Thursday, August 28, 2014

Cotton-candy what?

I've been MIA on the blog for one reason, and one reason along - my back is out. Again.

The pain, frustration, and wrench it throws in my day-to-day is tough and so I've been more focused on trying to be as present to the boys as possible as not to focus on how much I'm hurting. And, since I hurt when I stand, sit, lay down, etc this blog post is going to be all over the place because that's what pain does to my brain + la Instagram photos to keep me on track on sharing a mini update.

The boys are both napping now (All the little gifts are so very appreciated these days!), and I've been sneaking some snacks from the fridge. A snack I had no idea existed till yesterday - cotton candy grapes!

People, did you know about these? If not, go get you some! They smell like cotton candy! Really really! Annnnnd, they taste like cotton candy! It's a trip to the carnival with every little bite you take! So amazing! My boys even smell like cotton candy after eating them. My husband randomly bought them yesterday while grabbing some fruit at Central Market and Viola! we have tasted joy!

Other than the back pain, I've been able to see a few friends this week which has been such a gift (as always!). And the boys are really just getting cuter and cuter together by the day. I really am loving watching them grow into their brotherhood. It's kind of amazing and all kinds of beautiful.


They seem to be enjoying each other more and more. Talking to each other more. Playing with each other more instead of at each other. They seem in-tune with each other's moves (Except when they bonk heads and/or their body to give each other bumps, bruises, and tears.). So thankful for them. So very thankful.

Ha. One is newly forward-facing and the other got a new big boy seat complete with two cup holders.
Hope to be posting again soon. I've actually taken my fancy camera out a few times this week to capture some non-phone-camera pictures. I hope to share them along with an update of the boys and what they're up to these days in the developmental realm. Also have some recipes to share, saint love to ponder, breastfeeding tips to share, and other things floating around in my little noggin. 

Praying for healing in the pain department. Is there anything I can offer up for you all during my little stent of suffering? Please share! Also, if you have any tips on how to remedy the lower back problems that are mine, I am *all* eyes/ears (if you have my digits!). Gracias!



Monday, August 25, 2014

Summer Cookies

My brother came over for dinner this past weekend on a whim. I had plenty of dinner to go around but as soon as I knew he and Erin were on their way I wanted to make something sweet!

I opened up Pinterest and came across this sweet and simple recipe from Robyn over at Add A Pinch. After seeing the delicious photo she posted of her sweet and tangy goodness, Lemon Sugar Cookies it was!

I loved the recipe and it was so easy! They were yummy with a sugary crunch on the outside. The lemon flavor truly made it a perfect summer cookie to compliment my dinner of crockpot chicken and potatoes. Consider me sold on these summer cookies!

I'm already looking forward to making them again! I also love that I easily had all the ingredients on hand. Perfect for a quick and yummy dessert.

It was a good evening, overall. Good food, great company, game night after the kids were in bed, and lots of Uncle and Erin time for the boys while they were up.

I don't know what it is, but my brother brings out the crazy in my boys.

Nothing but blurry phone photos for a good majority of the evening.




 Except when Linus kept pleading for his Uncle to read and re-read Dr. Seuss.

Found any fun summer recipes these past months?

Linking up with Bobbi at Revolution of Love Blog.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

My little hosting gig: A Brunch Spread


I really enjoy cooking and baking. Give me some time and I can usually whip up something pretty yummy (So says the husband.). But, getting the chance to host people who I love, and the joy I get from cooking and baking is completely amplified.

We hosted our Family Bible Study yesterday evening. I love when we host! Even though, by the end of the night, I am usually the kind of exhausted that can be seen drifting off into lalaland with a slight case of the crazy face, I really am nourished by being able to share food with them. Good thing our friends are good people. When they see the stare and crazy face, they are always great to give me a smile and some manageable chit-chat. It's kind of wonderful.

Now, onto the menu! I'll be linking to recipes I used and sharing how/if I mixed things up a bit.


Dessert: Key Lime Pie
My amazing, soon-to-be-sister-in-law is amazing with pies. She made one the other day for my in-laws, husband, and the boys while I was enjoying some yummy flan at Edel. I hate missing all things she bakes! So, she was incredibly kind enough to pack us up some of her delicious Key-Lime Pie for the road.

It. Was. Amazing! So much so, that I've been wanting some more ever since. I made sure to request a recipe soon after having a bite and got to it for our friends yesterday!
I tell you what, Key Lime Pie is truly a labor of love. You have to squeeze so. many. limes!!! My hand started to feel a bit on the funny side after squeezing the encouraged 1 whopping cup of lime juice. Times were intense, juices were squeezed, and ingredients were mixed. 
The recipe is simple enough but can be a bit labor intensive to start. All the juicing without a juicer bit can be a little rough. Either way, I would make this again in a heart beat (Which is probably why I made two pies!). I loved the simplicity of it and absolutely loved the taste of it. It was a definite party in my mouth that I look forward to enjoying time and time again.


Ingredients
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick butter) melted
2 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
1 cup key lime or regular lime juice
2 whole large eggs
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lime zest

Directions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter with your hands. Press the mixture firmly into a 9-inch pie pan, and bake until brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature before filling.

Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.

In a separate bowl, combine the condensed milk, lime juice, and eggs. Whisk until well blended and place the filling in the cooled pie shell. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes and allow to chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Once chilled, combine the sour cream and powdered sugar and spread over the top of the pie using a spatula. Sprinkle the lime zest as a garnish on top of the sour cream and serve chilled.

DELICIOUS!


More Sweetness: Cinnamon Sugar Bread

Because everyone loves the sweet stuff, I normally try to make two desserts. The accompanying dessert yesterday was a sweet bread I've mentioned before on this blog. It's my go-to goodie because it's easy, quick, and a crowd-pleaser. Also, this recipe is great because even if you mess it up a bit (Like I did yesterday by leaving it in the oven as if it were a whole loaf rather than a bunch of mini loaves.) it still tastes great! You just can't go wrong with cinnamon and sugar! 

Ingredients
1/3 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup white sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
In large bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt and 1 cup sugar. Add egg, milk, and oil to flour mixture. Stir until just moistened. Pour half of the batter into pan.

Sprinkle with cinnamon and 1/3 cup sugar. Cover with remaining batter. Top with more cinnamon/sugar if desired.

Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Wrap in foil and let sit overnight before slicing (This step is true! It's pretty great after sitting overnight!).


Main Course: Quiche
I was talking to my neighbor about hosting and was asking for some new ideas. We've been a part of our Bible Study for a couple years now, so I've exhausted a lot of my go-to dishes. She suggested quiche and I said Yes! 
I made three different quiches. Two with heavy whipping cream and cheese (Pioneer Woman Style) and one without any dairy. 

Quiche #1
Spinach, Mushrooms, and Potatoes sauteed in bacon dripping.
7 eggs
1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
1/2 Cup Swiss Cheese
Store Bought Crust

Quiche #2
Bell Pepper (Red, Yellow, & Orange), Onion, and Mushrooms sauteed in oil.
Chopped Bacon
7 Eggs
1 Cup Whipping Cream
1/2 Cup Swiss Cheese
Store Bought Crust

Quiche #3 (Apparently a Frittata because.. Crustless and all.)
Bell Pepper (Red, Yellow, & Orange), Onion, and Mushrooms sauteed in oil.
Chopped Bacon
7 Eggs
1/2 TSP Thyme
1/2 TSP Paprika
1/2 TSP Black Pepper
Pinch of Salt
1 Cup Rice Milk
No Crust

*baked them covered loosely with foil for 45-50 minutes at 400 degrees F.


Side : Strawberry Bacon Salad

To share the bacon love I thought I'd add some of the chopped bacon to the salad along with some strawberries and Poppyseed Dressing. It was yum!


Filler: Bread and Spreads
While buying groceries for the evening I picked up a French Baguette and two different spreads that were delicious! This store has some pretty incredibly tasty spreads to choose from which is so nice! I picked Gouda Pecan (the favorite) and a really yummy Pesto spread (my favorite). Chopped up the bread and laid out the spreads. Easy-peasy and good!


Kiddos: Nuggets & Fruit
Normally, when I host, I try to have something simple for the kids. So, along with whatever main course I make, I always try to pop in some chicken nuggets (or corn dogs depending on availability and my memory) in the oven before everyone gets here with a side of fruit. It works. Kids are fed. Kids are happy. Parents are happy. All are happy.


--- 7 ---
The People
These people are wonderful. They have been such a gift to our little family over the years. We have made lifelong friendships that have blessed us so very much. We pray together. Laugh together. Talk about our Catholic faith, the saints, scripture, and more. We support each other. We encourage each other. Take trips with each other. Love each other. And so much more! I cannot tell you how good it is to know these people (Love y'all!!!!). In fact, I wish you could know all of them! Only because I know they would bless you with so much goodness and love as they have us.
These people make baking and cooking such a joy (despite the tired crazy face from me at the end of the night)! I love making food for them and pray they enjoy it too!

My little hosting gigs are my little ways to share my love and gratitude for them and I look forward to it every time.

What favorite hosting spread ideas do you have? Do share!


For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Treasure Hunt for Toddlers

With a young three-year old and a one and half year old, I'm trying to find some more intentionality in our days. We have an amazing setup at home and there are so many opportunities for goodness, fun, learning, and life. 

Lately, we've been taking a morning walk almost daily. It's been great! I've been wanting to get back in shape in a way that does not include some random workout video that has any sort of plyometric (Hello back pain!) and I always try to get the boys outside when it's not insanely hot mixed with thousands of mosquitoes. The morning walks have been lovely. Even more lovely because we've been going with our neighbors (Biggest blessing ever!).

Our walks have been fun, not only because we get to go with friends, but also because we get to explore. There is a pond that we visit and it has a beautiful black swan with oodles of ducks and turtles scattered throughout. Fun times these are friends. The boys love it and mama gets friend time and exercise! Win-win, for sure!

On the days we don't go for our walk we will either go to the pool or to the park. And, as much fun as the park is, the toddlers usually head my way because apparently I'm pretty wonderful (In their eyes.). I tell them to go explore, play, run, climb, etc. etc. etc but sometimes they just need a little direction. Or, at least it seems that way now.

So, I decided we would have a more intentional fun day at the park. I prepped my toddlers by telling them that today we were going to go explore and find treasures. Even though I got the what-is-she-talking-about faces, I went with it, made a treasure chest (Thank you, Kroger grocery bag and packaging tape!) and we headed out with our sweet and simple nature treasure list. 
Bigfoot took to the Nature Treasure Hunt all of 10 minutes. He was over my 20-questions and just wanted to swing. But, once we found the cicada (locust) it was a game changer. Sticks galore, acorns, grass, flowers, and more were found. So. Many. Treasures! We were always on the hunt for more cicada leftovers but weren't very lucky. 
Linus was content to watch from his little swing perch holding his one stick perfect for his sweet hands. Eventually, though, he did want in on the fun and found various colored leaves and more sticks.
Linus must not have been terribly impressed with our findings because the little guy ended up dumping everything out the moment he was alone with the treasure chest. Not cool, little man, not cool (I mama-rescued the situation before Bigfoot could notice his hard work had been tossed. Luckily, it was all in one place in the play house).
Overall, I chalk this up as a nature success. We talked about the cicadas, the acorns and who eats them, the beautiful leaves of different colors and how they change with seasons, talked about the properties of sticks, and more. The boys were sweaty, covered with dirt (somehow this just happens with boys no matter what they are doing outside), and accomplished. Good times were had and Bigfoot was so excited to share with Daddy all he found. 

*******


How do you engage your littles outside? What would you add to our little list?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Childlike Simplicity

When I think of ordinary, the word simplicity comes to mind. The saints always have a way of drawing our eyes to Him in such a beautiful way. They also have a way of breaking down the craziness of life in a way that makes sense to my little mama heart that so much yearns to be better.

Oh Jesus, my Love, may my heart be consumed in loving Thee; make me humble and holy; give me childlike simplicity; transform me into thy holy love. O Jesus, life of my life, joy of my soul, God of my heart, accept my heart as an altar, on which I will sacrifice to Thee the gold of ardent charity, the incense of continual, humble and fervent prayer, and the myrrh of constant sacrifices! Amen.

-St. Paul of the Cross

St. Paul of the Cross, with his prayer, shares such beauty. In the words he strung together so many years ago he puts humility, holiness, simplicity, joy, rejoicing, sacrificing, and love together in a way that makes me want to embrace my little ordinary with more fervency, prayer, and joy. Although, I don't think my simplicity or ordinary looked anything like his, I know there are still ways that St. Paul's goodness can help bring this mama some perspective.

"Look mama! I found a big one!!!"
This prayer filled with wisdom has shed some light on my today is that he asks for childlike simplicity. There is a beautiful simplicity in my boys. In fact, my tendency to not relish in the simple goodness that surrounds us is part of what can make my days harder than they need to be. If I were to take more time to see the world through their sweet, young eyes, I think my heart would be filled more with the kind of joy that I am constantly trying to live.
Linus walked up to me and handed me with this. After he placed this little petal in my hand he nodded and walked away. My heart melted. It's the first time he's given me a little flower. So glad I was able to capture this moment.
May my heart be consumed in loving Thee, St. Paul of the Cross prays. Childlike gestures of love just fill me and teach me. Linus didn't know how incredibly wonderful he would make me feel by doing what he did. He just did it. He picked up this sweet petal and walked over to me. While he was nodding I could here the words It is good. run through my head. It is so good and sweet to give. To love. To share. So glad he did so with me today in this sweetly simple and incredibly special way. Consider me consumed by this sweet gesture. Consumed and praying that I can imitate it in love for my family and Him.
Transform me into thy holy love, St. Paul of the Cross continues. Today the boys gave me a tidbit of time to know Him more. They gave me this time while they were relishing in each other. I love my time outside with the boys. But, at the very same time, I also am so grateful for the relationship they are growing into. Today was the first time outside that they just ran about exploring together. Laughing. Running. Throwing sticks. Sliding. Digging. And more. All incredibly simple things that lit their faces with the most beautiful smiles. And as much as I love running around with them and doing all the things that my boys love to do while outside, I enjoyed the little time they lent me to do some reading.

These boys. They teach me about simple, ordinary, goodness every day. And, it is good.

How have the saints or your family ordinarily blessed you today?





embrace the ordinarybutton
Linking up with Gina over at Someday Saints for Embrace the Ordinary.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Little tasks and donuts

We're doing a little bit of embracing my ordinary and sharing a little tidbit of extraordinary today.

Ordinary
To start, there are some things I really enjoy given the right ambiance. For instance, I will fold clothes all day if I can do it uninterrupted, to Ella Fitzgerald, and to it's completion. I actually enjoy it. It's a little task that allows me to be still and focus on the little ways I can serve my family and home.

Now, to be honest, with two little monkeys running around on the daily, uninterrupted is just not something that happens. And, to completion, is yet another one of those challenging non-happenings in our home on a consistent basis. For the most part, I've come to terms that our home is going to not be "put-away" all day, everyday. It just is what it is right now. 

Even though this is our little place in life right now, I have managed to carve out a little bit of sweet mostly uninterrupted time in my day to do kitchen duties that I find relaxing.

See, I love being in the kitchen. Cooking, And, even tidying it up. Lately, after lunch, the boys will watch a short show before nap time. Say, 20-30 minutes. During that time, I get myself to the kitchen and do any dinner prep that may be needed, clean up after lunch, and do the dishes all the while listening to fabulous Ella Fitzgerald and all her friends that grace my Pandora station. It is such a nice time! This little bit of ordinary is fairly easy to embrace. I think there's grace in that. And, I think there is just something to uninterrupted time that is just golden after having kids.


Extraordinary
My boys. Oh my boys! 

For the last 17-months of Linus' life, I think it'd be fair to say that we have spent quite a good bit of time in the cry room. The boy has a very determined personality and for whatever reason he has asked to nurse during almost every Mass he has ever attended. Don't get me wrong, I don't find there to be a problem with nursing in Mass at all, but to have to nurse a baby gone toddler during every Mass can get to be a little much. Even daily Mass (but because I know we have less time I was able to distract him there).
Linus + Mass = Tears, tantrums, crying, fussing, and cry room trips.
Older brother on the other hand was always amazing in Mass till the days of being potty-trained. All of a sudden, we had a boy who apparently needed to go to the bathroom 10 different times during Mass. Mind you, we didn't take him 10 different times, but the constant need to encourage him to only ask when he indefinitely needed to go got a little tiring.
Bigfoot + Mass = Constant requests to go Potty! and constant requests for Donuts!!
Fast forward to last weekend and we had our first no-nurse and no-cry-room-trips Mass. It was amazing! But, we chalked it up to a miracle that God allowed to happen to remind us He is wonderful and all-powerful.
 And, then fast-forward again to today, and wouldn't you know?! They were amazing! Only one trip (before Mass started) to go to the bathroom. No nursing. No cry-rooms necessary.

Linus not only was amazing but completely extraordinary. He mumbled his way through almost all the prayers. Played with his little Lego rosary, gave Mama Mary kisses (my heart melts!), and sang along in his own little Linus way to almost every hymn! Extraordinary, I tell you!

While, Bigfoot made it through all of Mass saying prayers, a little bit of sing-a-long with hymns, knelt and said a prayer to Jesus, as well as did some quiet reading in Daddy's lap! Incredible! Towards the end he started getting a little fussy, but was redirectable and we made it through!
 Miracle of miracles for this mama has now happened two weekends in a row! I think we have turned a corner, friends, and I am so thankful!
Today, extraordinary got them some delicious donuts and kolaches. They were pretty excited. Hopefully they'll remember the treat and repeat next week.

Proud of my two little guys! I imagine it's not easy to sit through Mass with all the energy that lives within them, but today, they were Rockstars in the self-discipline department and that is definitely extraordinary in my book!

Linking-up with Gina for Embrace the Ordinary.

embrace the ordinarybutton

Friday, August 8, 2014

Found some sunshine

Thinking about // Nell over at Whole Family Parenting was talking about getting things done. I loved her energy and how she shared about her dad being known as a human doing rather than just a human being.

I need to take notes. My mom is a human doing. I am not. It's not so much in my nature, but I need to take note. I'm pretty lackadaisical and enjoy finding rhythm in my day-to-day than having plans and schedules. But, this approach often allows for some of the smaller daily duties to get lost.

I'd like to be more of a doer as well as enjoy our daily rhythms. Thankfully, there has been grace today and a lot of doing has been happening. Pray that I learn/figure out a little way for me to be fruitful in consistency.

***

Also, with all the Breastfeeding Awareness posts happening this week and month, I've been thinking about sharing about my breastfeeding journey. I've been through it all, bad latches, thrush (more times that I will ever care for), mastitis, engorgement, night nursing, day nursing, etc. etc. etc. I feel I have lots to share, mostly in the thrush department. Given that I've had some terrible and resistant bouts of it, I'm pretty sure I have healing down pat - also, all mostly using natural alternatives because taking oral antibiotics never did a thing for me.

Anyhow, hopefully next week I can organize my thoughts enough to share. Thrush is so incredibly painful, part of me wishes I had already shared on my go-to treatment, but as time and life would have it, I have not.

Reading // My Facebook feed. Honestly, with all the tragedy going on, a part of me just wants to step away from all things current events related. Doesn't mean I'd stop praying, but it would lighten my heart just a little bit. And, a lighter heart is good for me.

As for books, we've been going through lots of Dr. Seuss in our house. My tongue usually starts to feel a bit on the funny side towards the end of the day. Especially after Fox in Socks By Dr. Seuss. As Dr. Seuss warns at the start, Take it SLOWLY! This BOOK is DANGEROUS!

Loving // My family. Loving my boys. They are at a really sweet age. Playing together, fighting together, talking together, sharing together, exploring together. I am loving the together! It's so sweet! And, my husband. Last night at bible study he flirted with me in a way that made my heart skip a beat. I felt like I was back in college meeting him for the first time. Funny how the littlest thing can so easily take us back to such a fun and sweet time. Haha, he thought I was ridiculous, but my heart really did melt.

Thankful for // I'm thankful for so many things right now. As much as I complain about the lack of sleep, back pain, or now my wonderfully pulled muscle that makes me walk funny (Gee whiz! I am feeling old!), things are really great right now. We are blessed with wonderful family, wonderful friends, and a beautiful faith. God is good. And, I'm thankful.

In the Kitchen // Between a playdate yesterday, bible study last night, and leftovers for lunch and dinner today, I haven't needed to cook for two whole days! Yahoo! We had a chili soup that lasted well and coconut milk and lemongrass chicken that has also made it to our dinner table a couple times this week! The coconut milk and lemongrass chicken is this recipe I've mentioned before but this time I made it with only chicken breast and in the crockpot. I'm a fan. Less fatty/greasy. Still flavorful and wonderful. 

It's been awhile since I baked or made a fun dessert so I definitely do need to reconcile that. Hopefully with this amazing cake from Shower of Roses. It's a maple bacon upside-down cake! What??? I know. I really need an occasion and asap!

Praying // For all the turmoil in the world. For hearts to soften and heal. For wisdom for all in power to do what they can to make our world a better place. To protect. To serve when we can. There is so much tragedy right now. 

Also, praying for all women who have lost a baby recently, who are suffering with infertility/sub-fertility, and for all women who are striving to live a life in love with Our Lord so that He may be known more.

Praying for my family, near and far. Praying for friends, near and far. And, praying for all the intentions of my family and friends. 
O glorious prince St. Michael,
chief and commander of the heavenly hosts,
guardian of souls, vanquisher of rebel spirits,
servant in the house of the Divine King
and our admirable conductor,
you who shine with excellence
and superhuman virtue deliver us from all evil
, who turn to you with confidence
and enable us by your gracious protection
to serve God more and more faithfully every day.
 
St. Michael, pray for us. Amen.

Captured // With all that's going on in the world, I'm thankful I can walk outside our home and find sunshine. The beautiful glorious sun in all it's wonder. The same sun that lets us have our playtime and enjoy His simple Goodness.
Evening swing. He's getting ready for bed.
Bigfoot is getting to an age where he is engaging in more independent and creative play outside. Aside from him loving playing sports all the live long day, he is now venturing more. Fun times.
Love the sun!
Little sweetness.
Brother see, brother do.
Throwing rocks at the slide, because it's fun.
They both really enjoy this. Maybe it's all the noise.

My little climber. Woah! Woahhh! WoaahhHHHH! Now, every time he does something new or slightly daring you can here him saying these words over and over and...
Bold.
Summer fun.
Summer sun.
Time in his little fort. He always finds himself in this little space.
He is so stinkin' cute! I mean, really! I love his little face!
This little monkey is quite the cutie too! I share more pictures of his playground adventures here. He climbed up a level on the jungle gym. Something he's been trying to do for months!
Thanks for stopping by!

Linking up with Jen and Jenna for 7 Quick-Takes and Currently. Click on the links to go enjoy other wonderful women!
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