Staycation

This past weekend we ventured up to my aunts home in the White Mountains of NH. The trip is a mere 90 minutes from our house, yet it's a whole new world compared to the hustle and bustle of reality. As a kid, my family would venture "up north" to ski in the winter, and to sit lakeside in the summer. Here, I have the most nostalgic memories of my childhood; breaking huge icicles off of the house to eat, sleeping in the loft, and building forts in the basement while our parents most likely imbibed in copious adult beverages while we caused a ruckus among all the cousins out of an earshot. Now that I am a parent I strive to give our kids a childhood that will be just as memorable. They do not have cousins like I did growing up, all close in age, bickering more like brothers and sisters, but that doesn't mean that they can't enjoy the fresh air and water like I did as a child.

 This tree was indicative of an arrival of being on vacation. There are a few trees in the area that families have added their names to.

This tree was indicative of an arrival of being on vacation. There are a few trees in the area that families have added their names to.

It's harder than ever to get kids to unplug. "It's the generation" is what I hear people say time and time again. I don't buy it. The technology is both a blessing and a curse. In a recent conversation with my cousin-in-law we talked about how this generation will view their childhood. He made a good point. He said we remember our childhoods in the grand, bigger-than-life way. Will this generation have that? While they will most definitely have a great visual diary of their childhood, they will not have the same "distant memories" that seem to give this magical feeling to being a kid. A world where your memories are most likely all you have from a day at the beach, or sleepover with friends is over. I remember being so excited if I could afford a disposable camera to snap silly photos, and even more excited if half the photos didn't come out like garbage. Now there is this instant gratification on every aspect of kids lives. Want a movie? On demand. Want a picture? Use your phone. As much as I love all of this technology, I find it suffocating in terms of raising children, and more importantly, a family.

 View of Lake Ossipee from the boat

View of Lake Ossipee from the boat

We have been battling the big bag technology monster in junction with growing children, who are losing interest in hanging out with their parents. Regardless of how cool we might think we are, we unfortunately, in the eyes of our kids so not cool. With summer slipping away before our eyes we decided to pack up some essentials and head "up north" with the kids for a weekend with no agenda. Just getting out of the house and in a new setting can do wonders. We all get stuck in a day to day rut as parents.

By getting the kids out of the house, and in some mountain air did wonders. We spent the day on the beach at the lake while the little guy built sandcastles with their only purpose to be smashed minutes after their construction. The big kids ran and jumped off the dock while creating games (which resembled trying to drown each other) in the water, while laughing hysterically with no bickering. We headed out on the pontoon boat and ventured into a channel where the kids jumped off  a tree and top swing over-stretching the water. Back at my aunt and uncles house the kids zipped around the yard on the golf-cart, driving it through the sprinkler and screaming with delight as it blasted them in the face when they pretended to "run out of gas". We made homemade peach and blueberry crostata with some fruit we bought at a farm-stand on the drive up. We ended our night by sitting by the campfire. We made s'mores and then watched satellites whiz across the night sky. It was awesome.

It was the best staycation ever. Think outside the box. A staycation doesn't need to be at your home. Visit those relatives you don't see very often. Stop at the farm-stand. Put down your phones. Be silly. Laugh.

Enjoy each other.

Raspberry Lime float with Morello Cherry Sherbet

It is absolutely freezing right now in New England. Today was a whopping 10 degrees (negative 10  with the windchill)! After running around doing my motherly duties collecting kids from sleepovers and driving J to dance, the hubby put a record on (David Bowie). I decided that in protest of the arctic-like weather, I would make some ice-cream floats! My original plan was to make a raspberry sherbet (by the way, I just discovered that it is not pronounced "shed-bert" while looking for recipe ideas!) but we didn't have any raspberries left in our freezer. I was inspired by Spindrift soda's raspberry lime flavor which is an awesome product that you should TOTALLY check out here! We don't buy soda in this house, but this one is guilt free, the sugar only coming naturally from the fruit! We've had a few cans laying around that I have been waiting to use in a cocktail or special beverage and this seemed perfect! (No this is not a sponsored post-they just kick ass).

I decided on a Morello cherry sherbet, mostly because we had the cherry puree and it was the color I was looking for! You could always cook down cherries or other fruit and pop in in a blender. If you do this be sure to run it through a sieve to remove any seeds-you want it to be smooth. It was delicious and the kids drank them topped with whipped cream. It was the perfect way to "stick it to the day". 

Recipe for Morello Cherry Sherbet

1 and 1/4 cup cherry puree

1/2 cup sugar

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 cup whole milk

 

Place the puree, sugar and lemon juice into a sauce pan and heat on low until sugar is melted in

Place in the refrigerator to cool.

One cooled completely stir in the milk and add mixture to ice-cream churn.

Churn for about 30 minutes then transfer to a freezer safe container and place in freezer for about 30 minutes-serve immediately 

 

For the float

Scoop some sherbet into a cold glass

Pour Raspberry Lime soda over the top (slowly!)

Top with whipped cream if you wish

Enjoy!

 

Bucket List

Throughout our lives we create a mental checklists of have-to's and want-to's. As we get older we call them bucket-lists. This is list of things we hope to do before we "kick the bucket". As adults, this list tends to be full of dreams that are not unobtainable, but perhaps requires things that are not readily available; like time and money. So, I started thinking. Why not make "bucket-lists" based on the seasons of our lives? My 14 year old stepdaughter had been actively creating a 2017 summer bucket-list in the notes section on her iPhone. The other day she asked me if I'd help her make a poster to hang in her room with all of her hope-to's listed in a fashion where she could admire them. I jump at any opportunity to be creative so I began doodling and listing her want-to's on the paper.

While looking at her list I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn't a list of crazy items. Lay down face first in the grass and smell it was one of the first things listed, followed by no cellphone for an entire day/night (this one will be interesting). Many of the things she wrote were so innocent, yet they are things that are not done on a daily basis. Her list is compiled with ideas that as an adult I often take for granted. Dance in the rain, take a walk after a thunderstorm, make crepes. I am SO down for all of these things! There will be days where she can cross ten things off the list, where others it may only be one. Then, after the summer she will have a poster she can fold up and keep as a memory of that summer.

She is entering high school in the fall, which is maybe the most terrifying thing I've ever experienced. I can vividly remember those years of my life, full of pressure, fitting in and trying to figure out who you are, all while your inner circle of friends do the exact same. Oh, and the idea that your parents know nothing and that they have never possibly dealt with the problems that you have! I look forward to watching and participating in her "bucket-list" antics and am thinking of having Ty make one as well.

It will be nice as a family to encourage and be part of each others interests. It is all too easy to get caught up in the day to day hustle and bustle. I can't even tell you how many times I have thought to myself "I should just leave the housework and do ________". For whatever reason, (probably my super type A personality), I can't seem to leave the dishes or laundry for later. It is something I am actively working on. I lost a friend a few months back to breast cancer. She was 31. There is not a day that goes by that she does not cross my mind.  It was an eye opener in so many ways. We really can't take this life for granted. Tomorrow is not promised. I am going to sit down with my husband tonight with our feet up, a drink in hand and make a bucket list. I will take that inspiration from my stepdaughter and help her work towards her goals as well as my own. 

Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And, whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen...yourself, right now, right here on Earth.

-Bradley Whitford

Pasta Disaster

We had an amazing dinner party last night! My parents offered to take Paxton for the night and it was the first time we hosted friends for dinner since ripping our house apart to renovate a year ago. It was just one of those awesome days. It started out hanging around the house in my pajamas for hours on end with coffee and quality time with my little guy. From there I went to to grab some blinds for our violently bright first floor windows and got my hair done! There is just something about someone else washing your hair! I wish I could hire someone to do it for me everyday. 

When I got home, I started helping prepare for our dinner party, a small group of only six of us. It was an amazing night of wine, laughs and of course amaaaazing food. I was up until after 2:00am which is unheard of these days considering I'm usually up by 5:30! We had cleaned the kitchen and dining room before heading to bed (as I hate waking up to a dirty house). Plus, when you've had a few glasses of wine everything seems easier and more manageable, even cleaning at 2:00am. When I woke up in the morning all I had to do was sweep and wash down the floors. So, thats exactly what I did, then sat my rear on the couch with a cup of coffee.

As I glanced over at the kitchen I noticed that the floor still looked smudged in spots, so I grabbed a rag and hand buffed the spots out. I ran out to pick Pax up from my parents and brought him home  to make him some pasta before his nap. "I want the letter pasta! The little ones" he said to me. It was too cute, so I made him the "little pasta" with butter and some cheese and went to wash the pot and a few other dishes. I heard "OMG babe" from the hubby's mouth and turned around to see this...

As furious as I was at the fact I had just finished washing the floors, I was holding back laughter. It was one of those "you're lucky you're so cute moments". After reprimanding him for throwing his food everywhere, I told him he had to sit on the steps. He knew it was serious. So, I sat him on the step as a I contemplated how I was going to attack this messy situation. We ended up letting it sit on the floor to dry up a little because anyone who had tried sweeping anything like teeny tiny pasta knows that it ends up making more of a mess than anything else. Pax apologized, "I sorry for putting letters on the floor mommy. I get my broom". Then that little monster helped me "clean" up his mess. 

We still had the camera out from last nights dinner party. "Grab the camera" I said to Patrick. These are the moments that we will look back on and miss. I know that in the blink of an eye I will be dealing with him being a reckless teenager and being interested in girls and I will wish that a pasta disaster was my biggest problem.

Things I Love...

There are many things I love in this life. Many which include food as I'm sure you assumed. I love reading/hearing about people's favorite products, recipes and DIY projects. So, I figured I'd share some of mine.

Our dining room:

 View from our kitchen into the dining room. The bench seat had removable seats so we can use the inside for storage.

View from our kitchen into the dining room. The bench seat had removable seats so we can use the inside for storage.

Our entire renovation process has been stressful but full of love. I have had so much time to think and plan out exactly what I wanted. This is one of the rooms that I love the most because, well eating is one of my favorite things to do. Prior to our renovation we could barely fit six people in our dining room making birthdays and dinner dinner parties beyond difficult. Now we can comfortably fit eleven adults at our table! This means more dinner parties and family gatherings. I kept the color scheme neutral and use pops of color when decorating. I have found that although bold colors are fun, I tire of them very quickly making for a difficult transformation. I got all my pillow covers on sale at Hobby Lobby at 50% off (prices ranging from $2.50-7.50 each cover) and I searched high and low for the perfect gray (we settled on Sherwin Williams Collonade Gray). We added a ship-lap ceiling which is one of my favorite parts!

 This play on a clipboard displays some of Patrick's grandmothers recipes, including one for a happy home pictured far right.

This play on a clipboard displays some of Patrick's grandmothers recipes, including one for a happy home pictured far right.

 Some of our favorite cook books...although this does not do our collection justice!

Some of our favorite cook books...although this does not do our collection justice!

Letters to my baby:

My mom bought me the cutest "just because" gift. This little booklet is full of envelopes and writing prompts for me to share with Pax. One regret I have is not writing more to Pax during my pregnancy and first year of his life. I am trying to be more diligent about it going into year two. I did write here and there his first year, but life went buy so fast! My advice to any moms (and I know people are FULL of advice) would be take pictures, take videos and write stuff down! You don't want to forget when they took their first steps, what they sounded like saying "mama" and all the in between. I thought these letters were such a sweet gift and I'm thinking that I will set them aside to be opened on different birthdays for him!

Anything "vintage":

I love anything with a vintage feel! My friend's mother makes these beautiful aprons! She gave me one as a gift and I think that it is the most beautiful whimsical things I own. I love the light colors and the floral print. It looks like something that has been passed down for years, and I intend on doing just that with it!

 

 

Thrift Stores:

 Some thrift store goodies!

Some thrift store goodies!

Growing up thrift stores seemed grimy to me. Why in the world would I buy something used? I thought to myself. Somewhere in my college years (probably because I was pinching pennies) I discovered the thrill of the hunt. Patrick is forever making fun of how cheap I am. He has a love/hate relationship with my frugalness. I almost never buy anything full price. I am slightly obsessed with buying little dishware and kitchen tools to use for props in photos and have a 4 drawer sterilite storage container full of the stuff (some of my collection in photo above). Most of the items I paid no more than a dollar for! 

I think I buy about 80% of Pax's clothes second hand! We have a great children's store that sells great quality kids items for reasonable prices. A few times a year they do a "fill a bag sale" where you can get 10 items for $5! My friend and I get there bright and early with coffee and bags in hand and dig through bins for the current and upcoming seasons. It is amazing how much I come home with. Plus, I know it won't shrink anymore!

I even bought a wedding dress at Salvation Army for $49.99! I did not end up wearing it because I ended up finding a stunning dress elsewhere, but nonetheless I fully intended on purchasing my dress second hand. We even took a day trip to the white mountains to look for a second hand gown!

Stretching a dollar:

 Tulips are my favorite!

Tulips are my favorite!

As mentioned above I love getting the biggest bang for my buck! Yesterday I bought a awesome large pitcher at Goodwill! My first thought was homemade lemonade with the kids, but then I went to the store and found discount Valentine's day tulips! Tulips are my absolute favorite flower, so I had to buy some. I figured the cut flowers weren't the best purchase because they had been cut a few days ago already because of the holiday. I opted for the potted tulips (which after the discount were $3.98 for TWO pots). I unwrapped the gaudy heart covered cellophane and repotted the flowers into my pitcher and still had tons left over! I put them in various pots and jars I had hanging around and put flowers wherever I could. Between the flowers and the price of the pitcher I was able to make 6 arrangements for $7.98!

What are some things that you love? 

Affogato

I love coffee. I've loved it since I was in the fifth grade and would walk to Dunkin Donuts with my babysitter. I would spend the money my mom would give me on (I'm ashamed to say) an iced coffee with extra cream and extra sugar. Over time, I weaned myself away from the copious amounts of sugar down to 2 sugars and whole milk. I no longer drink Dunks (unless in a serious caffeine fit) but crave richer fuller coffee.

After going to Spain on my honeymoon and reading up on customs and courtesies in the south of Spain, while somewhere over the Atlantic, I learned that I LOVED cortado. Cortado is equal parts espresso and steamed milk which cuts the acidity. It is served in the cutest cups (we are so used to the bigger the better here in the states). I was slightly mortified at the miniature sized coffee the first time I ordered it. I thought how is this small amount of coffee going to get me going for the day? I was wrong. It was delicious and did the trick!

I have an extreme sweet tooth, and other than the short stint of attempting the Whole 30 (read my post on failures and triumphs), I am sure to have chocolate or something comparable daily. My stepdaughter Julianna shares my love for coffee and is asking habitually if we have any ice-cream, even if she was the last one to polish off the half gallon! Ever since the little guy arrived we try to make time for girl trips to Target for shopping and Starbucks happen as much as possible (a nice and necessary escape from the boys). This past week has been a doozy of snowstorms leaving us stranded to the house. The kids even had a snow day today! I figured, if we can't get to Starbucks, we'll being Starbucks to us! I've been wanting to make affogato for awhile now and figured being snowed in was a great time to give it a shot!

I did make a homemade vanilla ice-cream base with intentions of making some homemade java chip ice-cream. Unfortunately, the insert to the machine wouldn't freeze! We ended up having to "settle" for Breyer's All Natural Vanilla. I put some chocolate covered espresso beans in the food processor to sprinkle on top of our ice-cream. I long for owning an espresso machine (think of all the things I could accomplish with more caffeine...), but we brewed some extra strong coffee as a substitute!

 

To make the affogato:

Brew extra strength coffee to your liking (we use a french press)

Place a large scoop vanilla ice-cream/gelato into glass (make sure glass is cold! Place in the freezer for a few minutes before hand)

Top ice-cream with chocolate covered espresso beans or another topping if you wish

Pour coffee over the ice-cream and enjoy!

Failures and Triumphs

So, I unsuccessfully completed the whole 30. Here is the deal. I made it a solid 2 weeks. It was hard, real hard. I knew that food was a big part of my life (I mean I married a chef), but I didn't realize how much of my entire being revolved around food. We have all heard the saying the kitchen is the heart of the home. Well if this is true, then food and meal time is the heart of my family. I spend more time in the kitchen than any other room, creating and tasting with the hubby and kids. 

I wanted to prove to myself I could do this. The first week I rocked meal prep and by the middle of the second week I felt less bloated (and swear my stomach was flatter). However, the hubby was dying for me to taste some new cheeses he brought home and seemed on edge about some meal choices. Some Whole 30 friendly recipes were amazing! I mean, you can basically eat all veggies and a dishes of locally grown veggies are among our favorite things to eat! You can eat all meats and fruits as well. My husbands gripe with the "diet" is that you cannot have any legumes ("how are beans or chickpeas not okay but you can eat a bunch of bacon? This is stupid"). He did have a point, but I tried to stick with it. While the rest of the family ate pasta with bolognese sauce, I had spaghetti squash, which was actually a pretty delicious meal.

I had asked my parents to take the little guy that Saturday night so we could have a much needed date night (it had been over 3 months since we had been out together). I told myself I would indulge that night as I had earned it! Indulge I did. We went to a new brewery (which was badass may I add) and I ordered an IPA which was the best thing to touch my lips in the past 2 weeks. We dined at a friends restaraunt we'd been dying to get to since he opened and started our meal with bread. Bread! Cue the choirs of angels. I swear the waitress had wings as she floated over to our table with my gift from the gluten gods. I was in heaven. I realized that I had been depriving myself of the things I loved. Now, eating piles of cheese and gluten is not a good thing, nor do I intend on doing it on the daily, but what is the point of doing this for 30 days, only to be miserable, when I know that I am never going to eliminate these things from my life forever. I'll be damned if I'm going to lose ten pounds just to put them back on over the next month or so and feel bad about myself.

 I did take some things away from this experience. I have been packing salads instead of sandwiches, I have not been eating bagels for breakfast, but switching those options for berries and granola or eggs most days. I will continue to indulge and create in the kitchen with my husband, well, because it's what brought us together.

They say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach and in my relationship I find this 100% true. This past weekend we set aside time together to work on a blog post for diggingforrootsblog.com (recipe). Patrick has been dreaming of making parsnip doughnuts for while now, so I decided I'd join the doughnut party and make a chocolate sour cream doughnut (sweet indulgences should be made of chocolate in my mind). I found what seemed to be a pretty solid recipe online, made my dough the night before (it tasted pretty good) and went to bed so excited to fry those babies up in the a.m. My dough was a cake dough and Patrick's was a yeast risen dough, so I thought that having 2 drastically different doughnuts would be nice.

 Patrick's Parsnip doughnut dough

Patrick's Parsnip doughnut dough

I made my glaze before we got rocking on the fryolator. It was the perefct consistency. We fried some doughnuts, dipped them in the glaze and let them set until the moment of truth. The parsnip donuts were pure perfection! Light and airy with the addition of honey and bergamont to the glaze! Sooooo good. The chocolate doughnuts on the other hand were not so yummy. I was aggrivated that all my work the night before and all the anticipation led up to this culinary disappointment. Patrick assured me we'd resurrect the chocolate doughnut and that it wasn't my fault that the recipe sucked. It took me a little bit to get out of my fryolater funk, but I trashed the remainder of my dough and started dipping and styling the parsnip donuts. They were gorgeous with the simple glaze, but I was craving that chooclate! Hubby taught me how to make a ganache, and I dipped a few and covered them with festive sprinkles. 

 Glazed to perfection

Glazed to perfection

We snacked on doughnuts all morning, I mean we had to taste test them before we put up a recipe! After seeing how many doughnuts we actually ended up with, we called and texted friends and family to come help us eat them! As I sat down to write a post I realized something. Life is all about perspective. I failed at completing the Whole 30, I failed at making chocolate doughnuts, however within these failures came triumphs. Learnning to make healthier choices without feeling deprived? Win. A Saturday morning in my pajamas til noon with the man I love cooking in the heart of our home? Win. Styling delicious doughnuts and sharing them with loved ones? Win.

Freezing Farm Fun

 As a mom it seems there are not enough hours in the day. More often than not when I finally sit down at the end of the day, I feel that I have not had enough quality time with my little guy. I work full time, and on the days that we have the big kids am helping with homework, packing lunch boxes and googling how to do common core math all while figuring out what is for dinner and when J needs to leave for dance. It is exhausting. It is motherhood. Now, I am not complaining whatsoever. It is just crazy. I know that outside our four walls millions of other moms share my frustration. I dream of coming home, dinner piping hot on the table, a beer awaiting my lips, and all my laundry folded (and put away). Today I did not feel this way. Today rocked.

I was up bright and early with Pax. We went downstairs, just the two of us, to snuggle while he drank his milk and put on a movie. I snuck away once he was enthralled in the story and made some coffee and figured out what we would do for dinner later that night. I quickly prepped some brussels sprouts and marinated some chicken (making a mental note to go to the farm later to pick up some potatoes). J was at dance, so I had the opportunity to go out to breakfast with just the guys! When we got home we had a Dino-dance party and played cars until Pax hit minor melt down status and took a nap. After some lunch we bundled up and ventured to the best little farm stand only a mile or so from our house.

It is a fairly new establishment that has local produce, goats, chickens, pigs, an amazing little Lebanese section of homemade goodies and a cafe that you don't want to leave. We headed over to the animals first per request of the little guy. He has a blast making silly noises at the goats and listening to their response. It was awesome.

paxshoes.jpg

When you are a mother, especially of a young one, you see the world from this different point of view. Everything is so new and exciting for them. I fear the day (which I know will come) when he doesn't want to go in "Mumma's car" for an adventure or when he is embarrassed to say "Have a nice day!" as loud as he can to the cashier when we leave. That day is not yet here, so we made silly noises together at the goats, counted chickens and said goodnight to the pigs who didn't come out of their pen. It took some convincing (okay bribery), but I got him to say bye to the animals and come into the farm-stand for some hot chocolate, a honey stick and to buy some potatoes and milk. As I juggled all my groceries and a slightly above temp hot chocolate, I decided to put down our purchases, take the lid off the drink and let it cool for a few minutes while I talked to him about what we did at the farm. He took a few sips once it was cooled and was not thrilled to leave, but I promised him we'd be back soon. 

                                   Before he was told we had to leave...

                                  Before he was told we had to leave...

The Struggle is Real

Okay, I know there are harder things to do in life, but for me this dietary shift has proven more difficult than I'd like to admit. I read up on prepping for the Whole 30, and like most diets I was reminded that meal prep would be the key to my success. So, after making my shopping list I headed to the grocery store. To be honest I have put off buying many things organic because I was sure my grocery bill would go through the roof. Truth be told, by eliminating the crap food that I would usually buy for convienience sake and replacing it with healthier foods (many of which were organic) my bill was only about $40 more than average! That's not all that bad considering it is the fuel that is running my body. This is how I need to start looking at it. Food is great, it is fun, it is/can be indulgent. That does not mean it needs to be shit. Anyway, I prepped my heart out. I bought fruit for grab and go snacks (apples, grapefruit, grapes etc). I peeled and cut up carrots to crunch on and I hardboiled eggs. I baked plenty of chicken with various seasonings to use in salads and par-boiled diced sweet potatoes...I was good to go! 

Preparing food was not as difficult as I thought it would be. I did it all in one day for the remainder of the week, and I made my lunches up for work the night before. What I didn't expect to be as difficult was avoiding the indulgences that I would now have to steer clear from. It sounds silly really, but when I see a piece of chocolate I'm like a shark in a pool of blood. 

Feel free to fast forward to the 30 second mark. This is seriously how I felt! Hold me back!!!

In the past, if I wanted it I'd just eat it. Then in dawned on me...other than health that is one of the best things I can take away from this 30 day journey. Self control is a wonderful thing to posses and I needed to practice some in terms of my food intake/choices. I found myself pausing in front of the bowl of leftover Christmas candy while visiting with my aunt, thinking "one won't hurt", but I held strong and forced myself to walk away (those festive holiday wrappers were taunting me). So yes, learning self control is something I will definitely take away from this.

So, the past few days have had some not so glorious moments. I had tear myself away from wanting sweets, I couldn't have a delicious everything bagel smothered in cream cheese that I really wanted for breakfast, and I realized I HATE coconut milk. I bought it for my coffee, but ended up dumping the whole cup down the drain after trying it. I didn't have time the next two days to get out to buy Almond milk to give that a go, so I went without coffee, which led to quite the headache and caffeine withdrawal (which go ahead and google is a real  thing). I was in bed earlier than normal to deal with the lack of "energy", and then lucky me, I came down with some sort of flu like symptoms (unrelated) and ended up couch bound for an entire day, where the only things I ate in a 24 hour period was an orange and an avocado. I did however get an epic mid day nap and some TV series marathons under my belt. 

I had several people say to me today "but you are tiny, you don't need to do this". It is not about size, nor am I tiny (in stature perhaps, I stand all of 5'2"). You can make unhealthy choices and not be overweight, but that does not mean you are in optimal health. You can be making healthy choices and be overweight as well. There are a lot of factors that go into the physicality of it all. I want to be a healthier version of myself for my family (and myself of course) and that is all that matters. The struggle is real, but worth it.

 

 

Whole 31

Somewhere along the lines someone decided 365 days equalled a year and then we, again decided that in celebration of that new year we would revamp ourselves in to a better version of ourselves. "Out with the old and in with the new". I'm guilty, I've tried it. Then a month or so goes by and I, like most, tend to fall back into my old ways. I have no shame when it comes to food. My husband was an executive chef until very recently (later post to come on that whole transition on our lives), and makes some beautiful food. Some of that food is guilt free, and some not so much. I am also a sucker for chocolate and admittedly start my day with an oversized cup of coffee with whole milk and sugar. Taking a step out of my self and attempting to look in, I see that a HUGE part of my diet is sugar...and carbs...and sugar. Ugh.

I have struggled with skin issues since I was a pre-teen/teen and into adulthood I imagined my skin transforming into something resembling Cindy Crawford's ageless glow. WRONG. My skin improved somewhat, but not to the point where I thought it would. I always wear makeup. ALWAYS. I mean, I wash my face before bed and all, but I wouldn't dream about running errands or going to work without anything on my face. I know water intake is important, yet I haven't been doing it. My diet is NOT the best, but I'm not unhappy with my body. So my thought was why change it? I love food, I WANT to indulge. I do NOT want to live my life full of restriction. If I do this, it is going to suck.

The idea of the Whole 30 "diet" is that you remove sugar, legumes, processed foods, dairy etc from your diet. After the 30 days you can reintroduce things one at a time back into your diet. An Instagram friend is doing the Whole 30 and I started thinking...hmmm why not. Maybe eliminating things from my diet will improve my skin...and it will definitely improve my overall health. I have toyed with starting a blog for awhile as well as posting something along the lines of a journey of health and fitness. This has terrified me because once it's out there I have to fully commit, or be okay with failing and people knowing. 

I figured, I am 31 now (OMG I'm 31). There is no time like the present, and Cindy Crawford didn't get that skin or bod by eating Swiss Rolls (which I not so secretly love). So, I will document this journey. Probably not an everyday documentary...because sometimes my life is so hectic that I have to shut myself in the bathroom with the laptop or my phone to have 3 moments of silence and "me" time. 

For now I am going to finish my beer while digesting the leftover english muffin smothered peanut butter and jelly that my son didn't finish. See you on the other side.

 

The beginning

I decided to start a blog. Like the millions of others out there, I know. I am one of the hundreds of thousands inspired by Joanna Gaines and Julia Child. Just another cook in the kitchen, just another mom with a camera. However, ever since I've perused the world of "mom-blogs" and "lifestyle blogs" I realize that I love following the lives of these REAL women and families. Plenty of people out there spend time and energy getting all the juicy details on celebrities and their families, wondering what they are wearing and where they vacation. I used to be one of them. Then I had kids, or I met kids...

To truly get an understanding of all that I hope this blog will be, you need the background story. I met my husband soon after turning 24. It was not a sweep you off of your feet romance. It was however a fortunate stroke of serendipity. I was out with a friend for her little brothers 21st birthday. Patrick was coerced out by a friend who was celebrating someone else's birthday. Lo and behold, we met at a bar. The birthday boy who Patrick was out with was a drunk bumbling fool trying to make some sort of conversation with my friend and I. Patrick, seeing the whole debacle, came over to ask if he was bothering us. He wasn't, but Patrick instantly recognized my friend from the sports club we both worked at (and Patrick apparently attended). Long story short we started chatting about food. He was a chef and I loved to eat. He asked for my number assuring me that he "wasn't that type of guy", and after briefly considering giving him a fake number I dished out my real digits not thinking anything would come of it. It was nice conversation, but nothing I thought warranted an exchange of numbers or further pursuit. 

He texted me a few times after that night asking to get together to grab a bite. I blew him off for a couple of weeks, until he finally stated that if I didn't want to hang out with him, that was cool, but he wasn't going to keep asking. Of course at that, I began to reconsider. I figured, what harm could come of it? Even if I wasn't into him, maybe I'd meet a new foodie friend. We made a plan to get dinner, and he was late picking me up (at least 45 minutes late). We grabbed some food in a local charming port town and after our first course was dropped, he dropped an unexpected bomb. "I have two kids and I'm in the middle of a divorce". Now, as a female we do this thing where we have a mental (sometimes tangible) list of sorts. Qualities and attributes in a partner that we look for; tall, funny, ambitious, successful...divorced was not on my list. It wasn't even something I had actually ever considered. Being all of 24 it wasn't in my realm of reality, or so I thought. Patrick was only 30 at the time, but had started a family when he was young. While all of this buzzing was going on in my head (in the course of about 2 seconds) I think my reply to him was some sort of rendition of "oh, okay". Then I asked their ages and names and he showed me some pictures. We hopped around to a few different places, eating and having some drinks all while he told me about his current situation and we complained about the dating world. He made it very clear that he was not looking for any type of romantic relationship at this time in his life, but that he enjoyed my conversation that night at the bar where we met so he figured we might get along. Looking back, I realize that he just needed to get out and have normalcy in his life that had been turned upside down. 

We hung out here and there for a few months and then it became a regular thing. Eventually he invited me to come to a cookout with him at a friends house, and told me he would have the kids with him. I was TERRIFIED. His daughter Julianna was 7, and his son Ty was 3 at the time. I figured Ty would be fine but I was apprehensive of being around Jules. What if she got the wrong idea? What if she hated me? I was starting to have feelings for Patrick and that was a sure deal breaker. Luckily, it all went fine. They were so sweet and maybe the most hilarious kids I had ever met. We ate cookout food and I painted Jules's nails (which were instantly smudged as she did cartwheels in the grass before they were fully dry). Ty was a ball of energy, and probably the cutest little boy I had ever seen. That day was a game-changer. It was the beginning of this all.

 Look how cute they were! This was the fall after I met the kids. We were apple picking at Applecrest Farm, where Patrick and I were later married

Look how cute they were! This was the fall after I met the kids. We were apple picking at Applecrest Farm, where Patrick and I were later married

Now almost 7 years later, we own a home, are married and have a son of our own (Pax) who is almost 2. Jules is a teenager (I can't even believe that), and Ty is 10. We are busy. Our lives are non-stop, we both work full time, are are nearing the end of a year long home renovation. I often don't find myself even putting my feet up until 9:00 or later (and my days often start well before 6:00). Although I am buzzing around most of the time fueled by coffee and my type A personality, I don't take any of this crazy beautiful life for granted, and I don't want to miss a second of it!

                                                                                            ...and just like that there were 3!

                                                                                           ...and just like that there were 3!

This blog serves as an outlet. A place where I can document all of the creative parts of my life, a place where I can share my ideas with other families, just as I have found myself reading others' blogs time and again. A place where others can turn to and realize, "okay, I got this" or "hey, I can totally make that". I want to document all the things I enjoy in my life, with my family and hope you enjoy it too!