The Best Day Ever [And A Recipe For Apple + Oat Bread] — Coffee + Crumbs (2024)

By Sarah Hauser

“This is the best day ever!”

My kids have taken to shouting that hyperbolic statement nearly any time they do something they enjoy. Eating ice cream, riding bikes, going to a friend’s house—these all apparently deserve the title of “best day ever.”

The pendulum swings just as far in the other direction, of course. There are about a hundred activities that can cause them to declare any given day the worst ever—eating cooked carrots, having to clean their rooms, not being allowed to play with the hose at 8am when it’s 50 degrees outside, wearing shoes that fit. Who knew that last one could so easily result in a three-year-old naming an otherwise normal Thursday “the worst day ever.”

Despite their exaggerations and how quickly one day can flip from worst to best or vice versa, I’ve noticed a theme. The best days, according to my children, are usually quite ordinary.

Maybe I’ve set the bar low from the start, so they don’t expect elaborate Pinterest activities, expensive toys, or exotic outings—especially in 2020 when we’re home almost all the time. We’re homebodies, anyway, and I’ve burned myself out enough in my life to know how much I hate running frantically from one activity to another. So we play with chalk, we ride bikes, we go to the park down the street, we meet up with a friend, we make cookies, we have movie nights.

None of it is all that creative.

I sometimes feel bad that my kids don’t get to do more. Even pre-pandemic, we didn’t do a whole lot. They’re not signed up for swim lessons or ballet. Their birthday parties involve a pack of balloons and candles saved from the last birthday (although I did make a dragon cake for my son this summer—which looked cool, but it tasted terrible). We don’t buy a ton of presents.

I often wish we could do more, and sometimes I fear my kids will resent that their mom didn’t have the energy or budget or time or whatever else to make those things happen. Maybe future seasons will be more interesting and full. But by and large, our days remain simple and unglamorous. That’s the best I can do.

But at least for now, my kids don’t care. They want to play LEGOs with me. They want to lick the batter off the spoon. They want me to put my phone down and look them in the eyes. At ages five and three, they seem okay with simple.

The other day, my daughter stood in the kitchen and matter-of-factly stated once again, “This was the best day ever! We rode bikes, baked, went to the library, got new books, ate treats …” Her voice trailed off as she recalled the very ordinary things we did. As I half-listened, I wiped smudges of butter and bits of apple off the counter, calculating the minutes until bedtime so I could finally collapse on the couch.

She sighed with satisfaction as she finished listing activities. I threw the dishrag in the sink and put the last few plates in the dishwasher. And I realized what a stark contrast her monologue was to the one in my own head. We never got that reading lesson done for homeschool. My kids ate too much sugar today. I never finished folding the laundry. I yelled too much.

I never even came close to naming it the best day ever, and the truth is, it probably wasn’t. I don’t even know what makes a day “the best.” But my daughter’s words cut through my own cynicism and grief, my frustration and heartache. She reminded me that the everyday moments add up. She reminded me she’s not taking stock of all we’re not doing. She helped me see that glimmers of ordinary joy can puncture the dark days with light, and even the simplest of activities can be significant.

There’s a lot I can’t do for my kids, and I wish I could. But I can do ordinary things. And apparently, that can be enough to make today “the best day ever.”

Apple + Oat Bread

Yields 1 loaf

One of the things my kids LOVE to do is bake together, and I’ll admit, it’s not my favorite thing to do with little ones. I get easily frustrated and annoyed, but I’m slowly learning to be more patient in the kitchen–and it’s becoming so much more enjoyable! In our house, the days they call the best are usually the ones that involve food.

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

¾ cup rolled oats

⅔ cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¾ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon baking soda

2 eggs, lightly beaten

½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted and cooled

½ cup plain yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup shredded apples

Turbinado sugar and thinly sliced apples for topping (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8x4-inch loaf pan. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, butter, yogurt, and vanilla.

Gradually add the dry flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Mix gently just until incorporated. Fold in the shredded apples, being careful not to overmix.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Top with a few thinly sliced apples and sprinkle with turbinado sugar, if desired.

Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow the bread to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack. Serve warm with a bit (or a lot) of butter.

This bread is best when fresh, but leftovers can be wrapped and refrigerated for a couple days. Rewarm in the microwave (seriously–it’s so good when served warm with butter!). Enjoy!

The Best Day Ever [And A Recipe For Apple + Oat Bread] — Coffee + Crumbs (2024)
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