Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread

Bananas... we go threw phases where I can't keep enough in the house and other times when noses turn up at them and I've got a bunch of black ones on my hands.  When that happens, I toss them in the freezer for banana bread at a later date.  Banana bread has been the top request for breakfast for almost a week now so it was perfect timing when I saw Money Saving Mom's post on freezer cooking last week.
I made a few changes to the original recipe, so here is my version:
For the bread:
  • 3 over-ripe bananas, smashed up
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • dash of salt
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup multi-grain  flour (I find this replaces white flour)
For the swirl:
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbs cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a loaf pan with Pam.
  2. Blend bananas, butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla together and sprinkle the baking soda and salt on top of the banana mixture. Then gently stir in flour.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon.
  4. Add 1/2 of the batter to the loaf pan and then sprinkle half, or a little more than half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture all over the batter in the pan. Top off with the rest of the batter, and then sprinkle the leftover cinnamon-sugar on top.
  5. Bake for 40-60 minutes.
  6. Enjoy warm!
Basically, I reduced the sugar and butter originally called for and used healthier flour.  Next time, I will only use 1/8 cup of sugar for the swirl and not bother putting it on top as most of that fell off when I cut it.  It was a big hit, the 6 of us polished off the whole loaf for breakfast this morning!!!
Project Recycled
Now, before you go off looking for black bananas, be sure to hop over to The T-Shirt Diaries and vote for week one of this fun contest.  First up was a wild card and I'm already hard at work on next week's project, I just hope I make it to week 2!!!!!  You can vote once every 24 hours!

Peace be with you,


Kitchen Clean Up

Home Storage Solutions 101 is hosting 52 Weeks to an Organized Home and I'm doing my best to follow the plan.  The first week was countertops... I got them all cleaned up but didn't get pictures before my family struck...

Week 2 was kitchen cabinets and drawers.  I had spent some time before the holidays working on a few of my cabinets, but the drawers needed some work.  I started early one morning before anyone was up and forgot to take before pictures.  But, I'm pretty pleased with the afters:
If I'd realized how many baby spoons we no longer needed!  I kept all the matched sets with the kids monograms.  Especially since O-man still likes to use them, especially the "mini-forks!"
If I took the pizza cutter and the crinkle cutter out, everything fits perfectly, but those are pretty handy so they can rest on top.
Another thing that helped was taking out the rubber spatulas and wooden spoons, the two things I reach for the most and have to move the most to get to things below it.  For $1 I found a crock that was the right size and weight for what I wanted, I'll probably keep my eye out for something prettier, but for now, it does the job.  Since I rarely use the 5th burner on my stove, it works here and is easy to move if I do need that burner (come to think of it, I think it's just a warming burner... the stove was free, working and better than my old one, I wasn't too concerned with all the extras!).
Last week, was pantry, I'm still working on that and this week is fridge and freezer... working on that too!  It feels good to get some organizing done... too bad there is soooooooo much more to be done....

Peace be with you,


Scarf Organization

I didn't do a very good job of taking pictures of my outfits this past week.  I actually had a few cute ones (in my opinion at least!) but just didn't get pictures. 

Since it's cold, I'm pretty on board with the scarf trend, which has lead to a big pile of them on my closet floor.  This was driving me a bit crazy and adding time to getting dressed in the morning.  The other morning it occurred to me that I already had the perfect solution, an extra towel bar in the bathroom.
Peace be with you,


Project Recycled

I am so thrilled to be a part of an awesome contest... Project Recycled!!!!!  A contest for the upcycling of clothes, right up my ally!
Project Recycled
I'm working on my first assignment, I can't tell you what it is, but I'll be telling you when it's time to head over and vote.

Peace be with you,


Start the Day Right

It's been said the most important meal of the day is breakfast, we've all heard it before.  I have 5 kids here every morning to get out the door for school and i try to always start them with a good breakfast.  I try to offer them a hot well balanced breakfast, but there is always cereal and toaster waffles for those who don't care for what I've made (picky eaters only get so far in my house).

When I was a kid, my mom used to make me cream of wheat in any color I wanted!  She'd put food coloring in it and we'd get to stir it with the brown sugar in it to make it our color.  Pour a little milk over it and a glass of juice and that was breakfast.  My kids aren't as fond of cream of wheat as I was, but I'm still trying.

I don't color my hot cereal any more, but I still like it, but a bit differently now.  It's so simple and a nice warm filling way to start the day.
Peanut Butter Cream of Wheat
 aka: Banana soup according to O-man
3 Tablespoons of cream of wheat
1/2 - 3/4 cup boiling water
1 Tablespoon of Peanut Butter
1 Banana
1 cup of skim milk

Measure the cream of wheat into a bowl, add peanut butter and slowly pour in hot water, stirring the whole time.  The peanut butter will melt as the cream of wheat thickens with the hot water.  Slice banana on top and pour as much of the milk on top as you like.  The rest of the milk is to drink or add to your morning coffee.  About 300 calories for a warm and filling breakfast, not too shabby!  If you find yourself hungry after only a short time, try adding some ground flax seed.

It never fails that if I start my day off healthy, I eat much healthier the rest of the day.  How do you start your day?

Peace be with you,


Beat the Winter Blues - Guest: Long Race 4 Tate

Please welcome my Sister Baby, Gretchen from LongRace4Tate to Beat the Winter Blues!  Gretchen is such an amazing inspiration to me,
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Winter blues have been a constant for most of my life. But this year I don't have the winter blues. Instead I have the baby blues. The "sick baby" blues to be precise.

My 22 month old Tate has a rare blood/bone marrow failure disorder called "severe congenital neutropenia." You would never know he had a chronic and incurable illness if you met him right now, but this past Sunday was a different story.
The little guy I started making hats for (with his dad and mine, and their Buckeye Helmet Hats!)
Could he be any cuter?!?!?!?!
Tate's condition means that he can't fight bacteria on his own - he doesn't produce the type of white blood cell that does the job. When Tate gets sick, which has been about every 4-6 weeks, it really knocks him (and his parents) out.

Last weekend he caught the virus for viral pneumonia, something you might have already caught and fought off this season thinking it was a common cold. Although Tate didn't get pneumonia of any kind this week, he got a fever of 104.5 and had to spend 48 hours in Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital. They tested every type of bodily fluid and pumped him antibiotics through an IV while we waited for the results and his exuberant personality to return.
We are fortunate once again that Tate's health rebounded quickly. Typically Tate recovers from and illness and then my husband and I have to recover. We go through the motions of work for however many days there are before the weekend, when we lay on the couch for 24 hours and watch TV while Tate jumps and plays with his toys on the floor in front of us. Which leads to us feeling guilty that we aren't enjoying Tate and making the most of his good health!

This time we handled our recovery things differently. My husband is training for his second half marathon, so I made sure to encourage him to run the morning after we returned home from the hospital. Although we probably eat healthier at the Cleveland Clinic than we do at home because they make it very difficult to eat junk, we had been sedentary for two days and there is nothing good about being forced to stay still while your heart and mind races with stress.
On the way home from the hospital I called my massage therapist and scheduled an appointment that evening (and yes, I do feel kind of jerky when I say "my"). I know from past experience that getting a good night's sleep after that kind of exhaustion is nearly impossible. When I got home, I packed my bag so that I could stop at the gym on my way home from work the following day). I am on week 2 of the Couch 2 5K program. Not only did I know that exercise would be beneficial, I'm running a 5K at the end of the 10-week program with two of my cousins, so I'm accountable. I know they didn't expect me to run this week but I didn't want to get behind and give myself anything to be stressed out about next week.
Besides completing the couch to 5K program this winter was my plan to beat both the winter blues as well as my "sick baby" blues. I have never made exercise a priority in my life. Since Tate's diagnosis I have felt the need to improve my health to set a good example for him as he grows up.

We also see running as a metaphor for Tate's life, inspiring our fundraiser the Long Race 4 Tate. Tate is in for a long race, so we've asked our friends and family to "sponsor" my husband in his races; we've asked friends and family to dedicate their races to Tate and recruit additional sponsors. All sponsorships are donations to a nonprofit dedicated to raising money for additional research - and one day a cure - for Tate's disorder.

www.LongRace4Tate.com is also a blog where I can update friends and family on Tate's condition as well as write about being Tate's mom. We're just getting started, but we're thrilled about the progress. We've already raised close to $5,000 and so far Tate's race is going to Pittsburgh, Charlotte, Portland and Boston!

Do I have a lot to be blue about this winter (and spring, summer and fall)? Yes. But I refuse to let this get the best of my son, my husband and me. We allow ourselves to have bad days, but we decided from the beginning we would not cope with this disease with tears and lethargy. This winter (and spring, summer and fall), we're running, fundraising and enjoying the healthy days to beat the blues.
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IronFish has joined the cause too with the Longest Race for Tate... the New York City Iron Man this August!
Peace be with you,
And, just for fun, here's an older picture of me and my sisters, they always know how to make me smile.  Enjoy your weekend folks!
Me, Baby Sister and Sister Baby
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