Lemon Sugar Cookies

It is clear that I live in a house of cookie monsters.  My boys love to see the cookie jar filled with cookies.  This past week we created a new sugar cookie.  I love adding lemon to desserts.  Lemon makes foods taste fresh.  These cookies were easy to make.  The boys loved them and we have decided they will be part of the cookie rotation.

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1 cup Butter cold, cut into cubes

2 cups Sugar

2 Eggs

1 t  Vanilla Extract (I used Mexican Vanilla)

1 1/2 Fresh Lemon Juice

1 T Lemon Zest  (you can add more to add extra flavor)

3 cups Flour

1 1/4 Baking Powder

1/4 Baking Soda

1/2 Salt

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Using a mixer, cream butter and sugar for 4 minutes until light and fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon zest and stir to combine.
Stir in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and mix just until combined.
Spoon about a tablespoon of dough and roll into a ball.
Drop dough onto a prepared baking pan.  Sprinkle the rolled dough balls with white sugar.
Bake for 9-11 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool on cooling rack.

Pico de Gallo

Pico de Gallo is easy to put together.  It’s a great addition to so many meals.  We add Pico (for short) to fajitas, tacos, omelets, and sometimes just love it by itself with chips.  The freshness of the flavors add something to each entree.  This is my simple recipe you can add to or take away.  I make it early in the day to let flavors sit for a little while.  This recipes make a lot so feel free to divide ingredients if you want a smaller batch.

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3 white or red onions

12 Roma tomatoes

2 cups fresh cilantro leaves

2 to 3 jalapeños (soak in ice water before using)

1 lime

Salt

Chop up onions and tomatoes. I like to make sure the tomato and onion ratio is about the same.  Chop the cilantro.

Slice 1 or 2 jalapeños in half.  I always wear gloves when chopping jalapeños.  With a spoon, scrape out the seeds and membranes. (If you want it spicy, leave in some of the white membranes.) Finely chop the jalapeños.

Combine onions, tomatoes, cilantro and jalapeños in one bowl.

Slice the lime in half and squeeze the juice from half a lime the bowl. Sprinkle with salt, and stir together until combined.   Do a taste test.  You can make adjustments to your  pico de gallo by adding more jalapeños, salt, or lime.

Hold on Tight! It’s May!

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Seriously, where did this school year go? How is it already May? Whether we are ready or not, MAY is Here! This month brings mixed emotions to so many. May is a month full of activities. My calendar is full with end of year parties, last chapel, end of year tests, graduations, Mother’s Day, lacrosse tournaments, husband’s travel, and then events I don’t even know about yet! May has a way of stressing us out and getting us excited all at the same time. How are you feeling?

The Holderness Family sums it up for most of us. Watch this video to relate. I had a friend who just said that December has nothing over May. What do you think?

Let’s take this month and realize there might be a couple of ways to calm it down. We know our calendars are completely full. So, DON’T add additional activities. When the last minute plans are made or you get an invite to something extra, stop and consider if it really needs to happen. Many times we feel guilty to saying “No” but saying “No” helps us say “Yes” to other things.

Make a list! What needs to be done each week to feel good and keep the planets in line? What are your “must do’s” for your family? There are usually end of year gifts to buy. Can you do this online? Seriously, Teachers love gift cards! Pick up a gift card at Target and call it a day. Stop at a bakery to buy the cookies you need for the party.

Don’t panic over summer plans! It is truly okay if your children don’t have a plan for each hour of the summer. We get ourselves all worked up over not having their time completely full. If you are working during the summer, make a plan and don’t worry about it. It will all work out and your kids will have a fabulous summer.

What needs to be done before your kids are out for the summer? I have a couple of closets and toy bins I want to conquer before my boys are home. I know how much faster I can take care of these jobs when I don’t have my boys questioning my donation piles. There are a few appointments I want to squeeze in before the summer too.

Team up with other moms! We are all trying to defeat May and the end of the year craziness. If you are already going to Target, ask your friend if they need something there too. When another mom offers help, take them up on it. We are all in this together.

Get your rest! Drink your water! Get to the gym! You have to refuel each day. Fill that Yeti cup full of water each morning and keep filling it up during the day. Don’t stay up catching up on Netflix. Get yourself to bed so you will be ready for the next day. Make a priority to get some physical activity. It will help you with your overall goals and make you feel good.

Pray! Seriously, I know when I stop and talk to God about this craziness, I begin to feel better. He knows how my brain races and how I want to make things perfect for my boys. When I put things into perspective and give them over to God, May has nothing over me. Pray for your friends too. We are all trying to get through this together.

May can be crazy! Don’t let it take over. Try to stop and enjoy the last few weeks of this school year. There is so much to celebrate. You got this!

Keep Singing and Dancing,
Amanda

What Moms Really Want for Mother’s Day

In a recent conversation with friends, one mom shared she would love for her husband to have their minivan detailed and washed for Mother’s Day.  She did not want breakfast in bed.  She was not concerned about a fancy brunch.  This momma wanted a clean minivan free of  fallen chicken nuggets, crunched gold fish, and lost socks.  Sometimes it is just that simple.  Moms love a handmade card, flowers, and a day with children but it’s time to step it up to what a momma really wants for Mother’s Day.

With the help of my friends, I have compiled a list that can help spoil all the moms out there.  Feel free to pass on to your husband.

What Moms Really Want

  1.  A Day of Pampering- Most mommas love time to be pampered.  A manicure, pedicure, massage or facial will make mom feel refreshed and loved.  Plus this gives mom time to sit and relax for a little bit.  (Hint- Dad use this time to clean up around the house.  Or take the kids to their practices and games. )
  2. Let Mom Sleep In- Like really sleep in.  Get up with kids before mom has a chance to notice.  Take the kids out for breakfast and let mom have time to just lay in bed.
  3. Detail Mom’s Car- Take the time to have mom’s car washed and detailed.  This could take some time but it is so worth it.  Then let mom take her newly cleaned car for a spin before the children enter back in with their sticky fingers and snacks.
  4. Give Mom a Day off from “Mom Jobs”- Seriously, a day with no laundry, dishes, chauffeuring children, and cooking dinner.  Basically give mom a day where she does not have to make decisions and take care of her daily jobs around the house.
  5. Make plans for Brunch, Lunch and/or Dinner- Mom always has the menu ready and the groceries purchased.  Tell her you have it all taken care of it.  Make reservations and go grocery shopping.  Do whatever you need to do to have meals ready.
  6. Complete the “Honey-Do List”- You know that list that mom has of hanging pictures, replacing the light bulbs, and getting something out of the attic.  Well, how about you actually take care of the list.  She will be delighted that the list is done and feel loved that you took the time.
  7. New Shoes- Moms love shoes.  Get ahead of the game and buy her a pair of shoes she would not buy herself.  She will love getting a new pair of sandals or cute summery flats.  Check out Birdies, Rothy’s, and Tory Burch for some of my favorites.
  8. A New Book and Time to Read it- If momma loves to read, purchase a few books she is wanting to read.  Then give mom time to actually read her books.  Let her curl up on the couch or by the pool and get lost in a good book.
  9. Jewelry-  This is sometimes a very easy out on Mother’s Day.  Take time to find something unique for mom.  There are so many talented artisans that can create  beautiful pieces.  If you don’t have time to shop on Etsy, you can always find great jewelry at Kendra Scott, Sundance, and James Avery.
  10. Subscription Box- Everyone loves happy mail.  Get momma a monthly subscription box.  There are so many out there.  FabFitFun, Grove Collaboration,  and Faithbox.
  11. Barefoot Dreams–  Give mom a cuddly cardigan, blanket, or robe.  Barefoot Dreams is the coziest thing around.  She will love curling up in her new comfy cardigan each morning and will thank you for it later.
  12. A Phone Call- Let’s be honest, we love to hear from our children.  It’s easy in the early years because they are always with you.  As adult children, we sometimes forget our moms want to hear our voices.  Moms want to know we are doing okay.  They want to hear about all the silly routines and crazy weekend plans.  Yes, they love to hear about their grandchildren but they want to hear from their own children.  Trust me.  Call your mom!

That was Not the PLAN!

I am a planner! Every year my mother-in-law buys me an Erin Condren planner for Christmas. That planner is with me ALL the time. Each family member has a color for their activities. Chris is Green. Will is Red. Whitaker is Orange. And I use my favorite, Cyan/Aqua Tiffany Blue Color for all my activities. Then I sprinkle in Purple for various other things.

This past week, my planner was like a rainbow. Lots of activities. All great plans- Bible study, lunch with friends, dinner with friends (that we can never get to happen), Easter Egg Hunts, Spa Day with Momma-to-Be, and then just all the other activities that are part of being a mom of two.

Friday morning came early with tornado sirens in Milton, GA. As we gathered the troops to go to the basement, I realized I felt horrible. Like roll me in a ball to the corner bad. But I continued with my morning realizing that mommas don’t roll in balls and hide. As the day progressed, the worse I felt and it became clear my body was overtaken by something awful. Possibly I had eaten a barbed wire and now it was thrashing in my body. (You get it!) Or it was an oyster the night before that did not settle right. Or it was food poisoning. Or I was truly dying! Yes, I go there fast. Plus curled up in bed with the help of my WebMD at hand I was diagnosed with multiple illnesses.

Enough with the my barbed wire stomach, fetal position, and holding on for dear life. Let’s celebrate that my newly five year old took great care of himself that day while dining on fruit loops, organic fruit snacks, pretzels, and whatever else he could reach in the pantry.

All that aside, let’s go back to my planner! My day was filled with great events. I had a neighborhood Easter Egg hunt that I was in charge of pulling off. That night Chris and I had dinner plans with two amazing couples we can’t seem to get together with. Don’t even look over to Saturday. That was a day at the spa with a momma-to-be and yummy lunch. And it was Easter WEEKEND!!

As the barbed wire took over my body, I began to get upset, angry, and sad. Why!?! I was so looking forward to this weekend. All my plans were good, purposeful, and fun! I had made them in advanced. There were items purchased. Dinner reservations and spa appointments had been made. And now I am curled up and MAD!

So, where does my madness go? Where does my blame start? You guys, I started questioning GOD! What!?! Oh yes, in the middle of sadness and pain, my sinful and human heart started asking God about all this. (Yes, complete madness! And that’s why I’m sharing this now!) It’s amazing how quickly I can get upset and look for someone to blame. As I laid there in bed, I tried to rationalize it all out. My heart knew that God was not punishing me. He did not want me to be sick or have a barbed wire in tummy. He is good and He loves me. It was the devil trying to get the best of me. Yes, the devil loves for me to get down and look for blame. The devil wants nothing more than for me to question God. The devil loves when I look at my planner for guidance and not to God.

Saturday afternoon I realized it was time to try to eat. I made toast. For a moment I thought about the yummy Italian lunch I was suppose to be eating. Although that would have been amazing, I was happy about my toast.

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The Plan Was Italian Food. Not TOAST!

It was NOT my plan but it was a plan that was good. The barbed wire left that evening. I had a peaceful night sleep and woke up on Easter morning feeling wonderful.

I am a continued work-in-progress. Daily, I need reminders that my plans might not be the way the day turns. I can make all the colorful plans I want but there are days that nothing is going to go the way I want. In each day, God is good. God loves me. God has great plans for me. He has great plans for you. It’s easy to get caught up in the “barbed wire” of life.

Are you a planner? Have you had days that don’t go as planned?

Keep Singing and Dancing,
Amanda

Kids Faith Krate

As a Christian Mom, I am always looking for ways to talk about Jesus with my children. I recently was introduced to Kids Faith Krate. Kids Faith Krate (KFK) is a monthly, boxed, curriculum for you and your children. KFK arrives by mail and ready to go. Each week you are guided through an activity to do with your child. The activity includes reading from the Bible, discussing what you read, child-friendly scripture memorization, prayer, and a craft.

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The Krate arrives before the beginning of the month so you are ready to start. The lessons are written by educated, gifted, christian moms that understand the limited time you might have and how to get a big impact with a simple lesson. Your Krate arrives with EVERYTHING you need. This is huge for any momma. You can begin each lesson and be assured you have everything you need for your craft and lesson.

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I know sometimes as a mom, I feel lost when daily guiding my children to Jesus. As an educator, I always want a well-thought out lesson that is meaningful and is at their level. Sometimes I struggle for the right words or questions to ask. Kids Faith Krate breaks it down each week where I can wrap my thoughts around one big idea or concept.

One of my favorite parts is the guiding questions that are ready for you. (Because, I can struggle with this and I have a degree in it!) KFK has a whole section dedicated called Talk Together. Right there, questions are supplied for you to discuss while you craft, while you are getting ready for bed, while you eat, and when you are on the go! (Complete GOLD to this momma!)

I have loved going through the KFK weeks with my 4.5 year old, Whitaker. He is an energetic guy that likes to be active and engaged. I was not sure if the Krate would hold his interest. Well, I was proved wrong. Whitaker is excited when I tell him we have an activity to do in our Krate. He sits down at the kitchen counter and gets ready. The activities are very kid-friendly so he can be a part of the whole project. I feel prepared with all supplies and great curriculum to guide me. The best part is Whitaker feels really proud of the project he has created. The art/project become part of our home decor and can quickly prompt a question or discussion later. He loves telling his dad and brother (13 years old) about what we created for the day. Throughout the week at dinner and bedtime, we talk about the concept/lesson as a family.

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Being a momma is tough. It is a high calling with great responsibility. I am so thankful for Kids Faith Krate. This tool has given me another resource as I navigate through christian parenting. Are you looking for a tool to help you? Do you like having meaningful activities to do with your children? I encourage you to check out Kids Faith Krate. You can follow them on Facebook and Instagram. Click here for more information.

When ordering, use promo code 5OFF (for $5 off your first month) It will be ending on 2/28.

Be sure to place your order before 2/28 in order to get March’s box!

Looking Forward,
Amanda

Cranberry Pecan Baked Brie

A couple weeks ago, I hosted a Noonday Party. It was a fun evening of trying on jewelry, catching up with friends, and noshing on some goodies I had prepared. One appetizer I introduced to the group is my Cranberry Pecan Baked Brie. Let’s just say that there were no crumbs left on the plate.

The way the cranberry pecan topping plays with the brie truly makes happiness. I served the brie with a sliced baguette and crackers. And now this little number will be added to other upcoming festivities this season.

Super easy, great presentation, and a crowd pleasure for sure.

Keep Singing and Dancing during the Holidays,
Amanda

What you Need:

For Brie
1 (8-ounce) wheel brie cheese, rind trimmed
2 T brown sugar, packed

For Cranberry Pecan Drizzle

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 T honey
2 T maple syrup
1 T unsalted butter
1/4 t ground cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
Zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Place brie on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Place into oven and bake until softened. This should take about 12-15 minutes. Remove brie from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg and orange zest. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer. Occasionally stir, until foamy. Then stir in pecans and cranberries.

Serve brie warm topped with pecan mixture. I like to serve with crackers or a baguette.