101 in 1001, food

Banana Bread Recipe

One of my 101 Things in 1001 Days goals is to try a new recipe every month. I was thinking gourmet dinner recipes, but the idea of working in the kitchen in summer isn’t appealling, so I used our two leftover mushy bananas to make a loaf of banana bread from scratch using this recipe, with a few modifications.

bananaingred

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 peeled ripe bananas
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Bit of salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C), and butter a loaf pan (I used butter-flavored cooking spray).

2. Mash the ripe bananas with a fork and stir in the melted butter.

3. Mix in the baking soda and salt. Stir in the sugar, beaten egg, and vanilla extract. Mix in the flour.

4. Pour the batter into the loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour at 350°F (175°C), or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

5. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for a few minutes. Remove the banana bread from the pan and let cool completely before serving.

bananabread

The bread turned out beautifully. It was a little dark on the bottom half, which you can see in the picture. As noted, I used butter-flavored cooking spray instead of real butter to coat the pan, so that might have made a difference? I also baked it for 50 minutes and my oven is pretty fickle, so if I do this recipe again I will probably bake it for a shorter period and check it. It wasn’t burnt though, and still tasted really good. Next time I will probably use a tad more sugar and definitely add another banana – it was a little dry, but I only had two bananas to use so I made do!

I really recommend this recipe if you want to make banana bread from scratch. I’ve loaded up slices with a ton of butter (so healthy, right? But so delish!) as a late night snack, or after-work snack, or… just because!

year of living minimally

The Year of Living Minimally: Week Eight

This week found me overloaded. I was trying to stay positive and stay on top of things and while nothing majorly awful happened, I just feel down. I am tired and worn out and impatient and frustrated with myself.

I have been eating junk. I get home too tired to cook a nice meal, or am too tired to buy fresh produce at the store, so I just eat whatever. When I have an appetite. Most of my dinners have been “snacks”.

But I’ve been super hungry during the day, so I ate lunch out thrice last week at work. Expensive and not the best food. I mean, it was delicious, but so unhealthy.

It was rainy on laundry day so I had to use the dryer for two loads of clothes.

Possibly related to dryer use, but I’m not sure: one of my son’s t-shirts came out of the laundry with several major holes in the back. I didn’t check it before I washed it but I can’t imagine how he would have gotten holes there on his own. I folded the rest of the laundry worried that there would be more holes in things – there’s no way I could replace that many of our clothes, even thrifting! Thankfully that seemed to be the only ruined garment.

My utility bill is higher for the past month. Not a huge deal because I know the temp outside is hotter so my AC is working harder, but not a fun thing to get in the mail.

My biggest thing to address this week (and following weeks): I need to push myself to get more done in my down time, instead of wasting time.

A few pluses:

We went to a new splash pad over the weekend. It cost $5 to play for 50 minutes but it is a beautiful, fun place, so it was worth it to make my son happy – he had been talking about it all week!

We also went to the Children’s Museum. (The reason I mentioned how much the other splash pad costs is because we can access the Children’s Museum splash pad for free with our membership.) We only went for a couple hours to play with certain things, but it was still nice to get out of the house because our weekends are often just being low key at home.

We went to another show at the Levitt Shell with friends, which is fun and free!

We got some great things at the grocery store – fresh fruit and veggies and plenty of dinners that won’t be too hard for me to cook after a long day. We also got a free loaf of fancy pants bread! I don’t typically eat bread, but it was the weekly Free Friday so you know I couldn’t pass it up!

I need to keep the positives in mind, however small, and focus on improving from there. I just have a few big things that stress me out when I think about them, but they have deadlines so I NEED to think about them – well, I need to WORK ON THEM! Does anyone have tips for kicking their butt into gear?

home life

Crafting by Upcycling

A few years ago I had some special cards made for a library conference. I was a teen services librarian at a branch here, but didn’t have professional cards yet. I also was (and still am) the volunteer manager of YALSAblog, and I wanted to include that on my cards so I could reach out to people who might want to write for us.

I ordered from Moo.com, my favorite place to splurge when I want fun, unique, yet high quality professional cards. I used pictures from my How I Feel About Books instagram account for the front, because I like a lot of the book photos I take and share there. You can get like 25 unique card fronts per pack, so I didn’t have to narrow it down too much! The back had information about my library position, my volunteer position, and my personal site and instagram.

Fast forward to when I’m not working at that library anymore, and the cards aren’t much use to me. I guess that job title isn’t a huge deal since I’m still the manager of YALSAblog, and they are unique and eye-catching and worth handing out at conferences, but not too helpful in my daily networking. But I love those pictures! I decided I would mount them on a canvas to hang in the house.

When I was hanging work from my photography exhibit around the house a few weeks ago, I moved some stuff around – stuff I didn’t like much anymore, or was hung “just because”, whatever I could do to hang more of my own work without putting a lot of extra nail holes in the walls. One things I took down was this stained glass-looking print that had been hanging in the bedroom for almost 5 years. I think I found it at a thrift store – maybe I was going to do something to it? Maybe I thought it looked cool at the time? Anyway, I took it down and was going to put it on the pile to donate, when it hit me. I could mount my old business cards on this instead of buying a canvas to put them on!

original
I didn’t think to take a picture in time to get the whole original, but you get the idea.

I used 20 different business cards to make this – I still have plenty left, but it’s nice to see some of them put to good use. Another bonus – I used up the last little bit of both of my super glues! It might sound stupid but it was really satisfying to throw away those things that had been sitting in the junk drawer forever.

I might gloss over it with Mod Podge, but I might just let it go and see if it all stays intact. The front of the original art was glossy, so I don’t know if the glue will stick to it as well as it would canvas, but it is super glue.

hanging

Since all the cards are book- and library-related images, I hung it in the back room with all my bookshelves – on a nail that was already there! Talk about low-key, easy art. I think it looks just right.

donating, home life, reading

Little by Little

I wish I had a before picture to show you, or a factual number, or anything. And I do have before pictures I’ll have to find, hidden on my external hard drive from years ago. Pictures of the backpack I lived out of for six months, pictures of my 450 sq ft apartment, pictures of the vast emptiness of my two bedroom house when I first moved in. Pictures of all the clutter when my husband moved his storage shed from Oklahoma into our back room (even though I would hate to see those – talk about anxiety!). Pictures of moving in another kid and struggling to keep the house clean while hating my day job.

I am working on the house little by little, but I get on these kicks. I can donate half of my wardrobe in twenty minutes on a good day. Doesn’t fit? Gone. Hate that color now? Gone. Doesn’t feel comfy? Gone. Thankfully, my clothes are mostly from thrift stores anyway (don’t buy new!) so it’s never a huge loss, trying to argue that I spent so much on it, I at least have to keep it and try to wear it again.

Truthfully, I can sever ties to my belongings in a snap. I’m honestly not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but it’s there. And when I get in the mood, I want to get rid of everything.

I have been re-reading some of the books on my shelves lately. There are some hardcore favorites I want to keep copies of. But some I remember fondly but hazily, and those are the ones I’m re-reading. Do I really want to keep them? So far, we’re 3 for 3 – donations are winning! They were nice to re-read and I will still remember them fondly, but they don’t pack a punch or blow me away. They’re just… nice, so I don’t feel the need to keep them.

This is a pretty big shift in how I used to think about books. I wanted to own all the books. I would buy dozens at used book sales and keep them, whether I had read them or not! I figured I’d get to them someday. Now I just use my Goodreads “Want To Read” list and keep my shelves a little more sparse.

It helps me to think of that sometimes – how my attitude in owning books has changed. Because I’ve never been stylish or into clothes, so getting rid of those is no problem. But books are special to me, and if I can be strict with what I keep in that aspect, I know the rest of my house and life will come together, too. Little by little.

year of living minimally

The Year of Living Minimally: Week Seven

This week I focused on being outside. After a relaxing vacation at a friend’s house, I was inspired to work more on my yard. My friend has a gorgeous, shady yard, a nice patio she uses multiple times a day, a pretty flowerbed out front, and a garden out back.

My son and I started a “garden” this summer… except the weather was so crazy and we are such uncertain farmers that we only planted a bunch of purple onions and a grape plant. The onions look like they’re doing well, though, so that’s really encouraging. We only tilled part of the pre-existing “circle” we have in the back yard (some sort of flowerbed or garden enclosed with bricks that never had anything in it since I’ve lived here) for the onions, so I’m definitely going to work on the whole thing this fall and next spring and get it ready for more plants.

There is another small section of the yard that will be easy to turn into a garden, too, so I will get that ready over time.

As far as the front yard, I’m actually deconstructing it right now. Tall bushes used to block some of the front porch for privacy, but I didn’t like it because when I lived here alone, I didn’t like the idea of someone waiting on my porch. Plus we have a porch swing, so after chopping them down last year I can sit on the swing while my son plays in the front yard, in full view. I still need to dig up a few bushes’ roots, though.

There are azaleas growing in front of another part of the house, and they’re gorgeous but half dead, so even in full bloom you see sad dead spots. I might get help from my mom on how to nurture them back, if possible, but I’m also fine with digging them up. I like the idea of putting down sod where these bushes all were and just having a full grass front yard for a bit before deciding what to plant.

We spend more time out back anyway, and while I know the front of the house is what everyone sees, I want to make the backyard really enjoyable and productive before making the front pretty.

We have a decent patio out back, but it is the only shade in my yard. I loved it for not having trees because I didn’t have to worry about roots ruining my plumbing or falling on my house, but my that shade was nice last week! So in time I would like to dismantle my old, somewhat-rickety patio and build a nice, shady pergola that maybe some plants can grow on or hang from.

All of this will take time and work, but I started this week and it helped me feel so focused and productive and in the right state of mind that I need right now. Getting back to nature definitely does wonders for your emotional being!

101 in 1001

101 Things Challenge

The 101 Things in 1001 Days Challenge is one I’ve done twice before. Well, I should say I’ve attempted it twice before. I don’t think I’ve ever finished a list. But they’re so much fun to do that I wanted to give it another shot. Half of the fun is thinking of things you want to do, and giving yourself a timeline to complete them. And even though I’ve never completed 101 things, I’ve still done a lot of things that I might not have otherwise, so it’s still a win in my book.

You can see the round 3 list here, and it’s also linked in the menu bar.

This new list is inspired by the new life my son and I are creating. A peaceful home life, a meaningful work and school life, and leisure time spent exploring our garden, the city, and the surrounding areas. Most of the items are tourist attractions – or not-so-touristy attractions! – in my very own city that I’ve never seen, or haven’t visited since my own childhood and want to revisit and share with my son. Some are things just to get us out of the house more often and take advantage of the memberships we have, or the fun free things the city offers.

Some are crafts and home improvement projects I’ve put aside for too long. Some are to help me be a better mother – like trying new recipes and baking treats together. Some are to help me be a better person – like finally pushing myself to do something with those books I’ve written and to start doing yoga regularly again. Some are just for fun, some have a huge goal at the end. Some are easy and can be done in a day, some will take longer to accomplish.

No matter what happens, it’s going to be a fun 1001 days! I’ll be sharing posts about what we’ve done and how it’s all going periodically, with a monthly recap since several items are “Do ____ # a month.”

Have you ever done a challenge like this? Are you interested in trying?

holidays, home life, money

Happy Birthday!

My son is old enough to understand birthdays and be excited, but young enough to not really care about having a big to-do. (Or maybe he’s growing up to be just as anti-social as Mommy!)

Every time he wants something, he says he wants it for his birthday: new train track pieces; a new Thomas “roller coaster” track for those strange, pointless, tiny little trains; a trampoline. He doesn’t want everything he sees, but when he wants something, he remembers it. He will get a few things for his birthday – usually one gift per person, and only close family comes to the party – but I’m sure he will remember to ask for a trampoline for his next birthday, until I remind him that Christmas will come around before his next birthday. Then he will start the Christmas list.

When he gets gifts, he is very thankful for them. He thanks the giver (usually with prompting) and plays with the toys for a long time. Most of the toys he has work together, like the wooden train pieces that build together, and wooden trains to drive on them. Or the pointless tiny Thomas trains that link together for a parade, or zoom around on tracks that take batteries. Or cars and trucks… so many different cars and trucks! They fill one of his toy bins, but he seriously plays with ALL of them, so… they stay.

The birthday party itself is never a huge deal. He has friends at school but we don’t really do playdates or anything yet. We invite grandparents and aunts/uncles/cousins, and our parties usually top out at 12 people – mostly adults. It’s always in the afternoon, post-nap, with snacks and cupcakes for the guests. I hate stressing over hosting major dinners and parties, so I like keeping them minimal. Napkins for the snacks, candy, and cupcakes, cups for punch, and that’s about it. Two hours of togetherness is perfect for kids the ages we have (about-to-be-4, 5, and 8) and they can play outside if it’s not rainy.

His party is right around the corner, and now that’s he’s older I’m eager to see how he will open the gifts on his own (he still had trouble last year) and thank the givers without prompting.