Nashville on ABC: Things I Learned from S2:E1 (Spoilers)

As soon as we started this blog, I had a strong feeling a post like this was going to happen.  I’ve almost come to terms with the fact that it may even become a regular thing.  As if our opinions weren’t random enough, now we are going to start talking about Nashville on ABC.

Before I can properly get into the dirty details of my favorite prime time soap opera, we need to address the topic of ABC. I don’t know what they’re the putting in the Kool-aid but I’m totally drinking it. (Also, if you want the disturbing origin of that phrase, here ya go. You’re welcome.)  Hello?! Nashville, Revenge, Once Upon a Time?! Erika has also solidified that fact that I need to get caught up on Scandal. That will be happening as soon as I can get my family moved 1,300 miles to Raleigh North Carolina. Ben says ABC is for women, CBS is for old people and FOX is for those born between 1978 and 1993. And NBC? Well, you got rid of 30 Rock so we’re no longer speaking.

Ok . . . Nashville. Based on the responses that I’ve received each time I post something about Nashville on Facebook I think it is time to give the share a proper Unqualified Opinion. So here ya go.

Life Lessons from Nashville on ABC

1. If you want to look younger, simply don’t wear makeup or use product in your hair.  Connie Britton is practically 16 in last night’s episode. Hey, all of you other mom’s at school think I’m lazy when I pick up Sam with crazy hair sans makeup!  Turns out the jokes on you, I’m just emphasizing my youthful good looks.

Nashville ABC

2. The only thing better than one pregnancy secret is TWO pregnancy secrets.  C’mon we all knew that as soon as Peggy said she was pregnant there would be complications. Poor baby daddies are always in the dark on this show and somehow Teddy is always involved.

3. The Nashville Police Department may need to work on their investigation tactics involving car accidents. How did they NOT know that Rayna was the driver?! Nice job court appointed attorney getting to the bottom of that GIANT mystery.  And now the Rayna and Tandy’s mom accident was “no accident”.  SHOCKED!

4. Personal Assistants are really, uhhhh, hands-on in Nashville. I’m wondering if they include all of the required services in the employment listings. This is a family friendly blog so that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Nashville on ABC

5. If you are creepy enough to try to get Rory Gillmore to be young forever, then you are far too creepy to date Scarlett.  I’m looking at you Avery Barkley AKA Jonathan Jackson AKA Jesse Tuck. Step away from the cute Australian blonde with the questionable yet delightful southern accent. Go hook up with Juliette. We all know that you are going to be the man to finally tame her.  At the very least you are the only suitable match that won’t walk all over her or let her walk all over you. (Yes, I did just refer to the 2002 movie based on the book Tuck Everlasting)

6. Speaking of our favorite Australians . . . In case you didn’t know, all you need to start mending a broken heart is a hipster country duet.  I could watch an entire episode of Scarlett and Gunnar singing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vS9skPTtFss

7. Even bad girls need love. There is not better way to humanize the evil “pop-country-tart-lett” Juliette than by having , the daughter of her rival crying on her shoulder. Plus by having Juliette reminiscence about maternal memories involving the music of above mentioned rival is a great way to remind the audience that drug-addict mother did die for her daughter last season.

Nashville on ABC

Just never mind the fact that Juliette was trying to boost record sales by capitalizing on Rayna’s tragic accident.  Also, will someone please explain the white mullet dress?  Sexy angel in front, classy evening gown in back. Apparently, the stylists just can’t get enough of this girl wearing white.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnEIIUkhlgI

 

5K Training and My First 5K

 

5k trainingIt was an exciting weekend around our house. After completing months (and by this I mean multiple attempts over 4 years) I finished my 5K training and Ben, Sam and I completed our first “race”. Ben and Sam ran the Austin CASA Superhero 1K and I ran the 5K.  Despite her protests, our daughter sat in the stroller with the iPad.

Running a 5K is a huge accomplishment for me and something that I never thought I would be able to do. Earlier this summer I shared the things that I learned from Couch to 5K. Today, I thought I would share the things that I learned from my first 5K.

What I Learned from 5K Training and My First 5K

5k-training-tips-3

Prepare – I decided to use the Zen Labs 5K training program. That was my foundation.  I trained for months for this race. I started slow on the treadmill. When school started, I found a nice Kelty jogging stroller on Craigslist for $100. My 18 month old and I moved the training outside. I spent the next 5 weeks promising my daughter,  “We are almost to the slide. . . ” all while shoving cereal, fruit snacks, toys and the occasional pink doughnut at her to keep her appeased. Seriously, pink donuts. She’d probably run a marathon with my if I had a dozen.

To specifically train for this race,  I ran the route twice before the big day. I wanted to know what to expect. The first time, I ran it with my super fit friend Tracy. She gave me lots of tips and encouragement. The second time, I ran it on my own with Elly. It helped me feel comfortable until the week of the race when I found they had changed the course. Oh, well.

Commit – Besides training, for me the big push came when I actually picked a race and committed to it. I sealed the deal by getting my family involved.  Once I showed Sam the video for the “Batman Race” he was all in. There were points that I thought that maybe I’d just run the 1k so I made myself accountable and shared our goal with others. There is nothing like fear of looking like a big fat quitter to help you complete a goal. I had finished my 5K training so I was going to finish a 5K. We also took it one step further and made a goal to raise money for CASA.  Together, Sam and I raised $140.  Not too bad and we got a special running shirt. If you get people you love to donate money then you better follow through.

Get there early –  Ben and I can never agree on what time we need to arrive at places.  I like to be extra early, especially if it is something like a flight, meeting or race. Ben, not so much.  He doesn’t like to stand around.  We arrived 45 minutes before the start of the 1K.  This gave us plenty of time to find parking, walk to the starting area and check out all of the activities. We had time to take fun photos, soak up the atmosphere and find our photo spots. Plus, the excitement of seeing the other runners in costume helped Sam get even more excited for the race.  

Take a support group –  Along the course there were tons of people cheering and pushing you on.  Let’s face it, you can’t just walk past people cheering for you.  You have to use your “Speed Boost” as Sam calls it. Also, I mentioned before, getting my family involved made a big difference.  It was a great opportunity for us to do something together. I made a sign for Sam and Ben made one for me. Us girls had a great time waiting at the finish line for “Sam and Daddy.” Ben’s wait was a little more, er, challenging with two kids. But for all of the hassle (and the cracked iPad screen) that Ben put up with, it meant so much to see my sweet little family yelling and cheering for me as I came around to the finish line. A high-five from your 5 yr old is enough to push any mom past the finish line.

Find your speed – I did all of my outdoor 5K training (2 months) pushing Elly in the jogging stroller in the steamy Texas August/September heat. Not an easy task. I was really tempted to push her in the race simply because we had trained together and I thought it would be a fun thing to finish together.  And she’s kinda my crutch. Eventually, I realized that this race was for me.  It was my accomplishment and I wanted to do my best. By losing the extra weight pushed throughout my training – the toddler, the stroller and 30 lbs of Tracey – I was able to take SIX AND A HALF MINUTES off my fastest 5K training run.  I found myself naturally running faster than I anticipated.  I took walk times where I needed to and ran when I was ready. Ben couldn’t believe my progress and how quickly I made it to the finish line. My time was official time was even 30 seconds faster than what Runkeeper on my phone said. I didn’t come in last. There were over 200 people behind me. I’m still feeling mighty proud of that.

Have Fun – As terrifying as it was to put my 5K training to the test, it was a fantastic experience. I cannot say enough about the CASA Superhero Run. I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone.  The energy of the crowd was infectious. The costumes added an air of fun to the entire event.  Finally, sharing the event with my family was a great way for us to do something together.  

So if you are debating taking the 5K training plunge, I say, “Go for it.” One of my sisters has started 5K training and my other sister is contemplating it along with it my mom.  Who knew that we would be a family of “runners”?

 

Making Friends As An Adult

Making Friends
My sweet friend Buddy, It only took 32 years to find her, convince her to be my friend and then convince her to throw me a fantastic baby shower. XOX

Let me start by saying, “Yes, I did just post a photo of my 9 month pregnant self on the internet.” Awesome huh?  Why would I do this? Because we today we are talking about female friendship. More specifically, making friends. There is no better way to start this conversation than to share a photo of a friend of mine that I didn’t make until I was 32. We were destined to be friends despite our different stages in life, child rearing and marriage. A friend that I was happy to partially name my sweet daughter after.

Ladies, making friends can be tough stuff. It has always been tough.  I remember when I was in first grade my “best friend” invited that dumb Darrell to her birthday instead of me.  Say what!? My seven year old heart was broken. Then in third grade there was some swapping of besties that just hurt everyone’s feelings. Let’s not even get started on Middle School, High School and College.  There are plenty of angsty-teen movies that cover that topic.

Let’s talk about “Grown-up Mommy Friendship”.  Recently, one of my oldest besties (who lives way too far away) called me and said, “Trace? Do you feel like you are still cool?”  The answers to that was, “Heavens, no.”  You people read my ramblings, I think we all know that my coolness level is definitely on the low end.  But hey, I’m nice and I like to hand out cupcakes.  That’ll suffice in most social situations.

As we continued our chat I realized she was probably asking questions that we all ask ourselves. “Do you feel like you have friends? And if so are they ‘cool’ friends? Do you feel like you are a part of something? Do you ever feel like other women know/have something you don’t? Do you feel like you are measuring up enough to provide/model adequate social interactions for your children?”

Then the biggest question. “Why does it seem so much harder to make friends as you get older?”

Our family is preparing to move to a new city in the next 6 weeks. Lucky for me, I’m pretty social and I  belong to a church that highly encourages (Dare I say, sometimes forces?) you to be friends within the congregation. It is just how Mormons roll. We love to serve and “friendship” people. So when you move, theoretically you already have a social network. There’s a good chance someone will even bring you cookies.

Unfortunately, a tray of cookies isn’t always enough to start a long and lasting relationship. You can’t count on religious desire or cultural expectations to magically ignite friendships. We still have to make an effort. In my opinion, the biggest thing that holds women back is what I like to call social anxiety.

I love my friends in Austin and even though I am super outgoing, I am TERRIFIED of the fact that I’m going to have to start over in a new place. I’m going to have to put some effort into making friends.  In fact, I’m really hoping that Ben gets a job in Denver just so I can hang out with Erika. Sister-in-law + Blogeague = Guaranteed Friend and Possible Babysitter.

It is hard to put yourself out there. Don’t ask me why. If you know me, you know that I am happy to chat it up with anyone. Start a conversation with me, and I will happily tell you anything you want to know. But the second I have to go interact with women I don’t know or admire at a party, a PTA meeting or simply a new class I’m going to have a mini-panic attack. Surprising huh?  Social anxiety.

So the question is, “Why am I intimidated? Why is making friends so hard?!” I’m a friendly girl, I’m fairly intelligent and for the most part pretty easy to get along with.

I blame the internet.

Instead of secretly admiring each other’s Girbaud Jeans, ESPIRIT bags and insane collection of compact discs stashed in giant binders as we walk through the halls of secondary education, now we compete online.  We see fantastic recipes, perfect family pictures, blogs filled with parties that you would die to throw and husbands that send their wives on fantastic girls trips. Pinterest, Facebook and blogs have become the high school lunchrooms of adult women.  We think we know exactly what others have and therefore, we think we know what we are missing out on. All one has to do is check their Facebook feed to find that every one of our friends (or acquaintances) is either crafting, cooking, running or leading the life of a glamorous business woman.

Here’s the deal ladies – almost all of us feel this way. But you know what?  No one knows what goes on behind the screen.  Just as a photographer is only going to feature their best photos on their website, how often do we find ourselves sharing only the things that make us look good. How often are we really candid and honest about our lives? Maybe your friend that always posts fantastic recipes constantly has a sink full of dirty dishes.  Maybe this causes a strain on her marriage. Perhaps your friend that is in fantastic shape and running a marathon once a month is doing so to minimize the effect of diabetes in her life. It is easy to see the successes of others without considering their challenges.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the internet is not the place to air you dirty laundry.  However, it can be a wonderful tool to help us honestly connect with others and keep in touch with the people that we love. Unfortunately it is also a place that perpetuates competition.

I say, “Stop competing.”

Life isn’t a race. It is the chance to interact with our fellow man. A chance to build loving and lasting relationships. Life is the opportunity to learn from others and share our very best qualities with them. Life is the time for making friends.

The trick to making friends is to put yourself out there. Be transparent. Share your insecurities. Let people know what you need. Let people in. Everyone needs a friend.

Recently a couple of women joined our congregation.  I have been so impressed by their efforts to make friends.  Rather than being intimidated and hoping that someone will make an effort to be friends with them, they are seeking out opportunities. They are setting up lunch dates, play dates, gym dates and inviting others over to watch sporting events. These are the women that I would like to emulate. They are shaking things up and creating their own social events.  And you know what? People are responding.  These women have taken control of female social anxiety and in turn have created opportunities to get to know others and in turn help others as they struggle making friends.

You don’t have to make it difficult.  You just have to make an effort.

Someone remind me to take my own advice in a couple week mmmkay?

 

 

Do I Need to Shower Today?

Before I became a mother, I showered every day. I didn’t wash my hair every day – still don’t – but I managed to make it into the bath or shower at least once a day. Then I had my son. Suddenly, showering was no longer a foregone conclusion. Now, five years later, I ask myself, “Do I need to shower today?” far more than I would like to admit. Add another child to the equation and take away a job in the outside world and I find myself asking this question nearly daily.

Don’t get me wrong, I usually shower. Especially if I have run that day. Do I put off the shower if I know that I will be sweating in the Texas sun again before bedtime? You better believe it. Texas is in the middle of a drought. Really, I’m just doing my part.

I’ve done research. It turns out that I am not the only mom who asks themselves this question regularly. I know that a lot of my friends (especially my friends with kids) don’t shower every day either. Earlier this week, I was discussing this topic with one of my friends. She told me that she would be putting the clothes from her morning workout back on to go walk her kids home from school. Of course she was! Why would you put on clean clothes just to go out into the steamy heat? You are just creating more laundry.

Then there is the kid factor. Do you know what happens every time I start the shower in my house? At least one little person, usually my daughter, comes running into the bathroom tearing off her clothing. She will attempt to climb over the edge of the tub until I relent and let her in. If I don’t have the energy to shower every day, I certainly don’t have the energy to take an 18 month old in for stitches that could have easily been prevented. Thanks to my kids, I shower with foam numbers and sea animals. Apparently, my daughter’s answer to “Do I need to shower today?” is a resounding yes. For me, the highlight of my week is Sunday morning when I get to shower by myself.

Some of you are probably feeling a little grossed out right now. That’s alright. I get it. You will probably look at me a little funny the next time you see me out in public. Not every one shares my dilemma. My own father showers at least twice a day. Maybe you are a classy business woman who has to be presentable every day. Maybe, you too, are a stay at home mom but have personal hygiene far superior to my own. Never once have you thought, “Do I need to shower today?” Bravo ladies! I’m sure your husbands appreciate your dedication to keeping it together. My husband is pleasantly surprised when my leg brushes his without stabbing him. I’m telling you, it is a glamorous life I lead.

But for you fellow hygienically conflicted parents, I present the shower flowchart. The next time you find yourself asking, “Do I need to shower today?” just pull out this handy guide and we will try to help you make your decision.

DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in the above post are purely Tracey’s opinion. I will not pretend to speak for Sarah and Erika. Even if I suspect that both them frequently ask themselves, “Do I need to shower today?” They are free from any blame that might come from the use of this flowchart. For that matter, I am also free from any blame. You are an adult. Make your own hygiene decisions.

Malva Pudding

I know I’ve mentioned before, I had the incredible opportunity of spending 4 of my growing up years in South Africa. I was 13 when my family moved to Pretoria. When I first found out, in the comfort of my family’s home in Gilbert, Arizona, that they were dragging me to literally the other side of the planet, I thought my life was over. Turns out, quite the opposite was true. My time in Africa helped mold me into who I am today. And how’s that for cheesy? I know. But seriously, it’s just the cold, hard truth.

I love so many, many things about that country. The people. Their accents. The places. Cape Town and Durban and Knysna. Pilanesberg and Kruger. Safaris. Lions and tigers and bears. Well, lions anyway. The sights. Jacaranda trees in the spring. My memories go on and on and on. And on. But, oh, the food! Biltong and chutney and boerewors. Milk tart and potjiekos (pronounced: poi-key-cos) and bobotie. Rusks and wine gums and Appletiser. And my personal favorite, Malva Pudding.

Go on and get ye over to South Africa at some point in your life and try the Malva Pudding. But until then, here’s a recipe my family uses.

malva pudding

If you like things like Flan, or Tres Leches, or any sort of bread pudding, you’ll love Malva Pudding. I can’t remember exactly where we got this recipe, but I know we got it while we were in South Africa 😉 It’s the perfect combination of sweet and moist (I hate that word, but that’s just what it is). It’s spongy and caramelly in color. Generally, in South Africa, they serve it with custard (which, down there, is more like a pudding consistency than it is like an ice cream). Occasionally they serve it with ice cream. I personally like to eat it with a dollop of whipped cream.

And I had a thought I haven’t tried yet, but if you want to add a little bit of cinnamon (perhaps 1/4 tsp or so) to the sauce, I’m sure that’d be quite delicious. If you try it, let me know if it’s good or not.

Serve with a cold glass of milk and you’re all set!

No Bake Dessert – Chocolate Strawberry Icebox Cake

Like everyone else, I’m anxiously awaiting the arrival of fall. What’s not to love about fall? Pumpkins, sweaters, football and crisp weather? Sold.

Unfortunately, fall is a little slow coming to Texas. We only have pumpkins and football until November. So in honor of never ending Texas summer, we are sharing a fantastic “No Bake Dessert”, an icebox cake. This recipes combines white chocolate mousse, chocolate wafers and homemade strawberry syrup.  Strawberries, cream and chocolate?  That’s a winning combination.

No Bake Dessert White Chocolate Strawberry

I wish I could take credit for all of delicious components but alas, this no bake dessert is what happens when you combine Martha Stewart’s White Chocolate Mousse, Emeril Lagasse’s Strawberry Syrup and some toss in a little bit of Tracey’s late night sugar cravings.

The Method – No Bake Dessert

This recipe is best after sitting in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight. Nabisco chocolate wafers are the “cake”.  They are found with the ice cream cones at my local grocery store.  You may have to ask where to find them in your store. If you can’t find them. you could also substitute chocolate graham crackers or regular graham crackers.

Start by making the Strawberry Syrup. By making it ahead of time and placing it in the fridge, it will have the opportunity to thicken.

Next, make a batch of White Chocolate Mousse as described in Martha’s Stewart’s “Triple Chocolate Peppermint Trifle.”  Simpy leave out the peppermint.

Make a batch of sweetened whip cream.  Whip 2 cups of heavy cream using a stand mixer until it begins to thicken.  Add 6 tablespoons of sugar and beat to soft peaks.

Then assemble in a 8×8 glass pan in the following order:

  • White Chocolate Mousse
  • Strawberry Syrup
  • Chocolate Wafers (I use approximately 9 per layer)
  • Strawberry Syrup
  • White Chocolate Mousse

Repeat 4-5 times. Top with sweetened whipped cream and refrigerate covered for at least four hours. Drizzle with strawberry syrup before serving.

 

 

Work In Progress: Sarah’s Adventures in Home Organization, Toy Edition

Tidy. I love that word. I love its efficiency, so immediately evocative of familiar, comfortable surroundings and industrious, practical individuals. Yet, though “tidy” I love, tidy I am not. I’m inherently given to clutter and chaos, abandoning a project to fix myself a bowl of ice cream and picking it up three months later. Frankly, I’d rather spend my time organizing my thoughts, because that’s its own Herculean task to be sure.

But then I married this guy who is, shall we say, fastidious. He craves clear, clean, open surfaces and gets distracted by un-vacuumed carpets. My method (or rather, lack thereof) for loading a dishwasher completely perplexed him.  Many times I have needed to remind him that I am a vortex of entropy, and he’s certainly very patient considering. As with many things in our marriage, we’ve taught each other the benefits of our respective life approaches.

Still, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve itched more and more for a pared-down simplicity that pairs well with proper organization. A place for everything, etc., etc. So, with that in mind, I’ve determined to get. My. Home. Organized!

It’s daunting, sure, and I promise you the process will be a long one, but I’ll bring you along for the ride, okay? First up – toys!

photo(17)
Shelf and Baskets from IKEA (Where else? And does anyone else mentally sing “IKEA” to the tune of “The Dance of the Robe” from “Aida”? Right?)

This is where the majority of our toys are stored, apart from a few large items and stuffed animals.  And up until  a week ago, their insides looked like this:

photo(16)

Not pretty. And worse, not functional. Play time consisted of my children emptying the contents of all the baskets, quickly becoming overwhelmed, losing interest, and investigating the kitchen, bathrooms, and desk instead. Then, all the toys were scooped back in to start the cycle over again. It was unproductive for them and frustrating for me. I had in my mind to fix it for quite a while before I finally did. But oh, how I did.

First, I knew I needed a game plan. While the above photo certainly doesn’t suggest it, I’m a big believer in limiting the number of toys your children have access to. It prevents over-stimulation, encourages longer stretches of play, and fosters imagination and pretend skills. So, I knew I wanted to get rid of quite a bit, and that I wanted to store toys that could be rotated in and out of play as well. Unfortunately, I needed a storage solution that could stay out in the open, at least until the rest of the apartment is likewise streamlined. Luckily, a pin came to my mind of covering cardboard boxes in fabric. (Pinned here, if you’re curious.) With the materials on hand, I jumped right into the project and soon had this:

photo(18)

Pretty cute for 20 minutes work, I’d say. I now had my storage box that fit perfectly above my kitchen cabinets, and I had my resolve. It was go time. I went through each basket one-by-one, sorting toys into donations, storage for future children (they had outgrown it), storage to be rotated into play, toys being kept out for the time being, items that were not toys at all (and every time I’d shout, “She doesn’t even go here!”), and trash. At the end of it, I had this:

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I love how the caterpillar at the top right is smiling as if to say, “My home is beautiful now. Thank you.”

Much better. And how has it held up, one week later? I’m thrilled by how much more the kids actually play with the toys – blocks are made into towers and roads, cars are driven over them, and it is well with my soul. Unfortunately, because there is now so much more space after a basket has been emptied, that basket also becomes a toy. They are collapsible, and my kids take every chance to break them down and make them into bridges or baking trays for cakes. I like the ingenuity, but it’s taking its toll on the baskets themselves – we’ll see how they hold up. Also, my oldest is a lot more aware of grouping like toys together when clean-up time comes, not to mention the fact the clean-up time itself is much faster. Still, toys do get strewn all over the apartment, so perhaps it’s time to implement a “one toy at a time” policy. We’ll see how that goes, but overall I’m pretty happy with the results! What are some toy-organizing, or general home organization tricks that have worked for you and your family? Any spaces in your home that need a good gutting? I have my eyes on the spice cabinet and my nightstand next…

Fall Fashion Trends – Thursday Wishlist

Lazy post, comin’ atcha today. I just got back from my trip to DC late last night. It was just grand! And let’s hear it for the awesome posts from Tracey and Sarah while I was gone! But now, it’s my turn again. And well, piles of laundry and dishes and grocery shopping and such things have dictated that my post today is a lazy one. While contemplating the fall fashion trends, I put together a quick outfit wishlist of things I have my eye on. I mean, my birthday is this month. A girl can dream right. And with fall right around the corner, I’m drooling over these boots and the sweater. And, well, basically, everything here. How perfect are these boots for a late summer/early fall outfit?! What are some of your favorite pieces for the transition between summer and fall? Are there any specific fall fashion trends you have your eye on?

Fall Fashion Trends Wishlist

1. J. Crew Collection Denim Jacket

2. J. Crew Confetti Donegal Sweater

3. Ray Ban Sunnies

4. Anthropologie Tegan Cut Out Heels

5. Anthropologie Stacked Stripes Ponte Skirt

6. Steve Madden Bdroplet Handbag

 

Biscoff Buttermilk Waffles & Fresh Strawberry Syrup

Biscoff Buttermilk Waffles

I love me some breakfast food.  I also love sugar. Sugar in breakfast food?! Oh, that’s the stuff dream mornings are made of. Over the summer I shared my recipe for Capn Crunch Buttermilk Pancakes. If you read that post then you won’t be surprised that this time around I added Biscoff Spread to buttermilk waffles.

What is Biscoff you ask? And why am I using it in buttermilk waffles?

You know those delightful cookies that the Delta/Skywest flight attendants pass out? Biscoff Spread, is the Spread version of those little gems. My favorite flight of all time occurred flying home with both of my children when Elly was itty-bitty. We boarded and headed for out seats at the back of the plane. Like an angel in navy blue, there stood Natalie, my sister’s sister-in-law. Not only did she put up with my overly tired children, she kept us loaded with pretzels for Sam and cookies for me. Best flight ever.

You can find Biscoff Spread online or at World Market. Though I haven’t tried it, apparently Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter is very similar and it should work just as well.

So, when Hey Megan brought a jar to the “Back-to-School Waffle Breakfast” thrown by our friend Yvette, I knew that the universe had called upon me to incorporate the two. Luckily, Hey Megan is a crazy person who runs like a mad woman and at a recent race she received a CASE of Biscoff Spread. Those are the races I need to sign up for. Anywho, she brought me to jars of heaven and this recipe was born.

To offset the ridiculousness awesomeness of Biscoff Buttermilk Waffles, I also decided to make my own Strawberry Syrup.I used Emeril Lagasse’s recipe found here. I used frozen strawberries and my immersion blender to puree the syrup. Ben says the buttermilk waffles are great but the syrup is his favorite part. In fact, he just used it to develop a milkshake recipe for the blog. You’re going to want to stick around for that one next week.

In case all of my rambling isn’t enough to convince you to make Biscoff Buttermilk Waffles, check out the photo below. That little hand belongs to my daughter Elly, now known as “Elly the Waffle Thief”.  Little miss could not wait to try the waffles and decided to jump in as I was taking photos for the post. Honestly, I can’t blame the girl. Biscoff Buttermilk Waffles

 

Mugged: We try (almost!) all of Buzzfeed’s ’18 Microwave Snacks You Can Cook In A Mug’ PART TWO

Aaaaand, we’re back! Parte dos of this marathon of microwaving is now available to you! Let’s get started, shall we?

Cinnamon Roll In A Cup

photo(10)Two disclaimers: One, you have to mix up the frosting as well as the batter, and if I haven’t made it clear enough, I am lazy. Two, this doesn’t really taste like a cinnamon roll. It has cinnamon and sugar and cream cheese, but the effect is decidedly un-cinnamon-roll-like. With that being said, this is one of the most successful of the microwave cake items I’ve tried. The crumb is tender and moist, which I think has a lot to do with the applesauce, so don’t skip it. Eating this brought me back to my (gluttonous) childhood, when I would take Hostess snacks carrot cakes from the freezer and heat them in the microwave. Mmmm, nutrional ignorance.

Coffee Cup Coffeecake

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Pretty big dud, I’m afraid. First of all, the process is far too tedious: mix the crumb topping with your fingers in a separate small bowl, then mix the batter in a large measuring cup, then put them both in a mug to cook? Not to mention the fact that ingredients list is a little long, including the real nuisance of “half of an egg”. Again, why not just make a regular coffee cake if you’re willing to go to that much effort? Finally, the results were mediocre at best, hardly warranting the work that went into it. The topping tasted nice, but the cake itself was dense and chewy, and tasted a little too eggy. If you’re really determined to have some microwave coffee cake, may I suggest taking the crumb topping recipe and using it with the Cinnamon Roll in Mug recipe? And did I mention this thing has 655 (?!) calories? No thanks.

French Toast In A Cup

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Pretty simple, though you do need to use an extra dish. This one yielded some very serviceable French toast, though it was more of a bread pudding/French toast hybrid. I’d certainly recommend this as an easy way to use up that last little bit of bread that’s no longer very fresh.

Baked Oatmeal In a Mug

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This one baffles me. It was bland, with an unappealing spongy texture, and I don’t understand why you wouldn’t simply make perfectly delicious microwave oatmeal rather than ruin it in a mug. If baked oatmeal in a pinch is high on your wishlist, use this recipe instead (which is very, very easy) and keep them in the freezer. Then, just thaw or reheat and your good to go!

Instant Blueberry Muffin

(Sorry, but there’s no matching pic for this, because this was the first recipe I tried, and by the time I remembered that I needed to take a photo, my sweet children had devoured it.) While not bad by any means, this tasted absolutely nothing like a muffin to me. I think that has much to do with the fact that it contains flax instead of flour. Again, not bad, just not muffin-y. The results were nutty and not too sweet, with a pleasant texture from the flax. Use this one when you want something healthy on a cold winter morning.

Cheesecake In A Mug

Totally not gross-looking. Totally.
Totally not gross-looking. Totally.

I’m afraid I couldn’t get this one to work, though I tried. The mixture was always lumpy for me, and honestly, it didn’t taste that great even if it had been smooth. I say just stir together some cream cheese and sugar, dip in some strawberries and call it a day.

Strawberry Mug Pie and Meatloaf in a Mug
I refused to do either of these. I apologize and offer my excuses to you for your consideration:
Regarding the strawberry pie, I think I’m justified, because nowhere in the recipe does it say to use your microwave. And if I’m starting up my oven to test a pie recipe, then what has all of this been for, anyway? So, I deemed that one disqualified.

And the meatloaf? Setting aside the fact that few people have small amounts of ground beef hanging around waiting to be cooked in a mug, I have to tell you that I have microwaved ground beef before. I’m not exactly proud; it was college. You understand. I was trying to make meatballs, and the results were terrible. Scarringly so. I took one look at this recipe and my stomach lurched. So the more intrepid among you, feel free to try this one and report back. As for me, I’m far too frightened and skeptical. Again, apologies.

However, because I felt a little bad, I decided to test an extra recipe to make up for it. And what better way to celebrate the end of these taste-tests than with some funfetti cake? This recipe is super quick and very tasty, though I heartily recommend a dollop of whipped cream on top. This is also a good one for making 3 year-olds’ eyes light up. The link to it is here.

Hey, we did it! High fives all around! While I personally don’t plan on microwaving anything other than popcorn and water for a while, I wish you luck in your nuking endeavors. Be sure to let us know if you try any of these out!