Random Recipe: Pumpkin Honey Beer Bread

First time ever. I completely missed posting a blog yesterday. Blame it on pregnancy brain. Alas. I do have a great recipe to share with you today. You can see I am continuing my pumpkin theme. I cannot get enough, and since pumpkin eventually gives away to peppermint and egg nog, well, you have to take advantage while fall is upon us. Can you believe that Costco already has their peppermint pretzels? It is not even Halloween yet and we can already purchase favorite treats for Christmas. Will we soon be able to purchase Christmas treats in July?

This recipe is a must try. It is, dare I said it? (Moist!) Yummy, and the perfect treat. Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. We actually had it for dinner last night with tomato soup. It is worth trying this fall.

Pumpkin Honey Beer Bread

2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
2/3 cup beer (at room temperature)
1/4 cup honey
4 large eggs
1 (15-oz.) can pumpkin
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons table salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Shortening (to grease pan)


1. Preheat oven to 350°. Beat first 4 ingredients at medium speed with electric mixer until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Add pumpkin, and beat at low speed just until blended.

2. Whisk together flour and next 4 ingredients in a medium bowl until well blended. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture, and beat at low speed just until blended. Divide batter between 2 greased (with unsalted butter) and floured 9 x 5 loaf pans.

3. Bake at 350° for 55 minutes to 1 hour or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool bread in pans on a wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pan, and cool until you’re ready to devour it!


Do you have that extra something special? Do we all have it? I am sure we all do somewhere, but some of us use it in our day-to-day life with flair while it lies dormant in others. What is that something special? GRIT. No, not those grits served in southern kitchens at breakfast. I am talking about good old-fashioned grit. The kind that means you are not afraid of getting dirty, are driven, ambitious, resilient, and unstoppable. It is how some people make so much happen in their life.

How do we see grit in others? How does grit make some stand out more than others? It is the way someone goes the extra mile, adds the special touch, or takes it to the next level. It means doing way more than the minimum, and demands excellence that leads to the wow factor. It often means being willing to do things that might be unfavorable or not fun in order to get to your finish line.

Someone with grit is in it for the long haul. They see how hard it is to get to their goal and they are going to do whatever they can to make it happen. They are not afraid of hard work, rarely procrastinate, and are probably competitive. The underdog can have grit and so can the MVP and top performer. Not all that are successful have grit. It is an attitude. I read an article yesterday about a 570 pound man attempting to run a 5k every month in 2015 who has lost a lot of weight as a result. That takes grit.

Who do you know that has “grit” in your life?

Shock ’em

Last week I found this quote on Elizabeth Gilbert’s Instagram feed:

“Make it happen. Shock every single one of them.”

Think about it. What if we went through our day and thought how am I going to shock someone today? Much of the time we try to just make it through the day, but what if we raised the bar and made things happen? What if we went into each meeting or presentation and were completely focused and wowed folks because we pulled it off? What if we did the impossible? Or maybe it is not even impossible — maybe it is just something that left a wow factor. It could be the smallest, slightest moment that left a mark and was remembered.

The funny thing is the moments that are remembered are often the ones that are actually easy and often free to pull off. You might have made an effort to actually listen and remember key details from someone’s life. You asked about it the next time you see that individual. So easy, and just requires pure listening, and yet it has such an impact. I always notice when someone has taken the time to get to know me and then later (sometimes even months later) remembers a piece of our conversation. I try to do the same to others, but it is hard when you go from meeting to meeting all day. And yet, doing so shows true connection, relationship building, and care.

I am a get-it-done woman. I rarely let anything stand in my way. As Chris would say to me, “There is no changing your mind when you have made a decision you are going to do something.” He is right. I like to approach life with conviction, persistence, and, as I often say, by sucking the life out of each day. I want to bring that same zeal when shocking and wowing others. Think of all the times you have been wowed by amazing customer service, by friends and family who surprise you, or a stranger that does a random act of kindness. The key ingredient: someone showing you they care.

Shock the hell out of them.

Not One More

It is all over the Internet, on social media, and the center of conversation this past week due to the terrible shooting tragedy in Oregon. Guns. Should guns be banned? I am not one to get into politics on this blog and I respect all (or most opinions) but it is starting to feel like there is not a place in the US that is actually safe. As a 7 month pregnant woman, I think about these things differently now.

What will it be like for my little boy to go to elementary, middle, high school and college? Even separate from that I think about it in grocery stores, movie theaters, malls, and almost any public area. Whatever the conversation is about banning guns, focusing on mental health, making more laws about having licenses and permits, or classes and training — something has to change. I am not going to get into solutions or politics. Whatever the solution (there has to be one) that can mean that Americans can still feel free. That is what concerns me the most — the fear of going about your daily life when shootings continue to increase. How is that freedom? Whether it is a shooter that kills one person or a shooter that kills many, the act of shooting a human with a gun does not equal freedom for the innocent victims and their families.

Among quite a few organizations that are trying to raise awareness for gun conversations, I came across “Not One More.” It is an organization that shares the stories of those who have lost loved ones through gun violence. Not One More is fighting for safer communities. Who does not want that? Who does not want to feel safe and free? Regardless of our political views we should all want the same end goal. Freedom and safety for ourselves and our loved ones.

Is that too much to ask for?

Raising the truth

I continue to have conversations with individuals who ask me questions about how I might want to raise my son. I always have lots of ideas to share with them, but one in particular comes so strongly to me that I wanted to share with you. Honesty and trust.

You might find me out in left field, or strange, or just not at all mainstream, but I am not sure I want to raise my son by telling him lies. I wrote a blog about it last May — the idea that we basically lie to our kids about Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny (and I am sure a lot more). Yet, I continue to be baffled that we want to teach our kids to tell the truth and have honesty and integrity, yet we somehow are horrible examples of that. Of course we want our kids to have mystery and adventure in their lives, but there has to be a better way.

Yes, I will try to find a way to be graceful about it all so that he does not ruin it for other kids, but I want to be honest with him and not create this world where he later finds out that the stories we tell about these holidays are all made up. How then have I truly taught him about trust, honesty, and integrity? We can still celebrate the real meaning of these holidays (which I wonder how much of that is really lost on so many kids because they learn this fairy tale rather than the essence and significance of these holidays).

This conversation keeps coming up, and it has brought about some interesting dialogue. Maybe I am rogue or on the fringe, or maybe we are not asking the right questions. As parents we should be the examples. My dad’s answer was often: “Because I said so.” Which I hated because it meant he either did not have a better answer, he was too lazy to explain it, or he just wanted to have control over what I thought. As exhausting as it might be I want to be transparent with this little boy entering the world and give him honest answers that help him weave together and make sense of an already complex world.

What do you think?