Saturday, January 19, 2013

When you NEED just a little bit of cake...

A while back, my mom shared with me a simple shortcut to those individual microwavable cakes that were (are?) such a big fad at the grocery store.  I never thought it would be so enticing in our household, but we enjoy it in spurts and have just finished off a whole box of cake mix in the process.
I'm sure this is posted in multiple other places online.  I have to admit, I'm mainly writing this up just so I never lose the "recipe" myself.  Let's face it, writing the instructions on the side of a cake mix box is probably not going to guarantee lasting consultation.

This picture is from "Things that make you say 'Mmmmmmm!'"  See Karyn's recipe for a slightly larger batch!

Individual Instant Microwave Cakes:

In a small microwave-safe dish (we like using porcelin creme brulee ramekins) combine:
  • 1/4 cup cake mix (we've only used devil's food, but I'm sure any flavor can work)
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp (aka 4 tsp) water
Stir it up til all the mix is moistened.  We also like to add a dollop of caramel or chocolate chips (mmm, melty!)
Microwave for 30-40 seconds until top appears dry.
Cool a while if necessary, and enjoy!

Friday, January 11, 2013

It's a Beautiful Life!

Ok, I wasn't sitting down expecting to do a Quick-Takes post, but there are so many things floating around in my head, that it just makes sense!
--- 1 ---
Today has been a beautiful day - and I don't mean in the "birds are singing, the sun is shining, the grass is green" sort of way, because - let's face it - it's a foggy, grey, melty, yucky sort of January day when you don't want to see your brown, bedraggled lawn poking up through the quickly diminishing snow.
The day started with morning Mass, followed by the first in a series of 6 classes on Dei Verbum.  Sound boring?  Potentially.  But not.  Did you know that Aristotle and Plato, with just their own powers of reasoning, determined the human soul to be immortal??  I didn't!  (And here's one of a bazillion online articles referencing it.)  It's so beautiful - God gives us so many opportunities and starting points to come to know Him!
--- 2 ---
After class I was pondering just how I was going to get the kids home and fed without having to resort to meat-eating at the local Mickey D's (something we try to avoid on Fridays - the meat-eating, not necessarily McD's) when a friend suggesting continuing conversations over a bagel at the cafe nearby.  Bagels, while not the most incredibly ideal nutritional food, work great for Fridays - and even better, my kids will actually eat them! 
(Awesome looking recipe I'd like to try at home - maybe then my little guy wouldn't be constantly begging me to buy more bagels!)

--- 3 ---
We got to talk about the impression that other people "have things together" (whether they do or not) and how each of us have things together in our own special way.  This is something I've been working on lately - with a book that was first introduced to me approximately 7 or 8 years ago, before marriage and children were even on the radar:
 I just wish it hadn't taken me so long to really go through and take this book seriously, working through each chapter - I'm buzzing with excitement about the potential this book has as a tool to take every facet of my life to the next level!  (And I have to say, that whole idea of peacefulness is really attractive with two toddlers around...)
--- 4 ---
After getting the rug-rats into bed for their afternoon nap (fingers crossed and prayers being said that they'll actually stay there and sleep) I jumped onto our new elliptical machine (Merry Christmas!) and survived my 9th workout of the year - and I didn't just survive it!  (Throughout this post you have been witnessing the post-workout adrenaline buzz.)  Now maybe that sounds slightly impressive when you consider it's only the 11th day of the year, but it's really not that incredibly amazing when I admit that each workout lasts all of 15 minutes - but my speed and endurance have substantially improved over these last 11 days, and of that, I am proud.
--- 5 ---
I know that part of this improvement is attributable simply to consistency and taking it slowly but surely.  But another part of this I can definitely say is the result of simply changing my mental activity during the workout.  I initially thought, hey, I'll watch a little TV while I exercise, take my mind off it.  But maybe it's better to transform something not incredibly enjoyable into something more, rather just distracting yourself from it until the terrible-ness is over. 
--- 6 ---
That transforming force was:
I've long known that jogging to this music is so much more fun than just slogging along in silence or to something with a more relaxed beat.  This stuff really makes you go!  And it's not just the tempo - for me the lyrics are really captivating and thought-provoking, not to mention empowering!  (How's that for big words and feel-good jargon?)
--- 7 ---
My two most favorite tracks:
Dandelions:  pretty much sums up for me how God sees us with all our imperfections and loves us anyway.  Don't know who came up with the animation, but it's perfect!

I don't care what others say, One Girl Army is about Mary!
Here are the lyrics: 
Here lies the old myth,
Breaking the mold with,
Truth to take away the trickery.
Twenty centuries of progress,
Suffer slowly as we regress,
Losing headway to ourselves.

Behold the covers, the sisters, the mothers,
The daughters, and spouses, on the magazines.
Truth has been abused.
How could she fill those shoes?
Propaganda meant to fuel their schemes.

She is strong but never silent,
Sure of where her truth comes from.
One day, one girl army will overcome.

Treading the current, issues at hand,
Shifting, we sway, from justice and then back again.
What we once broke, He has made right,
Lifting her up, giving birth to Jesus Christ.

She is strong but never silent,
Sure of where her strength comes from.
One day, one girl army will overcome.

She is strong but never silent,
Sure of where her strength comes from.
One day, one girl army will overcome.

She is strong but never silent,
Sure of where her strength comes from.
One day, one girl army will overcome. 

Not so much "Quick" - but what a beautiful day!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Urge to Purge (The Clutter that is!)

Clutter has been one of my pet peeves for...  umm...  pretty much the whole of my adult life.  (When does that actually start?  Idunno.  So maybe clutter has been the bane of my existence for even longer than that.)

In the past, my New Years resolutions have involved the typical weight loss, workout schemes, even flossing one year.  This year I am inspired to declutter our home and simplify our lives!

I'm giving myself permission to take an easy pace on this and not get too disgusted with myself if a particular area requires a "do-over" (or two.  Or three...)  But my plan is this:  I'm going to systematically declutter small areas of our home with a before and after shot to be posted on this blog.  I figure that will give me some accountability and encouragement.  And it's not that we belong on one of those Hoarders reality TV shows.  This project has been ramping up over the last month or so - I'm just making it official now.

Behold - I can see the lid of the piano!  (And have been able to for probably 2-3 weeks!)

The breakfast bar isn't nearly as bad as usual (now you're wondering what "bad" looks like...):

But here are some of the other problem areas:
That little cubby that holds the microwave...
The recesses of the hutch...

The overpacked bookcases...

And the infamous crafting cabinet!

 Anyone up for a challenge?  Feel free to chime in with your own struggles and successes (or just nag me if I haven't posted any relevant updates)!

Happy New Year!