february: nesting days

Here I sit, 10 days away from baby boy’s due date, with lots of dull aches in my back and pressure in my front, drinking raspberry tea like it is my job, and pulling banana muffins out of the oven to freeze up for the sleepy newborn days to come.

How am I feeling?

  • Tired. Sleeping has become veryyy interesting and intermittent, so I am basically ready for a nap around 2 pm everyday. Hah! SO thankful that I am working from home these last few weeks and not on my feet all day.
  • Hopeful, but nervous! I head to the doctor tomorrow for my almost 39 week appointment. She will check me and I am REALLY praying that my body has made some progress.
  • Waiting for something that you have zero control over and zero knowledge of when it will actually happen is tough. Especially for me, who LOVES a plan (rolling my eyes at myself haha!). My mind is all over the place. But I am thanking God for each day of rest and preparation, while baby boy continues to cook.

What have we been up to?

For Valentine’s day I made THIS delicious Biscuit Chicken Pot Pie, getting festive by shaping the biscuits into hearts. We followed our yummy dinner-in with an ice cream date to our favorite local spot. I had a scoop of honey cinnamon & a scoop of espresso, while Adam had a scoop of chocolate & a scoop of mint chip. I left my phone in the car, so you’ll just have to believe me 🙂

I stuck to my cleaning schedule for a week straight, which felt like a major feat! The schedule is based off of The Clean Mama routine and it has been working for me. Setting a timer and knocking out one major task a day feels like the most doable way to clean for me. My plan is to continue with each day’s task till we meet out little man, wish me luck!

I went to yoga a few times last week and have still be hitting to pool for some laps and stretching. With each pool visit, it becomes less of a workout and more of just laid back movement in water. It feels so good!

Finishing Baby Boy’s side of our room! & getting all of his clothes organized is all set up and ready to go.

Reading & takin’ baths – I have read 3 novels since the start of 2020 and feel pretty happy about that! This week I went to our local library and scored on a new read. Now we will see if I can finish it before our buddy comes. Also, baths have felt SO GOOD for my backaches and just in general. Thank you Lord for a big ole’ tub, lavender essential oil, and bath salts to help take care of my preggo body!

Food prepping! Some of you have asked for me to compile of list of things I have made to freeze for baby boy’s arrival. So here you go —

  • Pinch of Yum’s Hawaiian Chicken Tacos, Chicken Meatballs, and Lentil Soup. All found on THIS post.
  • GF/DF Blueberry Muffins
  • Sourdough Banana Bread (which we have snuck a couple slices of early)
  • Half batch of Sweet Potato Oat Muffins
  • Half batch of Banana, Oat, Chocolate Chip Muffins
  • and I mighttt get to making a few Black Bean Veggie Burgers 🙂

I am thinking (& hoping) this will be the last post I write before we get to meet our boy! The countdown is on and we can’t wait to see his face!

weeknight meal: thai peanut noodles

When you are feeling bored and uninspired in the kitchen, this recipe is sure to get you out of that weeknight meal slump! It is so flavorful, bright (which is especially appreciated in the dead of winter), and comes together with minimal time and effort. Also, it makes for divine leftovers – perfect for heating up in the microwave or on the stovetop!

Oh, I’ll also say that you can easily make the sauce and/or cook the noodles ahead of time if you are looking for ways to make the dinner hour prep even shorter!

Let’s make it then, shall we?

Ingredients

For the peanut sauce:

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup water
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 TB coconut aminos (can substitute soy sauce or tamari)
  • 1 TB honey
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 inch knob ginger, peeled
  • 1-2 TB sriracha (depending on how spicy you like it)

For the rest:

  • 1/2 package stir fry rice noodles
  • 3-4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 2 small broccoli crowns torn/chopped
  • a handful of cilantro, chopped
  • a handful of dry roasted peanuts, chopped

Method:

Begin cooking the rice noodles according to the package instructions.

Combine all sauce ingredients in a high powered blender. Blend until completely smooth. Taste and decide if you want to add more sriracha, a pinch of salt, or more honey.

While the noodles finish cooking, chop your vegetables. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add a spoonful of coconut oil or high-heat cooking oil (like avocado oil) to the pan. Add the green onions and stir. Add a hefty pinch of salt. Add the carrots and broccoli. Turn the heat to medium-high. Saute the veggies, stirring occasionally, until the carrots and broccoli are just tender (about 7 minutes).

Drain the noodles and put them back into the pot. Pour the sauce over the noodles and stir. Dump the sautéed veggies into the noodles and stir to combine. Top with chopped cilantro and peanuts. Enjoy!

Notes:

  • Noodles – look on the international isle in your grocery store! Thai Kitchen does make “stir fry rice noodles” but the brand I got just said “rice noodles”. Don’t stress on finding the exact ones, just get rice noodles that look like fettuccine noodles.
  • Can I add meat?? Of course! Shredded or chopped chicken on top would be nice! I just didn’t have any on hand and this meal was actually plenty filling without the meat. Even Adam didn’t miss it!

january: baby boy is coming!

People keep saying that January feels like the longest month ever, but I am feeling like how in the world is it already January 30th!?

Maybe it’s because my January has been full of back to back movement and new things and serious to-do lists and a brain full of what still needs to happen before baby boy comes!

We started off the new year celebrating our 2nd wedding anniversary that we both slightly forgot about on the actual day, so we headed to a new-to-us brunch spot in town and had the most delicious meal to celebrate on New Year’s Day. I got to have a few days of rest, in which I devoured two novels like a mad women, being totally swept up in the stories! It was a nice way to ease into January! Soon enough I got back to work for Young Life and nannying a few days a week and then the baby gifts started rolling in! It has been so much fun to open everything, work on finding a place for it (still in progress), and imagining using it with our BABY BOY! And before I knew it, it was time to pack up and head back to Atlanta for my big and wonderful baby shower!

All things nesting have been on my mind since returning from my baby shower in Atlanta! The reality that we are having a baby (and very soon) has hit as I have washed all of his clothes, blankets, and cloth diapers, and as we’ve read his books and assembled his stroller. It is a really sweet and exciting time – he feels so close to being here in our everyday lives, yet we still have this unknown amount of time to dream about him and prepare for him and enjoy the days with him still inside my belly. My to-do list is long , full of the things that NEED to happen before he comes and things that I just WANT to happen before he comes, but as I tend to get overwhelmed or worn out I am reminding myself that each task is such a privilege and a joy! It is a gift to be bringing him into the world. It is a gift to have a carseat that needs installing, hospital forms that need filling out, and baby clothes that need to be washed and put away.

As I write this post, I am 36 weeks pregnant. I run out of breath far too quickly and I am wiped at the end of a day, but I am so grateful to have carried this life for 36 whole weeks. A couple of my fingertips are numb (due to all the extra fluid) and my daily walks are definitely decreasing in distance (hello back pain!) but those are tiny setbacks in the bigger and brighter story of bringing our son into the world. Friends have been saying to me lately, well the great news is that no matter when he comes now, he will be safe! Yes, amen! What a blessing that he has been growing away and becoming strong for all of these weeks. I am not taking any of it for granted.

Today I got to put together our changing table drawer and I just can’t believe it is going to be put to use so soon. Y’all newborn diapers are the tiniest, most precious lil’ things! I mean gosh, they are going to fit my little guy. It’s crazy. Also, I am really excited about venturing into cloth diapering once we get a rhythm going with him. I have always been interested in cloth diapering, and once I found the Esembly brand of cloth diapers I was sold. Adam is definitely hesitant about this, but we are going to give it our best shot and I’m hoping the practice will stick. 🙂

Our plan for the weekend is to install the carseat, hang art and a shelf over the changing table, and for me to get going on a few freezer meals/snacks! I think nesting/prepping for a baby to come is right up an Enneagram One’s alley, since we love a to-do list and any reason to create order and systems hah! I am having so much fun getting everything READY to bring our boy home.

so here is a smattering of sweet moments from January:

atlanta baby shower time with my girl Cath!
Bob Dylan getting to know my Boppy pillow and sniffing all the blankets
slow, steady, and oh so peaceful trail walks with Bob Dylan while Adam skis!
35 week bump-date!
changing table drawer – loaded with cloth diapers, diaper balm, wipes, and newborn disposables. be still my heart! and oh, heyyy baby bump!
Adam and I documenting his very long Montana man hair! He heads to get it chopped off today.

on creativity and soul rest

For a few weeks, I’ve been thinking about the topic of creativity and what it does for my soul. I’ve been wondering if creating has the same effect on all human hearts as it does on my own. I’ve thought about the tie creating has between who are Heavenly Father is and who we are because of Him. I’ve spent some time remembering the things I LOVED to do as a little girl and why I loved to do them. I’ve started paying closer attention to when my desire to create has come up. I’ve chosen to listen to it more freely and without judgement.

And by all that thinking and noticing and wondering here is what I’ve learned…

My desire, our desire, to CREATE and to make NEW things is inherited directly from our Heavenly Father. He is the King of all creation. He was the first to be wildly creative, to love His own work, and to find joy and rest in the work of His hands. He created the world and all that is in it and I believe He smiled and took long exhales with each stroke of His painter’s brush. He rested on the 7th day because creating is hard work, but it was also important to take the time to DELIGHT in the goodness of all that He created. So even though God’s creating did take time, effort, and thought, it seems as if it was a source of renewal and life for His soul.

Creating feels like a way I can let my soul be at rest. Creating is different from to-do list items or chores, which can very easily fill up my time. Creating is something that is non-essential – it’s not making dinner or planning out my week or organizing the closet. It is a choice, which instantly makes it full of freedom and pleasure. Creating for the sake of making something out of nothing feels so GOOD. I’ve loved doing that since I was a little girl. Whether it was turning paper into a pretend keyboard, or planning lessons for my pretend tutoring group, or baking cookies with my grandmother. The idea that simple things can become works of wonder and enjoyment is just so attractive to my soul. I want to engage in the process of making beauty out of ashes. And the process of making the thing is good for my mind. It draws me into the present and captivates my thoughts. As I make, I am celebrating the gifts of the Lord – the smells, the textures, the wonder of making a new thing. And then, I get to enjoy the thing I made. By eating it or sharing it or observing it. It is a true pleasure.

Nowadays, for me the practice of creativity and making looks like…

  • mixing flour and water to make beautiful hearty sourdough bread
  • deciding to sell a handful of my homemade dry shampoos and bath salts to friends for Christmas, even if it seems silly to do so without having a real business
  • drying orange slices in the oven and stringing them together to make a simple and beautiful Christmas garland
  • making a new Christmas treat on a weeknight – peppermint chocolate covered pretzels
  • designing labels to make the dry shampoo and bath salt jars look as cute and thoughtful as possible

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning–the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

Genesis 1:31-2:3

So here is me saying that creativity is really important for me, and maybe all of us. I think God put it in us, because it’s in Him, and we are His kids. “I got it from my Papa (in heaven).”

As I prepare to bring a new life into the world, I really need to remember that making space to CREATE fills me up. It helps my SOUL rest in who God created me to be. It takes my mind off of striving and producing and plants me in the tangible things of this world – colors, flour, smells, tastes, textures. It is a practice of freedom and of joy. Enjoying the way God made the world and taking part in making beautiful things!

So if this creating business feels like something that is up your alley or totally out of your ballpark, I encourage you to take a stab at it either way. Remember that what you are making isn’t about perfect end results, it’s about making for the sheer pleasure of making. It’s about the process. It’s about getting present in the things of this world and making beauty out of ashes.

I want to hear about it if you do.

a week of meals: how-to

As many of you know, I used to make weekly meal plans for families and friends. I provided a shopping list, a schedule, and wrote (and tested) every recipe! It was a blast of a side-hustle and I feel proud of the work to this day. So why did I stop? Because my system wasn’t all that sustainable or doable for everybody and because of my Enneagram 1 nature, I couldn’t really handle helping folks and knowing that my answer could be better or more “right” (i.e. that it wasn’t the perfect solution to dinnertime woes.) Hah! Maybe now you think I am a crazy girl, and you might be right, but I so badly wanted to my system to help EVERY family & friend get dinner on the table with more DELIGHT, that I didn’t feel right about continuing to provide my imperfect service.

So this post is all about attempting to help the MASSES. Whether you are in college, working long days at a job, learning how to feed your spouse, or learning how to make dinner happen with little ones around – I think there is something useful in this post for everyone! Which really satisfies this crazy enneagram 1 girl.

So here is how I make a full week of meals get to the table in our house. And before any of you think I am some pro or wonder women at dinnertime, that is simple untrue. I work full-time and am tired at the end of the day. I want simple, satisfying meals that use regular ingredients. I want time in the kitchen to be short so that I can spend more time with the people of love. Mealtime is a forever work in progress and something I really enjoy working at.

Step 1 : plan one freezer meal session a month

This is a new thing in our house, but I loved it so much the first time I did it that I wanted to make it a part of my monthly kitchen routine. For me, I prepare 4 meals in this one “session,” which takes me no longer than 1.5 hours. It is a MUST for me that these meals only require the oven, instant pot, or crockpot to bd ready to hit the table on a weeknight. I have found these exact kind of recipes in THIS blog post. Adam and I went through all of them and agreed on ones we both liked and I wrote down a list. I pick 4 from the list and add those ingredients to my week’s shopping list. Then, I carve out the time needed on Saturday or Sunday to get them all into the freezer. This way for each week of the next month I have one meal that requires ZERO planning and is prepped in the freezer. This has been such a game changer for making a week of meals happen!

Step 2: make a list of “brainless crowdpleasers”

Thanks to The Lazy Genius, “brainless crowdpleasers” have made meal planning RADICALLY easier for me. The Lazy Genius is my meal planning guru if you will and her way of doing things is just so good. For her explanation and execution of “brainless crowdpleasers” you can listen to her podcast episode. But for now the short and sweet explanation of “brainless crowdpleasers” are meals that satisfy the likes and dislikes of the people you feed at YOUR table, are “brainless” for YOU (as in they don’t cause stress or overwhelm – they feel easy and very doable on a busy weeknight), and are REALISTIC (in terms of time and ingredients) for the season of life you are in. Having a list of these meals (even if you only have 2 or 3) is so helpful because you have something to turn to that is much smaller than the internet or a whole cookbook when you are planning out a week of meals. PLUS, you know these meals will actually be WINNERS at the table! Gosh, it really is GENIUS. Here are a few from our list —

  • Buffalo Chicken Wraps
  • BBQ Chicken Pita Pizzas
  • Verde Chicken Chili
  • Caribbean Bowls
  • Beef Tacos & Fajita Chicken Tacos
  • Kitchen Sink Salad
  • Lasagna Florentine
  • Pesto Pasts & Turkey Meatballs
  • Greek Bowls
  • Pizza Friday

Step 3: write your meal plan & grocery list

With your list of brainless crowdpleasers and list of the freezer meals you made this month in hand, I want you to write down the days of the week you will be making dinner at home. Then think about your week – what days are hectic? what days might you have more time in the kitchen? what days allow for very minimal prep time? Now, pick one freezer meal for your busiest day/night of the week and mark it off the freezer meal list. Next, look to your brainless crowdpleasers and pick the nights that will work best for making them. Last step is to make a list of all the ingredients you will need for the meals you picked, plus whatever else you need for breakfasts/snacks.

Step 4: shop once & get everything in the right place when you get home

This step is somewhat self explanatory. But let me emphasize that shopping ONCE for the week really pays off in terms of maintaining sanity come Wednesday. What I mean by get everything into the right place is — wash lettuce/herbs if it needs it, put things it the pantry so that you know where to find them when its time to cook, leave veggies/fruits on counter if they need time to ripen, etc.

step 5 (BONUS) : make a batch of something extra

Something that you can have on hand for breakfasts on snacks throughout the week! Examples – muffins, loaves, breakfast cookies, peanut butter balls, egg cups, overnight oats, quiche. This does not happen every week in our house, but gosh I love it when it does because it is one less thing I have to think about during the week and we usually end up eating at home more!

I hope this was helpful and that you got at least one idea of something you could to make your life in the kitchen more enjoyable! Food is a gift, y’all and I want it to feel like that! Let me know if you have any questions – more than happy to help you.

Life under the Big Sky

Hi, friends!

Adam and I have been settling into our new home of Bozeman, MT for about 2 months now! Crazy. And I finally feel like we are coming up for breath (i.e REST) and really feeling more at home, which is exactly why this blog is making its debut today.

As Adam headed out with Bob Dylan (our puppy boy) on a hike on this rainy Saturday morning, I slowly woke up and headed to the neighborhood sandwich shop for their morning breakfast burrito special. So with a happy and full belly, and true wi-fi that totally beats our hotspot at home, its time to give y’all a good update on our life these days under the Big Sky!

listening to: Due to the nature of my new job, where I sew backpacks all day, I have been listening to lots of podcasts and yoga-y playlists. A fave weekly podcast listen – The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey

baking: granola — with walnuts and a mix of maple syrup and honey. so good.

amazed by: The weather. Apparently its been a “long spring” out here or “mild summer.” It snowed in June. And now in lateJ uly it is still raining occasionally, which is apparently very rare by this time. It cools down every evening, we open up our windows because A/C is unheard of here (not complaining!), and wake up to brisk mornings. It is truly awe-some! Especially for a Georgia girl that is used to living in tanks and gym shorts for 5 months of the year.

soaking up: the temperatures! but also, hiking after work, the warm sunshine, the clear skies, the long days of natural light, and taking Bob Dylan without having to bundle up!

wearing: scarves and socks! like what? but the mornings and evenings are chilly and those two extra “layers” do the trick. it’s so cozy.

moving: I found a yoga studio that I really like! And what’s funny and totally reflective of the culture differences between here and fast-paced hustling Atlanta, is that even yoga classes here that are described as more challenging don’t hold a candle to the intensity of Atlanta’s classes. And honestly, I am all about it. It is way less competitive and just more “feel good.” It’s good to be a Montana yogi 🙂

reading: call us goobers but Adam is determined to have me love Harry Potter, so we have been trading off reading it to each other before bed on the nights that we don’t watch an episode of the office or new girl. it’s fun.

feeling loved by: call and texts from friends and family checking in on us!

adventuring: so much adventuring! its almost overwhelming how much there is to see and do outside. a favorite of late is Fairy Lake, the trail up to it isn’t that exciting but once you get there… JAW DROP (see below). we are also floating a river tomorrow and I am very excited about that!

experiencing: fly fishing for the first time! we were taken by some Atlanta friends who came to visit and gosh it was fun! and even if I didn’t catch any fish, the views on the Yellowstone River would have been satisfying enough!

learning: so many things… another post soon on this topic. but in the meantime, I am learning that when you become very aware that you are not in control of your life, you can be sure that the Maker hasn’t left His throne and rest in peace knowing that He has been steering your boat all along.

excited about: getting back into knitting! headed to this cutie yarn shop after this to get some supplies!

thankful for: Adam, for being my steady earthly rock and always looking to the promises and provision of the Lord. and Jesus, for knowing me fully and still loving me without end. Them two, are too good to me!