Monday, July 06, 2015

Perfectly Moist Yogurt Banana Bread

Looking for wholesome snack solutions for summer? Try this yogurt banana bread recipe--it is perfectly moist and so good! #overstuffedlife
Today I'm sharing one of my favorite banana bread recipes of all time. I especially love to have it on hand for easy summer snacks, but banana bread is great any time of year!

I love summer, don't get me wrong, but there are a few things about summer that frustrate me, and one of them is the snacking situation. I don't know how it works at your house, but when my girls are out of school and home for the summer they want to eat everything in sight. I don't think they're really hungrier--instead I think they just don't have every minute of their lives scheduled the way they do when they're in school and the kitchen is easily accessible. My grocery bill doubles (okay, maybe it doesn't exactly double, but it sure feels like it!), the kitchen is always a mess, and the fridge gets opened every 8.3 seconds on the dot.

I did come up with a nice solution last year, and that has definitely helped, but another thing that has helped is making sure I have good, wholesome snacks on hand that will fill them up. Besides fruit and veggies, I try to make a few healthy and homemade things each week so we don't have to turn to pre-made or packaged foods very often.

This perfectly moist yogurt banana bread is one of our favorite recipes, and the secret ingredient is yogurt. Yogurt is another summer staple, so we usually have quite a bit of Yoplait® yogurt on hand. It's always on the list for our weekly shopping trip to WalMart. This particular recipe uses Yoplait® Original Vanilla Yogurt. I bought a 2lb carton of it, but you would have enough yogurt for one batch of bread if you purchased the single serving size, too.

Perfectly Moist Yogurt Banana Bread


Sunday, July 05, 2015

Someone to Lava

I think today was the first real summer weather we've had this year! It was an absolutely perfect day, and if it hadn't been Sunday, we would have donned our swimsuits and headed to the beach to play. But since it is Sunday, we headed to the beach to enjoy the weather, be together, and feel the type of peace that only the beach offers.

The girls have been somewhat obsessed with learning the ukulele this summer. Before school was out, I noticed that a friend of mine would be teaching a beginning ukulele class for the summer and I mentioned it to the girls. They were all over it, so I splurged a bit to buy them good instruments and they had all learned a few chords (except Bria, who learned way more than a few chords), before their class even started.

Sophia is never without at least a bit of her signature cheetah print...

When we were in Hawaii this past winter, I bought them matching muumuus with the plan to take a photo on the beach before we flew home to Michigan. Unfortunately, we never got around to doing that photo while still on Maui so I've been waiting for a good day to do it here. Lake Superior beaches are almost exactly like Hawaiian beaches, you know. (Well, if you don't count the temperature they are!)

Saturday, July 04, 2015

July 2015 Visiting Teaching Printable

This month's Visiting Teaching Message is The Divine Attributes of Jesus Christ: Forgiving and Merciful.

I love this month's message. I will admit that forgiveness is something that has always come fairly easily to me throughout my life. Though there have been one or two instances where it took me a while to get that point. Still, it is something that is important for all of us to work on because the Lord has required of us that we forgive all men. (See Doctrine & Covenants 64:9-11) And, of course, because Jesus Christ himself has shown us great mercy in our sins.

I especially loved the quote from Dieter F. Uchtdorf (and let's face it, I love everything this man ever says) that points out that since we all would like to be forgiven for our own mistakes, we must show that same mercy to others.

July 2015 Visiting Teaching message: Divine Attributes of Jesus Christ: Forgiving and Merciful. Free downloadable printable with Dieter F. Uchtdorf quote. #overstuffedlife

To download, click here:

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Get Your Kids Outside: Go on a Nature Scavenger Hunt

Sick of the kids staying inside looking at screens? Get them outside in nature on a fun scavenger hunt where they can use their screens appropriately.

The worst part of summer is the desire my children have to sit in front of electronic screens. As a mother, I'm constantly trying to come up with ways to stop them from zoning out while playing video games, looking at pointless videos of funny cats, or even pinning cute outfits. The summer checklists are doing a pretty good job this year, but I'm still coming across drooling, zombie-like children on the couch, mesmerized by a three-inch long glowing screen more often than I like.

"Why don't you go outside?" I ask.

"There's nothing to DO outside!" they unanimously sigh.

So, I made them something to DO outside.

Right now, Chloe is at camp and Bria was actually reading. Sophia was the bored one, so I made up a quick scavenger hunt for her and we went outside to scavenge.

Go on a fun nature scavenger hunt and get off electronics.

Nothing too complicated, but also lots of great chances for looking at the neighborhood a little more creatively. We didn't have the car or I might have driven her somewhere else, but it was easy enough to do in our neighborhood--we do live in the middle of the woods, after all! (There's a link to the printable download at the end of this post if you are interested in doing this with your own kids.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Backyard Summer Fun: Water Balloon Baseball

Thanks to Banana Boat®  and Tapinfluence for making this post possible!

Get your kids outside having a great time without spending much money! Try water balloon baseball--the kids will love it!
You guys. We are two weeks into summer vacation and it's already started. You know what I'm talking about, don't you?

"I'm BORED." "There's NOTHING to do!" "When are we gonna do something FUN?"

Usually I point them to the same things: reading, playing outside, making a craft. But sometimes I decide to be a fun mom and make some summer fun for them. The other day, I decided we would invite some friends over and play water balloon baseball.

Chloe and I filled a bunch of water balloons (but, let's be honest--I filled 95% of those balloons!) and then the kids had at them with the wiffle bats. I had envisioned we'd do a whole baseball game, but they were content with batting practice.

They had so much fun!

I only had three bats, but they had themselves lined up for turns. It was fun to watch them organize the game.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Kick Off to Summer 2015

Start your kids off right this summer by throwing them a party designed to help them set goals and be productive during the summer--and have lots of fun, too! #overstuffedlife Every year we do a little summer kick-off party. We usually do it on the day after the last day of school and we make a big breakfast and do several things to start the summer off right:

  • Set goals
  • Work on a summer bucket list for the family
  • Agree on the daily schedule for summer
  • Give the girls their book bins 
  • Explain the chore system

This year, we had to postpone our kick-off party for a few days, because Sophia and I went on a Girl Scout trip as soon as school was out, and the day after we got back Bria went to an orchestra camp. But last Monday we had our party.

I love the first week after the kick-off, because the girls are on fire and really want to do everything just right. Much like school, towards the summer, they are less likely to finish their workbooks or read and practice every day. But that's okay, because we still accomplished a lot!

We start with a giant breakfast of eggs, sausage, fruit, and waffles. I think it's important to make the event something the kids can really look forward to! While we eat, we talk about how the school year went, how we did with our family theme for that school year, and what the girls are looking forward to in summer.

After breakfast, we pass out their book bins for the summer (read more about the book bins here: choosing summer reading for your kids and summer reading motivation). This is the part they most look forward to--after all, who doesn't love receiving a pile of new books to read?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

How to Make Your Living Room More Inviting--5 Tips I Learned the Hard Way

My living room has always been difficult for me. I've lived in this house for six years now, and I have never been happy with the way my living room was working. It was always just clunky and nobody ever really wanted to spend time in there. Guests would come over and the living room always felt awkward and uninviting. I hated it.

My house is over 100 years old and the living room is right in the center of the floor plan with every other room on the main floor flowing into it. This means that there are six (SIX!) doorways in the living room and four windows. Oh, and a fireplace! Which means there isn't a lot of wall space for either furniture or decor.

In fact, there is really only one wall that is suitable for having furniture next to it, and I have put bookcases there for the last six years. This resulted in the couch having to be pushed forward to the middle of the room, and a very awkward furniture arrangement.

IMG_5688 Tree decorating 2012 web
Awkward couch arrangement #1
Awkward couch arrangement #2
I should add that these were very cheap bookcases from our years in student housing--I think I paid all of 50 dollars for both of them, and that felt like a huge splurge back then! Well, about a month ago, they completely fell apart. I was lucky we noticed it in time, because we were able to get everything off of them before they gave up the ghost.

Having your bookcases kill themselves like that presents a great opportunity to reassess the room and figure out a better way. I originally thought that I would just replace them and keep the arrangement the same, but while I was sans bookshelves, I moved the couch back into their spot and I couldn't believe how much the room opened up! I finally figured out the secret to a functional living space, and after a trip to IKEA, I am so happy with my living room now. The best part is that people use it--the kids are in here all the time doing homework, reading, or just sitting around enjoying each other.

I may have learned them the hard way, but here are my five best tips to making your living room inviting:

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Could It Really Be This Easy? A Book Review

I am the mother of three daughters. One of them just finished her freshman year of high school. Another just finished her first year of middle school. The youngest still has a ways to go before I start worrying about teenager stuff, but if it happens as fast as it did for her sisters, she'll be in high school next week.

I've always been a little bit terrified of parenting teenagers, to be honest. So far, it hasn't been too terrible, but I've run into a situation or two that I wish I had dealt with better. Or, that I wish my children had dealt with better, actually. I have found myself wishing not only for some sort of magical parenting guide to help me through these years, but for a magical guide to surviving the teenage years successfully for the girls to read.

Well, I am here to tell you that I have found that guide. The one for the girls, anyway.