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

Happy New Year’s Eve!

December 31–  Everyone  has their own feelings about the last day of the year.  If your year has been tough, you are ready to say “good-bye” and start fresh.  If this has been an epic year, you might be anticipating what the new year will bring.  It is all your perspective.

As I have shared before, I am a goal setter.  I start thinking about how I can improve, how can I be the best me, and what steps do I need to take.  I like to focus on one word that encompasses my goals and thoughts for the next year.  There is power in writing down your goals.  My goals in 2017 and my goals in 2016 were different and somewhat the same but something I could focus on.  I’m still working on my 2018 goals.

I wanted to share something that my sister and her family does each year.  This simple tradition has been such a blessing to them and a great way to celebrate memories.  Each year they begin with an empty jar.  Throughout the year they add memories to the jar.  It might be a significant movie ticket, written memory of something funny one of their children did, a photo, a drawing, matchbook, you get where I’m going.  Sometimes my sister will just journal that day to capture a feeling.  All the memories are placed in the jar.  On January 1 of the next year, they make a special breakfast and go through the jar. The memories of the previous year are celebrated and reflected on.

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There is so much power in celebrating memories and honoring the previous year.  It gives them a moment to reflect and make goals for the next year.  I found this quote from Victoria Erickson that I really like:

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Have a great last day of 2017!  See you in 2018!

Looking Forward,
Amanda