Saturday Linky Love

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Saturday Linky Love button

 

Well. It appears it is now Sunday night and I have yet to write a linky post. We’ve been sucking in every moment of the weekend! Libbie was off Friday and Mr. V is on Fall Break, so Friday we trekked to Nashville to visit old friends. Yesterday, I went to water aerobics, napped, and then we went to a church-sponsored hayride and bonfire! And then today, we did church but I had a sinus headache so came home and slept again. It’s been busy but good, and I’m always going to pick “real life” over blogging. And sleep. ;)

But I do have some wonderful things to share, so here you go.

Reading offline: Chasing God by Angie Smith; The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley.

So, what did you read that was great this week? Link up here. You can grab the code for the button in the sidebar, if you want. Please link back here and add the PERMALINK to your post, not your home page.

Stuff People Want to Know

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I really like Pinterest. Mostly, I just use it for me. What did I do before Pinning to keep track of recipes I want to make? I had them collected in bookmarks, e-mails, clipping around my house. I guess I starred posts on Google Reader, when it was around, but in its demise I lost all that, too.

I can’t lie and say I don’t like how my traffic has doubled since the advent of Pinning as well. Recipe and crafty bloggers definitely got the win there. Of course I would rather have readers who actually, well, read what I write and not just scan my recipes. But that’s my writer-brain. I’m not very professional about this whole shindig sometimes.

Anyway, I love seeing what people have repinned of mine. And there are some pins – even old ones – that get pinned over and over and OVER again. I guess maybe they are just searchable gems or something. I want to share those pins here. Because if a ton of people are searching for them on Pinterest, maybe they will help you, too!

So here are my top Pins of all time.

25 Make-Ahead Breakfasts for Back-to-School is a post I actually compiled for ParentLife. It’s had 1202 repins from one of my group boards, which does help its popularity! Here is the pin. I’m always excited to have written something that is helpful to others, and I think this one really is.

Another round-up I did for ParentLife (why don’t I ever post these winners on my own blog?), these are five of my very favorite Christmas cookie recipes. Yum! Pin status: 1077 repins. (And the only thing I wrote in the description was, “Christmas cookies.” Pinterest is weird. I have no idea why certain things work there.)

The Car Trip Busy Box from Play Dr. Mom is also on a popular group board about traveling. Isn’t this something EVERY parent needs? Here’s the pin, which has 824 repins.

And in more of Things I Wrote for ParentLife I Wish I Had Published Here (just kidding, guys, they do PAY me for writing there), we have 25 Slow Cooker Weeknight Dinners. Pinners love their crockpots, don’t they? Repins: 816.

summerslowcooking

I actually wrote this before any of the ParentLife stuff. Mine: 1 Facebook like. Mine on ParentLife: 71,000 Facebook likes. Just sayin’. Summer Is for Slow Cooking has all of the slow cooker recipes from my site as of 6/2013. You can find them all now on this recipe index page as well. The Pin has 778 repins, so I can’t complain too much.

I LOVED this post and idea from my friend Tiffany at Stuff Parents Need. So glad it’s received some attention!  My Pin of it has 590 repins.

 

Skipping down a couple of places, we have this Octopus Pattern Craft from Still Playing School, which actually links to a collection of beach-themed learning activities. It always makes me laugh that this is repinned so often. I mean, I pin lots of crafts. Why this octopus? What is so special about it? It’s pretty darn cute, but it’s just a construction-paper-and-cereal thing. Anyway, it has 456 repins. You go girl, Miss Octopus.

____

What do you think makes a pin popular? Some of these are on group boards, some are not. All have text on their photos, whether the photo was taken by a professional or not. Some are collages, some are not. Some are big. Some are not. I find the whole thing pretty baffling … and will stick to just pinning things I like and might want to reference again.

But if you were wondering where you could find some slow cooker meals or a way to make traveling with kids more bearable, here you go.

 

 

Irresistible Peanut Butter Muffins

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peanut butter muffins

 

If, like me, you are a great lover of all things peanut butter, these muffins are for you. They are light and fluffy, specked with just enough chocolate to tickle your tastebuds, and make a perfect breakfast or grab-and-go snack.

I love muffins and I cannot lie. And the goodness of these, you cannot deny.

Unless you don’t like peanut butter. In which case, well, I am very, very sorry.

Irresistible Peanut Butter Muffins

Yield: about 16 small muffins or 12 larger ones

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. peanut butter (preferably natural)
  • 2 T coconut oil
  • 7/8 c. sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 T lemon or lime juice
  • 1/4 c. mini chocolate chips

Instructions

In a mixing bowl, stir together peanut butter and oil until uniform. Stir in sugar, then egg and vanilla. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Dump on top of the peanut butter mixture.

Pour milk and lemon or lime juice over the top, then stir all together until just combined. Fold in mini chocolate chips.

Fill greased or papered muffin cups halfway full. Bake 15-17 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. If your muffin cups are bigger, it may take longer - mine are on the small side.

Enjoy warm or cool.

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What’s your favorite kind of muffin?

Saturday Linky Love

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Happy Friday to you! I’ve spent a LOT of time this week reading blogs and not a whole lot of time reading actual books. I’ve been at my parents’ house – and my in-laws’ earlier in the week – so I’ve been trying to catch up on blog reading, I guess. In between trying to keep Joshua from killing himself, which is a full-time job at the moment. Ay yi yi.

Here are some of the wonderful things I read this week! You can see more things I pinned and stuff I stumbled, too.

Reading offline: Erm, well, like I said, I haven’t done much actual book-reading. I finally finished Quitter today, still reading Xenocide, and started Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister in the car.

So, what did you read that was great this week? Link up here. You can grab the code for the button in the sidebar, if you want. Please link back here and add the PERMALINK to your post, not your home page.

… but fear itself.

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I was in fourth grade when my (amazing) teacher, Mrs. Titus, first mentioned the quote, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” She told us, her wee 9-year-olds, about how scared she had been to get her wisdom teeth out. But then she quoted FDR, and explained how really, there was nothing to be scared about, other than being embarrassed of how she’d sang Christmas carols while under the anesthesia.

________

A few weeks ago, I joined the Y. After weeks of having back pain that wouldn’t relent, I was fed up. It’s time to at least attempt to lose the baby-baby-baby-marriage weight I’ve gained in the past 10 years. I didn’t start out thin before babies, but since 2004 I’ve wandered into plus-size territory and feel like my health has definitely gotten worse.

I’ve always avoided group exercise classes. Because I’m afraid of being a fool. I am not coordinated, and thinking back on my freshman year of college crash-course on modern dance (where all the other dancers had years of ballet training versus my NOTHING) can still make me shudder. I don’t want others looking at me and laughing at my ineptitude. Period.

But I’m in my 30s now, and the waves of self-consciousness have begun to dissipate. The less I worry about others’ opinions, the better I feel in general.

Still, one morning, I mentioned on Facebook I wanted to go to a water aerobics class but I was worried about being the fool. I had so many supportive comments (I can’t find the thread!), and one stood out from my friend Tiffany. She told me to consider how often I thought about the other people when I was exercising. Probably NOT AT ALL. And yeah. Totally true.

I found that I adore water aerobics. I am usually the youngest person by 30 years, but who cares? It’s great exercise, it’s easy to adapt, and I’ve found everyone to be very friendly and helpful. I’ve been to classes with at least four different instructors, and they’re all challenging in different ways.

Just like Mrs. Titus told me, there wasn’t anything to fear. Fear is uncomfortable, but the place past fear generally isn’t nearly as scary as it seems. The cycle of fear is where more fear dwells. And we can choose to live there. Or choose to move on.

_______

In his (wonderful) book Quitter, Jon Acuff writes, “90 percent perfect and shared with the world always changes more lives than 100 percent perfect and stuck in your head.”

For a long time, I’ve been working on this devotional-thingy. And it’s pretty much done. It’s been pretty much done since May or so. And with all the excuses I’d like to lay on you, the truth is that I am simply afraid to publish it. I’m afraid no one will buy it, it won’t make any sense, I will have put a lot of effort into something that helps no one.

But dwelling in the Land of Fear is doing nothing for anyone, myself included. If the devotional helps one person, it will be well worth it. Any proceeds will be donated, so I’m not worried about making money. And I believe it is God’s. So whatever He does with it, it’s in His hands. Not mine.

So look for it in the next couple weeks. I’m ready to release words into the wild and leave the fear behind.

Magic Triangle Faux-Cookies {Secret Recipe Club}

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magic_triangles

Want something supersweet, gooey, and absolutely irresistible? You’ve come to the right place!

This month my assigned Secret Recipe Club blogger was Adventures in All Things Food. Andrea is a mom of three kids under 6 (oh wait – that sounds familiar!) and writes about everything from food to family to books (yay!) and more. I loved her latest post about decorating pudding cups for Halloween; I might have to do that for Libbie’s classroom snack at the end of the month.

Andrea’s recipes were very enticing. I would have made these skillet potatoes if I’d had any mushrooms on hand. YUM!

But I was looking for something quick and sweet, and these “Triangle Delights” fit the bill. (I totally remembered the name as Magic Triangles. Because my brain is dead. Both wonderful titles work.) They are easy to customize with what you have. I didn’t have as many mini-marshmallows as I thought I did, so I threw some little caramel pieces on and they added a great chewy factor. I used a mix of dark and white chocolate chips, omitted nuts, and only put coconut on half since my husband doesn’t like it. I was wishing I had put some nuts on top, though, because I think the sweet-salty factor would really put these over the top! (Pretzels might work, too. YUMMM!)

I love this kind of fake-cookie to give out around Christmas. Since you can make a whole jelly-roll pan full quickly and then cut it apart, it takes a lot less time than cookies. When I want to make homemade Christmas goodies, I default to barks, chocolate-dipped pretzels and Oreos, and saltine candy. And now, this graham cracker s’more-thingy will totally be part of my repertoire.

Magic Triangle Faux-Cookies

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: about 60 small triangles

Magic Triangle Faux-Cookies

Ingredients

  • whole graham crackers - about 15, enough to cover the bottom of your jelly-roll pan
  • 3 c. mini marshmallows, or a mix of mini marshmallows and caramel bits
  • 1 c. butter
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • toppings (use some, all, or make up your own)
  • chocolate chips
  • shredded coconut
  • sliced almonds

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350. Line a jelly-roll pan with parchment paper or a silpat. Place whole graham crackers on top in a single layer. Sprinkle with mini marshmallows/caramel bits.

Over medium heat, cook butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon, stirring, until butter is melted and sugar is mostly dissolved. Remove from heat; add vanilla. Pour over marshmallow layer.

Sprinkle with additional toppings.

Bake 12-15 minutes, until top begins to brown.

Let cool before cutting into small triangles. (Cut each graham cracker in half, then each square into triangles.) Enjoy!

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