Banana Muffins

These are the best banana muffins I've made. You will love them!

4 large ripe bananas
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking power
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Mash bananas and add slightly beaten egg, sugar and butter. Mix well to combine.
3. In another bowl add the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir well. 
4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until nearly all the flour has disappeared. 
5. Spoon into greased cupcake pans and bake for about 20 minutes. 
Touch the tops and if they spring back, they're done.

Date Nights

Mark and I started dating when we were teenagers.  We were high school sweethearts.
Five months after we were married we discovered we were expecting our first child. Our married life as two had not lasted very long.  We were quickly about to become a family of three.
Ladies, I must tell you, as exciting as it is to become a mother and nurture this new life that God has given you, it is vital that you put your husband first. My husband consistently pursued me.  He understood the importance of fostering and maintaining our relationship as a couple. My husband made 'us' a priority and established dating in our marriage relationship from the beginning.  While we've been married he's continued to treat me as his girlfriend.
Now, we are entering a new phase in our marriage.  Our children are all young adults.  We enjoy the company of our adult children, but, we are also now grabbing hold of each other and embracing our couple time.  We know that soon it will be just the two of us at home and we are planning to be that young couple in their twenties again. 
Our dates have changed over the years.  We no longer have to find sitters or wait until our children fall asleep to put in a movie.  We still love staying home, making a dinner or grabbing take-out and cuddling on the couch while we watch a dvd.  Sometimes, however, it is important to put time and effort into planning your dates.  Take some time and brainstorm together and see what sort of things you'd both like to do.
Recently Mark surprised me and planned a full day for the two of us.  We started out by going to the gym together.  (Several years ago we joined a gym so that we could have an activity to do together to stay in shape and stay healthy.) After we returned from the gym, we showered and  Thad brunch at home.  The next thing on our agenda was appointments to each have a massage.  After that our date continued to Starbucks followed by supper at a local restaurant.  
Another date day recently included sleeping in, enjoying a late breakfast together at home, followed by a trip to a city across the border to do some shopping and out for a steak supper.
Our dates don't have to involve spending money.  We enjoy going for a walk, eating at home and watching television that we've pre-recorded.  
Be intentional.  Plan to spend time together.  Grab time that opens up and fill it with the one that you love.  Watch your love grow and flourish as your focus is taken off yourself and back to the one you fell in love with and chose to spend your life with.
Date nights are especially important if the week has been busy and we have not seen much of each other. It’s time to catch up on each other’s lives. We have learnt to put away our cell phones during this time so that other things don’t distract us. The date is for us to enjoy each other’s company and hang out with the person who is our best friend.

Heaven is for Real - Movie Review

Mark & I along with his parents and our daughter Sarah and her husband Evan went to the movies on Good Friday and saw Heaven is for Real.

First of all, I recommend you read the book. Even if you've already seen the movie.  The book has so many more details that will fill in the blanks for you after seeing the movie.

Heaven is for Real is the true story of a small-town father who must find the courage and conviction to share his son Colton's extraordinary experience with the world. 

I read the book two summers ago.  The story was very moving.  It helped me to further embrace the excitement of seeing heaven someday.  My father was ill at the time and has since passed away.  Reading this book inspired me to celebrate my father's passing on to heaven and the better life he would enjoy there.

One of the most moving parts of the book is when Colton tells his mom that he met his sister.  The mother had a miscarriage and Colton had never been told about the baby.  Colton describes the sister that he met and how she doesn't have a name.  

For anyone who has had an unborn child, this part of the book will bring you to tears.  The reminder of our children waiting for us in heaven is very comforting.

I do recommend seeing Heaven is for Real, although as most often happens when you've enjoyed a book, the movie doesn't have the time needed to portray all of the written details.
See the movie, but make sure you also read the book.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

My family loves these cookies.  Enjoy and don't skimp on the chocolate chips.  The more the better!

1 cup softened butter                                               3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar                                         1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar                               1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs                                                                       2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 1/2 tsps vanilla extract                                           
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla.
3. Sift together the flours, salt, baking powder and baking soda
4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients.
5. Stir in the chocolate chips.
6. Place golf-ball size dough portions 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  
I like to use parchment paper on my cookie sheet.

7. Bake for 9 minutes or until edges are light brown.
It is very important that you do not exceed the cooking time even if the cookies appear to be under baked. When the cookies are removed from the oven, the sugar in them will stay hot and continue the cooking process. The finished product should be soft in the middle and crunchy around the edges. 

Movie Review - Noah

Mark & I went to see Noah on the weekend.  

First of all let me tell you that we both felt it was a waste of our time and money.

It wasn't a movie that I felt I had to see right away.  I was comfortable waiting for the dvd release.  However, we both felt we wanted to see it so that we could make our own personal assessment.

We decided before we entered the theatre that we wouldn't judge it if it wasn't 'based on the book'.  We decided that we would keep an open mind and expect that the story line would deviate from the true facts.

Noah is writer-director Darren Aronofksy's interpretation of the story of Noah and the flood. 

It certainly wasn't true to the biblical version - but we expected that it wouldn't be.

The movie was too long. It was boring and gloomy.  There was nothing uplifting in the film.  I had a headache when I left.

I do understand that the premise of God flooding the earth and wiping out most of mankind is for the most part not going to be a happy tale to show, however, this film was full of darkness and didn't leave you with any good feelings at all.

One of the discrepancies that bothered me the most was how Aronofsky portrayed that Noah was not hearing from God and that Noah interpreted that God wanted Noah's family to be the last of mankind living on the earth.

Mark & I enjoy going to the movies, however, like I'm sure is the same with most of you, your time is precious and you want to be intentional with how you spend it.  I don't recommend that you use up some of your time by seeing this movie.  If you're curious, wait until the dvd release, that way you can always turn it off if you want and you won't have committed quite as much money either.

As we were leaving the movie, I told my husband of one positive outcome that I could imagine coming from people seeing the movie Noah.  I felt that movie goers might have had their curiosity piqued enough to go home and pull out a bible and read the true version of Noah and discover God.

My recommendation:  If you'd like to see a movie about Noah that isn't quite so dark and gloomy, then rent Evan Almighty.  This movie is not strictly true to the Noah of the bible either, however, it's far more enjoyable and you won't feel as though you've lost two hours that you'll never see again.

Movie Review - Captain America

Mark & I had a date night this past Friday night.  We hadn't been to the movies in quite a while, so we had a few to choose from.

We decided to see Captain America in 2D. When we have a choice our preference is to not see a movie in 3D.  Just our personal preference.

We purchased our tickets through the app on Mark's phone.  When we tried to scan in, the app wasn't connecting properly with the ticket machine.  A cast member at the theatre assisted us and directed us to our theatre.  Unfortunately he directed us to the wrong theatre.  We ended up seeing our movie in 3D.

We personally find the 3D version to be a little darker and not as well lit as the 2D option.

Captain America was full of great action scenes and for the most part the movie was very fast paced.

The movie focused on some of the early days of Steve Rogers and how he became Captain America.

Chris Evans plays the role of Captain America very well and it was nice to see Robert Redford competently playing a key role in the movie.

Marvel Studios certainly makes the best comic book film adaptations.

This film was definitely on par with the first Captain America release.

Busy, Busy, Busy

Mark and I have always had a busy life for the most part.  The season we are in now seems to be one of the busiest.

We have three wonderful children who are all young adults now. Their lives intertwine with ours for the most part and we are enjoying having two of our children still living at home. 

Letting busyness rule your life can be detrimental to your marriage and family.  

Quality time is my love language.  But don't be fooled about the myth of 'quality time'.  I'd rather have 2 hours of doing 'nothing' with my husband than ten minutes of 'quality' conversation.  I'm just as happy curling up with him and watching a movie so that we can just decompress while being together.  

Mark and I look for opportunities to be together as well as plan time to be together.  You need to be intentional.  

Take a walk together.  It's a perfect opportunity to hold hands and connect with each other without any distractions. 

Plan a date at the beginning of your busy week and one at the end. Our marriages need intimate connection.  We refuel by spending time together.

Turn off the tv. Find other ways to relax together. Perhaps give each other a massage. 

Look for ways to facilitate conversation. This is so important during seasons of busyness.

Use technology.  Send each other texts and emails. Picture texts can be lots of fun too!  
If you have time, have a quick phone call. Hearing each other's voice can be a nice change.

Are you free for lunch?  Connecting in the middle of the work day can be a great way to spend time together.  The end of the work day can be a tiring and busy time as you arrive home to make supper and maneuver home life.

Pray together.  You don't have time not to.  Praying together is one of the most intimate things you can do as a couple.

KISS!  There's nothing that connects you more than kissing.  Greet each other with a kiss.  Leave each other with a kiss.  Kiss just because you're in the same room.  And don't forget to linger.  This is the person you love more than anyone.  Your best friend.  The one you get to share your whole life with.  

Intimacy reenergizes you and builds deep connection for your marriage.  Out of this time together you can face the challenges and life stuff that comes along.

Make time for each other! It's so worth it.