Easy ‘One-Banana’ Banana Bread

Our family buys bananas often. I try to be strategic when I buy them so that we can have a few days of perfectly ripe bananas, yet there always seems to be one lonely banana left that turns too black too quickly.

There are lots of ways to use overripe bananas, but most of the time you need more than just one.

I wondered if you could make banana bread with just one banana, maybe just make a small batch of muffins or something, & then I found this recipe.

Banana bread using only one banana? Could it be?

Yes!

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This recipe produces a moist but dense bread with awesome banana flavor. I love this recipe because it’s not too mushy. I add slivered almonds for extra texture & flavor.

Since discovering this recipe, I’ve been a little bit banana bread obsessed. I have made it more times than I’ve made anything else in my life, ever. It’s just such a great, easy recipe! Not only that, but banana bread makes a great breakfast, snack, even dessert.

I love that it’s a ‘dump’ recipe – you literally just put everything in a bowl & mix it all up. I’ve made it with all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, & a combination of the two. It has worked with all of those variations – I just made it a full cup of milk when using whole wheat.

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One week we had 2 bananas that were too far gone, so I made two loaves. My husband took one to work & he says it was gone in minutes!

Easy ‘One Banana’ Banana Bread

Makes 1 loaf

  • 1 large overripe banana
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, plus enough milk to make 1 cup liquid
  • 1 stick butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • slivered almonds (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease your loaf pan.
  2. Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Mix with an electric mixer until all of the flour is incorporated, being careful not to over-mix. Mixture should be slightly lumpy, but not have large chunks.
  3. Pour batter into loaf pan.
  4. Bake for about 55 minutes. The bread is ready when the top no longer looks gooey & a toothpick comes out relatively clean (it is a moist bread, afterall!).
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My Golden Year

It’s my birthday!

29 on the 29th!

It’s my *Golden Year*.

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I learned that term from my friend, Ryan. It’s the year that your birth date is also your age. I intend to live it up & make it my best year yet!

Since it is my golden year, & next year I’ll be 30, I thought I’d do a variation on the ’30 before 30′ lists I’ve seen floating around.

Here are 29 things I’d like to accomplish my 29th year:

  1. Read the Bible regularly.
  2. Volunteer.
  3. Lose weight.
  4. Get more serious about fitness.
  5. Make Spanish more of a priority at home.
  6. Throw a fancy dinner party.
  7. Go to a gun range.
  8. Go to local high school football games.
  9. Read more books.
  10. Learn a (simple) new make up look.
  11. Get more serious about my book business.
  12. Paint more.
  13. Build something with my hands.
  14. Donate blood.
  15. Grow my hair long (& healthy) to donate.
  16. Visit a new city in Florida.
  17. Fast.
  18. Pay for someone else’s coffee.
  19. Send a care package to a soldier.
  20. Bake a soufflé.
  21. Be more intentional about making new friends.
  22. Hand make (most) Christmas presents this year.
  23. Pay off debt.
  24. Go on a painting/cooking/activity date with my husband.
  25. Go see more local shows/events.
  26. Go to one of the Orlando theme parks.
  27. Work on knife & butchery skills.
  28. Write more letters to friends.
  29. Grow in my relationship with God.

Happy Birthday to ME!

1,000 Days Of Marriage

I always say it’s the little things that make the biggest difference in marriage.

Yesterday my husband & I celebrated 1,000 days of marriage.

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I got the idea to celebrate a while ago, when we celebrated 100 days of marriage. I set a reminder on my phone & just kept it in mind to do a little something special for my hubby on 9/15.

Hurricane Irma hit Florida on 9/10. Thankfully, our home was spared from serious damage & our extended family is safe as well. Hundreds of trees were blown down. Several areas flooded. Many neighborhoods & traffic signals are still without power a week later. My parents stayed with us for 5 nights before their power was restored. It was scary during the storm & stressful after it.

The situation helped me see exactly what my husband is made of. I got to see how much love he has for Jesus as he suggested we pray together over our house before the storm hit. I got to see him selflessly help friends, fellow church goers, & family members put up shutters. He was my rock & comforted me as I got more nervous about the forecast. He was a saint & gave our bed to my parents while they were here. He is the best father, provider, & friend I could have ever hoped to marry.

So to celebrate our milestone, I used some of the cardstock from our wedding signs (yes, I still have tons) to make him this card (pictured with mason jars & cake topper from the wedding, too).

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I put a $10 (1,000₵) giftcard inside for us to use together. It was just a small token to show him how much I appreciate our marriage.

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I look forward to thousands more days with this amazing man!

Christmas Red Wedding

Mary Berry’s American Victoria Sandwich

Are you as obsessed with The Great British Baking Show as I am?

I’m actually quite sad that the latest season just ended.

For the finale, the contestant’s technical challenge was to make Mary’s Victoria sandwich without a recipe.

A Victoria sandwich is is a two-layer light sponge cake filled with a layer of jam & buttercream.

Seeing as how I am not British – not even close – I am only able to take Mary Berry’s word that this is a classic cake & that the jam should be raspberry (with “all the bits”, as she says).

I’ve been wanting to try to create one of the recipes from the show since I started watching Season 1 on Netflix earlier this summer. I figured this one shouldn’t be terribly difficult. Not like the Prinsesstårta!

The only thing is that Mary Berry’s recipe is written in U.K. Measurements. I have no idea how much 225g of self-raising flour is. The PBS website is nice enough to link to this conversion site at the bottom of the recipe, but it only converts grams to ounces – not cups. I still have no idea how much 8oz of flour is. So with my little food scale & Google, I came up with the below recipe conversion.

Hence this is Mary Berry’s American Victoria Sandwich.

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One key difference for me is that I do not have self-raising flour. Therefore, I used all purpose plus extra baking powder. (Side note: God is real, you guys. I had JUST enough flour to make this!)

I also made my own caster sugar with a food processor. I was going to skip it but I read that regular granulated sugar wouldn’t give the sponge the right texture & could be grainy. To make enough caster sugar for this recipe, I pulsed 1 1/4 cup of sugar in the food processor for about 30 seconds.

I was all set to follow Mary’s proportions for buttercream (7 tbsp buter, 1 3/4 cup powdered sugar if anyone is interested),  but then I accidentally threw the whole stick of butter in the mixer. So 2 cups of powdered sugar it was. It’s so much easier to use the whole stick of butter anyway!

I did cheat a little & used store bought raspberry jam – seedless. Sorry, Mary. I know you like “all the bits”, but my husband does not!

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My 2 sponges domed up more than I would have liked in the middle, so I did trim them. But that just meant I got to taste test them before serving them to my friends!

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I cannot tell you how this compares to the British original.

I can only tell you it was delicious!

Mary Berry’s American Victoria Sandwich

Victoria Sponge

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour, lightly spooned – not scooped
  • 2 level tsp baking powder
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease two 8in round cake pans & line with parchment paper.
  2. Break the eggs into a large bowl. Then add the sugar, flour, baking powder, & butter. Use an electric mixer to mix together until well combined, being careful not to over-mix. (According to Mary, “The finished mixture should be of a soft ‘dropping’ consistency.”)
  3. Divide the mixture evenly between the cake pans. Use a spatula to gently smooth the surface of the cakes.
  4. Place the cake pans on the middle shelf of the oven & bake for 25 minutes. Don’t open the oven door to check them until at least the 20 minutes mark.
  5. When the’re done, remove them from the oven & set aside to cool in the pans for 5 minutes. Then transfer onto a rack to cool completely.

Buttercream

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp milk
  1. Using electric mixer, beat the butter in a large bowl until soft.
  2. Add half of the powdered sugar & beat until smooth.
  3. Add the remaining powdered sugar & 1 tablespoon of milk. Beat the mixture until creamy & smooth. Add the remaining tablespoon of milk if the buttercream is too thick.

To assemble:

  1. Choose one of the sponges to be the bottom & put it down on to a serving plate.
  2. Spread the raspberry jam (store bought or homemade) on the cake, then pipe the buttercream on top of the jam.
  3. Place the other sponge on top & sprinkle with caster sugar to serve.

 

 

My Dream Job

This week I got promoted to my dream job.

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a marine biologist.

When I got to college, I wanted to be a veterinarian. But eventually I realized what my true passion was.

What I really wanted to be was a stay at home mom.

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It’s funny how college – a time where I had no husband or children – helped me see that ultimately I wanted to be a stay at home mom. I came to the realization that no career would fulfill me or give me the sense of purpose that motherhood now does. I’ve sort of written about that before.

I am & will always be a baby/kid person

I am so thrilled I have this opportunity to be home with Cupcake.

Before we got married, my husband & I discussed my SAHM goal. I am beyond blessed to be with someone who also wanted that for his family.  We agreed to start a family soon after the wedding even if that goal wasn’t immediately attainable. Maybe for our second kid, we said.

God made it possible with our first. I’m telling you, it has been like the stars magically aligned for us. I don’t believe in magic or coincidences. I do believe in a great big God.

I am incredibly grateful that I get to make this choice. Not only are we fortunate enough to be able to live off my husband’s income, but we were just as fortunate to have great, affordable childcare. I know families sometimes make the choice for one parent to stay home simply because going to work & paying for childcare isn’t economical. I know other families wish they could make this choice, but they really do need both incomes.

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I’m so happy I get to stay home & share silly days with my daughter!

This week started a new chapter for our family. Though I have a few side projects going (like Usborne Books & More), I may not work outside the home again for anywhere from just a couple years to a couple decades. Only time will tell. The only thing I can say with certainty is that I will work harder than I ever have before. According to Salary.com, this job was worth $143,102 & had 31 different job descriptions in 2016.

The job is totally worth it, even without the fat paycheck.

I now have the best boss ever.

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Supplies For Pumping At The Office

Going back to work as a nursing mom requires careful planning. You have to figure out a way to leave milk for your baby to eat while you’re away. Cue in the breast pump!

But it’s not just the pump – you need a whole host of supplies, too.

Pumping is just not as intuitive as breastfeeding, so I figured I would try to spell it out as much as possible for other working moms (& future me, in case I forget with the next kid!)

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Now, this wouldn’t be a proper parenting post without a bunch of disclaimers: I am not a lactation consultant or a health professional. If any of these tips go against what a doctor is telling you, by all means please listen to the doctor! The views expressed here are my personal opinion. I have a ‘typical 9-5 type’ office job with cubicles & such. These supplies & tips are designed for that type of environment & might not work in other fields of work. I am using a Medela Pump In Style Advanced double electric pump & other Medela products. I am not receiving any compensation for recommending any of the below described products, they are just what I prefer to use. These supplies & tips are what’s currently working for me. If you feel uncomfortable with anything I’m describing, please don’t feel this is the only way. Feel free to leave me a comment & we can discuss!

Pumping at work requires A LOT of supplies. It’s different than pumping at home. For one thing, you can’t just be topless. Here’s what I use at work:

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1. Double Electric Pump

This is really the only way to go at work, in my opinion. If you use a single pump it will take you twice as long. With my Medela Pump In Style Advanced, my 2 ‘on the clock’ pumping breaks take less than 20 minutes each: set up, pump for 12 minutes, break down. During my lunch break I usually pump around 20 minutes & get a little more. For me, 10 minutes is my absolute minimum to pump, but 12 is better.

BONUS TIP: Get a spare AC adapter plug. I have seen some tips online that say you should get 2 pumps if you can, one for work & one for home. I can totally see why because setting up and breaking down the pumping station at home & and at work is a pain in the ass. However, getting a spare plug is almost as good as getting another pump. I leave one permanently plugged in at my pumping area at home, and the other one stays permanently in my pumping bag for work (when not in use, of course). That way when I pump at home I just grab the pump out of my bag & the plug is ready & waiting for me on my little stool next to my glider.

2. Hands Free Pumping Bra

I could probably write a whole post just about this bra. I bought one of the Medela hands free bras & used it quite a bit during my maternity leave. When I first started pumping for Cupcake, I’d feed her on one side & pump from the other with this bra. This kind of only worked when she was really young – the older she got the more wiggly she got! Now this bra is a life saver at work. But at first I could NOT wrap my brain around how to use it without taking all my clothes off.

All of the photos you see on the packaging & online are women using them like this:

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So I’m supposed to undress, put on the bra, then put my blazer/sweater back on, & smile? Got it. *eye roll*

I know there are other styles of pumping bras, but I already owned this one. Plus I was afraid of the styles you can wear ‘all day’. Would a breastpad show under it? Would I leak like crazy without a pad? Too much drama.

A friend of mine had her baby 2 months before me & used the same bra, so I asked her how she does it. She said, “I just push everything up.”

So that’s what I did when I returned to work. I’m not about to show you a picture of what it looks like, but here’s my process: I lift my shirt, zip the hands-free bra around my waist, push the bra I’m wearing up, & life the hands-free bra up over my chest.

Some of you might be like, well duh!!! But let me tell you that as a pregnant woman & as a first time mom I could NOT figure that out without someone telling me. So I am telling you just in case 🙂 I have never tried using it with a dress – please let me know if you have!

3. Breastshields with Removable Flanges

Removable flanges are the key here – you cannot use the hands-free bra with the one piece shields.

I do think it is still good to have spare shields, even if they are the one piece kind. I use the one piece shields at home where I can sit back & watch TV, or when I’m only pumping one side. It’s no fun to have to hold 2 of those 3x a day at work.

4. Cooler with Ice Pack & Bottles

Medela has these cooler bags with an ice pack that is grooved specifically to hold 4 of the 5oz pumping bottles. I highly suggest getting this, or at least something comparable. The bottles fit snugly & don’t move around much in the cooler.

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5. Nursing Cover

This is not essential, but the first few days of pumping at work I felt much calmer using a nursing cover. Just in case for some reason anyone burst through the door of my pumping room (no one ever has, thankfully!). It has also come in handy on a few occasions where I have done video chat with my daughter’s caregivers while pumping.

6. Swaddle Blanket

In my opinion, muslin swaddle blankets are the best tool to drape over your lap so you don’t splash milk on your work pants once you’re done pumping. These blankets are way less bulky than a towel, and if you grab one that your baby uses often it might even help you produce more milk by reminding you of/ smelling like your baby.

7. Gallon Storage Bag & 8. Mini Fridge

These 2 go hand-in-hand for me for an important reason: I, personally, do not wash my breastshields at work.

Let me explain. I wash & dry them at home & put them in a gallon storage bag. After I use them for my first pump at work, I put them back into the storage bag & stick it directly in the fridge. Then I just repeat the process the whole day (3 pumping sessions total for me). I do not rinse them – I don’t feel comfortable rinsing them in the communal kitchen & hell no am I going to rinse them in the bathroom. The shields go from a clean bag, to my body, back to the bag, & then to the fridge. Next time I pump, I grab my cooler & my storage bag, pump as normal, & put them away again in the fridge.

My job was kind enough to provide me with a fridge I could keep right at my cubicle. If in the future I have a job that does not do this, I will ask them if I can bring my own. It is really very helpful & most of my coworkers don’t even know I have it.

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A mini  fridge is also great for storing breastmilk away from the communal fridge- no worrying about coworkers messing with your cooler in search of a snack! My job was kind enough to provide me with a fridge I could keep right at my cubicle. If in the future I have a job that does not do this, I will ask them if I can bring my own. It is really very helpful & most of my coworkers don’t even know I have it. Of course I also use it to store my personal lunch – if I don’t eat, the baby doesn’t eat!

9. Wipes/Paper Towels

This is for any accidental spills in the pumping area. I have splashed a few drops on the table a couple times & it helps to have something handy to clean up.

10. Headphones

With headphones, you can listen to music, make phone calls, or just keep yourself entertained watching YouTube videos! Pumping can get boring & distracting yourself is important. (Don’t watch the clock! Set a timer on your phone & then do something else!) I keep a pair of headphones in my pumping bag, even though I don’t use them very often.


So there you have my list of supplies for pumping at the office.

It’s hard work, but my little Cupcake is totally worth it ❤

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Is your list different? Let me know!

It’s Not ‘Goodbye’, It’s ‘See You Later’

Last Sunday was bittersweet.

It was Cupcake’s baptism, but it was also the last day we would see her godparents for several months.

Our best friends & our sweet goddaughter have moved to North Carolina.

Hubby & I knew this day would come. We knew that David would be looking for a job out of Florida after he got his PhD. We knew that all this time since his graduation last year was ‘bonus’.

It doesn’t mean we miss them any less!

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I’m so glad we are each other’s daughter’s godparents. Now we’re family!

To ease their long drive from South Florida to North Carolina (in two separate cars, I might add), I made them a little going away present.

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That way they could stop for coffee & snacks along the way.

Also, who doesn’t love a good pun or two?

I’m so happy for my friends. They are closer to their families & their careers are advancing. It’s almost hard to be sad for me when I’m excited for them!

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I know our girls (& future kids!) will still be close. Thankfully they moved somewhere that will be really nice to vacation in!

So it’s not ‘goodbye’, it’s ‘see you later’. We are looking in to plane tickets for next year 🙂

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I already see how much my goddaughter is enjoying the mountain air!

Cupcakes For Cupcake’s Baptism!

Yesterday was Cupcake’s baptism!

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She was such an angel about it! She was asleep up until we got up on the church altar. Then she opened her eyes & perked up, almost as if she knew that the ceremony was all for her.

Afterward we had a little party at our house to celebrate.

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So of course I made a cake!

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A pull-apart cupcake cake to be precise. Cupcakes for my Cupcake’s baptism ❤

This cake was so easy to assemble! I used 1 box cake mix, about 3 tubs of frosting, & some chocolate candies.

I think it came out looking beautiful.

I’m very much looking forward to raising little Cupcake to be a God-fearing woman.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

Pull-Apart Cupcake Cross

assembly instructions
  • 28 cupcakes
  • ~50 oz frosting (about 3 tubs)
  • candies for decorating
  1. Assemble the cupcakes into the desired cross shape.
  2. Frost each cupcake with a large rosette ( I used Wilton 2D tip)
  3. Fill in the gaps with more rosettes.
  4. Decorate with colorful candies.

New Adventure – Usborne Books & More!

Last week I made a very exciting decision: I decided to become a book lady.

Book Lady

I’m super excited to kick off my new book business with Usborne Books & More!

I love that Usborne Books & More promotes literacy in fun & innovative ways.

Before they understand

I’m excited to instill a love of reading in my daughter.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t also excited to make a little extra money for our family!

I’d love to share more about Usborne Books with you! Just leave me a comment & I’ll be happy to answer any questions.

If you’re already familiar with Usborne, or are just eager to do some shopping for the kids in your life, check out my site here.

BookBeePollen

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day!

Yesterday was my first Mother’s Day…that I knew about. One year ago today we found out about our sweet little Cupcake.

May 15th will always be a special day for our family.

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We bought a house in 2015.

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We became godparents in 2016.

We actually became godparents on the same day we realized we were parents. That is so special.

Looking at that picture above was what made me take a pregnancy test, actually. Was I just bloated, or could it possibly be…?

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I posted this picture on social media as a “one year later” happy homeowner pic. Truthfully, this is the first photo of us as parents. After that first positive pregnancy test. After going to the store to get another one to make sure it wasn’t a fluke.

I wish we could find out about our babies the moment they’re conceived, but we are not that advanced yet. To find out the real exact moment we become parents. Those lines on a home pregnancy test (or 3) will have to do.

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From the moment the strip turned pink I was a different person. A mother.

I was carrying my child. My parents’ and in-laws’ grandchild. My siblings’ & siblings-in-laws’ niece. My friends’ godchild. So loved by everyone well before she came out of my body.

Not a ‘potential’; no longer just a hope & prayer. A real, living human being. 46 chromosomes. Irreplaceable & unrepeatable.

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Today, I’ve been a mom for a whole year.

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