FOOD | Nutella Cinnamon Rolls

I feel like any introduction I write to this post will be completely ignored in order for you to scroll down faster towards the recipe (and rightly so! Nutella is not to be ignored!). This has continued to be one of those simple + easy + constantly hitting it out of the park recipes that I turn to time and time again. I make these cinnamon rolls for brunches, play dates, and last week I made them for a staff breakfast at school. Everyone always loves them and I never have leftovers after making these scrumptious little bites (which can be viewed as both a good thing and a bad thing). I honestly feel a little bad that I haven’t thrown this recipe up on the blog sooner because it’s just that good. I promise that you will not be disappointed and those you make these sweet treats for will leave with satisfied, chocolate-filled tummies. So I won’t continue to bore you while I wax poetic about my love of buttery bread and melted, gooey, hazelnut chocolate and we can just get on with the show.

IMG_3851

Nutella Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients: 

  • 2  cans of refrigerated crescent roll dough (I use Pillsbury Original)
  • roughly 1/2 c. of Nutella (reserve about 2 tbsp for drizzling)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp all spice
  • powdered sugar to garnish

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees (following the oven temperature on the cans of dough).
  2. In the microwave soften Nutella until it is almost runny – I usually pop it in for 10-15 second intervals until I get the consistency I desire.
  3. Spread out crescent roll dough on a lightly floured surface and press together seams of crescent roll triangles to make one connected piece of dough (I know Pillsbury made an un-seamed crescent roll dough for a while but I haven’t seen it in a while – this would be perfect for that!)
  4. Using the back of spoon spread out Nutella on crescent roll dough to make a thin layer. I’m always tempted to over do it and really lay that Nutella on thick but this is a case where less is more and makes it easier to roll up later on.
  5. Dust cinnamon and all spice over Nutella evenly.
  6. Roll up crescent roll dough length wise and cut into 1/2 inch pieces. I can usually get about 12 little cinnamon rolls per long roll of crescent dough.
  7. Space cinnamon rolls 1/2 inch apart on a lined baking sheet (either using a Silpat or parchment paper) and bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees.
  8. Take out, let cool a bit, drizzle with remaining nutella and dust with cinnamon.

I have also made a vanilla glaze using confectioner’s/powdered sugar + milk + vanilla and drizzled that over the top of these rolls… I find that it makes it a little too sweet for my liking but it was still pretty good! I mean, you really can’t go wrong with carbs + chocolate in breakfast form, right?!

IMG_3854

Happy eating!

Advertisements

READ | Head & Heart {book review + giveaway!}

IMG_7302

Lately, with the holidays and a toddler who sleeps consistently (finally!) time has allowed me to dive into a few good reads. It’s a part of my 2016 goals to try and attempt finishing one book a month which I think is an attainable – depending on the book. I have been gathering a nice long list over the past few months of recommendations from friends, other blogs, and stories that have caught my eye while sifting through the shelves at local book stores and libraries. A few months ago, I saw a title a floating around a few Catholic circles I’m involved in that sparked my interest. I was lucky enough to be given a copy of this (really awesome, but we’ll get to the review in a second) book to read and share about in the hopes that it can give you the same inspiration it has given me.

Let me start this post off by saying that I have always been a fan the non-fiction, self-help book genre (which may explain my degree in psychology). I’ve always loved learning practical steps that I can apply in the daily practices of my own life that will hopefully lead me to becoming a better person. I love reading books that leave me inspired, refreshed, and ready for a change whether that be big or small. The Head and Heart is a practical spiritual guide written by Katie Warner that is filled with concrete steps that I can easily add to my daily practices.

An area in my life that has been lacking lately is major spiritual growth in my relationship with my husband. Sure, day to day we pray for each other when there is something big going on in the others life and when we remember (or stay awake long enough) we pray with each other before falling asleep at night. These are all really great things and I’m sure more than some couples do on a regular basis – however, for us it seems like we are meeting the bare minimum requirements of a couple’s prayer life together. We aren’t necessarily finding challenging ways or new innovative ways to pray with and for each other so we haven’t been seeing a very drastic change in our spiritual life together.

In comes this book. It really was delivered into my hands at the perfect time – right around the time I was having this realization that our prayer life was dwindling and right before my husband went on his annual silent retreat. I was able to read the book before he left for his few prayer filled days and he was able to read it while on retreat. We have both come away after reading this book with a refreshed sense of what we both need and desire to do for the spiritual growth needed in our marriage.

I think what I loved most about this book was that it broke down the spiritual roles of men and women in relationships so concretely and specifically; explaining why females and males are drawn to providing spiritually in certain ways. It can be tough being an active practicing Catholic today’s culture. Especially as a woman, when I feel like the media and the world is shouting at us to be independent to the point of shutting ourselves off from any help, even more so when that help is provided by a man. But as a woman I have always felt the need to be spiritually lead. I have a hard time keeping tabs on my own prayer life and need the reminder of another human person to keep me accountable. I’ve always felt a little self conscious about this personality trait of mine until reading this book when I realized that craving spiritual leadership and guidance from my husband is natural, normal, completely acceptable!

Another tidbit from the book that I think both Eric and myself benefitted from was the reminder it provided that prayer doesn’t have to be this beautifully eloquent production in order to be worthwhile. I have always thought that if I don’t journal at the end of the day or make time for some lengthy form of prayer every day that somehow my small and constant conversation with God throughout the day didn’t count. Often times the fear of providing inadequate prayer for my spouse is what keeps me from praying out loud with him – when I just need to remember that anything, no matter if it is a single Hail Mary or a sleepy ramble of intentions at the end of the day, is a beautiful and decent prayer in the eyes of God.

I thought it was only fair that the husband had a chance to share his thoughts on the book in case you are interested in a guy’s perspective (or if you are met with some resistance from your spouse about this book – maybe an alternate viewpoint might help;):

I have never really been drawn to self-help type books, usually preferring fiction, or non-fiction that educates me about the world around me – but as its title hints, Head and Heart really does have something for everyone.  The way the complementary roles of husbands and wives were described really resonated with me – and kept me reading with an open mind to learn something new about myself, and my marriage.

A standout feature of the book is twofold – the author suggests, and even insists that you don’t try everything in the book at once, and each area has tiered options for improvement, based on your current proficiency or comfort in that area.  I was able to pick and choose the pieces that were relevant and at my level, without feeling the need to follow a one size fits all path all the way through the book, which really helped me act on the content in a meaningful way.

This book would be a fantastic addition to anyone’s Lent plans this year or a great Valentine’s present to give to your spouse and work through together! I really cannot recommend it enough. It’s a book that has brought some much needed inspiration to our life as a couple and I hope that it can do the same for you!

If you want to win your own free copy of this book leave a comment below and a winner will be picked next Thursday February 4th. Happy reading!

**CONGRATS SHARON! I will be contacting you about your free copy! (: **

 

FOOD | Slow Cooker Quinoa Enchilada Casserole

One of my goals in this new year is to use our slow cooker more on Sundays. We have always had a pretty hectic evening routine on this particular day of the week because my husband and I both participate as band members for the youth mass at our parish. While this has been a part of our Sunday norm for almost nine years now we haven’t ever really had a regular Sunday night supper tradition.

In college, when it was just me singing at mass and going to the weekly Newman Catholic Ministry meetings on campus – pizza satiated my appetite on a regular basis. Then as a young working and engaged couple my husband and I both volunteered as Core members with our parish LifeTeen ministry so we always ate what the teens ate after mass. Then we got married and continued volunteering and it wasn’t until having a child of our own, and giving up other commitments after mass that I realized that we hadn’t established a Sunday meal ritual as a family. I also didn’t realize how important that was to me as a mother. I don’t want to give up our time singing and worshiping on Sunday evenings but I also want to provide a warm, delicious meal for my family to gather around as we begin a new week together.

Now here’s the kicker…after rehearsing songs, attending mass, cleaning up sound equipment, chatting with friends, etc. by the time we make it home it’s really hard to get the meal of my dreams on the table without someone getting hangry in our family (usually it’s a toss up between me and the toddler)…so in comes the wonderful, magical, fantastic invention that is the slow cooker. It’s a kitchen tool I use so often, yet I feel like I’m seeing it in a new light ever since mentally committing to making an effort toward Sunday night dinners. Seriously, it’s such a beautiful thing to be able to toss some ingredients together earlier in the day, give it a little stir, and then that evening be the domestic goddess I have always dreamed of being by serving my family a yummy meal. If I wore an apron and matching oven mitts while plating everyone’s food then I would really be achieving some major goals.

A few weeks ago we tried this fun little enchilada casserole/bake in the crockpot. I was inspired by this recipe that I initially found while browsing the wonderful world that is Pinterest. I really liked the idea of mixing it up a bit by using quinoa instead of rice when cooking a Mexican dish. I honestly was a little nervous to see how it would turn out or be received by the rest of my family but I can now say that the quinoa cooked perfectly and the recipe was an all around winner with both my husband and my toddler! We also had leftovers for dayssss so plan accordingly.

IMG_7150

Slow Cooker Quinoa Enchilada Casserole
Adapted from Bobbi’s Kozy Kitchen – Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Quinoa

Ingredients: 

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed (I used Trader Joe’s Organic White Quinoa)
  • 1 15 oz. can of fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 cup frozen corn (I used Trader Joe’s Roasted Frozen corn and it added some really good flavor!)
  • 1 15 oz. can of black beans – drained and rinsed
  • 2 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 chopped medium yellow onion
  • 1 chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 16 oz. jar of mild salsa (if it were up to me I would have amped up the spice a bit – but tried to keep this as toddler friendly as possible)
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 cups Mexican Cheese blend divided (1 cup will be mixed in and leaving 1/2 cup for topping later)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro for garnish (optional – we opted out this time around and instead used up some halved cherry tomatoes!)

Instructions

  • Brown ground beef in a skillet until completely cooked through. Add ground beef and remaining fat in skillet to slow cooker.
  • Add the following ingredients to the slow cooker: quinoa, fire roasted tomatoes, frozen corn, black beans, garlic, yellow onion, green bell pepper, water, and salsa. Stir until completely combined.
  • Add spices: chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper to taste – mix once again until well combined.
  • Add 1 cup of Mexican Cheese blend and mix until completely combined.
  • Put lid on slow cooker and cook on low for 3 hours until liquid is absorbed.
  • Then stir casserole one more time to ensure there’s no liquid on the bottom of the slow cooker and to fluff the quinoa. Top with remaining cheese and put lid back on slow cooker for about 10 minutes or until ready to serve.
  • Plate by topping with cilantro for garnish.
  • This casserole can be eaten by itself or served with tortilla chips for dipping. It’s also really great the next day spread over a flour tortilla and cooked as a quesadilla!

Happy eating!

IMG_7151

Creating 2016

12304023_2545653810869_998843570086798349_o

For the past two years I have chosen a word that would ultimately act as a theme or motivator in this next new year of life. In 2014, I chose the word trust. Which turned out to be pretty apt for that year since we welcomed our first daughter into the world and I completely changed my current career path from being a full time public school teacher, to stay at home mom, to part time teacher. Then in 2015, I decided to simplify. With the purchase of our house this past January I felt the need to purge (and still do) and start fresh. I also really wanted to focus on saying no to every single social event (even though I still want to do this all of the time;) and really figuring out how our family unit could thrive in our new community.

So, continuing on with tradition I wanted to pick a word for this bright and shiny 2016. I kept bouncing back and forth between two words and decided that both might come in handy over the next 366 days. I also decided to set some actual goals for this year! I’ve never been one to make resolutions because I hate not crossing things off my to-do list and would rather not feel like I’ve let myself down at the end of the year in the case that I don’t fulfill a certain resolution. But goals and intentions I can do. Hopefully this will all help me to be better organized in my thinking over the course of this year and keep me motivated to continue the journey of bettering myself for my family and friends.

Without further ado, the two words I have chosen for this year are: create + cultivate. I think I should also throw in the word survive because this year we will be welcome our SECOND daughter into the world and I think that there will probably be a good few months that are solely dependent on copious amounts of coffee and a hefty dose of prayer. But anyway, I landed on these two words because last year I felt like even though we did simplify in a lot of ways – I didn’t really get a chance to dig deep into creative endeavors and relationships I wanted to see grow. I let this blog go by the wayside in so many ways and it really is a space I enjoy. I feel like I would enjoy it even more if I actually dedicated regular time to it, rather than just ignoring it for months on end only to pop up every once in a while with an apology for an unintentional hiatus. I also really love cooking and sewing and both of those hobbies haven’t really been cultivated in the ways I have been hoping for lately. Again, time and dedication are going to have to be something I implement in my calendar in order to achieve the goals I want but I think that’s doable. There have also been some new friendships made over the past couple years that deserve time and attention, and again the cultivation poured into them that I just haven’t been lately.

Now as for goals, after deciding on these words I was able to sit down after the start of the new year and break down certain areas of my life I really want to see improve. My planner has a nice little space right in the front that I was able to brainstorm in and write down all of these lofty ideas. I hope to refer to them monthly and make smaller more attainable goals from there. I think a problem I have had in the past with resolutions/yearly planning is that I have always had these huge ideas in my head and then haven’t taken the smaller steps monthly, weekly, and daily to achieve them. Some of these goals are things I’ve just needed to write down to keep myself more accountable, for example: I want to make going to confession a monthly event. In college I was so eager to get to confession as often as I could. I was a part of a very involved student ministry and felt so supported and encouraged all the time to go. Then I started working and became a real deal grown up. I got bogged down in the day to day of going to work, fostering friendships with coworkers, and helping my students in anyway that I could that I forgot to help myself. Then I became a mom which blew any sort of regularity out of the water. Some of the other goals I have are a bit more practical like really taking the time to meal plan every week, making the most out of our Costco membership, and buy smarter when it comes to clothes and accessories. Then there are the fun/silly goals (which I think the Costco membership one could be filed under this as well;) like creating more at-home date nights with my husband, making more constructive activities for my toddler and I to do together, and reading at least one book a month.

I’m so excited to fill this year up. I already know it’s going to be a full one but I think it’s going to be even more so just knowing all I want to achieve.

Happy 2016 y’all!

 

2015 inventory

Watch out people, I’m about to sound the most cliche…but 2015 flew by, right!? I feel like I just sat down to recap 2014! The sentimental sap in me is already a bit sad that 2016 is already on it’s sixth day of the new year. Entirely too fast! Time, slow down! I demand it!

I thought I should go ahead and sum up this past year before I can be found warming myself in the summer sun and really having a moment coming to terms with how quickly these days and months of life are passing me by.

January

2015-01-22

Well needless to say we started the year off with a bang + a BIG purchase. On the 22nd we closed on our FIRST HOUSE. After a very long and unexpected home buying process (we were under contract from Thanksgiving until the signing day…so roughly two months!) we were more than happy to end the chapter of our lives that was hunting for and buying our first home. We took this picture after leaving the office of our title company. Relief + joy are written allllll over those faces.

February 

IMG_1301

This month was filled with painting our new home, packing boxes upon boxes, and finally MOVING (picture taken from our moving day). February brought us the new opportunities of home ownership along with some snow days and many a play date with friends.

March

IMG_1992

March was the month of celebrations! Our calendar was pretty packed with a first birthday party of a little friend, my dad’s birthday, a couples shower for my sister + trip down to Houston (photo above is of that delicious crawfish spread), a bridal shower for a college friend, and a housewarming party for our new home. So many happy moments and opportunities to celebrate and if you know us we never turn down the opportunity to celebrate!

April

IMG_2619

At the beginning of the month my sweet baby girl turned one and I felt all the feels of a new mom experiencing her child surviving the first year of childhood (she’s pretty much in college now). Later in the month we were invited by a friend to attend the Bishop’s Pro-Life dinner and I honestly don’t think me or my husband have ever felt so fancy Catholic in our lives. It was a great time. I also wrote a couple of really open posts that month: on recognizing a crisis of faith/identity in my life and my thoughts as a teacher on the expectations of testing in Texas.

May

IMG_2735

May was another month filled with big events! My brother-in-law graduated from college (our alma mater!), we were able to spend time with family, our little one got ear tubes and we went to the wedding of some old college friends. I celebrated my second mother’s day and we hung out with our new neighbors! We also enjoyed many an at-home date night breaking in our new patio with some grilling + gorgeous weather. Towards the end of the month we celebrated my sister’s upcoming nuptials with a bridal shower + bachelorette party weekend that was filled with yummy food and delicious wine.

June

IMG_3364

June may have been my favorite month of this past year. This month is always packed with family birthdays but my favorite lands on the 21st because that is the day the world gave me the best bearded husband! My sister also got MARRIED in June and we had the opportunity to take our first trip with out a kidlet in tow (a million thanks go to my in-laws!!!). It was a really great week filled with relaxing, reading, swimming with dolphins, watching my sister marry the love of her life, and a tropical storm (oh and many a poolside margarita!).

July

11056620_10205683032144647_680392121530180503_o

This month we really started to get into our summertime groove. I watched my nephew a couple days a week which, even though tiring at times, was a really special experience that I know I will look back upon fondly. We also ventured to our local aquatic center a lot, took swimming lessons, went to many a library story time, and tamed the beast that is our backyard gardening plot! On July 25th on of my best friends and former college roomie got married to a fantastic guy and we thoroughly enjoyed celebrating them and their new vocation together in marriage!

August

IMG_4770

We celebrated three whole years of marriage this month! We celebrated with fancy beers at home on the actual day of but then ventured out to a new local restaurant that weekend to make an official date out of it (photo is of our simple and sweet presents to each other). My sister came into town for a weekend and we visited over delicious grilled cheese sandwiches and pie. I also took over our parish moms group as a co-leader. It has been such a fruitful experience this year to give back to a ministry at our parish that I have come to love so deeply. The women I have met and connected with and support I have found has been immeasurable. Oh and the very last week of August we found out that we had a little belated anniversary present on the way and due in April!

September

IMG_5354

September brought a new school year, new neighbors, and (not so new) morning sickness. Also a super extended blogging break because between school + a the fresh little baby in my belly I just could not get the creative juices pumping or will to type! We did find the time and energy to venture out to a local balloon festival with friends as well as attend our first roller derby! The rest of the month was spent adjusting to the new schedule of the school year and enjoying our super rambunctious toddler.

October

IMG_5723

We finally let the cat out of the bag this month and let the world know that we were adding another tiny human to our family! I went to a friend’s baby shower and we went as a family to another little friend’s first birthday celebration! We explored the arboretum’s pumpkin exhibit with friends, took our annual family photos with our beloved photographer, and partied hard (toddler style) for Halloween!

November

IMG_3607

We kicked off the month of November with All Souls day on the 1st and ventured out to a local Catholic cemetery with friends to pray. It was a first for me and hopefully can become a new little tradition we carry on because I thoroughly enjoyed it. We were able to witness a sweet friend from high school get engaged! It was quite the production and even involved her fiance getting Ginger Spice sending her a video. My belly started popping more towards the end of the month (usually with the help of a big meal or some ice cream;) and we were able to travel down to New Orleans to celebrate Thanksgiving with family!

December

IMG_6758

December was so incredibly jam packed. It began with an advent retreat hosted by my moms group that was the fruit of some seriously dedicated planning and months of continued labor! It was a huge success (in my humble opinion) for the first year of an event we hope to make an annual tradition. We wrapped up the fall semester at school with Christmas crafts and parties. Then we were able to settle into the holidays and spend time with family and friends. We went to a Harry Potter themed party thrown by a former co-worker, and it fulfilled all of our nerd-ly desires. My birthday was on the 20th, my husband attended his annual silent retreat, and new years eve brought our traditional board games + booze night with friends. We also did a small gender reveal with family before Christmas to let everyone know that we were having another little girl!

HI

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that it has been almost three months since my last blog post. I have always admitted to being an inconsistent blogger but this is bad, even for me. So what’s been up lately? A lot and not so much all at the same time.

We have been living our life pretty normally. We have been tackling small home projects and living the day to day normal that we have always wanted. It’s fun and exciting and slow all at the same time. Toddler life has really been throwing me for a loop lately. The new world that is discipline and consistency is tough, but of course well worth it. Our biggest news in the life department is that we are expecting baby #2 in April! This baby is already behind in bumpdate posts and all of the chronicling that I made sure to do with it’s older sibling. Poor second child! Hopefully we can catch up on some of that soon enough. IMG_5723In the pregnancy department I’ve actually been feeling relatively good as of late. My first pregnancy I was lucky enough that between anti-nausea medication and good luck I didn’t suffer from morning sickness too much. This time I was not so lucky. But in the past couple of weeks I have seemed to turn a long awaited corner in this pregnancy and am not so dependent on my anti-nausea meds to make it through the day. I am currently 15-16ish weeks – and there isn’t much of a bump to show yet (sorry!). At my first sonogram the baby was on the smaller side and so my OB said that I was probably on the later side of things in terms of due date. But next month we will get a better measurement at our anatomy scan, where we will definitely (little person permitting) find out the gender! (Gender reveal party decision still up in the air.)

Since I last posted I also started a new school year. I don’t think I ever formally posted about my decision to work part time last year (I wasn’t sure it would be something that would stick with our new lifestyle). But I was able to start working one day a week at a preschool that my mom has been working at for years. It really helped fill the void I was feeling after leaving my elementary school when I decided to be a stay at home mom. Last year I was primarily in the nursery and this year I am working with 2-2.5 year old’s which is a whole new can of worms! It’s been a fun and much desired change. I feel like I get to put my degree to use a bit more this year and challenge myself. With this change has also come  a new teaching partner and some new expectations. Which has left me planning/prepping more and working creatively on my own (aka: blogging) less.

IMG_6055

I also decided to co-lead the relatively new moms group at our parish this year! Which I have to admit has been my most exciting and fulfilling venture as of late. It has been a lot of work and honestly if I were not supported by both my co-leader (who is incredible) and my husband (also incredible) I would be losing my mind right about now. We have had such a successful year in membership and have reached out to so many new mamas in our parish. We’ve been complimented multiple times over about how needed this group is in our parish and I really couldn’t agree more. We are hosting our first (hopefully annual) moms retreat in early December and I can’t wait to see how it all turns out!

Along with teaching, pregnancy, moms group, and regular social life commitments – I was also leading a book study the past six weeks (for our parish moms group) and have joined up with some other friends from college to start another book club! Needless to say, things have been a bit B U S Y. But very, very fulfilling.

IMG_5973

So I suppose that I could blame my blogging break on the fact that life has been happening and it’s been great and leaving me with little time to pursue any other creative efforts. But I feel like that would only be giving you half the story. I have also been lacking in creative inspiration. While I definitely think that life has been contributing to that (like I said, b u s y) I was feeling this drain in ideas far before I took my break. I just felt like I needed to be living a bit more, and stressing out about blogging pursuits less. I read so many blogs and gather so many amazing ideas from other people it can be a bit intimidating when I look at my own “work” and think I’m not really producing much here.

Another thing that has been holding me back from writing lately is safety. I have been seeing more and more bloggers leave their spaces on the internet due to safety reasons and this is something that has always been on my mind – especially since having a child. I want to share and be a part of a creative community, but at what cost? I know that so many mothers and families post their lives so confidently on the internet and I guess I have just always had a hard time finding the balance of  1) how much information is too much? and 2) how to authentically share my life without putting my safety or the safety of my family at risk? I know this might sound overly dramatic but if I want this to be an honest life updating post – I feel that those things need to be included.

IMG_6099

Whew! So that’s a lot. Anyways, I have been thinking about my little corner of the internet a lot lately and I have a few things that I would like to share in upcoming posts. Thanks to those of you who actually read my words and care about what is posted here. I know that I may not post every day or inspire millions but I do hope that in someway this blog might bring a smile to your face or a new yummy recipe to your belly. (:

Happy Wednesday!

 

Podcasts…not just for nerds anymore!

I have been meaning to gather and share a list of my current favorite podcasts for a WHILE! But alas, life with a toddler is busy busy and time seems to slip away each and every day. By the time I sit down at night to have a moment to myself I usually end up falling asleep within 10 minutes (unless we are watching Parks and Rec – our current Netflix binge #marriage). Also, in reference to the title of this post – in no way do I think I am not a nerdy person/think there is anything wrong with being a nerd…I have a blog.

But anyway, podcasts! They sure seem to be all the rage right now, huh? I honestly feel like for once in my life I was ahead of the curve and into something trendy before it was trendy! How cool am I!? (As for pleather pants and jellies, I wore those two trends far past their trendy phase. Can’t win ’em all.) But if I am being completely honest, my husband was the first person to introduce me to podcasts. A little tangent to appease your curiosity: we started listening to podcasts almost three years ago. Like I said, Eric was into them far before I was and he would find really interesting science/history podcasts for us to listen to when we would make the 8 hour drive down to New Orleans when visiting family. I really thought that, that was what podcasts were – little interesting lessons to listen to while trying to stay awake in the car and I never really pursued them beyond our Texas-Louisiana jaunts. Well fast forward a year (two years ago) and Eric started telling me about a few newer podcasts that he was listening to, some comedy, some informational, but a bit different than what I was used to; so we added these shows into our road trip mix. Then we started taking our birthing classes and found ourselves in the car for about 20-30 minutes each week, driving back and forth to the hospital – we decided to listen to one of my now favorite podcasts (Sawbones – medical history podcast, listed below) in the car to spark our conversation and take our minds off of life’s current stresses, while always making a stop to get ice cream on the way home.

Now here we are today, while I still listen to some of my husband’s podcast recommendations I have been venturing out more on my own and discovering this new beautiful world of people who are wanting to share a little bit of themselves for all to hear in the hopes that it will bring someone some help in someway, or at least a good laugh.

Here is my current favorite list of podcasts – I separated them by a general category in case you are looking for something in particular to listen too! I’m always finding new podcasts to listen to as well and if I find anything I’ll be sure to share!

IMG_3202

Personal Journal

  • The Girl Next Door Podcast – two next door neighbors sit down and chat about a particular topic pertaining to their lives every other week. They also enjoy a good cocktail and share the recipe as well as their local neighborhood news. I always love listening to these girls, it always feels like a coffee date between friends and leaves me feeling refreshed, inspired, and positive!
  • Real Simple Podcasts – My favorite magazine meets my favorite form of listening media. It really couldn’t get much better.

Kids & Family

  • Edit Your Life Show – a podcast about simplification and editing what is unnecessary from your life
  • One Bad Mother – this is technically categorized under Comedy – but it is a parenting podcast done by two hilarious ladies. They always have great topics + fantastic guests (there is profanity used in this podcast just a warning:)
  • Mom and Dad are Fighting – the editors of Slate magazine discuss the latest parenting topics
  • Messy Parenting – Catholic marriage and parenting podcast hosted by a wonderfully funny and entertaining married couple with an abundance of parenting wealth and knowledge to share

Marriage

  • Totally Married – a very real couple discusses the ups and downs of their marriage as well as answer relationship advice questions
  • Matrimoney – one of the girls from The Girl Nextdoor Podcast has a show with her husband in which they talk about their marriage/relationship as well as discuss their personal finances very openly. I honestly hate talking about money, and they both are so positive and upbeat about finances that I can’t help but keep listening!
  • Sexy Marriage Radio – sex and marriage, etc (pretty self explanatory from the title;)

Popculture

  • NPR Popculture Happy Hour – a weekly roundup from NPR about books, movies, music, television, comics and culture. For a mom who feels out of the loop pretty much all of the time – this podcast helps me stay somewhat relevant
  • The Nerdist – really solid interviews
  • The Gilmore Guys – two hilarious guys talking about Gilmore Girls. One of the guys is a die hard fan and is introducing the show to his friend for the first time. They have also had some of the former cast on so the fangirl in me has just been dying.
  • My Brother, My Brother and Me – comedy/advice show put on by three brothers
  • Bachelor(ette) Reality TV RHAP Ups – because I have no shame and am addicted to the Bachelor and it’s plethora of reality tv goodness. Two girls chat about the weekly episodes and say everything you were thinking while you watched on Monday night.

Science

  • Sawbones – a medical history/comedy podcast put on by a husband and wife (who is a doctor) – the husband is actually one of the brothers from the above podcast My Brother, My Brother and Me
  • RadioLab – interesting popculture and science investigations (if you were a fan of Serial I feel like you would be a fan of this podcast)
  • InterBrews – craft beer/brewing podcast (brewing is a science which is why I put it under this category;)

Religious/Inspirational

  • Caritas – a new podcast being produced by two blogger friends! They are discussing living life and loving in the every day. I just recently had the privilege of being interviewed for their show! Check them out!
  • Fountains of Carrots – two of my favorite Catholic bloggers have joined forces to create a show in which they discuss faith, books, culture, etc. This is another show that always leaves me feeling inspired and positive and like I just had a good, long, inspirational chat with a friend!
  • Building Bridges – podcast about staying connected and inspired in every day life.
  • This Inspired Life – Catholic motherhood/parenting show
  • The Lively Show – podcast about finding and creating an intentional life. This show covers a lot of ground – from personal habits to parenting to relationships and careers.

Happy Listening! What podcasts are you currently listening to? I would love to hear any and all recommendations!

3 years

1011900_1870233965795_798441513_n

This summer we have been fortunate enough to celebrate weddings and new marriages of family and close friends. I don’t think I am alone in loving a good wedding celebration. It reminds me of our wedding and fills me with all of the warm, fuzzy, butterfly feelings that I tend to have when thinking back on the day that started our journey down this exciting, unpredictable road called marriage.

1044931_1870283647037_1471045347_n

I remember before we were married, before we were engaged – seeing married couples at weddings and wondering what they could be thinking about. Watching them sway back and forth on the dance floor and stare lovingly into each others eyes. It always filled my heart to the brim with emotion. I wanted to be married one day and I wanted to be one of those couples on the dance floor, so in love with each other. While I am still practically a newlywed and my wealth of marital wisdom is relatively low – I think I am starting to realize that the looks those couples were giving each other were more so out of appreciation, admiration, and respect that any lovey-dovey-emotionally-fueled-feelings that I was probably experiencing as an onlooker.

Honestly, this third year of marriage has been by far the most challenging. New jobs, new roles, new home, parenting, growing, moving… so needless to say the past 365 days weren’t without stress or moments of anxiety. Something else the past year wasn’t lacking was a partner to weather the storm. Solid, unwavering, supportive, true. Sometimes I just can’t believe that my husband has continued to love me through it all.

1010241_1870280926969_325426775_n

So much life has happened since August 4, 2012 and I hate to sound cliche but I really didn’t realize just how fast the years would fly. I wonder if I will feel the same way when we hit twenty or thirty years of marriage. I secretly hope that the feeling of “it was just yesterday that we were dancing at our wedding reception!” will permeate through those years. I never really want that newness, or shocking realization that we hit another anniversary to go away – I always want to be surprised that even though our wedding may have been a while ago…it still feels like it has been a relatively short amount of time.

Anyway, I’m rambling. I just can’t believe that I’m living this vocation. That God has provided for us in so many ways and continues to work through our marriage. I can’t believe that we are making it, that we are really living this good life and I’m just so grateful to be in this sacrament with such a truly fantastic person.

969851_1870357248877_131672359_n

I think C.S. Lewis does a much better job at constructing the thoughts I am trying to convey here in this post so I will end with this, it is one of my favorite quotes about love and marriage:

“Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. There are many things below it, but there are also things above it. You cannot make it the basis of a whole life. It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling. Now no feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity, or even to last at all. Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last but feelings come and go. And in fact, whatever people say, the state called ‘being in love’ usually does not last. If the old fairy-tale ending ‘They lived happily ever after’ is taken to mean ‘They felt for the next fifty years exactly as they felt the day before they were married,’ then it says what probably never was nor ever would be true, and would be highly undesirable if it were. Who could bear to live in that excitement for even five years? What would become of your work, your appetite, your sleep, your friendships? But, of course, ceasing to be ‘in love’ need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense — love as distinct from ‘being in love’ — is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself. They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be ‘in love’ with someone else. ‘Being in love’ first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. it is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it.”

I love you, Eric Martin. Thank you for choosing to love me. Happy Anniversary!

1001470_1870312007746_212316437_n

2nd anniversary post

Right after we got married! 

FOOD | back pocket banana bread [muffins]

Oh this week. How full and crazy and unpredictable you were.

At the beginning of every week – usually Sunday or Monday – I sit down with my beloved planner and think about how we are going to fill our days. Usually with most of the same old routine, but with a few small adventures here and there to keep things exciting. I was really ready to get back to our normal grind after taking last week to volunteer for our parish VBS + tend to a sick babe later on in the week. On the agenda for the coming 7-day spread were bootcamp classes, swim lessons, and a couple of cousin play dates. Busy, but simple…or at least I thought it would be. Little did I know that our bout with Roseola would leave me with an overtired and irritable toddler (even though we were way past our feverish days and the rash was starting to disappear), a surprise (slow) leak from our air conditioning unit that resulted in a long night on Tuesday and floors being ripped up in the morning on Wednesday, and our toddler having to sleep in the office for the time being. Top all of that off with the regularly scheduled stresses of daily life and this week was more than a doozy. This week was by far an exception when it comes to crazy in our home but it’s weeks like this that make me fall back on my most trusted recipes. The ones that I can replicate without missing a beat. The recipes that always bring a smile to the faces of my husband and my sweet girl no matter how exhausted we may all be at the end of the day.

One of my favorite treats to make during an unexpectedly crazy, hectic week is my banana bread. I found a pretty solid recipe a couple of years ago while browsing through Pinterest and combined it with a recipe I had been using from a hand-me-down cookbook. I’ve honestly gone to the store to get bananas only so they could sit on our kitchen counter a few days and I can make this bread. Lately I have been making muffins because they are the perfect size for our little miss to eat for breakfast and an easy afternoon snack for the both of us. They freeze well and will last us for a solid two weeks and we never really tire of them. This recipe is also easy to tweak to your hearts content. I’ve added (more often than not) mini chocolate chips, dried cranberries, and dried blueberries. I have also tried different flavors of greek yogurt in the mix like banana, vanilla, and honey but our favorite is still plain.

I hope you are as bananas for these muffins/bread as we are at our house! (Sorry I just really couldn’t help myself #parentjokes.)
IMG_3853

Recipe: Back Pocket Banana Bread

Ingredients: 

  • 1.5 c flour (I use all purpose white but have used whole wheat and they are just as good)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 c steel cut oats/rolled oats (I usually use whatever oatmeal we have on hand)
  • 1/2 c mix-ins of your choosing (chocolate chips are our go to)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 large egg + 1 large egg white lightly beaten
  • 1 cup mashed bananas (2 medium bananas)
  • 1 container of plain greek yogurt (I prefer 2% Fage, but I have also used Honey flavored Chobani and Vanilla bean Siggis)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

IMG_3825

Instructions: 

  1. Mash bananas using a fork or a potato masher – you want to make sure that there are as few chunks as possible and that it is relatively smooth.
  2. Add in your liquid ingredients: coconut oil, eggs, yogurt, and vanilla and whisk together with bananas.
  3. Once all liquid ingredients are completely combined whisk in sugar.
  4. Once sugar is completely combined whisk in salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon.
  5. Once the previous dry ingredients are completely combined whisk in flour 1/4 of a cup at a time. I find that by adding in smaller amounts of the flour at a time I end up having a more consistent batter.
  6. Fold in oats + chocolate chips into batter with a spatula.
  7. Spoon batter into a lined muffin tin or loaf pan.
  8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    1. Muffin cook time: 30 minutes
    2. Bread loaf cook time: 1 hour – 1 hour 10 minutes

IMG_3857

Like I said before, this recipe is so simple and never lets me down in the wake of craziness! I hope you enjoy.

Happy eating!

004 | inventory

IMG_3858
Making: lots of banana bread muffins lately (recipe coming soon!) + easy dinners that go along with our busy schedule right now. Last weekend we made personal pizzas for a bachelorette party/sleepover and it was fun, fresh, and so yummy. They were so good I think we are going to put them in our weekly rotation as a family. We usually make Friday nights our pizza night so it would be easy enough to tuck them into our meal plan.
IMG_4259Drinking: iced coffee in the morning, la croix in the afternoons, not nearly enough water throughout the day, and gin & tonics when my husband is kind enough to whip one up for me. They are by far my favorite summer indulgence and taste even better if I happen to find myself sitting on a patio enjoying a warm breeze and the company of good friends.
 
Reading: Something Other than God by Jennifer Fulwiler, my beloved Real Simple magazine, and because I am volunteering at our parish VBS this week I have also been reading the daily devotionals for that. We have been frequenting our local library weekly this summer to make the most of story time (read: free entertainment, indoor activity, keeping a toddler busy during the heat of the day) and have picked up a few cute reads for the littlest member of our family. Currently we are digging: Llama Llama Red Pajama, Dig Dig Digging, and Pete the Cat: I love my white shoes.

Wanting: more time (especially to blog!) and energy during the day. This summer has been seriously full + busy. I don’t really mind the busy part of it so much but I just feel like every.day.is.jam.packed. It’s a lot and I am always wishing + wanting for things to slow down. After looking at my calendar for the rest of the month I don’t really see that happening anytime soon. At least not for the rest of the summer…so I suppose I should scratch the ‘wanting more time’ part out and just focus on the more energy part!

Listening: to The Gilmore Guys Podcast (o b s e s s e d) + Fountains of Carrots. I mentioned to a few people in Instagram that I would do a round up of my current favorite podcasts soon in the form of a blog post – I promise, it’s coming! I have also been listening to our V BS soundtrack on r e p e a t this week. Nothing like a good ol’ vacation bible school jam + coordinating hand motions to motivate you throughout the day. *wink*

Eating: lots of raspberries lately and some other fresh fruit when I think to pick up more produce at the store. As I mentioned earlier, we have been so stinking busy lately my meal planning has been kind of off and lacking in whole foods. That is something that should be remedied no matter the fullness of our days. But when I haven’t been able to eat like I would typically want to I have been enjoying the guilt-free feeling of our NatureBox snacks. I am pretty obsessed with the Dutch Cocoa Sun Crunch.

Smelling: the sunscreen + chlorine smell that seems to permeate the air every summer. Also, looooots + lots of bug spray lately.

Enjoying: pool days + the local splash pad with my girl, in-home date nights with my husband, reading before bed (a habit I always had growing up but fell by the wayside in college, something I’m happy to be getting back to).

Loving: the language development happening with Miss M right now. She is communicating SO much and it is incredible to experience and watch. I have been having a lot of those flashback-to-last-summer moments and it really is just insane how much a child can change in such a short amount of time. Lately she has been making all sorts of animal sounds (favorites include: rooster, horse, and cat.) She has also been telling me when her diaper is dirty which is always appreciated.

Hoping: for good things this coming year with our mom’s ministry at church. A friend and I have taken over the leadership of the group and we are excited and daunted by all of the things that need to be done. We are really hoping to grow our membership and help more mom’s in our parish.

Feeling: tired. VBS has been exhausting for me + my girl this week. Combine that with watching my nephew twice this week and just the regular hub bub of life and early bed times have been on everyone’s agenda this week!

Wearing: anything and everything that is Texas-summer-heat-friendly these days. While it has only his triple digits a handful of times (so far) this summer it has still gotten to that point where getting in and out of the car is preeeeetty much the worst and I feel like I am constantly coated in a layer of sweat (you are so welcome for that visual;).

Noticing: just how grown up our little girl is starting to seem. I hate to be all emotional-mommy-cliche but…where the heck did my baby go?? The weekend of the fourth we had a little pre-birthday celebration for my nephew and chasing her around the Dallas Children’s Aquarium I realized we have a full blown K I D.

IMG_2843

Bookmarking: any and all gardening tips. We just recently finished revamping our backyard garden (left behind by the previous owners) and are so excited to start planing and growing herbs and veggies!

IMG_4008