Full>Busy

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Well, I’m back less than a month since my last post so we’ll consider that a win for the team, right?

I wanted to check back in with an update since my announcement that I’ve removed the word busy from my vocabulary.  On December 24th I announced that for the year of 2017 I’ve given up busyness.  The truth is, this has been surprisingly easy and incredibly rewarding.  I know that sounds impossible.  And honestly, if you’re my friend in real life it will surprise you even more.

Last year I traveled not only around the world (US to New Zealand to Australia) but about 15 times domestically (not for work).  I hosted 10ish houseguests for overnights, regular book clubs (2), bible studies, and a high school youth group.  As I heard other people talk about how busy I am, I kept feeling surprised (also, maybe, a little annoyed).  Something has to change, I thought.  I do not want people to immediately think ‘busy’ when they think of me.

So I’m fasting busyness and replacing it with fullness.  I thought when I set about this commitment that the result would be doing less.  The truth is, I’m doing more than ever.  Hang tight, this might make sense in a minute.  I realized that I was organizing and scheduling my life to death.  When I stopped doing that and left a little space in my calendar (and my brain) I actually got MORE done.

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In December I hosted a birthday party for a friend and promptly fell in love with my friend’s friends.  I heard myself say ‘we should do this every month’.  Normally I avoid saying things that sound like me volunteering to organize something.  But who doesn’t have a  night a month to have fun?  Last month, we went to paint pottery.  We ordered Uber Eats sushi or Chipotle and met as soon as we could all gather from work or for some, waiting for their husbands to get home from work.  I painted the platter in the picture above.

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I started leaving my Friday mornings open to just be at home.  Amazingly, this resulted in purging my garage, every closet, my kitchen cabinets, and even old DVDs I never watch anymore because: Hulu.  I finally planted flowers in a pot for my front porch and repotted succulents for the back porch.  I took a Friday morning and drove to a local plant grower and talked with him about the kind of sun my porch gets and my crazy life of travel and what I might actually be able to keep alive.  I bought a pot with drainage (because apparently succulents need that).

You’re probably thinking, great, you took a morning off and you planted flowers.  So what’s that really say about getting more done?  Well, I’ve also read 26 books towards my goal of 125 this year.  I took on meeting with gals who are also reading through the bible in a year. I booked flights to see my best friend, to take my nieces and nephew on individuals dates, and I took a weekend to fly down and help my Mom move.  I even texted a friend who’s going through a hard time and said – girls weekend?  Let’s get out of here.  And we are.

In the next two months my college roommate AND my best friend are making trips down here where I get to take them to the beach, cook them meals, and take them shopping.  I even sat down this week and made a list of fun things we could do while they’re here and their favorite food and drinks I want to have on hand for their visits.

I’ve learned to cook new meals and bake new goodies.  I’ve had room in my head to remember birthdays, special events, and I’ve spent more time praying with and for my friends and family.  I scheduled all my dentist, doctor, even skin cancer checks for the year by mid-February.

Saying no to busy has meant a lot more spontaneous ‘yes’ too.  Yes to brunch on Sunday’s after church.  Yes to ‘can we come over early to hangout before group?’.  Yes to writing hand written letters with my 5 year old niece.  Yes to facetimes with my friends and their kids who live far away.  Yes to watching a coworkers new baby so they can get out of the house without paying for a sitter.  I’ve even somewhat kept up with laundry this year.

So maybe this just sounds like I’m doing things I always should have been.  True.  But somehow in the busyness of my life before I never really felt like I was enjoying those items.  I sent cards and acknowledged birthdays but I didn’t have time to really think about them.  I made trips to visit people but I got there and it was like whew, I’m exhausted.  I read books and I loved it but I rarely had a quiet morning with coffee to do it. And yes, sooner or later the laundry got done, the drawers got cleaned out, and friends got a phone call.  In fact, I may have been more ‘perfect’ in 2016 but I’ve definitely been more ‘present’ in 2017.

The best part is this – I like full Becca a lot better than busy Becca.  Because she’s fun.  She says ‘hey, let me teach you this new game I got for Christmas’ when she’s sitting out in the driveway chatting with her neighbors.  She enjoys sitting on FaceTime learning about the stretchy dinosaurs her nephew loves.  She thinks to offer to lend a crimper to a friend attending an 80s event and to send ‘hey this flight is on sale -come visit me’ texts to her friends so they can plan a beach trip.

It’s very possible that as you read this is makes no sense to you because you’re fun all the time and never flustered.  I hope for your sake that you don’t care quite as much as I do about to do lists, tasks, and clean floors.  But for me, I’m celebrating the wins.  That when your friends say they’ve had a bad day you get to say ‘come on over’ and you put down what you’re doing and just be there.  I don’t get to do this all day everyday but I get to do it.

So cheers, to slow mornings and full lives.  To scheduling less but somehow doing more.  To having room in your head to solves a few of your friends problems.  To being thoughtful and fun.  To getting a lot done but knowing when to just be present too.  Trust me, full is so much better than busy.

Oh and here’s a bonus.  The recipe for the best cake I’ve made in a WHILE: Pink Champagne Cake.

 

Pinteresting: Entertaining, Updos, and Home Decor

Normally the schedule I’m keeping this fall would have me chugging diet coke from a 2 liter and crying myself to sleep.  Keeping consistently with the theme ‘present over perfect’ and enjoying each season I find that I’m doing more of the things I love than even in previous, slower seasons.

While my older sister was in town kicking off my fall (and smack in the middle of 4 weekends in a row of visitors) I took her shopping at my absolute favorite spot in South Tampa – The Summer House! It’s this fantastically eclectic little shop with vintage, handmade, and refurbished furniture and tchotchkes.

I pinned this DIY blanket ladder years ago as a project to ‘get around to’, though admittedly I was never planning on making my own.  I’m more of a treasure huntress by nature.

 

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The $10 Tutorial can be found here or on my Pinterest account.

After patiently over analyzing every single ladder I’ve come in contact with in the past 6 months or so I found this already perfectly painted ladder for my own living room:

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My sister doesn’t like my blanket stash (she laughed hysterically and announced they seem more like blankets that should be on a bed then a couch).  Decorating and keeping up a house is always a work in progress though, isn’t it?  I’ll get there.

The floppy basket pictured was the former blanket keeper which was stashed in the corner now occupied by my blanket ladder.  I think we can all agree, a vast improvement.

I’m continuing to love having a house full of high schoolers studying the bible on Wednesday nights because it gives me a great opportunity to try out recipes.

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While I cannot take credit for that adorable pumpkin cake (thanks Publix!) those muffins are my absolute favorite recipe.  As you may know if you followed along last year I cooked my way through a Six Sisters cookbook and this was a gem found during that process.

Pinteresting: Fall Prep

Normally the queen of overcommitment I’ve decided that I’m sticking with my efforts to not let perfect by the enemy of good.  Sometimes good is quite simply good enough.  As I prepare for weekend upon weekend out of town (literally 6 before mid-November) I was determined to enjoy this season.  I love the fall.  Football season, family, fall treats, and so many festivities – what’s not to love?  But as someone who absolutely hates the feeling of being unprepared and frantic I wanted to work ahead.

After a girlfriend had to cancel her trip to see me this weekend I realized I would have a few coveted, unscheduled hours.  These are rare in my current calendar so I blocked them off and started planning ahead. Always a fan of the ‘why go out and buy it if it can be delivered with Amazon Prime’ camp – I ordered my supplies in advance with a few exceptions.

The goal was to spend my Saturday morning at home stocking the freezer for fall events and the Wednesday night high school bible study I’m hosting.  Knowing that my weekends are spoken for nearly until 2017 it seemed wise to work when I can, right?  I took to Pinterest in advance and found recipes for cookie doughs that could be frozen and used like homemade break and bakes (or slice and bakes).  I used these two recipes:

Slice ‘n Bake Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies

Notes: I made 3ish rolls of these slice and baked cookies and froze the rolls (wrapped and then placed in a ziplock).  I COULD have stashed the supplies for the icing but let’s be real six.weekends.out.of.town – so I bought buttercream frosting and sprinkles and stocked the pantry with those.  Slice, bake, ice, sprinkle – insta hostess.

Chewy Ginger Snap Cookies

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Notes:  This dough is legit.  I followed the full instructions (for once) and I froze them a little before putting them in the ziplock so they wouldn’t stick together in the freezer. I made 5 dozen frozen cookie dough balls.  I also followed the link that gave instructions for freezing and as recommended I took the time to write the instructions directly on the ziplock bags.  The point of prepping is that it is easy on the back end, right? I didn’t want to dig for the recipe and wonder ‘what temp? how long?’.

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Also, years ago I found an epic pumpkin recipe that I have made about a million times since.  I’ve made 6 loaves in the last few weeks to stock the freezer and wanting to give a few as gifts. The recipe makes 3 loaves (the perfect amount: 1 for you, 1 for someone else, 1 for the freezer amiright?).  By the way, I always generously put chocolate chips in every loaf.  I thought I would share this recipe too for all you pumpkin lovers.

Becca’s favorite tried and true pumpkin bread recipe.

You’ll notice in the background that in a weird fit of ambition I FINALLY tried making homemade candles.  This is something I’ve been wanting to try for years. One of my girlfriends who made candles for Christmas gifts a couple years ago gave me all of her leftover supplies (Thanks Sierra!) and I ordered the rest of what I needed with Amazon Prime.  I started small with Lavender and Honeysuckle fragrance oils.  Those are two scents I was confident I love in candles (not combined).  Over the past year or so I’ve been saving old candle jars (thanks to Pinterest I learned how to get the wax out of them) and tins to reuse.

I also used dried rose petals from my birthday flowers to pretty up the tops.

 

Was it worth the time?  Yes!  I used my prettiest tins for gifts for 2 of my close friends who had birthdays (with a loaf of pumpkin bread, of course).  But I’ve been burning my own as well and really enjoying it.  I will say, I think I failed to put enough fragrance oil in my first batch so I was more generous with my second.  You can even get creative with what you make into candles. I used this old coffee tin that once held espresso on my coffee bar (it was too cute to toss, right?).

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I promise to do these post more regularly. I really have been trying new things from Pinterest left and right.  It’s just taking the time to report back I’ve been slacking on.  OK, and blogging in general.

If you want to know some of what I tried and you follow me on Pinterest you can also keep up with my ‘Pinned That, Done That board there.

See you back here soon.

Pinterest Made Me Do It: Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake

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(Elsa got an entire Frozen Entourage)

This year for Halloween, Casey and I were invited to go to trick or treating with our friend and their 5 year old daughter.  Afterwards we would come back to their house for dinner and a game night.  I volunteered to bring the dessert and of course wanted to bring something festive.  I may have shared previously that one of my go-to desserts is the many versions of Paula Deen’s gooey butter cake. They’re easy to make, I frequently have all of the ingredients in my home, and it has almost a 100% success rate of everyone enjoying it.  So, the week before halloween I stumbled across a pumpkin version.  Not being a huge pumpkin fan myself I was a skeptic but it was delicious and a big hit amongst our friends.  So much so, in fact, that the leftovers were eaten for lunch by our friends the next day!  So, here you go another Pinterest Made Me Do It win!

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake:

Ingredients

  • Cake:
  • 1 box (18 1/4 ounces) yellow cake mix
  • 1 large egg
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted
  • Filling:
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 box (16 ounces, or approximately 3 1/2 cups) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • whipped cream, for serving

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9×13 pan with nonstick spray and set aside.
  2. To make your cake, stir together cake mix, egg and butter with a large wooden spoon until well combined. Press the mixture into the bottom of your prepared cake pan, making sure it is smoothed into the corners.
  3. To make the filling, beat the pumpkin and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixture until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well. Add the melted butter and beat until combined. Add the pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Next, add the powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, beating well in between each addition.
  4. Use a spatula to spread the filling on top of the cake base. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Do not overbake – when you stick a toothpick into the center of the cake, it should have a few wet crumbs stuck to it when you remove it.

(This pin and all others are saved on my Pinned That Done That board for easy finding and reuse)