“branola” bars {+ things i’m loving lately}

Posted: September 22nd, 2014

branola bars
Life has changed so much lately, and in adapting to having a new baby, I’ve also come across some things that I love and have come to depend on regularly.

{1} The feedly app.  Since I am holding the baby so much, I am on my computer so much less.  The feedly app on my phone is helping me keep up with my blog reading though.  It is so smooth and easy to use.

{2} Royal Pains.  I had never heard of this show prior to a few weeks ago, but there were a few nights when Evelyn was up so. much. and I needed a show on Netflix to get me through.  I watched the pilot and am now hooked.

{3} Coffee + Crumbs.  This is a new blog that started this summer, and I found it just in time.  These are stories of real motherhood and I am gulping them up.

{4} Google Keep.  Google Keep is a list maker that you can access on all devices.  I most often have it pulled up on my phone.  It makes it so easy for me to create daily to-do lists, re-organize them, and make lists of other odds and ends that I need to remember (and color code them all!).

branola bars
{5} “Branola” bars.  A family friend brought these to us in the hospital.  As soon as my mom told me she thought she had the recipe somewhere, I told her to please send it to me that day because I needed another batch of these as soon as possible.  They are so simple to make (I mean really, the base of these is a pre-made muffin mix), so they are exactly what I need these days.  But they are also so delicious.  I’m addicted to them, not only for a breakfast but also often for a quick mid-afternoon snack.

branola bars

“branola” bars

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: Makes about 16 bars

These are so simple mostly because they use a muffin mix as their base. And while I realize bran muffin mix may not sound like the tastiest thing, the sugar and butter that you add makes them rich and just the perfect amount of sweet. I know the teaspoon of milk might seem silly, and originally I was using just butter; but I found the milk really gave these the exact right moisture. If you'd like to add things here, you can; my mom's recipe card suggests pecans and raisins, but I'd imagine some mini chocolate chips wouldn't be a bad idea either.


  • 1 (7.4 oz.) package bran muffin mix
  • 1/4 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon milk


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the bran muffin mix, oats, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Stir together.
  3. Add the melted butter and milk, and mix until all the dry ingredients are incorporated.
  4. Pour the batter into a 8 or 9 inch square baking pan. Use a rubber spatula to spread it out evenly.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until lightly browned on top. Remove from oven, allow to cool, and then slice into bars.
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a day in the life {with a 6 week old}

Posted: September 19th, 2014

I thought this would be a fun project to take on occasionally.  The thing about taking pictures of your day is it really makes you think about each moment and how you spend your time, even when your time is consumed with a baby.  I know I’ll want to remember how we spend our days right now, because next month and the next and next year and in five years it will all be different.

These are pictures from Wednesday, September 17.

{Just a side note–you’ll noticed there are a couple of pictures of Evelyn here, but generally those are going to be pretty few and far between, especially as she grows older.  We’re trying to find the right balance between sharing her life simply because her life is a part of our lives, and protecting her privacy.}

Sawyer.  Always in his bed.  Always.

IMG_5028 ps_600x400
Morning diaper change.  While we use disposable diapers most of the time, we’ve started using cloth diapers from time to time when we are just at home.

After some morning play time, it’s time for a nap.  Evelyn slept for a very long time this morning, giving me a chance to get some things done on my computer.

I went to the office this afternoon to get some work done.  I’m so fortunate to have the working situation that I do: working part time for my dad, which means my schedule is very flexible and I can bring Evelyn with me.

After work (and going by Gerrit’s office so he can show Evelyn off) it’s time for our weekly dinner at my parents’ house (which hasn’t happened in two weeks because they were passing a cold around).  The weather was perfect for rocking Evelyn on the porch, and there is nothing my mother loves more.

Squash ready to be roasted.

Home.  Gerrit getting a couple of things done on the computer while I go take a shower.

Hanging up the diapers we used during the day (and that I threw in the wash before leaving for work) while Gerrit gives Evelyn a bath.

Nightly journal time.  This is one of the things that keeps me sane.

Thanks for joining.  I hope you’ve enjoyed a peek into our lives.  And I’ve enjoyed recording it so much that I think we might make this a semi-regular thing.

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what i’ve been reading {summer 2014}

Posted: September 18th, 2014

(I really wanted to be back to the blog before now, but when I went to post last week, I ran into some major issues. As a result, we’ve spent the past week or so moving servers, and now, hopefully, things can resume semi-normalcy. Coming up: more food, updates on life with baby, and how we’ve survived the whirlwind of the past month food-wise.)

{Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter}

This was probably one of my favorite books I’ve read this year. It is so richly written, both playful and profound at the same time. The story centers around Pasquale, an Italian from a made-up village in Cinque Terre (very cool to read about, since we were there last year) and Dee, an American film actress. The plot travels everywhere, both in time and place, from the 1960s on the set of Cleopatra, to the present day, from Italy to Hollywood. The plot seems to twist with new situations and new characters in such smart ways, but at the heart of the book is the relationship between Dee and Pasquale, which is not always what you expect but so heartwarming in its own way.

{Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl}

I finished this book only hours before I went into labor. So good timing, right? This was such a fun read. It’s all about Reichl’s time as the New York Times restaurant critic, which is such an interesting world. Besides the fact that I can’t imagine getting paid to eat out at nice restaurants constantly, it is all so fascinating, from the critiques she gets to the disguises she has to adapt so that she isn’t recognized. Her reflections aren’t without their lessons though–in the end, when she decides to move on from her job, it is all about her realization that going out to eat so constantly can really be a burden, and it was a reminder of how thankful I am for the time I spend in my kitchen.

{Surprised by Motherhood by Lisa-Jo Baker}

I am usually such a careful curator of my “to-be-read” list, and honestly this book wasn’t really on my radar. But in the first weeks of having Evelyn, when things were honestly so much harder than I expected as we found our rhythm, I needed a book of encouragement and this fit the bill. It is a book about Baker’s journey to motherhood, how she lost her mother at a young age and thought that motherhood wasn’t for her, but how it has become exactly what she wanted, even in the hard moments. To be honest, her writing style wasn’t always my favorite, but it was an easy read and a good companion to remind me how thankful I am to have our daughter even when she is screaming in the middle of the night.

{note: this post contains affiliate links}

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welcome, baby

Posted: August 20th, 2014


Baby Evelyn was born almost two weeks ago on August 7, which just so happened to be our fourth wedding anniversary.

We are overjoyed with her, and also completely overwhelmed.  It is so true that you can read everything you can possibly get your hands on about parenting and you will still be completely unprepared.

I was not prepared for some of the ways this was going to be hard.  I was not prepared for how long it would take for both of us to get the hang of nursing or how it would feel like I would be feeding the baby all.the.time.  I was not prepared for how hard would be to figure out what kind of schedule we are on (if one at all) and how to work feedings and diaper changes and naps into everything else that goes on in life.  I was not prepared for how the baby blues would hit me for no good reason at the same time every evening.  Those are the biggest surprises so far.

But I was also not prepared for how much I would love this baby girl, how she can do absolutely nothing and I just adore her and how I just want to rock her all day.  I was not prepared for the dreams I would start having at night about how protective I feel of her.  I was not prepared for the joy she would bring everyone around her.  I was not prepared for how I want to have her to myself, and how I know I need to share her with her grandparents and all the lovely people that come to visit us, but really I just want to monopolize her.

I’m not going to lie–these past couple of weeks have been hard.  (I was so scared about labor and delivery, but that, aside from a bit of a traumatic epidural experience, was apparently the easy part.)  But these past couple of weeks have also been transformative and renewing.

I’ll be back at some point with some food.  But for now I have a baby to go cuddle.

{Photo by Bella Baby Photography}

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cinnamon streusel muffins

Posted: August 6th, 2014

cinnamon streusel muffins

I’m still here, just baking away and trying to be patient.  Really I’m not even 40 weeks yet, so I have no right to be impatient; but we are ready for the baby to be here, and I am beyond ready to not be pregnant anymore.  I know a lot of women love being pregnant/miss being pregnant, and while I’m grateful that I am because of what it means, to be honest it has been a pretty miserable experience for me and I’m ready to be done.

To pass the time, Gerrit and I have been trying to come up with fun things to do every day–ways to distract us and kill time.  We went out for ice cream this weekend.  Last night we went to browse around the bookstore.  Tonight my parents are coming over for dinner.  Tomorrow we’re going out for our anniversary (!) Read more »

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