Thursday, October 1, 2015

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle...Recipes?

Part of the empty nest thingy is figuring out how not to cook every meal to serve 8-12. Yes, we're only a family of six, but I've had three men eating here for awhile now plus leftovers once in a while are helpful.  This being the case, I realized last week that I had a good amount of homemade granola bars leftover from when the boys were still home. Now, I could have frozen them or given them away or eaten all of them, but there comes a time to figure out something else. And so was born the Granola Bar Muffin recipe. Quick and easy plus not requiring any fancy ingredients, these moist breakfast gems have been not only delicious but a great way to reduce extra food, reuse an ingredient in a new way and recycle a recipe tweaking it enough to make something new! 
               ,                           Good mornings come with muffins and meows!



    For the muffins:
  • 1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granola bars*, crumbled up 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • For the topping:
  • 1 & 1/3 cups granola bars*, crumbled up
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted


To make the muffins:

Preheat oven to 375°. Line 12 standard-sized muffin cups with paper liners.

Whisk together flour, crumbled granola bars, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. 

In a separate bowl, mix sugar, yogurt, butter, eggs, and vanilla until well blended. Add flour mixture, and mix just until blended.

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling each about two-thirds full.

To make the topping:

Combine crumbled granola bars, brown sugar, and butter until combined and crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over muffin batter in pan.

Bake 15 to 18 minutes, or until muffins are set and edges are browned.

Cool in pans on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Then, remove from pans to cool completely. Makes about 12 regular size muffins. 

*i used homemade granola bars, but I think any kind would work. Experiment with different kinds & let me know your favorite!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Dealing with Empty-Nestness

How many times have you heard, "Enjoy them now, they'll be gone before you know it."? I know I've heard it a lot as I've raised my four kids. Never did I dream it would be the case for me. Well, this last month my husband and I joined the ranks of what is known as "empty nesters". That's right, all four of kids are away at school. I guess this makes us "mostly" empty nesters as they'll be home for Christmas and summer breaks. 
Lots of folks have told me how nice it'll be for Brian and I to have time together to do things we want or how much money we'd be saving once the last one goes. While that is true, no one mentions how you now need to do most of the chores yourself or how many leftovers you have because you've forgotten how to cook for just two or how it feels when it comes time for night prayer and you're the only one here to pray it. No one ever said how dinner time can end up being a quick 15 minutes because you and your spouse have had at least one or two other people at the table keeping up conversations for the past 25 years. And even though I knew it was coming, everyone forgot to mention just how quiet and lonely the house feels when you're the only one home. 
So now that's off my shoulders, what does one do to deal with the "empty nest syndrome"? I'm sure there are a ton of websites, books and even YouTube videos with advice, but I've decided to stay with the basics.
1) Pray. That's the first and foremost priority. Pray for your spouse. Pray for your kids. Pray for your extended family, your friends, the Church, the World. You can do this at home, at Mass, at Adoration. Just be sure you're doing it. 'Nuff said.
2) Love on your spouse. My husband has been doing an amazing job this last week showing this as I've been down with a viral thing causing me vertigo. I've actually been home from work for over a week. He's been making sure I'm keeping up on my meds, getting me tea and food, not to mention going to the salle today to be the "office guy" and doing my spot at Adoration tonight. Last night we talked about planning some specific things to do together, and the smile on his face when I suggested making homemade pasta was worth more than I could have imagined!
3) Fellowship with others. Plan a meal with another couple or family. Go to coffee with a friend. Join a Bible study or other group at church. Also be sure that you're serving in some capacity somewhere- church, a food bank, pregnancy center, etc. There are a lot of people out there needing a bit of help!

I guess I wrote this as a reminder for myself as much as sharing it with others. Let me know what other ideas you may have for getting ready and dealing with being an empty nester!

And Sew It Goes

My latest fabric adventure has become a joy and privilege as I've started making & selling pocket oratories and quilted icons. Theses were inspired by The Little Oratory by David Clayton and Leila Lawler as well as a photo of a beautiful French vintage travel prayer packet found on Pinterest. I started making these this past spring and opened up my Etsy shop "Piccolo de Luce" which means a little bit of light. It has given me so much joy to have folks buy these tiny traveling oratories which helps them to be able to pray wherever they may be. I'm working on revising my design and plan on having them ready for share the middle of October.
                                One of my Triptych (three-sided) Pocket Oratories
I've also started making some of my own quilts, and I am super excited to have had one in this weekend's Quiltopia Quilt Show at The Willamette Heritage Center at the Mill. It was a fun quilt to make, and I'm happy with the way it came out. 
                                                    My "Put a Bird On It" Quilt
After reading about winterizing old houses on Like Mother Like Daughter last week, I've decided to start making the list for our 1912 uninsulated and sometimes very damp farmhouse. The one project that I'm most looking forward to doing is the "door cover quilts". With the winter breezes that blow through our house (remember, uninsulated) this should be a fun project to help us stay a bit warmer. Be sure to check out LIke Mother, Like Daughter for more terrific winterizing suggestions.
                   The sun is shining now, but Old Man Winter's just around the corner.

I'd love to hear about your latest project- sewing, crafting, cooking or whatever you've got going on. It's way more fun to share projects and bits of life with others as we continue on our journeys!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Saturday Scribblings- Vocation Time

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word vocation as:
1 a :  a summons or strong inclination to a particular state or course of action; especially :  a divine call to the religious life
   b :  an entry into the priesthood or a religious order
a :  the work in which a person is employed :  occupation
   b :  the persons engaged in a particular occupation
  the special function of an individual or group
I've always thought of my vocation as a wife and mom especially since I think it falls under the "strong inclination to a particular state...". In the last 9 years, however, my vocation has grown to include the second part of the definition, "the work in which a person is employed". I hadn't thought a whole lot about my jobs as being vocational since many people work at jobs they don't necessarily feel they've been called to do. A few years ago, our executive director at SFC said something about my fencing instructor job being more than just that. She likened it to a vocation. After having thought about for a while, I realized she is absolutely correct.
What a joy it is for me to have a group of people (from age 7 to a lot older than that) who I get the privilege to teach the sport of fencing. As I start my tenth year of teaching this month, I can look back on some of the now-grown fencers who started in one of our musketeer classes when their weapons were almost taller than they were. We've celebrated achievements, both fencing and non-fencing with numerous folks who have passed through our club. We've seen graduations from high school and college, marriages and even a baby or two. I have been able to grow in friendship with so many people I probably wouldn't have gotten to ever know if it weren't for fencing. I can even quip, "some of my best friends are fencers" and actually mean it.
Now that I've been officially given the title of head instructor, I've made the commitment to staying at the club for another 10 years, God-willing (and the creek don't rise). It's made our lives here at home a little bit more crazy, but with Josh and David at school and my girls heading off in the next year, it is good timing. 
All this to say, I've also opened another chapter to my fencing vocation this week. I had gotten to attend a USFA referee seminar in September up in Vancouver, Washington at Northpointe Fencing Club with Justin Meehan. I had taken three of our teenage fencers with me, and we had a great time learning what it takes to be a USFA referee. 

Since then, we've all been studying the guides to be able to take the test in order to go on to the next step of being rated. I can happily say that between last night and this morning, I passed all the tests I could in order to take that step. They were online exams-a general knowledge plus weapon (foil, epee, sabre) specific. The funniest part for me was that my sabre test score was the highest out of all of them, and I don't really referee sabre! 
I guess I write this as encouragement to anyone out there who is wondering if what they are doing in their life could be considered a vocation. If you know you are doing what you have been called to do, then stick with it! If you are not where you think you should be, ask the Lord to direct you to what you should be doing for Him. Remember:
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.      
Colossians 3:17