Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Mini Cherry Cobbler Recipe

My husband knows I like cherries, so he brought home a 3 pound bag of them. Three pounds! Pitting all of those is no easy feat, even with the overpriced cherry pitter tool I bought at Target, and as much as I like cherries, I wasn't so sure we could finish all 3 pounds of them before they went bad.

Pinterest to the rescue! 

Below is a recipe I found on Pinterest (originally published by Zerrin at Give Recipe).  I put asterisks next to my additions and changes-- I like to personalize a recipe for taste and health.

These turned out delicious!

Cherry mixture:

  • 1 and ½ cups cherries, pitted
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • Dash of Almond Extract*

Crisp topping:

  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour*
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon*
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • A pinch of brown sugar, for the topping of each*

Let's Make it!
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.*
  2. For the topping: mix flour, sugar, cinnamon, butter
  3. Mix cherries, sugar, almond extract* and cornstarch in a separate bowl until combined.
  4. Put a little crumble mixture in ramekins to make a bottom layer for your crisp.
  5. Spoon the cherry mixture into 4 ramekins and sprinkle the topping mixture evenly on cherries.
  6. Sprinkle a pinch of brown sugar on each.*
  7. Bake for 30 minutes or until the topping is slightly golden and the cherry layer is bubbling.
  8. Devour!* (Makes 4 ramekins/servings)

Baking is a hobby I used to enjoy frequently before having young wildebeasts children. Now it's more of a special event. Still, I'm excited to be back in it again a bit, if even just for the summer. What hobbies are you currently or do you hope to reconnect with when you are able?

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Daily Battles (Life with Young Children)

“Every day feels like a victory,” I laughed in answer to the casual chatter of how my day was going. 

But yes, truly, every single day I feel like that. 

Every single morning, I roll myself out of bed, and every single day I have to pace myself in order to make it to the children's bedtimes roughly 14 hours later. Once they are in bed, I know what it feels like to have won a war, or at least the battle.

I suppose my death isn't at stake in my daily life as a mother of two young children. And there is certainly ample joy in my endeavors. However, as I shut the doors to their bedrooms at night and hold my breath, bracing myself for one last “Mama!” or a chubby little hand turning the doorknob, I often feel like a person who fought hard through a long, grueling battle, giving it all she's got and maybe, just maybe, will get to live another day.

I glance at the other mothers with young children at preschool drop-off when I'm struggling to keep my feisty, joyful 2 year-old from running headlong into the parking lot while simultaneously urging my anxious and wonderfully sensitive 4 year-old to get his backpack and begging him For the Love of God, to please keep his hands to himself today, and I wonder how those moms do it.

To the naked eye, few of them resemble who I envision as my fellow hustling soldiers, war-torn and tattered (like me). Some of them wear jeans. Jeans! And shoes that have heels on them. I glance down at my well-worn black yoga pants and one of my three sweatshirts and try not to feel badly about myself. Our war paint, combat gear, and survival methods might appear different on the surface, but we all have our challenges, I try to remember.

After leaving the school parking lot, I will wonder-- every time-- if my son will be safe and happy there. I'll wonder if my toddler will take a nap so that I can breathe for a bit before the afternoon routine begins. I'll wonder if feeding them Happy Meals for a second night this week will make me an irresponsible mother. I'll wonder if staying home with them full-time really is in our family's best interest. I'll wonder if that leftover sugar cookie is still hidden in the cabinet...

Blink, and the afternoon begins: Pre-school pick up. Afternoon snacks. Outdoor time. Nick Jr. time. Dinner time. Daddy time. Fun time. Story time. Bed time. I know how the rest of the day will work out, a familiar-- sometimes happy and comforting, other times excruciatingly boring-- routine peppered with sibling rivalry and love. The afternoon hours will be sprinkled with happy laughter and plenty of tears. Sounds of The Wiggles will commingle with shouts of “she hit me!” and Kowabunga dude! Mostly friendly fire. Fire that both energizes and exhausts.

When my husband and I manage to get our soft, squishy children into their little beds each night, after the countless urgings to brush their teeth, the never-ending story requests, and the tiny wet kisses, I exhale. I feel mostly proud of the day I gave them. After all, I love them so much I would die for them, as any good soldier would. 

Then, tiptoeing slowly down the stairs, I'll wonder how I possibly survived the last 14 hours and how the heck I will do it all over again tomorrow.

What metaphor would you use for your current stage of life?

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Cheap or Free DIY Updates for Your Home!

Once in a while, I get on a DIY kick. I don't like buying something new if something old still works, but if it's ugly, well... it becomes harder and harder to live with, especially if you are home All. The. Time.

Recently, it was Do-it-Yourself Time, Frantic Mama-style.

Here are my 3 most recent projects.

1. The Hideous 1980's Ceiling Fan Makeover

This is the Before Photo of our "rustic" porch fan:

I simply unscrewed the fan blades from the unit and cleaned them off.

Then I sprayed on a coat of of Rust-Oleum primer. An hour later, I sprayed two coats of Rust-Oleum Espresso Satin Finish (within an hour of each coat).

I don't like asking my husband to do extra chores around the house because he already devotes any free time he has to our family; I didn't bother him with the electrical situation of unhooking the fan base (and heck no, I'm not doing it!). So for now, I'm leaving the base alone.

It may not be perfect, but it's less noticeable and way cheaper & easier than installing a brand-new fan!

2. Cover up the Nasty Old Armchair

I recently recovered the dirty old hand-me-down chair we have in our basement that I'm almost too embarrassed to show you (to my credit, I usually have it covered up with throw blankets, but I'm sharing it with you here in all it's naked glory). 

I ordered the Loose Fit Square Cushion Tailored Armchair Slipcover in Natural from UglySofa.com for under $30. The slipcover is by a store that rhymes with Tottery Parn, but Ugly Sofa sells them cheaply (I don't ask questions). 

The trick with slipcovers is to iron out all of the wrinkles first and then just keep stuffing the fabric in between the cushions until it is tight. I also secured the tight corners in the back and around the armrests with corkscrew upholstery pins.

Again, it's not perfect, but it's for a basement after all! 
I also swapped out the extra [drab] white pillow for something we already had that has some color in it.

3. Update Old Mismatched Picture Frames

Last but not least, in under an hour, I updated 3 mismatched picture frames using this can of Satin Nickel spray paint I bought at Lowe's.

First you need to take apart the frames, which can be tricky if they were professionally framed (because there are nails on the back). Use a screwdriver to pry the nails up (or remove them) so you can remove the backing, the glass, and the photo (you'll put them back together the same way when the paint dries; I also used masking tape to re-secure the photos and mats).

I placed the frames on cardboard outside, and sprayed 2 coats of the Rust-oleum on them (no, I didn't sand them first-- I live on the edge!).

Then I used off-white spray paint for all three mats (I had to use a few coats, as the spray paint was cheaper (it was on Clearance at Target for under 2 bucks!)).

Voila! My mismatched frames now look custom-made for a few bucks (with plenty of paint to spare) and will look nice grouped together on one wall.*

*The frames all feature photos of my husband's and my grandparents; we wanted a cohesive theme and look for the wall.

Note: These projects were only do-able when my kids were out of the house with my husband on and off over a few weeks time period. 

Everything takes A LOT longer with little ones trampling about!

What DIY projects have you or would you like to work on around the house? Any favorite resources?

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

Like these projects? Here are a couple of my other DIY posts:
Magnetic Chalkboard Wall
Updating Cheap Wood Veneer Tables

Friday, July 3, 2015

Best Muffins of ALL Time

Frantic Mama is not a food blog. Not at all, really. However, my friends, when I come across a recipe I love, I feel compelled to share it with you.

Are you obsessed with all things peanut butter? How about dark chocolate? And are you still besties with carbs? Me TOO!

I found the original recipe for these muffins at Flavor the Moments, but with a little improvising and creative adding & substituting, I gave them my own twist.

Better yet, I didn't need to buy anything to make them right then and there (I was inspired to bake something due to some browning bananas I didn't want to throw away. I'm avid avoider of the food-wasting-guilt!).

Peanut Butter Banana Walnut Chocolate Chunk Muffins [Frantic Mama Style]


2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup canola or vegetable oil
1/2 cup egg beaters
1 cup mashed bananas (about 3 medium)
½ cup peanut butter, melted*
½ cup low fat milk
¼ cup Greek yogurt (I didn't have plain...I threw in my coconut Greek yogurt and the muffins were still fab!)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks
1/4 chopped walnuts


Preheat the oven to 400.
Line a standard muffin pan with paper liners. 
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 
In a medium bowl, whisk the sugars, oil, egg, and egg yolk until frothy, about 1 minute. 
Whisk in the mashed bananas, peanut butter, milk, yogurt, and vanilla until well incorporated. 
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. 
Fold in the chocolate chunks and walnuts.
Scoop the batter into the paper liners. 
Bake for 18-20 minutes. 

Not the easiest recipe in the world (there's lot of stuff in these!), considering I am usually perfectly content buying my baked goods or using a mix. But if you enjoy baking, and find yourself with one of those rare blessed hours all to yourself, I highly recommend giving these a try.  


Do you have a favorite recipe blog or website? Is there a favorite cookbook you use again and again? Do tell!

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

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