Saturday, February 21, 2015

Weekend Ramblings

Do you ever have one of those weeks where it's just easier to not menu plan? That was this week for me. I sat down last Sunday night with my menu planning notebook and just hit a wall. So, instead of having a plan for every night, I went to the grocery store and bought a lot of general stuff like tons of veggies and pantry staples and then every night we have just made whatever sounds good. It's actually been really nice. I'll probably go back to more of a "plan" next week, but I've loved the spontaneity of this week.

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I finished Pride & Prejudice on Sunday and I was so sad to see it end. Sure, I struggled to get into the book but once I got used to the language and style of writing I absolutely loved it. If you haven't read it, you should. And give yourself some time to really get into it. The writing is so lovely and I found it to be so much more than just a "romance" novel. Now I am reading Frankenstein and it is blowing me away. I did not expect the writing to be so captivating and beautiful. I love it so far, which is not something I thought I'd ever say. With that said, I do feel a little book frustrated lately. I have this long list of "to read" but my library either doesn't carry the books I want or there is a wait for them. Don't you hate it when that happens?

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I have been thinking a lot about this job I have called mom and wife and caretaker of the house. While I have days where I want to hide in a corner and rock back and forth from the monotony and never endingness of my to-do list, most days I feel so thankful and...well...full. There is just something wonderful about tackling a mountain of dishes by hand and wiping the counters clean afterward, or soothing a crying baby and "flying" through the house with the best 2 year old I know, making a meal that not only nourishes the ones I love but tastes good too, folding clean clothes and ironing my husbands shirts while listening to NPR on Saturday mornings, or scrubbing the bathroom (my least favorite job of all) and feeling relief that I won't have to do that again for another week (or two, let's be honest). Sure, it's a job that never ends, and, like I said, I have days where I really want to run away and leave all the mess behind, but lately my heart is so full of gratitude for this season - for the opportunity to love my family with my time and labor. Life won't always look like this.

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Despite the beauty and mess of these days, I have also felt extremely weighed down by fear and anxiety. In some ways, I feel surrounded by death - some people we know and some we only know of have passed on and I feel the space they leave. Some have died too young and some at the end of a long and lovely life. I hate that as I get older I am more aware of all the ways that death can creep up and, truth be told, it scares me. I don't really know how to live without the fear of death - of the ones I love being taken from me or me being taken from the ones I love. All I know is that I'm constantly reminded to hug those precious ones every chance I get and to surrender my fears to Jesus.

"Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go for to You I entrust my life." Psalm 143: 8 

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We woke up to trees and lawns and cars covered in snow. After breakfast and steaming mugs of coffee (for the grown ups) and a tall sippy cup of cold soy milk (for the toddler) we bundled ourselves in coats and scarves and embarked on a snowy ("shnow!") adventure. Then back inside for the rest of Toy Story ("Butz!") and the thawing of cold toes and noses.






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And to round off this wonderful post of everything and nothing, here are some things I've been reading lately - things that make me feel all the feelings and inspire the heck out of me.

Use your words

Another mom shares her story - a different story - and it made me feel normal and thankful.

I read this secret on one of my darker days and it made me cry. Sometimes we need to know we're not alone.

Much love to you!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Dinner: February 9-15

Before I share our menu for this week, I want to give a review for the meals last week.

Monday: Leftovers

Always good.

Tuesday: Spicy Black Bean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Avocado Lime Sauce

Really, really good and not too complicated or time consuming for a weekday meal. The only change I would make next time would be to either cook the purple onion a bit to soften it or leave it out entirely. I am not a huge fan of crunchy onions. Other than that, it was really good and so satisfying. Plus, we had a ton of the avocado lime sauce leftover which we've been using as a chip dip. Yum.

Wednesday: Roasted chicken thighs, asparagus, sweet potato tots

I usually cook chicken thighs once a week because it is so easy and I love leftover chicken for lunches or dinners. I usually buy an 8 pack of thighs, season them with salt and pepper, brown them in a cast iron skillet for a few minutes and then into the oven (350 degrees) for 20 minutes. I love this healthy recipe for asparagus and we love the Alexis brand of sweet potatoes. The tots were a huge hit with Juni - "more, Mo, more?"

Thursday: Honey Chipotle Lime Quinoa Bowls

Forrest's lovely aunt and uncle took us out to dinner. Ahhh, the bliss of someone else cooking for me and no dishes.

Friday: Pizza

I always do a honey salami pizza and a veggie pizza. Have you ever put honey on the crust of your pizza? It's a game changer.

Saturday: Honey Chipotle Lime Quinoa Bowls

Forrest and I really loved this. It is filling and full of so many flavors. I think this salad will end up in a permanent rotation when the summer months roll around and tomatoes and fresh lettuce are in abundance. There was quite a bit for leftovers which I especially love for lunches.

Sunday: Freezer meal

The lasagna was so good, Lesta! :)

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Okay, so here's the menu for this week!

Monday: Roasted chicken thighs, broccoli, mashed cauliflower

Tuesday: Ginger Fried Rice

Image retrieved from Smitten Kitchen

Wednesday: Smoked Salmon and Creme Fraiche Tart & a salad

Image retrieved for A Sweet Spoonful

Thursday: Chipotle Chicken Chili & homemade corn bread muffins

We are having one of Forrest's classmates over for dinner, and, true confessions, I am always so nervous about cooking for other people. So what is my secret for overcoming this anxiety? Soup. Soup is oh so forgiving and usually something comforting. I have made this chili a few times before and since I have leftover chipotles from the honey lime quinoa bowls I thought this was the perfect choice. Homemade corn bread muffins are always a win too. 

Image retrieved from The Pioneer Woman

Friday: Pizza

Saturday: Freezer meal (Steak & asparagus)

Sunday: Leftovers

A note about Sundays: as a full time, stay at home mom I don't really get days off, so that's why on Sunday I've made a pact with myself to take it easy. No cleaning, use the dishwasher (unless there aren't many dishes) and take it easy on the meal front. It does a lot toward refreshing my momma heart. I highly recommend it! 

What's on your menu?

xo

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Appliance That Changes Everything

Yesterday I bought this hair tool and I think it just might change my life.


John Frieda Hot Air Brush


Okay, that's probably an exaggeration, but I really do love it.

Here's how it works, at least for me:

I have pretty thick hair so it can take forever and a day to dry it, so I let it air dry for a bit. This works out well because I usually have either J or A demanding sweetly asking for my attention so I can attend to their many demands while my hair dries a little. Once I have satisfied the needs of the masses - aka, my two year old and 3 month old - I start the magic. Basically I divide my hair into sections and then place the brush under my hair, starting at the roots, and pull it down and under or down and out depending on the style you want to achieve. Even though I have let my hair dry quite a bit already the process still takes a while, but, honestly, I think it takes about the same amount of time as drying plus straightening or curling does. If you want more volume at your roots (who doesn't?) you just hold the heat there a little bit longer. I've heard you can also create waves in your hair but I have yet to attempt this.

So here's what I love about it:

  1. It's unbelievably easy to use. I am not particularly gifted at hair type stuff, especially on myself, so I was relieved and pleased that this was easy to figure out and use. I mean, I realize I could achieve this look with a round brush and blow dryer but I'm just not coordinated enough! I've tried. Trust me.
  2. You know the way your hair feels after you've just gotten it cut? Yeah, that's how my hair feels after using this. It makes my hair so soft and light. 
  3. The right side of my hair loves, I mean, l.o.v.e.s to turn out while my left side turns under. I love that I was able to get both sides to cooperate.
  4. My toddler - the one who screams bloody murder when I wash her hair or even brush it - lets me use this on her. It doesn't get too hot so it doesn't hurt her head and I think she was pretty fascinated by it. Also, she could use it as a microphone to sing into after I had finished her hair. Okay, okay... I also sang into it a little bit.
  5. It's really pretty affordable when you think about how much you might pay for a dryer, straightener, and a curling iron. I bought mine at Fred Meyer (that's where the gift card was for) and it was $39. On Amazon it is $26.49.
Okay, so because I love you, I am going to show you some pictures I took right after I finished doing my hair. Please forgive the poor quality. Also Arthur is like - "who cares about your hair? I just wanna eat, man!"

It even tamed my cowlick - that's what I call a miracle appliance

This is the side that loves turning out

Arthur is like - are we done yet?!


What hair tools or tricks do you swear by?

xo

ps: John Frieda didn't ask me to talk about their product. I just like it and thought you would too.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Dinner: February 2-8

I am embarrassed at how long it has been since I did one of these "dinner" posts, but no time like the present to jump back into the routine, right? I just finished a workout so my limbs feel like jello, I have a 3-month-old beside me that has just woken up from a nap and a 2-year-old who is simultaneously coloring, watching Peter Pan and eating animal cookies. All that to say - this will probably need to be kept pretty short.



On Saturday I made a big pot of black beans so I was planning on making a few meals this week that would use up all the leftovers. Last night I asked friends on Facebook what vegetables would pair well with the beans, and it was so great to hear people's ideas! I'm definitely going to heed their advice.

Here is our week in dinners:

Monday: Leftovers

Tuesday: Spicy Black Bean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Avocado-Lime Sauce

Image retrieved from Dishing Up the Dirt

Wednesday: Roasted chicken thighs, asparagus, sweet potato tots

Thursday: Honey Chipotle Lime Quinoa Bowls I'll probably use leftover chicken from the night before and add in some black beans.

Image retrieved from Viance

Friday: Homemade pizza (a family tradition)

Saturday: Freezer meal (thank you, Lesta!)

Sunday: ?

Alright, A is officially melting down so I have to go.

What are your dinner plans this week?

xo