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

 

Strawberry & Blueberry Bruschetta

We are getting ready to celebrate the 4th of July.  Desserts that include strawberries and blueberries naturally give you a patriotic feeling.  This little recipe was inspired by my friend, Erin at The Speckled Palate.  Jump over to her blog to be completely inspired plus she makes meal planning fun!

This little dessert will leave your family and friends wanting more!  Prep is simple and can be done ahead of time.  Feel free to play with the ingredients and make it your own.  Have a happy and safe 4th of July! -Amanda

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2 cups strawberries, sliced

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

1 pint blueberries

1 pre-made Pound Cake loaf (I purchased a Vanilla Pound Cake at Whole Foods)

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter , melted

8oz of Cream Cheese,  allow to sit at room temp for 15 to 20 minutes

1/2 cup of powdered sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla

Wash & Dry your strawberries and blueberries.  Slice your strawberries.  Toss  strawberries with 2 tablespoons of sugar.

Slice your pound cake into 1inch (or less) thickness. I made sure to make 12 slices to have enough for dessert.   Brush the pound cake slices with melted butter.  On a preheated grill or grilling pan, toast both sides of your pound cake.  Let the pieces set long enough to get grill lines.  Once all slices are toasted, set aside and allow to cool.  

With a mixer, combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla.  Once all combined, place in refrigerator until ready to create dessert.

When you are ready to serve dessert, place your pound cake slices on a serving platter or individual plates.  Smear the cream cheese mixture on to your cake slices.  Make sure there is enough cream cheese mixture to allow the fruit to stick to your cake slices.  Then top that with a tablespoon of strawberries and their juice. Add blueberries by giving them a little push to stay on the cake slices.  Serve immediately, or let stand in the refrigerator until ready to serve.  

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.

How Do I Pick Out My Thanksgiving Turkey?

Whether this is your first time hosting Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving, the turkey situation can be scary and daunting. As soon as you enter the grocery store, you are hit with multiple options like fresh, frozen, organic, heritage, free-range…and Butterball. I mean, what does it all mean? How big of a turkey do I need?

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A Beautiful Turkey Cooked by Williams & Sonoma

Today, I will try to help with the decision of picking out the turkey. I have researched several types of turkeys so that you are armed when you enter the store. This does not have to be hard.

How BIG of a Turkey Do I Buy?
To make sure you feed all your guest well, your biggest decision should be the size of turkey. An easy rule is 1 pound for every person at your table. If you want leftovers, 2 pounds per person will be perfect. IF you want lots of leftovers, well, you get the idea.

Where is this Bird Going to Cook?
Now, you need to consider where you are cooking this turkey! In your oven, in a roaster oven, and the neighbor’s. You need to size-up the area you have to work with. You can see the problem on Thanksgiving day when your turkey is TOO BIG and you have nowhere to cook it. Big Fail!

Do you have a Pan to Cook your Turkey in?
This is like a dress rehearsal. I like to (days before) establish what pans and dishes I will be using for Thanksgiving. Go ahead and pull out the pan you will be cooking your turkey in. You might need to purchase one or borrow from a friend. If you are using a roaster oven, make sure your bird fits before the big day.

Heritage, Free-Range, Organic, Oh My!
When you arrive to the grocery store, you will be hit with several choices. I consulted my friends over at Food & Wine to break it down for us.
Heritage: One of the most popular birds in the past few years because of their superior flavor, heritage turkeys are purebred and generally older than other turkeys you may find at the store. They tend to be smaller, have more bone and darker leg meat. Life outdoors gives these turkeys a gamier taste than the regular store-bought varieties.

Organic: Certified organic by the USDA, these turkeys are now more easily found in grocery stores, and are Weening’s top choice. They are fed an all-organic vegetarian diet, never given antibiotics and are raised on organic pastures. They tend to be a little more expensive because the feed the birds eat is more expensive.

Free Range: No antibiotics or hormones are given to these turkeys and they have access to the outdoors (at least part of the time, according to the USDA).

Pastured Turkey: This type of turkey is raised outdoors and is pretty much free to do and eat what it wants, although they are also given feed to ensure they get the proper levels of nutrients.

Kosher: Kosher turkeys are raised and processed according to strict rabbinical guidelines. Before they are packaged they are rubbed with Kosher salt, which also acts as a brine.

Brine: Some turkeys are one step ahead of you and have been brined already. Various juices, oils, seasonings, sugar and/or salt are injected into the turkey. Brining is beneficial because it can provide extra moisture and flavor to the turkey in addition to saving you some prep time, but it can dictate the flavor of your turkey and take the seasoning out of your hands. Butterball turkeys are usually brined.

Fresh vs. Frozen: Basically fresh turkeys are kept at a temperature of 27 degrees. When the temperature drops below that, the meat begins to freeze. If you’re buying a fresh turkey, buy it NO more than two days before you plan to cook it; you can usually reserve one at markets and farmers’ markets way in advance.

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Check Out Local Restaurants and Grocery Stores For Cooked

Many local restaurants offer Thanksgiving Turkeys for your convenience. This is a great option and one I have used before. You usually need to order a week before. Your turkey is prepped and cooked by a professional. Then when you pick up, you are given specific directions of how to cook your turkey. This is a great option to take some pressure off the big day.

It Will All Be Fine….
In the end it comes down to what you want to pay. Turkeys can get pricey, so know how many you are buying for and be sure to take into account the leftovers you want to eat for days to come. Otherwise you got this. Feel confident in the purchase of your turkey. Your guest will LOVE it.
Looking Forward,
Amanda