Archives for January 2017

Favorite Friday: January edition

Happy Friday! For today’s post, I’m bringing you a round up of my favorite things from this past month. January tends to be a kind of “blah” month in my opinion…cold and dreary days spent cooped up in the house while getting caught up on post-christmas to-do lists. Even so, the month has flown by, and here are a few things that have brought some cheer and/or made my life just a little bit easier this January.

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ONE) This ridiculously comfy hoodie from Target. I added this hoodie to my Christmas list after seeing it online just because I was looking for something somewhat stylish to throw on with sweatpants. But, seriously, I had no idea how soft and comfy it would be. And it’s got just enough flowiness to hide those post-baby inperfections. I would wear this thing every day, all day if I could. Also, it’s on clearance today so go buy one (or two or three) before they’re gone!

TWO) This dust buster from Black n’ Decker. You can roll your eyes all you want, but this thing has made my life so much easier. All the little dust bunnies that collect in the corners or those inevitable crumbs after mealtime with a baby…this thing gets rid of them in five seconds flat. Instead of pulling out my broom or the corded vacuum, I just walk around with this thing for a few minutes and DONE. Be gone dust bunnies and never ending crumbs.

THREE) This wallet from 31. Not only is this wallet super cute (and comes in lots of fun colors), it fits all of my credit card, gift cards, store cards, etc. while still leaving room for my phone. I love this thing because I can throw it in my diaper bag and just pull it out if I’m going somewhere without my baby.

FOUR) My new straightening brush…I LOVE this thing. I commented recently on my cousin’s very smooth yet still very natural-looking hair. She credited the look to this straightening brush and I knew I had to have one. At over $100, it’s a bit pricey, but it goes on sale every once in awhile and I scored mine for just $39. This thing straightens my [very thick] hair in less than 5 minutes while keeping a soft look (not that unnatural stick-straight thing a straightening iron usually does). Best purchase of the month, hands down!

FIVE) This book about the group of people we know as the Pilgrims that sailed to America on the Mayflower. Lover of history or not, this book is incredibly interesting and provides so many details that you never learned in school. I credit this book, right here, to keeping my life in perspective this month. Anytime I was tempted to complain about having to chase around my way-too-busy baby all day or the dog hair on my couch, I thought about the characters in this book. Except they weren’t characters but real live people who lived through the victories but more often horrors and sorrow recorded in One Small Candle.

SIX) The Lose it! App. January began a quest to eat healthier, work out more constistently, and get rid of the last of this baby weight. This app has proved to be quite helpful in that quest. You input your height and weight and then your goal weight and the time frame in which you’d like to lose it. It then comes up with a calorie count per day to coincide with that goal. You log your food each day along with any exercise. It has made me much more aware of what I eat throughout the day knowing that I need to enter it into the app later. My mom, sister, and I all use this app. We screenshot our calorie count and text it to each other at the end of each day. It’s been great accountability! So if you’re working on some healthy goals this winter, download this app and then convince some friends to do the same!

SEVEN) These baby food pouches from Aldi. I make my own baby food but it’s a lot of work to bring homemade purees along when we dine out or go somewhere. These pouches are super easy to throw in the diaper bag and baby B loves them. They’re all natural, organic, and BPA free. And bonus: these are about half of what I pay at the grocery store for something similar.

I hope you enjoyed reading about a few of my favorite things! Enjoy your last weekend of January!

What we can do

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I am so tempted this morning to write my own commentary on everything that has transpired over the weekend. I feel like I could go on forever with examples of some of the absurdity and hypocrisy we have seen. It just makes me so mad. It feels so obvious, doesn’t it? Women march for freedom and inclusivity and yet ban pro-life women from marching. People say Trump is full of hate all while spewing hateful words over social media at the artists who were willing to perform at the inauguration events. Women call Trump sexist while Jay-Z headlined a concert as part of Hillary’s campaign. Yes, Jay-Z. I can’t even give you examples of his lyrics on here, they’re that bad…but guys, they are literally the epitome of sexism and misogyny.

I think somewhere deep inside I feel like if I could just write a really convincing blog post or provide a few articles with the actual facts or somehow clearly reveal the blatant hypocrisies, it’ll make a difference. But guess what? It won’t. The people who agree with me will like it, share it, and rejoice that someone else feels the same way as they do. The people who stand in the opposite camp will comment with passionate disagreement while feeling frustrated that people like me just don’t get it. I’m not going to miraculously change these people’s minds, as much as I wish I could.

S0, today, instead of continuing my rant in a fruitless effort to convince people of their error, I’m going to give a you a list of things I (and you, too) can do in light of recent events.

1. I can continue to strive to be the best wife, mom, daughter, friend, and sister I can be. None of what’s going on effects my day to day life. I can still choose to respond to my husband in love, choose joy in the mundane tasks of chasing a baby around, doing laundry, and cooking meals, and choose to speak words of kindness to my family members.

2. I can choose not to respond on social media with the same hatred many others are displaying. I refuse to sacrifice my reputation on the altar of politics. Choose your battles, friends. What if, a year from now, someone who you responded to with hate and sarcasm is now looking for answers in the face of some trial or crisis? You have a solution for them…the hope and peace that can be found in Christ…and yet do you really think they will come to you in their searching after your hateful remarks?

3. I can choose to extend grace. Grace for those who don’t agree with me, who don’t understand, who stand on the opposite side. Choose to show people love and kindness despite our differences. Do I still speak the truth in that love? Of course. But the truth of God’s Word, not the “truth” about the inauguration attendance, Trump’s real policies, Hillary’s past, or the biased media.

4. I can pray. Pray for Trump and his advisors and his cabinet (1 Timothy 2:1-4), knowing that whether I like him or not, he is now my President. He deserves my respect as an authority ordained by God (Romans 13:1). I can also pray for the souls of those who disagree with me, even those who spew hateful words at me or the people I support (Luke 6:28).

5. I can remember who I really am. I am a sinner saved by grace. Different in only one way from the women who cheered when Madonna said she’s thought about blowing up the white house, from Jay-Z and his horrendous lyrics, from the reporters, from the the people breaking store windows and trashing the city streets. God saved me out of my sin, out of that darkness and brought me into his marvelous light. It’s none of my doing and all of His.

6. I can have an eternal perspective. This is the world, we’re talking about. We shouldn’t expect them to agree with us or see it from our viewpoint. The world has hated Jesus all along and we are told many times to expect that same hatred (Matthew 10:22, Mark 13:13, among others). Don’t be surprised by this. Instead, let it fuel your desire for Jesus’ return and your passion to see others come to Him before it’s too late.

May this encourage you in what feels like a very discouraging time. Remember that God has placed you on this earth at this very time with a purpose. A purpose to glorify Him and make Him known. Don’t let politics, self righteous anger, and pointless debate get in the way of that purpose. Happy Monday!

favorite soup recipes

I don’t know about you, but around here the weather has been quite gray and dreary lately. The kind of weather that makes you want to cuddle up under a blanket with coffee and a good book or movie. (and also makes you feel completely unmotivated to accomplish things like cleaning, laundry, and other such tasks…or is that just me?) I’m not really a fan of cold weather, personally. I much prefer the mild temperatures of spring and fall or the sunny days of summer. One of the few “good” things about this weather is the chance to make soup! A hearty, warm bowl of soup seems to bring comfort to the dark and dreary days of winter.

When I first got married, the idea of making soup kind of overwhelmed me. I had never tried it before and every recipe seemed complicated with a very long list of ingredients. But when I finally gave it a try, I was surprised to find that making soup is quite easy. And my favorite part is that while the soup is simmering on the stove or in the crockpot, you can do the dishes so that there’s virtually no clean up after dinner! That’s a big win in my book. Pair with some garlic grilled cheese or homemade rolls and you’re done.

So today, I bring you some of my favorite soup recipes. I’ve tried each of these out (with a few tweaks that I’ve included below) and love them all. Pick one out for dinner this week!

1. Slow Cooker Sweet Tomato Basil Soup

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This recipe from 365 Days of Crockpot is one my favorites because it’s SO easy to throw in the crockpot in the morning or afternoon. I’m actually making this recipe for dinner tonight! I pair it with garlic grilled cheese (a bit of garlic powder and oregano sprinkled onto the buttered bread before you grill it) instead of croutons. I use dried spices and often leave out the fresh parsley since I don’t always have it on hand.

2. Italian Sausage and Tortellini Soup

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This recipe from Savor the Senses is packed full of veggies and has incredible flavor. Since it also has sausage and tortellini, this soup is really a meal all by itself! I’ve made it both with and without the red wine and it tasted great both ways. I usually buy carrot sticks to save some time chopping veggies and I usually only use one or two zucchini chopped into small chunks. You can also substitute a 1/2-1 tablespoon of dried basil and parsley if you don’t have fresh on hand.

2. Stuffed Pepper Soup

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This stuffed pepper soup from cooking classy is hearty, filling, and seriously delicious. This is probably my favorite soup recipe. It might seem like a long list of ingredients but don’t be overwhelmed! You simply throw them all together and let it simmer. I don’t typically make any changes to this recipe. I always add the rice to individual bowls rather than the pot of soup. Otherwise, the leftovers would be thick and mushy. (and this soup makes a great lunch the next day!)

4. Corn and Cheese Chowder

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This recipe from Pioneer Woman (seriously, who doesn’t love the pioneer woman?!) is SO good and super easy and quick, too! I made this in the summer with fresh corn on the cob. We loved it but my husband thought I was crazy serving hot soup in the summertime. So now I just make it with some fresh corn we froze at the end of the summer. You can make it with frozen sweet corn from the store, also. I’ve never served it in bread bowls but I’m sure it would be delicious!

5. Loaded Baked Potato Soup 

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What soup recipe list would be complete without a good potato soup? Well, here’s some news for you: my husband hates potatoes in his soup. Such sad news for this soup-loving girl. But this recipe from The Recipe Critic is very good and quite similar to what my mom made when I was growing up. You can’t go wrong with a soup loaded with potatoes, bacon, and cheese! It’s the perfect comfort food. Now I just have to make it for lunch when my hubby is at work.

 

I hope these recipes give you a little winter meal planning inspiration! I promise, you can’t go wrong with these 5 favorites of mine! What are your favorite winter meal recipes? Let me know in the comments!

Happy Wednesday!

a new moment

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Happy New Year! I wasn’t really planning on skipping the entire month of December, but it’s now January 9th and I haven’t blogged since the end of November. Oops! Life got the better of me in December…get-togethers, shopping, a teething baby with what seemed like a never ending cold (which turned my happy boy into a cranky little bear who wouldn’t sleep or be put down), and special times with my sister who was visiting from Texas for the month! It was very busy but so much fun. I’m still in denial that Christmas is over. How did it go so fast?! I blinked and here we are in January. Gone are the Christmas decorations, holiday excitement, neatly wrapped presents, and family gatherings. In their place comes routine, long winter evenings, and new year’s resolutions.

Ah, resolutions. There is, of course, something about a new year that makes one evaluate what in their life needs changed or improved. This year I have a long list, as usual. Eat healthier. Be more consistent in my Bible and prayer time. Exercise more. Be more intentional in my relationships with people. Put my phone down more often. Waste less time. Blog more consistently. Become a better listener. And on it goes.

There’s isn’t anything necessarily wrong with making resolutions. It’s a great time to reevaluate, begin healthy habits, and make a few changes. But here’s the problem. How many of you actually keep the resolutions you so enthusiastically make on January 1st? Not me. Nope, I’m the one you might find  skipping my work out while eating chocolate and mindlessly scrolling Facebook on January 30th despite my best intentions at the beginning of the month.

It’s so very easy for me to fall into a pattern of giving up. Well, it’s the middle of January and I’ve only worked out a few times so there goes that resolution. It’s just too hard to disconnect from social media so maybe I shouldn’t have made that resolution in the first place. Oops, I ate a few too many cookies and fast food on Monday so I guess I’ll just eat whatever I want this week and start new next week or maybe the next or the next.

But here’s something I’ve been learning recently in my quest to make some good and healthy changes in my life. We aren’t stuck waiting around for a new year if we mess up. We aren’t even forced to wait for the next month or week! Each and every day welcomes the chance to start anew. The Lord’s mercies are new every morning, every hour, every moment. We can ask forgiveness if necessary, pray for strength and help, and begin again.

So I ate a donut for breakfast on Monday? I don’t need to wait until the next day to start eating healthy. I can begin again at lunchtime. So it’s Friday and I haven’t worked out all week? I can work out on Friday instead of telling myself to wait until Monday to try again. So I’ve found that I’ve wasted quite a bit of time lately scrolling through nothingness on my phone? I can begin again that very moment by making a choice to put the device down and do something wiser with my time.

So let’s not fall into the trap of giving up. Of waiting around for the next day, the next week, or the next year. Jesus transforms our lives moment by moment, day by day, year by year. I certainly wish we could just make the decision to change something about ourselves and then boom! the next day we’ve been transformed. But that’s just not how it works. We have to fight our battles each and every day. Make a choice in every moment. Start over and over and over and over again.

And then at some point, almost without notice, after many daily battles and do-overs (and with much help from the Lord), you’ll look back over the year and realize you have changed. The choices that you made each moment slowly add up to reveal that you really did keep some of those new year’s resolutions after all.

And so that’s my encouragement to you (and challenge for myself!) in this new year. Don’t give up on those resolutions. Keep at it. Start over the millionth time if you have to. Change doesn’t happen in one day. We’re given the chance to begin again with each new moment. What a beautiful thing!

One of my favorite quotes (from one of my favorite movies) says:

“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” – L.M Montgomery in Anne of Green Gables

Let’s all remember that as we go about keeping our resolutions! Happy new year once again!

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