain amount of time, and then washes it. But I, being my typical 25 year old self, just squirted some dawn, sprinkled some baking soda, literally poured hydrogen peroxide on it, and then frantically scrubbed it with what I’m pretty sure is a potato scrubber. Spoiler alert: it still worked.

I am so excited to have seen first hand how well this magic solution of everyday household items works, so I just had to share with ya’ll!

Also, I have to admit, being this excited about a stain remover makes me feel really old (haha!). Happy Monday and have a great week!

 

 

Lately

It’s March 1st, which means we’re another month closer to meeting Harper! Landon was due in June, but born in May, and from the very beginning of this pregnancy, I’ve thought Harper would be born in April, not May. So… only time will tell. But, it’s crazy to think that even if I’m able to carry her full term (which, uh… if you’ve seen me in person lately you’d probably think that won’t be happening) we have less than 10 weeks!

February was a long month for me but full of sweet memories. Every time I look at Landon, I’m shocked at what a big boy he’s becoming. Not just physically how much he’s grown – but his mannerisms, his personality, and his sweet spirit. My mother-in-law says he’s just like Grayson was at this age – mischievous, but cautious and so well natured. He studies people, he stands back and observes things, and he takes in everything around him.

These are a few of my favorite pictures from the last month-

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As we begin this new month, I’m thankful it’s really starting to feel like spring. I wake up and listen to the birds chirping outside, have been keeping my windows open as much as possible, and we’ve been grilling out every chance we get.

YAY for a fresh new month!

“And I am sure of this: He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion.”

Philippians 1:6

Interruptions

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Last week, I started a new Bible Study with the women of my church called “We Saved You a Seat” by Lisa-Jo Baker. The study is all about finding and keeping lasting friendship and each week, we cover a different topic that pertains to what intentional, wholesome friendship looks like (for instance, “Friendship takes showing up,” “Friendship takes vulnerability,” “Friendship takes forgiveness” just to name a few).

At our weekly meetings, we watch a video and then have a time of discussion, and then there are three days of independent study to do during the week. I’ve done lots of Bible studies and with so many of them, I’ve found myself unable to stay focused, frustrated that the material is either “too shallow or generic” or way over my head, or just not really applicable to my day to day life. Granted, many times, that is a heart issue with me and I need to pray about it and try again – but for some reason, this study is just hitting the nail on the head with me. It’s real, it’s tangible, and it’s meeting me right where I am on a level that I can really relate to. So, if you’re looking for a new study to do with a group of girlfriends, I’d highly recommend this one!

Today’s independent study was about interruptions and how Jesus lived a life that not only expected interruptions, but welcomed them. In an exercise where the book prompted us to look up several different passages of scripture, we filled out a chart showing times that Jesus was interrupted by people needing a healing touch, a word of encouragement, or just His time. “Giving people our time is an act of radical generosity” is one line from the book that I want to keep at the forefront of my mind. It’s so easy to be so focused on what I’m doing – to just have a one-track mind, that I miss opportunities to show people I care or spend time with them that means so much.

I don’t know about you, but I’m oftentimes so guilty of that panicked feeling when someone stops by my house – instantly thinking it’s not clean enough, I haven’t mopped, or there’s toys all over the floor. This passage spoke right to my heart:

“But the thing is, being willing to be interrupted isn’t about the state of our houses. It’s about the state of our hearts. Women aren’t hungry for perfection; they’re hungry for connection.”

Lisa-Jo Baker, We Saved You a Seat, pg. 23

I’m excited for the next few weeks of this study, but I just wanted to share the goodness that’s already gripped my heart and left me wanting more. There’s something so special about digging into the Word in the fellowship of women of all different ages and backgrounds who share a couple very important things in common: a love for Jesus and a desire to know Him more.