Wednesday, April 16, 2014

// fish tacos

While we were in Costa Rica (I just remembered that I never blogged about our trip to Costa Rica.. oops! Bear with me) While we were in Costa Rica, Phil and I had a date morning when our parents watched the kids. We were away for a total of 14 days and we only had one morning of alone time. Such is life with kids, I suppose! We went zip-lining in the rainforest and then went back to our little ones at the hotel. Since our parents were managing the little stinkers just fine, we slowly swam away from the kiddie pool and towards the swim up bar. It was a Friday in Lent which is weird when you're on vacation. We ordered fish tacos something that hardly seems like a sacrifice when you're in paradise. 
They were so, so good.  

In an effort to re-live vacation, I used that meal as an inspiration to make our own. They were yummy. I can't wait to make them again. As a bonus, they are gluten and dairy free although they would be kicked up a notch or two with a side of sour cream and I always love a flour tortilla. 

They are time consuming and worth it. Really worth it. 

F I S H  T A C O S 

You need::
1 pound of tilapia filets
Corn tortillas, enough for the number of many fish strips
1-1 1/2 cups corn flakes, crushed
1/2 cup oats, ground
3 Eggs
1/4-1/2 cup Vegetable oil or coconut oil for frying
Toothpicks, cooking brush
 Optional: Adobo All Seasoning Powder or Salsa Lizano

PREP:: Cut up the fish filets down the middle into strips. 
Beat 2 eggs. If you have Adobo or Lizano, mix it into the beaten eggs.
Mix corn flakes and oats.

TO COOK FISH:: Heat oil on high. 
Coat fish strips in egg then corn flakes and oat mixture.
Fry in oil for about 1 minute on each side until golden. 
Allow to sit on paper towels for a few minutes to drain excess oil.

TO MAKE TACOS:: Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. 
Beat the remaining egg and mix with seasoning if you have it. 

Wrap tortillas in a paper towel and heat in the microwave oven for 1 minute. This softens them up so they don't crack as you wrap them around the fish. Place a fish strip in the middle and wrap tortilla around it. Hold together with toothpicks.
Line up all the tacos on a baking pan.
Generously brush each taco with egg mixture.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until crispy and golden. 

TO EAT:: Don't forget to remove toothpicks before you eat.
Serve with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, avocado, guacamole, beans, or anything else your heart desires! 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

// Peter Rabbit vintage baby shower

I have five sisters-in-law. I don't have any sisters so marrying into a family with so many women has been a shock and has come with a learning curve. I love them and I love their babies. Anna, the latest SIL, is expecting her first in May. I couldn't be more thrilled. Seriously. Her and Phil's brother Andrew bought a house that is a mile from our house. This summer we will take walks together and I will hold her baby while she takes a shower. Because I like her a lot but mostly because I love the fresh smell of babies.

Another one of my sisters-in-law, Jaclyn, hosted a baby shower for Anna a few weeks ago. The theme was Beatrix Potter/Peter Rabbit with a little vintage mixed in. It was a beautifully executed day. The decorations and food were amazing. She did an awesome job.

My responsibilities were two: invitations and a punch beverage. The invitations were pretty and the punch looked like green slime from that show on Nickelodeon, I kid you not. 

Jaclyn cut pieces from a book she had gotten at a second hand store in order to make cute little buntings.

My mother in law put together a cute little clothes line including some family heirlooms.

We asked the guests to bring books instead of cards. Can you believe she didn't get any doubles?!

These are my sisters-in-law (minus Michelle who couldn't make it), 
my mother in law, and, the cutest of us all, Baby Eva.

Baby Eva gives me baby fevah.

The beautiful mama-to-be and her mama. 

Photo creds to my sister-in-law Carolyn from Paul Francis Photography.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

// you have to be stupid to be married

When I was younger I knew everything. One of the things I knew was that only stupid women put up with men's crap. I knew that I wasn't stupid therefore I knew that if my future husband offended me in some way then I would quickly be the one to walk away from the marriage. I knew that I deserved "better" (such a subjective term) and that I would not let any man give me any shiz so whoever was brave enough to marry me would have to be on his absolute best behavior permanently or for however long he wanted to be married.

I was super, super intelligent. And kind of badass, no?

Back then I was a feminist-for-no-real-reason and a slight man-hater. Or so I thought. In reality I was insecure and had a bad taste in my mouth from watching my parents struggle in their own relationship.

If I went back in time I think my 16- to 18-year-old self would be ashamed of my 26-year-old self.  If I told her what life would be like eight years after high school -- married for five years with two kids-- that version of me would A. laugh because it's a ridiculous scenario and B. be very annoyed that her future self isn't a missionary in Africa reporting for a major news outlet and starting a grassroots movement to help the poor.

My former self would be disappointed that she ended up settling for scrubbing toilets as a stay-at-home mom. She would be angry when she found out the things that "I put up with," the things that my husband and I have worked through in our marriage, and the things that I have forgiven him for. (I also like to think that she'd also be a little embarrassed to find out the things he's forgiven her for.)

My former self would encourage me to not let a man step all over me. Never put your guard down. You make your own decisions and live your own life! Independence: yay! Co-dependence: boo!

You have to understand that my definition of "letting a man step all over me" was more like "letting a man not give me what I want." I was one of those people who was happy when priests skipped over the "wives submit to your husbands" part of the Colossians reading in mass. Submit? Never! Ridiculous! Submission is a thing for women who are losers!

Despite how intelligent my former self thought she was, she really knew squat about squat. She certainly didn't know anything about marriage and definitely didn't know that in order to be married and stay married, you have to be a little stupid every now and then.

To be married you have to humble yourself a lot. You have to put the other person first. You have to let another person take the lead in matters that truly, deeply affect you. You have to let someone else make a decision and support it even if it's not the one you would have made. You have to open yourself up to be hurt, be vulnerable, and forgive, over and over again. Sometimes you have to forgive the other for taking advantage of your trust and sometimes, hypothetically, you have to forgive him for leaving the hairbrush on top of the toilet every single day for eternity.

Marriage doesn't make sense. Not in today's world anyway. It is a co-dependent relationship that transcends logic.

Yes, marriage is sharing living arrangements and paying bills and sharing the blanket and taking on diaper duty and splitting holidays and starting a family and driving kids to school and fighting and making up and making up again because you didn't really mean it the first time. But behind all these practical every day life things is a decision to be stupid by elevating another person to the same level as yourself. Equals.

It's so stupid because we are humans and so each of us, in our own brain, thinks he is better than the others. We're awesome and we know it. When we get married and decide to share life with another human, we're supposed to think they are awesome just like us and that his or her way of thinking is just as good as ours and if it's not respect it anyway. Stupid. It doesn't make sense.

Yet marriage is great because it stretches us to points where we have to crumble and be humble. Be vulnerable and trusting or else. Marriage wrings us so tightly that all that is left is to mature and grow up.

It is not easy. You have to be stupid to stay married. You have to absolutely ignore what the world tells you is smart (independence and self-reliance) and open yourself up for the possibility of vulnerability and hurt and forgiveness sometimes simply because you are committed.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

// writer's block

When I write, I see puzzle pieces. Each sentence is a piece that makes up a large puzzle... a book, an essay, an article, a blog post. Sometimes I write and write and write. I sort of babble on paper, if you will. Then I go back and dissect everything I wrote. I look and read and think in order to find just the right place for each word and sentence. Sometimes (often) the last paragraph I wrote ends up being the first and the middle the end and the beginning the middle. When I find the right place for something, I just know. It feels incredibly satisfying to have a piece that flows well and makes sense. I love the feeling of matching a group of words with another and knowing that it just works right. Just like a puzzle, what I try to do with words is to create a big picture for the reader to see.

For months, all I have seen is a big, messy pile of puzzle pieces that I can't even begin to put together because some of them don't even belong with each other. It's like my kids dumped all of their puzzles on the floor, then danced on them, then made snow angels on top of them .

It gives me anxiety, really.

All of these puzzle pieces, in my weird writer's head, are ideas and sentences and words that I am dying to put together. My poor unused and unchallenged mind just yearns to be able to write a solid sentence... maybe even a paragraph.

I miss writing. I don't know if I've ever gone so long without writing for pleasure. I try to think back to a time when I wasn't writing something just for the hell of it. Not since middle school, I don't think. To me writing has been a constant listening ear. I write when I am happy, sad, angry, lonely. It's the way I rejoice, mourn, and grief. It is the way that I process everything that life throws at me.

I guess recently I just haven't fully processed anything.

It seems that the space in my brain is entirely taken up lately. Any ideas that pop into my brain for blog posts or articles quickly fade away. The ones that dwell behind end up linger undeveloped, lifeless. It's a writers block like I have never experienced before. My usual remedy (a cold beer or a glass of wine) has failed me.

Because I try to avoid writing a public diary on this blog, I've kind of run out of inspiration. Unfortunately, I don't have much to write about these days than my daily life. I'm focused on surviving each day with two kids. I must admit that after sixteen months, I'm still not totally accustomed to being a mother of two. So each day I wake up, go through the motions, and I am baffled by the amount of work that goes into caring for two tiny bodies, minds, and souls. It is certainly not proportional to their size.

I know there is so much to be observed in my daily activities. So much inspiration in changing a diaper, driving a kid to school and back, washing dishes, folding laundry, sweeping the floor five times. I am aware that there is much to ponder there and I squint my eyes searching for all of the inspiration from daily life but then, I'm brought back to reality by Fisher Price Little People figure that someone threw and hit me square in the forehead. This season of my life doesn't leave me much time to reflect. Life is superficial right now. Survival mode. I struggle to think coherent thoughts and write coherent sentences.

So that's where I am . That's why I've been quiet. I am hoping that the mere ability to write this very blog post means that this writer's block phase is coming to an end.

Slowly I have felt a little more inspiration. When ideas pop into my head, I've been able to develop some further and further. It's like I can see two or three puzzle pieces that belong together. It's a painfully slow process but I can see how the puzzle will finally come together. Just like that, I put one puzzle together. On to the next, I hope!

I have so many things to share. Some silly and pointless... like the pictures of our trip to Costa Rica that I will share in coming days and some a little deeper than that. I'm excited to climb out of this dark uninspired hole that I've been in. My heart is literally skipping a beat to urge me out. How long will it take? It's something I can't gage yet. It's slow and difficult but I have hope that it will be soon.

Friday, January 24, 2014

// bacon + egg muffin cups

Is this a food blog? Eating is all I blog about lately which is a pretty good representation of my life. I feel like my kids never stop eating and I never stop thinking about food. I whipped together these little bacon and egg muffin cups one morning to bring to a playdate with my friend and her kids. I've made them a few times for different events since my friend Sarah shared her recipe with me and they are always a top hit. They are easy to throw together and really, really good. I like to eat them with a little organic ketchup. 

Yes, I'm particular about my ketchup, people. 

I'll tell you why: remember that one time I was massively pregnant and my child wouldn't come out and a hurricane (or was it officially a super storm?) named Sandy knocked down the power cables in front of my house and then there was a snow storm so our house froze being without heat and all...? Well I'm glad you remember because I'll never forget. When that child finally decided to come out, we had still been without electricity for twelve-ish days so the contents of our refrigerator had been emptied and thrown away. My brother- and sister-in-law were so kind to go grocery shopping for us and restock our basics. They bought Trader Joe's organic ketchup for us and it changed my life. Okay, that's a little melodramatic but what I'm trying to say is I'll never go back to regular ketchup. My family still prefers the non-organic so we usually have two bottles open in the refrigerator. It seems like an unnecessary commodity (and it is) but it's one of the luxuries I treat myself to. 

See? All I think about is food.

Get yourself some organic ketchup and make these bad boys so you can taste what I'm talking about.

Bacon + Egg Muffin Cups

12 eggs
12 slices of bacon

On a pan, fry bacon for a minute or two until cooked but soft. You don't want it crispy.
Wait until the bacon cools off a bit and then line a muffin tin with it. One slice of bacon per muffin cup.
Crack egg into each muffin cup. One egg per muffin cup.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake at 350 F degrees for 20 minutes or until thoroughly cooked. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

// a lot of talk about food and waffles

How is it that two little people can take up so much of your time? I miss blogging but unfortunately it falls to the end of the list when my attention is requested somewhere else pretty much every minute of the day (...and night) but I'm here! I'm alive! In the last few months many things have happened.

Christmas-time was a challenge. I worked with friends from high school to run a fundraiser which raised a bit over $17,000 for our friend's charitable fund. Check it out here. I thought Siena had pink eye ON Christmas but she didn't. Jake reveled in eating bread roll upon bread roll for all of his meals at parties. I did too... which means I gained 8 pounds that I'm struggling to lose now.

Which brings me to talk about food. I talk about food a lot. It seems like it consumes our life but it doesn't. Not totally anyway. 

Siena tested positive for a peanut allergy which adds another spin to our eating habits. We don't have to take it out of the house but we don't eat it as much as we used to. It really stinks because peanut butter and honey on rice cakes was a favorite around here.

Jake's asthma hasn't been as much as active this winter as it has been in the past, which I think means our detox diet is doing its job in healing his little system. 

I love what our diet has done for us but every day I miss pizza. Every single day I miss pizza. Thankfully every now and then we find something amazingly delicious that we can eat. 

My godsend of a husband has been a trooper with all of these eating issues (I mean, it helps that he's lost 25+ pounds). As a family, we have a little bit of a healthy obsession with breakfast so we're always looking for gluten-, dairy-, sugar-free substitutes to our regular faves. To be honest, most of the time substitutes are an utter disappointment (hello, gluten free monkey bread) so when he found this recipe for waffles I had no real hopes of tasting anything fluffy, sweet, and bready. Well, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with it. They are amazing and make an appearance in our home like fifteen times a week. I wish I was joking. We've introduced them to our sloppy joes and baked fried chicken. 

Still, in my book, the best way to eat them is still with a little bit of butter and maple syrup.

Seriously. Yum. I'm hungry.

  • Blender Oatmeal Waffles
  • 1-3/4 cups almond milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbs oil (olive oil preferred)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups gluten free rolled oats, uncooked
  • 2 tbsp honey, agave, maple syrup, or omit
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
Place the first five ingredients in a blender on high speed for 2 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly. Cook on waffle iron.

I add water after a few waffles to keep the consistency smooth since the oats will absorb the liquid with time. 
Of course you can make these with any oats but some brands are made in cross contaminated facilities. We buy gluten free oats from Trader Joe's for around $4 a bag.
This recipe makes a lot. 

That's a lot of pictures of waffles. 

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

// 2013 // what i've learned

I don't claim to be wise but I do know that life has it's way of teaching me a thing or two. This year has been a good one. Perhaps it was a bumpier year than I remember other ones being or maybe the bumps were just bigger than they have been in the past. In either case, I feel like as we put 2013 behind us, I can say I learned a few things. Before midnight strikes, I want to record what those things were. 
  1. People aren't always what or how they seem to be and you have to love them anyway.
  2. Making the right decisions for your own family may hurt people.
  3. Sleep is overrated. 
  4. Three-year-olds are the best and the worst. 
  5. I will forever feel like I'm 17. I think.
  6. The search for social approval will be a battle to fight for a long, long time... maybe for always.
  7. I am more of an introvert than I thought and that's not a bad thing.
  8. Everything is temporary. Every earthly thing is temporary.
  9. Just because something is good, it doesn't mean you have to do it. (Read: discernment)
  10. Personal time is a fictional thing when you have kids.
  11. Cling to the Lord in desperate times and in all times. 
  12. Control your speech. Don't fuel people in their criticism of others. 
  13. Pray about it more than you talk about it.
  14. God changes hearts. God heals hearts. 
  15. The roles of mother, wife, and homemaker come with endless expectations. Ignoring them is best. 
  16. Sometimes TV is the only way to keep your sanity and that's ok. 
  17. I am worse at transitions than my kids are. 
  18. You can make the same dinner two days in a row. 
  19. They won't be babies forever so let them in the bed and hold them a bit longer even if your arms hurt. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

// post-christmas perspective

The holidays did not go as planned. There was too much busyness, my kids were babysat more times than I wanted them to be, my house didn't look as merry as I had hoped, the presents we gave were not as special as I envisioned, we didn't read the Jesus Storybook Bible often enough, I hung ten Jesse tree ornaments on December 23, and more than half of the Advent calendar envelopes are still hanging-- the special activities I had planned for Jake went undone. Need I go on?

Today, two days after Christmas, I am sitting here looking back at all my shortcomings and reflecting on the fact that Christmas happened anyway. Emmanuel! The sweet baby Savior and King was born! 

Nothing that I did or failed to do could have prevented Christmas from happening... and it's like that every single day. The Lord comes into our life, regardless of what our home looks like. Heck! He comes in spite of what our heart looks like... dirty, messy, embarrassing. He loves us. He pursues us. He saves us. He gives His life for us. There is nothing we can do or not do that will stop Him. I know I'm undeserving but I welcome it because I'd be stupid not to.

Additionally, I find myself being so grateful for the actual Christmas season. Now that the Advent season has passed, Christmas is here! A whole twelve days until the Epiphany to observe what the birth of Jesus means. Twelve days that most people don't take advantage of. Twelve days that I'm clinging on to them, hoping to get every little bit of Christmas that I can. 

So, for another ten days, Merry Christmas! I hope you too are continuing the celebration of the birth of Jesus. 

Here are some images from our imperfect Advent season. 


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