Thursday, October 17, 2013

Apple Strudel Muffins

Oh yes, it's time for another yummy recipe!  You're welcome, my friends.

I had these the other day at a friend's house, and they were so yummy, I just had to get the recipe.  I made my own batch the very next day, and they were gone within hours.  These muffins are moist and cake-like, with just enough spice in the batter and a yummy crisp topping.  What a yummy way to get a fun and comforting taste of the season.

Apple Strudel Muffins
(adapted from here)
Dry Ingredients:
  • 2 c. all purpose flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t ground nutmeg
Wet Ingredients:
  • 1/2 c butter, softened
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 c grated apples + 1 c chopped apples
  • 2 heaping T applesauce
  • 1/3 c packed brown sugar
  • 1 T all purpose flour
  • 1/8 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 T butter
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease a 12 cup muffin pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together dry ingredients.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together 1/2 c butter, 1/2 c granulated sugar, 1/2 c brown sugar, and eggs until smooth.  Mix in vanilla.  Stir in apples and applesauce.
  4. Gradually blend the dry mixture into the wet mixture.  Spoon into prepared muffin pan.
  5. In a small bowl, mix 1/3 c brown sugar, 1 T flour, and 1/8 t cinnamon.  Cut in 1 T butter until mixture is like course crumbs.  Sprinkle over tops of mixture in muffin pan.
  6. Bake 20 minutes in preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes before removing from pan.  Cool on a wire rack, or eat warm. 

Delicious!  Enjoy :)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tuesday's Tip--Ask for a Discount

I bought some smelly markers the other day. 

Let's just pause here while I bask in your envy.

I have always wanted smelly markers.  You want some, too, don't you?

AKD is doing a chromatography experiment, comparing different types of black inks, and this gave me the perfect excuse to indulge in my childhood fantasy of owning smelly markers.  We're using the black for AKD's experiment, and then giving the package to Bubby for his birthday in a few weeks.  So there are smelly markers in my house.  Win-win-win.

The chromatography markers, including Mr. Licorice Smelly Marker on the left

I went to the teacher supply store, giddy with anticipation at the prospect of having 24-7 access to my very own package of smelly markers.  They were $10 for the package of 12--totally worth it, considering they're the fulfillment of a lifetime of wishes--but you know my mantra.  Why pay full price if you don't have to (and you very rarely have to)?

So I asked for a discount.  I asked if they had any coupons or specials that I could use for the markers.

And they did!  A text coupon good for 15% off was expiring that day.  And even though my phone can't receive text offers (I don't know why, and I'm really torn up about it), they gave me the discount anyway.  AND gave me a free reusable shopping bag just for trying to sign up.

It never hurts to ask, my friends.  So often, there are offers available, and the cashiers or wait staff or front desk people don't think to offer unless we ask.  So ask.  Always ask.

Want some?  Only $7 on Amazon with free super saver shipping on orders over $25, or sign up for a free 30 day trial of Amazon Prime for free 2 day shipping on thousands of items.
This post contains affiliate links.  Click here for my disclosure.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Oh, the Horror! (turned out to be not so bad)

Monday, I went on a field trip with my oldest son. 

It has been 4 years since I've been able to go on a field trip with him, and believe me friends, when your teenager tells you he wants you to go on a field trip with him, and you are able to go, you go.  Can't be too many more opportunities for that kind of thing on the way.  I mean, do they even go on field trips in high school?

I have a confession to make.  Middle schoolers kind of intimidate me.  OK, middle schoolers do more than "kind of" intimidate me.  They're hormone-crazed.  And have poor impulse control.  And many of them are bigger than me.  And they're loud.  And terribly judgmental.  I mean, they're OK in small groups, but middle schoolers on a large scale?  No need for Halloween scariness--teenagers are scary enough.

So I was kind of scared.  I didn't really want to go.  I mean, I wanted to go, because I wanted to spend time with my baby and support his education and all that, but the middle schoolers!  They were going to be there, too.  In large quantities.  The last time I spent any time with that group, I was thankful to get out alive.  Seriously. It was touch and go there for a while--my survival was in doubt.

But I summoned my courage and bright and early AKD and I set off for school together.

There were hoards of 8th graders everywhere: a huge mass of perpetually moving teenagers with hormone-drenched brains, who kept talking louder and louder, as far as the eye could see.  I felt such compassion for those poor souls who were just trying to have a nice picnic lunch with their loved ones at the beach.  Imagine trying to carve out a peaceful patch of real estate on which to picnic with more than 400 8th graders milling about.

I had a great time, and learned some stuff, too, amazingly enough.  I'm so glad I didn't let my fears determine my path on this day.  And guess what!  Those scary teenagers were actually pretty good kids., just trying to figure out who they're going to be in this world, just wanting to be valued and loved.

And no, I am not going to run out and get my teaching license so I can hang with middle schoolers All. The. Times.  Baby steps, people.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


We're all broken.

I sat with a group of women today and realized (again) that we all have unseen struggles.  I never would have realized, just looking at them, at us.  We look so...together.  Most of us had showered, some even put on make-up, we were all dressed.  We smiled and nodded.

But it's an illusion.  You know, kind of how nothing is really solid because it's made up of atoms, which are made up of mostly empty space with some particles moving around?  An illusion.

We are all broken.  But God, in His mercy, has given us each other.  We were not meant to navigate through this life alone. 

The LORD God said,
"It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion for him...."
Genesis 2:18 (NET Bible)
 What a blessing it is to be able to share our brokenness: our fears, our hurts, our insecurities, our pain, our shortcomings...because in the sharing they become lighter--easier to bear. 

A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated,
but two can stand back-to-back and conquer.
Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NLT)

Have you ever thought of those struggles as attacking and defeating?  This is truth, my friends.  We are under attack and in danger of defeat.  Together, we will not be any of it: fears, hurts, insecurities, pain, shortcomings.  Together we conquer; together we overcome.

We are all broken.  Every. One.  But in the sharing, through grace, we are made whole.

For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.
Matthew 18:20

Love you, sisters.  Thank you.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

*What* was I thinking?

Holymoly, my friends.  What was I thinking?  This is completely the opposite of what I meant when I said that one of my 5 priorities is rest.  Yikes.

Looking over my schedule for the next few days, if I wasn't already tired, I would be tired just looking at it.  I can't even handle my every-day regular schedule, and here all of these extra things have crept stealthily on to my calendar.

Just goes to show, I guess, how easily the busy-ness can sneak up upon a person.  A field trip here, an assignment there, a book fair in the middle...throw added parental responsibilities in, and POW.  Craziness ensues.  It's all good, but it's too much.

Yup, shows how incipient busy-ness can be, and how vigilant we need to be in using priorities to filter possibilities.

Well, after this week--if I survive--I shall once more commence rigorously routing my choices through the filter of my priorities.

Pray for me, people, on both accounts.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Look up

Whew!  Am I tired.  I'm not sure if it's still the getting-into-the-school-routine tiredness or the trying-to-figure-out-who-I-want-to-be tiredness, or the I-should-be-able-to-do-it-all-because-I-have-7- hours-without-kids-each-day attitude that continues to prompt me to actually attempt to do All The Things (that still persists, despite my attempts to convince myself it's a lie), but I am exhausted.  So tired.  Physically, emotionally, you name it, I'm that kind of tired.  Yes, even now, after a full night's sleep, at not even 9 o'clock in the morning.
Why am I so tired?  I mean, so and so works full time, shuttles her children to music lessons and sports, feeds them, helps them with their homework, gets them off to bed, and then straightens up the house.  She doesn't look tired.  Not at all.
That other person, she's going through a divorce.  She's working part time to afford attorney fees, parenting solo, and keeping her kids well-adjusted and happy, and her home spotless.  She doesn't look tired.
Well, and then there's the person who's on multiple committees, even chairs two of them, is painting and redecorating her house in her spare time by herself, and still has time to connect with her children after school every day in between driving them to activities.  She doesn't look tired.
Oh yeah, and what about the person who is president of the PTA, works full time, has 4 kids in activities, AND works out 2 hours a day.  She doesn't look tired at all.
Don't even get me started on moms who homeschool many children of all different ages.  How?
And then there's me.  I don't work (for pay) full time.  I can barely deal with the kids' homework--I fact, there are many nights when a certain child and I are both in tears over it, and I routinely ignore the kindergartner's homework because it doesn't have to be turned in.  The house is...well, OK, but could use a good deep cleaning.  I avoid committees like the plague. I don't have a baby keeping me up nights.  I have hours and hours of kid-free time every week, and all I have to do during that time is keep the house running.
And I am so tired.  What is wrong with me?
Well, I'll tell you what my problem is. 
How many times am I going to have to learn this lesson?
I am not the person who has a full time job, 4 kids in multiple activities, and a perfect house.  I am not the person who is parenting solo.  I am not the person on multiple committees.
I am not them.  I am me.  And I am tired.  And they probably are, too.  But that's irrelevant.  Me being tired means I need to rest more.  It doesn't mean that I am less than.  It doesn't mean I am more than.  It just is.
Look up, my friends.
*And because I know you love me...
Yes, I know that my tiredness could be due to some medical cause, and yes, I will talk to my doctor about it at my annual exam that's coming up in a few weeks.  The tiredness is not the point, my friends.  The point is that I/we/all of us need to be vigilant in looking to God, not others, for our justification.  In every area of life, even this one.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

People pleasing or God-honoring?

I'm a people pleaser. 

By "people pleaser" I mean that I want people to like me.  How about you?  Do you want people to like you?  Sure you do.  We all do.  Humans are social creatures.  We depend on each other, and life is so much easier to navigate when we're liked.

In my life, there is a person that I want to like me.  And so I try to do everything that is expected of me in the context of this relationship.  It's nothing dangerous or immoral or even all that difficult.  The problem is the expectations are mostly unspoken.  And sometimes I don't even realize they're there.

But I try so hard, so very hard, to meet the needs of this person within the context of our relationship.  Because I want him or her to like me.

It all came to a crisis point several months ago, as I was trying so, so hard to meet all of those, mostly unspoken, expectations.  I was doing everything I could to please.  And I thought I was doing well, I really did.  And then I found out I wasn't.  I found out that once again I was falling short in the eyes of this person.

I was devastated.  Devastated.  I shed many heart-wrenching tears that night, and I poured out my heart to God.  Why, God?  Why can I never measure up?  Why do I always fall short?

And that's when I realized that I was never going to measure up in their eyes.  Seriously, how can I measure up, how can I meet their needs, when they won't tell me what they want from me?  And that realization, that I will never measure up, was actually quite freeing.

I thought back over the time we had spent together.   Had I done everything that was asked of me?  Yes, and more.  Had I kept the lines of communication open so that this person could verbalize their needs?  Yes.  Had I done everything I could?  Yes.  Was I an ambassador of God's love and light to this person? Yes.  Were my thoughts, words, and actions God-honoring?  Yes.  Well, at least until I decided to throw myself a pity party because my efforts had, once again, fallen short.

And that's when my second realization came.  I needed to stop trying to please this person and instead seek to please God within the context of our relationship.  I will never measure up in this person's eyes, but he or she is not the one sitting in judgment of me.  It's God's measuring stick that I need to be concerned with. 

I want to encourage you this morning, my friends.  There are probably people in your life to whom you will always be a bit of a disappointment.  There are probably people in your life whose needs you will never quite be able to meet.  I urge you, friends, to switch your focus.  Stop trying to live up to expectations you will never meet; stop trying to please people. Instead focus on pleasing God in the context of that relationship.

Isn't it wonderful, my friends, that we don't have to worry about pleasing people?  Sooo much easier to be God-honoring instead.

I know that my next step is to sit down for a conversation with this person.  I need to respectfully and lovingly tell them that I will be happy to do my best to meet their needs if they will verbalize their expectations.  But it's still so raw, it hurts so much, even these several months later, I don't know if I'm ready for that conversation just yet.  Pray for me, friends, that I will be ready when the time comes, and I'll pray for you.

 We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.
I Thessalonians 2:4b

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