Ginger + Honey Sparkling Lemonade [and learning slowness]

Ginger + Honey Sparkling Lemonade | Sarah J. Hauser #drinks #summer #lemonade

I don’t really want to go slow. I daydream about slow evenings on a front porch (a front porch I don’t currently have, but would love someday) sipping ice-cold lemonade. But let’s be honest. It makes me anxious. Slow means fewer check marks. It’s unsatisfying and even painful. There’s no instant gratification.

I grew up playing card games like Nertz and Dutch Blitz. Speed is essential in those games. The hustle and the quickness required to win outweighs the importance of accuracy. If you’re fast enough, you can even get away without a few mistakes (or intentional “misdirection”). But that pace is unsustainable.

When I was in eighth grade, my science teacher had us stand on our chairs as we repeated Newton’s laws of motion. There’s something about putting our bodies in a different posture that makes a lesson stick. To this day, I can picture standing up on my chair reciting how an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion unless acted upon by an external force (and other science-y things I’ve since forgotten).

I view life a little too much like the laws of motion sometimes. I fear once I stop, I may never start again. If I rest, will I stay there forever? Will I become stagnant? So I keep going. Inertia will do its part, and I’ll be able to keep on keepin’ on, right? Moving feels more comfortable, more satisfying—for a while at least. And then I realize I’m moving in the wrong direction, or I slam headfirst into a wall called burnout or sickness or whatever else. I’ve hit that wall enough times in the past to know I’m bound to smack my face again.

I’ve been thinking on Psalm 131 lately, especially verse 2 that says, “But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.”

My soul is more often like a loud, screaming toddler who doesn’t want to go to bed. It’s like a kid who doesn’t want to let go of what their doing even though the slowing and stopping is needed and even enjoyable.

What would it take to quiet my soul?
What does it mean to rest, despite what’s going on around us and all that needs to be done?
What if I didn’t have to go so fast and then slam on the breaks to avoid catastrophe?
What if I lived my life with a soul and body that were slow, calm, quiet, rested, and refueled?
And what if, instead of trying to wriggle free, I found complete comfort, contentment, and peace in the arms of God?

I don’t have a five-step plan or an easy answer. But I’m dwelling on the questions. In our harried and hurried world, I think we’d do well to practice the art of slowness—maybe even stillness. I’m (slowly) learning what it looks like for me, and even that’s bound to change with the seasons of life.

It can be scary practice. As we calm and quiet our bodies, we start to see the unrest of our souls. Slowing down forces us to stop hiding our inner chaos behind a wall of to-dos. But I think that’s when we really start to learn slowness and stillness. Our bodies no longer run like a machine but as a sacred gift that points us to an infinite, tireless, omnipotent Giver. As as we rest in him, our souls become calm, our spirits quiet. And like a weaned child with its mother, we get to know the slowness, stillness, and complete peace that comes from being in the arms of our God.

Ginger + Honey Sparkling Lemonade | Sarah J. Hauser #drinks #summer #lemonade
Ginger + Honey Sparkling Lemonade | Sarah J. Hauser #drinks #summer #lemonade
Ginger + Honey Sparkling Lemonade | Sarah J. Hauser #drinks #summer #lemonade
Ginger + Honey Sparkling Lemonade | Sarah J. Hauser #drinks #summer #lemonade

Ginger + Honey Sparkling Lemonade
Yields about 8 servings

2 ½ cups freshly squeezed lemon juice (fresh really does make a difference!)
1 ½ cups sugar
¼ cup honey
1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger*
6-8+ cups sparkling water**

To make the base of the lemonade, add the lemon juice, sugar, honey, and ginger to a small saucepan. Turn on medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, and the mix comes to a simmer. Turn the heat to low and cook for another 4-5 minutes.

Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool. Strain to remove the pieces of ginger. (If you prefer, you can skip this step so the ginger continues to infuse flavor in the lemonade.)

Refrigerate the lemonade base until cold, up to a couple days in advance.

When you’re ready to serve, transfer the lemonade base to a pitcher or individual glasses filled with ice. Top with sparkling water to taste, and stir gently. If you’d like to make it a cocktail, add a splash of vodka or top off each glass with prosecco. Enjoy!

*This gives a subtle ginger taste, but feel free to add more if you want it stronger.

**You can adjust the amount of sparkling water to make the lemonade the strength you prefer. I usually prefer a bit more sparkling water, but adjust it to your taste. You can also use regular water for a non-carbonated lemonade.

Marinated Skirt Steak with Pineapple + Green Onions [and fighting for connection]

Marinated Skirt Steak with Pineapple + Green Onions | Sarah J. Hauser

Sitting in my bed, I attempt to hide and drown out the noise downstairs with the rhythmic hum of my breast pump. I can still hear the baby crying and my toddler son whining. His twin sister yells at the top of her lungs for no reason, except maybe to keep up with the decibel level of everyone else. I’ve been here longer than necessary, partly because pumping takes extra time. I worry my supply is dropping, maybe due to diet changes or stress or who knows what. My mind conjures up a thousand possibilities, all of which I feel the urgent need to research.

I stop my frantic Googling as I notice my heart pounding faster. Apparently escaping to a semi-quiet room only made my anxious thoughts louder. I try to sit still as I listen to the steady hum of the pump, praying those bottles will fill with a few more drops. I’m not ready to add the chaos from downstairs to the chaos I carry in my own body.

It’s mac and cheese for dinner tonight—the one from the box, not the good homemade stuff. I can hear my husband’s footsteps bound up and down the stairs as he manages whatever is going on. He’s working hard to give me peace and quiet, but the volume can only be helped so much—especially during the witching hour.

There’s no denying it’s hard to connect. It’s hard to have the time and space to look each other in the eyes and ask, “How was your day?” and then actually answer without LEGOs being thrown across the room or a not quite potty-trained toddler peeing on the floor. How can we connect when I can’t even be in the room with the rest of the family?

Before babies, we used to get home from work and sit at the table together. I’d cook a homemade meal nearly every night. We’d talk over pasta and salad, garlic bread and a glass of wine. Now, even the most gracious attempts to talk more deeply or resolve conflict seem impossible. My husband’s words get caught in the tornado of emotions and information swirling in my mind, and I can’t seem to calm the storm. Some days that storm rages only in my head and heart; other times everyone else gets swept by its gale force winds. Feeling connected—feeling as though we’re on the same page, moving in the same direction, on the same team some days appears to be an exercise in futility. How do you connect with each other in the midst of a messy house, postpartum anxiety, sleep deprivation, carrying the burden of parenting, mom guilt, kids’ schedules, and the fact that if one more set of hands touches me, I may completely lose it?

Keep reading and get the recipe at Coffee + Crumbs.

Marinated Skirt Steak with Pineapple + Green Onions | Sarah J. Hauser
Marinated Skirt Steak with Pineapple + Green Onions | Sarah J. Hauser
Marinated Skirt Steak with Pineapple + Green Onions | Sarah J. Hauser
Marinated Skirt Steak with Pineapple + Green Onions | Sarah J. Hauser
Marinated Skirt Steak with Pineapple + Green Onions | Sarah J. Hauser
Marinated Skirt Steak with Pineapple + Green Onions | Sarah J. Hauser
Marinated Skirt Steak with Pineapple + Green Onions | Sarah J. Hauser
Marinated Skirt Steak with Pineapple + Green Onions | Sarah J. Hauser

Coffee Mule [cocktail and mocktail versions!]

Coffee Mule | Sarah J. Hauser

Happy New Year! I’m sure almost everyone says this, but I can’t believe it’s already the end of the year. It’s been a good year, a hard year, a whirlwind of a year, and everything in between.

This afternoon, I snuck out and spent a couple hours reflecting. (By the way, I use the Cultivate What Matters PowerSheets Intentional Goal Planner to do this. I cannot recommend this tool highly enough!) I jotted down highlights from each month, areas I grew in, and challenges that came up along the way. I leafed through my 2018 planner and wrote down ideas as I looked ahead to 2019. This focused time of reflection has become absolutely essential for me for a number of reasons—the main one being that it’s helped me practice gratitude for how God worked. When I don’t write things down, I don’t remember them, and physically looking back on goals, progress, events, and milestones helped me see growth that happened little by little.

Around this time every year, I feel frazzled and tired. I often feel like the year flew by with little fanfare and minuscule progress. Without taking time to actually reflect on the year, those feelings of weariness and discouragement scream loudly. But God once again showed he’s good. He taught me that “accomplishment” sometimes means getting things checked off a list, but other times it simply means tiny steps of growth that maybe no one else sees. And both the check marks and the baby steps warrant celebration and gratitude.

I’m tired, yes. But I have much to be thankful for. So to close out 2018, here are a few things I’m celebrating:

  • I actually finished writing a book proposal. This was huge, and while I have yet to discover what might happen with it, I’m celebrating that I finished.

  • My twins are potty-trained. This also means I have only one kid in diapers. Having twins first, I never had only one kid in diapers. Hallelujah. Thank you, Jesus.

  • My husband and I took a vacation together this summer (sans children). We couldn’t have done this without the incredible sacrifice of family willing to watch our kiddos, and we are so grateful!

  • I made a huge shift in my blogging and writing. If you’ve been around here for a while, maybe you’ve noticed it, but maybe you haven’t. The change has been mostly in my own mind and heart, but I hope you’ve seen a shift in these words, too. There’s a lot more I could say on this, but basically I’m working to be more intentional about what I write and create. In the process, I’ve found greater joy and purpose in my work.

  • I read 18 books. That’s a ton for me in this stage of motherhood. Okay, I’ve actually read 17.25 books, and I plan to frantically read the rest of a book tomorrow so I can hit my goal of 18 books in 2018! I’m hoping to post a roundup of a few favorites, too, and share what I’m planning to read in 2019!

  • I noticed God’s goodness more. He’s always been good, right? But as I look back on this year, I feel like I’ve seen it and tasted it more fully than in the past. It’s not been necessarily because of great circumstances or tangible blessings, although we’ve been given more of those than we ever deserve. In many ways, this year has been hard. But I’ve tasted God’s goodness in a way I missed in the past. I pray that’s true in an even deeper way this next year.

  • I asked for help. A lot. I’ve written about this before, but the act of asking for help has been one of the most humbling and important lessons I’ve learned in the last couple years.

  • I quit a lot of things. This may seem odd to put on a list of “accomplishments,” but 2018 was a year when my husband and I stepped back from a few very good things that we loved in order to rest and refuel. We’re praying about what our “reentry” may look like down the road, but letting go of several responsibilities has been so important for our marriage and family.

I could go on with more, but I’ll leave it at that. (I’ll leave you with a cocktail/mocktail recipe, too!) Another year has gone by. God has been faithful and good. Whatever 2019 brings, he’ll be faithful and good then, too.

For that I am thankful…also, coffee.

Coffee Mule | Sarah J. Hauser
Coffee Mule | Sarah J. Hauser
Coffee Mule | Sarah J. Hauser
Coffee Mule | Sarah J. Hauser
Coffee Mule | Sarah J. Hauser
Coffee Mule | Sarah J. Hauser
Coffee Mule | Sarah J. Hauser
Coffee Mule | Sarah J. Hauser
Coffee Mule | Sarah J. Hauser

When my brother (Eric from FreshGround Roasting) first told me about this Coffee Mule, I admit I was skeptical. The combination of flavors seemed odd to me, and I couldn’t image how they’d work well together. Wow, was I wrong. This is such a refreshing drink that works well as a cocktail or a mocktail! (You can also use decaf cold brew coffee if you want to avoid the caffeine.) It’s the perfect drink to ring in 2019!

Check out the recipe below, and have a Happy New Year!

Coffee Mule
Yields 1 drink

3 ounces cold brew coffee concentrate (such as FreshGround’s Black Ice Brew)
3 ounces ginger beer
1 ounce Rose’s sweetened lime juice
1 ounce vodka (optional)
Lime wedges for serving

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add the cold brew, lime juice, and vodka (if using). Shake vigorously for at least 15 seconds.

Strain into a cocktail glass or copper mug filled with crushed ice. Pour in the ginger beer. Give it a gentle stir and top with a couple lime wedges. Serve and enjoy!

Notes: You can easily adjust the proportions to your liking! If you want it sweeter, add more ginger beer or Rose’s lime juice. If I’m making this with vodka, I usually opt for an extra splash of Rose’s.

While I like this best shaken, if you’re making this for a crowd you can definitely multiply the recipe and stir all the ingredients together in a pitcher.

This post was created in partnership with FreshGround Roasting. All opinions are 100% my own.

Cranberry Sauce Muffins

Cranberry Sauce Muffins | Sarah J. Hauser

I meant to post these muffins around Thanksgiving when, if you’re like me, you’re swimming in leftovers. But as maybe you can relate, the holiday craziness seemed to appear out of nowhere and suddenly trips to the post office, last minute errands, and making cookies for my kids’ preschool party became both urgent and important tasks. Freshly baked muffins don’t usually qualify as urgent—but hey, still important, right?

Thankfully, cranberry sauce is simple to make even when leftovers are long gone. I’ve also made this muffin recipe using the good ‘ol store bought stuff from the can, although I recommend buying the “whole berry” cranberry sauce instead of the jellied version. (Did anyone else’s grandmother serve the jellied version on a serving dish in the exact shape of the can? I usually buy a can every year and serve it like that in her memory. It’s funny how the random quirks can make such an impression.)

Anyway, here you go: freshly baked muffins with warm spices and festive cranberry sauce. I also highly recommend a generous pat of butter for serving, for obvious reasons.

What are you baking this time of year?

Cranberry Sauce Muffins | Sarah J. Hauser
Cranberry Sauce Muffins | Sarah J. Hauser
Cranberry Sauce Muffins | Sarah J. Hauser
Cranberry Sauce Muffins | Sarah J. Hauser
Cranberry Sauce Muffins | Sarah J. Hauser
Cranberry Sauce Muffins | Sarah J. Hauser

Cranberry Sauce Muffins
Yields 12 regular-sized muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup whole milk
1 egg
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
¾ cup prepared cranberry sauce*
1 Tablespoons turbinado (raw) sugar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a regular sized muffin tin, or use paper muffin cups.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, and butter.

Slowly mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, being careful not to over mix. It’s okay if there are lumps. (If you overmix, the muffins get tough.)

Spoon about half the batter into the prepared muffin tin. Add a spoonful of cranberry sauce on top, distributing the sauce evenly between all the muffins. Top with the remaining batter and a sprinkle of turbinado sugar.

Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Serve warm with butter and enjoy!

*Note: I have also made these using jam, but in my opinion they turned out too sweet. I like the tartness the cranberry sauce brings. If you do use jam, I suggest decreasing the amount and skipping the turbinado sugar.