DOUBLE BATCH BANANA BREAD

I woke up today and noticed gnats in our fruit corner, and that normally means it’s time to bake something. I use my trusty 25 year old Better Homes and Gardens cookbook for pretty much everything. While the kids were busy doing their morning schoolwork, I threw together a double batch of banana bread for our mid-morning snack. The only tip I can add to a basic banana bread recipe is to double the batch, so you can share a loaf with a neighbor!

Double Batch Banana Bread

3 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 eggs

2 cups mashed bananas (5-6 bananas)

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup cooking oil

Grease loaf pan of choice on sides and bottom.

Mix dry ingredients.

Mix eggs, bananas, sugar, and oil in a separate bowl.

Add banana mixture to dry ingredients; stir and pour into pan/pans.

Bake 35-50 minutes at 350° (more time if you made 1 deep loaf, less time if you divided batter into 2-3 loaves. I used 3 small loaf pans today, and they were done in 35 minutes.)

SUMMER THINGS

We may have started our fall home school routine last week, but that doesn’t mean summer is over. We’re still in the thick of it; the air is beginning to smell hot and stale, and we realistically still have two months of summer ahead. Naturally my favorite season tends to be the next one, but I’m trying to make my favorite season always be the current one. So, instead of looking ahead to fall, I’m trying to enjoy summer for what it is, and pull as much out of it as we can. Currently, my late summer includes:

Walking…I’ve been walking every evening up and down our little street. When we first moved into our house, I loved our house, our yard, the woods behind our house, but I didn’t particularly like our street. Once I started walking it regularly, though, I’ve really grown to love it, and the people have become familiar neighbors who I have little chats with about their pets and their trees, and it’s become one of my favorite ways to end the day. There are 27 houses on our street, and getting to know the people in them one small conversation at a time makes the world feel a little friendlier and safer. My goal this pregnancy has been to walk 5 miles a day (about 10,000 steps) and for the first time ever, I actually lost a pound during pregnancy. (That wasn’t the goal, and never should be unless it’s something a doctor has recommended, but I began this pregnancy heavier than any of my others. I’ve only ever seen the scale go up during pregnancies, so it was a surprise!) It gets harder and harder to stay motivated to move while pregnant, so making it a habit not based on how I feel each day, helps me keep going even on days I don’t want to walk. And most days I feel better once I have gone out and exercised because that’s often what exercise does!

Baking…One of my resolutions this year was to bake less to make my life simplier, but then I remembered I love baking, so I’ve been enjoying it more again. This summer I made my first batch of hot rolls that made our entire house smell like grandma’s house, which I decided I needed to do more often. The kids all love to take turns helping me, and even though it’s sometimes hard to let them help, I try to always let somebody put on an apron and be my little helper. They’re learning while they’re young and interested in helping so that when they’re older and don’t jump at the chance to be near whatever I’m doing, they’ll already know how to do things in the kitchen. The girls are already volunteering to make things by themselves, and while I’m not quite ready to let them loose alone with a recipe (they’re 6 & 8), I’m excited for the day when they can stretch their independence and accomplish a meal without me!

Cold Suppers…Sometimes when it’s so hot outside, a hot meal is too much. Sandwiches, wraps, and noodle salads are refreshing when it’s feels too hot to eat anything warm. We’ve been having BLT wraps with fresh tomatoes from the farmers’ market every Saturday, and it’s become a tradition we look forward to all week! 

Book gathering…I’m slowly working through one book the past couple months, but I really don’t read very much in the summer. I’ve been stacking up a few on a special corner of the shelf for fall/winter when the longer hours of darkness welcome long books. It’s not that I don’t have time in the summer, I just don’t feel as interested in reading when the sun is out and there are things to do outside.

Praying…finally, we have been praying through some things over the past few months, and it has been a defining aspect of our summer. It’s funny how we naturally want to follow our feelings and make quick decisions, but wisdom often tells us to wait, make decisions slowly, and not be quick to decide things we might regret later. I’m thankful for a husband that encourages slow, prayerful decision making; waiting until we are in perfect agreement on things can take time we would rather not spend waiting in an unknown, but we know it will make the end result sweeter because we were 100% together in it. 

What about you? Does summer end when school starts, or do you let summer stretch until the weather agrees it’s time for a change of seasons?

HOMESCHOOL | SUMMER EDITION


Summer has officially taken over around here; the humidity and all the cooling activities to go with it. I’m sitting outside at what is slowly becoming my favorite time of morning: it turns out 9am can be as magical as 6am. Between walks, bike rides, swims, long evenings in our yard, outings around town, and visits to grandma and grandpa’s house, our days and weeks of summer are slowly ticking by. After our little vacation out west, I’ve taken an official break from my cell phone. Searching for GPS directions, campsites, hotels, and weather updates took a lot of phone staring, and a break felt like a much needed rest.

Something that is holding our summer schedule together is our morning school time about 3 days a week. I normally schedule in a little summer term of homeschool, but this year we’re still working on our spring semester that we haven’t completed yet. We work to complete our books, and between distractions and too many breaks this past year, we’re not quite finished yet.. whoops! But that’s the beauty of homeschooling; our books will be completed eventually, and learning is always happening, even when we take days “off”. Because my husband is a teacher, this summer has given me uninterrupted time with the girls working on their school while he takes care of the boys. We’re probably getting more work done these 3 days a week during the summer than we would get done in a full week of work during the semester without him here at home with us! I know I’m lucky to have the help, and I’m taking advantage of it as much as I can!

I’d probably have to define how we’ve homeschooled so far as eclectic. We tend to have a casual approach and use what works for each subject, often switching things up as needed. I think in the past 4 years of homeschooling we’ve tried nearly every form of homeschooling. We’ve tried traditional school at home, Charlotte Mason, unschooling, classical. I’ve definitely learned a lot these four years. I’m always trying to perfect what we do, always waiting to feel like I’ve finally found the perfect schedule, books, and routine. While I’m not sure that will ever happen, I am beginning to gather favorites! Whether favorite books or routines, I think discovering favorites is pretty close to finding what’s perfect for us! 

We’re on schedule to finish our spring 2019 work mid-July which will give us all about a month long break before beginning our fall semester late-August/early September. I’m already starting to plan for next semester when I’ll have 3 at the table; crazy to think about! I’m looking forward to a few changes that I’ll probably write about and share as I do more planning. For now, I hope you’re summer is going well! Do you homeschool year round? If you do let me know! I always enjoy hearing about how others plan their school days!

FAMILY | ROADTRIP WEST

 


 

 

 

 

A summer road trip was all we thought about this spring; we planned and mapped and looked forward to it for weeks. It eventually got shortened from three weeks to one week and ended up being less than a week away from home for a number of reasons that we couldn’t control. How often do we plan things with results in mind and the results we get are so different from what we planned? The hours in the car with the kids made getting home the ultimate goal by day 4. We landed in a hotel one night because a tire popped miles from a town, and we pulled into town too late to get it fixed.  Our last night ended in another hotel as the bright blue Kansas sky turned dark and tornado alerts started popping up on our phones. None of the trip went as we expected, but the vastness of uninhabited land is enticing and beautiful; seeing the variety of God’s creation was worth hours in the car with kids. We saw so much sky. The camping memories we made were golden: reading aloud in the tent, playing cards as a family, bathing with jugs of water from a lake. Still, home was the most beautiful word by the time we pulled in the drive. Sometimes all we need is a few days away to feel refreshed and remind us home is a pretty great place to be.

SPRING CLEANING

 

I’ve been looking around our house the past few months, wondering how in the world we ever called ourselves minimalists.  It’s funny how quickly stuff just piles up.  The past two weeks I have been spring cleaning, though! It was a spring cleaning that turned into a spring purge and ended in a fresh coat of paint through the main room, and now everything is MUCH easier to tidy and fresher to look at! 

I really wish I could be a minimalist, but I know I have a tendency to save things.  When we were on our honeymoon, we watched Hoarders for the first time, and I was so convicted and motivated, it began our little journey of living more simply.  Pete was an unintentional minimalist in college: he didn’t call himself one, but I was shocked the first time I saw his dorm room.  It looked like he could pack up and leave in the night with just a bag on his back, and I was intrigued. 

Eventually, 3 years into our marriage, somebody walked into our apartment and asked if we were just moving in because it looked so empty– we had lived there almost a year.  It was thrilling being on the minimal side of that question! 

And then life happened; birthdays and holidays felt too close together, we bought a house, and eventually it seemed as if clothes and books and toys were pouring out of every drawer, corner, and empty shelf.  It was past time to reevaluate.  I viciously purged out 3 van loads full of stuff to the thrift store and an entire van full of trash/recycling.  I was even finally able to pitch some things that have made it through all the other purges over the years: some textbooks and sentimental items.

It all felt so refreshing and echo-ey that I decided to give our living room a fresh white coat of paint.  It was the perfect way to end a crazy week of spring cleaning, and I’m satisfied with how it looks.  Most of all, I’m pleased with how empty all the little spaces feel again.

Although I wish I could just pitch stuff once and be done, there’s a constant, sneaky flow of stuff coming into our home that piles up so quickly!  Gifts and hand-me-downs, things we purchase, and things the kids pick up here and there are somehow steadily streaming through our doors.  I’m realizing this is another repetitive life processes that never ends.  It’s nice to have a springtime to remind us to open our windows and the doors of every nook and cranny hiding all the unnecessary things taking up space in our homes.

The biggest bonus after my massive spring clean this year: I can tidy so quickly!  I know some people enjoy tidying constantly, but I don’t.  I don’t naturally want to walk around picking up and rearranging little things all day long.  However, because I enjoy cleanliness so much, the only solution I see is having less stuff to tidy.  With fewer clothes comes less laundry; fewer toys make less pickup time; less furniture means less dusting. 

And now it’s Friday, and I’m about to go do a quick house cleanup to prep for the weekend, and I’m so excited to tackle what I know will maybe take an hour instead of three!