Mighty Mommy Monday – Up with the Sun

It’s Mighty Mommy Monday! Abbie of Farmer’s Daughter and I have decided to challenge you on a weekly basis.  Claim the Mighty Mommy title for yourself — every day, not just Mondays. Every week, we’ll host a link up for you to tell us what you’re doing to take care of your health: workouts, menu plans, how to keep your family active, etc. I’ve set a few goals for 2014, but my biggest is to swim a total of 30 freestyle miles this year AND run a half marathon in October! Join us!


I’ve been really disciplined about getting to bed at 1030 every night. I read for half an hour and then, I’m off to sleep. I haven’t been sleeping well at night, but the consistency is paying off because I’ve been able to get up early almost every morning and exercise. I clocked in over 6 miles of running (whoo!), checked cross training off my list and finally got myself back in the pool!

For some reason, I’m getting Runner’s World every month (must have gotten it with a race registration?) and I’ve gotten some good tips about running in the summer… I think I’m doing alright with the hydration, I certainly sweat enough! I could really use some work on my stretching and recovery, but at least I’m thinking about it, right?

Now. Does anyone have any tips for post-run snacks? I bought a protein powder sample to try, but I need to come up with something filling soon. One can only eat so many apples with almond butter, you know? So any ideas to fill my belly?


Waffles for Dad

Liam has been asking for a desk for a while now. He always tells me he has some work to do and therefore, he needs a desk in his room. We’d talked about building him one, but while the kids and I were at Target yesterday, I found a desk that would fit the need, but also not be a horrible loss if he colored on it or it was scratched or dented or… basically, if it were treated the way rough and tumble little boys tend to.

Last night, after supper, Matt and the kids started to put together the desk. And because he had 4 extra little hands constantly reaching into his work area, asking questions or walking off with tools, it took a very, very long time. Long time + excited little boy means that Liam didn’t settle down to sleep until almost 11. Whew. But he’s so happy with his own workspace – this little boy is definitely taking after his Daddy’s artistic talent. He colors and draws and makes charts (he takes after me with that) so much any more that when I can’t find him, it’s pretty much a sure thing that he’ll be in his room on the floor with his paper and markers.


So Daddy is happy he has a mini-me with art and Liam is happy because he’s got a cool chair to go with his desk and I’m happy because I just made breakfast. The boys are still sleeping, but Sylvi and I are up. The boys draw together, the girls get up early together. Hmmm. Seems I need a new together activity for her and I… Anyway, the waffles. This is an adaptation of my basic recipe from my mother. There may seem like a ridiculous amount of leavening agents, but trust me. Sylvi’s favorite toppings include: syrup, whipped cream, strawberries, bluberries and mini chocolate chips. The rest of us are content with syrup. If nothing else, the girl knows how to live!


Gluten Free Waffles

  • 1 3/4 cup gluten free flour mix (I’ve been trying different brands, and so far, I like the Jules brand best. As far as I can tell you can only order it online, but they are always running sales, so watch for them!)
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup milk

Mix together all the dry ingredients. Then, pour in the butter and vanilla and whisk together. Beat the eggs and then add them to the batter. Stream in the milk last and whisk until the batter is thin and pourable. I don’t like my batter very thin because it just runs all over my waffle maker, but if you like it that way, go for it!! My waffle maker has spaces to cook 4 waffles at a time and I get about 20 out of this recipe. We don’t eat the entire batch, so I keep the leftovers in the fridge in an air tight container. They last about a week. Enjoy!

Little Readers

Once again enrolled in our town’s summer reading program, we are starting our 4th year of keeping track of our time spent reading. I started to set the timer on my phone while I read and was shocked at how quickly half an hour passes. I had honestly never really made an effort to keep close tabs on our time, but as of this afternoon, we have logged over 5 hours of time reading aloud this week. It’s fun to watch the list of books grow and the hours logged pass. Today was our second visit for this session and already I’m seeing huge changes in the experience from last year.

First of all, it hasn’t been so chaotic. In the car, we have a pep talk about not talking too loudly or running. We go to one of the smallest branches in our area, so if a kid says something in the children’s department too loudly, you can hear it on the other side of the building in reference. So, we talk and talk every. single. time. we. go. Liam is at the point where he rolls his eyes and says “I know, Mama.”


Second, I’m working my way through all the sections of the picture books. I’m discovering new authors and we looking beyond our core interests: racecars, sharks and princesses. Today, I grabbed books mostly from the “C” and “D” sections of authors. But this one about President Taft made me laugh so hard I almost cried. The kids just thought it was funny he was naked. I can’t wait to see the other side of the book shelves now!

Third, Liam is obsessed with coloring. This morning as he colored his first reading log, I noticed that instead of  scribbling over the picture, like he has for the last 3 years, he took the time to color the details of the pictures. He used multiple colors and stayed in the lines. It was a fun development in our usual process!


As we drove home, the conversation turned to how Liam is learning to read. I realized that the days of us curling up together to read from our library haul will eventually end. We are reading chapter books together as a family and I’m loving how much comprehension I see the kids possessing. Liam’s interest in learning to read has sparked a desire in Sylvi to learn all those letters and their sounds. It was exciting to realize that this summer is the beginning of a new adventure for us… who knows… maybe by next year, I’ll have a little reader on my couch!

Puppy Love for our Family

Welcome to the June 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids and Animals

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and wisdom about kids and pets.

Before we got engaged, before we bought our home, and before we were even married, Matt and I were scoping out pet options. Originally we had talked about a basset hound. Ree is always posting these drool-worthy (pun intended, ahem) photos of her beautiful babies and I just think they are so precious! But Matt was put off by the potential stink, the howling and the drool. So we continued our search. I wanted a dachshund as my second choice so we looked at a few rescues and breeders, but weren’t quite ready to commit when we found sweet little Nunzio huddled in a cage at the dog pound. She just had to come home with me.


During our wait period imposed by the pound’s policies, we discovered Vito’s ad in the newspaper and within 48 hours we had two little puppies in our homes. This was a month after we married and a few weeks before we left for Arkansas to watch my brother graduate from college. A week after we returned my mother died. During the short weeks that we had these dogs, people were constantly telling us that we had shot ourselves in the foot by taking these dogs which would dramatically impead our freedom. The morning Mom passed, I had to send Matt home from the hospital so he could let our squirmy little puppies out to potty, for goodness sake!


But what people didn’t see was how those dogs cuddled themselves right into the very fabric of our family. I’m sure I’ve said this before, but I don’t know that I would have survived some of those days without them. While grieving my mother, I would lay on the ground while the dogs stayed to offer comfort. When I was depressed after our first two miscarriages, they snuggled up to remind me I would always have them. When I dealt with HG while pregnant with Liam, Vito would lay in the bathroom with me in between vomiting and whimper his concern. When Liam was born, Vito never left my side (much to the midwife’s chagrin). And when my water broke with Sylvi, Vito, who was sleeping out in the living room, woke up at that same instant and ran back to my bedroom to be with me. All those night feedings and ill babies, Nunzio stayed by my side offering her wise eyes up as comfort when I cried from fatigue and frustration. And when our children started to feed themselves, both dogs were even more attached to our children!


At this point, we’ve had pets in this house, including a brief dalliance with hamsters (which Matt hated), for eight years. After Nunzio’s passing last September, I honestly pondered if we should get another pet to keep Vito company. But he’s getting old, so the odds of the new pet being lonely and us starting the cycle all over again are high. As a matter of fact, I’ve noticed more and more that after his initial greeting when people come over, he flops down for a nap and cannot be bothered to join in… even when food is presented!


Our children have been welcomed into our home by our pets, they’ve held onto Vito’s sturdy back as they learned to stand and curled up with them to watch movies. Through our dogs, our children have learned how to be gentle, how to be kind and how to be aware of another’s feelings. Liam cared for and protected our dogs long before he had a little sister to do that for. And Sylvi practically smothers them with her love and snuggles.


People often ask me what we will do when Vito’s time on Earth comes to an end. Honestly, the answer is mostly likely going to be “find a couple of pugs to fill our home”. As snorty and loud and spoiled as this dog is, he is perfect for our family. I’ll never be able to go for a run with a pug, but the pug is perfect for our family. And perfect for our children. We love our pets, and I love watching my children learn responsibility, awareness (hello! poop in the yard!) and kindness by having them here. And besides, if we didn’t have a pug, what else would I call this blog? ;)

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • What Animal Rescue is Teaching My Children
  • Tips on Picking the Perfect Kid-friendly Dog — Lactating Girl at The Adventures of Lactating Girl shares some tips she’s learned on how to find the perfect child-friendly dog for your family.
  • All New Animals Are “Woof” — Baby Boy is still learning animals. Life Breath Present doesn’t yet have any at home, but he still believes that all animals are “woof.” Here’s the proof.
  • Dude, where’s my Horse? — Adora loves horses, but Erin at And Now, for Something Completely Different really doesn’t. However, Adora’s longing wins out; learn about their interactions with horses here.
  • Weighing the Pros and Cons of a Family Pet — When is a family ready for a pet? Donna at Eco-Mothering discusses her worries as well as the benefits of adopting a dog, including how it will affect her seven-year-old daughter.
  • Parenting Challenge–Learning from Animals–running the emotional gammut — Survivor at Surviving Mexico writes about the emotional learning her family has experienced through sharing their lives with animals.
  • Puppy Love for our Family — In case you didn’t catch it from the blog title, Pug in the Kitchen, the family pet is an integral part of Laura’s family and home life!
  • Vegetarianism and Animal Rights: Explaining to Children — Becca at The Earthling’s Handbook is mostly vegetarian…not 100%, and not because of animal rights…yet she has found that the idea of not hurting animals is the aspect of vegetarianism most easily understood by a young child. She explains what her son has learned about not eating meat and how it has affected his social life.
  • Pets & kids: The realities — Lauren at Hobo Mama lays out the benefits and drawbacks of pet ownership when young kids are involved.
  • HOW PETS CONNECT WITH EMOTIONS: KIDS & PETS AFTER 9-11 — Parenting Expert Laurie Hollman at Parental Intelligence discusses the importance of pets in lowering stress after traumatic situations, why children choose certain pets, the loss of a pet, and the role of parents in teaching care-giving to animals in a warm, gentle way.
  • It’s not our house without a dog! — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work describes why giving a loving and disciplined home to at least one shelter dog at a time enriches the life of her family, and has become a vivid memory in the minds of her children.
  • Canine Haikus —Kids, dog, haikus, at

    Dionna (Code Name: Mama).

    Pet-centric poems.

  • Beanie’s BunniesOur Mindful Life‘s Sofi Bean has gotten her first pets!
  • Montessori Care of Pets — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells about her experiences with kids and pets and shares Montessori resources for pet care.
  • How to Nurture Your Child’s Awareness of Spirit Guides — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama hosts a post from her regular contributor Lauren of SpiralElixir.com. Lauren looks at the concept of animals as spirit guides and how deeply children are connected to this realm. She also encourages us to open ourselves up as parents to the reality that children are naturally more connected to the animal world, giving us ideas on how to nurture their relationships with their Spirit Guides.
  • No Puppy! — Meg at the Boho Mama shares her tips for dealing with toddlers and the (very real) fear of animals.
  • Year of the Pets — Jorje of Momma Jorje wasn’t sure she ever wanted pets again, but things have changed a lot this year!
  • 3 Reasons Why Keeping Backyard Chickens is Good for my Toddler — Bianca, The Pierogie Mama, started keeping backyard chickens for the benefit of their eggs, but what she wasn’t prepared for was what they would teach her two year old daughter too.

Mighty Mommy Monday

It’s Mighty Mommy Monday! Abbie of Farmer’s Daughter and I have decided to challenge you on a weekly basis.  Claim the Mighty Mommy title for yourself — every day, not just Mondays. Every week, we’ll host a link up for you to tell us what you’re doing to take care of your health: workouts, menu plans, how to keep your family active, etc. I’ve set a few goals for 2014, but my biggest is to swim a total of 30 freestyle miles this year AND run a half marathon in October! Join us!


This week, all I can think about is food. As I mentioned last week, I’m on a loaded salad kick. Tomorrow, I’m going to my first Farmer’s Market this season… can’t wait to get my hands on some fresh kale! I didn’t plant a garden and at this point, am not planning to do anything, but man I miss my kale! Grocery store stuffs just don’t cut it.

Today’s salad was a turkey club/cobb salad mix. It was excellent. For supper, I’ll be having this salad again. Fourth time in a week. I used roasted red pepper hummus, kale, blueberries, feta and chia seeds in addition to the chicken, cucumbers and tomatoes and cucumbers from the original recipe.

There was some corn at the grocery, so I‘m thinking I’ll make this as well. Short ribs are the plans for tomorrow night, so I’ll add the leftovers into what I send to work with Matt.

I bought sweet potatoes to attempt grilling. This recipe gave me the idea and then made think of a way to convert this into something to add to salad greens and chicken.

I used up the last of my homemade dressing, so I’m thinking I’ll work more on my southwest chipotle dressing. I’m hoping to get the {proverbial} wrinkles worked out. Until then, I want to try this one!

And because I cannot stop, I’m dying to try this salad for Father’s Day. The goal is to send Daddy and his boy off for a little golf date in the afternoon. Sneaking a little exercise in with all the fun! :)

This is the week of the salads, the week to attempt another mile or two in the pool and hopefully log plenty more miles on my tennis shoes. What are your healthy plans?

Retrospect Respect

A few weeks ago at my youngest brother’s soccer game, my father suddenly put me on the spot and asked if I appreciated him and my mother. Another soccer mom, whom I assume was having issues with what I call a ‘tude from one of her teenaged children leaned in to ask WHEN I realized I appreciated them.

Because my father was listening intently, I chose to be a smart alek with my response: “Of course! But I’d never tell them that while I was living at home… it would give them big heads and you know, we can’t have that!” Laughter from parents, everyone moved on in the conversation and I was left to contemplate how I really felt on the matter.

To be completely honest, I really started to appreciate and cultivate a deep respect for the sacrifices my parents made when I was in high school. Circumstances with Mom’s health and the later adoption of the aforementioned soccer-playing brother coupled with the fact that I was desiring the days when I could be a mother really opened my eyes to all they did. This, of course, does not mean that my relationship with my parents was Duggar perfect. Nope. While I appreciated my parents, we still butted heads because we were humans with different opinions.

But the point is that during this time, I saw what parents do for their small children not only by watching my parents care for that sweet little baby, but through my own involvement with him. My mother’s health was at a high point during the time of the adoption, but in the years shortly after things really suffered. I spent a lot of time and energy caring for my brother like a parent would because of the situation I wouldn’t have otherwise been exposed to since my next youngest brother is only 2 and a half years apart from me.

All the time I spent with him, going through the functions of a parent, I bonded with the little guy. I knew what it was like to love a child so much it hurt long before we even thought about starting our own family. I knew what it was like to try to communicate with a child who didn’t understand. I knew exactly how challenging two and three year olds (and let’s face it, 4 year olds, 5 year olds… all the ages!) are. I understood the depth of emotions and how we do anything to help our children.

As I’ve grown as an individual and as a parent, my appreciation for my parents have definitely deepened. I know now what a sacrifice it is to push through a chronic illness. I understand how difficult it to parent children when your husband’s schedule isn’t a normal 9-5. I get why she often snapped at me when I asked questions when she was tired or in pain. I understand my father’s stress over providing for the family on an average income. But I understand this only as I have experienced… not exactly how my parents felt in their own situations.

There are facets of parenting that I knew would be hard going into them and there still things I have yet to discover. If I could answer my dad’s question all over again I’d say something different. I’d say that I appreciated them as a teenager, but I didn’t get it. I’d say that I thought I understood their sacrifices and appreciated their willingness to do so, but until I stood in their shoes I couldn’t really comprehend it. And then, I’d look at that mother and tell her that appreciation doesn’t look the same for every child; and not every child will feel the need to verbalize their feelings or even act like they are appreciative, but it’s there. 

Breaking my mother’s salad rules

We are in the time of year when the majority of meals are served outside. They are quick and made so that the kids can return to their play without much fuss. But I’m discovering that as much as I love a good pb&j (on gluten free waffles of course!), I cannot eat like the kids every day of the week. I miss my veggies. So most days I eat a salad that I prep while the kids are eating and then eat while they play. This works because, let’s face it, it takes a lot longer to chew a salad than it does a sandwich.

When I first started looking into a gluten free or paleo diet, I was so overwhelmed by the loss of croutons, premade salad dressing (most of the ones *I* like are not GF) and how hungry I was. I’ve never been a big meat eater and so looking at diet protocols that are protein heavy sort of scared me. As I’d read through the paleo cookbooks, I noticed a lot of bacon (score!) and sausage (ewwww!). I decided that if my diet was going to have to shift focus, then I was going to have to try new things and see if I could find something I liked. I  tried sauteed (fried is probably more accurate, though) sausage at a MOPS brunch and decided that if I could eat that, then I’d better get to finding something to have on hand! I found this amazing chicken sausage at our Kroger and it’s in my cart almost every trip now. I just brown it in a saute pan and then slice it up before finishing cooking it.

I was just cooking up a whole package and then reheating some with steamed veggies and roasted potatoes, which was a very tasty option to be sure, but the more I ate it that way the more I wondered what else I could do with it! So here we go. Sausage and salad. And fruit. Growing up, my mother away said that fruit and vegetables are not to be mixed. And you certainly NEVER put animal protein on a salad! Whoops. Sorry mom, not only did I mix them, I think they taste even better like that!


Sausage and Blueberry Salad with Fresh Vinaigrette

For each salad:

  • 2 cups salad greens
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup sliced cucumbers
  • 2 Tbsp. Feta cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. pumpkin or sunflower seeds
  • 1 sausage link, sliced

Toss all the ingredients together and pour salad dressing over.


Fresh Vinaigrette

  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. ketchup (I used homemade)
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • handful of chives, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic granules
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • cracked black pepper

Whisk all ingredients together well. Pour over Sausage and Blueberry salad. Store any leftovers in the fridge.

P.S. Most amazing bite? Stack in this order: Cucumber, Sausage, blueberry, feta. I promise. You. Will. EXPLODE!!!!!

Mighty Mommy Monday – Performance Anxiety

It’s Mighty Mommy Monday! Abbie of Farmer’s Daughter and I have decided to challenge you on a weekly basis.  Claim the Mighty Mommy title for yourself — every day, not just Mondays. Every week, we’ll host a link up for you to tell us what you’re doing to take care of your health: workouts, menu plans, how to keep your family active, etc. I’ve set a few goals for 2014, but my biggest is to swim a total of 30 freestyle miles this year AND run a half marathon in October! Join us!


Last week I just did what I wanted. I didn’t run much, I spent more time with my family and trying to manage all the school year “lasts”. It was a crazy, busy, good week. Last night, as I started supper prep a horrid stomach bug announced it’s presence. Today is better, but I still feel awful. And the anxiety set in. My workouts last week were more cross training than I usually do, so I felt like I wasn’t challenged. I mean, I never woke up sore and I usually judge the intensity of the day before’s workout by that :) I’m kind of stagnating at 2.5 miles right now. I had some pain in my knee and my calves are tighter than piano strings so I think I need to spend a little time here getting my body over this hump, so to speak. While I’m running, all the endorphins are flowing and this seems like a healthy plan.

But then, I wake up not feeling well, emotional over stupid things and I worry. I cried in the shower because how on EARTH am I going to add on 11 more miles?! And I’m weak from being sick. And my belly is still so gross. And someone asked me two weeks ago (after an awesome run, too!) when I was due. And. And. And.

I told myself to suck it up. That this is something I committed to and I will finish it, even if I walk across the finish line. I haven’t looked at the official training plan because it’s scary to me right now. Truthfully, I haven’t really prayed over my mindset. It’s so true that the majority of the battle for these runs are in the mind. If I tell myself to do it, if I don’t allow myself the listen to the lies that I’m weak or slow and push on toward the finish, I feel strength. When I tell myself I can wimp out because of a bad day or weepy mood, I feel defeat.

I checked the training plan after I calmed myself down. It doesn’t start until July 26th. Yes. I’m stagnating at 2.5 miles. Yes. I’m struggling to rework my schedule during the summer. Yes. I’m still learning how to stretch and recover. BUT. I’m running without stopping. Even when training for the tri I had to stop and walk. Only once since graduating for college have I ever ran longer than half an hour. And you know what? I did that AFTER having two children. I did that AFTER turning 30. So it’s not too late. I’m not a lost cause. 2.5 miles is the furthest I have run since college. Considering that I’ve been so neglectful of my health in these last 10 years, I think I should be focusing on that.

So back to the mind. I’m not yet sure how to control these thoughts other than to ask the Lord to remind me every time I start slipping down that icky path of self-doubt and defeat. I’ve got a long way (literally) to go yet, but I’ve come from not being able to even jog for 5 minutes. I can run and keep up with the kids for hours. And my son is asking me to teach him how to run races. I may still have growth to complete, but what’s been done so far is amazing. Performance anxiety is not going to be something I choose to focus on… yeah, not a fan of crowds and fears of the unknowns will for sure creep in between now and October, but from now on, I’m committing to reminding myself that I can and I will. No matter what it looks like, I will.


With yesterday being Memorial day, I decided to enjoy my family and not post for Mighty Mommy Monday. Instead we took a lovely bike ride in the morning, with the kiddos in the trailer. I forgot about all the potential parades and as a result, we wound up driving all over trying to get to a parking place for the bike trail! Eventually, we settled all the way out in Bellville. My bike was grinding and randomly changing gears, so we called the experience at 8 miles and headed home. It’s been a while since we took the kids out in the trailer and it seemed wiser to take a short trip and have them enjoy it instead of trying to make a certain mileage.

While we were riding back toward our car, Matt suggested heading to the Columbus zoo and for some insane reason, I agreed that it sounded fun. We pulled into the driveway only to find that all the entrances were packed and cars were parking almost to the road! We’ve been to the zoo during the height of the Zoo Lights and it’s still never been that full! Of course, the water park isn’t open in the winter… Anyway, despite the crowds and the heat, we had a lovely family trip and the kids got to see a cheetah and the giraffes. So graceful! We’re zoo members and while I agree with Gretchen on the mixed emotions seeing the animals in captivity, I do so love having the opportunity to show the kids animals we’d otherwise probably never see!

Tomorrow we begin our summer, officially. I’m awaiting a delivery of our new pool (I accidentally ripped ours last year) and we hope to have it set up tonight after the kiddos are in bed. After a big breakfast, I plan to surprise them since they think once the old pool was thrown away that was the end of the story. :D And for the next 10 weeks, we’ll practically live outside so I’m going to experiment with a few GF options for our old standby snacks.


It would seem that every time I make this, all that is left to photograph for the blog are crumbs… in almost 4 years of baking this particular breakfast treat, this is the only photo that exists. Taken moments before I ate it.

Which brings me to this recipe. You’ve seen this before as my Nutri-Grain Do Over, but I tweaked it to be gluten free. The addition of flax meal makes the taste a little more nutty, but nonetheless yummy. Oh. And did you know that not all oats are gluten free? So harsh. Yet another package to read…

GLUTEN FREE Breakfast Crumb Bars

    • 1 cup gluten free flour mix
    • 1/2 cup flax meal
    • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1 1/2 cups GF oats
    • 3/4 tsp. salt
    • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
    • 1 1/2 sticks butter, cut into pieces

Place all the ingredients into the bowl of your mixture and mis until the dough is in little pea-sized balls. Remove 3 cups of the mixture and press it into the bottom of a buttered 9 by 13 inch glass baking dish.  Bake for 12 minutes at 350 degrees.  In the meantime, make the filling. {OR use about 2 cups of fruit preserves}

  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 pound of fruit
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

This batch of ingredients is dumped into a sauce pan and cooked together.  On my recipe card, the note I made was to achieve a “compote-y” consistency.  I like to have a smoothish filling, but still some of the structure of the fruit is there for contrast.  Once you are pleased with the consistency of the filling, pour it over the crust and top it with the remaining crumb mixture.  Finish by baking it for an additional 40 minutes.  Store, covered, in the fridge for up to a week… if it lasts that long.

Keepsake Handprints

Some of my best college memories are the ones from my Ecology lab. Specifically the days spent hiking around Oklahoma dealing with my Entomophobia. Loved the class, loathed the insects. Still do. But the point of this is in that class I met my friend Dawn. We were both Biology majors and over the years spent countless hours in classes and study sessions together, but as life has a way of doing, once we graduated and moved back to our respective homes, we lost touch. Thank GOD for Facebook. We’ve since reconnected and been able to share a little bit of our lives with each other again.

In 2012, Dawn started a business, Tiny Prints and Paws, taking the hand and foot prints of her friends’ children (and pets!) in clay and preserving them in beautiful plates. For over a year, this was something that could only be done if you were local to Tiny Prints and Paws or saw their set up at a craft fair. Which was great, but for those of us living 10 hours away, that meant we missed out.

But then… in March Dawn contacted me to see if I’d be willing to be a long distance tester!! I mean… of course!! She mailed me a package of the polymer clay and I emailed for instructions the night before I planned to get my kiddos hand prints. I then separated out clay for each child since we decided to do a plate with both their hands. I rolled the clay out to about 1/4 inch thick (using a playdough roller!) and then pressed each child’s right hand into the clay. Then, I hid the clay. It needs to dry for 72 hours and my kids weren’t convinced that this was a special project just yet and they loved the texture which led to them begging to play with the “special playdough” a LOT.


Once the 72 hours was up, I wrapped up the clay up and mailed them back to Dawn. We talked about colors for their handprints and then what words to write on the plate. I got more than a little emotional because this is just so perfect for me to freeze this moment in time. Their little hands will never be this small again and not only do I have their handprints, I get to have them together, which is even more special because these two are just glued together so it’s the perfect representation of this season!


Each plate takes between 8 and 10 weeks to complete as there is an additional drying period followed by sanding and firing before the paint is applied. Finally, the plate is given one last firing before it’s sent off you! Tiny Prints and Paws has several options, the paint colors are endless and the wording on your plate is up to you! The whole experience is personalized so that the impression plate that returns to you is a one-of-a-kind keepsake!

Make sure to check out the gallery of plates on the Tiny Prints and Paws website, like their Facebook page and see more of the creative custom plates she has showcased there! For you, dear readers, Dawn is extending a special free shipping on your completed plate with the code SUMMERFUN! Don’t waste time taking advantage of this offer, because as I mentioned before, the process takes some time, so you don’t want to wait until the Fall to start if you are thinking of Christmas gifts!

Contact Dawn either through Facebook or via email {tinyprintsandpaws(at)gmail(dot)com} to start your special impression plate today!