Thursday, January 31, 2013

recipe: easy banana bread

Here (finally) is the recipe for banana bread that I talked about weeks ago. It's so easy to make, really quick, and my husband loves it.  I make it gluten-free by substituting some gluten-free all-purpose flour that I found at a local health food store (Mama Jean's, for you other Springfieldians).

Here's what you need:

4-5 overly ripe bananas
1 stick of butter, melted
1  1/2 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
dash of salt

Instructions: Preheat the oven to 325 F.  Mash bananas in a large mixing bowl, and add melted butter, mixing thoroughly. Stir in sugar, egg, and vanilla. Once blended, mix in the baking soda, salt, and flour.

Pour into a 1.5 quart baking dish and bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes. Once a toothpick placed in the middle comes out clean, it's finished!

(Note: you can bake in a loaf pan, or other size baking dish, but you might have to adjust the baking time/temp. I don't have a loaf pan, so I use the corningware pictured below.)

Let it cool, then slice and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Life this week: homebody

This has been a pretty uneventful week. Aside from work, we didn't get out much except to go to dinner Saturday evening with Tyler's mom, sister, and niece. We've both had to use some sick days, and in the days leading up to my feverish battle with illness on Monday (that's still hanging around today, even though I'm at work, infecting the masses), I had a major case of the lazies. So here are a few scenes from our little life the past few days.

I'm loving this book. The last novel I read about death was Faulkner's As I Lay Dying years ago.
I couldn't even finish it because I was starting to get depressed. I thought the same 
might be the case with Tinkers, (especially since I've had two grandfathers, my father, 
an uncle, and several family friends pass away the past couple years) but it's so 
beautiful that I can't put it down. 

I have a new blogging assistant. :) Tyler bought this tiny little 
Ariel for me. She's my favorite! I was so obsessed with The Little

Mermaid when I was a kid.

I taught myself to knit Friday afternoon. I'm DEFINITELY an amateur, so 
don't look too closely. This was my first go at it, so there are a ton of 
mistakes, but I'm pretty proud that I figured it out so quickly. Once I get a 
little better, I'm going to start a scarf--I already have the chunky yarn!

Obsessed with these polka-dot tights. I've had them forever, but forgot
about them. I decided to wear them out to dinner with Tyler's fam.

Brylee cracks me up. She has such a great imagination. I love being
 "Aunt Jessica" to this cutie pie.

I went on the hunt for some culinary lavender over the weekend. It's
one of my favorite scents/flavors, (I adore lavender fudge!) and I had 
a craving for it. I let some buds steep with my Earl Grey tea, and it was
 absolutely amazing.  I definitely recommend it if you can find some!
New obsession.

Monday, January 28, 2013

music monday: matthew mayfield

Whoa. That is a lot of m's. It's a lot of awesome, too. Early on in our dating relationship--and prior to it, actually--Tyler and I sent each other mix cds via snail mail. We learned a lot about each other, and about our shared musical tastes. One of the artists we had in common was Matthew Mayfield. He's not super well-known, so it was a pleasant surprise to both of us.

We recently went to our first concert together, and he was one of the opening acts. He's super talented, super nice, and his voice sounds like he's been smoking and drinking whiskey for about 25 years. We're big fans. Here are a couple of our favorite songs:

"Fire Escape"

"Grow Old with You"

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Around Town: The Aviary

I'm going to start doing some features of places around our sweet little town. One of my very favorites (and one that I've begun to miss terribly since this gluten-free fiasco) is the Aviary. Everything I've tried there has been absolutely delicious. I've developed a serious love for savory crepes. My favorite is the Is it Morning? with cheesy polenta & a cup of Earl Grey.  If you're ever in Springfield, stop in. It's at the corner of Jefferson and Walnut downtown.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

52 lists: proud

Here's another lists for the 52 Lists series inspired by Moorea Seal! This week's prompt is "List the things you should be proud of." This was a tough one for me, and I definitely procrastinated in writing this post.I was tempted to contract this out to one of my friends or family members, because they are such great cheerleaders for me, and I knew they wouldn't have half the difficulty I did. I don't know why it was so hard to come up with these; I kept thinking as I was writing that it would be so much easier to come up with things I need to improve on. I think that's a little sad, because even though I haven't gotten this whole life thing nailed quite yet, I've done a lot of things right (including surrounding myself with those supportive people I mentioned earlier!).

So here it is: the list of things I should be (and am!) proud of.

What are the things you're proud of? Do you find it more difficult to come up with these than things you need to improve on?

Friday, January 25, 2013

recipe: quick & easy pesto pasta

My pesto pasta is a super-easy dinner that I made up in college, and my husband absolutely loves it. Most people I've made it for really seem to enjoy it, so I thought I'd share the recipe. Here's what you need:

~2 Tbsp olive oil
~2Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 package of your favorite pasta (I use penne or farfalle)
1 package baby bella or white mushrooms
1/4 cup pine nuts
4 oz sun-dried tomatoes
2.5 oz sliced olives (they were out of these, so I just bought a regular can and sliced them myself. I used about 1/3 of the can)
1 8oz jar Classico pesto sauce

Begin by heating water in a large pot to a rolling boil. Add a dash of salt, and cook pasta until al dente--about 10 minutes for regular pasta (gluten-free usually has a shorter cook time.) Once it's finished, drain, and return to the pot. 

While you're waiting for the water to boil, slice the mushrooms. If you buy them pre-sliced, you can skip this step.

Pour the olive oil  into a frying pan on medium heat, and add mushrooms. Pour in the balsamic vinegar, and stir, making sure the mushrooms are evenly coated. {Note: the 2Tbsps listed in the ingredients is an estimate; I usually just eyeball it. You will want enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. The balsamic vinegar can be adjusted--or left out--depending on your taste preferences. Too much will overwhelm the pesto.}

While keeping an eye on the mushrooms, and stirring as needed, dice the sundried tomatoes (and slice the olives, if you couldn't find pre-sliced ones. If this is the case, though, make sure you slice the olives first. As you can tell, the sundried tomatoes--at least the brand I buy--come in oil and are messy!)

After the mushrooms are cooked, reduce the heat to the lowest setting and add the sundried tomatoes and olives. Stir well so the flavors start to blend together.

Lightly roast the pine nuts in the oven at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Set a timer for these guys because they're easy to forget and burn quickly! Once they're finished, set aside. Drain any excess oil from the mushroom/tomato/olive mixture and add to pasta. Add the pine nuts and pesto sauce and stir well.

Ta da!


1) Fresher is always better. Yes, this would taste even better with homemade pesto with fresh basil. This is just the quick & easy version--although I draw the line at canned mushrooms. Gross. :)

2) Try new ingredients and make this your own! If you don't like olives, leave them out. If you want to add in chicken for some protein, do it (it's good!). I developed this in stages, adding things as I went along. It literally started out as plain pasta and pesto sauce--nothing else. Pure experimentation has made it into one of our favorite dishes.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

day out: antiques + red lobster

I had another day out with my sweet husband last Friday! I love these days. This week, he has both tomorrow AND Saturday off, which is pretty unheard of around here. SO excited. Anyway, last week, we headed into town (and yes, to Target. Twice. But I spent less than $10. A sad, sad, miracle.)

Please ignore the weird sun/shadows that make me look like I have a
tragic skin condition and bleached my husbands's shirt all stripey.

I'm about to Tarantino this thing, because the best part of the day--in my opinion, anyway--happened toward the beginning, and I'm going to save the best for last. What I'm about to tell you capped off our evening. We ended up going to Red Lobster, because Tyler's dad had given him a couple gift cards for his birthday. Now, let me just say that what happened next is 100% my fault, and I take complete responsibility for it. I hate seafood. The texture, the taste, the SMELL.  Tyler's dad actually called and asked me if he could get him the gift cards, because we had joked about my aversion, and he wanted to make sure I would go with him. I've been to Red Lobster maybe three times in my life; I've never loved it, but hey, they have chicken and steak. So of course I'll go with him. My poor husband never gets to have seafood and he loves it.

So, the smell has me a little queasy, but it's actually one of the less potent Red Lobsters I've been to. I ordered a steak and Tyler got crab legs. Now, I have had a bad experience with people ordering crab legs around me in the past--it made me so sick that I went home and threw up, but that was in high school, and I figured I'd be fine. I just wouldn't think about the fact that those things come looking pretty much exactly like they did when they were alive or that the cracking makes me envision bones breaking. I mean, this is Tyler's birthday present, so he is going to order whatever he wants and loves, and I'm going to pretend it isn't happening and eat my very dead, very non-cow-resembling steak without saying a word.

Then his crab legs come, and that seafood smell is like a fog over our table. Hi, nausea and mouth-breathing. And then the cracking begins. I have had about three bites of steak, two bites of mashed potatoes, and I'm just playing with my food, trying not to think about what's going down across the table. Tyler has no idea this is going on until he looks up at me--apparently I have no color left in my face and I look like I'm "about to puke."  BUT I DIDN'T, which I am very proud of, by the way. I stuck it out, you guys. The whole meal.

Tyler felt bad, which made me feel horrible, but I finally convinced him that it was totally my issue, and that I chose to go there with him and not say anything about his meal. I wish my discomfort wouldn't have been so obvious, but I have no poker face. I don't think Tyler will be taking me to Red Lobster again any time soon, though.

 (Don't you dare feel sorry for me, though. Feel sorry for my husband. Those three bites of  perfectly cooked, medium-rare, free steak? Heavenly delicious. And hey, I had leftovers for lunch yesterday.)


Image: Funtiques

For my favorite part of the day--we (finally) went to Funtiques! We just never get up to Commercial Street when we're out, but they've moved to Jefferson, so we stopped in. Tyler actually made the executive decision to go--I honestly was a little hesitant, because I've looked at their website for furniture, and most of it is amazing, but out of my price range at this point. So I was afraid I was going to go in, fall in love with something, not be able to buy it, and be heartbroken.

Oh, I was so, so gloriously wrong. This is the closest thing to my favorite antique store (a place in Cape Girardeau called Annie Laurie's) that I've found in Springfield. Like that place, Funtiques doesn't have booths for different vendors (that are always hit-or-miss), but instead has hand-picked items that are pretty much all incredible. Sometimes I like booth-style antique stores (Relics is pretty incredible), but they're always a pretty big time-commitment; if I don't have half a day to kill, I feel rushed and get frustrated. We stopped in Funtiques and came away with some fantastic treasures. I will definitely be back....frequently.

We found this awesome metal letter for our wall. I'm dying to redecorate.

Love love love these word blocks! There were a ton, and I spent probably 30 minutes just going through them.

Another word block!

I have been looking all over for a wire basket like this one. So excited! And that little bunny was the first thing I picked up in the store. He matches my unicorn bank exactly, and he was so sweet. A total steal at $6.50.

They also had these tiny porcelain letters, 4 for $1. Lucky our last name is exactly 8 letters long. :)
**I actually got a couple more things, too, but one I bought to send to Sarah, and I don't want to ruin the surprise! Another will be part of another outfit post, hopefully soon!

Monday, January 21, 2013

music monday: ellie goulding

This Music Monday is brought to you by my husband, who ran across this video one morning at 3 am. I was sick on the couch; he sat up with me and would watch youtube videos when I would drift off. He showed me this acoustic version of "Anything Could Happen" by Ellie Goulding, and I have to admit that I think I like it better than the original.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

loving lately: this print

I love this. I can't find the source, or I would absolutely buy it.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

52 lists: comforts

I'm a week behind, but I love this idea that Moorea Seal is doing over at her blog--52 lists, one for each week in 2013. So I decided to join in, and I encourage you to do the same! It seems like the more I wrote, the more ideas kept coming. The prompt for this week was "list your greatest comforts."

It's a little hard to read (still saving for that DSLR!) so here's a translation:

childhood photographs// my husband's hugs// homemade soup// denim quilts// Jesus// England// retelling my grandparents' stories// sweet tea// sleeping in// traveling// swimming in a sinkhole near my hometown// Love, Actually// my mom's made-from-scratch chocolate chip cookies, warm from the oven// looking at Christmas lights// sweatpants that are one size too big// puppies// Bon Iver's "Bon Iver"// old buildings// taking pictures//  singing along to the radio at the top of my lungs// East of Eden by John Steinbeck// laughing// listening to my brother play guitar// Earl Grey tea// embroidery// looking at Christmas lights (yes, twice. It's that comforting)// British history// watching All in the Family// hot baths// hiking in the Columbia River Gorge// bonfires// antiquing with my mom// camping on a riverbank// family reunions// walking in the woods// wearing scarves// bluegrass music// southern food// doodling// warm towels, right out of the dryer// happy endings.

Friday, January 18, 2013

outfit post numero uno.

Here's my first attempt at an outfit post. It's been way too cold for taking pictures outside, and our apartment isn't particularly photogenic, so it's pretty basic. I got a couple compliments from strangers, though (mainly on the tights!) so I thought it might be worth it. My "work style" is so boring--I mean, I basically crawl around on the floor with kids most of the day (but dress code is "business casual." Try envisioning that). I don't like to wear "good" outfits to work, because my shirtsleeves have been used as Kleenex on more than one occasion, and sensory activities usually involve sand, playdough, shaving cream, oobleck, or some other messy concoction. I love those kiddos, and I love spending my time making their lives and futures better, but DANG they are hard on clothes. So I only really wear fashionable outfits on the weekends. It's kind of amazing how much something as simple as what I'm wearing can change my whole mood. This is my happy place.

Details:  shirt - Target // dress - Forever 21 // tights - Target // belt - Target // shoes - Target // earrings - Forever 21 // necklace - Urban Outfitters

Thursday, January 17, 2013

life this week: birthdays & busyness.

 This was my life this week:

I know, I know. It's such a small problem to have. I think Tyler handled it worse than I did, but he was also the one dealing with our apartment office, whose responses ranged from "our service man just left an hour ago" to "are you sure it's not a problem with your router?" to "well, okay, we'll call him back in, but if it turns out to be a problem with your router, you'll have to pay for the service call." Needless to say, we took our chances after five days of that screen up there, and trying to plug my computer directly into the wall with no luck. The service man ended up replacing cables in our wall, so I'd say yeah, it wasn't our router. I think the most frustrating part (for me, anyway) was the reaction of our office. That service is factored into our rent, so we pay for it. I think it made for a pretty crappy birthday week for Tyler, who lives and breathes online gaming. But it's fixed now!

Tyler's pretty happy about it. :) Actually that picture is from his birthday dinner at Cheddar's. He always makes that face when he's at Cheddar's. After dinner, we headed to GameStop to pick up his final birthday present, and then went to (where else?) Target. 

Sometimes I think I'm kind of insane. I brought home this piggy bank. But, okay, I've had a thing for unicorns since I was a kid. Tyler actually found it, and I almost left it at Target, but as I walked away from it, I could feel the reverse buyer's remorse creeping in. (Does anyone else get reverse buyer's remorse? Where, instead of regretting buying things when you get them home, you regret not buying something, and then think about it for months? Like I said, sometimes I think I'm insane.) I also got these belts for about $6.50 each! Hooray clearance!

Oh, and these salt & pepper shakers (also clearance!). We had been needing some pretty badly (my stepdad even commented on it at Christmas), but I'm so picky. I think these nesting dolls are pretty adorable, though.

I was super busy this week....and tired. Work drains me! I still found the time and energy to start our wedding guestbook/scrapbook (only 7 months after the fact), though. I still have to fancy it up a bit, but all the basics are finally in. I did this the night we were supposed to be hit with a winter ice storm. (We ended up with about a 10th of an inch of ice on our cars--just enough to be annoying--and the roads were clear by the next morning. I'm kind of okay with that. I like electricity and people not looting and acting like maniacs.)

Top right: Album cover// Top left: First page// Bottom: the guestbook "instructions" that we had on the table in an old typewriter.

Top right: our program & soundtrack//Top left: RSVP cards//Bottom: our guestbook! We had people sign tags that I had antiqued and hang them in a tree next to the guestbook table. :) I loved re-reading them all as I put them in.

I also made this, inspired by my friend Sarah, who has been turning these out like there's no tomorrow. It's a book of all the Christmas cards we received this year, our first Christmas together. I love when things are organized.

Off to work! My last day this week. Weekend, here I come!

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