July 23, 2014

Teaching Children the Importance of Work

Hey everyone!  
Just a quick note to tell you that you can find me over at What's Up Fagans today, where I am talking about how to teach our children the importance of work!  I share some things we do in our family, and I'd love to have you chime in what works for you and your family!  You can find my post here.
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July 17, 2014

Browned Butter Brown Sugar Muffins

Have you entered the Pley giveaway to win a  LEGO set or a subscription to rent your favorite sets? EVERYONE who enters gets a code for a 1-month subscription- so don't forget to enter!

Does anyone else make muffins with dinner?  Or is it just me?

I know muffins are typically a "breakfast" thing or even a "snack" thing, but I love a good muffin with my dinner sometimes.

I have had a recipe for Brown Sugar Muffins for awhile.  They were good, but they weren't outstanding.  And if I'm going to eat a muffin, I really want it to be worth it, you know?

So I went in search of ideas to improve this muffin recipe, and after making a few small but important changes, I made a muffin that is light, fluffy, and sweet (but not too sweet).

The addition of browned butter and an extra egg just gives it a richness that my recipe was lacking before.  I also used buttermilk instead of my usual plain milk.

These muffins were absolutely delicious right out of the oven.  They are definitely best served warm!

Here's the recipe: (thanks to A House in Holland for the suggestions!)

Browned Butter Brown Sugar Muffins

1/2 cup butter or margarine
2 cups flour  (I used all-purpose)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk


1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2.  In a small sauce pan, brown the butter, letting it cook over low heat for 5-7 minutes.  Butter should turn a golden brown color and have a slightly nutty taste/smell.  Remove from cooktop and let cool for at least five minutes before using.
3.  Meanwhile, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.  Set off to the side.
4.  In the bowl of a mixer, combine brown sugar and eggs.  Beat until light and fluffy.  Add browned sugar and vanilla.
5.  Add half of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix by hand until combined.  Add the buttermilk and mix.  Then add the rest of the flour mixture and mix until just combined, without any dry ingredients showing.
6.  Divide batter evenly into 12 lined muffin cups.  Bake for 15-17 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out cleanly.  Serve and enjoy!

If you like these, you might want to try some of our other recipes, or check out our Bread/Rolls/Muffins Pinterest board below.
Follow Occasionally Crafty (Valerie)'s board Bread, Rolls, Muffins on Pinterest.

P.S.  I'm linking up to some parties listed here: come check them out!

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July 16, 2014

Taking a Moment for Mesothelioma: Heather's Story

Has cancer struck your family?
Chances are, if it hasn't yet, it will.  Each year 14 million people are diagnosed with some form of cancer.
My brother is a childhood leukemia survivor.  He overcame the odds and not only survived, but thrived!
Both my father and father-in-law have had prostate cancer.  My dad recently found that his may be recurring for the third time, and is in that difficult waiting period of testing and observing.
Recently I learned about a woman named Heather Von St. James, who was told shortly after giving birth in 2005 to her sweet daughter Lily, that she had mesothelioma and had 15 months to live.   You can learn more about her story here.
My daughter was also born in 2005.  I can't imagine looking into her sweet face and being told I would never see her talk, never see her grow older.  Miss her first school dance, her first kiss.  Her graduation.  Her wedding.
Luckily Heather got wonderful care and was able to beat the odds. Today she is an 8 year cancer survivor, and she and her family are doing their best to keep others from having to go through what she did.
You see, mesothelioma is preventable.  I'll say that again: mesothelioma is preventable.  It's only known case is exposure to asbestos.
As a child of the '80's, I certainly remember when things were closed down to remove asbestos from the walls and such.  Even our favorite shopping mall went through this transformation.  The companies that used asbestos knew as early as 1925 that asbestos was dangerous to the workers, to their families, and to the public. The companies commissioned medical studies that revealed these dangers. But the companies chose profits over safety and hid these studies. They provided no warnings about the dangers. As a result, thousands of Americans have been killed by asbestos.   

Amazingly, asbestos can still be found in buildings today. It can be found in older homes, schools, factories, and commercial buildings.

Shockingly, despite the known health risks, there is no ban on asbestos in the USA.  

Sadly, USA Veterans are most likely to develop mesothelioma.

I'm writing this post today simply to bring awareness.  Heather was blessed to beat the odds and see her little girl grow older.  Most victims of mesothelioma aren't as lucky.

Please share this with your friends, family, and readers.  Taking a "moment for 'meso'" spreads awareness to those who can help, and hope for those suffering through this cancer.

Click the photo to enlarge
mesothelioma infographic

If you feel inclined to help donate to research or awareness, you can reach out to the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance at www.mesothelioma.com
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