Tuesday, June 20, 2017

To win Father's Day this year, I created a special breakfast for my husband that I knew would make his day. He loves bacon, and he loves cinnamon rolls, so instead of making some of each, I combined them. I present to you: Bacon wrapped cinnamon rolls!

Granted, I took some shortcuts. I didn't make my own cinnamon rolls, but you could. You'd need to bake them for a bit, then add the bacon, then finish baking them. It's quite a bit easier with store-bought rolls, since all you do is wrap, bake, and blow someone's mind.

Take your ingredients. Crack open that pressurized can, set each individual roll in the prepped and sprayed (I use Kirkland olive oil spray to guarantee some non-stick action) pan, and then open your bacon.

Wrap one slice of bacon around the outside of each cinnamon roll. You can do some lovely tucking and scrunching to make it prettier; it's entirely up to you. I made one extra special one that had bacon wrapped from the spiral inside, all the way around the outside. I had to unroll the cinnamon roll, lay the bacon inside it, and re-roll it. I don't know that it made a big difference though.

Bake at 400 F for 15 minutes. Check bacon. You may have to compromise on how crunchy you like it if the cinnamon roll tops are browning too fast. I recommend using a lower shelf in the oven to delay the cinnamon rolls and make both items be complete simultaneously.

Let cool and enjoy!

Have you tried these? What did you think?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Once upon a time, I was a punctual person.

Then I had kids.

I hate being late. I hate being perpetually late even more. Yet any time I'm not going to work or dropping the kids at school, I'm running behind.

I've tried prepping things the night before. Arranging shoes in a neat line. Getting up extra early. But most of the time, right before we're meant to leave, someone has to go potty or needs another diaper change (even if I just changed him!). Shoes that were on nine seconds ago have gone missing, cups are misplaced, the dogs are let out when moments before, I called them in. Something inevitably delays us.

I cringe when we sneak into church several songs in. I sigh when everyone is loaded in the car, only to be told someone has to pee right now! I bury my face in my hands when we have to go back inside for a forgotten bag, phone, or beloved toy.

It's easy to get frustrated by these moments. Regardless of organization hacks and task efficiency and planning and prepping, something always pops up. It's easy to get mad, to be irritated we're late yet again.

I was having one of those days yesterday. It seemed like the boys' ears were just closed to me. They adore going to church, and we recently started a Wednesday evening study for the summer, so they get to go an extra day. They love their teachers and their playtime and just getting out of the house. Yet each time I asked them to put on shoes, I'd walk back by the playroom to find them still engrossed in their playtime. They were slow to walk out the door, painstakingly sluggish to get in the car, and the youngest literally crawled when I asked him to hurry. Most days, he'd give famed runner Usain Bolt a run for his money.

I was not feeling benevolent. I was grumpy that they'd been ignoring me all. day. long. I was seeing red that they were so blatantly disregarding my sense of urgency about going somewhere they adore. I was so, so frustrated.

No matter how late I am, I make sure to drive the same as I would if I were early. Better late than dead, right? So I'm driving my typical, reasonable pace while the radio is on scan, trying to drown out the negative thoughts in my brain. I stop on the NPR traffic report, because I'm already late and don't want to be later. That's when I hear that there was an accident along our route, right where we would've been had we left on time.

How many accidents have I not been in, simply because circumstances caused me to be late? I think in most of these instances, God has a reason for it. Last night, the reason was that I simply wasn't meant to be there at that time. He protected me, driving my two young boys, and kept us safe. Were their ears closed to my pleas to put on shoes? Yes. Did I have to drag-carry my heavy two-year-old because he insisted on crawling to the car? Did they dawdle during  dinner, further delaying our departure? Typically one of these delays occurs, but not all of them. We don't usually leave twenty minutes later than I planned.

I often feel too small for God. I'm not a pastor, a worship leader, or even a Christian writer of any notability. I'm just a freelance writer, mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend. But God doesn't see me as just anything. He isn't inconvenienced by me. He has a plan for my life.  I have value to Him. So do you.

So if you're stressing over running late, or feeling inconsequential, just remember: you are loved and valuable. God has you right where you're meant to be.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Mother's Day, the Disney Way

Disney has received a lot of criticism throughout the years for their many motherless characters. When you think about it, it makes sense that so many beloved classic films lack a mother figure. After all, moms get things done. They fix problems early and swiftly, so our beloved classics would be significantly shorter were moms present. The lack of two parents also provides our protagonists a struggle to overcome, and justifies the remaining parent's over-protective nature (see: King Triton, Marlin, the Sultan, etc).

Thankfully, throughout recent years, Disney and Pixar have given us plenty of Disney/Pixar moms to love. With Mother's Day this weekend (That's right, slackers! Go buy your mom something lovely and shower her with praise- she deserves it!), I thought we would honor our wonderful mothers, along with the Disney moms, who all inspire us and instill in us these wonderful beliefs. Thank you, Mom.

Moms teach us

To forgive

To cherish

To love unconditionally 

To work hard

To count our blessings

To laugh in the face of danger

To hope

And last, but certainly not least:

To be fierce 

What's the most valuable lesson your mom and your favorite Disney mom have taught you? Shout out in the comments!

Happy Mother's Day to all the wonderful moms in the world! You are dearly appreciated. You are seen. You are important. YOU MATTER. Thank you.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Road Trip Guide to Potty Training

Hey y'all! I've got a new post up over at Knoxville Mom's Blog- The Road Trip Guide to Potty Training. You can read the whole article here. See you there!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Beauty and the Beast Review

It's a tale as old as time, yet Disney's latest remake is everywhere you look these days. I'll admit, I was pretty concerned. It looked good, it had an all star cast, and yet...I worried. Several reviews said it was, essentially, a live-action scene by scene reincarnation of the animated original. That animated original is one of my favorite Disney films, with Belle being a bit of a hero to me (she loves books and is sassy!).

I saw Beauty and the Beast opening weekend, and I've delayed this post because I was still processing. There's a lot to love, but also some I didn't like as much. Fear not; a film review of a movie this new won't contain spoilers!

Contrary to many reviews, 2017's Beauty varies quite a bit from the animated inspiration. It has a definite setting, in powdered-wig era France. This is actually a bit I'm not a fan of, to be honest. As a fairy tale aficionado, I like my stories to be timeless. The elaborate makeup and period costumes will most likely earn this movie an Oscar nod for hair, makeup, and costuming, but at the expense of fairy tale integrity. It's also a reminder that Belle and her prince may not live happily ever after, since they're living in pre-revolutionary France, and we all know what happened to the aristocracy there.

There are new characters, and further details on missing information from our beloved animated film. How long the castle has been cursed, the fate of Belle's mother, and the village's ignorance of the castle's existence are all appropriately addressed. A few new characters pop in, but they're largely forgettable.

A benefit of animation is the movement and expression of the cursed servants turned objects. The flatter faces and shallower eyes lessen the emotional impact of their expressions. The general muted colors of the castle under the curse effect even Belle's scenes, with the 'Be Our Guest' musical number having less of an impact because of it.

Lumiere's expressions are muted in the live action remake.
Lumiere and Cogsworth are less animated.

The character of Belle herself is a little different. She is still strong, and is seen teaching other girls to read as well as inventing things of her own. Conversely, she lost some of her gentle spirit that the animated character possessed. Her gentleness and patience is meant to contrast with the harsh impatience of the Beast, and allows her to teach him to be kind. Unlike the animated character, who intends to sacrifice herself to save her father, 2017's Belle plots to escape from the moment of her incarceration.

The town, and Gaston in particular, are displayed in an interesting light. Much like the cursed Prince, Gaston is selfish and cruel. He is regularly reined in by LeFou, possibly one of my favorite characters in this version. Unlike in the original, we see growth and change in 2017's LeFou. This LeFou actually has a conscience, and we see it at war with itself. Gaston, a war hero, struggles between current life and reliving the war, where his cruelty and savageness were useful and admired. In the village, there is room for the hero but only hunting can quench his blood thirst.

Emma Watson played an interesting Belle. Because I'm obsessed with the original animated film, her singing voice didn't quite meet my expectations. She did well with the character, and added her own flair. It did drive me crazy that her dress was tucked into her apron randomly, but I'm sure there's a reason for it. I personally prefer the swish-swish of a flowing skirt, but I'm a skirt dork. Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts brought tears to my eyes; Josh Gad's LeFou impressed me. Gaston was perfectly cast, and I love that Belle's father was less of a stereotype and more of an individual.

Overall, I enjoyed Disney's latest remake. I adored 2016's Cinderella, for the depth it added to the story. Beauty and the Beast added depth to some characters, but fell short on others. Although I'm glad I saw it, it's not a film I see myself watching repeatedly, like the original. The constraints of being set in a particular time, as opposed the classic fairy tale timeless village, really took its toll for me.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Springing up Disney

It may still be February (you know, until tomorrow), but it's felt like Spring here for a few weeks. To further encourage the Spring love, here are some Disney movies to help get you in the mood for all things Spring!

Sleeping Beauty
Stroll through a lush forest with Briar Rose.

One of my favorite scenes from this film is the crossing the country montage, which shows green grass, fresh breezes and adventures galore.

If it's still cold in your neck of the woods, watching Aladdin and Jasmine in their desert oasis is sure to warm you up.

Journey through the fluffy white clouds with Carl and Russell to Paradise Falls.

Wreck it Ralph
Candy trees just scream Spring to me; how about you?

Best day ever! Swing from a vine with Rapunzel and help Flynn take in the view while imagining its your feet splashing in that winding forest stream.

Toy Story
To infinity, and Andy's room! Help Woody and Buzz teach Sid a lesson against a backdrop of blooming trees and Spring storms.

The Rescuers Down Under
Follow Bianca and Bernard to Australia to soar in the sun-soaked skies and help little Cody along the way.

Nothing says spring quite like a muscular hero saving a damsel who doesn't need saving, now does it? Add in smooth dirt roads, green trees, and clear blue skies, and you've got a Spring-y flick on your hands.

What are some of your favorite Spring films? Has it warmed up in your area yet?

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Deeper Meaning Behind Moana

So, obviously I'm obsessed with Moana. I saw it last November, and I can't stop listening to the soundtrack and thinking about it. Months later, y'all, and I'm still there. It's that good! There are two parts I want to dissect today, so if you haven't seen it yet, bookmark this post and come back later! Skedaddle! I don't want to spoil anything for you!

If you're still here, I'm assuming you've seen it or don't care about spoilers! The first line I'd like to highlight is in the song, now nominated for an Academy Award, entitled "How Far I'll Go." You can watch the whole song here:

The part I love the most is this:
"I can lead with pride/ I can make us strong/ I'll be satisfied/ If I play along/ But the voice inside/ Sings a different song/ What is wrong with me?"

How powerful is that, y'all? How often do we try and play along to make others happy, when all the while our hearts are leading us another direction? What courage it takes to change your life and realize the voice inside is the main one you should be listening to?

The second moment I want to discuss comes later in the film, as Moana realizes who Te Ka really is. She sings, "They have stolen the heart from inside you/ But this does not define you/ This is not who you are/ You know who you are."

The worst thing to happen to you doesn't have to define you. How many people, all over the world, need to hear that message? Whatever life or other people have thrown at you, that you've suffered through, you are still you. Perhaps a changed you, a different version. We all see the world differently after we've been hurt. But turning into a monster only makes you more similar to the one who hurt you, and removes you from yourself. It's okay to change, and it's okay if part of you stays the same. 

The overarching message of Moana is, truly, that the worst thing to happen to you doesn't have to define you. Moana's father lives in fear due to a tragic past; Maui feels as though he is missing a critical part of himself without his hook; Te Fiti turns into a literal monster after she is attacked. Moana teaches all three of them that the past, and their greatest fears, do not have to dictate how they live their lives.

Moana comes out to Disney digital on February 21 and on blu-ray March 7. I'll be here counting down if you need me!

What was your favorite part of Moana?