Strawberry Muffins & Brown Sugar Oat Muffins

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Lately, I’ve found that muffins make a great make-ahead breakfast. I am always looking for things I can take to work and eat once I get there, and these are perfect! I made strawberry muffins to take on vacation last week, and they were a big hit! They tasted very dessert-y and got gobbled up. This weekend, I made brown sugar oatmeal muffins that are much more healthy-tasting. They make a great, filling breakfast with a piece of fruit.

As I almost always do, I tweaked recipes, but stayed pretty true to course. Here’s the recipes I made.

Come to mama, babies! #strawberries on Twitpic

Fresh Strawberry Muffins

Yield: 12 muffins

adapted from A Recipe a Day


  • 1/2 c. butter, melted
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 c. flour [I used 1 cup all purpose and 1 cup whole wheat]
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped strawberries
  • 1 T turbinado (raw) sugar [using raw sugar really adds a crunch to the topping, but if you don't have it you can use regular sugar or cinnamon-sugar]


Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and mix well.

Add flour, baking powder, and salt to a small bowl. Stir well with a wire whisk. Add flour mixture and milk alternately to butter mixture. Add vanilla. Gently stir in strawberries.

Spoon batter into muffin pans. Sprinkle turbinado sugar over muffins.

Bake at 400º for 20-25 minutes.

Brown Sugar Oat Muffins

Yield: 12 muffins

originally from Taste of Home but found at this blog.


  • 1 c. old-fashioned oats
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 c. milk
  • 1/4 c. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract


In a small bowl, combine the first six ingredients. In another small bowl, beat the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Stir into the dry ingredients just until moistened.

Fill muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 400° for 15-17 minutes.

For more Tasty Tuesday recipes, visit Jen at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam. And here are some of my old Tasty Tuesday submissions. Also, visit Cupcake Tuesday at Hoosier Homemade!

Added to Ingredient Spotlight: Oats.

The Singer and the Writer

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your life your blog

When we were growing up, my sister and I were both singers and writers. We have many home videos of us warbling together (and me, shoving her aside and insisting, “THEY WERE TAKING A PICTURE OF ME!!!” True story). We have that blend that only related people have–why do you think there are so many family singing groups? The Jackson 5, the Osmonds, the Carpenters, Hanson, the Dixie Chicks, the Jonas Brothers…

We also got great entertainment from writing stories together. We would pass a notebook back and forth in the car on long trips; we wrote an at least ten-part saga featuring Hanson and us; we wrote letters to one another pretending to be pen pals from far away countries. From the time I was very young, I would tell Ashley stories that I made up. My favorites featured little girls named after flowers. I wish I could remember what they did, because I am sure it would make an interesting children’s book series.

Ashley is 2 1/2 years younger than I am, which inevitably made her the perfect person to boss around … and eventually the perfect person to be insanely jealous of. As a typical older sister, I couldn’t stand for her to be better than me at something. And at singing, she is. While I was rejected from every solo opportunity and musical part, people sought her out to sing. She was in a Madrigals group in high school, an a capella group in college, and is apparently THE singer to secure for functions at her church now.

After several years of never being “picked” for anything in church choir and a good year and a half of being out of practice, I’ve pretty much accepted that I am mediocre as good singers go. Sure, I’m not bad. But no one’s going to hire me to sing even at The Climbers’ Wienie Roast and Monthly Talk. And, you know, that’s OK.

Out of the two of us, I’ve become the writer, which is something I have always, always wanted to be. Through this site, my work, and various other opportunities, I am published and read. I hope my influence, my witness for Christ, is through these mediums. Just as Ashley’s is through her gorgeous, insanely large-ranged voice.

If I were talented, I’d insert a video here of her and one of our college friends singing “The Prayer” at our wedding. Then you would know I am not just bragging on my little sis. She is amazing. Leave it to say, I absolutely bawled when she sang at the rehearsal.

So now I’m the writer, and she’s the singer. As usual, I’ve found the happier I am just being me, the easier it is not to be jealous of what I’m not.

Eight Months

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Dear Libbie,

It’s been a month of firsts for you, little one. You got your first teeth–you now proudly sport those two bottom ones, which popped up one right after the other.

You tried out the pool for this first time. Obviously, you were not too crazy about it. You have warmed up to the idea, though, and we went splashing with your friends Erica and Elizabeth both this week!

You went on your first amusement-park rides, and loved at least two of them.

You ate many news things, as I’ve decided to stop being too worried about it now that you’re older. You love to eat pretty much everything. The only thing you really didn’t like was kiwis–too sour! But you will eat all manners of fruits and vegetables and get very angry if we dare eat without feeding you, too. Despite that fact that you’ve decided you hate your jumperoo with a vengeance, you will happily sit in your high chair because you think it might bring the food close to you.

You’ve turned into a mommy’s girl the last month or so. While it can be a little tiresome for me, I am glad it’s not the other way around, selfishly. I know it’s hard for Daddy when you don’t want to hang out with him. It seems to be getting better, but for awhile you wanted nothing except to sit ON MY LAP when we were together. Not next to me. Only on my lap, and preferably nursing, was acceptable.

On the downside, you also went to your first funeral, for your great-grandfather. I am sad you’ll never know his quirky ways, but I will tell you many stories. You still have six living great-grandparents who are crazy about you, lucky girl.

Some things have stayed the same. You still have huge blue eyes. I don’t know if they’ll change color or not, but right now they are so gorgeous and get many comments from friends and strangers. You still love to read and sing, and grab for and eat anything that comes into your path. You sit up very well and are starting to scoot around on your bottom and crawl backwards. I’m a little nervous about those days when you become fully mobile!

What hasn’t changed, of course, is how much we love you to pieces. Your Daddy and I think you are just the best, brightest, most beautiful little girl in all the world. You are such a sweet baby, and as I watch you transform into a little girl, I can’t wait to see what happens and who you will become.

I love you, pumpkin.


Menu Plan Monday

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You’ll notice my plan is a little different this week, in that it includes breakfast and lunch. I am making an effort to eat more healthy, whole foods, and I feel like I need to plan these meals. We’ll see if it lasts, but I did some thinking on vacation and really feel like I need to cut out a lot of processed stuff–especially because I don’t want Libbie eating that junk, and I need to set a good example.

I’ve also decided to forgo the explanation of what I bought/what it cost unless I have a really great deal to share.

lunch-probably out
dinner–catfish, fried green tomatoes, fruit salad

breakfast-brown sugar muffin, fruit
lunch-chicken salad pita, celery sticks, hummus, fruit
dinner-Country Spinach Salad (going to sort of try to recreate this from Bob Evans)

breakfast-blueberry smoothie
lunch-salad with chicken, cheese, sunflower seeds, fruit; carrot sticks
dinner–Mexican stuffed shells

breakfast-muffin, one egg
lunch-chicken salad pita, fruit, hummus and veggies
dinner-Chicken Cordon Bleu, egg noodles (OAMC)

breakfast-cheesy eggs, raisin bread
dinner-Impossible Cheeseburger Pie

breakfast-muffins and fruit
lunch-sweet potato hash
dinner-Beej Fajitas (OAMC), rice, tortilla chips and salsa

breakfast-pancakes, bananas
dinner-Cheddar Butter Burgers, carrots, chips and salsa

D0 you plans your meals? All of them or just dinner?

For more menu plans, check out Org Junkie.

The Hanson Chronicles: On the Road

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I really, really wish I had pictures to accompany this post. I know they exist somewhere, but of course in nondigital format and I honestly have no clue where they might be hiding.

So you’ll have to settle for this hideous picture of me and Cynthia, doing who-knows-what in her room, in 2000 (we were high-school seniors). I spent a WHOLE lot of time in that room.

In the summer of 1997, Cynthia introduced me to a little band called Hanson. A severe obsession formed that lasted years. I’ve written a little about it here.

Hanson had the nerve to wait an ENTIRE YEAR from that time to go on tour. At the time it seemed like forever. When it finally came around, Cynthia, my sister, my sister’s friend, my DAD, and I trekked it to Manassas, Virginia and actually got to sit in seats, for which we were very proud. I am pretty sure my dad read the newspaper during the concert, surrounded by a gazillion screaming teenyboppers.

I have a document in my scrapbook entitled “The Life and Times of Jessie and Cynthia at the Hanson Concert.” Yes, I was 16.

Later that summer, we stumbled on the fact that Hanson was coming to the great Commonwealth of Virginia again, and there would be an online presale–THE NEXT MORNING. Cynthia and I rushed along, securing a credit card from my dad, permission from parents, money from our best friend Elise; and we nearly dropped dead when we also secured seats in the FIFTH ROW at the Virginia Beach venue.

Elise and me, circa 2001

We stayed up the entire night before and made gifts for Hanson, and delivered them to the stage at the concert along with a giant card we were sure would get their attention. And cause them to propose on the spot, perhaps.

The concert, though the same set, was quite different from the fifth row, where we could see what was going on. Eschewing our Hanson shirts for sexier attire, we tried to seem mature while screaming our lungs out and panting like dogs–at the “hotness” of the vocalists as well as a result of the swarm of young women surrounding us.

It’s a very happy memory.

I went on to see Hanson in concert once more, in Richmond, in 2000. While fun, it was never the same. I just don’t love the music they do now, as much as I want to. And the fact that Taylor has four kids kinda freaks me out as he is younger than I am.

By the way, I’ve also seen The Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, LFO, and Joey McIntyre in concert. There’s your laugh for the day! 🙂

So, what was your favorite band in high school? What’s your favorite concert memory?

This post inspired by a prompt from Plinky, which asked, “How far have you traveled to see your favorite performer?” While this isn’t the farthest I’ve gone for a concert (I took my then-boyfriend/aka Mr. V to see his favorite band in North Carolina one year), it’s definitely a more entertaining and involved tale. Thanks, Mary, for the link to Plinky!

Family Recipe Fridays: Serious Salsa

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Why serious? Well, because it takes a lot of chopping (or hand work with your food chopper–that thing takes some arm strength!).

But this is some good salsa. My mother-in-law cans some each year using tomatoes and anything else she can use from her garden. Despite my disdain for fresh tomatoes, I really like salsa, and I especially love this one because the tomatoes are in itty bitty pieces. Mr. V steals as much as he can each year; but I haven’t seen any appear in our pantry this summer, so I guess I’ll be making my own soon.

On an extreme side note, one of my favorite things is guacamole mixed with salsa. Apparently BooMama, BigMama, and Rocks in My Dryer took a little trip to visit Ree, THE Pioneer Woman, this week. And she served that exact thing to them. Why wasn’t I invited? I mean, BooMama replied to one of my Tweets once, so, really, we’re tight.


OK, anyway, here’s the recipe!

Serious Salsa


  • 1 c. green pepper, chopped fine
  • 1 large tomato, cored and chopped fine
  • 1 1/2 jalapeno peppers, cored, seeded, and chopped fine
  • 1/4 cu. onion, chopped fine
  • 1 1/2 T cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • for hot salsa, add:
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. hot sauce


Combine all ingredients and mix. Cover and let refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours before tasting. Adjust ingredients to taste.


This is one of those recipes you can take with a grain of salt. Use however much of everything you like and want.

Join the carnival! Write a post about a family recipe you have, click on Mr. Linky and add the PERMALINK to your post, and then click around to visit the other recipes here. What a good start to the weekend! If you don’t have a blog, feel free to add your recipe in the comments.