Thursday, February 28, 2013

Foodie Friday–Best of the Week

Lately I’ve been much better about making sure dinner gets on the table. The days are becoming more and more predictable and my desire to get back in the kitchen has come back in full swing. The past week or two we’ve had some really good meals so I thought I would share what has made it onto our table.

In the past week or so these meals have been made and enjoyed wholeheartedly by all three of us! Elizabeth’s favorites were the Barbacoa and chicken and dumplings. She’d bang her hands on the high chair to make sure we would give her more:)


-Barbacoa - This was SO GOOD; I cut the recipe in half and wish I wouldn’t have

-Teriyaki Chicken – good

-Lighter Chicken and DumplingsAMAZING…this will be in our rotation

-Pepperoni Rolls – These are a staple and so, so good

-Lasagna (my mom’s recipe)

-Penne with Italian Sausage Ragu (my recipe)

-Ina’s Pork Tenderloin with Ratatouille's Ratatouille – Really delicious


I’m in need of some new recipes so what have you made lately that’s been a hit?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Does Horton have it right?

I’m going to side with Horton on this one and that is not a difficult conclusion for me to come by. I believe with all that I am that life begins at conception. I think deep down most people would agree with me but most begin to waver when other life circumstances get in the way.

When they find themselves laden with an unwanted pregnancy. When they are navigating the road of infertility treatments. When certain legislation may limit their choices.

Yesterday, while mulling over my Twitter feed, I came across this policy posted by Resolve, the National Infertility Association. It’s asking people to vote no to “personhood legislation” because of how muddied the waters will become for those seeking pregnancy through treatment for infertility.

It made me think. Mainly because it may affect our ability to conceive again.

For three years we walked the road of infertility and I still consider myself infertile even with Elizabeth at my side. Unless pregnancy restarted my reproductive system, which it could have, I still am. And we may need to walk down that same road if we desire siblings for Elizabeth.

There is nothing in me that wants to go down that road again. The hurt, the pain, the wanting and waiting, the constant mind and heart checking, the refinement. It makes me want to selfishly keep Elizabeth an only child. That road still has lingering affects on me. On how I view motherhood.

This issue of personhood and the affects it will have on the world of infertility breaks my heart in two. I personally know more people than I ever thought possible who have walked this road. Who have conceived children via IVF, IUI, fertility medications. Who may not have been able to if personhood legislation would have passed.

Elizabeth may not be here if personhood legislation would have passed.

And I would wholeheartedly vote YES if presented the opportunity.

See the problem.

Last October when we had our first ultrasound, Elizabeth was 5 weeks old and I was 7 weeks along. The average person finds out they are pregnant when they are 5 weeks along and the fetus or what I will continue to call a baby, is 3 weeks old. Just 2 weeks past that point and we heard a real live heartbeat.

Elizabeth at 7 weeks old

That means from the time egg and sperm joined a heart was being formed. At that point the gender of the child is set. All DNA is contained in that cell. And by the time that baby is just a couple of weeks old, oxygen is being poured in, sustaining life.

And this legislation would define life differently. So that certain procedures could take place. Procedures that help aid in the creation of life. Just like eating a gluten free diet can or taking this supplement or that. But there’s the flaw in our thinking.

Infertility treatments are NOT creating life.

Your holistic lifestyle is NOT creating life.

God alone creates life.

He alone allows for egg and sperm to join.

He alone sustains that life.

You may not agree. But the numbers illustrate just that. IVF only holds a 50-60% chance. They are creating a life in a dish. This, scientifically, should have a 100% rate of success. But it doesn’t. And when you walk through infertility you are acutely aware of how precious life is. You know when life is created. Because when two pink lines appear, you rejoice that there is LIFE WITHIN!

And when we go through procedures, when we desire with all that we are to have children, we should be thinking of what we are doing. We should take everything into consideration. We should have moral grounding. We should be held accountable for what we are doing.

But how to walk forward, how to answer the questions, how to pave the way where personhood and the treatment for infertility are given respect, is not an easy road to walk.

I know that this legislation is not being looked at through the lens of a God who creates life. I know that in our lifetime personhood legislation will probably never pass in favor of life.

But I know that I can vote YES, a person is a person no matter how small, and I know that one can undergo treatment for infertility in a way that respects life.

It’s possible.

I’m sorry Resolve, but if given the chance, I won’t be voting no.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Elizabeth–8 months old

Change is upon us…our baby is growing up!

Our sweet, even tempered, brown eyed girl has accomplished so much this past month. Most days I look in her eyes and wonder what on earth is going on in her little head. She’s taking in information as fast as she can and it’s so much fun to watch her learn.

8 weeks old


8 months old

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My how she’s grown!

This month has proven to be the most filled with change yet. She’s learned to crawl, sprouted four more teeth!, taken a strong interest in solid food, begun babbling more, and began sleeping (mostly) through the night. Quite the month.

Elizabeth has 6 teeth already and I’m certain the next two will be in soon. But like everything else she has gone about teething in her own way. After the bottom two came up the next pair to come in were the lower lateral incisors. And after those she sprouted her upper lateral incisors. So the next two we are waiting for: those 2 FRONT TEETH!

This has probably been my favorite month for so many different reasons but mainly just because I love watching her determination and curiosity grow. She is SO determined; nothing stops her. A fall down and get back up kinda girl. She’s keeping us on our toes literally as she went from taking a few cautious crawling steps forward to now being able to quickly crawl wherever she wants to be. And just this last week she’s been insistent on trying to pull herself up and then trying to stand all on her own. I’m thinking walking may not be that far away!

And as far as food is concerned, purees are out and food is in. Watching her master eating has been one of the most fun things we’ve seen her do. It’s crazy to think she only has 6 teeth but can manage to eat a wide range of food. This month her favorites included Baracoa with guacamole, teriyaki chicken and roasted vegetables, lasagna, and steel cut oats. Getting excited to eat is an understatement!

As far as everyday life, our curious little girl keeps us on our toes as everything that isn’t a toy has become her favorite. From computer cords to playing cards, everything is fair game. We’ve stepped up our baby proofing around here although somehow she still finds things she shouldn’t have!

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

the BEST chocolate chip cookies

I’ve made a lot of cookies in my lifetime even though I tend to not enjoy baking. And ever since I married someone without a sweet tooth for baked goods, I’ve done far less than ever before. But there comes a time when you just need a chocolate chip cookie. At least that happens to me.


This past weekend I made my now go-to recipe for chocolate chip cookies and they were met with accolades. I take none of the praise since my recipe for cookies comes right off the back of a certain yellow package. But that being said, I’ve made a few minor changes that I think really helps these to shine.


3 things I’ve changed:

I bake on a rimmed, uncoated jelly roll pan lined with a silpat

I only use Kosher salt. For cooking and baking.

I change the ratios of sugar in favor of brown to create a chewier cookie


Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookies

*Replace sugars with 1 Cup Brown Sugar and 1/2 C White Sugar

*Replace Salt with Kosher Salt. Same measurement.


Happy Baking!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Foodie Friday: Vegetable Pad Thai

I really like to cook.

Unless of course I’m extremely sleep deprived and only have a short amount of time. Then I just like to cook…and that’s only if take out is not an option.

That’s where this recipe comes in. Wednesday night we returned from the gym with a 30 minute window before both of us would be calling the delivery guy from Jimmy Johns. We were on the verge. And because I had just made this recipe for some dear friends who just had twins, I knew it was fast, easy and delicious.

So dinner was freaky fast and homemade too.


Pad Thai is one of my favorites. I have a lot of them. But this is up there in the top 10. Alex, on the other hand, could take or leave it. Not sure what he’s thinking. Pretty sure the fish sauce scares him off. He hates seafood.

But every once and awhile I make him succumb to eating something I really like. And Wednesday night was one of those nights. This recipe is so delicious and once you have made it once or twice you will realize it’s actually really easy too. It seems like a lot of work at first but again, once you’ve done it a couple of times, it’s old hat.

Veggie Pad Thai

(adapted from Cooks Illustrated – for no adaptations see here)
Serves 4 as a main dish

1/3 C water and 1/3 C lime juice combined
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper (this packs some heat, lessen if you don’t like spice)
4 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil
8 ounces dried rice stick noodles, about 1/8 inch wide (the width of linguine)
2 large eggs
¼ teaspoon table salt
3 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press or minced (1 tablespoon)
1 medium shallot, minced (about 3 tablespoons)
6 tablespoons chopped unsalted roasted peanuts
3 cups bean sprouts (6 ounces)
5 medium scallions, green parts only, sliced thin on sharp bias
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves (optional)
Veggies: Your choice…we used baby bok choy, carrot shreds, snow peas, yellow peppers

1. Stir fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, cayenne, and 2 tablespoons oil into the water/lime juice mixture and set aside.

2. Cover rice sticks with hot tap water in large bowl; soak until softened, pliable, and limp but not fully tender, about 20 minutes. Drain noodles and set aside. Beat eggs and 1/8 teaspoon salt in small bowl; set aside.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch skillet (preferably nonstick) over high heat until just beginning to smoke, about 2 minutes. Add vegetables and some water. Cover with lid so they steam. After approximately 10 minutes check for doneness. Should be tender but still crisp. Set aside.

4. Off heat, add remaining tablespoon oil to skillet and swirl to coat; add garlic and shallot, set skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until light golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes; add eggs to skillet and stir vigorously with wooden spoon until scrambled and barely moist, about 20 seconds. Add noodles and veggies to eggs; toss with 2 wooden spoons to combine. Pour fish sauce mixture over noodles, increase heat to high, and cook, tossing constantly, until noodles are evenly coated. Scatter 1/4 cup peanuts, bean sprouts, all but 1/4 cup scallions over noodles; continue to cook, tossing constantly, until noodles are tender, about 2 1/2 minutes (if not yet tender add 2 tablespoons water to skillet and continue to cook until tender)

5. Transfer noodles to serving platter, sprinkle with remaining scallions, 2 tablespoons peanuts, and cilantro; serve immediately, passing lime wedges separately.

NOTE: I’ve also made this with chicken. To cook the chicken I simply bake it in a pan with olive oil, salt, and pepper at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until cooked through.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

the days ahead

my heart is so fickle.

everyday is a new chance at balancing its affections. pulling back, opening up, growing in grace. finding its home in the One who never changes.

today marks the beginning of lent. my heart needs lent. i need to see and savor the One who gives me grace upon grace. i find so often i tend to consume myself with grace but what is grace without the torment and agony from calvary. how can i rightly forsake, ever so unintentionally, the blood stained hands.

“looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” Hebrews 12:2-3

and the advent reading begins, to point me to the one who gave, who endured, who was despised. i'm praying my heart will see and savor…will turn from the things of the world that so easily play for my affections, and that we will together, consider him.

consider Jesus.

CONSIDER the blood stained hands

CONSIDER the suffering of Christ

CONSIDER the beating of branches and the cutting of thorns

because as hebrews says, he endured, SO THAT we will not grow weary or fainthearted.

SO THAT we can beckon the throne of grace and find mercy

SO THAT we could stand before the throne and not be cast down

SO THAT we would be forgiven. stains removed

incredible mercy. incredible sorrow. incredible suffering.

so that we could experience incredible joy.

in these days ahead, will you join me in walking through lent with hearts so desiring to remember, to contemplate, to consider him who bore the sin of the whole world.

consider Jesus.

*our favorite lent devotional can be found here*


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Ridiculously Easy

This is my kind of food.

Simple. Delicious. Colorful. Filling.

I love to play a game with people I meet. The “what do you love” type of a game. For instance, I may randomly just ask you a question like “if you could only eat one type of food, cuisine, etc. what would it be.” I've asked these to family, friends, used them as ice breakers, kids, you name it I’ve probably asked it. I think you learn a lot about a person by what they like to eat.

If I were answering it, my answer would be a tie between Italian and Mexican. I know this based on what I fall back on when left to my own vices. Alex has been out of town for the past few days and so far I’ve eaten delicious pasta and mexican rice/black bean/salsa in a bowl.


I’ve added some fruit and vegetables to round things out in case anyone was worried. This pasta dish I threw together in five minutes flat. Almost easier than making a sandwich. So simple and beyond delicious. It’s literally a five ingredient meal, many of which are probably in most pantries, and if not, well they should be.

Fresh basil. Pasta (angel hair for me). Garlic. Grape tomatoes. Olive oil.


And this is how you do it…

1. Place tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet. Top with some thinly sliced garlic. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.


2. Bake at 350 degrees while you boil water for the pasta and cook it.

3. When the tomatoes are bursting at the seams and garlic is browning, take out and pour over your drained pasta. (about 20 min.) Top with fresh basil.


Seriously. Wasn’t that ridiculously easy. And believe me, it’s amazing.

Off to eat some more:)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

On My Bookshelf

These days finding time to read is a challenge. Often, if there is time before I’m ready to call it a day, I spend those moments with Alex, on the couch, watching his next reality TV favorite. (think Gold Rush, Storage Wars, etc.) That’s what they call true love:)

But those things I have read this year so far have proven to be excellent. I find that these days anything that I read must be worthwhile and able to be picked up on whim…meaning I might get a chapter or two in before it begins to collect dust on the dresser. And then it may get picked back up in a week or two if its lucky.

Finished Books

- Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman
This may have been my favorite book of 2013 so far. I have much more to say, but for me this book was liberating.
 - Flying with Baby by Meg Collins
Short, sweet, informative, and packed with the best tips for flying with kiddos. Definitely worth $2.99.
 - Baby-Led Weaning Book and Cookbook by Tracey Murkett
Great read if you are at all interested in bypassing purees in the feeding of your kids. Informative and very interesting!

In the middle of

- The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller
Such a great book on marriage. Quite possibly the best one I’ve read yet and I’ve read A LOT of them with my mentor.
 - Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson
I’m halfway through this one and every chapter so far I’ve had tears. There is so much in this that I NEED to hear and so much that I NEED to know others have felt, gone through, and experienced. So far it’s my tied as my favorite book of the year so far.
Just cracked open

So excited to read more of this one. I’m always interested in ways to simplify and rid our lives of things that hinder us. Although if I’m honest, I’m not sure I can be as radical as Jen was:)
 - The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson
I’m very excited to get started reading this one. I have so much to write about going from an infertile woman to a mother. I never knew the emotions that would come and the things I’d struggle through but I’m hoping this can help make sense of the mayhem.
Obviously I need some new options for fiction and non-parenting books…
So what have been some of your favorite books?

Friday, February 1, 2013

Color Conundrum

I’m in the midst of tackling my office/craft room/extra-bedroom-that-i-called-mine and I’m stuck. SO much of our house right now is stuck in neutrals. Because it fits what we have going and looks good with our 1950’s originals. But I LOVE color. So I’m hoping that my space, until or if there ever is another baby, will be laden with color and so far I’m still stuck in neutral land. Ugh.

Back when I worked part-time at Crate and Barrel they were getting rid of a floor model chair, because of a hair line fracture in one of the legs, to employees. I knew that Alex could fix the leg and so we scored the $2000 custom chair for $150. And now it’s in my office. I love it so much!


You may recognize the fabric if you read Young House Love…they used it on their headboard and to make some curtains for their book. Although I’m not sure I would have accented the fabric the same way they did in their book I am looking to highlight the teal and chartreuse. Here’s the fabric up close:


The walls in my office are a light gray and I’m hoping to find a rug and curtains that highlight the teal and chartreuse. Harder than I thought. Right now I’m just happy because Alex still holds his certification in ASID and we can still get a discount on fabric. I’m hoping that we don’t have to go that route and I can find a more inexpensive option but at least I know that option is out there. So far chevron is all I can come up with and I feel like that's been overplayed. And I’ve almost exhausted my resources. UGH! So that’s where you come in…


Where do you like to find fabrics and rugs?


Have you seen anything out there that you would pair with the chair:)