Monday, January 26, 2015

top of the morning

A couple weeks ago I was looking through my cookbook shelf and found an old magazine that I bought last summer. It's the Cooking Light "Food Lover's Gluten-Free Cookbook", and there are are a ton of great recipes inside. I decided to try the "Top of the Morning Muffins" to change up my breakfast routine and was so glad I did. These are really good and worth the effort of homemade muffins!

Top of the Morning Muffins
adapted slightly from Cooking Light Magazine

1 3/4 cup gluten-free flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup shredded carrot
1/3 cup flaked sweetened coconut
1/4 raisins
cooking spray
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350. Combine flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and nutmeg in a medium bowl and stir to combine. In a separate bowl combine butter and sugars. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in applesauce. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in carrot, coconut, and raisins. Line a muffin pan with paper liners and coat with cooking spray. Spoon batter into prepared cups, and sprinkle with walnuts. Bake for 25 minutes at 350. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan. Enjoy!

If you're not gluten-free like me, I think these would work equally well with all-purpose flour and no xanthan gum.

 They look as good as they taste! Mine came out looking exactly like this photo from the magazine.

Hope you'll give these a try! Happy Monday!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Photo Friday!

Flashback to last year at this time and we were enjoying a bunch of snow and our little hill out back.  Today, we had flurries but we haven't seen much in terms of inches of snow yet this winter.  Hoping for a few inches this weekend so we can play!
xo Dana

Last weekend Rob and I tried a new local brewery called Molly Pitcher Brewing Co. I'm going to try to put together an actual blog post on this for next week (fingers crossed!) because if you're from the Carlisle area you'll not only recognize the icon on the glass, but want to try this teeny hang-out out, fast! Hope you've had a great week & here's to a relaxing weekend. :) xoCarrie

 The other night before bed we read one of my favorite children's books, "Where the Wild Things Are." Naturally we had to pause for our own wild rumpus in the middle! Thanks for reading this week and hope you have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


Here's a bit of what we've been up to lately if you'd like to see...

 Staying home and drinking lots of hot drinks to keep us warm and well.

 Sommer loves to be behind the camera!  It is always so amusing to look back through my pictures to see her perspective on life.

 I've been eating a big mixed greens salad for lunch everyday and it has been so refreshing!  I mix greens with red beans, quinoa, yellow and green peppers and Trader Joe's Goddess Dressing -- so delish!

 Sommer has been going through a huge book-loving stage lately!  She has always enjoyed reading books but in the last few weeks she has really started wanting to read to herself or to her babies.  It really is the sweetest thing to find her fast asleep in a pile of books or sitting in bed surrounded by babies while she reads to them.  My coworker even caught her reading to her dolls in the children's area at the Y this week!  It brings me so much joy to see her love books so much!

 Here she insisted on putting me in bed and reading to me story-time style! :)

 Sommer got some new Calico Critters for Christmas and they have been fun for the whole family!  We had them all set up for a hoppin' picnic/party on the pizza pan. ;o)
Aren't those hedgehogs just the cutest things ever?!  They actually came with tiny combs and brushes so we can keep their wild manes tame!

Snack dinner and family movie night has been in full swing for about 3 weeks now and it has been a success!

Monday, January 19, 2015


"Gather:  to come together; bring together and take in from scattered places." 
Merriam-Webster Dictionary

I love that:  "take in from scattered places." One of my goals for 2015 is to gather. The best lesson I took away from the past year was learning that for me, gathering my family and friends around a table with food and drink and maybe a deck of cards is really important to my happiness and my ability to focus on the present (enjoy the moment - another one of my goals for 2015!). I like to cook for people, I like to hear people's stories, I like to see people smile. Gather

Last year I read a book called "Bread and Wine" by Shauna Niequist. In her last chapter called "Come to the Table" she writes,

"This is what I want you to do:  I want you to tell someone you love them, and dinner's at six. I want you to throw open your front door and welcome the people you love into the inevitable mess with hugs and laughter. I want you to light a burner on the stove, to chop and stir and season with love and abandon. Begin with an onion and a drizzle of olive oil, and go from there, any one of a million different places, any one of a million different meals.
Gather the people you love around your table and feed them with love and honesty and creativity. Feed them with your hands and the flavors and smells that remind you of home and beauty and the best stories you've ever heard, the best stories you've ever lived."

Did you see it? Gather. That word kept coming back to me, and so I took it to heart.

I made soup and invited people over to share. I contacted friends and met them for coffee. I started meeting up with another preschool mom once a week to walk a beautiful wooded trail in town. Will and I joined a small group at our new church and we met to share a meal and encouragement. We invited friends for dinner. I made chicken pot pie and took it to my sister-in-law's house to hang out with her and her crew. I invited Will's family over for Christmas Day. 

And you know something? It was a total stretch for me to reach out every. single. time. I'm not usually the one making plans. I'm usually the one who waits for other people to reach out to me and then I go along for the ride. But I realized that if I felt nervous about it, maybe other people did, too. And if I wanted to build a sense of community and deeper friendships, I was going to have to be the one to suggest the plans. So I sucked up all my insecurities and pushed aside my wishes for perfection (people really don't notice the dust...or if they do, they don't tell you!), and I invited and inquired and you know what? People said yes. They came over and we ate and we talked and we had fun and I didn't care about what didn't get cleaned or what might have been a little overcooked. Or we met at a coffee shop and we sipped tea and lattes and we talked and we had fun and I didn't care that I was still in my workout clothes or that I just realized that a small person had wiped their nose all over the shoulder of my sweatshirt. Gather.

With the practice I got last year, I'm feeling ever so slightly more confident for my plans to gather in 2015. I started the year by planning a monthly "Family Night" for Will's family. As many of them as are able will come to our house for pizza and games this weekend. Will's cousins and I had been going out for "girl cousin dinners" whenever we could make it happen. This year we're setting a specific monthly night to pick a different restaurant in the city to eat and drink and catch up on life. In addition to our monthly small group meetings, we're going to start a girls/guys night where we split up the couples for poker or movies or talking. We really love our new friends and are hoping to spend more time with them. I'm keeping up with my coffee dates and have a long list of people to call and invite for dinner. When someone at church emailed us about opportunities to serve, instead of getting the information via email, I invited her and her family to come to our house and tell us over dinner. Gather.

The great thing about getting together is that you don't have to be good at it. You don't have to cook a fancy meal or get every bit of dirt off your dark hardwood floors that are beautiful but show every single speck of dust. You don't have to have enough wine glasses (juice glasses work just fine) or use your best china. It's absolutely fine to invite people over and order pizza. If you want to make a salad, cool. If not, that's cool, too. And it's also ok to ask your guests to bring something. Share the cooking responsibilities. If someone offers to bring a salad or dessert or wine, say sure! You can even go out for dinner! Gather at a restaurant! Genius! The important thing is the gathering, not the details. So if you've thought about inviting people over but think it's just too hard, or if you've been meaning to get in touch with someone but think you don't have time, or if you really want to make some new friends but are nervous about reaching out, I'm telling you right now to go for it. Just do it. If you're like me - someone who practically got hives at the thought of cooking for other people and inviting them into our messy but well-loved and lived-in home - take heart. If I can do it, you can, too. Eat, drink, and be merry. Gather!

Just one more thing before I go:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” 
“Faith is taking the first step even when you can't see the whole staircase.” 
-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Photo Friday!

I pulled this picture out of the woodwork because 1) I love it and 2) my computer won't upload any new images! Regardless, you guys, I am exhausted this week and so happy that it's the weekend. Here's to a quiet couple of days with a little less to do than usual! Thanks for reading.

Happy Weekend!  
I am so happy to see Friday come around again.  It has been a long, cold and under-the-weather week around here; perfect for snuggles on the couch, hot cocoa and selfies with my girl.  I hope you have a wonderful weekend!  I'll be working a lot of Saturday so I fully intend to completely enjoy my one day off on Sunday!
xo Dana 

 You guys! It snowed! Not much, and it was gone by early afternoon, but this is where the kids sat forever this morning looking out at our snow-dusted woods. With a two-hour-delay, a hot cup of coffee (I've been adding a little half-and-half, a little maple syrup, and some cinnamon lately) and a warm "top of the morning" muffin (recipe coming soon!), it was the perfect morning to sit and stare. Happy Weekend to you!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

New Books

We are lucky to have so many family members who care so much about Sommer's library and so every Christmas and birthday we can expect to get an abundance of books to add to our collection.  Here are a few of our favorites that we recently received...

 I think this is our favorite, favorite one.  It is so great, I definitely recommend checking it out if you can!

 Silly Suzy Goose is also one of my faves.  It is fun and quick and filled with animals which we love around here. :)

 Matt's parents gifted Sommer with a subscription to High Five magazine and this is our second issue. I never imagined how much Sommer would love getting the magazine in the mail!  She is also always excited about the "Find the Silly Things" page.

 We picked this book up for Sommer at the recommendation of some other bloggers that I follow.  It is exciting and definitely a fun read for kiddos.

 In one of my last book posts, I told you guys about how much we love the Bear books.  My Aunt then sent Sommer a bunch of these for her birthday!  There are several more that are camped out in our car at the moment but we love reading these ones all the time!

The great thing is that these are not all the books that she received!  But, she has been such a bookwork lately that I think she has been hiding a few of our other favorites away.  Sommer has recently started requesting time to read to her babies before she takes a nap or goes to bed and it is quite possibly the sweetest thing ever.  She also requests that we read books "story-time style" - kind of like in the above picture where one of us sits in a chair or on the bed and the other on the floor.  Then we read to each other and show the pictures like our librarian does.  I am so thankful that she loves to read! 
Have you come across any great books lately?

Monday, January 12, 2015

according to my camera

With the first full week of 2015 behind us, I'm wondering:  How are you doing with your resolutions/aspirations/goals for the new year? I know we're only 12 days in but I feel like it's easy to fall off the wagon right off the bat. I'm doing pretty well with mine so far although they're not all things that I'll do every single day. One of the big things I'm focusing on this year is how I spend my time. Am I enjoying the present moments/hours/days or am I worrying about things that happened in the past or things that may or may not happen in the future? I'm pretty great at thinking about tough days gone by or frustrating/nerve-wracking/scary/unknown days ahead and not so great at making things better today, right now, in the only moment that I can actually do something about. In 2015, I hope to switch my focus from the "what-if" to the "right now." Wish me luck!

Today, in an attempt to focus on the small wonders of my days, I thought I'd share the most recent photos from my camera, if you'd like to see.

Cousins at Christmas
 On Christmas Day we hosted Will's family at our house which I've been wanting to do forever. We loved having everyone here, cooking for a crowd, and having all the cousins together. We love having Grayson and the triplets close by now! From the left in the photo, that's Charlie, Grayson, Sydney, Annabel, Isla, and Tommy.

 I always love going home and seeing my parent's beautiful Christmas tree. It brings back so many magical memories of past years, not to mention a million hilarious memories of trees falling over, lights mysteriously going out, trees so tall that they scraped the ceiling, and ridiculous amounts of time trying to get the massive trees into the tiny tree stands. My dad seriously deserves a medal for "Most Time Spent Wrestling/Fixing/Standing Up/Tying Down/Lighting Up/Repainting After a Christmas Tree."

 Cute cousins warming up on the heater at Mimi and Pa's house.

 Tommy got a great gift from Dani this year - a hot chocolate kit! He got a new mug, two boxes of hot chocolate, a bag of marshmallows, and a yummy chocolate/marshmallow stir stick. He loved it! And he also got an awesome new haircut from our good friend, Miss Sarah!

Annabel got her hair cut, too! Bangs! 

 For Christmas, Will and I gave Tommy a book called The Dangerous Book for Boys by Hal Iggulden. It shows you how to make "The Greatest Paper Airplane in the World" and a bunch of other cool stuff.

 We've had some great, cold sunrises around here lately. 

 With all the downright cold days we've had over the last week, Annabel has been setting up shop right next to the heating vent in the kitchen while I make dinner.

 Sleepy girl after preschool.

 A sweet little note that my girl "wrote" to her cousin the other day.

 Love starting my day with this beautiful view.

 In line with my 2015 aspiration to "organize" I got going with this little corner in our family room. Now I can find all of my yarn and needles and notebooks whenever I need them.

And lastly, this one was taken just yesterday. After church and breakfast at our favorite little restaurant in the village, Annabel and I warmed up by the fire with puzzles and knitting while the boys headed upstairs to play a level or two of their new Lego Batman game. 

Hope you're enjoying these first weeks of the new year and taking advantage of your time. Wishing you a lovely week!