Peace & Joy | 2018

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Photo by: Kate Love Photography

As I began typing my word of the year post for 2019 I realized I never actually blogged about my word(s) from 2018. This is a practice that I have been doing for several years now so I wanted give them a post of their own since they ended up teaching me quite a bit over the past twelve months. (I plan to share my 2019 word of the year (and saint of the year!) later this week.)

The words: peace & joy.

I mentioned in my 2018 inventory post that the year started off a little rocky with the loss of a close relative. While it was a chance to bring extended family together it was still an absolutely heartbreaking experience. My uncle was young, active, and a vibrant personality lost too soon from my humble and human perspective. December 2017 and January 2018 were dark months, spent wrestling with God and my ongoing questioning of why do we have to lose the ones we love? My spirit had not felt that sort of conflicted energy for quite some time and as I sat down last year to pray and think about my word of the year the words peace and joy kept popping up in my writing and in my mind. At the time I laughed at the thought of those words becoming my mission through the year because I was in such a state of mourning mixed with frustration and a good bit of anger.

Peace and joy were what my heart longed for but could not yet be fathomed by my brain. As the year progressed I actually forgot about those words, I wasn’t really focusing on them regularly and didn’t hear them too often in my prayers and thoughts. But as I reflected this past December on 2018 I realized, peace and joy were completely evident over the year that was 2018. I looked over this past year and saw the growth found throughout the touchstones of my life – my girls who seem to be getting bigger by the minute, my marriage that continues to grow and change and deepen, my family, my friends, our community – I found so much comfort in my surroundings and the ones that I love and through that peace and joy were cultivated more than I ever realized. I ended the year feeling at home: at home in my place in life and where I need to be to serve the ones around me right now, at home in my church and the ministries we continue to serve, at home in opportunities that have given me time and space to create, write, and share, and at home physically with the (somewhat unexpected) purchase of a new house that fits our family culture so well and we hope to spend many, many years in.

Peace and joy are possible. I hope to carry these words that have deeply rooted themselves into my soul over the next year as it is one that will surely carry with it change and new challenges. I am so thankful that God knew me better than myself, while I may have laughed at him at the start of the year – He knew, He is capable of turning our greatest sorrows and our shattered hearts into something new. If only we let Him.

Previous word of the year posts:

2014
2015
2016
2017

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2018 inventory

I believe the last time I wrote a yearly inventory post it was 2015, which boggles my mind a little but life has been happening! Especially this past year, 2018 has not only flown by (doesn’t every year?) but has been filled with so much LIVING. Looking back through my photos of the year was a good reminder of just how much we were able to pack into the last 12 months. This past year was a bit of a blur but going back and seeing all that we did reminded me that even though this year had it’s low moments, there were far more high points.

January

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We started the year on a somber note. My uncle passed away shortly after Christmas and his funeral was the first week of January. Funerals are an interesting mix of sad, frustrating, and heartbreaking, but also an opportunity to see family and friends once again that may not live near by. His funeral was a beautiful celebration of a life well lived and I was privileged to sing at his funeral mass. The next couple of weeks were spent recovering from holiday travel and getting back to our routines. I went to the bachelorette party of an old high school friend and towards the end of the month we got to celebrate her wedding!

February

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In February I checked a big accomplishment off of my annual goals and ran in my first race! I had been participating in a run training program with my bootcamp since December and as some one who always self proclaimed that I was never going to like running ever…I actually enjoyed the process of training for the race and there is nothing like the high you get post finishing! I personally dedicated my run to my uncle who was an avid runner and set a wonderful example of physical fitness. I also took a cooking class with my mom this month! It was a belated Christmas gift and such a fun experience together. We learned how to make kolaches and had some much needed mother-daughter time. Eric and I were able to sneak out for a fancy Valentine’s date to the opera thanks to the generosity of friends passing along their tickets. I also took my first SoulCycle class and was reminded how important it is to switch things up in my fitness routine from time to time. Last but not least, I submitted my first blog post with Dallas Moms Blog! Being a part of their contributor team has reinvigorated my passion for writing and sharing – not to mention the other women involved who are so fun to be around!

March

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We were able to attend the beautiful wedding of our friend and drummer from our church band, went to a super fun easter egg hunt playdate with friends, and we found our dream home by way of a friend’s recommendation. It was a whirlwind of a month filled with surprises and abundant prayers as we happened upon the home we hope to spend a very, very long time in. The rest of the month was filled with (unexpected) house buying things – meeting the sellers, inspections and all that jazz! The process getting into this home was so obviously guided by God – from our friend sending us the listing to meeting the sellers who were an absolute dream to work with – I can only give credit to Him for providing us with such an incredible place to live and painless experience getting here.

April

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Over the past couple of years a group of friends from high school and I have made it a point to get together once a month. Those girls nights have quickly become some of my favorite nights of the month and remind me how fortunate I am to have had such  long lasting friendships. My baby turned FOUR this month. It has been such a magical age to experience. She has really come into her own and while she challenges us daily – she is such a sweet, smart, interesting, and inquisitive soul that I am so lucky I get to parent. I was also able to witness one of my very best friends give it her all and try out for Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders! I am surrounded by inspiring people and she is a person who consistently puts herself out there to try new things and take new adventures.

May

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This month was filled with Zoo trips, a super fun cinco de mayo celebration at church, and watching Madeline become the sweetest little bumble bee and perform in her first dance recital. I significantly chopped my hair in anticipation for another hot Texas summer and we celebrated Mother’s day with chips, queso, and mambo taxis. Genevieve turned TWO and we had a joint birthday party for the girls at the Perot museum. We ended the month by saying goodbye to some very wonderful friends and our band directors at church as they ventured off to the Philipines. This family has been in my life for 10+ years now. They have seen me go from high school teen, to college young adult, to a married woman with kids of my own. They have helped me through heart break and challenged my confidence in my singing talents and have always made me feel like a part of their family. To say they are missed is a vast understatement!

June

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Well this month was exceptionally special because on June 2nd we found out we were PREGNANT! I knew something was up when I started freaking out about a messed up ice cream recipe and then cried at a Maroon 5 music video. Two pregnancy tests later, and it was confirmed I was not crazy – just super hormonal. The rest of the month was spent telling close family and friends about this new pregnancy. We then took a vacation and  traveled to the beach with family and enjoyed the Texas coast and sweet sunshine. We rounded out the month with a hefty case of all day morning sickness/nausea and the girls and I participating in our first VBS at church!

July

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Moving month! It was pretty crazy to be first trimester pregnant and moving in one of the hottest months of the year… but we did it! And most definitely not alone – we had a lot of family and friends help us out to make that move successful. We also dove headfirst into swim lessons and announced our pregnancy to the world. We took many a summer camp at home adventure and kept up with our monthly supper club dinners with friends.

August

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We celebrated 6 years of marriage and I was finally feeling well enough to stomach a delicious dinner out. We continued on with our summer camp at home adventures and unpacked boxes upon boxes. Later in the month we found out we would be having a BOY come February and I think we are all still in a little shock about that. The rest of the month we swam, splashed, and lived for Grammie days (or at least I did). We also went to the new Crayola experience and had a BLAST!

September

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The first weekend in September we went to Great Wolf Lodge, just our little family, as a fun send off to summer and we ALL had a blast. School started this month, Madeline began taking gymnastics, and my appetite for a greater range of food returned! At the end of the month we experienced our first real moment of homeownership in our new house when the air conditioner went out. We also snuck in a quick weekend away to Ft. Worth to see Ben Folds perform with the Ft. Worth symphony – something that has been on our bucket list as a couple since college! The month was rounded out with trips to the zoo and Perot museum, going to my first Dallas Moms Blog event as a contributor – a happy hour at Savor Gastropub at Klyde Warren Park, and a fun family day trip to the Heard Museum to see the dinosaur exhibit.

October

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October kicked off with neighbor fun by going to our street’s National Night Out gathering. So many kiddos, games, and delicious food! Our school busted out their annual pumpkin patch which made school drop off feel extra festive. Madeline and I went to her first of many pre-kindergarten events to check out our local elementary school and it gave me all the feels. I cannot believe that she is going to be ready for kindergarten in less than a year, not entirely sure where my baby has gone. At the end of the month we went to our parish school’s trunk or treat, hosted a housewarming for our new home, and we were lucky enough to have our friend Father Michael come and bless our new space. We were also able to sneak out for a halloween party date night at my friend Beth’s house and we went to Huffines art festival and the Pacesetter Bazaar – two of my absolute favorite places to visit local artisans during the year. It wouldn’t be an October post without mentioning Halloween – the girls dressed up as Owlette, Catboy, and Eric won dad of the year by joining them as Gecko. This was the first year where BOTH girls really understood the glory that is Halloween candy and it was pretty fantastic to see them trick or treat together. We also upgraded to van life in anticipation of baby brother joining us in February.

November

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The month began by hosting my first of I’m sure many showers in this house – a sweet little sip-and-see for my friend Sarah and her new baby. It was such a sweet morning filled with mimosas, brunch treats, and the best cake ever. The month continued on with birthday parties, baby showers, and playdates. October was such a rainy month so any time the sun was out – we were out with it! We went down to New Orleans for Thanksgiving this year and it was such a wonderful time filled with family and adventures. We went to the Aquarium, children’s museum, and Zoo lights. I think the drive down was one of our best drives yet with the girls, on the way back to Dallas we learned a valuable parenting lesson – always have plastic bags near carseats or the front seat just in case anyone gets car sick.

December

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December was a WHIRLWIND! We decorated the house for Christmas (by we I mean Eric), put up the Christmas tree, and celebrated St. Nicholas Day with stockings and small gifts. We had playdates with friends and we surprised the girls with a fun family outing by going to see ICE! at the Gaylord. They loved the Rudolph theme and had a lot of fun right up until the end – when Genevieve decided the cold was NOT for her. I was able to sneak out for a brunch with some friends from my Core team member days – it was a lovely morning eating good food and talking with wonderful women. We went to Richardson’s Santa’s Village with our friends Juliet and Amelia and while it’s fun sharing a tradition that I grew up with – I’ll be honest in saying the lines are not my favorite thing. I delved into the Blessed is She Advent study journal for my own personal reflection this season and we had our annual supper club ornament exchange and decorated cookies with our kiddos. I celebrated my 30th birthday with one of my best friends, Eric went on his annual silent retreat, and I saw Phantom of the Opera courtesy of Dallas Summer Musicals and Dallas Moms Blog. We celebrated Christmas in Dallas this year. Christmas day was wonderful and the girls were surprisingly gracious and patient while opening presents. The week between Christmas and New Years was spent just relaxing at home as a family. I spent some time goal setting through my third set of PowerSheets and we closed out 2018 with our annual tradition of having a low key night at home – ringing in the new year eating appetizers, drinking champagne, and playing board games.

2018, you were filled to the absolute brim. I am looking forward to 2019 still being busy, but hopefully slower paced in many ways. This next year holds a lot of change and transition for our family but I know that we will be better for it in the long run. Here’s to a new year and all of the magical possibilities that it holds!

Summer Camp at Home Recap

Towards the end of the school year last year I was talking with various mom friends about summer plans. Trips to be taken, pools to be splashed in, and camps to attend. I quickly realized that I hadn’t even thought about summer camps for my kiddos. By the time I started looking, most of our local day camps were full or past the early registrant discounts. So I took a deep breath (realizing that a summer home with my kiddos full full FULL time wasn’t going to be all that bad) and rolled up my sleeves to create a plan to save my sanity and add some structured yet fun activities to our days. I wrote about our flexible curriculum outline over at Dallas Moms Blog and guess what? We had a fantastic summer.IMG_4273Now our summer wasn’t all pool trips and exotic vacation – we had some significant trips planned as well as plans to move into a new house! But I knew that between packing and shifting our normal routines – we needed some predictable fun in our days. As a former elementary (with a short stint in preschool as well!) teacher it was actually pretty fun to plan out all of the units and research activities and crafts to do. I felt like I was really getting to dive into the fun side of education that I hadn’t experienced in quite a while and it was fun to show my kids my teacher side.

Now that school has started again and I have had to reflect on our summer I wanted to share the top five lessons I learned during our Summer Camp at Home days over the past few months.

  1. Planning out everything with the big picture in mind way KEY.
    I formulated a plan for 12 weeks over the summer, collected ideas, and made resource lists to be well prepared. I didn’t buy everything I needed or prep materials right away – that way if we missed a week (or three as it turned out – between our family vacation and house move!) I wouldn’t kick myself for buying supplies we didn’t end up using in the end. But having the master plan in mind gave me something to always fall back on.
  2. Finding age appropriate activities and crafts can be tough!
    Currently our girls are 4 and 2 and finding age appropriate activities that they could participate and engage actively in together was HARD. My 4 year old is very into science experiments and intricate art projects while my 2 year old was much more into hands-on activity games and process art. Thankfully we were usually able to find middle ground with most of our activities.  However, it was hard those first few weeks trying to figure out how to modify projects so that they both could enjoy at the same time.
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  3. The library is a glorious place to be in the afternoon!
    I feel like I have been pretty much bound to a morning schedule the past 4 years or so. Both of our girls do much better on outings and activities in the morning but it was tough to find a time to go to the library during a weekday morning that wasn’t crowded with story time goers or didn’t conflict with something else on our calendar. One week I just decided to go on a Monday afternoon and that became our summer routine! Barely anyone was at the library during the hot afternoon hours and my girls enjoyed getting to browse through the books uninterrupted. I wasn’t panicked losing them in a sea of kids and I felt like the staff was also more relaxed by the time afternoon rolled around. I also felt like I could keep our visit shorter than a morning trip but still leave feeling fulfilled.
  1. Hats off to the homeschooling mamas.
    We have several friends and some family members who are pursuing homeschooling. I have a lot of thoughts and feelings on homeschooling but I’m not really sure how or when to share them (or if I want to post about them in this format). All of that to say – I really, really enjoyed our learning experiences and adventures at home AND I was also really, really, really tired. I’m not entirely sure that personality wise if homeschooling will be the route we go but I am seriously impressed with all the moms (and dads!) out there who pursue homeschooling for their families. It is a vocation in every sense of the word and you guys are rockstars.
  1. I would do it again.
    All in all – meltdowns, unpreparedness, activity mishaps, not to mention everything related to pregnancy, moving, and packing – I would still do it again and have already had thoughts about next summer. It was really fun and a special experience to dig in deep with my kids and it helped to have structure in our days. We were left with a lot of fun memories and crafts and my kids were ultimately happy which is what matters the most. One a side note: we decided to not sign up our kiddos for Religious Education at our church this year and I have already started working on some RE at home lesson plans that I am really excited about!IMG_4429If you missed my original post for Dallas Moms Blog be sure to check it out. Let me know if you joined in on the Summer Camp at Home fun – I would love to hear about your experiences! I know that at home art projects and activities is everyone’s parental cup of tea but I really encourage you to try and connect with your children somehow through learning – whether that be taking a class together, reading thematic books from the library, or tackling an art project. Learning adventures together are truly a bonding experience!

 

hello again.

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Why hello there…I feel like I have done many a blog post like this before. The type of post where you go months and months (or maybe like a year, but who is counting) without writing and then… you suddenly have the creative urge to pursue your passions and do all the things again! Well here I am, doing one of these blog posts yet again.

Life has been busy. Full of excitement, babies, changes, transitions, but we are living it and loving it and we couldn’t ask for more. I could use all of our life happenings as an excuse for my lack of writing but really I think the root cause of my absence has to do with the evil temptation for self comparison. I love writing. I love sharing. I love creating. But who doesn’t love those things and honestly who ISN’T doing those things right now? More aptly – who isn’t doing those things BETTER than me? These are the thoughts that have been plaguing my mind over the past several months and keeping me from this space.

Well, then something happened. Back in February I applied to become a monthly contributor for our local city moms blog and lo and behold… they accepted my application. I did it on a whim not expecting to be accepted but to just try and put myself out there and see if this outlet of creativity is truly something I’m decent enough at that I should pursue. I have been loving my opportunities with this new venue and have adored getting back into the creative practice of writing and producing.

Along with this opportunity I have realized my desire to keep writing, keep sharing, and continue putting myself out there in this space. I hope you’ll join me. I can’t promise amazing consistency or daily posts. But I can promise that when I do post – my heart will be in it and not my tendency toward the negative and comparative. I’ve missed this space in my life and I’m so happy to be back.  

5 Tips to Jumpstart your Meal Planning Goals

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Well here we are, already sitting pretty in the middle of January. I hope that your resolutions/goals/intentions/whatever you have chosen to improve or maintain in your life are well underway and you are feeling some sort of positive energy in your life with this new year.

We celebrated hard over the holidays and enjoyed indulging in pretty much every single one of our food and beverage vices. We were down in New Orleans for the majority of the holiday break and I’m pretty sure that we left that city being on a first name basis with the local Cafe du Monde. We also ventured out for my birthday over the holidays and ate our fill at The Palace Cafe and sipped on sazeracs at the Carousel Bar. Needless to say, we needed a bit of a fresh, clean start upon our arrival back in Dallas post-holiday gluttony.

We typically eat pretty healthy in our house and are all about integrating healthy foods into every meal but also being mindful of occasional treats in our diet. We definitely love our sweets and cocktails and think that finding ways to moderate these goodies makes for a more balanced food-life.

One way that I have been able to find that happy medium in our family is by sitting down weekly and thinking through our meal plan and grocery list. I realize this isn’t a novel idea, but it took me a few years into our marriage to figure out how to meal plan for our family unit. I love reading blog posts about habits and how other people find their groove in various daily routines and seemingly mundane tasks. So I thought I would share one of ours with y’all in the hopes that it might inspire you to take control of how you and your family look at food in this new year!

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  1. Make a date with your meal plan: this has been the biggest influence in getting a weekly meal plan together for our family. I remember when my husband and I first got married and I would go to the grocery store and essentially pick up whatever looked good at the time with no real game plan in mind. We were both busy starting our careers and weren’t really dedicating any time to meal planning in our life. What ended up happening was a lot of frustrating dinners, confusion on who was cooking on what night, overspending on groceries and food waste. It wasn’t until I had my first daughter and decided to primarily stay home that I began to schedule grocery trips and make meal plans. I would typically sit down with my weekly calendar during her morning nap on Monday and then do a big grocery haul early in the week. I was still working through overspending and food waste but having a game plan for what meals were shopped for helped TREMENDOUSLY. Now I typically make a date on Sunday mornings with my planner, a few cookbooks, and some of the weekly grocery store adds to formulate my plan. If I’m really on top of things I will run to the store (sans children!) during the girls nap time in the afternoon and that way we can start the week off on the right foot. Designating that chunk of time on Sunday mornings JUST for food planning and recipe searching has become a such a happy little ritual in my week that I so look forward to and I really challenge you to find a time in your week to sit down and do the same.
  2. Slow Cooker Sundays: This was something that I started last year in effort to make our Sunday evenings a little less crazy. My husband and I are both part of the worship band for the youth Mass at our church and that means that our family goes to mass rather late in the day and we are gone for the majority of the afternoon post nap time. I found that throwing something in the slow cooker and making a simple side earlier in the day on Sundays helped the crazy transition that was packing up instruments/loading everyone in the car/coming home/making dinner/feeding grumpy hangry people/bedtime/etc. Now we come home, dish out everyone’s dinner, sit, enjoy, put kids in bed. Simpler and way less hectic. Also, planning to use my slow cooker on Sundays helps in my meal planning dates that happen on Sundays because I know there will be minimal effort involved when it comes to dinner that day/evening.
  3. One new recipe a week: I would gladly try out and test a new recipe every. single. day. But unfortunately that makes for a whole lot of leftovers and not a whole lot of consistency in our meal plan (also again with the overspending and eventual food waste). I’ve limited myself to only trying out one new recipe a week. Now I realize that for some trying a new recipe every week may seem daunting if cooking is not your thing but it is a really great practice to add more variety to your family’s meals. If once a week sounds like too much try once a month! It is so worth it for your sanity and not getting into a food rut in the kitchen.
  4. Share it! Send it! Post it! Write it down!: Over the past year I’ve been sharing my meal plans on Instagram. I’ve found that sharing publicly our menu for the week has been a great motivator to eat healthy and try new things. I’ve also had a meal plan on our fridge or big chalkboard in the kitchen. Even if you aren’t sharing out through social media – sharing within your home, with your family can be a great accountability tool to get a meal plan done.
  5. Find your food bibles: I have 3-4 cookbooks and a handful of food blogs that I go back to for regularly rotated recipes. When I sit down for my weekly meal plan date I grab these books and flip through the pages, especially the beloved dog eared ones and if I am feeling uninspired odds are by looking through these books I will find something to spark my taste buds interest. I have also made a Pinterest board for recipes I’ve actually tried and LIKED. I have a gigantic board of random food recipes that I get inspiration from (called foodie) but when I try one of those recipes and like it, it gets moved to the “tried and liked” board to ensure that it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.

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I will also flip through the grocery circulars every week to see what is in season/on sale and if I have a coupon for a great deal I might meal plan around that – my two year old daughter also likes flipping through these ads with me and if there is something that she sees that is within reason to buy that week I’ll add it to the list. I would definitely like to streamline our process a bit more and really enjoyed reading Kelsey’s post on her grocery shopping spreadsheet that she has created to make meal planning and food prep a bit easier on her sanity. Maybe one day I can I hope that these few tips and tricks that I have picked up thus far in my home cooking journey can be helpful to you. Especially if meal planning and food prep are some of your new years goals!

Happy eating!

 

Releasing 2017

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Happy New Year!

I was chatting with a friend the other night, reflecting over the past year and I couldn’t believe how much life was wrapped up in 2016 and how FAST everything happened. But I, along with so many others, am ready for a fresh start. Now I am not saying that this past year was significantly bad in any way, we had a whole lot of good come from 2016 (new job opportunities and a brand new sweet baby are at the top of the list) but there have been a handful of moments that have left me feeling a little tired and worn. There has been growth from those moments though, the rough patches are behind the motivation for a better new year ahead and I know that there is light to be found in the next 365 days.

I’ve picked another word to focus on for the upcoming year (here are my past words for 2014, 2015, and 2016) and that word is RELEASE. While I was listing out all of my grand plans for the year ahead (using this awesome tool to goal plan this year and really pleased with the inspiration it has given me thus far) the phrase “let it go” and the word release kept popping up in what I was writing. So I took that as a sign to really delve into that word and how it can change me over the course of this year.

I feel like I have been stuck in this rut for the past few years where I wasted a lot of time and energy on my insecurities and self-consciousness. Always wondering what people think of me or how I may be (or most likely not) being judged. Let it go. 

There are commitments in my life that I’m not sure are giving me fulfillment in the best ways possible. Adding more frustration and taking away precious time that could be spent elsewhere in my life. Let it go. 

Before the holidays I was finding myself getting aggravated with my children more often than not and over the tiniest of tiny things. Not appreciating my time spent with them and feeling burned out and ungrateful. Let it go.

I am really hard on myself. High standards are good but constantly nit-picking and over analyzing is again, something that is eating up at my time that I could be using for more important and creative endeavors. Let it go. 

I feel like it’s time to release myself from the weight of these worries, fears, and uncertainty. I’m ready to become more comfortable with this person I’m turning into as I get older. I’m ready to discover some new things about myself (good and bad) and to appreciate what God is calling me to in this life no matter how big or little that calling may be. I’m ready to get rid of some baggage, give my soul a good deep clean, and start living a brighter life filled with light and love. These changes won’t take place over the first few weeks of the new year. I can’t check them off my to do list immediately. Which I suppose is good because I want to accept the process of change and challenging oneself as more of a lifestyle change rather than a definitive resolution with an end goal.

So here we go 2017, I hope by this time next year my life looks a bit cleaner – less of the unnecessary, more of that good stuff.

I hope you all are having a motivated start to your new year!

FOOD | vanilla bean shortbread cookies

Something I have always enjoyed is cooking with kids. In my high school babysitting days and college nannying days I loved nothing more than whipping up a batch of brownies or decorating some cookies with the kiddos in my care. It was a fun, non-screen centered activity where we could chit chat about life and enjoy a sweet treat together. I’ve always known that baking and cooking would be something that I would want to do with my own kids some day. A few weeks ago I introduced my two year old to the wonderful world that is creating in the kitchen and it. was. AWESOME. We baked my back pocket banana bread muffins and she was so engaged and so excited the entire time. It made my mama heart explode with absolute joy.

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On labor day we were planning on going to a friend’s cookout later in the day and I wanted to bring something to share for dessert that wasn’t too heavy and easy to snack on. I found this vanilla shortbread cookie recipe and they seemed like the perfect addition to our festivities. Only being a handful of ingredients was also helpful because the fewer the ingredients = the easier the recipe is to whip up with my new tiny little sous chef. I ended up modifying the recipe a tad – using my beloved vanilla bean paste vs. vanilla extract and adding some nutmeg as well as a bit of almond extract.

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These cookies are definitely becoming a dessert staple around our house. Everyone loves them and they are so easy to make + so easy to eat.

Vanilla Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients: 

  • 2 sticks of softened salted butter
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste (I swear by this brand)
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 cups all purpose flour

Instructions: 

  1. Soften butter in the microwave for about 30 seconds. You don’t want it to be completely melted. Just soft enough to mix it easily with a hand mixer/stand mixer.
  2. Add vanilla bean paste + almond extract + nutmeg and combine with butter.
  3. Add powdered sugar and completely combine until smooth.
  4. Add flour 1/2 cup at a time until completely combined and smooth.
  5. Chill cookie dough in fridge for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Once cookie dough is chilled scoop onto a lined cookie sheet about 1.5-2 inches apart, then flatten dough until 1/2 inch thick
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 11 minutes – right before edges start to get golden brown. Let cool completely and then transfer to a cooling rack.

Happy eating!

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well, hello.

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It’s been a while hasn’t it?

The past six months have thrown me for a serious loop and this little space has been pretty neglected. Between being super pregnant, having a baby, traveling for a family wedding, hosting family for this sweet new baby’s baptism, capping the summer off with yet another road trip to see family and oh yeah and you know…getting used to having two kids and being a family of four – this summer has been way crazier than I expected.

So let’s catch up a bit.

First things first since I last blogged… I had a baby! Her birth can best be described as a truly healing experience. Aside from being overdue by a week + a few days – my pregnancy, labor, and delivery were all healthy, normal, and great which is all I could ever really ask for. I can only hope that any other kiddos we might have will come into the world in such a calm/non-traumatizing way! Since having our sweet little Genevieve, she have proven herself to be the most smiliest little babe I have ever met and much chunkier than her sister ever was as a baby. I could seriously eat all of her arm rolls.

So we had a baby and a bunch of family in town to meet her new sweet self. What was next… we traveled down to NOLA for a two week visit where we saw friends, relaxed, and married off my brother-in-law. It was a great wedding and considering we were almost all involved (Eric = best man, M = flower girl, me = bridesmaid) I was pleasantly surprised with how smoothly things ran for our family that day. It really could not have been done without the help of a couple really great friends who flew down for the wedding weekend to help out with the kids. Friends that travel just to hang out with your kids while you get to be involved in wedding stuff? Theeee best.

Then we came back to Dallas and prepped for G’s baptism! Our NOLA family came up to us, as well as my sister and her husband and we had a nice little weekend celebrating the newest Catholic in our family. I felt like after this event we really started our summer and somewhat “new normal” as a family of four. Up to this point we had been in and out of town and in and out of the hospital having a baby. M took swimming lessons for the second year in a row, we attended our local library’s toddler story time with a friend and we enjoyed some seriously lazy days watching the Olympics and figuring out our new family dynamic (side note: I should say we are STILL trying to figure it out. It’s definitely a daily process, but so far so good).

Now it’s September. This month is actually our busiest month yet this year. We are celebrating THREE weddings within the next two weeks, I am helping host a baby shower, and we have family coming in town the rest of the month. It is sure to be a busy beautiful time!

I have slowly but surely making my way back into the kitchen. As we were after Madeline’s birth – we were blessed with fantastic family and friends who cooked for us after G was brought home. I’m finally feeling up to meal planning, cooking, and creating new yummy things for my family to eat and I hope to throw up some new recipes soon.

I’ve been missing this space so much. I so wish I could figure out a consistent posting routine and make this creative outlet a bigger part of my life. Until I do, enjoy the random post here and there and happy eating!

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(images via Little Flower Studio

 

FOOD | Freezer Meal: Mini Breakfast Burritos

Well, I finally think that some sort of nesting bug has hit me. With my first pregnancy I felt like I started the whole nesting business at twenty weeks. This time around my depleted energy levels and daily workout consisting of chasing around a very rambunctious toddler has gotten the best of me and I have had NO desire to ready our home for a new baby who is due to make her arrival at the end of April or beginning of May.

This week I had a freezer meal swap with some mamas from my bootcamp group. This is the second time I have participated in this swap and I was really satisfied with the variety and abundance of meals we got last time. We were able to parse out last round’s meals so that they lasted until last month and it was always a welcome reprieve from the regular dinner grind when I pulled out one of those delicious, pre-prepared meals, made with love from my freezer. So I knew that I wanted to be a part of another swap – especially with the impending arrival of this sweet sister! Even though I know we will be gifted with meals and provided for in other ways I feel I need my freezer stocked and ready to go so my little family doesn’t have a night of empty bellies.

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When I was preparing for Miss M’s arrival almost two years ago (!?!?) I spend the entirety of my Spring Break to stock out freezer full with a variety of meals that would be easy for my husband to pop in the oven or microwave without having to use much brain function. I knew that most likely we would both be surviving on very little sleep and that making things as easy as possible before baby was key. Making all of those meals though… it took a lot of time, energy, multiple trips to the grocery store… you get the idea. With this freezer meal swap I have been a part of we all make a certain number of one meal and then trade off dishes as well as exchanging recipes. It is such a fun thing to be involved in and if you haven’t ever taken part in such an exchange I would highly recommend it! You get a freezer full of new and interesting meal ideas that you may not have thought of yourself AND you didn’t have to go out and buy all of the different individual ingredients.

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This month I made breakfast burritos. If I’m being completely honest they were a selfish choice for me to make since I knew I would want a stash in my freezer when baby comes!  They ended up being a huge hit and I fully intend on making more once our current supply runs out. I could see these being a great quick breakfast/snack to have on hand especially when I will only have one hand to eat while feeding a newborn. (Also, just wanted to apologize for the poor quality of pictures. I honestly wasn’t planning on posting this recipe but it was such a success that I wanted to document it and keep it in mind for future reference!:)

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Freezer Meal: Mini Breakfast Burritos

Ingredients: 

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 lb mild breakfast sausage
  • 1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 large russet potato skinned and diced OR half a small bag (~8 oz) of microwaveable hash browns
  • 1 pack of fajita sized flour tortillas
  • salt/pepper/any other seasonings to taste

Instructions: 

1. Scramble eggs until fully cooked through then put into a large mixing bowl to cool.
2. Cook breakfast sausage – breaking apart with spatula into true tiniest pieces that you can while cooking. Put in same bowl as eggs and mix together – setting aside to cool again.
3. Potatoes: you can either skin and dice a russet potato to boil/cook through on the stove or you can get a bag of microwaveable hash browns and use that as your potato component. Again, add to mixing bowl and let cool.
4. Once all of your warm ingredients have completely cooled add shredded cheese to that mixture.
5. Put one large heaping spoonful into the middle of a tortilla and roll up like a burrito!
6. Wrap each burrito in foil and freeze (can be frozen for 6-8 weeks.
7. To reheat – remove foil completely, wrap desired amount of burritos in a damp paper towel and microwave in 30 second increments until desired temperature is reached.

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With the mini burrito style I would say one burrito is a serving size for a kiddo and two for an adult.

Happy eating!

FOOD | Cowboy Corn (Elotes)

I first had elotes (Mexican street corn) a few years ago from a food truck in Dallas post brewery tour with friends. I remember a friend telling me that they were the best thing on the menu and had to be ordered no matter what else I was eating. Not one to pass up a stellar recommendation like that, I ordered them immediately and that was the day that I experienced love at first bite.

I have since attempted recreating this magical mix of flavors and creamy goodness in my own kitchen but have always come up short or have the forethought to actually write down my recipe. Until, now! About a month ago we had a friend come and stay with us while in town for a job interview. I decided to make tacos one night and was coming up with nothing for a side except chips + salsa + guac and then it dawned on me…why not try my hand at elotes again? This particular friend actually has quite a few food allergies so I needed to get more creative than usual in the kitchen. It ended up working in my favor because his allergies challenged me to avoid certain ingredients and depend on others I would never have thought of…in the end? The perfect balance of flavor + creaminess + quick cooking that I so desired in an at home version of Mexican street corn.

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Cowboy Corn (Mexican Street Corn/Elotes) 

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cans whole kernel corn – drained
  • 6 strips cooked and crumbled bacon + leftover bacon grease
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • half yellow onion chopped
  • 2 tbsp garlic
  • 1 tbsp taco seasoning
  • few shakes of chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions: 

  1. Cook bacon over medium heat in cast iron skillet until crispy. Remove once completely cooked, pat excess grease off with a paper towel, crumble/chop and set aside.
  2. Lower heat just a bit and add flour to bacon grease. Use a whisk to combine the two ingredients – and let it cook for a bit to thicken up (like a quick roux).
  3. Add chopped onion to skillet and cook until clear.
  4. Add corn to skillet, spread into a thin layer in pan so that you can crisp up each little kernel. What you’re looking for are some darker little charred marks on your kernels of corn.
  5. Add garlic to skillet – continue cooking for another 1-2 minutes and then add olive oil.
  6. Add seasonings, set heat to low and continue cooking for an additional 10 minutes – stirring occasionally.
  7.  Spoon out servings and top with cilantro, queso fresco, or more chili powder to your liking!

Happy eating!

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