02 June 2020

all lives matter vs. black lives matter

I want to make this personal, and give you a visual. 

I have six kids. Four are white, two are black. All of their lives matter to me. This is an obvious statement coming from their mother, I'm guessing.

But, four of them will never need us to fight for their equality with them. Four of them don't need me to have a conversation about what to do if they encounter a police officer. Like, where to put their hands or to say their names out loud and assure the officer that they aren't carrying any kind of weapon. Or that the pack of skittles in their pocket isn't actually a gun. Four of them don't need constant reassurance that they are valued just as much as their siblings even though their skin is darker than mine and they've heard people talking about how that's a bad thing. Four of them will probably never come home upset because someone used a racial slur or told a stupid white joke about them. Four of them will probably never have to defend innocent behavior like pumping gas at night or driving or walking or running in a white neighborhood. Four of them likely won't be followed around a store to make sure they're staying out of trouble. Four of them won't worry that if they forget their keys and have to climb through a bedroom window in their own home the police could come and arrest them, or worse - shoot them. They won't have to worry that they will "fit a description" of a criminal just because their skin is the same color as someone who committed a crime. They will probably never worry that they will be told that they are in the "wrong neck of the woods" when they're in less diverse areas.

So yes, all of my kids lives matter to me. I would die for each of them. But two of them need to hear it over and over and over and over from me because most of society and all of history is telling them something different.

I'd urge you, if your temptation is to respond to a post or write your own and insist that "all lives matter", to spend some time in conversation with someone that has experienced racism. Or read a book, listen to someone sharing their personal stories online (they're pretty easy to find right now and I am so grateful for that)... be open to hearing why it is so necessary to reassure our black brothers and sisters that their lives matter to us. It doesn't diminish the worth of anyone else's.

07 April 2020

the most delicious caramel corn

Three days into our shelter in place and I was craving caramel corn pretty fiercely. So happy to have all the ingredients I needed, I made a big batch that our family munched on for all of 24 hours. Big family = eat your snacks fast before somebody else snags them.
This recipe is so so good. It's crispy and chewy at the same time, just salty enough, with that deep caramel flavor. It's perfection. Grab your stuff, and get going - this is easy, too!

What you'll need:
1 cup unpopped popcorn
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup dry roasted peanuts (optional)

Pop your popcorn however you prefer. We have an air popper, and it's so quick! One cup of unpopped popcorn fills roasting pan, but I have no idea the actual amount... 8 cups? 10? Put all of the popped popcorn into a big roasting pan or on two baking sheets. Preheat your oven to 250 F.

Time to make the caramel! You're going to combine brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and salt in a saucepan and heat until boiling. Once it begins to boil, reduce heat a bit and then stir constantly for five minutes while it simmers. Remove from heat and add vanilla and baking soda. Give it a good stir and then pour evenly over popcorn. 

Gently stir the popcorn to get a pretty even coating. It won't all be covered at this point and that's ok! Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Every time you stir, you're going to be evening out you're caramel until it's perfectly coated by the end!

If you're adding in peanuts, add them in during your second stirring.

Once your popcorn has baked for 45 minutes total, allow it to cool for a bit before you start to enjoy. Break it apart and put it in your favorite popcorn dish. Store any leftovers in an airtight container. Enjoy!

adapted from allrecipes

25 March 2020

make your own moon sand: the easiest DIY

I have a happy DIY to share today! This will give your kids hours of play time and is great especially for sensory play:
Make your own moon sand!
Here's what you need:
8 cups of all purpose flour
1 cup of vegetable oil
8 drops essential oil
Add your essential oil to your vegetable oil. I love using Peace & Calming, Orange, Lavender, or Gentle Baby to promote all kinds of happy, chill vibes for my little ones.
Add your flour to a plastic bin. Bonus if it has a lid to store for later use! Then just pour the oil over the flour and mix well with your hands. Mixing might take a few minutes, and then you're done! You have moon sand that will last for ages! Add food coloring if you want to make it even more fun!
Grab some fun accessories - cups, cookie cutters, baking molds, measuring spoons... and let your kids go to town! I don't know about you, but I am looking for creative ways to scale down the screen time during this "break", and this simple DIY is such an easy answer to keeping little hands busy and entertained.

We made this one morning and my kids played for hours - from my four year old to my ten year olds, they couldn't get enough!

Happy making, friends!

01 March 2020

make your own elderberry syrup!

I've been making elderberry syrup since we started school last fall - studies are starting to show that is super effective in warding off all the gross stuff we encounter out and about. And especially with six kids coming and going from school, we want to be totally armed and ready.

Making it is super easy, which is always nice. You can infuse the syrup with dried spices, but I have found it's just as easy and effective to use my Vitality oils from Young Living! They're 100% pure, non-GMO, and safe for ingestion in the right quantities. I am excited to share my favorite recipe with you and hope you'll find this a happy addition to your immunity boosting arsenal!

Here's what you need:
1.5 cups dried elderberries (we use these)
6 cups water
2 drops Clove Vitality oil or 2 teaspoons dried cloves
2 drops Cinnamon Bark Vitality oil or 2 teaspoons dried cinnamon
1 drop Ginger Vitality or 1 teaspoon dried ginger
3 drops Thieves Vitality*
2 cups raw honey (we love this)

Add water and elderberries to a stockpot. If you're using dried spices, add them now. If you're using oils, wait. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and let it simmer for about 45 minutes, until the liquid has reduced by about half. 

Remove from heat and allow to cool down a bit, but not completely. Once it's cooled down, pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl or large jar. Push the berries down with a spatula to get all moisture out and then discard.

Combine honey and Vitality oils. Pour into the elderberry mixture to combine and stir well. Voila! You can store your homemade elderberry syrup in the fridge for up to two months. Each of us use a teaspoon every morning before we head out for the day. 

If you don't think you'll go through as much as we do, feel free to halve the recipe! A pound of elderberries makes about three big batches.

Stay well, friends!

Interested in grabbing your own Vitality oils? You can grab them here!

30 October 2019

caramel apple upside down cake

Fall is in the air here - the mornings are cool and frosty, the sun is shining bright, leaves are crunching under our feet wherever we go. Not to sound too basic, but my heart couldn't be happier this time of year. Fall weather calls for fall baking, and our family loves apples. I think I must buy five pounds a week, and the kids go through them like crazy.

I grabbed a bag of Granny Smiths and decided to create a caramel apple cake, because it just seemed like the right thing to do at the time. The whole family ate it up as soon as it was served, not a crumb left in sight. My nine year old told me the next one should probably be bigger, but I'm pretty sure we all got an adequate serving.

Here's what you need:
for the topping
2 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt

for the cake ***
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs 
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Melt the 1/4 cup of butter in a skillet. Add in brown sugar, cinnamon and salt, and whisk until melted. Remove from heat and arrange apples evenly in the butter/sugar mixture. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350.
In a mixer, beat together the remaining butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in eggs, one at a time, and beat them into the mixture well. Mix in the vanilla. 

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt, and whisk with a fork to combine.

Slowly pour your flour mixture into your butter mixture and mix on low until just combined. Pour batter evenly into your skillet, carefully covering your apples. Use a spatula to spread evenly.

Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes. Check for doneness with a knife or toothpick. Bake until just set.

Remove from the oven and let cool a bit. Once the pan isn't too hot to the touch, carefully cover it with a platter or large plate and gently flip over to transfer the cake.

Voila! You're ready to enjoy! Delicious on its own or with a little whipped cream. Makes eight (generous) servings.


*** if you live near Trader Joe's and want to save some time, grab a box of their Vanilla Bean Cake Mix and use that instead. It's dreamy!