Monday, October 26, 2015

Preparing for the Magic

Patrick and I surprised our girls with their 2nd trip to Disney over Fall Break. This one had been months in the making as we had dreamed and planned and bought airline tickets while we were iced in last winter.

To keep us occupied and to build our excitement, we planned lots of covert surprises while they were sleeping. I finally put my silhouette machine to good use and made these:

For our day in Animal Kingdom...

For their pirate costumes for Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party...

For a day in Magic Kingdom...

Because you just NEED these if you are in Disney near Halloween...

Because I couldn't stop...

The I saw these awesome 2 for $10 tees at H&M, and I couldn't resist not getting in on some of the action... So I made this for me for Animal Kingdom...
And this for the day we at at the Royal Table at Magic Kingdom...
And this for the day my girls were wearing their Frozen outfits...

I kept dreaming up new projects, and I couldn't resist doing these autograph books...

And some luggage tags...
Bows to match...
And the night before I even whipped of some bling for our magic bands... It was so fun and so worth it and definitely helped set the stage for our big surprise!!! 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Managing Expectations

It's time I stopped looking elsewhere for fulfillment...


I can only be the change I want to see in the world...

If I AM changed.

If I AM change.

And that starts with me and God.

Acknowledging who HE is and WHOSE I am.
Adoring his creation, his beauty, splendor, intricacies.
Humbled by his new mercies, his gifts, his hope, his peace.
Transformed by his goodness.
Sanctified in peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, joy, faithfulness, and self control.
Tempered by his spirit.
Energized by his... ENERGY.

Going back and back and back again to the SOURCE.

And then infusing that in my journey, my encounters, my intentionality, my purposeful living, my responsibility, my freedom.

Oh, God, please fill me with YOU.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Summer is...

sleeping in...
drinking coffee on the back porch while watching the today show...
being on a better schedule than I am even when school is in session...
grilling out...
Farmer's Markets...
after dinner walks...
spontaneous bike adventures...
morning swimming...
night swimming...
all day every day swimming...
going to the library...
going to the beach...
dreaming of travel adventures...
getting lost in a book...
bingewatching shows on netflix...
fresh vegetables...
blueberry picking...
concerts in the park...
wet towels...
chasing fireflies...
digging in the dirt...
playing catch...
flashlight tag...
backyard parties...
trying new recipes...
homemade icecream...
baseball games...

It is upon us.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

When Love Goes Wrong...

It can't let go of things from the past--harsh words, slammed doors, engines starting and driving away, personal grievances, deceptions...

It only thinks about its own needs and unmet--impossibly so--expectations...

It wants what it wants when it wants it...

It goes from 0-90 and loses control...

It thinks it does no wrong, only sees its own side, plays the victim...

It covets and wastes away on things that seem out of reach...

It thinks--and screams--harsh words...

It name calls...

It plays on others' vulnerabilities...

It is afraid...

It despairs

It puts others in their place...

It simply is NOT love.

LOVE doesn't expect perfection or immediate change; it is gentle with oneself and gentle with others...

LOVE is not easily frustrated.

LOVE chooses kind words over harsh ones; it gives a soft answer.

LOVE seeks to serve others rather than getting huffy over not feeling served...

LOVE looks inward at changes that need to come from within rather than pointing out others' flaws and weaknesses.

LOVE encourages others' strengths and rather than seeking to make its own accomplishments be highlighted.

LOVE forgives and forgets and forgives and forgets and forgives and forgets AGAIN AND AGAIN... and doesn't bring up the things that should have been long forgotten in conflicts.

LOVE always protects--it backs down from a standoff; it deescalates conflicts; it tries to understand other perspectives rather than proclaiming its own; it says it's sorry even if it's not quite there yet; it protects vulnerabilities; it yields its own position for the greater good to PROTECT the LOVE.

LOVE always trusts; it gives the benefit of the doubt; it is wise yet shrewd; it keeps its vows; it stands up for LOVE.

LOVE always perseveres; it remains faithful rather than seeking into despair; it drives out fear; it picks itself up and accepts fresh mercies and clean slates every day; it holds onto the truth.


Monday, May 04, 2015

I don't know how she did it?

I've been rewatching Friday Night Lights episodes lately for the sole purpose of observing Tami Taylor and how she navigated being a coach's wife. I always thought I'd be a good one of those...

Now that we've entered into the world of sports through our children, I'm not so sure I've got the stuff it takes to survive this special title. And my guy is just coaching 6U softball... Addison has 3 seasons of soccer under her belt, and this season she asked to play softball. Patrick and I were excited that she wanted to play a sport that we both love--as players and fans--so we encouraged her to try it. As we signed her up, we realized that her age group needed a coach, and before we knew it, Patrick found himself taking on that role. His friend, the league commissioner, sweetened the deal by saying that Addison could play for free and he'd throw Ansley in there for free as well if she wanted to play (which wasn't our plan but it's better than chasing her around playgrounds), so here we are.

We have a team of 13 little 4-7 year olds girls, and not a single one has played before. They are adorable and sweet and they are getting better with each practice and each game that they play. Occasionally we play a "giant team"--one that has played together for several seasons and who rips us 15-3, but for the most part, this is a learning league, and coaches encourage all players, and parents are supportive.

For the most part.

There are always just the most precious exceptions.

Meet them...

Exception #1: The heckler.

This is the guy who sits in the stands and yells at the players (sometimes yelling the WRONG things). When the players don't respond how he thinks they should, he turns it on to the coach, yelling, "Come on, COACH! It's your job to teach these things. This is on YOU." Did I mention our girls are 4-7? And that they've never played? And that the coach is my HUSBAND???? Well, I couldn't just sit there... I turned around and said, "excuse me, but that's exactly what they worked on the entire practice yesterday. I don't remember seeing you there." Thankfully, other moms also chimed in and supported what I said. I was shaking...

Exception #2: The prima donna dad

Before each game, Patrick spends at least an hour coming up with a line-up. He tries to make sure that everybody gets to hit the same amount of times, so he looks at the last game and sees where we left off. Then he decided where to play each player each inning. He is trying to give everyone some experience at different positions with hopes to still win a few games. He has 13 players. 9 of them are 6 or 7. There are only 5 infield positions. Sometimes we only play 2 innings, and every once in awhile we get in 3. 

This is the dad who asks where his 4-YEAR-OLD is playing... To which Patrick patiently responds something pacifying... and to which I WANT to respond, "Well, sir, in the outfield where she can dig dirt and chase butterflies. She's 4! What do you think????" This dad also has volunteered to "help" coach, bought all kinds of equipment, but only focuses on his daughter.

After these incidences, I started feeling all kinds of anxiety before practices and games. Not about how my own girls would act or "perform," but how the whole experience would be perceived by all the parents. It's hard to feel like you are in the spotlight and being criticized. Patrick handles it all in his laid back, letting it roll off with "no worries" fashion. I absorb it. I need to take notes from him.

The positive side--my girls are LOVING it! They love being a part of a team. They love their uniforms. They love hanging out in the dug out, meeting friends at the ball park, and having snacks after the game. They love that their dad is their coach. They love that we are all together. Their attitude and spirits make the other things fade a little bit and remind me that this is all SO worth it.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Whole 30 Part 2: the next 10 days

By the second 10 days, we were a little more into our groove, and grocery trips and meal preps got easier. The Hartwigs (Whole30 Creators) say that day10-11 is when people are tempted to quit because they are thinking about all the food they can't have. Day 10 and 11 were definitely big hurtles for us, but we managed.

Instead of logging every meal that we ate, I am going to share new things we tried and recipes to go along with them. I've gotten accustomed to having several go-to's for breakfast and lunch--egg scrambles with veggies and apple chicken sausage and fruit for breakfast and variations of applegate lunch meats (ham, turkey, pepperonis, hot dogs, or roast beef or a combination of the two), fresh fruit, and veggies with almond butter or guacamole. My in-a-pinch snacks are mixed (compliant) nuts and lara bars (coconut cream pie and apple pie are my favorites). At night when I usually in the past have craved a little snack, I'm making hot tea or a really small amount of hot cider.

One of our breakfast attempts was this sweet potato squash.

Sweet Potato Quiche

  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and sliced thin (this is your crust)
  • 1 lb pork sausage, cooked
  • 2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1/4 red pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 orange pepper, chopped
  • cup of spinach
  • 10 eggs, whisked
  • 1/4 cup of coconut milk
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • Grease pie plate with coconut oil. Line the bottom and the sides with sweet potatoes. Overlap in circular layers until the bottom is covered.
  • Spread cooked sausage over the "crust;" sprinkle with 1 tsp rosemary; bake for 10 minutes at 350.
  • Mix eggs, peppers, spinach, coconut milk, salt, and pepper, and pour over sausage. 
  • Sprinkle 1 tsp rosemary over the top
  • Bake an additional 25 minutes or until the knife comes out clean from the center.
The next night we had chicken tenders, mashed cauli, and roasted broccoli, and we were so starved I forgot to take a photograph.

Chicken Fingers
  • Cut chicken breast into 3-4 chicken strips; season with salt and pepper.
  • Whisk an egg into a prep bowl; pour almond meal into a prep bowl.
  • Dip each finger into egg and roll in almond meal.
  • Cook up to 8 strips on a skillet for 3-4 minutes each side.

Mashed Cauliflower

  • Prepare one head of cauliflower by removing it from stem and breaking into small pieces.
  • Steam cauliflower until tender.
  • Use food processor or immersion blender to puree cauliflower.
  • Add a little coconut milk, salt and pepper, and minced garlic.
The next night, I made barbecue nachos, and this was Patrick's absolute favorite meal of this whole process. I had to improvise some because there is a shortage of compliant pork right now, and I didn't have time to go the crock pot route but it was soooooo delicious.

Barbeque Nachos

  • Pulled Pork: Rub 1.5 pound of pork butt in 
    • 1 T cumin, 
    • 3 T chili powder, 
    • 1 tsp onion powder, 
    • 1 tsp each salt and pepper
    • 1 tsp coriander
  • Chop 1 pepper and 1/4 cup onion
  • In Crock Pot, lay pork over chopped onion and pepper. Roast on high for 4 hours and low for 2
  • Slice zucchini and sweet potatoes into chip size pieces. Lightly toss in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and cook at 250 for 40 minutes; then flip chips and cook for 40 minutes.
  • (I then broiled mine to make them crispier.)
  • Layer chips, pork, fresh salsa, and guacamole for a delicious feast. My mouth is watering even as I type this.
Those nachos were so delicious, but the next night, we needed something much easier, so we grilled Trader Joe's turkey burgers, loaded them up with guac and tomatoes and enclosed in a lettuce bun. We served leftover roasted veggies and fruit.

For my birthday, Patrick got me this Spiralizer.
I am a perfectionist-procrastinator, so when something intimidates me and I don't know if I can do it properly, I put off using it (oh like my new sewing machine and silhouette that have permanent residence in my craft closet... in.their.boxes. Shame...) Surprisingly it was easy to use, and I tried my hand at making zucchini noodles.

Zucchini Noodles
  • Use spiralizer or cheese grater to make zucchini into noodle shapes.
  • Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
  • Saute in a skillet on medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until tender.

I found some compliant spaghetti sauce at Trader Joe's and mixed it with some cooked ground beef and served it up. Patrick and I were so surprised at how this really did fulfill our spaghetti fix. We started thinking about how noodles don't really have a strong taste--it's the texture that is so comforting. And the taste of zucchini is not strong enough to be offensive.  It was a win/win for us. Comfort food with an extra serving of veggies!

Patrick went to Las Vegas for a few days in this stretch, so I ate a lot of salads with lunch meat and things that didn't require too much prep since I was mostly cooking for 1.

I did make this for me and the girls one night:
Lemon Roasted Chicken and Asparagus
  • In a gallon size bag put 
    • 4 chicken breasts, 
    • one pound of asparagus, 
    • 1/4 cup of olive oil,
    • 1 tsp of oregano
    • 1 tsp of thyme
    • salt and pepper
    • juice from one lime
  • After the mixture has marinated, put in a cooking dish; garnish with lemon slices; and bake at 375 for 45 minutes or until chicken juices run clear.

While Patrick was gone, my girlfriends from high school came over for an appetizer potluck. I made roasted sweet potato wedges and these turkey zucchini fritters (that I also ate for breakfast for a few days afterward).
Turkey Zucchini Fritters
  • Grate zucchini with a cheese grater (about 1.5 cups)
  • Chop cilantro (about 1/4 cup
  • Mix zucchini, cilantro, and turkey with salt and pepper and whatever spices you desire. I chose minced garlic and rosemary.
  • Roll into balls and flatten into patties on skillet.
  • Cook up to 8 at a time for 5-6 minutes on each side.

This compliant cinnamon apple cider got me through my week alone. ;)
Patrick was soon home with these beautiful hydrangeas for me!!! 

We spent our weekend cooking, junking, and birthday party prepping. 

I love entertaining, but it's intimidating when there are limited menu items. The weekend before we'd had my sister's family over and served butternut squash soup with sauteed shrimp. For my mom's birthday, we decided we would do spaghetti--since we could make it our way and a way that would please everyone.

Especially the kids! My Addison even ate some zucchini noodles!
And dessert was off limits for me and Patrick, but my sister made a yummy devil's food cake for my beautiful mom.
And Patrick and I matched--unintentially. ;)
We just have a few days left on our first Whole30!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Whole 30: First 10 Days

Because I want to remember... And I may do this again one day... And others are doing this plan all the time... I am going to record meal plans here on my little space...

Right now we are on Day 10. I just helped a mom friend at her daughter's birthday party, and that included passing out pizza to 20 little kids. To say I was salivating is a gross understatement. It.was.torture. But I stood strong...

After I read It Starts With Food in October, we stocked up on some supplies that would be some saving graces as we experimented with some Whole30 recipes...
We went on an initial Costco run to get some basics, and then began our journey...

Day 1
Breakfast: egg and spinach omelette, chicken sausage, mango
Lunch: Lettuce Boats with lettuce, guac, Applegate pepperonis, tomato, and cucumber 
Dinner: rotisserie chicken, roasted sweet potatoes, green beans, apples

Moment of truth: going to a Sugar Bowl party full of pizza, chips and dip, soft drinks, and brownies. Outcome: Win

Day 2
Breakfast: egg scramble with spinach and chicken sausage and banana
Lunch: Rotisserie chicken, peppers and guac, apples
Dinner: Taco Salad with spinach, tomatoes, seasoned ground beef, trader joes salsa, wholly guacamole, strawberries and blueberries

Day 3
Breakfast: egg scramble with spinach and chicken sausage and banana (Do you see a pattern here? ;))
Lunch: Applegate hot dog, carrots, orange
Dinner: grilled chicken with lemon, olive oil, salt, and pepper, roasted broccoli, roasted sweet potatoes

By this morning, we knew we needed to change some things up--especially with some easier breakfast options since it was back to school/work time, so after lunch at Chipotle, we made a big time Trader Joe's run...

Day 4
Breakfast: egg scramble with spinach and chicken sausage and banana (Remember, we didn't go to TJ's until after lunch. ;))
Lunch: Chipotle--carnitas bowl with lettuce, tomato, salsa, and guac (We really needed a break from cooking, so this was a nice treat.
Dinner: mocha skillet steak (from It Starts With Food, roasted sweet potatoes, green beans, orange slices
Day 5
Breakfast: prosciutto egg "muffins" and mango

Recipe for Prosciutto Egg "Muffins 
  • Rub fat or choice in muffin tins (we used Coconut Oil)
  • Line each muffin tin with a slice of prosciutto.
  • Mix 8 eggs with sautéed veggies (1/4 cup of chopped onion and 1/2 pound of spinach in 2 T coconut oil), 2 Tablespoons of coconut flour, 1/2 tsp (or more) of Kosher salt, 1/4 tsp of black pepper.
  • Pour mixture into muffin tins.
  • Top with quartered cherry tomatoes. (I just had tomatoes on the vine, so I diced them and topped.)
  • Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.

We loved these--they were like mini quiches/frittatas.

Lunch: Applegate ham, cucumbers, carrots, blueberries, mixed nuts
Dinner: chicken fingers (dipped in egg, almond meal, and pan-fried 3 minutes on each side), mashed cauliflower, roasted broccoli, oranges

Day 6
Breakfast: prosciutto egg "muffins"and mangoes
Lunch: Applegate turkey, celery and almond butter, apples
Dinner: pork chops, green beans, roasted sweet potatoes, apples

Day 7
Breakfast: egg and spinach omlette, banana
Lunch: Applegate hotdog and pepperonis, mixed berries, mixed raw veggies, nuts
Dinner: ground turkey, sweet potato, and apple hash 
I adapted this from a recipe in It Starts With Food

Turkey Hash
  • Brown 1 lb of ground turkey with 1/4 cup of chopped onion, salt, pepper. Set aside.
  • Dice a sweet potato into small squares and spread onto a cookie sheet.
  • Spritz with olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary, and roast at 400 for 20-25 minutes.
  • Dice an apple and saute.
  • Combine ingredients in skillet. Add 1/4 tsp of cinnamon and 1/8 tsp of nutmeg. 
  • Heat until all ingredients have been browned in spices.

Day 8
Breakfast: prosciutto egg "muffins" and banana
Lunch: leftover hash from last night, celery and almond butter, orange
Dinner: aidel's Cajun chicken sausage, green beans, grapes

Day 9
Breakfast: apple pie Lara Bar (These are "emergency" items and not recommended to consume too often during this process, but I was OVER eggs and even more OVER cooking, so I warranted this an "emergency.")
Lunch: turkey, celery and almond butter, orange
Snack: mixed nuts
Dinner: Butternut Squash Soup, Aidel's Apple chicken sausage
Butternut Squash Soup

  • Slice a butternut squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out seeds and pulp.
  • Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, and place butternut squash on the pan cut side up. Rub with olive oil and salt it well.
  • Roast squash for 50 minutes to 1 hour at 400.
  • Chop a yellow onion, and peel, core, and dice a Granny Smith apple. Saute 1/4 cup of onion and the apple in 1 T of coconut oil (or cooking fat of choice). Salt and pepper. Set aside.
  • One the squash has cooked and cooled to the touch, spoon out the squash mixture, and add to the apple/onion mix.
  • Add 2 cups of vegetable broth, 1/12 cup of water, and 1/3 cup of coconut milk. Add more salt to taste.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Use immersion blender to puree, and serve hot.
  • You can garnish this with leftover seeds from the squash, chopped bacon, or chicken apple sausage. I used the latter, and it was delicious.

Day 10
Breakfast: egg and spinach omlette, unfiltered Apple juice
Lunch: leftover soup, turkey, orange
Dinner: Asian beef and broccoli with peppers and carrots and coconut aminos (recipe from It Starts With Food)

Struggles we are having: black coffee... We keep trying, but it's not getting easier.
snacking: we are used to afternoon and midnight snacks. We have had nuts a couple of times, but they are bothering my stomach.

Things that are saving us: tea--I love Trader Joes peppermint green tea, and we have the Yogi cold and flu season blend too. We are also loving La Croix, and Patrick is loving coconut water.

How we are feeling: the first few days were sluggish, but our energy level is picking up. Patrick is still struggling with his allergies, and my aches and pains are still moving around. We are hopeful though...

So far, so good. Send any recipes that you have my way! 

Monday, January 05, 2015

The year of the house...

When I looked back at my "Instagram Best Moments" powered by Iconosquare, I didn't share them because they were all about my house... No Disney trips or babies born or weddings, just grit and dirt and walls and beams... At first I was kind of "meh..." when summing up my year that way, but, boy was it our year of the house...  Since I know we will likely do this again because of our livelihood, I thought it would be fun to document and recount the process so my future self can remember.

That's a lot to document though, so I thought I'd start with our professional photos that Patrick had made for his portfolio...

There've been some changes to the final product, stained ceilings and beams, stained porches, added shutters, but these photos were taken the morning we moved in, and boy do they feel finished.  We've been here 5 1/2 months now, and it feels like home.

Here's an exterior shot of the front...

Hopefully I can come back and keep documenting more of the process...

Thursday, January 01, 2015

See I am doing a new thing...

I love fresh mercies, new beginnings, blank slates...

Not because I'm super great at goal-setting-list-making-and-checking-offing, but because it breathes freedom to my weary soul. It brings grace. And do-overs.  And I need all of the above.

In the midst of our purging and football watching, I have managed to sneak away for a little "me time/dream time" to reflect, dream, and hope...

Some of our highlights from 2014:
  • moving from our home into an apartment and putting our stuff in storage
  • building a home
  • moving again...
  • going to NYC
  • sending our firstborn off to Kindergarten
  • purging, purging, purging...
As this new year is upon us, we are once again trying to figure our what living intentionally looks like. Keeping it simple. Living on love.

A friend put it succinctly and effectively:
Less phone, more family
Less coke, more water
Less world, more God.

Today marks our first attempt at a Whole30 nutrition plan. We spent October until Thanksgiving learning how to cook and eat on a paleo-ish plan, Thanksgiving through Christmas blowing all of our hard work, and the last couple of days eating all of the food out of our pantry so we could begin anew today... We're hoping it helps with our cravings, my autoimmune symptoms and myofascial pain, Patrick's allergies, and our overall relationship with food...

Besides that, we are carving out some time tonight to dream together about our spiritual, relational, personal, and career goals for the year... Can't wait.

Here's to the dreamers...

Cheers to 2015!