In three years time a gal can grow out her cute bob haircut and bangs into the long and luscious locks that her mother never let her have when she was a kid. (In my mom’s defense I cried whenever she had to brush my hair!)

In three short years your baby will grow up to be a big boy and your sweet 10 year old will become an incredibly opinionated teenager. Oy vey.

In just three years a troubled relationship can hit rock bottom, pick itself back up, dust itself off and slowly start to become the supportive, loving and fun relationship it was always meant to be. It’s never too late to apologize, start over, and forgive.

I can’t believe it’s been three years since I decided to write this blog. In that time I’ve become a better cook, somewhat of a food photographer, a paid and published writer, (that one still blows my mind!) and a much more confident blogger in general. Thank you for sharing these past three years with me and please allow me to apologize right now for not telling you about this chocolate gravy sooner. Here’s the deal, when I first started all of this I really wasn’t much of a baker or a sweet’s kind of person. I wasn’t aware that sour cream biscuits were so easy to make or that this rich, chocolate gravy is the perfect compliment to these biscuit’s flaky layers.

Can you ever forgive me? I hope so because not even I know what’s up my sleeve in these next few years! But I’m hoping that it’s as good as this chocolate gravy and that you’re still here to share it with me!

I’m just going to tell it like it is and let you know that there is nothing new or exciting about this banana bread recipe. While it is an incredibly moist, delicious, dark chocolate filled loaf of banana bread, it is not anything that you haven’t seen at least one million times before. I know what your thinking, “So if this banana bread isn’t some kind of kooky, super healthy, low calorie, apple sauce and blueberry version why are you insisting on telling me about it?”

I’ll tell you why. This banana bread, like all run of the mill banana breads, was the perfect vehicle on which to slather the most amazing, unique, game changing, peanut butter glaze on.

This glaze and this glaze alone is what makes this particular loaf of banana goodness worth taking a second look at in a world filled to the brim with awesome banana bread recipes.

I really hope your impression of me isn’t that of a type-A, high strung, perfectionist, in danger of a heart attack kind of girl. Not that there’s anything wrong with that kind of personality of course! I would just prefer to be known as a type-B gal (easy going, reflective, totally into daily naps) with a few type-A tendencies sprinkled in here and there.

Sure you’ll find my husband and I at the gym early on a Saturday morning. But just know that it was a major struggle for me to get out of bed, and if it weren’t for Ryan bringing me coffee and making me (and the boys) breakfast I would probably still be in bed.

Yes, I love having an incredibly tidy house. Our laundry is always folded, the dishes are promptly put away and the boys things are neatly tucked into their rooms. But please understand that a long time ago (about 2 kids ago) I realized that if I didn’t keep on top of housework everyday (yes, even on my birthday) that it would soon be on top of us. As much as I love indulging in one of those afternoon naps I also love having clean sheets to snuggle up in.

You will NEVER find canned biscuits in my fridge. It’s not that I’m super crazy about making everything from scratch, it’s just that homemade biscuits are too darn easy to make! I know what you’re thinking, flour all over the counter, the rolling, the cutting, UGHHH! But let me tell you, I don’t do any of that either. Instead I’m all about the drop biscuits. No rolling, no mess, just simply dropping the dough onto a cookie sheet and baking. Bonus, you can totally add cheese and herbs to your biscuits to make them that much better than the pre-packaged ones.

If you’re a mostly type-B with a just a dash of type-A kind of person, I know you’ll love these easy, deliciously homemade biscuits too!

After 13 1/2 years of marriage I assumed that I knew everything about my husband Ryan.

I know that he does not like root beer or peanut butter cookies. I also know that he loves his Grandparents, is not afraid to kiss his boys in public and loves the idea of oysters. Just the idea of them, not the actual eating part. What I didn’t know and just recently found out was that Ryan loves baked goods made with pumpkin. How did this small (but important) fact slip by me? How did I not translate his passion for pumpkin pie into his fondness for pumpkin scones and muffins? Was he trying to keep it from me? Was he worried that I would exploit his pumpkin loving taste buds and bombarded them with pumpkin this and pumpkin that?

Or did it just never come up and now it’s up to me to make up for all of the years that I haven’t baked with pumpkin. I figured that the best place to start is at the beginning with breakfast and these pumpkin pancakes were the perfect introduction to our new pumpkin filled lives!

I’m hoping I don’t over do this whole pumpkin thing, but I have a feeling I just might…

Alright dads and kids listen up! Mothers day is this Sunday and if you don’t have anything figured out for the mom in your life yet don’t worry, I totally have you covered! Let’s start with how the rest of this week is going to go down…

Tuesday – Thursday: Kids, you’re going to pick up your clothes, take out the garbage and brush your teeth every night without being asked. You’re going to do your homework without complaining and speaking of complaining you’re going to love everything your mom makes you for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Got it? Dads, your going to call your mom (and the mother of your children) randomly just to tell her how much you love her and to also see how her day is going. Just let her talk, she might have a lot to say!

Friday – Take mom out to dinner! It doesn’t have to be fancy, burgers are perfect for a family Friday night out! Maybe you could invite some friends to join you. The more the merrier I always say!

Saturday – Is there something your mom would like to do or get done? A nice long trail run with friends, lunch with her mom or maybe she would like to work on the yard? Whatever it is give her the gift of time to get it done and don’t let her feel guilty about it! Moms have a funny tendency to feel guilty if we take a little time out for ourselves.

Sunday – Quietly slip out of bed, wake the kids and immediately get a pot of coffee going (I’m just going to assume that most moms like coffee in the morning as much as I do!). Find a tray, a plate, a pretty napkin and maybe even some fresh flowers. Turn on the stove, whip up some breakfast with the kids (don’t worry I’ll tell you what to make!) and then clean up your mess! Put everything together and surprise the mom you all love with breakfast in bed! She might cry, laugh and give everybody a bite to eat off of her beautiful breakfast tray because that’s what moms do. We give back the love we are given to the people we adore the most.

So what do you do when life hands you a bunch of lemons? Do you cheerfully make lemon-aid or better yet do you whip up a lemon meringue pie? Do you know exactly what to do with those lemons and know how to gracefully turn each one of them into something better than it was before? What if that bag of lemons you were given is too much for you to handle all by yourself? What do you do when there is not enough sugar in your own pantry to help transform those lemons into something more pleasant, and regardless of your best efforts you just can’t seem to find the perfect recipe to sweeten up all of that bitter fruit. I’m currently trying to find the answer to that question myself, but I can certainly tell you what you should not do. You should not hide from the people that love you and should not push your friends away when they want to help. They are stronger than you think and I bet you they have a good amount of experience with turning their own lemons into something more beautiful. You should not go about trying to fix things all by yourself and you should definitely not stop doing the thing you truly love. Try to remember that change can be a good thing and more than likely what you’ve been accepting as just alright has the exciting promise to be something unimaginably wonderful.

I’m kind of tired of taking about lemons so let’s switch to blueberries instead! Or even better can I please tell you about these blueberry oatmeal muffins I made a few weeks ago? While searching for a recipe I found one with a good amount of potential and was able to tweak it to make these muffins even better. They are deliciously chockfull of blueberries, oatmeal and have come out perfect every time I’ve made them. I’m glad I didn’t settle on just an ok recipe and instead went with my gut and added few things to help make this a terrific recipe. I’m going to try to do the same thing with my bag full of lemons and I’m not going to settle on a solution that is just alright. I’m sure with enough time and with a lot of help from my family/friends I’ll figure out the right ingredients to help turn those lemons into something amazing.

A few years ago a few of my girlfriends read a book called “The 5 love languages”. I never got around to reading it but from what they told me it sounds like a pretty cool book. The author (Gary Chapman) explains to the reader that everyone has a specific love language (quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, or physical touch) and that it’s a good idea to know which one belongs to your loved one. When I first heard about these languages I immediately claimed gifts to be mine. As I’m getting older I am realizing that it’s not gifts that speak to me but instead it’s quality time with the people I love. Don’t get me wrong, I still totally love gifts! Especially when they come in little blue boxes wrapped with a white ribbon.

In lieu of a bunch of presents under the tree for Christmas this year we’ve decided to take a family trip to New York city! I’ll be honest with you, navigating a city that size with four young kids does sound a bit intimidating. We usually stick to very family friendly locations (Disneyland, Hawaii) when traveling with the boys but I’m thinking (hoping!) that New York will turn out to be more kid friendly than I’m anticipating. I’m looking forward to being a complete family unit for an entire week and enjoying the city together while it’s draped in holiday lights. I am beyond grateful that we are able to give them this amazing experience and I wonder what each of them will take from it. This is the second year in a row we as a family have chosen time together vs. gifts and I’m hoping the boys also agree that time spent with people you call family is more valuable than any present found under a tree, even the ones that come in little blue boxes.

A little more truth, not buying my kids presents at Christmas is super hard for me. They will wake up to stockings filled with treats and silly trinkets but as far as big gifts go they will have to wait for their birthdays. Shopping for my husband is a different story. I would love to spoil him with something grand but he’s the kind of guy that already has one of everything! Seeing that he is a big fan of my cooking I asked him last year what could I make him for Christmas breakfast as a gift. Without hesitation he requested biscuits and gravy and I thought that was a pretty good one since I have never made that for him before. We all loved it so much I’ve decided to make it a family tradition but I’m tweaking it this year and making brown sugar biscuits instead of the caned ones I used last year. They were worth the extra effort and I promise they are super easy to make!

I hope you are enjoying the holidays so far. They go so quick and it’s easy to go overboard and forget that this time of year is not about how many presents you need to buy but instead it’s about about the people you are buying them for. See you in a week!

I never know how to answer someone when the question “How do you do it?” is asked. It’s usually strangers who are doing the asking when I am out and about with my team of boys. If I’m in a precocious mood I tell them that I drink…. heavily. Not everybody finds the humor in that. If I’m feeling self deprecating I tell them that we have good days and bad days, but what I never say is that our good days outweigh the bad by a landslide. I never want to offend someone with the notion that I have it all figured out, or make a person feel inadequate with our “perfect life”.

Guess what, I’m totally winging it over here and the people closest to us know just how messy our life can get. Pretty, pretty, messy! So with all of this craziness swirling around me how am I able to have more good days than bad? Simple! No really, it is. Everyday I wake up with a plan of what I want to accomplish in the next 24 hours. My goals might be lofty, like tackling the boys closets or having dinner done in the afternoon so we don’t have to go through a drive thru after soccer practice. They might be super simple like sweeping off the porch, giving the dog a bath, or remembering to put gas in the car. Sometimes they are non-negotiable like giving myself enough time to catch up with my mom on the phone. Usually we need at least an hour, sometimes two depending on how much advice I need from her.

Wanna know what happens if I don’t get everything done that day? For starters (and this is a big one!) I never beat myself up about it. So what if we have Taco Bell for dinner one night? I was craving a mexican pizza anyways. Secondly I put it on my list for another day because tomorrow is just waiting to be filled with goals to accomplish! I am also very realistic with what I can handle. If my plate is too full I simply take something off, and most importantly I never, EVER feel bad about that.

So I guess that’s my big secret. Simply having a plan and being ok if that plan completely falls apart. Take these gorgeous apple muffins for example, I was going to make them for breakfast a few Saturdays ago but then I decided to sleep in. I figured I’d try again the next weekend but we had an early soccer game. Baking at 6am? No thank you. The weekend after that everybody wanted omelets, then finally almost a month later I was able to make these muffins not for breakfast but for an after school snack. I guess baking in the morning just isn’t in the cards for me at this time in my life and I am totally fine with that! Besides they made a wonderful snack and I was also able to enjoy them with my guys.

A plan is good.  But being ok with life interrupting that plan is even better.

There are so many different categories we can put our friends into. We have friends who are super fun and friends that are very serious. There are friends that are younger than us, friends that are older, friends that have no kids, and friends that have a ton of kids (I think we usually fall into this category). Then you have the type of friends that are so much more than that and the word “family” is a much better way to describe the way you feel about them. Similar to falling in love, a friendship like this happens maybe only a few times in your life and Ryan and I feel very lucky to have these types of friends in our lives.

We recently spent the weekend in Santa Barbra with two of our favorite people, Matt & Shannon, celebrating their ten year anniversary. Ten years of marriage is a big milestone for a couple, and Shannon and I got a little teary eyed when we thought about what this last decade has meant, not only to the two of them but to the four of us. We knew each other before we were married, had babies, and became adults, and we continue to watch each other grow into the kind of people we talked about being when we were young.

As comfortable as we are with each other, vacationing with another couple can be a little intimidating! What if we don’t get along the whole time? What if they want to stay in and we want to go out? What if we want to eat mexican food and they want to eat chinese? It was no surprise that the four of us never ran into one of these predicaments but instead we were reminded of what it was to be a kid again, when the only thing you had to do all day was goof around with your friends.

I did however take note of a few things we did that made traveling together a bit more seamless. For starters if your getaway begins with a very long drive like ours did you’ll want to all sync in as far as pit stops go. Meaning use the restroom when everybody else does or you’ll be relieving yourself on the side of the road because you’re the only one that has to go! Second, the first one up in the morning is in charge of making the coffee. You’ll find that non-morning people instantly become morning people because who dosen’t love to wake up to a full pot of coffee?! If it’s mimosas that are being made always put them in a big glass. Apparently nobody likes a tiny mimosa. Lastly, if a four hour Mad Men marathon presents itself take full advantage of it. Grab a few bottles of wine, enough snacks to ruin your dinner and be prepared for the snarky comments about Don Draper to fly! Who cares about how handsome he is, he’s a total dirt ball and why the heck dosen’t Betty just leave him already?! (Shhhhh, Shannon and Matt are in the middle of the whole series and they have  no idea what’s about to happen next!)

Thank you Matt and Shannon for inviting us to help celebrate such a special anniversary. It made me excited for the two of you and for all four of us. The last decade has been an incredible one and I can’t help but wonder where we will find ourselves when the next decade of our lives quietly sneaks up on us.

I don’t know how your weekday mornings go down, but ours looks a little like this…

6:30 am – Wake up! Make coffee. Wonder why I never remember to preprogram my coffee maker the night before.

6:40 am – Wake up the boys! Make breakfast. Cereal, oatmeal, frozen waffles, bagels, quick! What do you want to eat? Eat it fast because we need to get ready!

6:50 am – Drink coffee. Put coffee down. Forget where I put coffee. Find coffee 15 minutes later. Now it’s cold, sighhhhh.

7:10 am – Kids get dressed! Are you seriously going to wear that shirt again? Did you brush your hair? Did you brush your teeth? Are your jammies in the hamper? Please make your bed. Please tie your shoes. Please pick out a snack.

7:40 am – Everybody out! Have a good day at work. Have a good day at school. I love you. I’ll see you this afternoon. No I don’t know what I’m going to make for dinner tonight. Yes I’ll pick you up a new tooth brush at the store. Kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss! Love you! Bye!

Now here is a peek into our weekend mornings…

8:30ish – Wake up. Stay in bed. How did you sleep? Good? Me too. You had a funny dream last night? Oooooh tell me all about it.

8:45ish – Gaven hops into the bed. Ewen, Jude, and Lucca trickle in one by one. Snuggling turns into a crazy tickle fight. Mom hops out of bed.

9:00 am – Coffee is already made. Ryan remembered to preprogram the coffee maker. Hurray!

9:10 am – Slowly sip my coffee. Turn on the news. What’s for breakfast mom?! What do you guys want? Pancakes? Muffins? Ham and eggs? I know, huevos rancheros!

9:20 am – Cracking eggs into a hot skillet. Yes you can turn on cartoons now. Babe what should we do today? Can somebody let the dog out? Mmmmmm, breakfast smells good! Yes it’s almost ready…

9:35ish – Grab another cup of coffee. Sit down together. Pass the sour cream please. Don’t forget the salsa! Can I have some orange juice? Fried eggs are my favorite! Mine too. Grab seconds. Watch my boys gobble down their breakfast. Give thanks for lazy weekend mornings.