I am totally not a Pumpkin Spice Latte girl. Sorry, people. I don’t think pumpkin and coffee go together. (Even though we all know now that the famed PSL doesn’t actually have pumpkin in it … just a lot of sugar.) The Gingerbread Latte is something I can get behind, though. I love the rich spice of a good gingerbread or molasses cookie. And when Starbucks starts parading the winter drinks vs. the fall ones, I will go in for a Gingerbread Latte or two.
I have a few reservations about it, though: 1. How stupid expensive Starbucks drinks are. and 2. How much sugar those drinks have in them.
At home, you can control the sweetness of your drink, use the kind of milk you want, and have a beautiful latte for under a buck.
A few years ago, I did try to make a Gingerbread coffee creamer using actual spices, but I did not enjoy drinking all the spices in the dregs of my drink. Using essential oils gives you the beautiful flavors of the spices in a strong dose, so you only need a tiny amount of each!
Plus you can use your oils in a bunch of other ways, too! In this drink I use Cinnamon Bark, Clove, and Ginger oils, which together can be put in a diffuser for a heavenly, holiday-type scent. Clove oil is known for helping in dental care; cinnamon bark oil promotes a healthy immune system; and ginger oil can soothe and balance digestive discomfort. So on top of making a delicious latte, these oils are definitely multipurpose. (Used with education, of course. Cinnamon Bark is one of the “hottest” oil and should always be diluted 1 part essential oil to 4 parts carrier oil.)
So here’s how to make a delicious Gingerbread Latte at home with no special equipment.
I spend a lot of time scouring ye-olde-mommy-blogs, although gracious, I know we don’t call them that anymore, right? It does seem to undermine what we really are: women who write. Some of whom stay home with their children all the time, some of the time, or who work full-time. Whatever. But Mommy Blog is just a convenient title, considering I’m looking for posts to publish on For Every Mom.
A while ago, I came upon a couple British mommy blogs, together in a link-up of everyday kind of posts. Posts without Pinterest-worthy graphics; posts that were simply about being a mom or what happened that day or the fact that a woman figured out a great trick she wanted to share.
It stopped me in my tracks. It was 2009 blogging deja vu!
Maybe it was just the group I was looking at, or maybe British mom blogs are just getting off the ground. But I miss that kind of blogging. I miss just writing! Now, I think way too hard about what I am going to write, whether it’s actually worth publishing, knowing that my pictures are sub-par and that my only traffic really comes to recipe posts.
But something’s come over me lately: the craving to just write. Period. I mentioned on Instagram my desire to get down a few children’s fiction stories that have been dwelling in my head for 10+ years. I want to share everyday life again. I just feel like God has been prodding me constantly to sit down and just let the words flow out. I know it’s a gift from Him – I just never feel like my words are enough compared to the amazing ones that seem to flow constantly from other Christian women I admire. I write about how God is like a fictional farm animal … ’nuff said.
But this is my space, and I can write whatever I want, right? No one has to read it. I do write for an audience and to encourage, and I hope that will show. But I also need to write, for me. And if something doesn’t connect with you, you’re welcome to move on.
Maybe I’m moving to something different in my writing career. Maybe things are going to change. I need to dive into prayer. But mostly, I don’t want to be afraid to just hit publish. On something without a picture. On something that isn’t perfect.
My kids are just-7, 4, and 2, and I am right with Amy when it comes to picky eaters and trying to expand their little palates. I have found that my kids will eat almost anything if I put it in a muffin. They love Spinach Muffins, even! So I decided to try two new muffin recipes from Amy, because I had a couple of very ripe bananas and I couldn’t decide between these two recipes!
The Pumpkin Banana Muffins above are sweetened only with banana and a small amount of real maple syrup or honey and the cinnamon (or chocolate) chips. I thought they were delicious, moist, and I’m so glad to have that recipe at hand! I should have used chocolate chips, because two of my three kids apparently don’t like the cinnamon chips. Oh well, more for me!
These Zucchini Banana Muffins are actually very similar to the Double Chocolate Zucchini Spice Muffins I have on my site already, but with the addition of banana and a little less sugar. I liked the additional sweetness and moisture from the banana, plus it helped me use up those almost-entirely-brown ones on the counter. These were gobbled up by my children and our dorm boys! Hence, the iPhone photo – they all got eaten before I could get a good pic. Whoops. (I made 12 muffins and one small loaf of bread.)
Thanks, Amy, for the great recipes! Her site has tons and tons of recipes I would like to try, including this Rosemary-Basil Bread, which I almost made in addition to the muffins!
I am actually kind of surprised at the number of books I finished in October! It feels like it was a busy month, but I always make reading a priority. Here you go! (A lot of new releases on which I have lots of thoughts, of course.)
The kids and I listened to Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum on the way to and from Ohio at the beginning of October. You can read some of my thoughts on Oz here. Because of Winn-Dixie was DiCamillo’s first novel. It’s a clever portrait of young Opal, the daughter of a preacher, motherless, and new to a small town in Florida. Her innocent commentary and relationship with the dog, Winn-Dixie, will make you giggle and your heart swell a little. I am a fan of DiCamillo, and even more so now!
Voracious by Cara Nicoletti – Nicoletti is the author of the blog Yummy Books, where she explores food from different writings. Could there BE any more Jessie type of blog? And yet, I’d never heard of it until I saw this book mentioned. It’s first of all a gorgeous book, with colorful art inside accompanying each essay. Going through her life from childhood to the present, Nicoletti shares essays about the books she loved and the food that inspired her from each book or short story. All the essays are followed by her version of a recipe. Beautiful writing, gorgeous artwork, and a cookbook … what’s not to love?
A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis – I was working on a Sunday School lesson and decided to look through my husband’s old copy of this slim volume. I ended up reading the whole thing in two sittings, which is quite easy considering it’s only about 100 pages. A Grief Observed is Lewis’s thoughts in journal-form after his wife died of cancer. In it, he questions faith and the world as he knows it. Seeing his journey was striking, and I would definitely recommend everyone read this.
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee – This probably deserves its own review post, but I will try to keep it short. First, I am not a giant TKAM person. Not that I don’t love it – I just have only read it once, so I don’t consider myself a devotee of any kind. Second, I am sure you are well aware of all the controversy surrounding this novel. For those who have read it, I think the main complaint is that Atticus’s character seems completely different than in TKAM. That, I really did not feel. I think it’s possible for people to change greatly as they age, and I don’t feel like Atticus became a bigot. As he tried to explain to Jean Louise, sometimes things were political more than personal. Do I think the TKAB Atticus would have taken a stand against the rest of the town? Maybe. But I also think it’s possible that he would not.
The parts of the novel that truly stood out were the flashbacks to Jean Louise’s childhood, moments between her and Jem and their neighbor Dill. So it makes perfect sense that she or an editor would grasp those and make them into a truly fantastic novel. But the rest of it just lost me. The conversations were jumbled, the thought lines lacking, the wording imprecise, and I could hardly get through it. I gave it 2/5 stars on GoodReads – I didn’t HATE it, but I didn’t really like it, either.
Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson – I listened to Yes, Chef via audiobook, and it took me a long while to finish it. (Three library renewals, I think!) The memoir starts out wonderfully, with Samuelsson hypothesizing on the life of his biological mother and his first few years in Ethiopia. Then we see the portrait of one of the most beautiful adoption stories I’ve ever heard.
Yes, Chef chronicles Samuelsson’s rise as a chef, from his adopted hometown in Sweden, to Austria, France, New York, and to his homeland of Ethiopia. The food writing is good and interesting, although overdetailed in places. It was one of those memoirs that seems to include every single THOUGHT the author ever had, and probably could have been shortened a bit. In some places, Samuelsson comes off sweet and kind; in others, like a big fat jerk. (Like when he tries to explain why he didn’t see his daughter, a baby born of a one-night stand, until she was 14.) Altogether I found Yes, Chef interesting but not intriguing.
Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons – Published in 1932, Gibbons’ tale is about Flora, a young, recently orphaned but highly educated girl in England who is self-exiled to a family farm in the country. It’s a parody piece of the over-romanticized books about country England, and I thoroughly enjoyed it as a “light classic.” Flora is determined to “fix” her family any way she sees fit – and of course, does exactly that. This was my and my best friend’s “correspondence book club” book for October, and I think we both got a kick out of it. And a bit of a brain-breather after reading Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Cutting for Stone. (We’re doing Rebecca next.)
Come Rain or Come Shine by Jan Karon – Y’all, I want so badly to love Jan Karon’s new books. Because I love Father Tim and Cynthia and Dooley and Mitford! But I just have been underwhelmed by the latest two Mitford installments. This one the viewpoints went back and forth so quickly I found it mentally exhausting. The storyline was good, since I felt like Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good sort of lacked one, but overall I just felt fuzzy-headed after reading it. Honestly, it kind of feels like some of the original books that I liked less – the shorter, in-between ones about a wedding, or Christmas, etc. I like a full, rounded story. What can I say?
Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs – All I have to say about this is that it is the third book in the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series, and that I really wish I had just read the first book. I felt like the second and third books were contrived, hastily executed, and just not worth the time I spent reading them. Maybe that is harsh, and I hate being critical. The first book I found really wonderful and creative, so I was very let down by the rest of the series.
Say WHAT? I know. You’ll have to stick with me on this one.
Today I started a 30-day challenge of writing Scriptures. This kind of copywork isn’t something I’ve really done before, but I do like to write out Scripture and quotes to help me really dwell on the words.
The first Scripture is Psalm 95:1-7. It’s a beautiful passage, including the words, “Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the LORD our maker,” which I can’t write without singing the tune in my head.
But what caught me today was the last verse, verse 7: “We are the people he watches over, the flock under his care. If only you would listen to his voice today!”
It wasn’t long ago that I rewatched Babe, which has always been a favorite movie of mine. And since I don’t meet a lot of sheep in Chattanooga, I guess that’s why that flock popped into my head.
They’re an unruly bunch when we meet them, all baaing loudly about different things, not knowing life without a sheepdog nipping at their heels to bring them to some semblance of order. It turns out all they really needed was a dog who would listen and to respond in return. And they got that in Babe, the tiny, polite pig who ends up being a better sheepdog than any others on the farm – simply by talking to the sheep and asking them to do things.
I feel like this verse is speaking to us sheep, as we wildly roam around in confusion. Look! the author is writing. Just listen! You have no idea how simple it could be! We’re so used to chaos that we can’t embrace the leading of the Shepherd; we can’t imagine a life where things make sense. And all we would have to do is tilt our heads up and listen to His voice.
His yoke is easy, Matthew 11:30 says, another favorite verse of mine. His burden is light. That’s because HE is carrying it – not us. As long as we are letting Him remove it from our own tired shoulders.
So there you go. That’s how God is like Babe, the sheep-pig. I always knew Babe held a special place in my heart.
For the first time ever, I read the original Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum a few weeks ago. OK, I heard it in the car. The classic book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, was written in 1900. Despite the fact that our culture is simply littered with Oz remakes and references, I don’t think tons of people have actually read the classic.
The kids and I drove to Ohio, and they pretty much ignored the first book we listened to, Because of Winn-Dixie. (Although I loved it!) But the land of Oz caught my daughter, and she loved hearing the tale of Dorothy and her mismatched gang of friends.
Quite a few things surprised me about the book, although it makes sense how they changed it for the cinema. Dorothy in the book really is a child, and she talks and acts like a child. Judy Garland was only 16 when MGM filmed the movie, but to me she always seemed like a young woman dressed as a girl, given her rich voice and mannerisms.
The Wicked Witch of the West never appears outside the Western land of the Winkies. She is certainly wicked, but she’s not the haunting creature avenging her sister that we find in the movie. The good witch who visits Dorothy in Munchkinland is also a different person than Glinda the Good Witch of the North.
Listening to Baum’s tale, I could see why there are just so many adaptations of the work. (Baum himself wrote 13 sequels!) The characters are vivid, the land of Oz is enchanting and thrilling and perplexing, and the desire to know more about it lays beneath the story. It was quite to fun to see which details had been plucked out for certain adaptations: I recognized named and pieces that show up in Wicked, of course; Legends of Oz; and even Tin Man. (I’m not sure it really enhanced my viewing of The Wonderful Wizard of Ha’s, though, VeggieTales’ adaptation that I’ve seen quite a few times.)
The greatest difference between the movie and the book, perhaps, is that there’s no “it’s all a dream” moment. Dorothy really does find her way back to Kansas via her silver slippers, and Aunt Em and Uncle Henry are quite surprised to see her again. How did Dorothy explain that? Did Aunt Em then send her to a mental institution? I guess I’ll find out if I keep reading all those sequels. Libbie and I have started listening to the first one, The Marvelous Land of Oz.
Have you read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz or just seen the movie? (Either? Neither?) Were you introduced as a child or as an adult? I’m wondering how different the world of Oz would seem to me had I been a devoted reader of the work as a child.