I Needed a Social Media Fast and I’m Back

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It’s hard for me to come back after a long break.  I don’t consider this a bad thing. Almost every vacation I have ever taken, I begin to get sad the last couple days.  I begin to feel that I don’t want the time off to end. My mind begins to plan the next break or get away. There is joy and rest in a break.  

Over the past seven weeks, I gave myself a break.  I pulled the cord on social media. My Social Media Fast began the weekend before Thanksgiving and was intended to last until the first part of January.  

I knew I needed this fast for so many reasons. 

  1. I needed to stop scrolling.  There would be times I would find myself scrolling through picture after picture.  Looking at these squares before me and paying no attention to the actual faces and conversations happening right in front of me.  I was using social media as an escape, as a filler, and as a source of recharging. As I pulled myself from the scrolling, I realized how much unnecessary time I spent on social media.  Not only was I scrolling through the pictures, I was scrolling through the comments and the links and clicking on other’s profiles to figure out how I knew them. These investigations would lead me into multiple hours a day on social media.  I had to ask myself, FOR WHAT? 

 

  1. I needed to focus on the season.  I timed my social media fast during the busiest, craziest time of the year.  My fast began the Sunday before Thanksgiving and ended after the New Year. This year was going to be different.  While preparing for a Bible study, I was reading about the birth of Jesus. It became so clear that no one in that story was in a hurry except the shepherds.  In Luke 2:15-16, after the angel told the shepherds that Jesus had arrived, they hurried off to find Him. This really struck me. What if that is what I was hurrying towards  this season? Just hurrying for Jesus. Unplugging from social media, made me realize the free time I actually had. I spent more time reading my Bible and devotions, listening to podcasts, and playing worship music in my house.  I committed each day to be a day that I would hurry towards Jesus. This time was full of lows and highs but there was such a peacefulness knowing that each day I had handed it over to God.  

 

  1. I needed to reevaluate why I do what I do and WHO I’m doing it for.  I started my blog about nine years ago. Sing and Dance in the Kitchen was a place for me to share my recipes with family and friends.  Simple as that. Facebook was something I used to stay in contact with everyone since we moved around so much. I would post pictures from the weekend to share with out of town grandparents.   On my blog I would share the latest creation I had whipped up in my kitchen. Within the past few years, Instagram and blogging have grown. It seems like so many are using Instagram to share their stories and their lives.  Very quickly, I was coached that I needed to push my Instagram more. I needed to post more pictures and push for the likes. Quickly I learned if I was not going to continue to engage on Instagram, I would lose followers and connections.  There are goals, algorithms, leverage, hashtags, giveaways, geotags, and the list goes on of things you need to focus on to have a social media account that is worthy to be considered. This all started making my head spin because my heart just wanted to share a piece of my world with others.  

This fast was the perfect time for me to ask myself these questions, 

“Why am I posting this?” 

“Who am I posting this for?” 

“Who’s approval am I seeking?”  

“What’s my motive?” 

During my social media fast, there was no posting, no scrolling, no seeking approval, no comparison, no thinking behind posts, no second guessing comments or wondering why I was not included or invited.  I was not ON to be part of any of it. It was so freeing. It gave me true rest and peace. In mid December, God made it so clear to me. It was like He was sitting right there on the couch with me and I was reflecting.  I’m His Daughter (2 Corinthians 6:18). There is no one’s approval that is needed besides His. As much as I love my husband and children, their approval does not have comparison to God’s. My family and friends are wonderful and support me in so many ways but they are human and will let me down. Their approval will not hold a tiny spark to what Jesus holds for me.  

It became so clear that my small, little platform of whatever I want to call it can only and will only be based to point to Jesus.  Jesus wants to use my love of hosting, cooking, baking, gathering, telling long stories, building up mommas, encouraging others wives, find deals, punching boxing bags, crazy dancing, and off pitch singing for HIS GLORY!  He wants everything that makes Amanda be Amanda to point to HIM! (all the feels and chills as I write this)

 

So, as I dip my toes back in to this year of 2020 and all that God has in store, I want you to know that my social media fast was one that changed my trajectory for Sing and Dance in the Kitchen.  I’m so honored and humbled that you are part of this journey with me. Thanks for hanging on and waiting on the other side.

 

Looking Forward!

Amanda

 

Smoky Pumpkin Spice Hummus

My Smoky Pumpkin Spice Hummus is a versatile dip that you could have any time of year, but tastes especially great as the season of pumpkin spice everything is upon us.  At our house, we enjoy throwing in popcorn, pretzels and pita chips along with the usual veggies.

Smoky Pumpkin Spice Hummus

1- 16 ounce can chickpeas drained and rinsed
1- 15 oz can pumpkin puree
1/4 cup tahini
2 garlic cloves
½ teaspoon olive oil
4 teaspoons agave
1/2 teaspoon Chipotle Chile Pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds

Place all the ingredients (except the pumpkin seeds) into a food processor and blend until smooth. If your hummus is a little thick, add more olive oil.

Place your hummus in a serving bowl.  Garnish with a light sprinkle of chipotle chile pepper and pumpkin seeds. Serve with popcorn, pretzels, pita chips, veggies, etc.

I thought we were just having coffee

Back in July, I received a text from a friend who I had not seen in awhile asking to meet up for coffee. We became friends several years ago sharing elementary PTA adventures. Now our kids were a little older and in different places. I was excited to see her name pop up on my phone. Also completely thrilled to actually get to share coffee and a conversation with her. We had so much to catch up on.

Our anticipated coffee date arrived. We started with catching up and she quickly moved to the reason she called the coffee date. My friend had recently became editor of a local magazine. She shared how the oppopportunity came up and her vision for the future of the magazine.

Then she dropped her big idea! Without a pause in her conversation or thoughts, my friend throws out “and in the magazine we will feature a monthly recipe. I WANT YOU TO WRITE THEM.” (WHAT!?! ME? Amanda Fuller, girl from small town Texas?). She goes on to tell me she needs my headshot. (What, again?) She gives me deadlines and criteria. Then she smiles, says she is so excited to work with me, and cannot wait to see my work.

So lots of details in between: One hour with my favorite photographer, a few test products and pictures, and my first article was ready.

I share all this with you because it was a big step for me to take and to believe in myself when others already had. This is my first time to be published for my work in the kitchen. I’m beyond thrilled to be a contributing recipe writer for Our Milton Neighbor.

As I publish my monthly recipes, you will find them added to my blog as well. Thanks for sharing along with me in this new adventure.  Here’s my first published article:

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Looking Forward,
Amanda

 

Why I Sing & Dance…..


Hey, I’m Amanda! Some of you have been with me for over eight years when I wrote my first recipe on my blog. Others have just joined me. Whether you are a cherished friend, family member, or new to my kitchen, I am so thankful you are here.
I wanted to reintroduce/introduce myself and give a small background to the meaning behind the name “Sing and Dance in the Kitchen” If you could ever be a fly on the wall in my home, you would see that singing and dancing occurs A LOT! I started singing and dancing as a very young child and completely missed my calling as a Broadway actress because 1)I can’t really sing 2)I really can’t dance well either. However, no dance teacher, music teacher, church choir instructor, or my parents told me differently so I continued my life as a happy, singing & dancing child.
As I grew older I began to notice my voice and range did not match Whitney Houston’s (childhood music role model) and my moves did not keep up with Olivia Newton-Johns (Let’s Get Physical’s music video). This did not stop me! Singing and Dancing made me happy so I just continued. My first job as a kindergarten teacher was the best fit! My students thought I had the best moves and they didn’t worry about my voice.
And I have digressed! Since the beginning, I loved to be in kitchen. I liked cooking with my grandmothers and my mom. I loved learning tricks. I would check out cookbooks from the library and spend hours going through old family recipe cards. If I could find a cooking show, I was glued to the television. Cooking was so inspiring to me. I loved how you could create yummy foods and then gather others around.
Basically it all just clicked at one point, I wanted to share my love for cooking and gathering others. And I had to share that most of the time it involves singing and dancing in the prep, serving, and cleanup. It became so clear that I needed to share that all of my silly recipes, life hacks, table settings, songs and dances are all inspired by Jesus. Everyone has a place they feel closest to God. One of my top places is in my kitchen. It is where I prepare food for my family and friends. This is where I usually say most my prayers and have my devotion time. I have honest, lifegiving conversations with my sons around our kitchen island. In my kitchen I will pump up my music and dance around while I’m cooking or just need a break from the crazy.
Sing and Dance is my place to share my messy & crazy life that is not perfect but I am loved and saved by someone who is. I will share recipes, tips, tricks, things that make me laugh and cry. I’ll talk honestly about pits and valleys that I have been in and how God is continually working on me and my heart. Oh and I will share my crazy adventures in motherhood. You never know what someone singing and dancing will throw out there.
I am so glad you are here. I look forward to learning more about you and what makes you “sing and dance”
Looking Forward,
Amanda

Make Your Own Pizza Night

One item on our summer bucket was “Make Your Own Pizza Night” We have done this several times but we jazzed it up with our head chef, Whitaker!

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You can buy pre-made dough or make your own. This is my go to Pizza Dough. If you want to try something different, Trader Joe’s has a great frozen Cauliflower Crust.

We are all about the ingredients in this house. Chop up what you want and add some variety. In my mind there can never be too many toppings. I love them all! Some our favorites: Mozzarella cheese (shredded or sliced), pepperoni, olives, sausage (cooked ahead), bell peppers, onions, jalapeños, and mushrooms.

We use pre-made pizza sauce to keep it easy. Once your dough is ready, start adding all the fun. It’s a great way to get everyone on the kitchen.

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Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

The sight of an overripe banana is not pretty to most. Although the outside is not attractive, we know the inside is ready for a smoothie, dessert, or banana bread. Banana bread is a classic for most but adding chocolate to it gives it a quick upgrade. This recipe is yummy and easy to make. It has a true banana taste so you need to like bananas to like this bread.

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

3 overripe bananas

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

3/4 cup white sugar

1 large egg

1 t vanilla extract (I used Mexican Vanilla)

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 t baking soda

1/2 t kosher salt

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 cup chocolate chips plus 4 T for topping

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×5-inch loaf pan with a nonstick baking spray.

Peel and roughly chop the bananas.

Using a mixer, mix butter, sugar, egg, and chocolate in bowl. Then add the bananas, flour, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder and 1 cup of chocolate chips. Mix well. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix to make sure all ingredients are fully mixed.

Pour into the prepared bread pan. Sprinkle the additional 4 Tablespoons of chocolate chips on top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before running a knife around the side of the loaf pan. Allow bread to fall out of bread pan. Cool completely. Slice and serve. Store bread in refrigerator for up to 3 days.

This bread is rich and goes well with a glass of milk.

We are Praying for our Teachers

In Georgia we are enjoying our last week of summer. It seems crazy that it is coming to an end and our school year is about to start.

As a momma, I get sad and emotional. I wonder if our summer was enough. I question myself and ask, “Could we have done more?” I know school will start and our lazy routines, spontaneous lunches, travel and late nights will come to an end.

I begin to get anxious about what the school year will bring. Are my boys ready for the new challenges and responsibilities? And sometimes I begin to worry about their teachers. Like all parents, I want the best teachers for my kids.

God has laid it on my heart to start praying specifically for all the teachers that will be teaching my boys this year. My worries and anxiety will not help. But I know I can cast my cares on God.

I will be praying that our teachers feel rested coming into the school year. I will be praying for their health and health of their families. I will be praying for supportive parents and administration for our teachers. I will be praying that our teachers have all the resources they need for the year. I will be praying that our teachers are shown the respect they deserve. I will be praying for rest for our teachers. I will be praying for my eyes to be opened to opportunity to help our teachers.

These selfless teachers devote their time, energy, and resources to our children. We know they don’t do it for the money or the fictitious summer break. Teachers have a heart for children and education. They love to see the lightbulbs go off and things start clicking.

Will you join me praying for our teachers?

Please repost this blog and/or image to let others know you value teachers and you will be praying.

Our worries and anxieties can’t change anything. But PRAYERS change everything.

Looking Forward,

Amanda

Oh, The Places You’ll Go- Graduation Book

I was a classroom teacher for many years.  Actually, I was one of the lucky one that taught Kindergarten when children were able to play in centers, learn to get along, and get a solid academic start to school.  I know education has changed so much.  But that’s not even what I’m going to talk about today……

As a teacher, I was blessed with so many amazing parents.  Before I was ever a momma, I was learning how to be a great momma by watching moms in action.  I would see an idea and file it away in my “when I’m a momma one day” file.

My fifth year of teaching, in May, I had a mom send me a message about signing a book for her child.  This book was a secret to the child so we had to be clever with the pass off of the book.  I was honored and excited to be a part of this tradition. Basically, this mom had bought a copy of Oh, The Places You’ll Go and has asked all teachers to write a little message in the book.  She started this book back in preschool.  As the kindergarten teacher, I was able to read what preschool teachers said and then I added to the love for this little girl.

I wrote about her sweet personality and how much I enjoyed teaching her.  The mom’s goal was to have all teachers that were a part of this little girl’s life sign the book.  Then at her high school graduation, she would be presented with this book and all the wonderful memories of her education.  How cool is that!?!

Well, I tucked that idea away and now I have it going for both boys.  The preschool and elementary years were very easy to accomplish with Will.  BUT I am learning to navigate the book signing in middle school.  I sent all his teachers an email and they were happy to be part.  They even gave me the idea of giving the book to the grade level counselor and she would help make sure it got to all the teachers.  (HOW NICE IS THAT!)

Each year I pull out the books and I love to read the letters from all their teachers.  It allows me to walk down memory lane and remember each teacher that has impacted their lives and sweet memories of their personalities.

So, help me keep this a secret for a few years but I wanted to share!

Looking Forward,
Amanda

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Shaving Cream Decorated Easter Eggs

Each year it is fun to experiment with different ways to decorate your Easter Eggs.  There are so many fun options out there.  This year we used shaving cream.  Not shaving gel or shaving butter, good ole’ shaving cream.

Whitaker and I had so much fun picking out colors for our designs.  He also loved rolling the eggs around in the shaving cream.

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It is so basic and easy!

You need:
Hard Boiled Eggs
Shaving Cream (we used )
Assorted Food Gel or Food Coloring
Rubber Gloves (my PSA- I got a little carried away with the color and had stained hands for 3 days!)

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Spray a 1″ layer of shaving cream in the bottom of the glass or metal casserole pan. If you want no clean up, use a disposable aluminum pan. Spread the shaving cream to make a smooth top.

Then using your selected colors, beginning adding small, random dots of food gel to the shaving cream.  We used 2-3 on each design.  If you use too many you will end up with a nasty brown or green color.  (that does not say “Happy Easter!”)

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Then using a wooden skewer or popsicle stick, drag the skewer through the shaving cream making lines.  You can make swirls, loops, zigzag, whatever!

Once you have the design the way you like, place an egg in the shaving cream on one end.

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Gently roll the egg in a straight line from one side to the other.  My little guy liked using a spoon to roll his egg.  Then carefully pick up the egg and place it on some paper towels. Leave the egg there until the shaving cream starts to dry up. Usually 10 minutes. Then you can rinse off the extra shaving cream under water or clean off with a wet paper towel.

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Each Easter Egg will have its own personality based on colors and swirl designs.

Happy Easter!
Amanda

Seeking Goodness- 2018 Goals

I love beginning the new year with goals.  I know there is nothing magical about January 1.  In my mind it is a great time to start my goals.  When I was in education, my goals and year began in August.  You can start goals on March 23rd and it is just as good as any other day.

I am visual and reflective.  So, I write out my goals.  My hubby and oldest wrote out their goals too.  We shared them as a family.  This gives us accountability and knowing someone is looking out for us.

Each year I decide on a word that helps focus me.  Last year my word was INTENTIONAL.  I wanted to be intentional with my mind, heart, words, and time.  As I reflect for this year, I continually landed on two words, SEEKING GOODNESS.   Looking for the kindness, generosity, quality, and best parts of everything.  By Seeking Goodness in my spiritual life, in my health, family, and self, it will naturally point to Jesus who is true goodness.

I know that working towards my goals is a process.  I’m not looking for perfection, it will take time to accomplish several of these goals.  I can rest in the fact that I am making progress towards my goals.  I am excited and a little nervous but know that I will be Seeking Goodness during the process.

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What are your goals?  Do we share any of the same?
Here to progress!

Looking Forward,
Amanda