Monday, October 2, 2017

Monthly Medley: September 2017

If you have a subscription to Texas Living Magazine, check out part one of my "Football Town Foods" article in the September issue and then stay tuned for part two in the October issue!

I also have a few blogs posts coming soon to the Mama Bear Dares blog, including one inspired by the recent devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey about preparing your family for emergencies. No one ever says, "I wish I'd been LESS prepared"; I hope that when shared, this post will help families become more informed about as well as more prepared for the disasters most likely to affect them.

Earlier in the month I finished Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid. The book essentially tells two stories, both starting at the point the main character makes a simple yet critical life decision but then each branching off in a different direction. The chapters alternate between the two stories, which I found tricky at first but eventually became accustomed to as I worked my way through the book. Though I wouldn't call Maybe in Another Life a deep read, it had enough emotional depth to balance out the whimsically hypothetical premise of the book.

Oh, how I love season premiere week! So many new shows, so little time. (That edited version of the cliche is true - there are so many new shows I want to watch and so few hours available for me to watch television.) I haven't yet decided which new programs deserve to take up valuable space in my DVR - I plan to weigh in on these shows at the end of October - but so far I have enjoyed The Good Doctor and The Brave.

As of right now, we have no meetings, lessons, or practices scheduled on Tuesday afternoons. After the kids come home from school they finish their homework and Will practices his cello while I work - at a leisurely pace - on dinner. We eat earlier than usual and then we retire to the living or family room for a new tradition: family documentary movie night.

We started with Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. The film lasted almost an hour and a half, and while I suspected the kids might start to check out when forced to watch 90 minutes of a film about "stuff", they surprised me by staying connected until the end. (Tom may have dozed off a time or two though.) I have never considered myself a minimalist, but I can't stand clutter and strongly believe in donating or selling clothes, shoes, toys, and household items no longer in use. After watching this film I am even more committed to controlling what I purchase, what I bring into and send out of our home, and the triangular relationship between myself, my belongings, and my happiness. Everyone - kids included - should watch this film.

Next up: Living On One Dollar.

Listening To
I just found out that season three of Serial won't hit the airwaves until 2018, so to tide me over, I decided to look into a few Serial-esque podcasts. So far my list includes Generation Why, Missing, and Thinking Sideways, which while all fairly dark and mysterious, will likely keep me engaged (er, distracted) when I can't make my regular fitness classes and have to work out on the treadmill.

For the last year I have used and grown to love Pure Haven Essentials' basic essential oils. My favorites include Be Well and Five Defense to keep everyone healthy, Lemon and Sweet Orange to improve mood and energy, and Lavender to promote relaxation and ease anxiety. And now, Pure Haven has released two sets of four different oil blends (in roller balls! 😍) to support overall health and wellness. Set one includes Gently Sleep, Stay Calm, Just Breath, and Get Energized. Set two includes Open Mind, True Self, Be Peaceful, and With Gratitude. I have confidence that at least five of these blends will make a difference in our home and I can't wait to try them!
My kitchen stash of Pure Haven oils.
For those of you unfamiliar with PHE... PHE products are 100% free of toxins, guaranteed. The company's mission is to "educate consumers about pure, safe, alternative choices that are easy to add to your daily routine". These clean, healthy, and effective products are manufactured in small batches (so they are always fresh) in PHE's own USDA Certified Organic facility. Let me know if you'd like to learn more!

Check out my newest t-shirt:
No truer statement has ever been made.
I am not (nor will I ever be) a teacher, but I wear this shirt proudly in honor of the many teachers I know and love.

I have also begun wearing...wait for foot undies.
Foot undies help dancers maintain stability (because a portion of their bare
feet maintains contact with the floor) while also being able to turn (because
of the soft, slightly padded bottoms under the balls of the feet).  
Foot undies are somewhat perplexing when found on the feet of an eight-year-old dancer. (Asked Tom, "are those briefs for a Ken doll?!") They are - at least in my opinion - downright strange when found on the feet of a 38-year-old dance mom. Yet here I am, wearing my foot undies and taking an occasional musical theatre, cardio dance, or "Thriller Music Video" class. I hardly recognize myself anymore...

Here are the new, worth-noting recipes we tried this month!
  • I only made one cookie from the 50 States of Cookies list: Maryland's Berger Cookie. I followed the recipe exactly, but I wasn't impressed with the final result: to me, the cake-like cookie didn't have enough weight or substance to support the heavy chocolate frosting. The recipe specifically indicated that the chocolate frosting should be the same thickness as the cookie...and I strongly disagree. An interesting twist? This cookie is Hallie's new favorite.
  • On the flip side, this Coconut Cream Cheese Bundt Cake could not have tasted any better. I used a little less sugar (the coconut I had on hand was slightly sweetened) and skipped the glaze entirely and I didn't miss either.
  • If coconut doesn't wet your taste buds, try this Fudge Filled Vanilla Bundt Cake. I cut the sugar to 3/4 c. and skipped the mini chocolate chips on top simply because I didn't have any, but I don't think it needed that extra garnish.
  • Neither of my kids liked these Carrot Muffins, but I thought they went perfectly with coffee as a healthy - but with a hint of sweet - breakfast. I used honey instead of syrup, skipped the sugar on top, and omitted the walnuts because I thought Will would be eating the muffins. Now that I know he doesn't like them, my next batch will include walnuts for a little added protein.
  • These ridiculously easy Homemade Pop Tarts went over wonderfully with both Will and Hallie. (No surprise there - the only two ingredients are pie crust and jam.) We used homemade jam bought from the Farmers' Market in Madison, made a large batch, and froze what we didn't eat that week for future school morning breakfasts.  
  • This Mexican Beef and Rice Skillet works well for a busy school night meal. I only used cheese on one half because my kids don't like cheese, and I managed to cut the cooking time in half by using Uncle Ben's Ready Rice (ready in the microwave in 90 seconds) instead of adding uncooked rice to the dish and letting it simmer for 20 minutes. If you go this route, you'll only need about 1/2 c. of beef broth instead of 2 c. of beef broth. 

What's new, good, and/or interesting in your life this month? Please share!

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