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    Dear Eisley (nine months)

    Dear girl,

    You’ve reached that point where you’ve been out in the world longer than you were in the womb, and I am starting to see bits of your personality unfold.

    You are smart. You are already signing “more” and “all done” and I’m pretty sure I’ve actually heard you utter “MO(re)!” a few times out of desperation for me to hand you food in the midst of dinner chaos. Feeding a family of five is no easy feat, and I’m sorry for the times you’ve had to wait in your high chair for far too long.

    That leads me to number two.

    You are patient. I’ve heard baby number three can go one of two ways. Either they can be the loud, defiant, or energetic child who is completely different than the first two. Or they are the totally chill baby who is along for the ride. Thankfully, you seem to be in the second camp. You endure skipped naps and all-day adventures and a two and four year-old constantly climbing on you and yelling in your face with a great deal of baby composure. I think your calm demeanor will take you far in life.

    You are athletic. You learned to crawl just three weeks ago, and you are already pulling up on the bottom step and trying to stand on your own. You downward-dog all day long like our living room is some kind of fancy yoga studio. But your greatest feat is that you are starting to wrestle your sisters. They have spent the last nine months tackling you (with constant reprimands) but now you weigh over 20 pounds and can throw that weight around a little bit. If one of them lies on the ground near you, you’ll get a little infant smirk in your eye and flop yourself down on them while mom and dad watch and laugh. And speaking of laughing…

    You are funny. You’ve started a game where you try to grab Talitha’s pacifier out of her mouth and put it in your own. Any time you are able to snatch it, you instantly start giggling. You seem to know when things are comical in your surroundings, because you chuckle at all the right moments. I am excited for all the laughter you will bring to our house in the years to come.

    And, of course, you are still as sweet as can be. You continue to smile from morning to night and are at ease with anyone who wants to hold you. You take in the world happily and without fear.

    I think I could learn a few things from you…

    Love,
    Mama

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    The Art of Muffins

    A few years ago, I whipped up banana muffins instead of banana bread, and I have never looked back.

    Muffins are the EASIEST baked good to make. They taste like dessert, but you can stuff them with nutrients.

    Here are just a few reasons I love muffins:

    • You can usually make a whole batch from start to finish in under 30 minutes.
    • They require minimal ingredients (that you usually already have around the house).
    • You don’t need to use a mixer.
    • There are lots of options to make them healthy without sacrificing flavor.
    • Muffins freeze incredibly well.

    *A note on freezing: I usually make about a double batch (approx. 24) once or twice a month. We eat them fresh for about two days and then toss all the remaining ones in a gallon ziplock bag and freeze for easy breakfasts. When you pull them out frozen, they come to room temperature on their own in about 20-30 minutes, or you can pop them in the microwave for about 20 seconds and they taste like the day you made them. I eat one on the way to work almost every day.

    All muffins follow the same general formula:

    Approximately 2-3 cups of a grain (flour, oats, almond flour, etc. — easy to make gluten free), baking soda, salt, 1 egg, 1/2 cup sugar, butter or oil

    Then you can add something to make them moist (banana, greek yogurt, applesauce, pumpkin, etc.) and anything else you want (berries, nuts, chocolate chips, etc.) You can even make them healthier by adding seeds, flax, extra fruit, or even veggies.

    All these recipes make approximately 12 muffins. I always double them, so I can freeze some.

    For every single recipe, preheat oven to 350 and grease 1-2 muffin pans, depending on how many you are making. You can mix all the ingredients in one bowl and simply stir with a spoon. Muffins actually bake better if they not over-mixed. Fill muffin cups about 2/3 full and bake for 15-20 minutes or until tops spring back when touched. You don’t even need a toothpick.

    BANANA MUFFINS

    Mix together:

    • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 3 bananas, mashed
    • 1/2 cup sugar (brown, white or a mix of both)
    • 1 egg
    • 1/3 cup butter (melted)
    • 1 tsp. vanilla
    • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
    • 2 TBSP sour cream or greek yogurt (optional)

    OATMEAL MUFFINS

    Mix together:

    • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats (not quick oats)
    • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour (or almond flour, etc. to keep in gluten free)
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    • 1 cup unsalted butter
    • 1/2 cup natural cane or brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt (Greek is fine)
    • 2 large eggs, whisked

    Streusel topping: 

    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 4 tablespoons butter (cold or warm)
    • 1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional)
    • 1/4 cup rolled oats (optional)

    *Mix together and sprinkle on top of muffins before baking. This one sometimes yields 16-18 without doubling.

     

    BROWN SUGAR MUFFINS

    Mix together:

    • 1 cup light brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup butter, melted
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1 egg
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt

    *Streusel topping optional (see above).

     

    KODIAK CHOCOLATE MUFFINS

    Mix together:

    • 2 cups Kodiak Dark Chocolate Power Cakes mix
    • 1 cup milk (any milk will work — almond, coconut, whole, skim, etc.)
    • 1 egg
    • 1/2 cup softened butter (can substitute with applesauce)
    • 1/3 cup brown sugar
    • 2 bananas, mashed
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional, but recommended)

    It makes me laugh to type out these recipes, because you’ll notice so many ingredients are optional. Muffins really are an art, not a science. I’m pretty sure if you mix flour, baking soda, sugar, butter, and an egg together, you will get a decent muffin, no matter what other ingredients you to choose to add. Simply craft them with extras according to your preferences!

    Here are some other ones to try: Zucchini Muffins, Pumpkin Muffins, Blueberry Muffins, Carrot Applesauce Muffins, and the list goes on and on…

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    Saturday Snippets

    (A Cup of Jo)

    Love cute, old married couples

    Because I love motherhood and writing and writing about motherhood

    I have a thing for jumpsuits

    Inside the home of my favorite artist…

    Always looking for a solid chocolate chip cookies recipe and these were a hit…

    As a writing professor in an age of notoriously poor writing skills, I found this piece fascinating…

    Wise advice on mothering from a teenage girl…

    And her book on the teenage years

    I finally know why I’ve always loved the circus

    On a related note, I am trying to listen to music more often, and Amazon Music Unlimited is $7.99 per month…

    These would be an adorable gift for a an elementary-age girl

    Christianity Today’s most recent book awards

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