Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Que Sera, Sera



Happy Autumn to you. It's the beginning of the most wonderful time of the year, isn't it?

This summer was very special to me. Having transitioned out of a part time position at our church in the end of May, I found a new joy in being home with my boys. We were more adventurous and spontaneous, which is always more fun. 

Inevitably, September came and the boys returned to school. I have been waiting 10 years for the elementary school empty nest, but the day they all boarded the bus together, I felt an unexpected kind of sadness. Just the week before, we had rented a paddle boat.  The boys practiced their cannonballs, fully clothed and life-jacketed, smiles wide. But watching all three board that bus, I suddenly felt like the littlest brother who was left behind, not yet old enough to head to school. 

I didn't feel that way for long, because you know, there was a plan already set for me. I always try to listen to intuition, and this time it led me to sign up for lunch room helper during the first week of school. It was during my first shift that I learned of a staff vacancy, a position not listed a month ago when I submitted my application to the district with the mentality of what will be, will be. I was thrilled to be hired by the end of the week.

My intuition has never let me down. Life isn't about coincidences, it's about paths and whether or not we see them, or trust our intuition to take them. Not long ago, I expected seven scary unstructured hours, alone. Instead am enjoying purposeful days that allow me to contribute both to my family and take better care of myself.

It's been two weeks now and I am in a routine. I am more focused than I've ever been at home and have more energy when my boys return from school each day. I am back to cooking, baking, and homemaking, all of which suit me well and bring me great joy.  The empty nest is now a path I am thankful to be on.


The future's not ours to see.
Whatever will be, will be.








Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Banana Crumb Cake



It's been a looooooong time since I've shared food with you. Long time.

I'm a kitchen dweller by nature, but finding the focus and time to bake and cook for fun has been tough. REALLY REALLY TOUGH. So when ALL THREE BOYS left for school today for the first time EVER, it not only left me time to write this post, but to get my hands all flour-y again.





I took a baby step back into my recipe book right before school started and made this DELICIOUS version of crumb cake to enjoy on one of our last lazy summer Saturday morning. The mornings I will soon miss once basketball and soccer take control of our schedules.

This banana crumb cake would be perfect for a Sunday brunch or baby shower. It's also great for dessert hot out of the oven, with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream over top.

To enjoy, you will need:

Crumble:

  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, slightly softened, cut into 1/4 inch cubes

  • Banana Cake: 
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, slightly softened (I set mine on the stove top while the oven was preheating. You can substitute canola oil as well.)
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 medium (very) ripe bananas - mashed 
  • 2/3 cup milk (2% or whole)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with either cooking spray or butter. Set aside.

    Make the crumble topping by placing the brown sugar, flour, and kosher salt into a medium bowl. Stir ingredients together with a whisk. Add the butter into the bowl and use your hands to cut the butter into the flour mixture. (You can also use a pastry blender, but I don't have one.)

    To make the cake: 

    In the bowl of a stand mixer, place the coconut oil, brown sugar, egg, and mashed banana. Beat 1-2 minutes or until combined. (With the coconut oil, it will look lumpy).  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Turn the mixer on low and slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until just combined.  Add the milk and beat another 1-2 minutes until just combined.  Pour into the greased spring form pan and spread evenly with the back of a spoon.  Use your hands to sprinkle on the crumble topping. Scatter the chocolate chips over top.

    Bake 35-45 minutes or until a butter knife inserted comes out clean. 


    Saturday, August 23, 2014

    Adding Storage & Function to a Small Foyer: Elmers ProBond Advanced

    This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Elmer’s ProBond Advanced for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.




    I've got an ugly metal garage door in my otherwise cute foyer, and I bet you do too. It's a surface begging to be more functional in our homes considering it's the last thing we see when we leave in the morning! But how to do just that?


    It's the strongest and safest multi-surface adhesive for bonding mixed materials - such as ceramic to drywall, glass to concrete, and even wood to metal, without the foamy residue often left behind by stinky polyurethane glue.





    We have a tiny front closet for our family of five. Even though we added a storage unit across from the garage door to house our three boys belongings, my husband and I are always looking for extra places to hang our coats or keys when our hands are full. 

    I recently found a walnut coat rack to use in the foyer, and it couldn't have been easier to attach it to the metal door using Elmers ProBond Advanced

    First I measured, leveled, and marked where I wanted the wood to go. Then I used a medium grit sandpaper to rough up both the metal door and wood surfaces. Next, I used a microfiber cloth to remove the dust and added Elmers ProBond Advance to the wood. Finally, I pressed the wood rack to the metal and had my son hold it firmly in place while I clamped it to the door with painters tape.


      


    Because I was using a heavy piece of wood, I left it clamped in place for 24 hours in our air conditioned house. When I removed the tape, I was completely amazed at how strong the bond was! So strong in fact, that I won't even need to support it with screws!

    Above the coat rack, I even used ProBond to affix this chalkboard for important out-the-door reminders, like taking out the trash. You could also hang cork panels or a burlap covered canvas to hang up those permission slips and reminders! 




    Elmers ProBond Advanced adhesive saved me time and a mess (like holes in my metal door), and provided me with a translucent paint-able finish!  With its 100% weatherproof and performance guarantee, it's the perfect mixed material adhesive for your next project!

    Do you have a Mixed Materials project in the works? Be sure to check out the Elmers Mixed Materials Pinterest Board for more home improvement ideas!

    Visit Sponsor's Site

    Tuesday, August 12, 2014

    The Pretty Foyer Ceiling: FrogTape® Textured Surface™


    This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of FrogTape for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

    I did something fun to the ceiling. Please, please do not be confused by thinking that I actually HAD FUN painting the ceiling, because that was definitely NOT true. Not in the least bit. If you've ever worked with your arms above your head before, you know why!



     
    I recently had the opportunity to try Textured Surface by FrogTape for a painting project. FrogTape® Textured Surface™ is treated with the patented PaintBlock™ Technology, a super absorbent polymer that reacts with the water in latex paint and instantly gels to form a micro-barrier that seals the edges of the tape, which helps prevent paint bleed. The Liquid PaintBlock® Edge Sealer™ helps deliver super sharp paint lines, even on textured surfaces.

    We are fortunate enough to have smooth walls in our house. We got away without popcorn ceilings too, but not without orange peel texture. One benefit of our small house is the tall ceilings - except for the foyer. A little paint up there might give it a little more personality and oomph - making a grand entrance.

    I am not a planner by nature. Not at all. So early in the planning process, I surprised myself by drawing up these plans. Don't get too excited, because when I got up on my ladder, those beautiful straight lines DID NOT happen for me. I was working alone and got frustrated really quickly, so I went into Sarah-mode (aka - winging it) and ended up with this quirky pattern, which, I love.




    Aren't the clean paint lines amazing?!? Even on the bumpy surface?!?  FrogTape® Textured Surface™ is recommended for large surfaces like walls, so if you decide to work on your ceiling like me, here are some tips for great results:

    1) Make sure the area you are taping is dirt and dust free to ensure proper adhesion.

    2) Map out your pattern, apply the tape, and press the edges with a credit card or fingernails to ensure proper adhesion.

    3) The PaintBlock™ Technology can be pre-activated with water by wiping the edges of the tape with a damp cloth. *Note – this step is required when using non-water based paint. When working on the ceiling, where the texture is more delicate than the walls, it is very important you wipe only the edges until they are just damp.

    4) Work in small sections: slightly dampen (only the edges) and follow immediately with the sealer. (Be ready for sore arms here!)

    FrogTape® has full written instructions, as well as an instructional video you can find here.


     
     

    Our foyer is almost complete! The biggest goal is uniform flooring on the entire level. No more linoleum to carpet lines! A few final touches like painting the interior doors, swapping out the light, and adding a pretty rug, and we will have a grand entrance indeed!

    What do you think? Do you have textured walls that need sprucing up? For ideas, follow the FrogTape Textured Surface board on Pinterest. Happy painting!
      
    Visit Sponsor's Site

    Tuesday, August 5, 2014

    Mattress Shopping & Marriage


    (Hello! Just got back from a make-the-soul-happy 10 day family/friend vacation! I'm working on fun projects this week, so here's a little storytelling while I work!)


    Mattress shopping is not something you do with three boys. While other couples are lying peacefully, our children would be busy bouncing around like a trampoline park. This makes it hard to lie in place for longer than one minute, thus defeating the purpose of mattress shopping.

    With our kids at their weekly park program, my husband and I took a rare opportunity to shop alone. We chose a mattress only store, and initially had the place to ourselves. After lying in a few beds, an elderly couple walked in. I was happy to have their company, as my heart belongs to their history, story, and quiet humor. This couple was no exception. 

    We were lying in a fluffy pillow top bed when they arrived, listening and laughing at the soft, cheesy elevator music playing overhead. We sat up and began talking with them about the overwhelming options. While we all agreed to NOT lay on the expensive models; we didn't want to know the comfort we too could have for the price of a used car. We instead opted for the low-end section. They lay down in a bed close by, and I see him lay his hand on hers and say "now honey, don't try anything." They giggle, and already I want to take them home with me.



    All Of This Happened By Taking Your Hand - Wall Decal Sticker Vinyl Art Quote Bedroom Romantic Wall Sticker Decal
    image via


    We each try out a few beds, and cross paths on their way to firm, ours to plush. Pushing down on a contour bed, his wife says, "I can't remember how long we've had our current mattress." He smiles at her, "Well honey, if it helps, we've been married 52 years, and have had only three mattresses. (He leans in to my husband) Only the last one hasn't seen the mileage the others did." 

    Our meeting was only for 10 minutes or so, but we giggled and laughed with them, like a bunch of kids. I hated mattress shopping (leaving overwhelmed and empty handed, back to our air mattress), but left with a glimpse of 52 years of marriage. 

    It's been almost 12 years for us, and I can only hope that in 40 more, we too will be hand on hand, giggling in the confines of a mattress store. 

    Don't you?