A Simple Kind of Life

It is SO easy to get caught up in the not-so-simple ways of the world. I fall victim to it, myself. I’ve only had a “smart phone” for maybe a year and a half. It’s been life-changing. In good and bad ways. I can easily and quickly snap pictures of my beautiful children that my previous phones would not allow me to do (so easily). But I can also find myself with my nose in my phone, missing out on the very moments for which I should be emotionally (not just physically) present. I vow to change this. I want my boys to remember me present. And I WANT to be with them.

Although it should be a “no, duh!!” (I’m a 90’s kid, what!), I’d love to make it a priority to have fibers from The Simple Life woven into every day. We have a very busy life, but if I can find a way to slow down, even if for a minute, and show my boys the simple pleasures in life, I feel we can live so much more of an enriched life.

“To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter… to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring – these are some of the rewards of the simple life. ” – John Burroughs

A bike ride, playing on the playground, drawing with sidewalk chalk, making muffins with Mommy, scavenger hunts, gardening with Daddy (Mommy has a brown thumb), trips to the library. I need to slow down. For my kids’ sake.

The other night, we went to our neighbor’s house to chat. We adore these neighbors. They were our first friends in this neighborhood and have remained our best of the bunch. They are older than us (which we love) and treat us like family. And the boys adore them. As do we. They have a beautiful and magical yard (they spend lots of time outside and cultivating their it). And they have grapefruit trees and herbs. It’s awesome. The boys enjoy learning about all of those things.

Baby Running

Smalls is holding a grapefruit and running in this picture.

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Here is Bigs picking a grapefruit.

Grapefruit Tree

I love living in a neighborhood where citrus trees grow rampant.

Digging Around

The boys love going in their bushes and planters.

Herbs

Look at these fantastic herbs they have. Aren’t they lush and gorgeous?

Mint

I only wish my own backyard looked like this!

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In addition to taking home grapefruits, I took home a bundle of fresh “neighbor” herbs: two kinds of mint, chives, parsley, rosemary, and dill. Just lovely.

Ahhh, the simple things.

25 “Slow down. Take a deep breath. What’s the hurry? Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway?” – Jeremiah 2:25 (The Message)

Speaking of which, since it IS the weekend, I made a simple dessert for you (for me).

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Chocolate Devil Bars

Makes 16 bars (or less, depending on how much you eat in one sitting)

Adapted from:

http://www.ilovemydisorganizedlife.com/2013/11/peanut-butter-gooey-bars-25-days-of/

  • 1 C peanut butter (or 3/4 C peanut butter + 1/4 C Biscoff, as I did)
  • 1/2 C butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 package Devil’s Food cake mix
  • 1 C semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 13ish oz can of dulce de leche
  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Combine the first four ingredients in a bowl.
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  • Press half of the mix in a lightly greased 8×8 baking dish.
  • Bake for 10 minutes.
  • Layer the chocolate chips, followed by the dulce de leche (I put spoonfuls down).
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  • Pat down the remaining cake mix.
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  • Bake for 30 minutes.
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  • Once cooled, cut into squares. It came out gooey for me. Which I love.

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It was tasty. And quite rich.

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I froze some to give to my Mom and Dad and also sent some across the street to our lovely neighbors.

I hope YOU enjoy them if you make them! As you can see (if you click the link to the original recipe), I made changes to almost every main ingredient, so this recipe is quite customizable to both your tastes and what you have on hand (as it turned out for me).

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

The grass certainly isn’t always greener on the other side. Enjoying what God’s given us and opening our eyes to what we actually have is life-changing. In the best way.

Here’s a great post (Daily Hope) by Rick Warren about the Bible’s take on slowing down and enjoying life.

http://purposedriven.com/blogs/dailyhope/index.html?contentid=4971

Here’s to doing just that – slowing down, putting technology aside (for the moments that count, the moments WITH our children), and enjoying this beautiful life God’s gifted us.

Blessings,

Kristin

Spin Spin Sugar

pinkmakesmehappy

Life is a bit like a carnival, isn’t it? There are rides – some wonderful and fun, and some that make you feel sick and you never want to go on again. There are weirdos and really nice people. There is delicious food.

And those days where you are on that roller coaster ride you never wanted to be on…

Those are the days that you just have to find or create your own happiness. This week is full of those days for me. I’ll spare you the details, but my husband’s had some health issues. Not only are we naturally worried for him, but he is so very missed here at home, while he is in hospital (I’m saying it like the Brits, don’t I sound fancy? If you know me from WAY back, you know I’ve been an Anglophile since before it was trendy.). RUN ON…anyways. The boys and I miss him a lot. I’ve been keeping their schedules as per the normal so that they don’t feel too weird.

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These Cotton Candy Bars are a piece of happiness. Although I didn’t consume them today, sharing them with you makes me happy. These were really easy to make and pretty fun. They were pretty rich…which makes them easier to share with friends! 🙂

Here is the recipe:

http://www.duncanhines.com/recipes/cookies-bars/hayleyparker08/cotton-candy-bars/

Fiercly eating cotton candy

Look at this amazing picture! Such concentration and fierceness! This picture makes me so happy. I don’t know them, but they make me happy.

Cotton candy has been, for me, a source of happiness, both in thought and, especially, in person. It was always my favorite “candy” growing up. I wasn’t, obviously, allowed to have it all the time. It was always a special occasion – a fair, a fall festival, something that only came around every once in a while. And that is why, when I think of it, I smile. It is associated with a fun, special time.

SimpleVintage Cotton Candy

You can do more with cotton candy than just eat it, although that’s the way I prefer it. Last New Year’s Eve, I tried a Pinterest thing, where you put it in a champagne glass and pour champagne over it. It wasn’t exactly like the picture and was sort of gritty, but it was cute(ish).

The recipe above calls for the cotton candy Frosting Creations packet, but you can actually use real cotton candy in some recipes. Or you can use flavored oil. I have some of this:

http://www.amazon.com/Lorann-Candy-Flavoring-Cotton-Flavor/dp/B000FRXI66

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Isn’t this just beautiful?

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This just makes me happy. I’m creating my own happiness in this.

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I feel like EATING cotton candy. 😀

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“Cotton Candy Cosmos” – just that name alone makes me happy.

You know what else has helped me create happiness in this struggle? One of my favorite Bible verses.

Be still and know that I am God. – Psalm 46:10

God has been putting that verse in my heart throughout this process, and it has considerably calmed down my anxieties and stresses. HE is in control. How can I argue that?!

I hope that in your own struggles, you can find some comfort and peace in God or happiness in your own way…or in cotton candy. ❤

Today, I am so very grateful for my family, my husband’s family and my friends, who have sent prayers, wishes, hugs, texts, phone calls and offers for help with EVERYTHING. I am so grateful to have all of you in my life, caring for us the way you do. Thank you. I love you all.

Sticky sweet, spun sugar wishes,

Kristin

Pizza Party Friday!

Pizza Party

Remember pizza parties in school? Do they still have those? They were so fun! I could wear this:

Let's go get pizza

Don’t the words “Pizza Party!” just conjure up the most wonderful thoughts? Something to always look forward to in school. That and show-and-tell. And, obviously, on a more mundane, but absolutely necessary, level, lunch! My mom would pack mine. She would put sweet notes (and on the notes, she’d sign “Mom” and draw a happy face and curly hair on the “o” and I loved it.) in them and sometimes, little surprises. One time, she packed me space ice cream. SPACE ICE CREAM. How cool is that? Sidetrack! So, back to pizza. I think pizza is something to always look forward to. Like those surprise lunch notes and desserts I had. Sorry you didn’t get them. You’d have liked them. But you can enjoy pizza any time you want!

I love pizza

While I ADORE pizza from pizza restaurants (Pizza Hut is my favorite because the crust is so crunchy and almost caramelized from the butter…how could I not like that?! I also ate almost a whole Pizza Hut pizza by myself as I labored at home with my second son and I like to think it put me into labor. I also like pizza buffets because…yards and yards of pizza.), it’s fun to make pizza at home, too. I have a go-to recipe for a whole-wheat dough. It’s very easy and a delicious way to get my kids to enjoy whole wheat. I’ve also used it to make calzones and pizza pockets. I used to use the whole wheat and white fresh dough from our grocery store. That always came out tasty, but since finding this recipe for the WW dough, it’s so easy to make my own…even easier than driving to the store to buy prepared fresh dough.

Cheeseburger PizzaCheeseburger Pizza

Oven Pizza

Cheese Pizza

Grilled Pizza

Grilled pizza – the left one has figs, garlic and honey & the right is fresh bell pepper, prosciutto, mozzarella cheese and red sauce.

Ham and Pineapple Pizza

Ham & Cheese Pizza

Here is the recipe I use for my WW pizza:

http://vegetarian.about.com/od/vegetarianpizzarecipes/r/wheatcrust.htm

The only thing I do differently is use coconut oil in place of vegetable oil. I also use my locally harvested honey instead of sugar.

And when I think of Pizza Fridays (I make a pizza most Friday nights for my family), I also think of something sweet to end the week. Because also I’m always thinking of something sweet. And chocolate chip cookies come to mind. They sort of go with pizza. So does cake, like the food of kid birthday parties past. But then, cake goes with anything. Focus, Kris. Focus.

Let’s get ready to cruuuuumblllllle!

I LOVE chocolate chip cookies and am always looking for new and exciting recipes of such to try! I have two kinds of bars that are sort of chocolate chip cookie-ish in flavor, but different.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

The first is what Averie, from http://www.averiecooks.com/, calls Chocolate Chunk Cookie Sticks. The only change I made to her recipe was the shape of chocolate (chips vs. chunks) and the way I cut them (bars vs. sticks). They were SOOOOO good. Here is the recipe:

http://www.averiecooks.com/2013/06/chocolate-chunk-cookie-sticks.html

I could eat those until I pop. I’m pretty sure I did pop, the last time I ate them. And I didn’t mind.

The second recipe that I think would go deliciously after pizza is a Halfway Cookie. It’s more like a bar. And a cookie. And cake. It’s all those wonderful things wrapped into one. Have you heard of these? My neighbor, who is a Grandmother and a dear friend, shared her Mom’s recipe with me ages ago for these. And I’ve also found them on the web. I have found them to be very similar to Mud Hen Bars, with the exception of marshmallows. These do not have marshmallows. And let me tell youuu, they are DELICIOUS.

Halfway Bars

They have a layer of cookie as the crust (sort of like chocolate chip cookies without the chips), followed by a boat load of chocolate chips and topped with a baked meringue. Amazing. Please try them. It’s a very old recipe. And old is good. In most cases.

http://www.cookiemadness.net/2010/08/halfway-cookies/

Let me know if you make a pizza with that dough recipe! It’s so quick and fail-proof and delicious. And if you don’t, I’ll give you a pizza my mind! Just kidding. I won’t. But do try it. And enjoy! And please make some of these chocolate chip variations!

Have a wonderful Friday,

Kristin