Banana Bread Jars

I had no intentions of doing a post on my banana bread jars, but when you post a picture on instagram and people ask, well, you give them the answer…in blog post form.  It’s what I do.

Every week I make baked goods to share.  I like baking.  I like homemade sweets and treats.  And I think other people do to   This is something I can do to show love to people in our community.  Some I know, some strangers…either way I am a firm believer that baked goods can change the world.

Cue the banana bread jars.  My cousin Rebecca taught me a long time ago that when your bananas go bad and you can’t use them immediately just put them in a ziplock bag and freeze them.  I’ve been using her trick ever since.  Yesterday I decided to finally use up the 6 black bananas in our freezer.

Fall is officially here and the weather is magnificent and banana bread and all sorts of chilis are on my mind…weird combination I know, but goh!!!!!  I just love banana bread and any type of chili.  So yesterday I got to baking.  I made our family a regular loaf for breakfast and then decided to bake some mini loafs in small mason jars.  This is so crazy easy and it’s one of my most favorite ways to share cakes and breads.  I always have these small jars on hand and it’s a really simple process.

I always…I repeat always…use my Aunt Betty’s banana bread recipe.  Our family has our own cookbook and if there is a recipe for whatever and it’s in our family’s cookbook, that typically is the recipe I use.  Not only is it nostalgia, but it’s also a part of my legacy.  I love using my MawMaw’s and my Mom’s and my Aunt’s recipes…I love our family’s recipes.  Plus everything the Halls make is delicious.

To make 12 small jars I double this recipe.  And my Mom taught me when I made banana bread for the first time not to measure out 1 cup of banana puree, but instead just always let 1 cup banana = 2 bananas.  So I never measure out smashed up bananas, but I digress.

Once everything is all mixed up, I grease each jar with a little spray oil and then spoon in two large spoonfuls filling the jars about 1/2-1/3  full.  I sit the jars on a cookie sheet and bake at 325 for 40 minutes.  My oven does burn a little hot so you may need a little longer, but not much.


I let them cool a bit and then screw the tops on.  It’s fine if they’re still a little warm.  I like to cut squares of fabric and put that between the seal and the rim.  This just makes them a little more colorful and fun especially to give to people.

And there you have it.  Not rocket science at all…super easy…really fun…and a great little something to make someone’s day a little better…a banana bread encouragement.

I really wasn’t planning on blogging this…hope I didn’t leave anything important out…if you have any questions just leave them in the comments and I’ll answer them.

Happy Monday!

PS:  Since I mentioned chili, I had to share this Creamy Crockpot White Chicken Chili.  It’s ahhhh-mazing.  Made it last night for dinner.  I did go a little rogue though.  I actually already had chicken cooked up, so I skipped the all day crockpot thing and just combined the crockpot ingredients in a pan.  I also winged it on a few ingredients and it was still super good.  I used almond milk instead of milk, just crushed up one chicken bullion cube, didn’t have any white pepper so skipped it, no cayenne pepper so I used chipotle chili pepper and I used plain greek yogurt instead of sour cream.  And everyone devoured it…minus Amon, but he’s a crazy toddler.

Now go make banana bread and chili.

8 Thoughts On A Friday

Honestly #1.  I want BBQ nachos for dinner.  Courtney introduced me to these a while back and I just can’t quit them.  I go light on the baked beans and always…I repeat always…add jalapeños.  Slam flippin’ dunk.

#2.  It’s October 17th and this momma was crazy thankful it was jeans and sports jersey day at school because Harper, no joke, has ONE long sleeved shirt which is not standard school attire.  Lucky for her I just found a pair of thrifted jeans for her.  Today Amon and I hit up Goodwill and made some fall/winter clothing happen for the big kids.  And I may have high-5ed Amon when the school secretary told me they could just wear a long sleeve shirt under their short sleeved collared shirts.  Hello money saver.

#3.  I puffy heart folded chips.  I’m the crazy person digging through the bag for all those lucky folded food wonders.  If Josh Kelley wants to get to my heart he gives me the folded chips he pulls out.  So naturally when I discovered these at Target, whoa!  They are amazing.  They even stay crunchy longer in soups and chili because they are ALL FOLDED CHIPS.  Life changing.  Hey, it doesn’t take much these days :)

#4.  Back to the kids clothes thing…sorting and putting away our kids summer clothes bin makes my OCD crazy heart jump for joy.  All unsalvageable clothes tossed in the trash, all good condition non-keeps in a bag ready for the help center and all the clothes Harper, Hudson and Solomon will probably still be able to wear next year back into the bin.  Magic people, magic.

#5.  Our sink is brimming with all the dishes which need to be hand washed.  Josh Kelley and I have been on a silent stand off on who will be the one to break down and finally wash them.  I’m outing him right now to the interwebs.  I see you JK…I see what you’ve been doing.  We both load and unload the dishwasher, but leave those dang hand washed needy dishes.  Who will be defeated in this battle of the hand washing dishes will?!?!?!  Stay tuned.  Actually I’ll probably lose because again…this girl…semi OCD…it’s been killing me all week.  MUST.STAY.STRONG.

#6.  It’s Sonic Happy Hour Day…which absolutely deserves all capital letters…always on Fridays…always.  Technically this was last weeks Friday order, but I loved how awesome the red, yellow, blue and white looked.  It was maybe my favorite slushy combination we’ve had thus far.  Go forth and happy hour people…it’s Friday.

And who doesn’t collect neat rocks in their upholders to paint at a later date?!?!?!

#7.  Want a super fun and easy craft for your kids…paper, oil pastels and water colors.  Boom.  Done.  They will love your guts and think you are the greatest mom (or dad) in the universe.  It never fails…always a great big hit with the Kelley kids.

#8.  Thought I would end this lovely Friday ramblish post with making you cringe or maybe mini throw up in your mouth.

Yep.  My FIL took this right after Amon fell off some bleachers and hit his head.  No fretting now…he’s totally fine.  Got him checked out by a doctor…did have to pull the “set your alarm for every hour all night long to make sure your kid is still conscious and hasn’t puked in his bed” routine.  But he was good and it’s gone down some.  It is like this smushy gross egg now though which makes me all squeamish.  Never a dull moment with this child!

8 things.  And my brain is spent.  Ready for the weekend.  Hope you enjoy it!

Happy Friday.


I’ve started this blog post several different times today.  Each time taking a new angle…adjusting some here and there.  Inevitably highlighting it all and hitting delete.  I don’t feel like a writer.  I don’t feel like my words can give light to what I feel being pressed so firmly on my heart…and yet I desire to.  I so want to type out each thought and feeling which overwhelms my heart and mind and for them to be understood and heard, but sometimes the words just won’t come.  And that’s okay.  This feels like today.

It has rained all week long, which has turned our insane week into a much easier, slow moving week.  And I am grateful.  I feel the change.  I know it is coming.  There is plenty of empty space in Harper’s closest, empty coat hangers, two empty drawers in her dresser and an empty bunk made with clean, girly sheets.  We are praying for this child’s heart…their family…and ours as well.  We are praying God will move in us and through us and allow us to not only foster a child, but a family…reunifying…showing we love and care because God first loved and cared for us.

I want joy.  I want joy in every single part of our lives.  I walked last night and just griped for a good 30 minutes to a friend about the things which bother my heart to the core…it was my confession…my accountability…my way of saying I really want Jesus, but wow do I struggle with these feelings.  I’m not proud of letting these thoughts and other people’s words and feelings and opinions bother my heart, but ultimately it is up to me in how I handle myself…the thoughts I think…whether I push on doing what I know is right or sit and be pissed off and think stupid thoughts.  I want to choose Jesus which means I am choosing joy, love, kindness, grace, mercy, compassion and respect.  I want to choose Jesus.

I want to give.  I want to give generously.  I want a person to cross my mind and act.  I want to see a need and do something about it.  I want our giving to be lavish and with a cheerful heart only giving God every bit of the glory.  He should be our reason.  I want Him to own our bank account…His money, not ours.  Pay check to pay check for His glory…for His kingdom…for His people…to make Him known that He is love and life.  Whatever it may be, whatever may come, we want to condition our hearts by giving so God will continue to stretch and mold us and shape us into greater and greater givers.

I want to see people as Jesus sees them.  No labels.  No pre conceived notions.  No unfair opinions.  I want to look in the faces of the people who surround me, who fill our neighborhood and church and school and life and give respect and love.  I want to reach into their lives and remind them of how absolutely beautiful they are.  How precious and amazingly created in God’s image they are.  They are valued.  We are valued.  Set apart by Christ.  Children of the Most High.  God, the Creator of the Universe, allowed His only Son to die for them…for you…for me.  God absolutely adores and cherishes us.  I want to remind people every day of this of this crazy good truth.

 I want to encourage and I want to spread the love of Christ.  I share my heart here because it’s just what I do…it’s my little space to share, then close the computer and walk away.  I throw it out into this tiny little piece of the inter webs and hope and pray someone can relate and will be slightly encouraged…maybe even see Jesus.  I’ll never get it all right…I’ll never be able to fix myself and that’s okay.  What I can do is try and fix my eyes, heart, and mind on Jesus everyday and thank Him for His grace and mercy when I fall miserably flat on my face.  That is why I have a Savior…who does get it all right…and loves me entirely just as I am.

Lovely Color

More and more orders are heading out each week.  Last week there wasn’t much work going on with fall break in full swing, so thank you for your patience.  It feels good to be back at it this week and I am just so thankful to God for the opportunities He gives me to create, work and help provide for our family and to give.  I never want to take for granted that He is the one who has equipped me with creativeness and the opportunity to share it with others.  He is so good.

More name pillows headed out.  When customers order these they give me the name and a color scheme preference and I do the rest.  I love picking and choosing and pairing all the fabrics and lovely colors…my favorite part about the entire process.

A sweet little airplane shirt for my friends little boy.  I love when friends and family want me to create special things for their kiddos or homes.  These are easily my favorite kind of orders.

An all pink text key fob order.  You guys…too much fun with this one.  Loved picking out the variety of pink fabrics..the verse…the story behind it all which the customer chose to share with me…the whole thing was just a privilege to be apart of.

And lastly these two 4×12 Isaiah 46:4 canvases I actually just finished up today.  “I have made you.  I will carry you.  I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”  Yes!  Such promise and such hope.  And clearly I never tire of an insane amount of color.

Thank you always for your orders.  It’s an honor and a privilege and thank you for trusting me with creating something special and unique.  Please know I am deeply humbled and always grateful.

Enjoy your afternoon.

Happy Tuesday!

Hey Monday

How was your weekend?  How’s your Monday been so far?  The kids are off school today for our last and final day of fall break.  We’ve already constructed lots of Legos, endured an intense school day with teacher Harper and watched 3 episodes of Ninjago all thanks to our local library.  Does anyone else use their library?  We have the best one just right down the road.  We don’t have cable or netlix so hello fun DVDs for free.  Word.

We have such a busy week with baseball and soccer and another home study with our case worker and not to mention a thousand other things.  I meal planned yesterday so my mind feels a little clearer today.  Is that crazy?!?!  I just hate cooking so so much.  Baking I love, cooking dinner I loathe.  Monday: breakfast for dinner…eggs with spinach and salsa, bacon, yogurt and fruit.  Tuesday: tacos

Kelley Family Fun Fact:  Every Tueadsay we have tacos…taco Tuesday, hello.  Tacos, romaine, greek yogurt salsa, black beans, fruit, yum.  Easy and simple.

Wednesday:  Spicy garlic pasta (I add chicken and broccoli)  Thursday:  Burgers with salsa salad and refried beans…weird, I know, but so good.  Friday:  5 Ingredient White Chicken Chili (I add a can of black beans and only use 4 cups of chicken broth.)  I did all my shopping over the weekend and I’m cooking all my meat today.  This will make things a bit easier this week.

Amon got the croup last week so all weekend he was fun (insert sarcasm) and we purged more stuff from our house.  Baseball playoffs are in full swing which is another reason we love October.  My new favorite guy is Hunter Pence.  He’s just the gift that keeps on giving.  Oh and Josh Kelley ran another 1/2 marathon.  Super proud of you guys.  And it rained…like all weekend long.

I also decided to use up a bunch of creamed coconut I had bought in bulk.  This is where I admit to sweet Dana that I actually did not like the brownie recipe she recommended…I’m sorry Dana…it’s not you, it’s me…and maybe the creamed coconut.

Anyways, 4 bars of creamed coconut had taken up residence in our food cabinet and my OCD self could let them sit no longer.  Insert 4 recipes which required creamed coconut:  PB Fudge, Pumpkin Fudge, Pumpkin Spice Bread and Coconut Candy.  I’m only linking one of the recipes because the rest were pretty much flops.  Let’s jut say I gagged on the pumpkin fudge and had to spit out the pumpkin spice bread.  The bread was so so bad.  Seriously the worst thing I’ve ever made and maybe I just botched all the recipes or maybe I just need to stick to good ole sugar and flour and eggs for my desserts.

The bread was so bad I sent out messages proclaiming how awesome it was with hashtags like #yummo because I wanted to watch people’s faces when they tried it.  Mwuhuhahahahahahahaha.  I sliced the bread and bagged it individually.  Hudson said, “Mom you are going to be in so much trouble.”  I got Harper to try the bread and she said, “It feels meaty.”  One friend said it was the worst thing he’d ever tasted and he would never eat another thing I baked.  Hahahahaha.  It was so weird tasting.  Some said “why is it salty and gritty”.  “I need a drink.”  I sent the remaining loaf to Bible study with Josh last night and my friend Brooke sent me a text with other comments…”looks like meatloaf”, “tastes like sawdust”, “maybe needs icing”, “kind of like a Krystal” and “smells like dog food”.  You guys, it was awful.  The worst cooking day ever and I burned the palm of my hand bad and sliced the tip of my finger on a can of pumpkin.  It’s hindered my typing.  You wouldn’t even believe how long it took me to type this so far.  Redonkulous.

After the baking gone bad, I made my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and all was right with the world again.  Sigh.  But lesson learned, if you ever cook/bake something terrible, don’t toss it in the trash, instead talk it up and then watch with wondering eyes as you share it with friends and family.  So hilarious and fun.

So many other good and interesting moments this weekend.  And I’m ready for the week to start…pretty pumped everyone is going back to school tomorrow too :)  Now, lunch is calling and the post office…along with 4 Kelley kiddos.  See you tomorrow.

Happy Monday!

The Lord Is My Shepherd

I gotta worry about today and the kingdom today.  If that person is dying today why am I worried about myself, what it will be like 30 years from now.  I gotta think about now and I’ve got to trust this kingdom thing is going to work…”You should have taken some and locked it away in case of emergency.”  I would just go, So you’re saying what’s happening in Ethiopia isn’t an emergency; what’s happening in Thailand isn’t an emergency; what’s happening in Haiti.  An emergency is only if it affects you and your kids…

Pulled these words as best and as quick as I could write from an amazing sermon on the Lord being our Shepherd by Francis Chan.  Easily worth an hour of my time.  Conviction big time…true and deep.

I’m still have issues with video posting, so if you can’t see the video you can  GO HERE to watch and listen too.

Enjoy your Friday.

Heart Walk 2014

Last Saturday was the American Heart Association’s Nashville Heart Walk.  The first time I really learned about the heart walk was while Amon was recovering in the hospital after his open heart surgery and I watched out our window as people went to and from the heart walk that Saturday.  I told myself the next year we would be there…we wouldn’t miss it.  And last year was so sweet.  I cried because God had brought us…had brought Amon so far in one year’s time.  This year wasn’t much different.  While walking up to where everyone was starting I got a little teary, there’s just something about the whole atmosphere and those 5 scars on Amon’s chest and torso…especially that long one right down the middle.  This is a big group of strangers coming together on one day to walk in honor and in memory of loved ones and for one cause…it makes me all sappy just thinking about it again.

This year my Aunt Linda and Uncle Tom were in from Florida so that was super special to have them join us.  And Courtney and Ashley came out with 4 babies between the two of them.  I was not jealous one bit at the strollers full of baby items.  I mostly walked behind them picking up their trail of dropped baby paraphernalia…blankies, pacis, kleenex, etc.  We were so glad they braved the heart walk with all those sweet little faces.

Aunt Linda and Uncle Tom took most of these pictures.  I only took a few so I was thrilled they caught so many of these through their camera lenses.

We didn’t hit our 5k fundraising goal, but that’s totally okay.  We raised money for something which is near and dear to our family’s hearts and I am truly grateful to all of you who donated.  Thank you so much for your kindness and generosity.  I mailed out the last of the ‘thank you’ key fobs today.  Hope they all arrived and they were an added little thank you for your sweet generosity.

Next year we’ll be back…we’ll raise money again and it will be just as special and important as the past 2 years have been.

Happy Thursday!

Hi. {from Fall Break}

Thank you for putting up with my writing and encouraging me and just being kind.  The internet is not always nice, but I appreciate how even if we do not meet eye to eye about something, love and kindness and respect can still reign here.  Thank you, thank you, thank you for that.  My heart is still all over the place and it’s fall break around here for all 4 kiddos.  I’m sitting on our couch thinking about just about everything and scarfing down some McDonalds for a few more minutes before the wild Kelley 4 come running through the door.  I am apparently taking on night writing this week.  Fall break has been very uneventful so far.  No big plans or trips…too bad the beach did not call our name and that Josh Kelley has zero vacation days left.  There has been some slumber partying at their Aunt Jen’s and we did accidentally make 1000 cookies.  Okay it wasn’t quite 1000, but I completely underestimated just how many more cookies would be made by doubling some recipes.  We ended up with a crazy amount.  I wish I counted them.  That far back cooling rack has 5 and 6 deep stacks of cookies.  Never underestimate the power of doubling a recipe.  And sadly when you make 1000 cookies by accident you proceed to eat 10 in one day <—- that is not an exaggeration and I really wish it was.  It may have been more than 10.  Sigh.

I did successfully give away almost all the ones we did not devour ourselves.  God is still getting after my heart, so on today’s “Who’s That Creeper Driving Around Our Neighborhood” drive I met 4 new people…John, John, Washington and Ray.  They were not all hanging out together…if they were, it would have made this much easier.  Knock out this uncomfortableness in one “Hi.  I’m Laura and I live just a street over and…”  We got to know each other a bit, talked about life, I did my awkward praying over them and Ray and I even hugged it out afterwards.  It turns out it’s nice to meet new people and learn about their stories…just have to get past my nervous introduction.

In other fall break news I tackled a trunk full of paper ‘keepsakes’ I’d been holding onto for some reason or another.  Some I still kept, but I was shocked at what was not so significant to me anymore…like a black trash bag full of paper.  I did find two gems…this is me…in high my high school parking lot…and that’s my sweet blazer of a ride.

I would later total this car when I hit a patch of ice on a back road while eating dry Cheerios from the box.  My glasses flew off in the wreck, Cheerios everywhere and my Mom drove up on the wreck.  When she came to my driver side door which was stuck I was freaking out “Mom, I’m blind.  Something’s wrong with my vision and help me I’m stuck, I can’t get out.”  To which she calmly replied, “Laura pick your glasses up off the floor board and get out on the other side.”  Genius.  But I digress.  What I love about the picture is Mom always put those giant cardboard things in our cars.  You were suppose to fold it out on your dashboard to try and keep your car cooler.  I don’t believe they even worked and I only used it for pictures like this.  #useful  Also I love the other little hand holding up the right side because I had to have one hand on my hip to make this picture worth it.  And please note the VHS tape I was obviously returning to the Blockbuster down the road.

This is the other little gem I found…me, Josh Kelley and Ashley.  We were just younglings.  I talked to Ashley tonight and I have to give her a shout out on her Noonday sales…the girl was #3 in sales last month.  This is awesome.  There are tons of ambassadors…like over 800.  I could not have been more proud of her.  Keep her in mind as you’re doing Christmas shopping this year…all you have to do is choose “Ashley Mills” as your ambassador at check out.  And Noonday’s winter line launches tomorrow.  Cannot wait to see it.

Amon’s not the only one who pulled out a “random sleeper” moment.  His slumber party wore him out.  We were just hanging out and I looked down…boom…asleep…and with the ankle grab for style points.

The kids have been discussing Halloween costumes.  I still want Amon to be Michael Jackson, Sol has no idea what he wants to be, Harper wants to be a witch and Hudson wants to be a ghost…and not just any ghost, but in his exact words “one of those ghosts that’s the sheet with the two holes cut out for my eyes.”  Alright.

I also started prepping for my 32nd birthday…which is really just my 31st because clearly something has gone terribly awry with my age.  This year I’m celebrating with 32 packages full of random fun for people who could use a bit of encouragement.  Dana…my digital genius…over at Lifelines Designs created the most awesome print for me to share.  It’s swoon city.  You’re crazy awesome Dana.  Thank you!

 This guy.  I just feel like there’s really no need for any more words.

And since I shoot for honesty, let’s go ahead and make that 11 cookies for today because I ate yet another one mid post writing.  The truth is not always easy, but today it’s been delicious.

Hope you enjoy the rest of your night.  I’m sure to be up for another 4 hours because that’s just how fall break is rolling.

Happy Wednesday.