Caramel Apple Butter French Toast Casserole

caramel Apple Butter French ToastAnother recipe born out of leftovers. That is how I roll. This came together so easy it is just silly.

This weekend my daughter had to do a science fair experiment using no preservative bread. However, her experiment only used one of the 2 loaves we had purchased. Knowing that no preservative bread will only last about a day. I knew I had to do something with this bread fast. Enter the other leftover stars of this show. Apple butter and caramel dip.

The day before I had made up a crock pot full of apple butter but did not have enough to fill a final jar. Not wanting it to go to waste, I thought it would work for this. Finally, I had about a about a 1/2 cup of caramel dip in the back of my fridge that was just enough to add some additional sweetness and creaminess. Add in some eggs and spices and you have the makings of a sweet, tasty breakfast. Perfect for Autumn.

Caramel Apple French Toast Cassorole
Print Recipe
Cook Time
35 min
Cook Time
35 min
Caramel Apple French Toast Cassorole
Print Recipe
Cook Time
35 min
Cook Time
35 min
  1. Cut stale bread into squares
  2. Mix all other ingredients in bowl
  3. Pour liquid mixture over bread pieces and mix together until all the bread pieces are coated. Let mixture sit for 10 minutes to allow bread to absorb liquid.
  4. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes
Recipe Notes

To save time and ingredients I used bread ends that I have had in the fridge for a few weeks. I just had my son tear them into pieces about the size of a quarter.

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Mama’s, You are not

Dear Beautiful Mama

I was inspired to write this after reading a similar list from the blog Cresting the Hill. There I encountered a post titled “You are not.” It was a list of all the negative things women in their 50’s might say about themselves. Her words really hit home to me. I recognized that all us women’s do this. For us mama’s we pine for the person (and body) we had before kids, focus on flaws instead of seeing the beauty of motherhood and fixate on perfection instead of being in the moment.  More recently, I have come to appreciate the idea of changing our negative self-talk so I created a version for Mom’s.

Mama’s You are not…                                              mama's you are not

Your  extra pounds of baby weight

Your messy house

Your overflowing laundry

Your dirty diapers

You are not…

Your sleep deprivation

Your inability to stick to a diet

Your lack of time to get things done

Your yoga pants and stained shirts

No…You are more

You are a caregiver and friend

You are a wiper of tears and kisser of boo-boo’s

You are a teacher

You are a creator of home

You are nourishment and home cooking

You are the comforting arms

You are the immovable force protecting your children

You are what it mean to be a family

You are love




Crazy 8 Sale On Now!

Over the Moon Link Party #46

Over the Moon Link Party

Welcome to the Over The Moon Link Party #46


Welcome to the Over the Moon Link Party!  You can link up any family friendly posts without profanity. Have a post you want to give more reach? Need some comments or shares? Want a post that’s close to going viral takeoff like a rocket? Now is the time to link it up!

We pin EVERY link you leave and may even share on other sites as well! So come on in, be one of the first to link up, and remember to go Over the Moon with us!  

Statistics for Over the Moon Link Party #45 saw 621 pageviews, 120 links, and 221 clicks on those links.  And the numbers continue to roll in!


Tweet: #OverTheMoon is live! @eclecticredbarn @sasmerchant @Marilyn_Lesniak @inbetweenmeliss @SandySandmeyer @Sizzling60

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Over the Moon Link Party - Hosts' Posts

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At least one of the hosts will be pinning your link to the Over the Moon Pinterest Board and may be tweeted, shared on Facebook, Google+, and other social media sites.  We’ll have Featured Bloggers, chosen by the hosts, and the Most Viewed Link.  Please be sure that you grab your Feature or Most Viewed button to flaunt your award.

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The party will open weekly on Sunday evening in the USA and Monday morning in Australia and close on Thursday.  Niches of all kinds are eligible – stories, printables, for sale items, DIY, crafts, decorating, fashion, makeup, health & fitness, recipes, mommy moments, Etsy items, nails, wraps, anything at all, just as long as it’s family friendly and without profanity. All links will be added to the Over the Moon Link Party Board on Pinterest. All posts may be commented on, tweeted, shared on Facebook and other social media. Please be kind and use our party button and follow someone new.


Over the Moon Guidelines


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Share the Over the Moon Blog Button on your shared posts.


To get a reminder about this link up, signup HERE.

Adding your link to the Over the Moon Link Party indicates that you agree that all of the hosts of this party have your permission to display your link with your name, URL, and image. All links will lead back to the URL you use for the link. When we share your link, it provides a backlink for SEO as well as additional traffic to your blog. 

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5 Weeks of Scary: Week 3 Test Your Physical Limits

 5 weeks of scary

Welcome back to the 5 weeks of Scary.

Last weeks challenge was to test your physical limits. This was a lot harder to accomplish then I expected. What made it so hard was finding the time to actually do some physical activity. My day job is very sedentary. During this n of my life I have my children’s sports every weeknight…more sitting. So the only time I have is in the morning.

In order to get this accomplished I would have to do it while the rest of the house is asleep. So even going out on a run means I run the risk of waking up the whole house when my dog starts crying and the door closes. So the task I finally decided on doesn’t take a lot of time, equipment or mobility but in the end requires maximum effort.

My physical challenge

I started a 30 day plank challenge. Planks in general are a full body exercise and require a bit of mental stamina to not collapse at the first signs of fatigue. You can refer to the video below for proper plank form. I personally have struggled doing planks for longer than a minute. Because, quite frankly, I gave up. Yes, there I said it. It gets uncomfortable I get tired and I give up.

The 30 day plank challenge starts of slow having you hold plank for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Then each day you gradually increase the amount of time until you are holding plank for 5 minutes. Five…whole…minutes. Yes, it is a challenge and will stretch my limits physically and mentally. But it only takes a short period of time each day and can be done anywhere so it totally fits with my life right now.

If you would like to join me on this challenge here is the chart I am using to accomplish this task. This task helps you build mental stamina and fosters a “don’t quit” attitude. Many times we quit tasks, jobs and exercises before we have really tested how far we can go. Sometimes we self-sabotage for fear of failure. Move past that fear of failure and test your limits.


Now on to Week 4: Take on a Problem5 weeks of scary

Sometimes it is scary to address a nagging problem. Dealing with problems might force you to confront feelings and situations that you have been trying to avoid. This week we will run towards that fear and face the problem head on. Tackle that question that vexes you. It could be you are annoyed with useless process at work? You might want to take on a societal issue most people are ignoring? Or maybe you need to let go of the hurt someone has caused you?

It could be big and worldly or just big in your world. The point is to stop pushing your feelings to right a wrong aside. Yes, it is scary to confront a problem. This may mean asking for help. It might make others angry with you for addressing it. Or it could entail asking for forgiveness from someone you have wronged.

To me this is the hardest challenge because it is a challenge of confronting a true fear, its most likely one you have buried for deep personal reasons and have been avoiding. Be brave. Do what you are afraid to do.

WordPress Photo Challenge: Rise and Shine

This is in response to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Shine

Early morning sunrise. Rise and Shine


100 Days of Real Food:Fast and Fabulous Recipe Review

100 days of real foodThe author of was given a free, early-release copy of the “100 Days of Real Food Cookbook as compensation for this post. All opinions expressed here are her own.

Fast meals to the rescue

Fast meals are a working mom’s best friend and I think we may have hit the jackpot in this book. I am lucky enough to be chosen as a cookbook ambassador for the new “100 Day’s of Real Foods: Fast and Fabulous” cookbook by Lisa Leake.

This was a thrill to me seeing as I am a huge fan of her first cookbook and have mentioned it on this blog. (See the post here.) Here first cookbook provided a ton of great recipes that use real food ingredients and are kid-friendly.  My son (who would not eat anything but peanut butter and jelly) loved the mini quiche recipe from the first book . This is also the only cookbook to ever get my husband in the kitchen cooking. For me, the first cookbook has had a big influence on my entire family.100 Days of Real Food

So, it goes without saying that I am excited to test run some of the recipes in the second cookbook. However, having given such high marks to the first one, I have pretty lofty expectations for “Fast and Fabulous.”

One of the things I love about the “100 Days of Real Food” website and prior book is that the ingredients are actually whole foods, not from a can or package. However, to make this type of cooking fast is quite a feat. My personal cooking style is few ingredients so I choose one of the simplest recipes from the book to test. Plus, I pretty much am dominated by a sweet tooth.

This recipe does not disappoint

It is soooo good. Since it only has a few ingredients I had the expectation it to have an good flavor but would be very one note, maybe even a little boring. Boy was I wrong! It has a  velvety, rich sweetness that was addictive.

One of the things I love about this recipe, in addition to the taste, is how fast it came together. No joke, 30 seconds to cook and about a minute to put together. Really…it was that fast. Plus it tasted amazing. So amazing that my picky children actually ate it and loved it! Crazy I know. Well on to the really good part. After they went to sleep I busted out the ice cream and it took this yummy dessert to a whole new level. And no, I didn’t save any for them. I couldn’t. It was that good.

This recipe is more than just a winner! It will become a staple. It’s quick, easy and insanely delicious. Added bonus, I get to share it with you!

Cinnamon-Glazed Bananas

This dessert is similar to Bananas Foster. It is fabulous by itself and even better over vanilla ice cream. Such a tasty real-food treat!
Difficulty: Super easy
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Makes 4 or 5 servings
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 large bananas, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
Vanilla ice cream (optional), for serving
In a skillet, combine the butter, maple syrup, cinnamon, a
nd vanilla and set over medium
heat. When it starts bubbling, add the bananas and cook for 30 to 60
seconds, stirring to
coat. Serve as is or over vanilla ice cream.

Since I got a sneak peek at the entire cookbook, I can confirm that this is just one of the incredible recipes found in its pages.

100 days of real food
White Chicken Chili

There are so many like Easy Fish Tacos, and White Chicken Chili, I cannot wait to try. I have no doubt you will be as excited as I am to cook up these fast and fabulous recipes.

To get the lowest price you can pre-order “100 Days of Real food: Fast and Fabulous” here. I have no doubt you will be as excited as I am to cook up these fast and fabulous recipes.


A Matter of Mindset

success in parenting

A Matter of Mindset

by Ann Marie Flanagan, contributor

As a mom, have you ever had a legitimate sick day?

I am talking about being alone in your home, cell phone in the off position, no email or social media groups that need immediate or constant attention. No, you haven’t had that? Really? Yea, me either.

What happens to us when we get unexpected news about our health and we have little to no time to process the information? Or this unexpected news is delivered in the presence of our children because we did not have the ability to leave them in the waiting room? Yes, this does happen and it happened to me the other day with my eight year old in tow.

Let me give you a little background before I share what occurred. I am a mom of three children. Their ages are 25, 16, and 8 years old. The 8 and 16 year old are under my room. My middle child is my clone and my youngest son is extremely sensitive to changes that concern me. He is a little feeling detective.

I tell you these things because I am sure your children are sensitive to your needs, even if they don’t express that verbally. Children have a keen sense when something is about to go down. So, here is my recent health journey.

Last September, I was given a diagnosis that took me off guard. It is not life-threatening, just life changing. It knocked me down for about a month because I could not wrap my head around the fact that I am “sick.”

I don’t feel physically sick and I didn’t know that most people don’t feel this way on a daily basis. Having always prided myself on my, mostly healthy lifestyle, I allowed myself to feel defeated. Until this behavior began to affecting my relationships.

Changing your mindset for yourself and your children

When I saw the reflection of myself through my children’s eyes I received my wake up call. My behaviors (short-tempered, depressed, and angry) were not examples I wanted my children to follow. Seeking out the counsel of another mom who had the same diagnosis, as well as two friends of mine that are nurses, I made additional healthy choices. This included going on a gluten-free diet to decrease my inflammation and using essential oils, to heal my body. That was the easy part.

But my biggest obstacle is my mindset. My journey of being mindful is my biggest challenge. Why do I want to be mindful? Illness will not freely reside in me and be fueled by unhealthy thoughts and feelings. I want to be everything I can be for myself, my children, my husband, family, and friends.

In order to work on my mindset, I chose to surround myself with people who are examples of this very concept. To continue to remove negative influences that are causing my self-doubt to sneak in. These negative influences are negative people, past experiences, social media, and the list goes on. How am I doing this?

Well, I am a list maker. I am making a list and methodically removing these items from it. It is not an easy or quick process, but it has begun. I need to also continue to remind myself why I am doing this. It is for ME!

When I have a healthy mindset, all of those around me will begin to reap the benefits. Why is this a difficult process? Because ever since I was a child, I have never lived my life this way. The idea of having a healthy mindset ignites my fire to do right by my children. So I may be their positive role model again. When I say “my children,” this includes not only my biological children, but also the ones I have in my class, my “Girls on the Run” team, and others  I come in contact with daily basis.

Another way I am changing my mindset is by using researched-based information and practicing what speaks to me.  Not all of the research-based suggestions work for me, so I pick and choose the ones that fit. Likewise, I have also found “influencers” that have me striving to be the best that I can be.

Getting up after a set back

Now I will share my most recent health set-back. I have had an enlarged lymph node in my neck for as long as I can remember. Always thinking it was just a swollen gland, I monitored it but paid it little attention.

That was until recently when I discovered two more nodes in my groin area. This concerned my physician and she sent me to an oncologist. This resulted in an immediate setback to all of my self-care.  Just by hearing the word oncologist and the fact that I know have one, was enough to create a feeling of foreboding.

They ordered ultrasounds and a CT scan. The first doctor wanted to cut the lymph node in my neck out and then test it.

HECK-to-the-NO! I asked for other options, choose to wait three months and rescan those areas. Except I was scared and allowed those three months to come and go. I told myself, since there is no pain involved in these areas, I must be fine.

Well, last month the doctor’s office called to say they set up my next appointment since I didn’t follow up. I had the ultrasounds last week and received the news that the groin area nodes are the same. However, the node in my neck has increased in size. The surgeon said he was not convinced that it needs to be removed but is concerned and is sending me for another CT scan to get a better look.

I asked “why” even though I knew in my heart what he is looking for. Unfortunately, all of this news was delivered in front of my 8-year-old. Thank goodness when I asked him, he said, “The C-word,” for the benefit of my child.

After the appointment, I went into a tail-spin. It was ugly. I informed my “tribe” about my results and then turned inward. It took that entire evening and part of the next day to pull myself back up. Deciding to not allow this situation to define me, even if the “c word” is what it is.

Because what if it’s not??!! Why am I wasting my time worrying? I made the choice I was not going to give in to the fear and worry.  My CT scan is next week and the results will be given the following week. I WILL survive and throughout this process I will teach my children how to stand up to what life throws us in a dignified and positive way.

We all struggle with our health at one time or another. Your struggles may be much more than mine. If you would like to chat you can reach me privately at

If you have children, please join for a place to share your successes, ask for help, and form long-lasting friendships with other parents. I cannot wait to see you there.

In addition, I live stream on Periscope at @AnnMarieFlanagan where I discuss techniques and strategies for helping our children excel.

Beginning October 17th I am involved in a new Periscope channel called @SelfCareSociety. We will be sharing great tips for self-care in all parts of life. Thank you for allowing me to spend this time with you!

Ann Marie