Thursday, September 22, 2016

Happy Autumn!

Last Autumn when Lydia was 8 months old, now she is 18 months old!!

"Life starts all over again 
when it gets crisp in the fall."
                       -F. Scott Fitzgerald 
For as long as I can remember autumn has always been my favorite season, and I'm pretty proud of being born around this time of year! I love when the weather slowly begins to cool down and the leaves start changing shades of color. The smell of the air is crisp, and cinnamon sugar becomes the signature scent of my home. Everything just feels cozier. I'll be able to start wearing my fall uniform: a chunky sweater or flannel, jeans and boots. I cannot wait til I can wear boots again!! Food seems to taste better this time of year too. Winter squashes are at their peak, and boy do they taste mighty fine roasted, sprinkled with pumpkin seeds and served over kale. I also like pumpkin pie, pumpkin oatmeal, and pumpkin smoothies heavy on the spices.

There's a lot to love about this season. It seems to always inspire people to get together more whether it's to watch football (not me, I'm just there for the food), go to harvest festivals, host seasonal parties, go apple picking, etc. There's really no solid reason not to fellowship with your people when autumn is here! I am most looking forward to starting traditions with my family. I think Lydia will love jumping in freshly raked leaves, going to our towns harvest festival and helping me bake lots of delicious treats in the kitchen.

What are you most looking forward to this autumn? 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Changing my perspective of time...

I am generally a creative person. I am passionate about cooking, trying new recipes, writing and often dabbling into photography. I would definitely say I am at my happiest when I have the time to do those things. It's funny because I thought being a stay-at-home mom would grant me the free time necessary to create and quickly learned that was not the case! Don't get me wrong being a wife and mom is the most fulfilling experience in the world for me, it's just when I don't always get a chance to create it makes me a little sad and moodier. 

Some days that special time I have to create comes easier and other days my time is limited. I'm actually thanking God as I type this because Lydia is playing by herself and not demanding me to pick her up! A big turn around indeed. I was dealing with a needy chub over the last couple of weeks, and by the time she would go down for a nap, I'd have to prepare dinner or was too exhausted to tap into creativity which made me feel discouraged. However it helps when I remind myself that I'm doing a good thing by placing my family first and my passions second. No I can't do everything all at once, but I can do everything I desire to do in increments. Having this perspective has really changed my attitude when my time is limited and it is key in surviving the epic burn outs that come from being a stay-at-home mom!

As a Christian, I depend on Christ for everything, including my time and without Him I doubt my perspective would be positive when I'm burnt out. Through Him I am a more patient, industrious and kind woman, He even gives me a peace of mind when time isn't by my side. I am learning that I have to pray for myself to find that special time and wholeheartedly trust that God will open a window for me. I am also learning as a wife, it's okay to ask for help when I'm feeling exhausted and that I'm not being selfish if I ask for alone time to create. It's what makes me a happier wife and mom after all. The scripture above is one that I'm holding onto when I am feeling especially burnt out. The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He guards all his bones; Not one of them is broken.” -Psalm 34:17-20 

I have to say I feel a lot better writing what’s been on my mind lately, and I am slowly working myself back into writing more content!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Peach & Walnut Smoothie

I think I may have hit the mommy brain trifecta! It all started a couple Friday's ago, when I made these lovely peach pie bars and without realizing until after they were in the oven, I put 1 tablespoon of BAKING POWDER instead of 1 tablespoon of CORNSTARCH in the peach filling. What the heck. The result wasn't pretty, the peach filling was gray and as expected the taste was completely off. I didn't beat myself up about it because the baking powder and cornstarch containers were quite similar looking. I only knew it wasn't cornstarch because I had recycled that container, and had opened one that comes from a bag. Oops!

Last week I did a lot of cooking/baking, because it was Michael's birthday, I also cooked for a family who recently had a baby, and baked a cake for the church picnic, etc. I guess my brain was a little fried from all the planning, prepping, cooking, and eating because my mommy brain (or maybe Jessica brain would be the correct term here) was back in effect this Sunday. We went straight to the grocery store after church, and I got more Brita filters and smoked salmon from Costco thinking we ran out of both. Michael insisted we still had both but I was positive we didn't. As soon as we come home and were putting away our groceries, he finds both an unopened box of Brita filters in the cabinet and vacuum sealed smoked salmon in the fridge. All I could say was "at least we don't have to buy either for a while..."  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Now that all of that is out in the open, let's focus on this Peach & Walnut smoothie that I like to believe redeems me of my Jessica/mommy brain tendencies. We received gigantically beautiful peaches from our CSA, and I used a couple to bake with, devoured whole ones with Lydia, and froze the rest for smoothies. When ripened aren't peaches the most succulent and delicious summer fruits you've ever eaten? Messy but so worth it. I especially love them in this smoothie! I added walnuts because I like a thick smoothie that will keep me full and satisfied, two admirable qualities in a smoothie if you ask me.

Peach & Walnut Smoothie (vegan, gluten-free*)
  • 1 peach fresh or frozen, sliced 
  • half banana, peeled and frozen overnight
  • 1 medjool date, pitted or 1 tablespoon maple syrup for sweetness
  • 2 tablespoons rolled oats*
  • 1 handful raw walnuts (about 2-3 tablespoons...)
  • A dash of cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2-3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
*Use gluten-free oats if necessary. Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until thoroughly combined. Pour into a glass and enjoy immediately!

Monday, August 8, 2016

6 ways to eat more tahini (if you have a sweet-and-savory tooth!):

Tahini's bitterness may be polarizing to some and could require a little getting used to due to it's complex flavor. And though you won't catch me eating tahini by the spoonful, I love using tahini in sweet applications because it is nutty, bitter, and rich and those flavors often help balance treats that are otherwise cloyingly sweet. I consider myself one who has a sweet-and-savory tooth, and I figured it would be fun to share ways to eat tahini that go way beyond hummus and dressings. So this post is for all my like-minded sweet-and-savory toothed friends! (Not sure that's something people really say, but I'm going with it!)

1. If you normally add peanut or almond butter to your oatmeal, try swapping it for a spoonful or two of tahini!

2. On a piece of toast! 3 of my favorite toast combos: 

-tahini with strawberry jam
-tahini with chocolate chips and sea salt
-tahini with banana, a drizzle of honey and sprinkle of ground cinnamon. 

It’s the perfect evening snack when I’m feeling a little hungry and yet wanting something both indulgent and nutritious. 

3.  In chocolate chip cookies or swirled into brownies. Chocolate and tahini just works so seamlessly together, much like peanut butter, but more interesting!

4. Three words: Tahini ice cream! 

5. Stir it into your Greek yogurt with fresh fruit, a bit of honey, ground cardamom and a drop of vanilla extract. It’s one of my favorite afternoon snacks, it's tasty and packed with healthy fat and protein, and fills me up til dinnertime.

6. Last but not least blend it into your next smoothie!

My favorite: 

-1 tablespoon tahini
-1 frozen banana
-1-2 pitted medjool dates
-2 tablespoons raw oats
-touch of cinnamon
-1/2 cup almond milk

Blend until thoroughly combined. Soooo good!

What are your favorite ways to eat tahini? :)

Friday, August 5, 2016

Friday Love! {8.5.2016}

Hey guys! This week has been so much less overwhelming than last week, I have been feeling more myself and been quite inspired too. So here’s a little roundup of things I’m loving these days...

one // Having a date night last week! Michael and I went into the city for dinner and drinks. We went to Seviche for a few tapas and walked across the Roberto Clemente bridge to a beer bar, and shared 2 flights. I’m not typically a beer person but I found a couple that were pretty refreshing on such a humid evening!

two // Tahini swirled into my yogurt. The tahini thickens and gives the yogurt such a richness, making it taste a bit decadent! Sometimes I’ll add honey to offset the bitterness of the tahini but now not so much, I don't really mind it! I’ve been doing this for a few months now and it made me think of a cool post. What if I shared other unconventional ways to use tahini that go beyond hummus? Hmm *thinking emoji*

three // These “mom” shorts. They are on my wishlist of things to buy before summer ends! I only have two shorts that fit appropriately thanks to squats...  I like that they’re high waisted and aren't too short. 

four // Instagram stories! At first I was a little skeptical because it mirrored Snapchat and I didn't think that was cool of Instagram. However, I’m actually finding myself using it, and might even try cooking tutorials! Like most people, I'm digging the convenience of it being all in one app! To be honest, I never really gave Snapchat a time of day, just know that, Lydia and I will miss the funny filters. Womp, womp.

five // Our CSA goodies this week; we got a watermelon and more green beans this week, a CSA favorite of mine! I also bought some peaches at the farm when I picked up my bag.  I just couldn’t resist! I’m thinking Lydia and I will probably eat some as is, and I'll save some for peach pie bars and maybe these wine slushies :)

six // This photo of Lydia begging for some yucca fries! It isn't the first time she's done this either, I've got quite the collection of pictures to prove it. My sister insists I share a post dedicated to these moments, and I just might!

And that’s all I got this week, until next week my friends!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Kitchen Daydreams Part II

First let's take a look at how our kitchen was two summer's ago, when we first moved in, and now take a look at our kitchen today:

You can see our turquoise accent wall and my husband's first handmade shelf unit holding up dry produce (bananas, onions, garlic and potatoes), tea towels and aprons, pans, appliances and cookbooks. We got our reclaimed wood kitchen table on Craigslist and the X-back chairs are from Wayfair.
Michael also painted the side of our pantry with chalkboard paint and I added red runner rug for a pop of color.
These photos share a few of my favorite things: the  Kraus faucet (makes washing dishes SO easy and less mundane!), deep-fryer, and of course the magnetic knife holder + paper towel holder and shelf Michael also made.
On the left: This area is a working progress. There is actually another shelf in the making (!) and will go where the bulletin board currently is, and we plan on replacing the cream hutch with a metal baker's rack with wheels. The white can is for recyclables and the red hutch is stocked with all our spices. That is probably the most organized you'll see the spice hutch as any of you with toddlers would know they love playing with anything within reach! :) On the right: the beautiful birdy curtains my mom made us!
Though all the changes have been small and more on the decorative side (with the exception of Michael's shelves), I'm very happy with how things are coming along and have dreams of making bigger changes in the future! My favorite thing about owning our house is giving it personal touches and delighting in the projects that do get accomplished. It's such a rewarding feeling!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Friday Love! {7.29.2016}

one // Have you guys ever tried 2-ingredient pancakes? They've been around for a few years now and I've made them before in the past but completely forgot about them! Fortunately while I was browsing on The Kitchn, I saw that they posted a recipe and gorgeous pictures of them. So I made them this morning....Didn't manage to get a picture because, well, pancakes are not my strong suit and they were not pretty. It doesn't help that they're more delicate than regular pancakes. However, I'm learning that using a cast iron skillet and a fish spatula (which goes above and beyond flipping fish!) are key. As far as taste goes these pancakes remind me so much of french toast only they're lighter and give me energy! 

two // Remember how I mentioned organizing the basement two weeks ago? Well... that never happened. ALTHOUGH, I did manage to organize Michael's closet, the pantry and our small appliance cabinet. All of which were quite unorganized. The basement organizing will come into affect eventually. Again prayers are appreciated : )

three //  Lydia got in her molars!! Also she always eats standing up now and firmly believes that the more utensils at meal time the better. And she has been a little better about eating her food rather than throwing it to Zoe too. Sometimes it's just the little victories that keep me sane! Yay.

four // The most indulgent things we ate this week included homemade curly fries and miso caramel ice cream. The curly fries were reminiscent of potato sticks which I LOVED as a kid. However they weren't as spicy as I'd like them to be, so next time I will bump up the volume on the cayenne and smoked paprika! As far the miso caramel ice cream, I am completely smitten with this flavor and may or may not consider it a new favorite. I found the recipe here and used white miso because it is what I had. The miso provided both a nutty and salty flavor which balances the sweetness of the caramel. It's also extremely creamy and rich, a home run all around!

five // I am looking forward to the weekend. This week has been long, overwhelming and yucky... Hoping for sunshine, productivity and some quiet time.

On that note, I hope you also enjoy your weekend!