Recipes to Remember: Banana Bread

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I’ll admit — I kind of think of banana bread as a southern thing. I know people make it in the north too, but as I’m allergic to tree nuts I pretty much write it off as something I shouldn’t eat, since walnuts often make an appearance. But Korey loves it — sans walnuts — so I learned to make it the way his grandma does.

The recipe is fairly easy and straightforward. It calls for:

– two cups self-rising flour
– one cup sugar
– two eggs
– one stick melted butter
– three ripe bananas (I’ve added more before)
– one teaspoon of vanilla
– a pinch of salt

Mash that all together and bake for about forty minutes at 375°. I always cover mine with tin foil but I don’t think that’s truly necessary.

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Although I have never actually tasted my own banana bread (the horror, I know, what a bad cook!) the kids seem to love it just as much as Korey. Izzy told me last night to make sure daddy didn’t eat it all. I replied that I had made two so there was no way he could eat it all. She replied “next time make three — one for the babies, one for daddy, and one for me!” Ha! The prospect of having to share at all is apparently too much for her. 😉

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But I guess she knows what she’s talking about because between desert yesterday and whatever Korey ate for breakfast and took to work with him, there was only one left this morning! I don’t think I’ll be making three though. Some people just need to learn to portion better. 😛

Izzy turns four!

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Izzy’s fourth birthday was Tuesday and today we had a birthday party for her! I totally have put off having real birthdays since her first because I was pregnant and overwhelmed with the twins and I honestly think they’re kind of dumb. (So I aged another year — woo….) But knowing how much Izzy loves people and parties and being the center of attention right now I felt she deserved a day to celebrate her after how much she put up with over the past two years.

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I wanted to keep it small but given the size of our combined families that way pretty much impossible. 😛 Thankfully I feel good enough now that I totally spent a week cleaning and organizing most of the downstairs. (Since we got a new dining room table it really motivated me. I took down old baby gates and touched up paint and bought long overdue curtains for the living room and everything.)

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Izzy was so excited she counted down the days every day, helped me clean, repeated the list of the all the grandmas and grandpas that were going to be there over and over again, and made sure to tell everyone she could about it. 😉 It totally made it worth it to me even without having had the actual party yet. But the day of was even better!

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Although I don’t have many pictures of her, she was beyond excited, running to the door wherever someone came and announcing to everyone who they were. Her excitement was infectious! I immediately knew all that cleaning and prep work had paid off.

The best moment for me though was after everyone sang happy birthday — which she totally basked in — and she blew out her candle, she ran up to my and gave me a huge hug and said “thank you momma!!” as if I had given her the best day of her life. I nearly cried. I don’t know how I got so lucky with her — she is so affectionate and gentle-hearted and thoughtful. Truly the best child I could’ve ever asked for.

Of course she also got a lot of wonderful gifts that she was thrilled to open, but I definitely think the best part for her was just having everyone over and getting to have a special day all of her own. And I wouldn’t say that about most kids but right from the get go, as soon as I told her about my plan to have a party, the first thing she asked was “and everyone is going to come to my house?” So she got her ultimate wish. 😂

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I cannot even believe it’s been four years. Sometimes, before having kids, I wondered if I was really cut out to be a mom (sometimes afterward too — ha!) But looking at Izzy and what a sweet, happy, wonderful little girl she is makes me feel like maybe I was cut out for her. ❤

Nostalgia

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Today I have been painting our master bedroom in anticipation of our new furniture to be delivered Monday. I’m so excited! I haven’t owned a bedframe in my entire adult life. 😱 I’m taking a bit of a gamble with this paint job though because I didn’t warn Korey before hand. I’m hoping the fact that I only have trim left to do this weekend will make up for the unexpected project… 😂

But as I was painting I was thinking about how when we finally finally got the keys to this house (over five years ago now!) we were so excited to spend the night in “our home” that instead of going back to the townhouse we were renting we brought over an air mattress and set it up in the middle of the master bedroom. It looked so tiny in that huge empty room — hell, honestly most of our lives seemed so tiny for so long in this huge empty house with rooms we never went into and space we never utilized.

Yesterday I was talking to my sister and we were talking about nostalgia and I confessed that I’m not a very nostalgic person. I tend to always be looking to the future, only glancing back to make predictions about what to expect. And I don’t know if it’s because of that conversation or what but I’ve been thinking a lot today about these past five years and how I have put so much of myself into this house piece by little piece.

It’s taken me a long time — so long in fact that Behr totally redid their paint wall at Home Depot and no longer advertises the swatch of paint that is the foundation for my whole palette. 😂But each room that has been completed has had my full attention and care from the very beginning, tailored specifically to its purpose.

So even though it’s taken me an unreasonably long time to complete, I’ll always remember stenciling delicate pink cherry blossoms along Izzy’s wall, feeling her kick as I brought her nursery to life. I’ll always remember the panic we felt as we rushed to finish up the twin’s nursery after my water broke, Korey putting together cribs as I touched up the paint on their wall and hung new blinds. I’ll always remember sitting up with him as we built a thousand Ikea bookshelves after the kids were all asleep to set up their new playroom for them. And even though I’m not an inherently nostalgic person, I also don’t feel like I have to be, because those memories are there with me constantly every time I love through a room. ❤

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Recipes to Remember: Cherry Kuchen Bars

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This one is long over due! These cherry kuchen bars — otherwise known as “cherry cake” by Izzy — are so easy and delicious they instantly became a family hit.

Originally I saw this recipe linked at the bottom of her recipe for fried rice, which I’ve talked about before, and thought dang, that looks wonderful but I bet it’s a pain to make! Well when I clicked on the directions it seemed pretty simple so I gave it a shot and I’m so glad I did.

I brought this to several events over the holidays and it was praised by everyone who tried it. Izzy perhaps gave me the best praise by walking around to everyone announcing “MY mommy made this!” 😊 Definitely knows how to make me feel good. Even the extremely picky Korey enjoyed it! So if you’re looking for a good, easy dessert, especially for a party because it can make so much, I totally recommend this.

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Also, it’s delicious with vanilla ice cream, so you know it can’t be wrong in my book. 😉

Finally – a playroom!

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I posted about half a million years ago about having a big room I wanted to turn into a playroom but not having the time or ability to finish it. Well, the first weekend I felt really really good after starting antidepressants, I changed that.

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Historically Korey hasn’t always been on board with my remodel and furnishing ideas. Although I have a really good idea of what I want, he isn’t good with change and has a difficult time envisioning what I describe. But that’s why it’s my job and not his. 😉 However when he finally got on board with this project his support really helped make my vision a reality. Now he says it’s the best thing we’ve ever done.

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I got my Lego table in there as well as the Ikea shelves that I wanted — which, by the way, are AMAZING. I takes me easily ten minutes or less to clean up this room now, even when it’s in a full state of toddler disaster. 😊 And although I didn’t get the couch I originally envisioned, Korey took me to Ashley and we got some awesome couches anyway that are super comfy and with enough space for everyone.

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Best of all, of course, is that the kids love it! And it makes me feel like I could finally entertain at my house (if I had anyone to entertain — ha! 😉) I also feel super motivated to finish up other projects around the house as my vision for this place finally starts coming together after five years…!

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Izzy Finishes Swim Lessons

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Well she did it! Yesterday was Izzy’s last day of the most basic swim classes at the Y. I had some serious reservations about putting Izzy in swim classes — namely due to her fear of getting her face wet — but she really rocked it out and I couldn’t be more proud.

Even though there were a few traumatic water-up-the-nose incidents she really got better at learning how to avoid that. And she often volunteered to do what was asked and worked really well with the instructors. Parents weren’t allowed in the pool area so I could only watch through the window but honestly that’s given me a lot more confidence about her going to pre-k in the fall. I know she listens to the instructors when I’m not around, is respectful, and can communicate with them too.

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Overall they recommended she repeat the beginner course again because she still has some anxiety about the water (namely getting her face wet still which, as I suffer from the same fear, she will have to learn to deal with all her life 😉) and I think that was probably the right call. She told me today that she wants to do swim classes again and that makes me super pleased because there were a few times she said she didn’t want to go to swim ever again “not ever!!” 😂 I definitely think this is one thing where repeat exposure over time will buoy her confidence so we’re going to see about signing her up for another round.

So — yay Izzy! It’s so cool to watch your kids grow and get excited about new things. Absolutely my favorite part of being a parent.

Full Disclosure

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It’s been a while since I’ve written in this blog. My intention when I started this was to have a place to write about our daily activities so that I could look back and remember things I’m sure I’d otherwise forget as well as to share a more detailed account of our lives with family that lived far away. And in the interest of being honest with myself, although it’s not something I particularly love talking about, my inability to focus on writing here (or anywhere for that matter) has been due to depression.

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The thing about depression is that unless you’ve experienced it, it’s difficult to understand. From the outside, I have an enviable life. I have three wonderful, well behaved, hilarious kids. I have a loving husband who comes home every night. I can go to the grocery store and not have to worry about money. My family is supportive and there for me when I need it. Depression has nothing to do with being ungrateful — in fact, it only makes you feel worse to know you can’t fully appreciate what you have.

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Chronic depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain and I have suffered with it on and off for most of my life now. Although I was medicated in high school, I never really thought it truly helped. So even though I knew things were worse for me than they had been in a long time, I wasn’t particularly motivated to get help. I have always pulled myself out of it before, I said. I can do this. I can feel better.

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But the truth is that I couldn’t. People love to post articles about how you just need to exercise or you just need to eat better, that will fix your endorphins. And maybe it’s true — I actually believe it helps. But when you literally can’t move yourself from the couch, when nothing seems to matter and you drag yourself through every day merely because your children need you, making time to exercise seems impossible. Cooking anything more than mac n cheese seems like climbing Mount Everest. And it sounds stupid when it’s written out like this, but it’s just like any other illness — your body isn’t functioning properly. You can’t help feeling that way and you can’t just “motivation” yourself out of it. Not when it gets that bad.

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So after several months I finally made an appointment and got myself on an SSRI. And the world of difference it’s made to my life… It’s like night and day. I can get the kids dressed and leave the house again. I can try new recipes. I can clean and schedule appointments and work on house projects. I can laugh with my babies again. I don’t feel disconnected from my husband and everyone around me. As most people say who have been in my position, I only regret I didn’t get help sooner.

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But that means I hope to be more active here. To talk about house projects that I actually have the motivation to work on. To post about my wonderful babies. To show off things that I’ve cooked. To be able to remember happy things again and not just how terrible I feel. It’s nice to feel like I’ve rejoined the land of the living. 😉

Recipes to Remember: Chicken Fried Rice

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This past week has been… not so good.

We’ve all been hit with some kind of stomach flu. It sucks. I’m a big baby about being sick and I only get grouchier as the days tick by. I tend to be a pretty active person (haha – or I try to be, anyway) and we get out of the house a lot, so being confined inside and unable to do anything substantial really wears on me. I have even really cooked aside from making a big dish of mild mac n cheese that we’ve been eating over the past few days.

But I’m a little sick of plain pasta so I moved on to the next best thing: fried rice.

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Now, I love fried rice and I’m pretty sure I’ve made this recipe from Rachel Schultz before but I lost it and have made several other less satisfying and more difficult versions in the proceeding months. Well – never again. This one is perfect and its the only way I’ll make it from now on.

Two things I like about it: first, if you don’t already have chicken on hand, just fry a little up and remove from the pan before you do the veggies and eggs and second, if you don’t have day old rice on hand you can cook it fresh for this recipe.

Oh man it totally hit the spot – even if I did have to eat a very small portion so as not to aggravate my stomach. 😉

Izzy’s Soccer Season Finale

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Basically since Izzy was conceived I’ve wanted to put her in a soccer program. I can’t really explain it either – I didn’t play soccer in my youth and I don’t really understand the game either. Maybe I’m just one of those parents who wants to live vicariously through their children.

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I would never make her do something she didn’t want to do – but it did seem a little bit like fate that she was so obsessed with balls as a baby. 😉

As we’re already members of the YMCA, we decided to enroll her in their fall soccer season and it was great! Given that she’s only three we didn’t have high expectations but I really only wanted three things:

1. For her to get used to taking directions from someone other than me,

2. For her to get exercise and our undivided attention with an activity since she has to share so heavily with the twins, and

3. For her to have fun, of course!

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All of my hopes for this season were fulfilled! So I’m a happy momma. She definitely takes after me though and is kind of oblivious when it comes to where the ball is on the field. 😉 And mostly she wanted to play with the other girls rather than run into them and steal the ball, but that’s okay. She spent the whole hour on the field and ran in the general direction of the ball, which is about all I could really expect from someone with my genes. =P

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Today was our last soccer game. I’m thinking about signing her up for swim lessons this winter, but come spring if there’s another soccer season, I hope she wants to do it again! =)

Recipes to Remember: Potato Kielbasa Skillet

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In honor of that study saying that processed meats caused cancer, I decided to try out this Taste of Home recipe that includes both kielbasa and bacon.

Just kidding. I just love kielbasa. And I love bacon. And those are literally the only two processed meats we ever eat and we eat them maybe once every other week so I’m not gonna stress.

I mean really – who doesn’t want a pan full of frying kielbasa and potatoes…?

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But anyway, I have made recipes with kielbasa and cabbage before and while I enjoy them personally Korey isn’t huge on cabbage so I thought I’d give this one with spinach a try.

It. Was. Awesome.

I substituted marjoram for thyme because I loathe thyme but otherwise I followed it to the letter (well, I also doubled it) and I don’t think there’s a single thing I would change. And even though I thought I would miss garlic and very nearly added some anyway, the mustard/cider/brown sugar sauce is divine.

I will most definitely be making this again!