Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Banana Muffins

I was totally in the mood for banana nut muffins the other day.  So I decided to make some.  I stopped and picked up the smallest container of buttermilk that I could find, and then I came home to discover that we didn't have nuts.

Oh well.  I was not going to be defeated, and I was not going to skip making the muffins.  So I made plain banana muffins AND I made some chocolate chip banana muffins.  (Scott doesn't usually like chocolate or other sweet things added to his banana bread.  So those were JUST for me.)

Banana & Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
Basic recipe adapted from the Betty Crocker Cookbook

  • 1 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • 1/2 c. buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • chocolate chips (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
2. In a mixer, beat butter and sugar until well mixed.  Then add the eggs and stir until well mixed.

3. Stir in bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla until smooth.
4. Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt until just moistened. 

5.  Spray muffin tins with cooking spray or place in muffin (cupcake) liners.  Fill cups half full.
6. For the chocolate chip banana muffins, fill each one just under half full and sprinkle some chocolate chips on top.
7. Then add some more batter.
 8. Top with a few more chocolate chips before placing the muffin tin in the oven.
 9. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Dinner Time Tuesday: 1, 2, 3, 4 Mac 'n' Cheese

It's time for another Dinner Time Tuesday!  If you'd like to link up, just share a picture of something you had for dinner this week, and tell us what it is.  You can even share the recipe if you want!  Help us get some inspiration for something new to try in the kitchen.  :)

Now, I'm going to be honest.  The dinner I'm sharing today is weird. 

Celebrating Home Dinner Plate: Simply Summer $39

This would be meatballs and macaroni and cheese.  This is not a typical meal.  I actually made the mac 'n' cheese one day and the meatballs another.  I decided that rather than make more pasta and having spaghetti and meatballs, that I'd enjoy this macaroni and cheese again.

I'm sharing the recipe with you today.  It's so easy, you won't believe it's true.

1, 2, 3, 4 Macaroni & Cheese


1 stick of melted butter
2 cups of uncooked pasta

3 cups shredded cheese*
4 cups milk

*You can use any kind of cheese that you like on your macaroni and cheese.  I had mozzarella and Kraft Mexican cheese on hand, so I used those.  I didn't love this with the mozzarella (BUT I liked it better reheated than I did the first time).  Cheddar is always a great choice!  :)

Throw all ingredients into a Bean Pot and bake at 350 degrees for one hour. 

Yes, that's all.

You can thank me later.

Don't have a Bean Pot?  I can help you with that.  I used this one for my macaroni and cheese.  It's the one I typically carry in my display when I do home parties.  (My other Bean Pot had left overs in it.)
Celebrating Home Veranda Home Bean Pot: $44
What's on your dinner table this week?

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Book Review: The Giver, Gathering Blue, & Messenger

Today's book review is a three book review for the price of one! 

Aren't you lucky?? :)

The Giver, Gathering Blue, & The Messenger are all books written by Lois Lowry.  I had remember that I read The Giver in 7th grade, but I really didn't recall anything about the story.  Once I found out that The Giver is one of the novels available for me to use with my 6th grade students, I decided I needed to read it again.  As it turns out, The Giver has three companion books: Gathering Blue, The Messenger, and Son.  Apparently, Son was just released in October of 2012, but I was fortunate enough that the first three were available through Scholastic's book orders, and I promptly used some of my bonus points to purchase the set.  I just finished The Messenger Last Night.

Here is an overview of each book from

The Giver
Jonas's world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community. When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.

Gathering Blue
Kira, an orphan with a twisted leg, lives in a world where the weak are cast aside. She fears for her future until she is spared by the all-powerful Council of Guardians. Kira is a gifted weaver and is given a task that no other community member can do. While her talent keeps her alive and brings certain privileges, Kira soon realizes she is surrounded by many mysteries and secrets. No one must know of her plans to uncover the truth about her world and see what places exist beyond.

For the past six years, Matty has lived in Village and flourished under the guidance of Seer, a blind man, known for his special sight. Village was a place that welcomed newcomers, but something sinister has seeped into Village and the people have voted to close it to outsiders. Matty has been invaluable as a messenger. Now he must make one last journey through the treacherous forest with his only weapon, a power he unexpectedly discovers within himself.

These books are not really like your typical books in a series.  Gathering Blue really has nothing to do with The Giver at all.  On more than one occasion, I found myself questioning if these were really companion books.  However, each book is good in its own right, and Messenger really ties it all together.  Lois Lowry has a way of ending each book that is not really much of an ending at all.  She leaves you wanting more.  So I will say, it was a little frustrating starting on Gathering Blue while I was left wondering about what happens to Jonas.  By the end of that book, you're left wondering what will become of Kira, and by the end of The Messenger, you want to know more.  Thankfully, there is a fourth and final book that I hope has a conclusion that does not leave you thinking there must be more to the story!  I will definitely have to seek that book out soon!

Even if you're not a teacher of Middle School Reading or Literature, I think these are enjoyable books.  :)

Sharing at:

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Friday, July 26, 2013

In His Image

Simple Moments Stick

My friend, Susannah, from Simple Moments Stick is starting a new link-up to encourage us, and remind us that we are all created in God's image.

It took me time to decide what I wanted to write about for this first link-up. The only thing that kept coming to me stems from things that have happened in my family recently. We had two deaths in our family in two weeks. My uncle's mother, who was a big part of our family, and my grandfather.

I don't want this to be a sad post, and I promise this will connect with the theme of the link-up. :)

First of all, though we are sad to not have them with us any more, we are comforted to know that we will see them again:

"Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 NIV)

Secondly, I am reminded of how blessed my family is. We have always been very close. My cousins are more like my brothers and sisters than cousins. Even though we are grieving, we remember to celebrate the lives of these two people, rather than dwell on their deaths. We banded together with love to support one another.

Jesus said, “'A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.'" (John 13:34 NIV)

Sure, we're family. We're supposed to love each other any way, aren't we?  Unfortunately, many families in society today do not get along. They don't love and support each other. We do. God gave us each other. Do we always agree?  No. But we always love each other.

So, in that way, we are made in His image. Jesus also said, "'By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.'” (John 13:35 NIV)

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

I love a good sale!

I love shopping.  I love getting new clothes, shoes, doesn't matter.  Shopping is fun.  What I really love about shopping is getting a good deal.  I love to pay rock bottom prices for something, and I love to tell everyone about it!

So that's why I have to share this deal with you.  Many of you know that I am a Star Designer with an amazing company called Celebrating Home.  While I do work for a company, each Designer is essentially running her own business.  Not only do I sell these products, but I use them in my own home, kitchen, and to accessorize myself! 

What does that have to do with a great deal??

Celebrating Home has new items coming out in August, and there is an AMAZING clearance sale going on right now!  You can get up to 74% off some items!  Here are some examples:

All of these items were still available on Monday.  The even better news is that new items were added TODAY!!

If you're looking for items to decorate your home, for some jewelry for yourself, or any gifts, you can click here to be taken to the sale page.  You can order there, and Celebrating Home will deliver right to your door!

I would really appreciate my blogging friends' help with my business!  Happy shopping! :)

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Summer Style

I got sunburned on the Fourth of July.  It was killer.  After about a week, I still wasn't peeling, and I thought I was in the clear.  Not so much.  The inside of my right arm was pretty bad.  I hate how it looks when you start peeling.  I know people understand, but I feel so I have some sort of skin disease or something.  I had a few errands to run, and I wanted to cover up my arm.  I didn't want to be too hot, though, and so this outfit was born:

Shirt: Old Navy, Camisole: Maurice's, Jean Shorts: Old Navy

I didn't need to wear the shirt as long sleeves.  I just rolled up the sleeves three times, and my peeling arm was hidden.  It turned out to be a pretty cute outfit, I thought.  :)

What do you do to hide a peeling sunburn??

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Dinner Time Tuesday 7/23

It's been a couple of weeks, but I'm back with Dinner Time Tuesday!  I would love for you to join me and link up with a picture and post (however brief or long you desire) of something you've had for dinner recently!  Just show a picture of what you've had or share the recipe!  The link-up button is on the right!

Here's what I had for dinner:

We hadn't bought Steak-Eze in a while, so the last time we went grocery shopping, we bought a package.  I really do love these cheese steak sandwiches.  I also made my potato casserole and corn on the cob to go with it.  SO yummy!

Have you had anything good for dinner lately??  Link up below!

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Book Review: Gilt

I am working my way through my summer reading list (AND running out of time to do it!).  After The Poisonwood Bible, I read Gilt by Katherine Longshore. 

Here is the synopsis from
In the court of King Henry VIII, nothing is free--and love comes at the highest price of all. When Kitty Tylney's best friend, Catherine Howard, worms her way into King Henry VIII's heart and brings Kitty to court, she's thrust into a world filled with fabulous gowns, sparkling jewels, and elegant parties. No longer stuck in Cat's shadow, Kitty's now caught between two men--the object of her affection and the object of her desire. But court is also full of secrets, lies, and sordid affairs, and as Kitty witnesses Cat's meteoric rise and fall as queen, she must figure out how to keep being a good friend when the price of telling the truth could literally be her head.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars on 

In previous posts, I have shared how much I love historical fiction centered around the court of King Henry VIII.  This story is told from Katherine (Kitty) Tylney's point-of-view.  She is a figure mentioned in testimony about Catherine (Cat) Howard.  Longshore takes this character and creates her to be a close friend of the king's 5th wife.  I enjoyed Longshore's writing style, and I loved Kitty's loyalty.  If you love reading about this time period in England and/or historical fiction, this is book is a must!

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

See You Again

If you follow me on Twitter, you may know that my grandfather died on Sunday.  He spent the last two years battling esophageal cancer.  I'm not really in much of a blogging mood, but his funeral is today, and I did feel the need to pay tribute to him. 

James R. Brown

My Pap and Nana with me after my high school graduation: May 31, 2001


Nana & Pappy at my wedding reception: August 7, 2010
Today, during his funeral, we can stand up and share memories or stories.  I asked my dad if I could sing.  I don't have the words to say, but I know exactly what to sing.  It's just how I function.  I'll be singing "See You Again" by Carrie Underwood.  If you haven't heard it, this song is beautiful.  And it truly sums up so much.

I love you, Pappy.  I will see you again.
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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Influenster VoxBox: Colgate Total Mouthwash

Have I mentioned how much I love Influenster??  It's cool to review products and participate in brand challenges, but it's even better when you're selected to receive VoxBoxes.  I was lucky enough to get the Spring Fever Vox Box (you can see all products and reviews here).  Just a week or so ago, I got the Colgate Total Mouthwash VoxBox.

I have been using Colgate toothpaste for a really long time.  I always use Colgate Total Advanced Whitening Toothpaste.  I like a toothpaste that is good for the health of my teeth with the additional benefits of whitening.  So I was excited to try another Colgate Total product.

The only problem is that I don't really like or use mouthwash.  When I got braces way back in 9th grade, I started using a pre-brushing anti-plaque rinse.  So my routine is anti-plaque rinse, brush, floss.  Mouthwash is so harsh.  It burns, and I feel like I have to spit until every last drop is gone so it doesn't kill me.  (I KNOW it won't.  It just feels so toxic, it seems like no drops should be swallowed.)  But this claims that it doesn't burn because there's no alcohol.  Colgate Total Mouthwash also says that it will protect your mouth even while eating and drinking, and that it lasts for 12 hours.  So I tried it.

I really do like it.  It doesn't burn like other mouthwashes.  I do feel the lasting effects for quite some time after use.  I particularly like using it at night because I wake up feeling like my mouth is less gross.  It does leave my mouth feeling clean and fresh. 

My dental care routine now includes anti-plaque rinse, brushing, flossing, and Colgate Total Mouthwash.  :)

I received this product  complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.
These are my opinions only. I am not compensated by Influenster or Colgate for my thoughts on this product.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Feeling Glee-ful

I should probably be ashamed to admit this, but I'm not.  I love the show Glee.  A few days ago, I started streaming the past seasons on Netflix.  I might just be a little obsessed right now.


For any of you Gleeks out there, you will know that Season 4 (the season that ended in May) was not NEARLY as good as the previous three seasons, and some fans were already criticizing Season 3.  People were going on and on about how it wasn't realistic.  They were complaining about some of the serious issues that the show tried to tackle, and probably more than anything people were outraged that Finn and Rachel wanted to get married.  To the haters I must first say: IT'S A TV SHOW.  It's not supposed to be realistic.  It is a show aimed at teenagers.  They are supposed to be addressing issues teens are dealing with today.  I can think of another show that used to do that....

Saved by the Bell pretty much did the same thing Glee is doing....only with less singing.  :)  I'm sure people were critical of SBTB, too.  But I just think people need to put things into perspective.

I totally digress.  The point of this post is not to rant about Glee's critics.  It is to gush about my obsession.  AND to state that watching the previous seasons is making me look forward to Season 5, but feel depressed about it all at the same time.  I was making progress with starting to like the new characters, but I think my trip down memory lane is kind of making me hate them again. 

With that being said, here are some great Glee quotes and funny things:

First, because you all know how much I love Harry Potter...



And one final one (for today anyway...)
Because the hopeless romantic in me NEEDS them to get back together.
Told you I was obsessed.  ;)

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