We're on another school cancellation due to snow here in this winter wonderland. I think this is snow day #6, but I've lost count. I feel like we cancel school more frequently these days (I went to grade school in Alberta, Canada and we never had snow day cancellations that I remember). Is that just me or do you guys feel the same? I admittedly enjoy the slower pace these days bring this year. Previously, snow cancellations were full on stress mode as we tried to figure out who was going to watch our kids so that one of us or ideally both of us could get to work so I'm super grateful for the flexibility this year!
On the baby front, I'm officially into the third trimester with tomorrow being the beginning of week 29. So far, everything is going well at each appointment. I have noticed some more tiredness and nights of restless sleep as the third trimester sets in but ultrasounds, blood pressure and all that good stuff is looking great so far. I find that I get bursts of super productive energy and I'm on a mad dash to declutter and organize this house. Last week, I finished organizing all of the baby clothes and got them into the bedroom closet of the room he'll eventually be sharing with his big brother. I'm slowly learning that I can't necessarily finish a task start to finish with such an active toddler at home and I'm gradually surrendering my Type A ways in those situations and being ok with the floor remaining covered in piles of half organized baby clothes until I can finish it all. My little guy at home in into everything these days, except regular naps.
Speaking of finishing tasks, this recipe for a simple galette is one that I had no difficulty finishing and the rustic heart shape is perfect for this week as we roll into Valentine's Day. There are two suggestions I have for making this recipe come together in minutes when you're ready for it: 1) Prep your pie dough a head of time or use store bought if you prefer; 2)Place the frozen raspberries in the fridge the night before so that they thaw. I chose to use frozen raspberries for this as raspberries aren't always the best in the grocery store here in New England at this time of year, but you could use fresh raspberries if you have them on hand.
Here's what you'll need:
-1 x 9 inch pie crust: use your own favorite recipe, store bought or here is one I use and find very easy to throw together
-1 x 12 oz package of frozen raspberries, thawed
-1 TBS flour
-1 squeeze of lemon juice
-2 TBS sugar
Optional but recommended
- Vanilla Ice Cream
-1/4 cup chocolate chips to melt and drizzle
Prepare your pie crust ahead of time and have it available in the fridge. Place the bag of frozen raspberries in the fridge the night before to thaw. When ready to put the recipe together, pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Roll out the pie dough and use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to shape into a heart. This doesn't have to be perfect as you're going to fold edges over before it does into the oven. Place the thawed raspberries into a strainer and remove any excess water. Transfer them into a bowl and toss with the 1 TBS flour, 2 TBS of sugar and squeeze of lemon juice. Spread the raspberry mixture onto the heart shaped pie dough leaving a 1/2 inch to 1 inch edge the entire way around. Fold over the edges to meet the edge of the fruit mixture. Use cookie cutters or free hand shaping small decorations such as hearts, X's and O's etc. with the pastry scraps to place on the fruit mixture and bake. Line a baking tray with parchment paper, transfer the prepared galette to the tray and bake for 30-35 minutes until the pie crust is golden in color.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving with vanilla ice cream and drizzles of melted chocolate.
Happy Valentine's Day everyone!
Merry Christmas!!!! Is your house a mess from the Christmas frenzy and do family members occasionally ask you "what day is it?" That's how it is over here and I'm learning that this is the way to do the space between Christmas and New Year's. Until now, I've worked throughout the holidays, usually until Christmas Eve Mass and back in the office on the 26th or the 27th with on-call time in between, making me even more grateful for those who are working to keep our communities safe and healthy no matter the date and for my extra time with family this year.
As we roll into the new year...or decade....I'm reflecting on the different resources that had an impact on me in 2019. I recently wrote this post about books I read in 2019 and my reading plans for 2020. I'm still working on my vision for 2020 (no pun intended- I need contact lens or glasses to get out of bed in the morning) using Marie Forleo's Decade in Review format but I thought I'd share a few of these from different life areas in case they might resonate with something someone out there needs or would like more information or inspiration in that area.
Momspiration and Spiritual Life
Leah Darrow- Do Something Beautiful Podcast- Leah has a tremendous story from her time on the reality TV show of America's Next Top Model to her revelation about real beauty and finding her purpose in helping others, particularly women, realize their potential through God. She has a down to earth, humorous tone that's inspiring and she brings on amazing guests who are doing incredible things in this challenging world. She also recently started Lux University, which is an app and online curriculum dedicated to Catholic Women. I haven't signed up for Lux U yet but it has caught my eye and peaked my interest. She's a mom of 4 with #5 due soon and she shares those real moments that we can all relate to. She's also a fan of The Office, one of the greatest shows ever!
Stacy Sumereau- Called and Caffeinated Podcast- Also another beautiful momma, Stacy's podcast has diverse guests with a theme of discernment and learning God's will, which is pretty much the question of my life! All of the analyzing and agonizing over decisions and which way I'm supposed to go with something...and how do I know if I'm pushing my will or God's will? Is that nudge from me, the world or God? Stacy nor anyone else can answer these questions for me but covering this theme through the different perspectives of her various guests is helpful...and she also shares my love for large mugs of steaming, hot beverages so there's that too!
One Hail Mary at a Time- Kristin is a mom of 7 and works full time in corporate banking and she credits the Rosary as being her life raft. I've been following Kristin for a while and about a year and 1/2 ago or so she started doing a live rosary every morning via Instagram live and hundreds of people join in each morning- it's beautiful. And no worries if you miss it because the video stays up all day until the next one so you can jump in anytime. Kristin shares her real deal of motherhood and the juggling act with a clear passion for supporting women feel less frazzled, more in tune with God and finding the joy in the everyday moments and challenges.
Honestly Mommy- Stephanie's Instagram page pulls me in for real mom talk, humor, make up tips and all around good vibes. She has a sarcastic tone, which my dry sense of humor loves. She also juggles being a wife to a law enforcement officer which is something I relate to and understand shift work, safety concerns etc and it's nice to see law enforcement support out on social media. I also love her cleaning motivation! Pull up her Instastories on Mondays if you need a kind and funny kick in the pants to clean your house.
For the Home
Clean Mama- The "clean your whole house in one day" works for some people, but not so much for me. Becky over at Clean Mama has a free, printable, cleaning schedule that has a short list of tasks to do daily to help keep the clutter and dirt under control and one main cleaning task per day, six days per week. Instead of a spend your weekend cleaning approach or a clean one room per day approach, this weekly schedule is broken into similar tasks. For example, Tuesdays are for dusting. Wednesdays are for vacuuming and Thursdays are floor washing. Combine these main cleaning tasks with daily duties such as make beds, wash dishes, one load of laundry and clean/wipe the counters and the house feels so much more manageable. The schedule has space for missed tasks on Fridays as a catch all day and a rest day on Sunday so it's not a deal breaker if you miss something throughout the week.
I can't say that HGTV is banging down my door to film my immaculate house because I agree with the quote that cleaning your house while there are small kids in it is like brushing your teeth while chewing on Oreos, but this schedule has made a huge difference to me. I've missed days with the holiday craze but the cleaning is taking less time when I catch up as I've been hitting all of these areas regularly. Becky also has a decluttering plan getting underway for 2020, which I'm watching carefully as the amount of stuff in our house is my biggest hurdle to cleaning. It's no fun when I have to spend just as much time tidying up stuff so I can actually clean, right? Time to simplify!
Thred Up and Swap.com- These sites are my two favorite online, consignment stores. I like to browse local consignment stores as well but I don't always have the time to get out there and kids don't necessarily share my love of browsing patiently. I love thrift shopping for multiple reasons to include better for the environment, saving money and just the overall principle of not always buying and consuming new when there are perfectly good items out there that more than meet our needs. I also just ordered a clean out kit from Thred Up to help with some decluttering as my closet is over stuffed with things I haven't worn in months. Some of that is due to being pregnant, post-partum and then pregnant again but some of it is stuff I know that I'm just not going to wear again so I plan to donate some and send some into Thred Up for possible consigning or responsible recycling.
The Dave Ramsey Show Podcast- Ok, so we all know that money can be hard to talk about... Well, the beauty of podcasts is that you don't have to talk about it outside of your own home to get helpful information...you can just listen and discuss the information within your four walls if that's how you feel most comfortable. Although there is a ton of helpful information within the Dave Ramsey Show's online resources, the absolute must listen to sections, if there is anything heavy on your heart about improving your finances, are the debt free screams. Just google those and listen....real people, raw stories and teary eyed inspiration about families who have turned their lives around by setting goals, getting on the same page, working a budget and freeing themselves of consumer debt. And before you jump to the conclusion that these are all people who make tons of money to begin with, let me clarify for you that they are not. There is an example of every income and debt level on the spectrum within these stories.
Debt Kickin Mom- Angela is a mom of 4 who openly shares about getting a message of an over drafted credit card while away on vacation a few years ago. She sat up in her hotel room, late at night while her family was sleeping, trying to figure out how they would pay for the rest of the vacation. She totaled up their consumer debt up and was terrified. This fear was enough to propel her family into action and through following the Dave Ramsey Baby Steps, they paid off almost $80,000 in consumer debt and now have an emergency savings fund, are paying into retirement and just started their steps towards paying off their mortgage early. Angela's YouTube videos and Instagram page walk you through how they stayed the course on one income with four children (until she started a teaching job towards the very end of their Baby Step 2 journey) through contentment challenges, meal planning and focusing on what's truly important. Angela also just released a cookbook with her made from scratch, frugal recipes that she relied on during their journey and she still uses today!
Without over sharing, I can definitely say that both of these resources helped me and my family tremendously. I was "normal," as Dave Ramsey would say, in that I was once upon a time buried in student loans long after I was out of school and had plenty of other consumer debt to keep them company. I've talked a little bit about how we recently made a big change in that I left my more than full time job in a career field I had been in for almost 17 years and was very grateful for but left me little "present" time at home. That change would not have even been an option for our consideration when needed had we not come across these resources and made some changes a couple of years ago. It wasn't easy but it was worth it.
Speaking of going through a change, here are some podcasts to listen to about people who made big changes and totally kicked ass doing so...
Rachel Mansfield- Just the Good Stuff Podcast- Rachel has an amazing online presence around simple, whole food recipes with her new cookbook coming out in February and she recently launched a podcast. Rachel covers her personal story of being fired from her job in one of her episodes from December 2019, how she thought it was the end of the world and then launched into action trying to make a go of it with her own brand and she most certainly did it through gritty, hard work and passion. She also brought on guest Melissa, from Baked by Melissa, who shares a similar story. I'm so grateful to and inspired by people who are willing to be vulnerable and share their story of working through a big change...it brings life to possibility for others.
Jen Sincero- You Are a Bad Ass- This book is just downright amazing for life in general. I have it on audio book and I've listened to it multiple times when I need it. Most recently, I've gone back to it when I get all stressed and worrisome about my recent work change and I go back to some of the questions that Jen asks you to think about. The questions involve walking yourself through a worst case scenario of "and then what happens?" You drill down your worst case scenario by repeatedly answering that simple question as you unravel your worries...and guess what happens at the end when you've obsessed and visualized about how you've gone for something and completely failed and fallen flat on your face? Absolutely nothing that can't be fixed. Amen. Ta-da. It reminds me to stop taking it all so seriously.
Brendon Burchard- The Brendon Show- This man's energy is infectious. Contagious doesn't hit the mark because contagious, to me, means that you might catch something. Infectious is like "it's coming for you...." but in a good way! Brendon's Instagram quotes and nuggets are so inspiring about life, leadership, being the best version of yourself and not being afraid to be seen as small when starting out. That is the biggest fear that holds people back from starting on their dream! We don't want to be seen as starting small! We see "successful" people without seeing their entire journey and impose limiting beliefs on ourselves. Go check out his work for some no nonsense wisdom about both your ambition and your discipline...because one without the other isn't going to cut it for our one precious life!
Rachel Hollis- Ok, this lady needs no introduction from her best selling books and her amazing personal development brand. She has books, events, articles, podcasts and a social media presence that have so much to offer but I'm going to limit my reference here to one of her most recent videos entitled I Hope You Fail. Watch this before 2020 rolls in. Watch it again when it gets hard. Watch it again when you want to quit. Watch it again when you have successes. Failing and getting back up again is the only way to finish the race!
There you have it! I hope some of these resources might resonate with you and I wish you the best, brightest, healthiest and amazing 2020!
This is the recipe that started it all for me: Grandma's Brown Bread. I grew up watching my mom regularly make this recipe and we were fortunate to get back to Ireland every few years to stay with family where I would watch my grandmother make this recipe. I have awesome grandmothers to always remember and two of the things that I most distinguish them by is their bread recipes. My mom's mom is Irish Brown Bread and my dad's mom is Irish Griddle Bread. Both breads are delicious, cozy and food for the soul and today's post is dedicated to my maternal grandmother's Irish Brown Bread recipe.
I knew my grandmother was amazing when I was growing up, but I didn't realize the extent of her amazing nature until I started my own little family. My grandmother lived on a beautiful little rural corner of County Wicklow in Ireland where she raised her fifteen kids. Yes, you read that right: fifteen....as in a decent size classroom of kids. I obviously didn't know her until my mother and the rest of her siblings were grown, but she was kind, funny, loving...and sane....even after raising fifteen kids, of which she did a lot of this on her own as my mother's father died when she was around ten years old. I don't think I have ever seen her lose her temper or get too worked up about anything and that is inspiration for me every single day. I'm fairly certain that she could have run a country.
From what my mother has taught me, this bread recipe was a staple in her house growing up. I swear that you could have blindfolded my grandmother, tied one hand behind her back, spun her around three times and she would still whip up a perfect loaf of this brown bread. The scent of fresh baked bread lightly mixed with Irish air pouring in through her kitchen windows is a memory held in my core. I think about this recipe often, but especially when St. Patrick's Day rolls around each year. This recipe is simple and it's definitely from the "little bit of this, little bit of that" baking school. I don't remember seeing my grandmother or mother using precise measurements when they baked bread, and I distinctly remember them "just knowing" when it was done...when it needed more flour...more milk. Over time, I've made this recipe enough and grabbed some advice from my mom that I think I've given enough details so that someone new could pick it up and enjoy some brown bread within an hour, but feel free to reach out with any questions. You'll still see some hints of my mom and grandma's old school directions here, which I love and will never be tired of reading. So, get ready to brew a pot of tea, get out the butter and jam and enjoy some Irish Brown Bread.
Irish Brown Bread
(as made by my grandma and mom)
3/16/2020: please note that there are some modification options noted below the recipe to suit your preferences and you can also find a video tutorial with our six year old and I walking you through the process of making the bread from scratch over on Instagram @sunday_bakers
-1 cup all purpose flour
-2 cups wheat flour
-1 tsp salt
-1 TBS sugar
-2 tsp baking powder
-enough whole milk to bring the dough to a moist consistency (usually about 2 cups)
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Place all of the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar into a large bowl and stir to combine. Add in the milk and mix until combined to a sticky dough. Sprinkle flour over your counter top or a large cutting board and dump the dough onto the floured surface. Add flour to your hands and knead the dough by hand by using one hand to take dough from underneath and bring it on top while using the other hand to turn the dough. Add more flour when needed to prevent the dough from being too sticky. Continue this process until the dough is in a round shape with a smooth surface on the bottom. Grease a baking pan with butter, oil or non-stick cooking spray. Flip the dough over onto the baking pan and use a sharp knife to etch a cross in the top of the dough to allow steam to escape while it bakes. Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 40 minutes. This may vary depending on your oven and my mother and grandmother's famous words to know when the bread is done is to knock on it (like you're knocking on a door) and it should sound hollow. Allow to cool on a wire rack for 15-20 minutes and then wrap in a clean dish towel to allow it to continue cooling evenly. Slice and enjoy with butter and jam! See below for modification options.
Option 1: To bake a White Irish Soda Bread with raisins, use only All Purpose Flour (3 cups) and omit the whole wheat flour. After you stir in the milk and get the bread to the messy, wet consistency, fold in 1- 1 1/2 cups of raisins before you pour the bread batter onto your cutting board for kneading. Bake at the same temperature and time as noted above.
Option 2: For a plant based version, please see this vegan version of the recipe that I created here. This recipe uses coconut milk with the addition of a small amount of vinegar to create a vegan "buttermilk."
Option 3: You can modify any of these recipe options into scones. They aren't the super buttery scones that you might be used to in a bakery but they are wonderful to serve with butter, jam and tea. After kneading, simply use a rolling pin to roll/press the dough out to approximately 1 1/2 inches of thickness. Use a biscuit cutter or a cup to cut as many circles into the dough as you can fit. Then gather up the remaining dough, re-knead together and repeat the process until you have used all of the bread dough. Reduce the baking time to 30 minutes.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
New England wife, mom & home baker. Faith, food, fitness, baking, cooking and constantly cleaning my kitchen.