The Life

waste not want not banana bread

img_0189-1-1

Ok, so as promised I have the perfect banana bread recipe for you today.  If you’re following my $100/month grocery challenge I talked about how I made a quick banana bread to use up the ripened bananas that were going to go to waste.  This recipe was so easy to come together and my favorite part is that it only uses 1 bowl.  The less dishes to wash the better.

You can add walnuts or even chocolate chips if you wanted to make this even better but we love it just the way it is.  It’s a great way to use up those brown bananas.  Juliana took one bite and declared it even better then chocolate cake.  And we all know how much that kid loves cake.  We ate some for breakfast and then I sliced it all up and cut the 1 inch slices into squares perfect for little fingers and packaged them up for the kids to take to school for snack this week.

Here’s what you need:

2 very ripe bananas

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups flour

Here’s what you do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 4×8 inch loaf pan.  In a big bowl mash the ripe bananas with a fork until smooth.  Stir in applesauce.  Mix in the baking soda and salt.  Stir in the sugar, beaten egg and vanilla.  When all combined, mix in the flour.  Pour batter into loaf pan.  Bake for 1 hour.  Remove from pan to cool and then slice and serve!

If you want to add mini chocolate chips or nuts, do it at the end when all the other ingredients are already mixed together.  We didn’t have any on hand, and the idea was to use up what we had and not run to the store for more ingredients.  And I promise, like I said before, this recipe does not even need any extras.  This banana bread is seriously so yummy we can’t even wait for our bananas to turn brown again.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!  XO, Danielle

I love to connect with my readers on social media, so feel free to share this with a friend, pin it, and find me on Instagram and Facebook.

The Life

Grocery Challenge Take 2

grocerychallenge

Good morning and happy Monday!

Remember last November…when I had the insane idea to challenge give myself only $100 to spend the entire month on groceries for my family of four?  It was hard.  Really, really hard.   And I didn’t exactly succeed.  Thanksgiving sort of threw my budget for a bit of a loop, but I still stayed real close to the goal.  You can read about the budget here and here.   I picked the month of October to try the challenge again and there are factors that are in my favor, and out of my favor.

I am taking the kids to Florida for my sister’s Bridal Shower weekend so we won’t be home eating groceries those days.  That being said, Mike will still be home and I do usually pack lots of food for our trips to avoid eating out while we travel.  Also, I will need to stock up on candy for Halloween at the end of the month but I am hoping to get a good deal between store sales and coupons.

Its funny when I tell people what I am doing the first thing most people say is “how is that possible?”  Here’s how.

  • My usually shopping routine consists of shopping the store flyers and matching coupons with the deals to maximize the savings.  So when there is a sale on black beans and they are really cheap, I will stock up.  Basically that means at any given time I have a surplus of the items I know my family eats fairly often.  By stocking up when it’s on sale I don’t ever have to pay full price.  For example: Juliana and Joey eat a bowl of cheerios every morning before school.  That’s at least 10 bowls a week or about 1 box.  So when the boxes go on sale I can buy 12 and know that for the next 3 months I won’t need to worry about cereal.  Also, I make sure I know my families usage and make sure I will stay within the expiration dates.
  • The way the challenge works is that I will save at the grocery store by not buying stock up items.  Instead I will use up what we have.  Have you ever gone to the store and found a new item on sale that you hadn’t tried yet, but then never found anything to do with it so it’s still sitting on the pantry shelf?  This month I will find a way to use all those items.  Navy beans, I’m looking at you.
  • I often stock up on meat at Sprouts farmer’s market when the chicken is $1.88/lb.  And when I say stock up I mean I buy a lot of it.  And this month instead of buying more we will clear out the freezer and eat what’s in there.  All the items I’ve been stocking up on.
  • A key factor to the challenge is not to let anything go to waste.  In fact, I had bananas getting very brown on my counter this morning and instead of letting them go to waste I made some banana bread.  That banana bread is going to school with my kids this week for snack time, instead of sending pretzels or whatever other item.  So we turned something that was going to be wasted into something that will be used.
  • Same thing with vegetables that are near the end of their time.  I will just chop them all up and spray olive oil and seasonings and roast them.  That will give the semi-wilted produce some new life and we will eat those as our side dishes for dinner.

The challenge is definitely a challenge.  Last time we ate lots of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and had breakfast for dinner a number of times.  But we survived.  And saved over $250 that month by doing so.

I’ve already been to the grocery store to get milk and eggs, and I need to run in tomorrow because goldfish are on sale.  I know, I know.  I’m not supposed to be stocking up, but go figure our goldfish supply is near empty.  So I will have to figure some into the budget.  I will post the recipe for banana bread tomorrow, trust me you want it!  I hope you save some poor bananas and make it, because it really is yummy.  I’ll also be posting updates and my shopping list just like last time.

I’d love for you to join me in the challenge!  You can start whenever you’d like and just go for 4 weeks.  I’ll hopefully have lots of tips and recipes and maybe you’ll be able to teach me a thing or 2.

Hope you had a fantastic weekend!

XO

Danielle

I love to connect with my readers on social media, so feel free to share this with a friend, and find me on Instagram and Facebook.

The Life

trying to explain the bad…

This morning when I dropped Juliana off at carpool she made a comment about how there is a police officer at her school all the time.  I have also seen the officer every morning and afternoon.  I have waited for him to blow his whistle for the cars to open their doors and let the kids out into the area that he stands protecting.  I nodded to her and explained that the police officer is there to assist with carpool.
She looked at me and said, “No mama, he is there the whole day.  Why does he stay at the school all day?”  Without a second thought I said “to keep the kids and teachers safe”.  No sooner then I said it I closed my eyes.  I knew what she was going to say next.
“Why wouldn’t we be safe at school?”
I felt my eyes fill with tears for the 100th time this week.  How do I begin to explain to her?  How do I tell my innocent, five year old daughter that there is evil in the world.  That bad people do bad things.  That the police man is there to protect them from anything and anyone he feels may harm them.
If you’ve followed me for a while you will know that I don’t sugar coat things for Juliana.  I explain them in a way that she can understand them.  But this morning in the car I sat silent.  How do I explain the evil without creating fear inside her.   I understand that in today’s world we need to be aware but for gods sake these are our children.  Our babies!  They are small and pure and while they know the difference between good and bad they don’t fully comprehend how bad the bad is.  They can’t possibly comprehend it.
And I don’t want to break it to her.
I don’t want to have to explain to her why I don’t like to go to a movie theater.  How the thought of sitting in a dark room with strangers frightens the hell out of me.  I don’t want her knowing that when we are in the back aisle of the drug store picking up baby wipes I have mentally planned our best escape, god forbid we need to get out of there.  She doesn’t need to know that I side eye every single stranger we pass on the street.  Regardless of age, race or gender.
Because evil comes in all shapes and sizes.
It was my turn to pull the car up.  I glanced back in the rear view mirror and saw her eagerly looking out the window.  Her question left forgotten.  She may have distractedly moved on but her words hung thick in the air.  The whistle blew and she flew out of her seat.  She hopped out of the car and started walking to the sidewalk.  A quick glance back with a big smile and wave and she was off to start her day.
And while I know this conversation is not over, that one night as she’s falling asleep she will remember that I never answered, I am grateful for today’s interruption.  I am grateful for the opportunity to plan my response.  To think hard about the words I use as I know my daughter will take every word to heart and not soon forget my answer.  I am grateful that today my pure, innocent, five year old gets to head into her new class without a fear in the world.   While I know I won’t be there to protect her every day of her life I am grateful to have spared her the fear of evil this morning.
XO Danielle
And PS.  I am incredibly thankful for the police officers and all the teachers and staff members at our schools that keep our children safe when we aren’t there to do so.
I love to connect with my readers on social media, so feel free to share this with a friend, and find me on Instagram and Facebook.
Have you had these conversations with your young children?  I’d love to hear some of your responses in the comments section.  Let us moms unite as we raise our babies against all the world’s evils. xo
Dear Mini

Dear Mini on your first day of kindergarten, 

Today is the day kiddo.  Your first day of kindergarten.  I have so much to say and lots of things to tell you but for some reason I can’t find the words.  I open my mouth to speak and tears pool up in my eyes.  I close my mouth and turn the other way so you don’t see me.  I’m not sure why this is so hard for me.
Maybe because I’ve been anticipating this day for 5 whole years.  It could be because I feel like this changes everything.  You no longer get to stay home with me.  Maybe it’s because I’m nervous.  How will you find your class or what if you want to buy milk and forget your lunch number?
I’m scared of all those things.  I’m scared your day won’t be perfect.  That you’ll run into an obstacle that you haven’t faced before.  Maybe you’ll get turned around going to the bathroom.  End up down the wrong hall.  I won’t be there to show you the way.  My hand isn’t going to reach out to yours and show you the right path.  And that terrifies me.
This marks a big milestone in our lives.  I have to give up the role of mama duck for a big part of the day.   Pass the mama duck role on to your new teacher who will help you navigate this new beginning.  She will be there to help you find your way and make sure you get milk with your lunch. And I know you will just adore her just as you did your preschool teachers.
Dropping you off today was rough, I’m not going to lie.
I watched daddy hold your hand and walk you through the parking lot.  I trailed behind with your brother and stared at all the kids walking the halls.  Shiny new sneakers and backpacks that looked bigger then their bodies.  And then I saw you.  Walking a few feet ahead with your Barbie backpack and big white bow.  Suddenly you looked so small and the hallway looked so big.  Before I knew it the tears were streaming down my face.  Daddy looked back and saw me and walked you quickly ahead of me so you wouldn’t see me and get upset.  But the tears wouldn’t slow down.  I reached down and grabbed Joey to pick him up.  To distract myself.  It worked but barely.  The floodgates had been opened.
I had held these tears back for weeks now.  They tried to escape when I met your teacher, and again when we went to pick out your supplies.   And last night when we put you to bed and sprinkled the confetti around your pillows, they wanted to come out then too.  But I held it all together until today.
By the time we got to the classroom door I managed to slow the tears down.  You got so excited to empty your backpack and hang it on the hook.  You found your seat and sat right down to color.  I knew right then you would be just fine.  You looked at me with those big, brown eyes and I knew everything was going to be ok.  Your tiny body fits perfectly in that chair and you grabbed the crayon like you had sat in that seat a hundred times before.
You are ready sweet girl.  You might get turned around one day.  Chances are you will forget your lunch number.  But you will be ok.
So while this day marks a new chapter in both of our lives I will try to focus on enjoying it.  No more tears, because seriously how embarrassing.  You know daddy isn’t going to let me forget about that hallway incident any time soon.
Go on my big girl.  Be great.  Be smart.  Be exactly who you were made to be.  I am so proud of you and cannot wait to pick you up and hear all about it.
Love always, Mama
The Life

Happy Graduation, Happy Recital, Happy Everything

May was such a busy month for us, especially for Mini.  She finished out her last few weeks of preschool, performed in her 2nd dance recital, and walked across her 4K graduation stage (insert all the ugly cries here).   My mom came to visit for the week to help us celebrate all of her festivities.  She was thrilled to have her Grandma here and of course had to go on a shopping spree at the toy store.

Juliana’s preschool graduation was perfect.  I heard that the kids practiced and practiced their show and it was obvious.  They were all so great!  They showed off everything they learned, sang a ton of songs and told us stories.  It was my favorite program so far.  Juliana absolutely loved her preschool and we both adored her teachers that she had there.  So to say it’s tough to move on is an understatement.

Unfortunately the day after graduation she started acting funny.  And within 2 hours we could tell that she was coming down with something.  We literally spent the days between graduation and her dance recital watching her lay on the couch, begging her to eat something, and remaining hopeful that the bug would pass quick enough for her to perform that weekend.  I was so bummed that she missed out on the last couple of days of school because she felt so sick.  But luckily she felt well enough to go to her dress rehearsal and then with her energy increasing felt fine to perform in her recital.  But man, I hate when she’s sick.

This year in dance Juliana took a combo class.   So it was a trio of ballet, tap and jazz.  They had 2 dances for the recital.  For tap they danced to “Hi-Ho” and for jazz they danced to “Zippity do da”.  Both dances were so adorable and she did great!  We were so proud of her.

Now that May is over we can officially get our summer started.  So far we have been at the pool almost every day.  The kids are taking swim lessons and love to be in the water.  Joey begs to go to “a ool”  (the pool) from sun up to sun down.  It’s shaping up to be a rather exhausting summer for me.  Ha!

Hope you’re having a great start to the week!!

Here’s about 3 million pictures from all of our May festivities.

XOXO

Danielle

IMG_7337 - Copy IMG_7814 - Copy-001 IMG_7824 - Copy IMG_8356 IMG_8366 IMG_8362 IMG_8358 IMG_8359 IMG_8377 IMG_8372 IMG_8378 IMG_7900 IMG_7902 IMG_7889 - Copy-001 IMG_7896 - Copy IMG_8381-001 IMG_8385-001 IMG_8388-001 IMG_8389-001 IMG_8390-001 IMG_8392-001 IMG_8394-001 IMG_8395 IMG_8411-001 IMG_8407 IMG_8403-001 IMG_8402-001