dear 16 months

Oh Hey Buddy,

You're a lot of work.  I like to compare this stage of your little life to a road trip.  Driving is exhausting because you're 'on' the whole time.  Similarly, not a minute goes by that I can't really take my mind off what you're doing, making sure you're not climbing on something, pushing buttons you shouldn't, or finding something too small to put in your mouth.

You're a lot of fun now.  You like to play together a lot, building your choo choo train, going for walks, and reading books.  I introduced you to Calliou just recently and you really like watching that show and I don't mind it either.  You sit on my lap, cuddle, and I like the little story they tell.  It's a good 30 minute break for us both.

You really love seeing your friends.  In fact, I can't even mention their names until minutes before we're going to see them or else you'll start heading for the door and then whining when you wonder where they are.  I'm learning that you really know just about everything that's going on and are saying words like crazy. It's fun to see you catching on and it makes me so proud of you too.

You do this silly smile that makes us laugh.  I think you know you're pretty special, pretty loved, and our golden boy.


slow cooker overnight apple butter oatmeal

Do you do oatmeal in the slow cooker?  It's totally a thing and if you don't do it you most definitely need to.  We all put a timer on our coffee machines, why not wake up to coffee and breakfast ready at the same time?

This recipe has saved us many a morning and makes a large enough amount that we're found eating it days later.  Anderson enjoys at least two helpings and I love that it's got loads of flavor without loads of sugar.

Amen to oatmeal in the slow cooker, amen.

Slow Cooker Overnight Apple Butter Oatmeal

Here is the recipe. Serves 6-8

  • 1 apple, cored and diced
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup Musselman's Apple Butter
  • 1/2 cup Musselman's Apple Sauce
  • 2 cups uncooked steel cut oats
  • 2 Tbsp butter, cut into small pieces
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  1. Spray the insert of your slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Add the diced apple, milk, water, apple butter, apple sauce, oats, butter, salt, vanilla, brown sugar, and cinnamon to your slow cooker and stir until well combined.
  3. Cook on low for 7-8 hours.  Your oatmeal is cooked and ready to be enjoyed with additional brown sugar and milk if you would like. 

5 Things I Plan to do During His Grad School Education

Benjamin started grad school just a couple weeks ago.  To be honest before it all began I was quite dramatic about what this new season would look like for us.  Clearly I'd be losing my husband, single parenting, eating cereal at 8:30 PM for dinner, and doing everything  This isn't true.  He's still been able to help (granted we're not in the thick of it) and I've been combating the cereal dinners by making tons of food and stocking my fridge and freezer like a snow storm is coming.

Although school is for Benjamin this does mean that 2-3 nights a week I'll be hitting it solo until he gets home.  I already go through the day as most nights Anderson is already in bed by the time Benjamin gets home.  That's not what I'm worried about.  

I'm wondering how I'll fill my time at nights and honestly hope it's not sitting in front of the tv indulging in the Bachelor.  Garbage in, garbage out.  Although I will admit the junk food does taste good sometimes.

Here are some things I'd like to accomplish:

1.  Pick up a book and READ again.  It's been awhile and I'm still making my way through one thousand gifts which I started months ago.  Any good book recommendations?

2. Actually do the Bible studies I'm in twice a week instead of leaving them to skim the night before.  Enough said.

3.  Keep cooking and blog blog blog.

4.  Finally put together a book of Anderson's first year.  Long overdue.  I should seriously get this done before...Spring?

5.  Paint my nails.  It's the little things in life as a Mom that make me feel put together during the week.  A good pair of jeans, somewhat fashionable top, and painted nails really do the trick for me.

Oh, and those matching shirts pictured above?  I got that for Benjamin and surprised him with a matching t for Anderson.  Big wife points were earned.

caramelized onion and apple butter grilled cheese

There's no question that caramelized onions are delicious. If you haven't experienced them for yourself and claim you don't like onions you're missing out.  Heat a skillet, throw in a tablespoon or so of oil and about 2 onions sliced thin and let them cook down into delicousness and you'll be hooked.  

For the love of these type of onions I was intrigued when I saw a recipe for grilled cheese sandwiches with caramelized onions and apple butter.  Here the Musselman's apple butter is cooked into the onions and placed atop some nice Dubliner cheese.  They bake up until melty and provided us with a wonderfully comforting dinner last night.

holiday cards

Our cards are all put away in this handy book I made using a hole punch and 2 rings.  About as crafty as I get around here, super simple, and something Anderson loves so he can find pictures of "abby, el-nor, and b"  

As I sifted through our stack I was reminded once again that I didn't order enough.  Thing is, I decided this year that I would just do Easter cards.  Then this little thing happened where Tiny Prints used Benjamin and I in one of their ads unknown to us, I asked them about it, and they paid me off.  Not entirely true but kinda.  It wasn't actually their doing, they were pretty upset about it, and were super gracious about it.  I was super flattered and wanted free cards out of the deal, which I got.

Since we have some more I'd like to send but I really can't get behind sending valentine's cards I'm going to send more Easter cards this year I think. I think Easter needs to be celebrated by Christians just as much if not more so than Christmas.  Yes it's amazing that God sent his son but the kicker is that He died for us.  That's huge.  That's LIFE.  And so, come March (I think?) I'll take advantage of some more Tiny prints love and get some more cards made.  I kinda can't wait.

creamy maple dressing

There's a salad dressing that we can't get enough of right now.  It's slightly creamy, slightly sweet, and overall super easy to throw together.  This salad and dressing was first introduced to me by my Mom who had it when a friend brought it to her house.

As she acknowledged, you should have just about everything for this in your pantry making it the perfect last minute adjustment to snaz up your leafy greens.  Add some grilled chicken atop this salad and you've got a meal in itself.

This post is short today as I've got to take advantage of nap time getting ready for a Thirty-One party tomorrow and potentially doing some dreaded ironing, but I had to share some recipes with you since I've been in the kitchen a lot these days and need to get back into sharing all that with you!

Recipe loosely adapted from Bon Appetit

Maple Dressing

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
Place all ingredients in a jar and shake well.  Drizzle over a salad of leafy greens with some pecans, dried cherries or cranberries and one granny smith apple, diced.

motherhood is...

Motherhood is washing your hair in the sink.

It's not being able to see your friends at your Mom's group because your son had a fever the day before and you wouldn't want to get other kids sick.

Motherhood is nursing your baby for two days straight while they refuse to eat food.  It's nursing your baby after they wake up coughing from a short nap in hopes that they'll return back to sleep then proceeding to get thrown up on.

Motherhood is taking a shower with your baby to wash off the said throw up.

Motherhood is going a bit crazy on a grey day when you haven't been outside and your child is too young to care that you decided you should cut out some hearts and make a banner for their door.

At the end of the day motherhood is holding your sleeping baby in your arms, realizing you wouldn't change these memories for anything.

It's selective memory, forgetting some of the smells and frustrations and looking back thinking how wonderful motherhood is.

Is My Son a Good Eater Because I'm a Good Cook? 3 Things That May Have Helped

Although it hasn't been written before, I'd be the first to admit that I think my son is a good eater because I'm a good cook.  I've lovingly made meals for our family with him in mind and raised my head a little higher when he cheerfully gobbled up homemade macaroni and cheese with loads of spinach and peas in it or enchiladas that are pilled high with beans, cheese, corn, and squash.  I've offered him just about everything my husband and I eat from the beginning and for the most part he will try it.

Is it really all about me though?  No.

Similar to the sleeping patterns your child develops I know in my head, and my heart, that my cooking isn't the only reason why Anderson eats so well.  What I do think has helped are the following things.

1.  Saying Goodbye to Kids Meals.  
I'm a firm believer that if you feed your child macaroni, grilled cheese, and french fries multiple times a week they won't be too thrilled when you offer them green beans, turkey, and pears.  I have to wonder if the way we cater to our children at restaurants has contributed to the rise in childhood obesity, diabetes, and overall picky eaters.  Anderson is offered small amount of whatever my husband and I order for meals while out, offering him new flavors and offering us a less expensive check.

2. Understanding His Palette.  
An avid home cook, I have tweaked recipes to cater to our little one.  Spice, salt, and strong flavors or textures have been thoughtfully minimized for our fifteen month old but not eliminated.  A lover of hot sauce, I've encouraged my husband to add more spice to his own dish as we gradually teach Anderson the flavors of salsa and curry. 

3. He sees me Cooking.  
Once Anderson could crawl we quickly child-proofed our kitchen making measuring cups, tablespoons, and spatulas available for him to play with while I'm preparing a meal.  Although those can keep him occupied for some time he enjoys seeing what I'm making and has learned to say the word "hot" because of the countless times I've held him while scrambling eggs or stirring pasta sauce.  Has the process of cooking encouraged his sense of intrigue and desire to eat what we're making?  

What do you think?  Do all good cooks have good eaters?  If you hate to cook how have you helped your kids love to eat?

my new years blogging resolutions

Although it seems that the blogging hasn't been going on here, I've been thinking about it often.  Thinking about how I want this space to look in the coming year, how it's grown over the past 365 days, and coming up with some resolutions, since that's clearly on all of our minds these days.

1.  This is My Sketchbook.

Growing up I loved taking art classes.  In fact, I took AP Art and scored higher in that than any other AP courses I took.  My best art resulted when I was inspired but didn't compare my work to others.  If I looked over and saw what a classmate was doing I was immediately anxious.  The same rings true today when it comes to this blog.  I wonder why they have so many comments when I do not, I wonder why they chose the design they did, I wonder why I didn't think of the content they did.  This is my sketchbook and mine alone.  I'll chose to try and be inspired, not robbed of joy when reading other's articles, looking at their photography, cooking, and checking out what their kids wore.

2.  This is a Conversation.  I want to Hear from YOU!

Often times I don't write certain things because I don't want to offend people.  This year I'm going to put myself out there more with the understanding that I'm learning in life just like you- about motherhood, parenthood, faith, and how to be a wife among other things.  I don't know the answers- at all- but I want to talk about how to come to some conculsions.

That said I want to hear from YOU.  What do you think?  If you read this blog we must have some common interests, right?

3.  I Can't Do it All.

Oh yes, that wonderful and freeing realization.  There may be breaks here and there.  There will be times like the past few weeks where I hold onto evenings with my husband in front of HGTV instead of the computer before he starts grad school and I have plenty of time to hang out with the keyboard.

4.  I'll Quiet the Rules.

Whoever said there were no rules in blogging was joking.  Bloggers think they should have so many posts a week, do so much on Facebook, only talk about certain things on twitter, etc.  I'll do what I can when I can and not be consumed with the rules out there that I in reality make up for myself.

Have you resolved to do anything this year?  Or like me resolved to not do certain things?