So much heartache has been going on for so many close to use this past month. It is difficult to watch from afar and not be able to help except through prayers. Whether difficult health problems, loss, financial struggles, or injury, life can feel so dark in these moments. In the midst of the darkness though, it is the light that gets us through these times.
A few weeks ago I visited one of these close friends in the hospital after delivering a baby via emergency c-section. The baby was in critical condition and the parents were preparing for the possible loss of this child. I remember praying to know what to say when I entered into this friend’s hospital room. How do you comfort possible loss to a mother that has already been through trauma? How do you lift one up in the midst of great sorrow??
If you haven’t seen it on Instagram, super large zucchinis are popping up like daisies in our backyard. And that means I’ve been standing on my feet in the kitchen for most of this week coming up with new ways to use it up and enjoy it.
These Chocolate Zucchini Spice Cupcakes have definitely won. Our family couldn’t get enough of them! And I love the ingredient statement which pretty much could be interpreted as a classy nutritional muffin but is moist enough (and when topped with the Cinnamon Whipped Cream Cheese Icing) stands beautifully as an iced cupcake.
These. Are. Amazing.
This past year I’ve mentally turned off the passion for being creative with birthday cakes and special decorated treats. It has actually been very devastating. For years I’ve been a happy baker as a mother: baking our bread, crackers, snacks, desserts, dinner rolls, special birthday cakes, and beyond. I loved the idea of putting love into my baking for my children. With time, my baking did shift: from baking with white flour in the early years to using other whole grains, from putting in the prescribed amount of white sugar in my recipes to cutting it in half, from no longer using white sugar but baking with coconut sugar, bananas, dates, and most recently, discovering natural sugar free sweeteners like stevia.
And my children have always been along for the ride and experimenting: liking some things, disliking others and learning as we all go along.
This past year after all of my researching and putting into practice what I had learned, I ventured into baking treats that naturally didn’t require grains and I experimented with different sweeteners : whipped creams + berries, cheesecakes, pavlovas, custards, souffles, and such.
It’s safe to say that I’ve struggled with an addiction to sugar for much of my life. Overeating it, sneaking it, thinking about it, eating half of a batch of something I’ve baked because I just can’t get enough.
I know I’m not the only one that has been a slave to sugar. Many women I know in particular, have those intense cravings, bake/buy to follow through with those intense cravings, and suffer from the life-long cycle of indulging, feeling guilt, warding off sweets, indulging, guilt, and trying to get some control. I know that cycle very well.
I remember that cycle for the majority of last summer of heavy “feel good” baking: mermaid cupcakes, fairy log cake, bridal shower sugar cookies, Choose the Right cupcakes, Caroline’s baptism cake, seashell cookies, etc. My heart honestly aches when I think about all of the sugar I consumed trying this, nibbling on that, eating four of these late at night, and, mostly, the mental anguish of feeling like I had no control over myself. (Not to mention the roller coaster of fat gain.)
After last summer, I decided enough was enough. I took a break for decorating and baking the traditional way and have since done my own homework and experimenting with other sweeteners and learned to enjoy the occasional sweet treat without encouraging the addiction.
After my out of chaos post I decided this was the weekend to finish up the last details, rearrange tables a bit more, and finish up the writing table in the art room to definitely check this enormous project off my list. And so I (mostly) did it.
The sparkly clipboard wall. It is definitely one of my favorite corners of their new space. It’s light, bright, childish, and is a new place for order.
The concept (like our hanging organizer in the kitchen) is to get papers off tables (and becoming eventual piles) and use walls to store papers creatively.
The new improved art room. There’s a reason I haven’t shown you it in this space. Maybe it’s the fact that every other week we work hard to rid the piles of scraps and glitter and doll cut-outs off the floor and, well, the room’s being well used. The neighbor friends and my girls can spend hours in this space, totally oblivious to the mess. I don’t get it; it would drive me crazy. But they keep returning and cutting and glueing until I finally gather my girls in and we do a major overhaul of the space.
Then we take a deep breath and they’re at it again.
We spent yesterday afternoon beginning to plan for a cross country road trip for next summer. That definitely means there were maps in hand, videos of the Grand Canyon and desert greater roadrunners on my iPad, and lots of me talking (about my cross country road trips as a child) and the girls listening.
Within 30 minutes we learned how to hike in the desert, about desert animals, states that have deserts, and, without ever trying, got four girls totally mesmerized and intrigued by the concept of deserts.
Totally random isn’t it–or is it? Kids are naturally born to be curious, to learn, to want more and to find answers for themselves. They love hearing of new topics/concepts and diving in. They thrive on information and knowledge although they may not call it that. We might consider their “learning” happening in a set timeframe with set materials but children wouldn’t dare consider it so.
But you know all of this. It’s these moments that always reveal to this particular adult the magic of this existence, always revealed by young innocent ones: that of discovery.
Watching my kids’ unabashed desire to know more makes me walk away really wanting to emulate them. Make time for the books I’m interested in. The documentaries. The places. The dreams. Search out the solutions for my problems. Push and push some more until that desire is satisfied.
And so I’m taking a few child-like steps to being more curious to satisfy me. Not my family, nor , my kids, but me.
From deserts to popsicles, my Annabelle made quite the summer-y popsicle recipe after the hot discussion of deserts yesterday. Maybe your young ones might like to try them.
(FYI, our favorite popsicle molds of all time are the Norpro Ice Pop Maker that makes 10 popsicles.)
annabelle’s strawberry banana popsicles
12 frozen whole strawberries
2 ripe bananas
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1 cup peach juice (or juice on hand)
2 TBSP hemp seeds
Add ingredients to blender. Blend until smooth. Fill popsicle molds and freeze.
the sleepy time gal