when class gets cancelled...

you make muffins. 

I don't care who you are, but if someone gives you two free hours during the day that were unexpected and completely welcomed, you take advantage of them. You hang out with the dog, turn Spotify on, and dance + mix your way to these delicious muffins.

Blueberry Lemon Zest Muffins
(from How To Boil Water // page 32)

get these ingredients together:
*2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
*3/4 cup white or light brown sugar + more for sprinkling
*1 T. baking powder
*1/2 tsp. fine salt
*pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
*1/2 cup vegetable oil
*1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
*2 large eggs, at room temperature
*1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
*2 lemons
*1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (about one pint)

then do these steps:
01. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line twelve 1/2-cup muffin cups with paper liners.
02. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg together in a medium bowl. Whisk the oil, milk, eggs, and vanilla together in another bowl. Finely grate the zest from the lemons into the wet ingredients.
03. Make a small "well" or space in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients and blueberries into the center. Stir wet and dry ingredients together with a spatula until dry ingredients are moistened but still a bit lumpy. Divide batter evenly among the muffin liners and sprinkle the tops generously with sugar.
04. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Cool muffins in the pan on a rack for 5 to 10 minutes. Turn the muffins out of the pan and cool on the rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.


I made these adjustments -- used 1% milk instead of whole milk, used 1/2 cup of white sugar and 1/4 cup of brown sugar instead of 3/4 cup of white sugar, and squirted a little of the juice from the lemon into the wet ingredients.

I also can pass on this "muffin wisdom" to you that I read in this book -- "We can't stress it enough: Mix the batter as little as possible. Overmixing leads to tough muffins and collapsed tops." "Keep leftover muffins in the freezer, then warm them up in the oven or toaster oven when you want them."

How to Boil Water is one of my favorite cookbooks. I use it all the time for basic recipes and prep tips. If you want to buy it, Amazon is selling new and used copies.



Sometimes in our marriage, Chad will say something that will jolt me awake and help me better understand my role as a wife.

"I just need my home life to not be stressful right now" Chad said to me.

This started two weeks ago when he was working an extra hour or two every weeknight and bringing work with him to our house. Mister is stressed. And has reached a level of exhaustion and frustration with his job that I don't remember him ever being at before.

Enter Superwife. I put on my non-existent pink sparkly cape and did things around our house that made his life less stressful -- meals on the stove top, dog fed and watered and a gin + tonic waiting in a glass with a lime. Snow shoveled. Coffee in a mug.


before I start patting my back and give myself and high-five, there's a lesson that I'm learning from this whole experience.

This is my role.

This is part of me being his wife. No, it's not about having dinner made or the dishes done the second he walks through the door. If I looked at it that way, I would be anxious all the time trying to please him. It's not about that.

It's about being a partner to him. Recognizing the weakness and struggle that he's going through and being a light to him. Being someone he can rely on -- lean on. I'm starting to recognize that my resolution to be his partner is happening right now.


his + hers: what is your roller derby name?

Let's start the day off with something fun, shall we? Let's talk roller derby!

Last month, Chad and I spent a fun couple of hours watching our local roller derby team, the Chippewa Valley Roller Girls. While we were sitting there watching our friend, Coley (the blur of a girl in the below shot), we thought of some pretty killer derby names.

His: Chad thought of Chad Medicine (a play on "Bad Medicine" by Bon Jovi)
Hers: Amanda thought of AmandaSlaughter (like manslaughter did I need to explain that one? .... Chad was the one who actually thought of that for me).

I wanted you to go out into the world today knowing your roller derby name, so I searched through Facebook and saw this link: Roller Derby Name Generator.

What's your roller derby name?

AmandaSlaughter :)

P.S. I know that our town is super cool and hip to have a roller derby team and if yours doesn't -- might I suggest Whip It to fulfill your roller derby needs? It comes highly recommended by me and my sister, Hannah.


what I like about... // my older sister

Before 2011 was over, I sat down one night and wrote down blog ideas and features that I wanted to do here on project simple life. One of the ideas that I wrote about was what I like about... and every week I would post about one topic that I like in my life from great to small or recent to older -- if I like it, then I want to celebrate by sharing it with you. 

The first what I like about... is in honor of my sister, Laura, who is celebrating her birthday today! Happy Birthday Lo!

I'm pretty sure birthdays are an excuse to share old pictures. Here we have: older brother Kyle in the red, me in the white sweatshirt, and the girl in the pink is Laura!

what I like about... // my older sister

01. She's already done everything that I plan on doing. And has done it well. Married for (almost) four years. Been pregnant. Two kids. Maintains a house. Driving manual. Proper application of liquid eyeliner. Changing a diaper in 23 seconds flat... you get the idea. So whenever I have a question with the aforementioned topics, I know she's my girl.
02. Inside jokes were invented by and for sisters. A few of ours are "Howard...Censored!" and "Don't estomp your last season Prada shoes at me honey."
03. She taught me valuable things in life. I owe her for my knowledge of how important it is to keep a to-do list, how vital the role of a wife and mother is to a person, how to properly pluck my eyebrows, how to balance on the middle part of our old swingset, what Walgreens register rewards are, how wonderful Ameli√© is, how to make tissue pom-poms, and basically how to care for other humans every day. 
04. She's a bookworm. It seems that every book I like she's told me about. 
05.We share a common love for peanut butter on graham crackers, diet soda, wavy Lay's potato chips, and chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.
06. She's the only one in my family that will eat the dark meat of chicken or turkey.
07. We think the same when taking pictures. If we are shooting the same subject, we'll be standing or squatting right next to each other.
09. People say we look the same when we smile.
10. Every single girl should have an older sister. This I know for sure. I'm sorry for those that don't. Truly. I look up to mine so so much. 


making life a little easier for your readers

I'm about to give you the secret to blogging. Well, it's certainly not the secret to blogging -- as there is none, but it will make your readers thank you and help make their daily blog reading a little simpler. And that's how we operate here over at project simple life.

I'm talking about the mobile version of your blog.

If you blog with Blogger, we all have one. But very few of us use it. I only discovered the mobile version of my blog this week and already Chad has told me how much easier it is to read my blog on his smartphone. Since the smartphone has come into my life, I've found myself on bloglovin' checking out all of your wonderful blogs while I'm doing mundane tasks like waiting in the checkout line, burning calories on the elliptical, and sitting in my car during my break. I've noticed that I am spending most of my time zooming in, scrolling from side to side just to read the post and look that the comments.

After making the switch myself, so to speak, I worked up this little 5 step tutorial for you. Feel free to do this on your blog page while reading this post! It goes a little something like this:


family photo shoot

Over Thanksgiving weekend, my sister asked me if I could take some pictures of her and her family for their Christmas card. After getting over the surprise "Are you sure? I'm not a professional?" monolougue I had with myself -- I agreed.

And, I mean -- how could I not? This children are the most adorable I'm not biased at all children on the planet and they are so good in front of the camera. They have had plenty of photo shoots in the past, so taking pictures out in my parents' backyard while they sat on the piano bench was no problem for these old pros.

Seriously...how cute are UJ and baby Z? :)

Now that I've done one 'session' with the new camera, I am eager to get my hands on more experience and tips from professional photographers. I save as many tutorials as I can on one of my favorite pinterest boards: picture-taking business.


his + hers: christmas gifts

Before we wrap up 2011, put it behind us as just a memory, and start rolling in 2012, I wanted to share what Chad and I got each other for Christmas. Because...it's eerily scary how similar we thought when buying these gifts for one another.

Chad and I don't do Christmas gifts big and plentiful -- usually it's just one gift that we share or one gift that I buy for myself and one gift that he buys himself (see last year's: kitchenaid mixer and new golf clubs). Nothing too complicated or expensive because a) we like simplicity and detest standing in lines in December and b) I'm a working college student living on a budget.

This year's gifts reflected our trip to Paris and London that we took in July/August. We made so many memories during this trip and took plenty of pictures, too. But we each (unknowingly to the other) chose something special from the trip to give the other.

Hers to him: On the first full day we were in Paris, we had dinner with my cousin and her husband who live in Germany and work for the Air Force. Before we left the states on our trip, we arranged to meet up with them somewhere to have dinner. Little did we know that we would meet at Chez Georges (which is a fancy restaurant in close distance to the Lourve // read an npr review here). We ate incredible cheeses, drank French wine and ate entrees that were covered in béarnaise sauce.

After spending several hours talking and drinking, we knew we didn't want to leave them so early, so we jumped at the chance to spend more time together and took the train down to the Eiffel Tower. This was the first time we had seen the Eiffel up close, so Chad and I were pretty giddy. We took turns with the camera and Chad took the above shot.

For his gift, I blew it up to 8 x 10, changed it to black and white and set it in this thrifted frame I found at my favorite local thrift store.

His to her: That same cousin of mine told me that while we stayed in London, I should try a Strongbow and Blackcurrant. Of course me being the tourist who is easily impressioned ordered one the very first night we were there in our hostel above the pub. Then a tradition was born -- every night after we were done wandering in London stopping at all the sites, we would come back to our hostel, change into our comfy clothes and go down to the pub where we would watch cricket (or attempt to understand cricket), eat pizza, charge our phones, and plan for the next day. Every night we did this -- I would always get a Strongbow and Blackcurrant while Chad ordered whatever interesting ale or beer that he could find.

Chad wanted to surprise me with  this drink for Christmas and set out to find some in our local stores.Well, funny thing about Blackcurrant -- you can't find it in the United States. (Well, maybe it just doesn't exist in Wisconsin). He found some on (where else) Amazon and told me if a package arrives not to open it. Then, one day after work, I come home and Chad tells me to sit down, close my eyes, and take a sip of something. I was pleasantly surprised to find my drink... my London drink, sitting right in front me just as if we were sitting in our pub in London.

Do share: what did you get your mister this Christmas? And what did you get from him? :)


2012 // one word.

I'm finally getting the ball rolling on 2012!

It's exciting to start a new year. I think that everyone feels that excitement and freshness that comes with the new year. Everyone thinks good thoughts and strives to resolve their lives. New things are coming and it's too sweet to think about anything bad. Only good, right?

Last year, I decided to focus the start of another year and think of one word that I strived towards. That word was harmony.

This year's word is BE.

as in...
BE mindful of how my actions are affecting the people around me. Particularly Chad. I'm not his mother -- I am his partner, his equal, his best friend, his wife. We have to work together to build our life here.
BE present. All too often I dwell on one of two things -- the past and the future. Rarely do I focus on the present...what's happening to me and around me right now.
BE friendly. On this blog (meaning -- I want to share myself with you through my writing and post all those ideas I have swirling around finished and unfinished). To my friends far and near me. To strangers.
BE respectful. courteous. aware. gracious. considerate.
BE faithful to Christ. One way that Chad and I have done this is through our only resolution that we made: read through the entire Bible together this year. We hope this exercise will help us see His hand in our lives and see joy every single day while reading and reflecting. I just want to rely on Him when thinking about the decisions we are faced with and really focus on what my role is and who He made me be.

That's it -- one tiny word. big hopes.


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