4/11/17

Maple + Cheddar Popcorn (And a bit on Quebec)



As a family we try to take two vacations every year -- one at the tale end of winter before spring hits, and with it the rush of busy season for Herm's business, and the other as summer makes way to autumn and we finally have Herm back again.

For our end-of-summer vacation we often visit new places. So far we've traveled Route 1 on along the rugged California coastline, visited friends in please-take-me-back-again-I-loved-it-so Portugal, and Myrtle Beach, where we were evacuated much too early due to a tropical storm, but loved our time there nonetheless. We've got a really exciting trip planned for our summer getaway this year. I can't wait to tell you all about it.

But that's not what this post is about today, so moving on...

People, especially those who live in the north, look at us a little cross-eyed when they discover that we don't head south in the winter like most do, but instead, always travel north. (As if upstate New York isn't north enough.) 

Every year we head a bit farther into the frigid tundra -- first was Lake Placid, NY, then Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and this year, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.










Our thought process behind this is that we want our winter vacation to be a time of rest, where we don't feel pressured into constantly being out-of-doors and active, like we know we would, if we were say, somewhere south. We do get out and enjoy the snow quite a lot, but we also plow our way through books and play games and watch movies, cozied up, hot drinks in hand, in our Airbnb rental.

Of all of our vacations north, Quebec City was our favorite location. We stayed in the old part of the city, which was founded in 1608. The architecture of the city is amazing. It felt as though we were visiting a country in Europe, rather than our neighbors to the north. I'm sure the fact that everyone speaks French added to the European feel. 

We are already talking about visiting Quebec again, though next time we would like to go in the summer, as I'm sure the city is just a charming, and slightly warmer, than it was in February. 

When we vacation we often rent an apartment and try to make most of our meals there. It helps keep costs down, and also is a bit more relaxing for us with the kids being so young. Plus, it means we can splurge a little bit on coffees and treats... like the Maple + Cheddar Quebec-style popcorn we bought several times. It was the perfect marriage of sweet and salty, and when we got back home again, I worked hard to recreate my own version of it.

I can almost feel the cold wind that blew through the city, and hear the crunch of snow beneath my boots with every bite.

Enjoy!


Maple + Cheddar Popcorn

Ingredients:
1 cup popcorn kernels
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup cheddar cheese powder
2/3 cup maple syrup
2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon maple flavoring
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Method:
Preheat oven to 250.

In a large kettle with a lid, pour in oil and three kernels of corn. Begin heating. Once corn kernels pop, pour in the rest of the kernels and continue heating, shaking constantly, until all the corn has popped. 

Removed from heat and divide corn into two large bowls. Pour the cheddar cheese powder over one of the bowls and mix well. Set aside.

Melt butter with maple syrup, sugar and salt. Heat mixture to boiling point, then continue boiling for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add maple flavoring and baking soda. Stir well. 

Pour mixture over the remaining bowl of popcorn, mixing thoroughly. Divide corn into two glass baking dishes and bake for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Remove corn from oven and mix both flavors together in a big bowl.

Grab a glass of grape juice and cozy in for a while with your favorite movie or a good book.

Try your hardest not to eat the entire bowl yourself.

4/6/17

A Few Things for Your Weekend

Alternatively this post could be titled Things That Distract Me When I'm Trying to Blog. 











This week it has felt like all creativity was emptied out of me, for every time I sat down in an attempt to write, words wouldn't come. It felt awkward and forced, which resulted in me being very distracted. 

Distracted by what, you might ask? 

Imagine with me, if you will, a morning of slight chaos and maximum noise, Carson morphed into a firetruck again, and his sirens are blaring; imagine a grumpy 10 month old Brooklyn who is on the verge of cutting two new teeth, and if that isn't bad enough, just face-planted into the wood floor, again, her balance hasn't quite caught up to her daring feats; imagine their Mom, still in her yoga pants (Who are we kidding? Let's just rename those house pants, for I never change out of them anymore, unless, say, I'm leaving the house.) who has managed to make the beds and wash breakfast dishes, but has already forgotten about the laundry waiting to be folded or what she was going to make for dinner, and is distracted and kept busy with her precious children, the ones who use her for a human tissue, wiping their noses against her while simultaneously begging her wipe their rears. Now imagine a blow-out that turned those classy house pants into toilet paper. Yeah...

Now that that scene is painted fresh in your mind, I'm sure you can truly understand why I look forward to nap time every afternoon.

***

Both kids have finally fallen asleep, and I sit down to write...

But, if I am writing a blog post, won't an iced coffee accompany that well?

Distraction number one: 

Herm's Aeropress coffee maker. I bought it for him for Father's Day, and now it's the only coffee maker we use. It makes coffee so delicious, in fact, that I've already made myself coffee to take along to a cafe. (Almost as classy as wearing house pants in public, something I will never do! I am ashamed.)

To make iced coffee, I fill a tall glass with ice cubes, all the way to the brim, then drizzle just a touch of real maple syrup over it. I brew a shot of coffee in the Aeropress directly onto the iced cubes, give everything a stir, and top it with homemade whipped cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon. Delicious!

Herm gave me this whipped cream dispenser for Mother's Day. We tag-team gifts fairly well. :)

Distraction number two:

Craigslist. Perhaps you read the post previous to this one, where I rambled on and on about a living room makeover I've completed in my mind? It's still going full force. I've narrowed down the style of sofas I'm excited to welcome into our home, but nothing has been purchased yet. I've got to find a good deal, I can't help it, I'm both German and Mennonite!

Distraction number three:

While trying to find words for that blog post I intended to write, I remembered it's now April, the month Artifact Uprising usually gives away some free prints. I check their site... and guess what?! They're giving away a free Instagram photo book. Instead of writing, I compiled and ordered an entire album, all I paid was the cost of shipping.

That deal ends tomorrow! (4/7/2017) Visit this page to create your 5.5 x 5.5 book, then use code GPL397A at checkout.

You're welcome.

Distraction number four:

The Magic of Motherhood, a book I've been very excited to get was just released... I head on over to the black hole of Amazon, to see if it's there.

Distraction number five:

Chairish -- a site similar to ThredUp, in that it's second hand, but maybe even better, because it's home furnishings and decor.

Speaking of ThredUp, have you used my referral code yet? If not, click through this link and you'll get $10 off your first purchase. Go buy yourself something fun, after all, it's SPRING!


And that, my friends, is why the blog post I was planning to write --the one with a whole lot more depth and value to it -- did not happen this week.

3/28/17

Currently





reading:

All things home design. Once I get a notion in my head, I have a really hard time forgetting about it. Our sectional sofa and reclining couch are both in much need of being replaced. Herm had both of them before we got married, and even though I never exactly loved them, they fit the need at the time. A few weeks ago, though, as I was cleaning the sectional, I noticed how pilled the fabric had become. I started cleaning it with my sweater stone, which worked wonders... the only problem being that it worked too well. The twenty-plus year old fabric was worn so thin in spots that as I removed the snags and pills suddenly there was nothing there anymore, except stuffing spilling out. It's an unsightly mess, and I've been scouring Craiglist in the hopes someone will list a like-new leather sofa for about 75% off its usual retail value. I've found a few I liked, but I'm holding out for one I love. (Anyone selling a couch like this or this?)

I've also been looking for a living room rug (which might involved a quick trip to Turkey to find one at a market, that is, if Craigslist doesn't pull through), and if I'm getting new couches and a new rug, I might as well paint the walls a new color too, right? In my mind I have the entire living area rearranged and revamped. 

I promise, this does bring us around to what I've been reading... Books like Old Home Love and STYLED and Young House Love. All things home design. If you're interested in this too, I would especially recommend STYLED by Emily Henderson. I spent a few hours pouring over it, and found inspiration to use things I already own, in a new way. It's a book I borrowed from the library but I think it'll be added to my wishlist of books I want to own.


loving:

Dates, which my brother's mother-in-law brought with her from Dubai as a gift. I thought I liked dates in general, but these are so much softer and more flavorful than any other dried date I've ever eaten. Good thing I can't read the nutritional label, because I'm sure I exceeded the amount per serving several times over.

Also loving Quebec style popcorn. When we vacationed there this winter (still need to post about that trip!) we got a bag full for a movie night, and then bought another bag for the trip home. It's a mixture of cheddar cheese flavored corn and maple glazed corn. The sweet and salty-ness of it is perfect! I tried to recreate it yesterday, using cheddar cheese powder and real maple syrup, and goodness, is it more-ish. (Meaning, I can't stop because I want more.)

dreaming:

Um, does it sound sort of obsessive if I mention the living room makeover? Here is my Pinterest mood board, and I've been tweaking it ruthlessly.


wishing:

For new living room furniture. Okay, now I'm really going to sound obsessed. In addition to that, I'm wishing for an afternoon or two where the kids both sleep for hours and hours, so I can tackled a few painting projects I've been putting off. (For the past three years! Ever since I painted our entryway two-toned. I never actually liked it that way. Lesson learned.)

thinking about:

So as not to completely bore you, I'm choosing not to mention the living room makeover. I recently read two really good blog posts -- that's what I've been thinking about. You can find them here and here (if you read this one, also read part two).


listening to:

Option a.) Java with Julie. About a month ago I asked, in an Instagram story, for some new podcast suggestions. I got lots, but one that really has interested me is Java with Julie. It tackles a lot of taboo topics, often dealing with relationships and sexuality. Something that I think needs to be discussed in an honest and frank way more often.

Option b.) The sound of birds chirping. It's what I woke to this morning, and is a sure sign spring is here, even if there are still patching of snow on the ground. 


3/19/17

How to Turn Any Tote into a Diaper Bag

Floral planner, TJ Maxx | Notebook, Staples

Organic snack pouches for kiddos from Aldi | Granola bars for Mama | Muslin Swaddle blankets for nursing

iPhone camera tripod and remote | Noonday Wallet (similar) | Maybelline lipstick in Rum Riche (love this color!)

Several years ago I shared a post about my leather tote, along with a tip on how I converted it to an organized diaper bag. I wanted to carry a bag that was classy and timeless and wouldn't scream Mom-bag! everywhere I went. The tote and the organizer where both new to me, and I was so excited about them.

I thought I'd write a review again, because both products have stood the test of time, and are still used daily,  as I hoped they would be.

The tote was an investment piece, there is no denying that, but the story behind it, a story of Ethiopian women handcrafting beautiful leather goods, while overcoming poverty and working to provide for their families, along with the high quality and attention to detail, make this tote completely worth every penny it cost. With time it has softened and darkened becoming even more beautiful.

When my husband gifted it to me, I kissed him with delight and told him I would never purchase another bag again.

While I didn't stay completely true to my word, I thrifted a small vintage Coach bag to use when I don't have the kids with me, my leather Mamuye tote from FashionABLE has been used nearly daily in the three years that I've owned it. I highly recommend it to anyone who asks me about it... included the stranger who was absentmindedly stroking it, while commenting on its rare beauty. (She apologized for petting it when she realized that she was doing but I was already nearly doubled over in silent laughter, and told her it's not uncommon to find me petting regularly too.)




To keep the tote organized I purchased this bag insert on Amazon. It cost around $10. It's got two zippered pockets, one large main area, and several small pockets on the sides to house things you need easy access to, like your phone and Chapstick. Overall I like the design, my only wish is that it would be deeper and a bit more structured. I've been eyeing this one and this one on Amazon, but haven't purchased either yet, as I'm not really sure it's worth trying another one just because of those two things.

If I am leaving my kids with a sitter for the day, I can pull the insert out, and everything they need will be right there. That function has come in really handy.

I do use that small vintage bag I picked up on occasion but once I'm past the baby stage, and no longer need to carry diapers and wipes and other current necessities, I would love to invest in one more small bag from FashionABLE. I've been dreaming about this one or this one. However, they are constantly releasing new designs and they keep getting better and better... So I'm going to hold off on that purchase for while.

My love for this tote only grows stronger with time. Three years in, and I would still tell anyone considering it, make the purchase!




Disclosure: I will receive a small commission and/or reward credit on any purchases made through these links. Thank you for supporting my blog and helping to fund my next bag from FashionABLE. :)

Referral link for FashionABLE: www.livefashionable.com/?aic=39KM9SX

3/13/17

The Wisdom of Removing Teeth



The other week I did the most adult-like thing I can think of; I called the dentist to schedule an appointment to figure out what needs to happen with my wisdom teeth.

They've been working their way up through the gums for years, going in spurts. It's been in the back of my mind for so long, but the thought of how much it could possibly cost to extract them kept me from doing anything.

I'm twenty-five years old and I'm teething, grumpy and fussy, with my ten month old. Grace upon grace, baby girl. I know what you're going through!

Herm kept telling me I have to do something about them. You've got too nice of teeth, he said, to have them crowded out because you didn't take care of this problem.

So, I did what I do when I need to do something I really don't want to actually do: I made myself accountable to everyone who reads this blog. :) Yup, it's 24 on my list of 25 things.

I can't remember the last time I was at the dentist office, but I know it was between 7-9 years ago!

I used to go regularly, back when my parents covered the cost (thanks mom and dad!), but every time I would go in they would tell me I did an awesome job caring for my teeth, then ask for payment... they accepted cash, checks, solid nuggets of gold or brand new vehicles, for that bit of encouraging news.

I moved out of country for a while, then came home, got married, and never went back. Dentists are darn expensive, and I was certainly broke.

Walking into that dentist office the other week was a bit nerve racking, if I'm truly honest. I won't have cavities, I told myself. I won't need every tooth in my mouth yanked, I won't, just the wisdom teeth!

They took a few x-rays to check if my wisdom teeth could be removed in-office, cleaned my teeth, told me I had nice coloring and beautiful enamel (thank you My Magic Mud! More on that in a moment), and that whatever I was doing, to just keep doing it.

We've got plans of removing only two of the wisdom teeth. And yes, it can be done in-office and will cost much, much less than I had imagined. Whew, I can cross that off the list!

When asked if I would like to schedule another cleaning six months from now, I laughed and said, No, let's go for another nine years, I don't like paying someone regularly to tell me to keep doing what I've been doing. (Okay, so  I didn't say that. But I really don't like paying for someone to tell me I know how to brush. I'm pushing the next cleaning out at least another year.)

---



Okay, now that we've got wisdom teeth out of the way, let's get talk about My Magic Mud.

I love a nice, bright smile. It's one of the first things I notice on someone else, and something I try hard to maintain myself.

But, after using Crest Whitening strips for a while, I noticed my teeth were becoming really sensitive. Researching it a bit, I realized the strips really aren't good for your teeth at all. The strips weaken enamel, which causes sensitivity. If used too often it can even cause severe damage.

 I stopped using them, and instead tried brushing with baking soda every now and then, and consuming less coffee or red wine. (But what fun is that?!) Those methods worked, sort of.

Recently though, I heard about My Magic Mud. They have both tooth paste and tooth powder made from completely natural ingredients, like activated charcoal, coconut oil, and bentonite clay. The products promise to both whiten and strengthen your teeth.

I contacted the company and they generously sent me a set to try out. Thank you!

It's been just a few weeks since I started using it, and I already notice a difference in how clean my teeth feel and how bright they are looking. My dentist commented on that beautiful enamel and good coloring, and I'm guessing this might be playing into that.

The tooth paste doesn't have glycerin in it, so it's not thick and foamy like most pastes. If you're able to get use to that, I think you might really like it. Your teeth will look crazy while brushing, because everything turns black. But no worries, it'll all be white again, once you rinse.

The powder is a bit stronger than the paste, and extremely messy. Be careful when you use it! It works well though, and so far I've been really happy with the results. It doesn't work as fast a Crest Whitening Strips did, but it's a more natural approach that doesn't hurt my teeth or make them sensitive.

Overall, I've been really happy with this product and will be buying more when my stash runs out!

You can buy My Magic Mud Paste and My Magic Mud Powder on Amazon or directly from the company.

Also, in my research about oral health and remineralizing and whitening teeth naturally, I came across this article. I found it really interesting, and though perhaps you would too.

All of this because I thought to add removing my wisdom teeth to that birthday bucket list. You're welcome. :)
---

Disclosure: My Magic Mud sent me products to try out and review but the opinions I shared are completely my own. If you purchase the products through this blog post, I will make a small commission on them, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for helping support my blog! <3

3/8/17

You Know You're a Frazzled Mom If... || Part 2




Photos by LYNDSI Photography


• You spend your Saturday morning driving all over town, visiting every auto body shop, in search of the parts your husband requested you pick up. Nothing makes you feel more stupid then asking a mechanic questions about the workings of a vehicle you really know nothing about. Your kids are both crying in the backseat, and even though you know nothing about the vehicle needing repairs, you can't figure out why three different mechanics at three different locations aren't taking your situation seriously... that is, until you get home and realize you're sporting mismatched earrings with crazy hat hair and there's a trail of baby snot slithering down your left shoulder. Obviously if you can't take yourself serious, no one else will either.

• Two weeks later you get home from church, and after putting the kids to bed you start putting yourself to bed too. Reaching up to remove your earrings you realize you're only wearing one... the other is still patiently waiting to be worn. It's been that way for the past four hours. It's a scary thing, really, when you're responsible for keeping two young children safe from harm, but have proven time and again that you're not even responsible enough for earrings.

• You typically scold your toddler son when he teases his sister, yelling at her loudly, causing her to cry. But in a desperate attempt to keep them both awake on the 20 minute drive home from Grandma's house, you suggest he could start screaming in her face.

• You enforce a No Sweets Before Breakfast policy but don't tell your early rising children you crawled out of bed at 5:30 am so you could dunk a bar of chocolate into your hot coffee and savor it slow, not having to share even a bit. 

• When the kids are awake it takes so long to drink a mug of coffee that if you make it hot it'll eventually turn iced, and if you make it iced it will surely warm up.

• The cashiers at your local grocery store all know about how your toddler son escaped through the automatic doors as you were distractedly paying your bill last week, and was running around all the cars in the parking lot. They heard your shrieking panic as you busted your way through the doors that weren't automatically opening for you, and now, this week, while they're joking about the incident with you, you can feel 16 extra eyes watching that toddlers every move. His mom forgets her earrings... she might forget him too.

• Someone finds out your a stay-at-home mom and asks what you do all day... I can't even remember to put in both earrings, yet you expect me to recall what I do all day?.

When both children are finally sleeping, you feel tempted to sit down and crack open a new book. Time, however, has shown you that the silence of a book spine cracking open can be heard yards away and is loud enough to wake even the heaviest of sleepers. Don't risk it.

Out of the kindness of her heart, a cashier at the same grocery store, mentions it's time for another kid. Mine were thirteen months apart, she says, while wearing both earrings and looking very responsible.

It takes more thought and preparation to plan how you're going to spend a kid-free evening out than it did to plan your own wedding.

• You get up early and go to bed late, fully knowing it's a game of Russian Roulette you're playing. Spin the cylinder and pull the trigger; one, if not two, children are bound to wake up. But it's the quiet, precious stillness of those hours that gives you an adrenaline rush worth the risk. Mom's get no sleep. This is why.


Hi friends, I'm Sarah, and I love being a Frazzled Mom.

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3/6/17

Don't Let Kind Words Go Unsaid



I don't do it often enough, verbalizing why I admire someone, letting them know how they encourage or inspire or brighten my life.

I think about it. I know what I like about each of my closest friends, I even tell others what I see and like in those people. So why then, do I not tell them, to their face?

After my friend Ev, cousin Cheryl, and acquaintance Sara, passed away, will within a year and a half time span, I realized that too often in life we save those kind, uplifting words for funerals. Not intentionally, we just don't think about how fragile life is, we think we have time to say those things... we save it for a birthday card we will write 11 months from now, or for a wedding toast.

It can feel awkward to say I love you for no reason in particular, maybe especially so if you were raised in a stoic German culture, like I, that doesn't openly show emotion. Letting someone know you really like character qualities you see in them isn't something that simply comes up on every day conversation.

But why not?

I'm tired of funerals, honestly.

I want to start those sharing sweet sentiments with the person I am talking about, not just for the rest of the world to hear after that person is already gone.

Enter, the handwritten note.

It's one the list: 10. Write a Handwritten Note to Someone I Greatly Admire.

I did this the last time I had a birthday bucket list as well, and knew it was something I should be doing more often in life. This time around I decided to write notes to several friends, not just one. I chose women who push me outside of my comfort zone, women who inspire me to love my family more, to read more, to think outside the box. Their influence on my life is strong, They are all very different from one another, and in completely different stages of life than what I'm currently in. That's what I like so much about having them as friends.

This year I'm going to be writing more note cards because life is too short to let kind words go unsaid.