MY MAMA’S BANANA BREAD.

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This is my mother’s banana bread recipe. Bake it for a weekday breakfast. Bake it on a rainy Saturday. Bake it for your kids after school. Bake it for your friends, for your neighbors, or for a midnight snack for yourself. Whatever you do, just bake it. It’s THAT good.

BANANA BREAD RECIPE.

Ingredients:

  • one cup of mashed bananas (usually 2-3)
  • one and a half cups of flour
  • one-fourth teaspoon of salt
  • one teaspoon of vanilla
  • one and one-fourth cup of sugar
  • half cup of butter
  • one teaspoon of baking soda
  • four tablespoons of sour cream
  • two eggs

 

Directions:

  • preheat oven to three hundred and seventy five degrees.
  • cream butter and sugar.
  • add eggs, baking soda and sour cream.
  • add bananas, flour, salt and vanilla.
  • pour into buttered + floured loaf pan.
  • optional: sprinkle nuts, coconut or granola on top.
  • bake for thirty to forty minutes.

 

Enjoy!

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2018 BOOK REVIEW.

If you would have asked me a few years ago “what book are you currently reading?”, I would have stumbled over my words just to tell you that I don’t read and that aside from reading Matilda in fifth grade or that one history memoir in my junior year, I’ve never finished a book… Fast forward a few years to the time when I had a little baby, lived on a  country road in the middle of nowhere and was desperate for any form of entertainment. I picked up a book, finshed it in two days, and have been addicted ever since. I can’t imagine a time where reading isn’t a daily activity (or that I live on a country road in the middle of nowhere) ever again. Reading books and talking about books makes me giddy, so LET’S DO IT. Here are some books I loved last year, really didn’t love last year, and books I hope to love this year.

 

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FAVORITE MEMOIR OF 2018: Educated by Tara WestoverThe author tells of her incredibly tough childhood, growing up in a mormon family where she spent her days isolated in the hills of Idaho. She shares her journey as she fights against her fathers anti-government beliefs and the trials she had to overcome in order to have an education. This was by far my favorite memoir of the year, but in my top three of all time.

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FAVORITE THRILLER OF 2018: The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine. The story of a wealthy couple being stalked by a young girl who is envious of everything they have. If I could describe this book in one sentence it would be: be careful what you wish for. Favorite thriller of the year, in my top TWO of all time.

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FAVORITE LOVE STORY OF 2018: Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. Based on the biblical story of Gomer and Hosea. A story of love and redemption between a broken prostitute and a man who would do anything to please the Lord. Just a warning: if you don’t like sobbing into the pages of a book at midnight then this is not for you. Simply lovely.

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FAVORITE LIGHT-READ OF 2018: Once Upon a Flock by Lauren Scheuer. One woman’s recalling of her experience raising chickens. I’m not a big animal person, but I read the whole book in a single afternoon, on my porch with a glass of iced tea. I laughed, I cried, and I cried a little more once it was over because I could have read about these chickens straight into the next afternoon.

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FAVORITE NON-FICTION OF 2018: The Honest Life by Jessica Alba. This book was both informative and quite frankly, scary. There are so many harmful ingredients in the food, products and environments around us everyday. I suggest everyone read this book in order to better inform ourselves in ways to live healthier, less toxic lives.

 

Okay, now that I’ve shared the books that I’ve loved, here a few that I really didn’t:

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LEAST FAVORITE BOOK OF 2018: Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis. Simply put, this book was so whiny and self-focused that I found it self-destructive.

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SECOND LEAST FAVORITE OF 2018: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Don’t hate me, but as much as I wanted to, I just couldn’t get into it. I felt confused and easily distracted as I was reading it. I may try again at another point.

One last thing. I thought I’d share a quick list of books I plan to read this year. If you have any that you feel should be added to my list, please let me know!

  • The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food and Love by Kristin Kimball
  • The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  • The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
  • Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
  • After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Now ready, set GO! Tell me all your favorites (or least favorites!) Happy reading, fellow bookworms. Xo

NEW YORK CITY ON A BUDGET.

Earlier this month, I went to NYC for a long weekend. Me and my best friends, no babies allowed, and a magical city to explore. Want to know the best part? The whole trip cost me less than 500 dollars. I feel like it would be a sin not to share how this was done, so I’ve compiled my top tips for visiting New York City on a budget. Here we go!

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  1. PLAN AHEAD. Call us crazy, but my friends and I planned every detail of this trip many months in advance. Mostly because we needed to arrange childcare and make sure we could take days off of work, but having an itinerary for this trip helped not only map out our plans, but also our costs. Pick a budget for the trip and then plan your days/activities accordingly.
  2. DRIVE, DON’T FLY. If you don’t mind airline ticket costs and you want to get there quickly, go ahead and fly. But if you want to save money and enjoy car conversations and gas station snacks (this ones for you, Gracie), opt for a roadtrip. Between the three of us, we each spent sixty dollars in gas round trip. 30 bucks to get to NYC? Yes please!

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3. STAY RIGHT OUTSIDE OF THE CITY. I think it’s well known that hotels in NYC can get really expensive, really fast. We found the best way to save money on our lodging was to stay in a hipster/artsy (their words, not mine) part of Brooklyn and then commute to the city each day. Bonus: not only did we save money but we stumbled upon a few great restaurants and coffee shops in Brooklyn.

4. SKIP THE HOTEL, USE AIR-BNB. Trust me. I know that this option is unappealing to some but if you do it right (read reviews!), it’s a great choice. We stayed in really clean and stylish apartment in Brooklyn. We stayed with a guy named Stephen and although it sounds weird, he was really great and there were no issues. Just do it, friends.

5. UNLIMITED METRO PASS. You can try to map out the city and your point A’s and your point B’s and take a guess on how many subway rides you’ll need but you most likely will come up short. For just a few dollars extra, you can buy an unlimited metro pass and save yourself some money on the flip side. Bonus tip: walk as much as possible! That way you skip the cost of cab rides and you’ll experience much more of the city when you’re on foot.

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6. UTILIZE YELP. I’m mentioning Yelp because that was the app we used most, but if there is another one that shows you restaurant reviews and costs, that works too. We were able to find reasonably priced restaurants that received great reviews by both locals and tourists alike.

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7. HAPPY HOURS. Guys, alcohol is expensive. Here are my two tips: find a happy hour and limit your alcohol intake. You really don’t need alcohol to have fun and happy hour deals are pretty much everywhere. Do a little research, save a lot of money.

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8. PLAN FREE/CHEAP ACTIVITIES. Obviously, not everything is going to be free. So sure, visit the art museums and go see a comedy show (seriously, DO IT) but mix in a few free/cheap activities to save you some money while still having a great time. Some ideas? walk around Central Park or across the Brooklyn Bridge, spend a few hours reading in a coffee shop/bookstore, or window shop in SoHo.

So here ya have it. I’d love to hear- what are some ways that you save money while travelling? Let’s all get inspired to take more trips!

A WEEK IN THE LIFE.

Fact: I reaaaallly enjoy reading about peoples daily lives. I tend to gravitate to all things mundane, so when people share about the minuscule moments that make up their days, I cannot help but to be intrigued. After reading a few other “day in the life” blogs, I decided to write one of my own. Instead of sharing a detailed play by play of a single day, I decided to skim over each day over the span of a week. I have a feeling that in twenty years, when my baby is grown, coming back to this space to re-read what life was once like will feel so nostalgic and special. So here it goes:

SUNDAY:

I usually count the beginning of a week as a Monday, but the calendar says otherwise so we will start here for the sake of being proper. This Sunday was different than most. The night before, Hudson slept over at my parents house while I was at a wedding, so I was solo on Sunday morning. Since Hudson went to church with my parents, I tagged along to my friend Grace’s church. After church, we stopped by my cousins house (Grace is my cousins’ sister in law) to visit.

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This is my cousins’ daughter, Charlotte. She drinks chocolate milk from a wine glass. My kind of girl.

After Hudson came home on Sunday, we drove to my Nana’s house to have supper and to play our weekly game of Sunday night scrabble.

MONDAY:

Monday was also different than usual considering it was Labor day!  Our labor day was nothing fancy but basically divided into three parts: hanging out at home all morning, attending an arts festival in the afternoon and then going to my parents house for a cookout in the evening.

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Here is my boy at the art festival. He had his face painted like batman and despite his facial expression- he felt super cool.

TUESDAY:

Okay so maybe this wasn’t the best time to share “a week in the life” because pretty much everyday was out of the ordinary. Usually, Tuesday mornings are spent with our cousins for a play date, but they weren’t able to meet this time. Instead, Hudson slept in and I read until he woke up.

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This is what i’m currently reading. Light and comical- if you want to check it out.

Once he was up, we headed to the library, checked out some books and spent some time reading them under a tree outside of the library. When we got home, Hudson took a nap while I waited for the cable man to come pick up our cable boxes. We are officially a no cable home and LOVING it so far. There was still a bit of time between the end of nap time and the beginning of dinnertime, and considering it was almost 100 degrees outside, we opted for some indoor fun to beat the heat/burn some energy/kill some time. We went to a trampoline park, which of course is always a hit with my toddler. Once we got home, it time for the whole dinner + bath + bedtime thing. I had a cup of tea, watched a Netflix documentary and went to bed.

WEDNESDAY:

On Wednesday, I babysat for the majority of the day and this time, Hudson came with me. I babysit three little girls a few days a week and again, this day was so hot that we spent a lot of time playing inside, or outside in the baby pool. After we were done babysitting, we went to my aunt’s house for dinner. She invites us every Wednesday and we gladly accept her invitation every time.

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This night, she made these chipotle chicken quesadillas. One of my favorites.

THURSDAY:

Early in the morning on Thursday, the little girls I babysit came to my house for the day. Hudson went with Charlotte (don’t judge us- we spend way too much time together) to play at my parent’s farmhouse. They have so much fun running around there and it is so kind of my mom to have them come play once a week (at least!). It was a super rainy day, so the girls and I spent most of the day watching a movie, playing a matching card game and coloring. Once I took them home, my cousin called me because she had to leave to record her podcast and her husband still was not home from work. Hudson and I went over to her house that evening to hang out with her kids for an hour or so.

 

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Blurry picture of my favorite baby. So thankful this little muffin is a part of our lives.

FRIDAY:

Friday morning started at the coffee shop.

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Chocolate milk and a bagel for my boy and an almond milk latte for me.

After this, it was time for Hudson’s preschool orientation. He was actually really nervous and didn’t want to go, but after meeting his teachers and seeing his new classroom- he didn’t want to leave! Once we were done with his orientation, we stopped by Target to pick out a new backpack for his first day of school next week. He picked a navy blue one with green dinosaurs, go figure. Hudson played at home while I did housework for the rest of the day and then we met our cousins at Oktoberfest! We typically go to the wine tastings at Whole Foods on Friday nights, but we switched it up and we were so glad we did!

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Our little German babes having so much fun at Oktoberfest.

SATURDAY:

Today! This morning was rainy and cold so we did nothing besides build a fort, make pancakes, and take a bubble bath. There was an ox roast festival in our city this weekend, and we had planned to go tonight, but unfortunately we waited until the last day and it was rained out. My sweet boy was really disappointed but when I asked him what he wanted to do instead he said, “we can play hide and seek or go see Nana.” You got it, baby. We picked up my Nana and went for pizza at an old little pizza shop and now he is currently snuggled on her couch watching Daniel Tiger while I type this, and all is well with the world.

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It wasn’t a typical week, but it was a really good one. If I’m being honest (and a bit cheesy) every week spent with my Hudson feels like the best. How was your week? How do you spend most of your days? After all, it is said that that how we spend our days is, in fact, how we spend our lives.

CURRENTLY.

Well, we are halfway through the summer months. On one hand, it’s flown by and on the other it feels like the next season should be here in no time (yeah right). Here’s what’s been going on around here this summer:

READING: lots of books! I recently finished one called Once Upon a Flock, a memoir of a lady and her experience raising chickens. Such a sweet, funny light-hearted read. Perfect for the summertime.

LISTENING: to the Coffee House Covers station on Pandora and the occasional podcast. Really loving the following: Minimalist Moms Podcast, How to be Amazing with Michael Ian Black and The Happy hour with Jamie Ivey.

BUYING: fresh flowers from the farmers market every weekend! Mostly sunflowers.

WATCHING: Chef’s Table on Netflix, Barefoot Contessa on weekend mornings and a variety of documentaries some nights. Living on One Dollar is a really interesting one if you’re into that sort of thing.

PLANNING: a getaway to NYC with my cousin (who doubles as my BFF) this fall! No babies allowed.

SWITCHING: jobs! Two more weeks then I’ll be switching jobs in order to spend waaay more time with my little man.

ORGANIZING: Hudson’s room. We don’t have a ton of toys at our house but still, his room always seems to be a mess. I’m on a mission to find a storage system that keeps it easy to tidy up in there.

CREATING: homemade bug spray + smoothie recipes.

CRAVING: farmers market tomatoes, peaches, fish tacos and allll the grilled vegetables.

DIFFUSING: lemon + rosemary essential oils, especially in the kitchen. So refreshing + revitalizing.

WEARING: a sundress and some strappy sandals basically every day of the week.

LEARNING: how to care for a kitten. Truth be told, I’m way better at humans than I am at pets but we got a new kitten so I suppose it’s time to learn! Her name is Ivy and we are in love with her.

SPENDING: lots of time outside! We’ve been swimming, drinking coffee on the porch, eating dinner outside, playing at parks and taking evening walks frequently this summer.

PRAYING: for friends who are battling anxiety, friends whose husbands are facing scary medical diagnoses, for a heart of peace during a time full of change, and for my own broken ashes to be made into something beautiful.

CELEBRATING: first birthdays, the upcoming wedding of a sweet friend of mine, and the fact that my brother will be back in Ohio for two months very soon!

What about you?! What are some things you’ve been up to this summer?

SPRING BUCKET LIST.

two of my favorite things. spring and lists. i love lists of all kinds, but there’s something about a seasonal bucket list that’s a little extra exciting to write. essentially, it’s just a reminder of all the sweet special things that each season brings and a way to keep track of everything you want to do before the earth spins another quarter around the sun and a new season begins. so, here’s ours.

1, raise caterpillars. done! we ordered caterpillars on amazon a month or so ago and kept them in a jar until they became chrysalides. once they emerged into butterflies, we kept them for four days, feeding them berries and flower petals. last week, hudson and our little neighbor girl  were able to set them free at the park! such a fun learning experience for children.

2. blooms and butterflies exhibit at franklin park conservatory. along with this exhibit, which features hundreds of butterflies flying all around as you walk through the rainforest, there other plant exhibits, outdoor gardens, and fun interactive activities for kids.

3. make a spring wreath. i had my eye on a wreath for our front door, but the thought on spending (over) fifty dollars on a wreath bugged me. lucky for me, a sweet friend of mine brought me huge bundles of her leftover seeded eucalyptus. i trimmed it all up and tucked it all in to a grapevine wreath that i had sitting in the closet. BOOM. zero dollars. pretty front door.

4. start a garden. we’ve always had large, plentiful gardens but since moving to the city, it’s been a challenge. there really isn’t a spot in our teeny tiny yard that gets enough sunlight. however, last year we successfully grew cucumbers and green beans. this year, i’m keeping it simple and just planting a mini flower garden out front.

5. pour some chamomile beeswax candles. making homemade beeswax candles is a favorite hobby of mine and this spring, i’m going to try a chamomile version for the first time.

6. take a hike. i have so many metro parks around town that i want to explore, but that’s a list for another day.

7. take a bike ride. fun fact: i don’t own a bicycle. i suppose i should add “purchase a bike” to my bucket list. in the mean time, i’ll borrow an extra from whoever is taking a ride with me.

8. feed the ducks. we have a city park just minutes from our house with a beautiful pond full of ducks, fish and frogs. during the spring, we love to stop by after work to feed the ducks and breathe some fresh air.

9. go on a picnic. a big blanket,  a cold vegetable salad and a few sandwiches. that’s all you need. also, i think it should be a rule that every spring meal should be shared outdoors on a picnic blanket.

10, dye easter eggs. this is another one among the few that we’ve already completed. this year, we used beets, turmeric, spinach, blueberries and coffee to dye our eggs. most of them turned out beautiful and vibrant, but if anyone would be so kind to share tips on dying eggs with spinach that would be appreciated. our spinach dyed eggs were a bust.

11. visit a farmers market. can’t wait for my favorite farmers market to open in a few weeks! we love going on saturday mornings to pick up fresh flowers and delicious produce to use in seasonal inspired meals throughout the week.

12. go to the zoo. we were gifted a zoo pass months ago, but we have yet to use it due to bad weather and busy schedules. i am hoping we will have a warm day somewhere over the next few weekends. also hoping that the baby elephants will be out because there’s really nothing cuter, and that’s coming from a *not* animal lover.

13. visit the park of roses. a whole park full of every color rose you could ever imagine. perfect for a morning outing or an evening walk. this place is what i imagine heaven may look like.

14. have lunch at north market. we did this last weekend, but i’m not counting it because i want to go again. if you ever get a chance to make it there, i suggest the vietnamese pho or the mexican street tacos. or a belgium waffle. or a smoked salmon sushi roll. see why i want to go again?

15. visit a museum on a rainy day. a rainy tuesday or so ago, we visited a science childrens museum with our cousins. however, this is another one i’m keeping on the list because i was picturing more like a slow stroll, through an art museum, by myself. haha yeah right.

.that’s all so far! i have a few more ideas floating around in my head but to ensure our list can be completed, i’m keeping it at this for now. what are some things that you’d like to do this spring? i’d so love to hear.

 

 

 

 

MEAL PLANNING + SAMPLE MENU.

so you know how bloggers always say “since a lot of you asked about (fill in the blank), i thought i’d share.” okay well, THREE people asked me about how i plan my family’s meals and since i’m not cool like the rest of those bloggers, that was a totally sufficient number of people to entice me to share on this space.  so here we go.

over the past few years, i’ve come up with a way to meal plan that works really well for us. i should add that we have no allergies or necessary dietary restrictions and not a single member of the morris family is a picky eater whatsoever, so that makes my job really simple.  my heart goes out to anyone whose child (or husband) demands nothing but dinosaur chicken nuggets with a side of ketchup. if that’s you, hang in there. if it’s not, keep reading. every week, i pick a quick recipe, a recipe of my choice, a slow cooker recipe, and a vegetarian recipe. that leaves one day for leftovers, one for eating out, and one for sunday dinner at my grandparents house. this is the outline i follow that works best for our weekly schedule but depending on yours, could easily be switched around.

before i write a grocery list i do two things:

  1. check the cabinets + refrigerator to see what i already have on hand. this week i had a can of black beans, some arugula and some brown rice in the freezer.
  2. flip through my cookbook collection (or search the internet!) for seasonal, healthy    meals that fit my criteria above. bonus point if it includes one of the ingredients already at home.

after checking my inventory and looking through my cookbooks i came up with a menu for the week. i’ll share the basics of each recipe if you’re interested in using any of this sample menu in your home this week.

monday: make-your-own cauliflower pizza 

i found premade cauliflower pizza crusts in the freezer section of trader joe’s. for me: fig jam, mozzarella cheese, prosciutto + arugula. for the boys, pizza sauce, cheese + pepperoni and black olives.

tuesday: thai rice bowls 

(trader joe’s also has organic brown rice in their freezer section that steams in the bag, but any brown rice would work just fine. cook some chicken breasts with your preferred method. steam some broccoli, carrots and cauliflower. top rice with chicken + vegetables and top with a store bought or homemade thai peanut sauce. if you’re feelin’ like making your own, this is a really good one: whitneybond.com/thai-peanut-sauce

wednesday: leftovers 

thursday: salsa verde chicken sweet potatoes with black beans 

in a slow cooker, add organic chicken thighs, a block of cream cheese + a jar of green salsa. use the chicken mixture on top of cooked sweet potatoes with black beans on the side. you could also use the chicken for tacos, on top of rice, or just eat it from the bowl all by itself.

friday: dinner out 

saturday: zucchini noodles with homemade marinara sauce 

in the vegetable section at whole foods, there are pre-packaged spiraled vegetables. i’ve only ever bought the zucchini kind but i’ve seen carrots and beets as well. to add more calories for my toddler, i add some whole wheat noodles to his. again,  a store bought sauce would work just fine but if you’re ambitious enough, i recommend the pioneer woman’s marinara recipe!

sunday: dinner at my grandparents house 

 

easy enough, right? for the three of you that asked, i hope this answers all your meal planning questions. for everyone else, i hope i didn’t bore you too bad! thanks for reading along- i’d love to learn more meal planning tips, so please share if you’d like!

x, kelsey