Father’s Day, Pan Party 2 and the Bathroom Redeaux!

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I am all over the place today. First off I need to apologize for missing my Thursdays posting. Who cares, you ask? I care! I am the meanest boss ever and I have failed myself. I set up this complicated blog strategy schedule and set a goal for myself to post every Tuesday and Thursday and I missed my Thursday!  Sigh.  Good thing I’m not going to fire myself. I just told myself that I’m not perfect and I can get back on it again next week and in the meantime here’s a bonus super bonanza Friday post! Woo Hoo!

So this Sunday is Father’s Day in case you didn’t know. (Get on that homemade card if you forgot.) In the theme of Father’s Day Payam and I worked really hard on this cool vintage clock radio planter craft for alphamom. It was so fun, probably my favorite craft ever, next to the tiny toolbox and snow globe soaps.

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I have a new hobby now: collecting vintage clock radios. It’s great for my hoarding problem. But I mean, how could I not?!! They are the coolest ever. That red one had my name on it the minute I walked into an antique store and it was staring at me from a way up high dusty shelf. Vintage clocks can set you back a bit. Some on eBay can run from $20-$80. So keep your eyes out at garage sales and estate sales. These babies are hot.

And speaking of hot…

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Pan Party Two happened last night! It’s a THING now you guys! I’m so happy.

It wasn’t hot, it was actually a bit chilly when the sun went down but we had such a nice time. Picnicking at the park during golden hour is something that I am a huge fan of. I will be preaching about it until the cows come home or it turns into a community of hundreds which honestly is my vision. I think it can happen too. I’m passionate about building friendships and getting outside enjoying the weather and each other’s company. That’s what we have to do to fight our addiction to technology. That’s really the happy part of life, right?

We’re only doing it once a month which is good because it takes some effort. Preparing a pan dish, lugging a tin of drinks and ice to the trunk and then the park, remembering table clothes, cups, silverware, paper plates, napkins… you know the drill. It can steal away half your day if you are not careful. Then add kids who want to swim to the mix and you’ll be busy from 2pm to midnight. BUT IT’S SO GOOD for everyone.

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Look at this photo Bug took? Isn’t it pretty? I’ve been pushing Bug to be more artistic in her photos (She is the product of two photographer parents after all) and she usually rolls her eyes at me and takes a picture of her foot or the leather of the car seat all blown up blurry and then types some words on top. But this photo really stopped me in my tracks. I love the angle. I love the colors, I love the lone dad sitting on the lawn chair waiting for his kid to get out of the pool already. This is exactly what I wanted Pan Party to be. Everyone getting outside, away from their devices to see how pretty this time of day really is.

Of course I’m kind of a hypocrite because I’m all about documenting this beauty and sharing it on social media but what can I say? I’m not a purist. I think we can have it all.

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More photos by Bug.

As you can see the beanie baby collectible fluff ball dog showed up. The kids had boba right before the pan party (big mistake) and couldn’t care less about eating. They ran around wild all over the park while we parents sat around stuffing our faces with enchiladas, lasagna, mashed potatoes… (no diets here) and those crack grocery store cookies with the neon frosting on top of them, you know the ones. It was great.

Then the puppy showed up and the kids squealed like Taylor Swift fan girls and went rushing off to fight over who could carry the puppy around for the rest of the night. That poor dog never gets to walk on it’s own. It doesn’t seem to mind though. It doesn’t even look like a dog. I think it’s a long-legged fluffy mouse. Except at one point it was walking on the table and it totally went after our food like a regular dog. Maybe that’s how you tell it’s a dog.

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I’m gonna say Pan Party Two was a big success and all of you who wimped out and didn’t come for whatever reason (I’m looking at you, Maria and One Little Happy) you guys missed out. You better make it to Pan Party Three which is scheduled for July 19th, 2018 at 7pm. Make a note!

In other news, I thought I’d just smash on my Bathroom Redeux post right here at the end of this post. It totally flows. Heh.

I was thinking it’s not really enough substance to be it’s own post. And the pictures are not that great. It’s kind of impossible to get flattering photos of a bathroom that has no natural light and it’s so small you can’t really get a photo of it all at one time. I haven’t splurged on a wide angle lens that will work in such tight quarters yet.

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I really wanted to share with your this small Ikea shelving unit that we installed over the toilet. It is a little tight and I wish it was just a smidge more narrow so it doesn’t hang over the toilet so much but it has seriously changed our lives when it comes to organization.

This is the girls bathroom so imagine bottles of shampoo everywhere, most of them empty and dripping all over because they have this theory that they need to keep their shampoo upside down with the lids not all the way closed. No matter how much I harped on the fact that the lids need to be popped closed until you hear a click they did not hear me. It was gooey sticky drippy mess everywhere all the time. Then add about a zillion bobby pins and rubber bands to the counter area that you see around the sink, smear some toothpaste here and there, add a few hairs and you pretty much get the idea of the bathroom. I had had ENOUGH. Those drawers? Full of girl crap to the point that they can’t even open and close easily. I don’t even want to know what’s in there.

So I got the girls each a caddy and laid down some RULES. Shampoo and conditioner bottles go in the caddy and they must be dry. I got them individual rubber band and bobby pin jars and told them that from now on NOTHING goes on the sink counter except toothbrushes and soap. They each have a cubby and they have to keep it neat because it’s on full view.

GUESS WHAT? It worked. It’s been weeks and the bathroom is tidy and orderly. I am sooo happy.

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It’s almost like a spa in there! The caddies work really well for the girls too because they often have to take turns showering in our bathroom. This way they can carry everything they need in one trip instead of yelling for one of us to bring them things they forgot mid-shower. It’s just an all around win. If you have tween/teen kids or just someone who struggles with keeping things neat, I can’t recommend it enough.

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The kids? They don’t care one way or another.

And with that I am OUT. See you back here again on Tuesday!

Salted Banana Pecan Muffins!

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I like salt.

I’ve been progressively using more and more salt when I cook. It hasn’t been on purpose.  It’s something that has crept up on me. Perhaps my tastebuds have built up a tolerance.  It’s gotten to the point that Payam has suggested, kindly, that I cut back.

I blame Blue Apron. Those magical boxes of pre-measured food and delicious recipes have basically taken me from being a mediocre cook to a pleasantly surprising good cook. The secret? Salt! They have me salt two and three times while cooking. That’s three more times than I’m used to. My mom always taught me to let people salt their own food at the table so salting the pot of boiling water, the sautéing onions, the bubbling sauces, before and after something comes out of the oven is way way way a lot more than I am used to. But you know what? Everything tastes delicious! Just like a restaurant. Salt must be their evil weapon.

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Now it’s my evil weapon. Last week I decided to punch up my usual banana muffins with some pecans (unsalted by the way) and some flecks of Maldon Salt crystals on top. It was DYNOMITE! I’m never going to make banana muffins without salt again! Maybe it’s just me though. I always ignore recipes that say unsalted butter and use the salted stuff anyway. Maybe my salt tastebuds are dead.

Anyway, I wanted to share my new “evil” recipe with you. Do you keep old bananas in your freezer? I always have leftover bananas that pass their perfect ripeness and get banned to the freezer to be made into banana bread at a late date because we are picky. We don’t like mushy sweet bananas with bad spots. So there’s a whole shelf full of dark brown bananas in my freezer. They are gross too. Have you ever defrosted a frozen banana and then squeezed out it’s slippery slug of a fruit from it’s black skin into a bowl? I’ve gotten over the grossness though because they make excellent banana bread and I love that I’m not wasting.

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First go in three bananas. I mush them up in the mixer. Then I add sugar and oil, two thirds of a cup for each.  I originally got this recipe from a free Alpha Bakery kiddie cookbook that you can get from Gold Medal flour. I love that cookbook. I still use it as an adult.  I’ve reduced the amount sugar and oil from the original recipe because it calls for three-fourths of a cup which seems like a ton to me. Two thirds seems like a lot too but I’m afraid of cutting it back too much without the muffins getting too dry. Of course apple sauce or canned pumpkin or maybe even a fourth banana could come to the rescue but that’s for another day.

Then I add my eggs (2) and two cups of flour. I let that mix for a while and then add the baking soda (1 tsp), baking powder (1/2 tsp) and salt (1/2 tsp). Then I add some cardamon because I love cardamon. I’ve only added about a teaspoon but I’m thinking I should have added more because I think the flavor could be stronger.  I want it to taste nutty and exotic.

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Then I add a cup of chopped pecans (saving at least twelve whole ones to put on top for decoration) and swirl that all together until it’s mixed.

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Pour the batter into a muffin tin, with cute papers of course. (I collect cute papers.) Here’s a secret: if you use the same cup you used to measure the oil as a scoop to pour the batter into the muffin tins, the batter will slide out smoothly from the oily measuring cup and into your muffin tin paper like magic.  If you are a messy cook like me, this will greatly improve your drip factor and therefore the pain-in-the-neck-to-clean-up-later factor as well. Pretty cool, right? I mean if you aren’t grossed out by the fact that this recipe calls for 2/3 cup of DISGUSTING OIL. But we’ll just gloss over that because they are very tasty muffins and the moist factor has to come from somewhere.

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Now the best part: Top your muffins with the leftover whole pecans and sprinkle a tiny bit of flakey salt on each one.  Then pop them into a preheated oven at 325ºF for 30 minutes. Mmmmmm…. now your house will start smelling good and the little ones will come out of their rooms to see what deliciousness is perking away.

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Some of the little ones might not like nuts but that’s okay, that means more for you! I justify it by saying that these muffins are probably better for your than a corn-syrup-filled granola bar.  Don’t quote me on that. Just make them. They are delicious!

Click here for a printable version.