Eat

In Blog on
June 19, 2019

Well Fed Weekly Meal Plan #7: Healthy Variety

Hey, stop. Before you go any further, if you haven’t read how I meal plan, you might want to check it out to understand this a little better. Cool, thanks.

Dinner 1(M/TH): Sunkissed Kitchen’s Vegan One Pot Pasta

Who doesn’t love a one pot meal?! We loved this recipe. It tastes like an indulgent meal but really it is a lot of delicious veggies with chickpea pasta and a delicious and creamy vegan tomato sauce that was super easy to make. Two thumbs up!

 

Dinner 2 (T/F): Fork Knife Swoon’s Lemony Kale and White Bean Soup served with House of Nash Eats’ Roasted Garlic and Rosemary No Knead Artisan Bread

If I go big with homemade bread I try to balance it out with a lighter main course. This soup is so light yet flavorful and surprisingly filling. This is definitely one of our favorite soups and it has only a handful of ingredients in it. Super quick and easy to make. The bread is a fabulous and easy homemade artisan bread recipe. It is so moist and fluffy and has the most delicious flavor combo of roasted garlic and fresh rosemary. It is incredibly easy to make as long as you remember to set the dough out to rise for 12-18 hours.

Dinner 3 (W/Sat): Recipe Tin Eats’ Mousakka

I shared about this recipe in an Instagram post recently. My mother is Greek and Mousakka is very popular Greek dish. It combines roasted eggplant with a hearty tomato sauce and beef mixture baked under béchamel sauce. Oh so comforting and yummy. I use Gardein’s beefless ground in place of beef and it makes practically zero difference.

Dinner 4 (Sun): Gimme Delicious’ Avocado Black Bean Quesadillas

This one is self explanatory. Who doesn’t love quesadillas? No really, does anyone not love quesadillas? Just look at the photo above and you will want to make these. This is a super simple dinner to throw together that everyone will love.

Lunch for husband: Minimalist Baker’s Lentil Mushroom Stew over Mashed Potatoes

To pull of feeding my very hungry husband lunch for a full week I make a GIANT pot of whatever the recipe for the week is. I don’t like mushrooms but my husband does so I often incorporate mushrooms into his lunch. This recipe is easy to make, filling, and is basically the ultimate healthy comfort food- a thick mushroom and lentil gravyish stew over creamy mashed potatoes…. Yes you heard me right. I store the mashed potatoes and the stew in separate containers for him to scoop out some each day. He loved this.

Lunch for me: Blissful Basil’s Nutty Green Veggie Crunch Salad

The combination of crunchy veggies with the dressing…out of this world. This is a super healthy and energizing lunch that I happily ate 7 days in a row.

Lunch for toddler: We kept it simple this week with PB&J sandwiches with a side of pickles and cheese sticks. Can’t go wrong with that.

Breakfast for husband and toddler: Old fashioned rolled oats with berries, bananas, and peanut butter every dang day because it is cheap, filling, and nutritious.

Breakfast for me: Well Fed Familia’s Vegan Morning Power Protein Smoothie

I get fixated on a breakfast item and eat it for breakfast every day for about a month and then I get sick of it and take a few months off before I eat it again. Last Fall I got on a smoothie kick. Loads of goodness and healthy protein keeps me fueled and full for the morning until lunchtime and my toddler always steals at least 10 sips as well. If you don’t want to do the protein powder just throw in ¼ cup of oats which will give you extra protein and help to fill you up.

I hope this helps give you some ideas for your weekly menu. Whether you use just one of these recipes or the whole meal plan, I wish you happy cooking and eating. As always, stay well fed my friends!

In Adoption, Blog, Foster care, Mi Familia on
June 12, 2019

The day we saw our daughter’s parents

So this really crazy thing happened and it still has Steven and I scratching our heads.

It was nearing the end of September a few years back and we were to the point in our foster care licensing journey where we needed to get our house ready for the home study. In foster care that means fire extinguishers placed, smoke detectors set up and checked, medicine and cleaners locked up, etc. We went to church one Sunday which was in the opposite part of the city from where we lived and we decided to stop at a Walmart we wouldn’t typically go to to pick up a few items we needed to get the house foster care ready. We did our shopping and although neither of us like Walmart it was so enjoyable because we knew we were purchasing things that meant we were getting our house ready to have a child in it. As we were leaving the store I remember seeing a couple at the exit. While we walked by I noticed the woman was super pregnant and she along with the man looked tired, eyes glazed over, unhealthy, probably hadn’t bathed in a while, and they were just standing there at the exit.  I didn’t know anything about them, all I could do was take in what I saw for the few seconds we walked by them. Once we got back to the car I glanced back at them. I said to Steven “I hope those people are ok, but they did not look ok and she was super pregnant. This is so crazy but what if that is the woman who is carrying the baby that might come to us?” I felt silly saying this because that was awfully presumptuous but it was just a weird little thought in the back of my head knowing whoever was going to be coming into our home would be coming from a hard circumstance.  Steven said he had noticed them too and we both decided to just stop and pray for them and the child that woman was carrying. We did not pray for that baby to come to us, I just remember praying for their safety, their circumstance, and the safety of their baby.

We drove home and continued to live our lives per usual as we finished getting licensed for foster care. On December 19th of that year our daughter was placed in our home. We were overjoyed to have her with us and soaked up every second not knowing what exactly her journey with us would look like. A few days later we got a file from our caseworker that had all of her information and the names and history of her biological parents. Naturally I got online to see if I could find a picture of them on Facebook and once I did, my jaw dropped. I called for Steven to come over and he was shocked as well. We still cannot say for sure, but after seeing their picture we are both pretty certain that that was Evy’s biological parent’s we saw and prayed for by Walmart on that September day. It would make sense because the woman we saw was very pregnant and Evy was born only a handful of days later.

I don’t know what any of that means. We might be totally wrong, but I don’t think we are. Everything about our journey to become parents has been so clearly ordained by the Lord. We have never been able to meet her biological parent’s and I will not go into details about that as that has no business being shared publicly, but I do believe God knew we would want to meet the parents who chose to bring our daughter into this world, her roots, the people she looks like and gets her genetic makeup from. I feel like it was the crazy God ordained “meeting” because he knew we would otherwise never meet them. That isn’t to say things couldn’t change in the future, but for now at least.

It is just fascinating to me and if anything it is just another experience that solidifies God’s hand in all of this. I love our daughter’s biological parents through everything even though we know so little other than really hard things about them. How beautiful was it that we got to see them and baby Evy (in utero) that day? It blows my mind.

In Blog, Food, Healthier sweets, Recipes on
May 29, 2019

Oatmeal Raisin Power Balls

Typing that recipe name out makes this recipe sound epic..power balls, they give you all the energy to do all the things! No, not really, it’s just a cool name, BUT these little balls do pack in some super nutritious goodies that will definitely give you some extra energy when you need a little pick me up. I’ve been making variations of these power balls since Pinterest first came out and I found a recipe for a basic version of these. I wish I could throw out some credit to whoever posted that recipe on Pinterest but it was literally back in the dark ages of Pinterest and I can’t find it. Anyway, over the years I have made these little balls into my own and this is one of my favorite ways to make them.


Time- 10 minutes
Yield- 10 balls

Ingredients:
1 cup rolled oats
½ cup peanut butter
½ cup raisins
¼ cup honey
¼ cup milled flax seed
¼ cup shelled hemp seeds
1 tbs chia seeds
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp cinnamon

Instructions:
Throw everything together in a bowl or a stand mixer and combine together. Roll into balls and store in an sealed container for up to a week but I can guarantee they aren’t gonna last you that long.

 

Simple enough, eh? Enjoy!

In Blog on
April 24, 2019

What if (National Infertility Awareness Week 2019)

What if I would have gotten pregnant easily? What if I got to feel the miraculous feelings of growing a human life inside of me? What if I got to see what my DNA mixed with my husbands looked like in a little person that was made by us? What if I never become a mom at all? What if I didn’t know what the heartbreak of infertility felt like? What if I never ever get pregnant? What if I can’t get through this? What if I just became a mom when I wanted to? What if..?

Those are just a few of the big what ifs that floated around my head during the hardest part of our infertility journey and some still float around my head today. I’ve shared about our infertility journey openly for a few years now and I am thankful to say that I am in a place of peace with our story and the fact that we will likely not have biological children. But there is still this tiny piece of me that knows it is not impossible. What if it happened for us? What if despite all of the odds we were those people that miraculously got pregnant with the tiniest percent chance we’ve been given? Or what if this really is a closed door for us even though we do have that tiny little chance that it could happen? It is all so complicated emotionally.

We have a lot of things against us- PCOS, history of ovarian cancer, and some male factor infertility being the biggest known issues but even then there could still be more stuff we don’t know about. The days of actively trying to conceive were so stressful and emotional. I remember trying to take every supplement, oil, and superfood possible because it worked for my friend’s friend. The craziest I got was when I heard about fertility hypnosis so I laid in my bathtub in the dark and found a video on Youtube and wondered if I was crazy or if this was the piece of the puzzle I was missing to get pregnant. You can drive yourself mad trying to get pregnant when your body isn’t allowing it to happen easily.

What if I don’t get pregnant but it’s ok? What if I come to a place where I find peace in my life without getting pregnant? What if I can start to live my life without fixating and stressing on how and when I will get pregnant? What if I give up my control to the one who numbered the stars? What if I let go and let God be in control? What if I can find peace in my infertility? What if I can say enough is enough and I can breathe and go on with my life as I trust God will hold my heart no matter how confusing and unfair it all is? What if that is the thing that will lead me to the exact place I need to be?

And that is how I became a mom.

 

In Blog, Dinner, Food, Recipes, Vegetarian, Weekly meal plans on
April 3, 2019

Well Fed Weekly Meal Plan #6 : Easy Healthy Dinners

The snow is melting, the days are getting longer, and I’ve got a little skip back in my step as we emerge from a long and hard winter. Better weather yields for busier days and more places to go and things to do so I need some quick and easy meals. This week I have compiled some of our tried and true familia favorites. I hope you and your family love them as well.

Hey, stop. Before you go any further, if you haven’t read how I meal plan, you might want to check it out to understand this a little better. Cool, thanks.

Dinner 1 (M/TH): Minimalist Baker’s Mediterranean Baked Sweet Potatoes  

Photo by Minimalist Baker

First of all Minimalist Baker is amazing. She always has the best, easiest, and healthiest recipes. So shout out to my girl. But this one is SUPER easy. She roasts her chick peas in spices and they get all crunchy and delicious and it’s totally amazing but if you don’t got time for that you can skip that part and just use regular chick peas. I put this together in the pinchiest of pinches: preheated the oven washed off some sweet potatoes, sliced them in half, coated them with olive oil, stuck them in the oven and let them do their thing while I got some Etsy orders done. The actual prep time for this meal is literally like 10-15 mins. Other than the sweet potatoes, drain some chick peas, whip up the sauce real quick, and get your toppings, and wham bam boom all done!

Dinner 2 (T/F): Pinch of Yum’s Firecracker Vegan Lettuce Wraps

Photo by Pinch of Yum

Ok yall. This is our new favorite dinner. Oh my gosh golly goodness it is SO good. Crispy fried up tofu, brown rice noodles, literally the most tasty peanut sauce I’ve ever had, all wrapped up in a nice crispy, crunchy lettuce leaf. If you do not like tofu or if it grosses you out, I beg you to try this recipe because I think it just might change your life. The most important thing you can do for tofu is fry it up for a good while, obviously don’t let it burn, but toss in some olive oil, tofu cubes, and give it a stir every few minutes until it has a crispy outside layer.

Dinner 3 (W/Sat): Apron String’s One Pot Tomato Basil Pasta

Photo by Apron Strings Blog

I’m all about a recipe that says “one pot” in the title. One pot means less dishes for me to do. This recipe literally calls for you to dump a ton of stuff in a pot, boil it, then drain it and serve. How can you not be down with this? It’s a nice fresh spring pasta dish.

Dinner 4 (Sun)Well Fed Familia Pressed pesto hummus and roasted vegetable wraps

This is yet another go to or us. When I am meal planning and I don’t literally want to use a single brain cell, I put this down for a couple of dinners. It is easy, healthy, versatile, colorful, warm, and even the meat eaters I’ve made this for love it too. There is no deprivation here, it is a filling meal between the thick and hearty hummus and all nutrient dense roasted veggies. If you really need to get this ish done and on the plate in no time just buy some good pre-made hummus and pesto.

I hope this helps give you some ideas for your weekly menu. Whether you use just one of these recipes or the whole meal plan, I wish you happy cooking and eating. As always, stay well fed my friends!

In Blog on
March 27, 2019

My Body Failed Me // my God did not

Most mamas can claim their stretch marks as beautiful because they represent a stomach that grew big and round and housed life. My stretch marks represent the opposite. Those two big, bright red stretch marks on my stomach represent darkness, death, and the loss of a dream. Amongst them and below them are multiple surgical scars. Those two stretch marks are the result of a rapid growing, large, cancerous tumor that took away one of my ovaries in three months’ time. Not a baby. Not life. But death. When I look at them I am tempted to be mad. My body failed me. It couldn’t make a baby but it could make cancer. For days, for months, for years this has plagued me.  But what would life be if I stayed in that thought process? That nasty attitude towards my stretch marks and scars.. They represent so much more than broken dreams and a now suffering self-esteem. Those two big bright stretch marks represent a miracle, a story, and ultimately yielded for another dream to come true.

If you have followed my journey you know that I always wanted to be a mom (through adoption and biology). I dreamed of growing a child inside of me, feeling the kicks, dreaming about what features we would share, and taking sweet maternity pictures with my ever growing bump. I knew along with being pregnant my body would change and I would likely struggle with the aftermath of growing a human life inside of me.  As we journeyed through the trenches of infertility it became clear to me that I would likely not become a mom through pregnancy and after a ton of tears and prayers I surrendered that dream to the Lord and we started pursuing foster care. You can read all about that journey here.

A year and a few months passed as I soaked up the dream of motherhood with our sweet foster baby who is now our daughter, I noticed some abnormal symptoms, the most concerning being a rapid growing abdomen. I took a pregnancy test reluctantly because that would be the obvious thing to think with a rapid growing belly. It was negative, per usual. I was confused, concerned, but so exhausted by my reproductive health issues and surgeries that I ignored it for another month. Well eventually enough was enough and I got it checked out. You can read all about that here and here.

If you didn’t read the links above you missed out on the fact that I had a 21×21 cm cancerous tumor on my left ovary. That is the same size as a growing baby. How ironic. How cruel, I thought. All I ever wanted was a growing belly housing a baby but I got a growing belly housing cancer. It was ok that I was mad. Of course that is a huge heartbreak to deal with. One of the best pieces of advice I received through my infertility journey was “you can be mad and ticked off at God, he already knows it, so don’t try to hide it. Instead tell him exactly how you feel and pray he heals your heart.” Ok. So here I had another huge opportunity to be mad that life was going differently than I wanted. I expressed my frustration, I vented, I journaled and God listened. He loves me so much that He, the almighty, all knowing God of the universe cared enough about me to listen. Once I got it all out, however long that was, days? Weeks? Not sure. I was ready to ask him to heal my heart, to heal my hurt and my mind over this hardship. It was time to take the focus off of how much it sucked for me to go through this and to instead reflect on how my God’s might and love could be seen in this situation. Here are some things I learned; God used me and my infertility/cancer journey to speak truth and encouragement into SO many people’s lives. He didn’t “give me cancer” or “make me infertile” but he did choose to use what happened to me for my growth and his glory. Next, everything with my infertility and my cancer journey lined up in such a way at such a time that my family was brought together. If it were not for all of that we would possibly not have our daughter. We wanted to foster and adopt but we wanted to have a biological child first. God’s timing did not allow that and I sure as heck am thankful for that now. We could have missed the greatest joy and honor of our lives; being parents to our daughter. And lastly, my stretch marks and scars are a result of my cancer journey and my infertility but they now represent a picture of God’s faithfulness to keep me safe despite my scary health experience. I look down and am reminded that He protected me from what could have been so much worse. I look at my stretch marks and scars and am reminded of how strong our family unit became through that hard season of life. There is so much beauty, growth, and goodness because of what happened that caused those two bright red stretch marks. I hope you can find the beauty in your stretch marks (physical and metaphorical) too.

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but the Lord is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26

In Blog on
March 20, 2019

Southwestern sweet potato bowls with Spanish rice and black beans

It’s Wednesday! I have decided that Wednesday is going to be my blog day. A spot opened up in our local parent’s day out for my daughter so it will be the perfect amount of time to get a blog out into the world for y’all each week (if all goes well with drop off for my two year old).

Today’s recipe is a special one to me. I have been cooking it for almost ten years now! My freshman year of college I started exploring the idea of eating meat free occasionally and at least having a more vegetable forward diet. I found a wonderful recipe during this time that was similar to today’s recipe but everything was wrapped up in a burrito and flavored a bit differently. I made it frequently and specifically remember making it on a holiday break when I was at home with my family. I come from a family of big time meat eaters so I remember wondering how this idea of a no meat meal would be received. I was so thrilled to see that everyone ate it, including my dad and brothers and they even thought it was yummy! Win! Over the years I changed the recipe (I don’t even remember where I got the original recipe from, this was before Pinterest y’all) a bit and we now eat it as a bowl version.

So today I give you this recipe for my southwestern sweet potato bowls with Spanish rice and black beans. Nice, tender roasted sweet potatoes full of southwestern flavor, served over a simple tomato-ey Spanish rice, black beans simmered in lime juice, and topped with all the southwestern fixins. It is a filling meal that won’t disappoint!

Yield- This will make enough for my family of 3 to have for 2 nights of dinner.

Ingredients:

  •  4 small/medium sweet potatoes
  • 2 tbs olive oil or enough to lightly coat sweet potatoes
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (if you want a little kick)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1.5 cups rice
  • 3 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1 can diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 Tbs tomato paste
  • 1 small yellow onion diced
  • 1 can black beans
  • Juice from half a lime
  • Top with avocado, cilantro, and Monterey Jack cheese if desired

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Peel and chop sweet potatoes into small cubes. Toss in a bowl with olive oil, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, paprika, onion powder, cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper. Mix well and then spread into an even layer on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, stopping halfway in between to stir around. My oven seems to be slower at times so check to make sure they aren’t browning. They should be easily penetrable with a fork.

2. While the sweet potatoes are cooking get rice going. Add rice, broth (or water), can of diced tomatoes, and tomato paste to a pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer until tender and done. Once you lower the rice to simmer add diced yellow onion and stir, then replace lid. *If you want to skip the rice you can by packaged Spanish rice. I would recommend the Zatarains brand.

3. Add black beans, lime juice, and a dash of salt to a pot and warm.

4. Once sweet potatoes and rice are done, it is time to assemble the bowls. Add a layer of Spanish rice to your bowl, next a scoop of sweet potatoes and black beans, and top with avocado, cilantro, and Monterey jack cheese if desired.

Dig in and enjoy!

In Blog, Mi Familia on
March 13, 2019

10 tips to live within your means on a shoestring budget

Hey friends! Let’s talk about money. Does money make anyone uncomfortable? It doesn’t make me uncomfortable so I am gonna spill the beans on my best tips for when you just don’t got a lot of green to go around. If you have been following along for a while you know that my husband is in school. Maybe you also know he has actually been in school most of our marriage. He went from his undergrad, straight to his masters, then lectured a couple of years, and is now pursing his PhD. During his school endeavors I decided to leave my full time job as a recreation therapist and pursue owning an Etsy shop and now a blog so that I could stay home with our daughter. I absolutely love what I do but I don’t have the ability yet to make an amazing income doing it with the time I have to invest in it. This is hopefully just for a chapter (let’s be honest it feels like a really freaking long chapter). It will get better after my husband is finished with his PhD and less tight budget days will be ahead. But right now and for the past few years we have been on a SUPER tight budget. It has been hard and it still is hard but we have been able to accept it and mostly thrive with it and guess what, we have ZERO debt. Can I get a hallelujah anyone?!

Here are my 10 best tips for how we live within our means on a shoestring budget.

1. Minimalize extras

This is a big one y’all. We live in a culture where it is so easy to get anything. You want a new vacuum? Boom, Amazon will get you one in 2 days. You want sushi delivered to your house in 30 minutes? Boom, Postmates will have it to ya asap. Don’t want to drag your toddler to the grocery store for the 3 things you forgot. What’s that? Boom! Instacart at your service. Need that new shirt that is oh so cute? Target to the rescue. Drive through coffee because you don’t feel like making it yourself? Thank you Starbucks, take my $7 dollars for a simple cup of jo. Ok, you get it right? We live in a spend spend spend society because we want our lives to be easier and things to be more convenient. That’s really nice if you can afford all of that but when you can’t be spending that kind of money on little things that add up..DON’T! You have got to minimalize the extra expenditures and learn to say no. You can say yes every now and then, but mostly, learn to say no to those extra things you really don’t need.

 2. No TV

We don’t own a TV. That saves us money in that we never had to buy a TV in the first place or pay anyone to hook it up. We don’t have to pay for cable. That right there saves a ton of money. Our laptop and ipad, and my phone totally do that job of a TV for us. Because my husband is a student we get HULU and Spotify for only $5.99 a month. And I’ve got to shout out to my amazing college roomie who still lets me use her Netflix, thanks my girl. You rock!

3. Share a car

Maybe this sounds impossible to you because life is busy and crazy but guess what- we have lived in 2 big cities together and now a small town and we have made owning only 1 car work for us for 5 years. And yes, we have a kid now and it still works. It is inconvenient sometimes for sure but it is worth it to save on the giant expense of owning a second car and maintaining a second car. My husband utilized public transportation when we lived in San Antonio and that was super affordable and last year in Denton and now in the little town we live in he rides his bike or walks or we play it by ear and I arrange days where he can have the car or I can give him rides. Like I said, it isn’t always convenient but haven’t a tight budget isn’t really convenient either so you have to be willing to do hard things to stay afloat.

4. Be on top of your food budget

I wrote a whole blog post about eating well on a shoestring budget. Head to the post to read it, there are some really great tips that people have shared with me they have started using. Moral of the story-you can eat well on a tiny budget, it just takes some more thought into your meal planning each week.

5. Budget meetings

My husband and I sit down every month or so and review together what we spent the previous month. How did we do well, do we need to tighten up in some areas? Did I drive through to get coffee more than I should have? All of those things. It is so important to be acutely aware, without  stressing or obsessing, of your money and how you are spending it when you don’t have a lot of it.

6. Side hustle

Hustle baby, hustle. That is why I started my Etsy shop, I needed to bring in some extra cash each month. It was a low cost start up that I was able to see a profit from immediately. Other ideas of side hustles could be just selling things you don’t need or use on Facebook or having a garage sale. There are so many articles online that give some really great side hustle ideas that anyone could do. Get to googling, my friend!

7. Thrifting and Facebook marketplace

Without trying to sound arrogant, I feel like I have nice taste in things…Home décor, food, date ideas, clothes, etc. It’s hard when I have that taste but not the money to spend on it. Well thank goodness for thrift stores and facebook marketplace because I have been able to find some really cute stuff that I couldn’t have afforded new in the store. For instance, our dining room table was $260 new at Target, I found the same table at a thrift store for SIXTEEN DOLLARS. Yes, you read that right, $16. I still can’t shut up about it.

8. Accept help when offered

This can be really hard for people. It is embarrassing sometimes when you are an adult and have a family but have a hard time making ends meet. My husband is actively pursuing getting us out of having such a strict budget but it takes time. Our friends and family have been so thoughtful to us and sometimes it is hard to accept their help but it would be silly of us not to accept it. For instance we haven’t bought diapers in a year and a half. My old college roommates gifted us with a year of diapers for our daughter’s first birthday (amazing, I know!) and my parents picked it up when she turned two. It has been a huge blessing. I am sure no matter what your situation is there are people in your corner wanting to help in little or big ways.

9. Sometimes you have to put certain dreams on hold

Being on a tight budget is restricting but it doesn’t have to be forever. We have so many hopes and dreams and things that we want to do one day that we just can’t afford to do right now and that is ok. We are working hard to have better paying jobs once my husband is done with school. This is just a season. One day we will be able to afford to travel and see the world. One day we will be able to afford to start that non-profit that we dream about. One day we be able to go out and enjoy an amazing meal without choosing if we want to spend the extra money on a glass of wine or an appetizer, we will be able to afford both! We aren’t saying no to our dreams forever, just postponing them for now.

10. Focus on what you can do with your money vs what you can’t do

Lastly, it can be disheartening to see other’s living their dream lives when you feel like you are just living in the dust behind them. But I challenge you to stop focusing on what you don’t have and instead what you do have. I see my friends traveling around the world and I definitely feel jealous sometimes but then I look around and see how hard my husband is working in school, I see us making it work each month without going into debt and it has helped us really develop resiliency. It isn’t much but we still tithe and donate money to a couple of organizations that are important to us. We can still feed ourselves, shelter ourselves, dress ourselves, and enjoy ourselves everyday even on our little budget. I am really proud of us and thankful for all the things that living on a small budget has taught me. I really hope these things help you if you are in a similar situation.

Ta-ta for now my friends!

Adrienne

In Blog, Dairy Free, Dinner, Food, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian on
March 6, 2019

Moroccan Spiced Chickpeas with Pistachio couscous and goat cheese

Do you have a meal that makes you think of a specific show or movie every time you eat it? For me, that is this recipe. This meal reminds me of James Bond- Skyfall. In fact if I make it, Steven and I feel like we can’t eat it without watching Skyfall. It’s too funny. Who else is quirky like this? I made a variation of this recipe for the first time shortly after we were married. We were living in our first home together- a 500 sqft apartment in San Antonio and it just so happened to be the night we rented Skyfall. Well, we LOVED the movie and we LOVED this recipe so much that the two just go hand in hand now.

Y’all this is one of our favorite recipes ever. I have tweaked it over the years and this is the sweet spot right here. All of the beautiful spices come together to make a flavorful and hearty vegetarian (or vegan without goat cheese) meal that the whole family will love. Bonus points if you watch Skyfall while eating it. Take a trip to Morocco from your own kitchen!

 

       Ingredients:

  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 2 carrots
  • ½ tsp coriander
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 inch knob ginger minced (or ½ tsp ginger powder)
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 tbs tomatoe paste
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups cooked chickpeas or 2 cans chickpeas
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 3-4 cups cooked couscous (cook according to package)
  • Optional- stir pistachios into couscous, top bowls with goat cheese crumbles, and chopped cilantro

      Instructions:

  1. Add olive oil into a large pot and turn on to medium high heat. Dice onion and add to pot. Stir around for 1-2 minutes. Next chop carrots and add to pot. Stir to prevent burning.
  2. Add all spices and chopped garlic and ginger into a bowl. Toss everything into the pot at once and stir to coat carrots and onions. Turn down to medium heat and add in diced red bell pepper.
  3. Stir in tomato paste, and then add in the can of diced tomatoes. Next add in the chickpeas and broth. Allow everything to come to a boil and then cover with lid and turn down to simmer for 15 minutes or more to allow all of the flavors to meld nicely together.
  4. In the meantime cook couscous according to the package. It’s SUPER easy btw to cook couscous. Once it is done, fluff it with a fork and stir in pistachios if desired.
  5. To assemble to bowls add a layer of couscous, top with a hearty scoop of the Moroccan spiced chickpeas, toss on crumbled goat cheese, chopped cilantro, and more pistachios if desired.
  6. Eat it up!

In Blog, DIY, Mama on
February 25, 2019

Should you open an Etsy shop//and the story of mine: Dearest Delight

A little over five years ago I was coming to the end of my engagement and was about to become a bride. For nine months I planned my DIY wedding from the homemade wedding cake, hundreds of wine and kombucha bottles that were consumed by friends and family to be used as centerpiece vases, to the trail mix bar and hand sewn banners, bulk flowers that we arranged ourselves and the boutonnieres and flower crowns I made. I had so much fun planning my wedding and the closer my wedding got, I was pumped to marry my husband but I was sad to be done with all of the wedding crafting. Most brides talk about how stressful wedding planning is but I thought it was so much fun.

One of my college roommates said one day “why don’t you just open an Etsy shop?” I had thought about this before but didn’t know what I would sell or if it would be worth the effort because I was afraid of failure. Well it turns out all I needed was a friend to validate this thought I had for me to actually open an Etsy shop. Literally the next day I spent hours and hours making various boutonnières out of dried flowers I had but didn’t need for the wedding. I snapped some very poor quality photos of my boutonnières, picked out a name: Dearest Delight, figured out how to open my shop, listed my products on Etsy, and then I waited. I figured I would not get an order for a while but the next day I got my very first order! Being the type B, not really thinking about the details until I’m knee deep in it, person that I am I had not considered how I would ship fragile dried flower items to customers who were expecting intact products. So there I was pumped about my first order and then I thought to myself “well crap..how will I get this dainty little boutonnière safely in one piece to someone across the country..!?” Thankfully I figured out the details rather quickly but let’s say I should have taken a little more time to put some thought into the logistics of my Etsy shop.

Since that first order I have somehow managed to have almost 700 orders with little to no advertising. It has been a fun journey and thankfully there has been minimal drama. In five years I have only had two orders arrive damaged through the shipping process and only had two orders lost in the mail. Oh and only one nasty review. And yes, I still remember exactly what that review said because it made me sick to my stomach and almost throw in the towel. It’s sad how much we can let one mean comment from a total stranger rip apart our confidence. Managing my Etsy shop and making orders for people the last five years has been so much fun and has been very therapeutic for me. The highlight was when I received my biggest order which was 55 boutonnières for a special graduation ceremony for honor students. Thank you to whichever roommate it was (I don’t remember J) that told me I should start an Etsy shop because it has been one of my best decisions yet! It doesn’t make a ton of money and I limit the amount of orders I get because there is only one of me making tedious orders and now with a toddler running around but like I said, it has been so fun!

I am often asked advice about having an Etsy shop from people considering it, so here are eight questions to ask yourself if you think you want to open one.

  1. Is there actually a market for what you are selling?

Do your research. Ask around. Search on Etsy and other handmade marketplaces to see if anyone is making/buying what you want to sell. Is it something so unique and specific that there wouldn’t be many people interested? If so, sadly it might not be a great investment for you to open a shop as you wouldn’t have many people interested in buying. Do you really believe in your art or your product despite this fact? Then go ahead, it isn’t a big investment to at least try.

2. Is the market oversaturated for the product you want to sell?

Maybe you want to open an Etsy shop selling a super popular product like bows or printables or painted canvases. That is awesome and I am sure you do an amazing job with your work but you need to consider the fact that there are certain products on Etsy with a ridiculously saturated market already. For instance, I searched “printable wall art” and received 496,071 search results. Woah. That is stiff competition for all the people trying to sell printable wall art. Not saying you shouldn’t go for it but you just need to consider this fact. Maybe try selling at local craft fairs first to see if people are interested.

3. Are you able to easily acquire all the materials you need for your product?

This was something I did not consider before I opened my shop. I started getting orders in and I was still scrambling to source my materials. Some things I could get at Hobby Lobby, other things I ordered from various places online, some I could just get from my local grocery store. Again, I should have sorted this all out before I started selling and that would have eased a lot of stress.

4. Are you willing to offer competitive pricing?

I think this has been one of the biggest reasons why I have been successful. When I did my research to see who else was selling dried flower crowns and dried flower boutonnières I saw a few others were but their prices were outrageous. I did the math and saw that I could still make a great profit margin if I offered similar products for almost half the price. This is especially important when you are just starting out. I have been able to raise my prices a little bit over time with no repercussions now that I have built up years of great reviews.

5.Do you have a game plan for packaging and shipping?

I shared in my personal Etsy shop story above that I did not have a game plan for this. If you are selling something like t-shirts then you have it easy-fold them nicely and put them in a bubble mailer. If you are selling delicate dried flowers like me it’s just not that simple. Thankfully I was able to come up with a method that works great. Your packaging is so important too. I used to include a hand written note in each package, now I have printed thank you cards that are placed nicely atop the white tissue paper in each of my orders. I once ordered headbands on Etsy and when I opened the package they were stuffed in a small Ziploc bag. No business card, nothing. I was disappointed and it made the seller look kind of lazy. When you spend money on a special product it is always fun to receive it and see that there was thought and care put into the packaging.

6. Are you capable of managing the financial aspect of running a small business?

You need to be able to keep track of your expenses and to figure out your taxes each year. Numbers are totally not my thing so I hired a guy for that..my husband J. My part though is to keep all of my receipts or jot down each and every purchase for my shop. We have quarterly meetings to check how things are going and to make sure it is still a profitable endeavor.

7. Do you have time for it?

The goal with selling is to have orders and when you have orders you actually have to spend the time making these things for your customers. That might seem like a major duh. As I stated earlier though I had to start limiting the amount of things I list in my shop because I was initially working a full time hospital job as a recreation therapist and then we had a baby so I had to be realistic. If you don’t have time to put your heart and detail into your work you need to consider if you should open a shop at all or just how much you are willing to list in your shop.

8. Would you genuinely enjoy it?

This is the most important thing to ask yourself. In my opinion having an Etsy shop should be fun way to make an income or some extra money because you get to make something you are passionate about. Don’t just teach yourself how to sew bibs because you need some extra cash but dread each order because you don’t really like what you have gotten yourself into. There are other ways to make cash if that is your only reason for doing it. For me having an Etsy shop is a creative outlet that I wouldn’t have otherwise. It is a way to connect with brides, expectant moms, grooms, seniors taking their senior photographs, and people who just want to look pretty in a flower crown. It is a nice excuse to sit down and turn on Netflix as I work with my hands. It has been so much fun and I am so thankful for the opportunities and extra income it has provided.

So what do you think? Is that little idea you had for an Etsy shop worth it? I hope the answer is yes! If you’ve gone through these questions and maybe reconsidered then I hope it was helpful at least to think about it some more. Don’t give up though; maybe you will have another great idea soon! Or maybe it just isn’t the time yet. Happy dreaming, my people!