Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Baked Oatmeal with Vanilla Cream

Our church has a Saturday seminar about once a quarter and very often we host them at our house (which I love)!

We had our last one a few weeks ago, and I served baked oatmeal for breakfast! 

If you've been scarred by gloppy, questionable oatmeal, put that right out of your mind! Baked oatmeal is a delight...kind of like a thick, soft, oatmeal cookie for breakfast.



It works great as a meal for a group. 
  • You can mix it up the night before, so you aren't rushing around like a crazy person in the morning!
  • If your guests offer to bring something, you can divvy out toppings. 
  • It's super versatile by changing up the toppings! You can do fresh berries, chocolate chips, craisins, raisins, coconut, diced apples, almonds, pecans, walnuts, bananas...really anything your little culinary heart desires! 
  • It's easy to make gluten free by using gluten free/not gluten contaminated oats.

Baked Oatmeal
adapted from Savoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites

3 cups rolled oats (old fashioned oats, not quick oats)
3/4 cup brown sugar (I think you could go down to 1/2 cup)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons kosher salt (a little less than 1 teaspoon if using table salt)
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted (very often I use 1/4 butter and 1/4 cup applesauce)
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Combine oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, butter, vanilla, and eggs. Add your liquid ingredients to your dry ingredients, and whisk to combine.

Pour into an 8x8 or 9x9 inch square baking dish that you've lightly sprayed with nonstick spray. You could even get edgy and use a greased deep 9 inch pie plate.

Bake for 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown, and it is baked through. 

If you mix it up the night before, you can cover it and put it in the refrigerator overnight. When you bake it in the morning, put it in the oven while it preheats. You'll need to add 5-10 minutes to the baking time. 

Serve warm with a generous splash of milk and toppings.

It's also suuuuuper easy to whip up some vanilla cream instead of using regular milk!


Vanilla Cream
just something I threw together

1 part of heavy cream  
3 parts milk (I have 1% milk in my fridge) 
vanilla extract to taste

So, that's like adding 1/4 cup heavy cream to 3/4 cup milk. You can make as much or as little as you need using something around those proportions. I shake in some vanilla extract and stir it up to combine. I taste it and see if I need more vanilla. It's always best to start with less vanilla than you think you'll need and add a little more as needed.


The other nice thing about baked oatmeal is that it reheats well! You can make a big batch at the beginning of the week and have some for breakfast each morning.

And as an extra bonus, everyone at my house likes this!

That's a win in my book!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Weekly Highlights

It's been a pretty big week in church planting world!

We are super excited that we were able to lease an incredibly cool building downtown. The address is 90 Main Street and if you're even half as nosy as I am, you can click here to take a cool little tour of the building! The tour thing was made by the previous tenants; the owner of the photography store did a TON of work to the space!

Our first Sunday in our new space is March 11th!

Anyway, I thought you might be curious what a week in church planting looks like from my perspective!




A few notes before beginning:

  • I did/do things that I purposely didn't document because not everything in my life should be documented on the mighty internet. Those things are important and life giving (meaning I'm not hiding things that are hard) but just not for the consumption of the general public.
  • I do some things that I would do whether or not we were planting a church! You and I probably do some of the same things on a weekly basis.
  • This week had more "big things" than usual.
Sooooooo, first up: Sunday!

We have scones for breakfast on Sundays! Gracie would eat scones for breakfast every day, but we have to have limits on some things in the world ;) I mix and portion scone dough and then freeze them! I bake them from frozen, so I'm not a crazy scone making person on Sunday mornings.


Why scones on Sunday? I read something once about a pastor's family that let their kids eat dessert first on Sundays as a sort of grace to them. And, our daughters have no idea that there has been somewhat of a stigma about pastor's kids...they like that their dad is one of the pastors and that they have first dibs on helping in the nursery. But, we want to offer them a special sort of grace on Sundays when they are sharing their mom and dad. They don't know that's why we have scones on Sunday...which is kind of the point!

I greeted on Sunday, so this was my view from the back:


Yeah, we're back row sitters.

Gracie and I went grocery shopping on Sunday afternoon...and, let me tell you, Aldi is a ZOO on Sunday afternoon.


I usually grocery shop on Monday (because it's a zillion times less busy), but I wanted to get a head start on the week. Also, Gracie needed to get out of the house :)

After movie night and putting the girls to bed, I went to a worship team meeting where we tried out some new songs to see which ones we should add to our rotation.


I felt weird taking a picture of people practicing, so I took this awkward picture of my foot and the treat Becca made instead!

Monday:

After I dropped the girls off at school and went to the gym, I came home and made some meatballs


The meatballs are baked, but I put them in the slow cooker after they were baked to keep them warm for supper. That worked out great and it thickened the sauce a bit. Totally a win!

We had a small group leaders meeting for supper. Instead of planning a regular meal, we did appetizers! People brought their favorite appetizers and it made for a fun meal!


It's so nice that the girls are getting to be old enough to watch the little kids so we can have an essentially uninterrupted meeting. They took the little kids to play downstairs while the adults talked about how we're doing, how the groups are going, and had a time of prayer.

Tuesday:

We celebrated our two year Dubuque-iversary (in other words, we moved to Dubuque 2 years ago)!


We saw the movie Peter Rabbit and really enjoyed it! There were lots of funny comments and slapstick physical comedy which is totally my jam (I'm kind of like a middle school boy who thinks there is nothing funnier than someone unexpectedly falling)!

The girls wanted to go to Applebee's to eat, so we went and got a bunch of appetizers to share. It was quite possibly the most mediocre food we've ever paid cash money for, but it was super fun to go together. OK, it was plain fun. Some of the girls were hangry and emotional, so it had its ups and downs. But, that's life!

Wednesday:

We had supper and a meeting that was open to everyone at church, so it was a pretty full house! I made a baked chicken alfredo that was really good! People signed up to bring the rest of the meal.


Becky Morrow Entertaining Pro Tip: buy a big disposable pan when cooking for a crowd! I quadrupled the recipe, so using one enormous pan was way easier than using four 9x13 inch pans. You just have to add time to heat it all the way through!

Thursday:

I volunteer in Maggie and Gracie's classes on Thursdays. This is definitely something I would do whether or not we were planting a church. I've done this since Leah was in 4K. I love getting to know their teachers and classmates! Also, I have this incredible amount of respect for teachers...they work SO hard and care SO much. I'm happy to do what I can to make their day the tiniest bit easier!


Note: I reeeeeeally lucked out with my visitor tag up there. You have to have your drivers license on record at the school to come in. The first time I registered, I still had my Wisconsin license which had a good picture on it. In Iowa, you aren't allowed to show your teeth in your photo. I'd been practicing and practicing a pleasant, toothless smile in anticipation of my driver's license. But, I started to laugh when they took my picture and quickly closed my mouth. Consequently, my driver's license picture is a mess and I look like there is something seriously wrong with me. My Wisconsin license picture is what got stored in the school's system, and I'm thankful for that every week!

I do fluency practice with the 3rd graders which is really fun! I enjoy talking to them one at a time. And, for what it's worth, I don't think any of them knew what a "damsel in distress" was. Even the best readers stumbled on it!


Kind of funny :)

Anyway, so that was a lot of stuff from my week! I'm always a little curious about how others go about their day to day life, so I hope you enjoyed that peek into mine!

Also, we'd love it if you wanted to join us on Sunday! We start at 10:00 and have nursery available for kids age 4 and under!

Monday, March 5, 2018

February Updates

In case you're having a hard time coming up with a movie to watch for movie night, a fun recipe to make, or are a bit curious about the goings on at the Morrow house, here are some ideas and updates!



Recipes I Made and You Should, Too:
Dark Chocolate Granola: This is dessert granola that you somehow feel virtuous eating!
Greek Chickpea Salad: This was really simple and good! I'm making it again this week. It held up really well in the fridge all week and had awesome flavor!
Chicken Bacon Ranch Sliders: Leah chose this as her birthday dinner! It's totally a crowd pleaser, super easy to make ahead of time, and you can get all of the ingredients at Aldi! Win-Win-Win!

Movies We Watched for Movie Night:
The Emoji Movie: I'm not going to lie, this was better than I anticipated! To be fair, the bar was really low (I'm talking ankle height), and I was pleasantly surprised that it exceeded my expectations! I thought it was funny that the twitter bird was kind of a character :)

Cool Runnings: It was Olympics season, so we were obligated to watch it, of course. A little bit of language and unkind talking but not bad!

Return of the Jedi: The girls liked this! I remember watching it in the theater when I was little. It's probably my favorite of them all, but to be fair, it's probably the one I've paid the most attention to :)

The Incredibles: We'd only seen bits and pieces of this one and really enjoyed watching the actual whole thing! The second one is coming out this summer!

Dolphin Tale: We've seen this before and it's good! I like feeling triumphant and dolphin loving at the end. Also, Aaron made a lot of Harry Connick Jr. jokes under his breath, so that made the movie extra enjoyable for me!

Leah turned 12


I mean, raise your hand if that makes you feel old?! I see that hand ;)

We got her some clothes from Old Navy, the Nike headband pictured above (that's ALL the rage at the middle school), two books by one of her favorite authors, and this paint by sticker book.

She liked and has used everything, but her favorites, by far, have been the headband and the sticker book. That sticker book is legit and I pretty much want my own!

Leah's cake was all lemon all the time!


I made the cake from this recipe and the frosting from this recipe. I put this lemon curd in between the layers and on top. I would have chilled the frosting a big before using it, because it was a little runnier than I prefer for piping, but the flavor was excellent!

For the words, I put plastic wrap on a cookie sheet. Then, in a bowl, I melted some finely chopped white chocolate (not white chocolate chips). I put it in a zip lock and snipped the tiniest bit off of one of the bottom corners. I piped the words onto the cookie sheet and then stuck in some toothpicks. Once the chocolate hardened, I carefully pulled it off the plastic wrap! Not as fancy as buying something at the store, but still pretty and fun! 

Anyway, there are some bits and pieces from our February! I hope yours was great, too!

I have a post all set to go on Thursday with some fun church updates, so be on the lookout for that!

Have an awesome week!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Favorite Things Party

I hosted a super fun Favorite Things Party last week!



I've read about Favorite Thing Parties before and have always wanted to host one, but I wasn't quite sure about how to organize one for a decent sized group of people! 

I reached out to Julie (who wrote the first blog I ever read) on instagram, because she had posted about a party she hosted for a group of women. She was super sweet and gave me some great tips and ideas!

So, here's the gist:

  • Each guest thinks of something she loves or is super useful to her. 
  • She brings 4 of the same thing that costs between $5-7. So, each person is spending between $20-28. 
  • She comes to the party with her unwrapped favorite thing.
  • Each guest talks about her favorite thing, why she likes it, where she got it, etc., and gives out 4 of her favorite thing to 4 different people.
  • Eat treats and hang out!
Here's how it played out at my house!

As each guest arrived, they got a little packet:


There are 4 slips of paper and a list of favorite things. Each guest wrote her name on the slips of paper and put them in a bowl. Then, she filled out her list of favorite things that varied from favorite animal, favorite Winter Olympic event, favorite vacation spot, etc.

Once everyone filled out their papers, we got settled into the living room for the exchange! I actually didn't take any pictures during the evening, because I was busy enjoying the people!

Not everybody knew each other, so we started out by going around the circle and having everyone say her name and one of her favorite things from the list. 

I got us started by sharing about my favorite thing (these cutie little scissors to keep in my purse and a couple of these pens) and then drew 4 names out of the bowl. If I would have drawn the same person's name twice, I'd put the duplicate name back in the bowl and redraw! That happened a few times, and it was no big deal.

Julie recommended that as a person's name was drawn, she could share one of her favorite things from the list. This slowed down the drawing in a good way and kept it from feeling like a raffle. It was also a fun way for people to find out things they had in common!

Leah, Maggie, and Gracie hung out in the living room and Maggie kept an adorable Favorite Things Data Table! She couldn't be any cuter!


And, of course there were snacks! I served hummus, pretzel thins, and carrots, raspberry white chocolate cheesecake, and some addictive popcorn that Becca made!


And, yeah, I bought flowers at Aldi for the evening! I walk past the flowers all the time but picked some up this time because I thought they'd add something spring-y! I got the flowers 5 days ago and they're still going strong.

Steph helped me decorate sugar cookies as a party favor!


I packaged them up 2 to a bag, and then forgot to hand them out to the first several people who left. Oops :) And, yes, they are even yummier than they look!

So, wanna see what I got?


  • The Angry Mama: Yeah, I almost bought this for Aaron for Christmas, but, yeah, I came to my senses and realized that The Angry Mama isn't on the top of the gift list for any man. I can't wait to try this out!
  • Candy and Poo-Pourri: OK, I think poo-pourri is equal party hilarious and practical! The giver of the poo-pourri got it at Menards not Amazon, so I'd imagine it was cheaper!
  • Adorable Tiny Spatulas: Oh my gosh, I love the little spatulas for scraping things out of cans and bowls. These are dishwasher safe which I love even more!
  • Password Sign: I can't wait to put this up in our guest room! Super practical and cute!
  • Tiny Scissors and Sharpie Pens: Yep, that's what I brought. I mean, is it just me, or do find that you fairly often just need a scissors when you're out and about?
The Favorite Things Party made for such a fun evening! I feel like we need something fun to spice up our dark, cold Iowa winter, and this was just the thing! I can't wait to host another one next winter!

Oh, and here are three of my legit, absolute favorites:


Love those girlies of mine!

Have a great week!







Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Door County Restaurants

I'm Door County's newest, biggest fan! 

We had the best time! We had great weather, and we went early enough in the season that nothing was very busy. I've realized that while I am a "people person," I am crowd averse. I don't like have to wait 20 minutes for a table at a restaurant (especially with the girls) and I don't like feeling like I'm in people's way. This time of year was perfect for us!

I really appreciated all of the recommendations we got from our friends to help us plan our trip, so I wanted to compile all of the things we enjoyed into one spot...which will turn into more like 3 spots, so this won't be the longest post known to man.

Here's the short version:
  • We ate at both Wild Tomato locations (once for supper, once for lunch) and loved it! Definitely the best food we had all week!
  • We ate at PC Junction for supper one evening, and it was so fun! Totally a mom and pop place where a little train brings you your food. The food was just okay, but I don't think you go there for the food. The food carrying train is the main draw. Plus, they had a super fun play area outside! Even though the food wasn't great, it's totally worth going if you have kids.
  • We ate at Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant (also known as the restaurant with goats on the roof) for lunch and had breakfast food. It was good but not great.
  • We ate ice cream at three places: Not Licked Yet, Wilson's, and Grumpy's. Not Licked Yet actually served custard and had fun popsicles. It's located on a little creek and had a great playground. Wilson's absolutely lived up to the hype...so good! We enjoyed Grumpy's which was really close to our hotel.
Now, the long version with pictures!
Wild Tomato was seriously amazing! We ate supper at the Fish Creek location on our first evening. If I'm comparing the locations to each other, I liked the atmosphere in Sister Bay better than the one in Fish Creek; it was just brighter.

But, at the Fish Creek location, they gave the girls little containers of pizza dough to play with! Both places have the very cool water bottles, though!


The pizza was excellent at both locations! We had an awesome bread basket at the Fish Creek location for an appetizer. There were several different breads and three dips. The herbed goat cheese was phenomenal! I'd eat anything if it had that goat cheese on it! Leah liked it until she found out it was goat cheese, but I told her it stood for Greatest Of All Time. Believe it or not, I don't know that she bought it :)

We had artichoke dip with focaccia bread for our appetizer at lunch at the Sister Bay location. The dip was great, but the bread was just okay. As a food nerd, it seemed to me like they rushed the rise on the bread, because it didn't have a good crumb or chew to it. <---see, that was nerdy.

I had an awesome salad both times! Goat cheese, dried cherries, and maple roasted walnuts with a cherry vinaigrette. I'm working on a copycat recipe and am almost there on the dressing!


The Sister Bay location is right by the beach, so it worked out really well to have lunch and then go play on the beach! The Fish Creek location is right by the entrance to Peninsula State Park and just down the road from Not Licked Yet.


The service was fine at both locations. We didn't have to wait and our servers brought us what we needed, when we needed it. I wouldn't necessarily say they were friendly or cheerful, but I also don't go to a restaurant to become friends with a server.

Eating at Wild Tomato is a must in my book!

Like I mentioned above, PC Junction is super fun! The servers/conductors seemed happy and cheerful. The food was so-so, but that's not the point of going there. Our girls aren't train enthusiasts by any stretch of the imagination, but they had so much fun! The outside play area was seriously awesome!


Al Johnson's was good, but I don't know that I could fully appreciate all of the Swedish/Norwegian-ness of it. If my family had a high Swedish or Norwegian cultural identity, I'm sure I would have seen a lot of things that reminded me of my grandma's house, but that's not the case for me. 


I had Swedish Pancakes with the best Door County cherry topping! We all had breakfast food and enjoyed it. Our waitress seemed rushed, though. 

It was really fun to see the goats on the roof, though! I accidentally took this very artistic picture of a roof goat:


That's not edited and there isn't a filter! I mean, it's like a glowing goat!

And, we can't forget this framer:


Leah was in on the joke :)

We'd heard that Wilson's is THE place for ice cream and it was SO good! It was actually pretty busy on a Tuesday afternoon in early June, so I can't imagine how busy it would be on a weekend in July! The had regular flavors, but some fun ones, too! I had lemon cheesecake ice cream...soooo good! Plus, they put a jelly bean on the bottom of each ice cream cone which the girls thought was awesome! Aaron got their root beer and said it was some of the best he'd ever had!


Not Licked Yet was delicious, too! I had an Arnold Palmer popsicle which was so refreshing and delicious! Their playground area was super fun, plus we enjoyed the evening on the edge of the river!


There are ice cream shops literally everywhere! The closest one to our hotel was Grumpy's (no picture though). They served Cedar Crest ice cream and it was good! Not quite the level of the other two, but, I mean...it's ice cream! It's good! Plus, the inside was really cute. It was an easy walk to the waterfront to watch a beautiful sunset!

I'll be back (hopefully) soon to talk about what we did!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Observers Gotta Observe: Water Park Edition

Aaron is usually the only one privy to my slightly snarky water park observations, but I decided to share these with you!  I believe the word you are looking for is lucky.  ;)


1.  Rough Start
When I first go into a water park, it is so loud and overstimulating!  Once we were at one and it was "party night!" or something like that.  So, in addition to the sounds of splashing water, fans, and happy children, there was bumping dance music.  I felt like I was in my own personal, overstimulated hell.  But, then I got used to it and it was all good :)

2.  Cautionary Tale of Tattoos
I understand the appeal of tattoos.  I get that it's a way to mark important life events, share creativity, or tell a story/testimony.  I'm just saying it might be a good idea to go to a water park in case you are considering any of the following:
  • a large oak tree in your cleavage with a skull sporting pig tails on the side
  • barbed wire with a dangling dream catcher or two on your upper arm
  • haunted house on the shoulder
  • flaming infinity sign on your back
  • rosary necklace around the neck
What looks good on a firm 18 year old body, might not look so great on the "40 year old and I've had a few too many beers body" or the "30 something had some babies body."  Just make sure you'll like it when you look different or will have the confidence not to care if your tattoo gets a bit wonky.  Also, go ahead and get those tats touched up; put it in the budget!

3.  Defined Water Park Personalities
Our daughters have very defined water park personalities!
  • Leah is the "watch me!" kid.  She's always coming up with fun tricks, jumps, and handstands, and spins for us to watch.
  • Maggie is the hot tub kid.  She gets cold really easily, so she likes to spend lots of time in the hot tub!  
  • Gracie is the water slide kid.  She will go up and down a water slide literally 20 times in a row.  Those stairs are quite a workout!  
4.  I saw a guy who looked like Buddy Garrity on the lazy river.
It wasn't him.

5.  Cell phone usage
Almost every time we're at an indoor water park, I see someone talking on a cell phone.  I can barely hear myself think, so I'm always slightly impressed that they can hear someone on a phone.  I'm also impressed by the risk takers using their cell phones in the hot tub...whether or not it's in a ziplock bag.

6.  About the hot tub...
Let's keep it PG, playahs.  Moving on...

7.  Camo isn't just for the Army/hunting/Capture the Flag anymore
A couple years ago, the bridal store downtown had camo prom dresses in the display window.  Then, I actually saw a girl wearing one with a blaze orange sash/belt, naturally.  And it wasn't the army camo, it was the kind that has branches and leaves on it.  

Fast forward to the camo swimming suits I saw.  I felt that the military-esque camo swimming trunks were anticipated, but the mom wearing a branch and leaves camo tankini with coordinating skirt was a bit unexpected.  

8.  I like that lots of water parks have life jackets.
It puts my mind at ease when I can't spot the girls right away.

9.  Lifeguards rule
I was a lifeguard back in the day...way back in the day.  I'm here to tell you that lifeguarding is as boring as heck, except when you are pulling someone out of the water, and then you're adrenaline is going crazy!  I like watching the lifeguards scan the water and walk back and forth to the areas that would be blind spots if they weren't checking.  It seems like it helps keep the guards alert.  Lifeguards win!

10.  I like that the girls especially like water parks
I like that they play so nicely together.  I think it's especially sweet, too, that after they tire of the slides, they play imagination games with each other in the regular pool part!

Do you have any random water park observations?  Do share!

Also, are indoor water parks a midwest thing, or are they all over?

Happy Monday!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Everyday Happy: January 8th-14th, 2016



It's been a good week around here!  And, although I have yet to pack a box, I have thrown a lot of stuff away, so that's always a plus, right?  I feel like Gracie and I will be able to pack up some games and rarely used kitchen items today, though!


January 8


Enjoying scones and Downton Abbey with my favorite person!


January 9


We had a super fun Saturday in Madison!  We met some friends for lunch, hung out at the Children's Museum, looked around inside the capitol and stopped at Trader Joe's!  The girls were so impressed with how fancy the capitol was!


January 10


Yeah, that's the Vikings game we are subjecting our children to watching.  I always feel bad for the kicker, especially when he misses an easy one!


January 11


This is what after school is like at our house!  At the beginning of the school year, I've had the girls bring their folders and papers to the table where we have a snack together.  I look through the papers right away and get rid of whatever I'm not saving.  I enter dates on the calendar right away, too.  I feel like it's really helped me keep on top of things!


January 12


I started reading the girls The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe!  We're really enjoying it!  I've never read any of the Chronicles of Narnia, so it's been fun for me, too.  I find that the girls do better listening to a chapter book if they are doing something with their hands, although Gracie did wander off (thankfully not into a wardrobe)...


January 13


We went to Menards to look at some flooring and found these fine Darth Vader shower heads.  I'm sure we can all agree that we would get much cleaner using one ;)


January 14


Maggie got 3rd place in the fire prevention poster contest, but it was for the Kindergarten category.  There was some sort of mix up, and her poster got in the wrong pile, but she handled it well!


Have a great weekend!