Eat

In Blog, Mi Familia on
December 10, 2018

How to thrive after a cross country move (and the hard reason we had to move)

The last few years have been really hard in general. We have had so many challenges and soul crushing hoops to jump through. We couldn’t have survived it without putting our hope and trust in the Lord as he kindly held our hands and helped us see his path. One of the biggest challenges was when my husband lost his job last April. Let’s back it up- my husband is truly an amazing guy. He is honest, smart, skilled, patient, true, loyal, and such a hard worker. Unfortunately he was working under an incredibly unfair, unpleasant, and even malicious mentor in his last PhD program. It was making our life so incredibly stressful and miserable on top of the fact that we had just lost our dog very traumatically, gone through our foster/adoption journey (which was one of the few highs (and highest high) of last year, and then my cancer diagnosis. This guy had threatened poor outcomes for my husband if he took a day off for our daughter’s adoption and made my husband feel bad for asking for a day off when I had major surgery to take care of me. Yeah, it was that bad. We don’t miss being under his unfair and vicious rule one bit.

Many challenging months came and went. In late March I was finally given the green light of health after many oncology appointments. Right after this news was shared, my husband was unfairly kicked out of the PhD program. Anyone who knows my husband was in absolute disbelief. After all of the crap we had just trudged through now we had no vision of our future. It takes months and even years to get into PhD programs and to match with a mentor who is willing to take you on. This was all thrusted on us in April when PhD programs were already filled and mentors had no room for more doctoral students. What the heck were we going to do? How were we going to make a living? We had just moved our life from San Antonio to Dallas and less than a year later we are finding ourselves in this position. How would my husband get to the career he wanted which is impossible without a PhD? We were at a total and utter loss. I will skip the details for time’s sake but God…really that is all I can say.

Our tearful prayers on our knees, our family and friends and church prayed alongside us and we were granted an incredible opportunity that only God could have come up with. In a situation that should have been impossible, too late, too many obstacles we found ourselves moving to the tippy top of Michigan’s upper peninsula. I literally didn’t know Michigan had an upper peninsula until the day my husband brought up this crazy opportunity. We were on the edge of our seats for a good couple of months waiting to see if this was too good to be true, but indeed it all worked out!

 In July we made the move from Texas up to Hancock, Michigan. My husband has almost completed his first semester at Michigan Tech which is a wonderful and very prestigious university. He is respected and treated kindly and fairly at work. It is actually a healthy environment.  It is a vastly different way of life up here. We live in an isolated area surrounded by unreal beauty. The shores of Lake Superior, snowy hills, and waterfalls now surround us. We don’t want to be here forever but what a cool opportunity this is. We are so far from family and everything familiar but we have been able to thrive in our new home. This was the longest intro ever to say that today I wanted to share 10 tips with you about how to thrive after a cross country move.

Saying hello to our new house!


1) Find a church/group to be a part of

For us finding a church that supports our beliefs was key. Church is very different up here and we are still trying to get used to it but we have been able to plug into church and a small group that loves us, prays for us, and most importantly points us towards God.

2) Explore! Moving can literally feel like a vacation for the first few months, enjoy it!

Find all the places, see all the things, find the hotspots that everyone talks about and the less known places that can become special to you. For us that has meant hiking waterfalls, finding sled hills, playing on the shores of Lake Superior, enjoying local bakeries and beautiful views in our new city.

3) Find a favorite restaurant

If you couldn’t have guessed, we are major foodies and good food is important to us. It was so hard to move away from a booming food scene in TX to where we are now. Thankfully we have found a few restaurants we really like.

4) Find a coffee shop or a space you can enjoy being at

I am all about having a place with a nice aesthetic, preferably a good coffee shop, for having time with a girlfriend or getting some work done. There are a couple of coffee shops here that fit the bill for me and have become places I can look forward to spending time at.

5) Check out the grocery stores around you and pick the one that works best for you

This one was hard for me when we moved up here. We are in such an isolated area so we don’t have as much up here. I am used to having any and every store within a 10 mile radius but now I make do with the stores here. Thankfully I have been able to figure out of the handful of stores here who has what and how I can get almost all of the ingredients and products I need. Online shopping is a life saver up here!

6) Put yourself out there to meet new people

This one can be big and scary but you just have to do it in order to thrive. We were made for community with other people. I started going to the library story time with my toddler and that was an outlet to socialize, I added some moms on Instagram that I saw lived in the area, I showed up at community events and talked to people. You have to put in the work to meet people.

7) Join some kind of group that meets regularly

There aren’t many groups up here where we are but we do have a MOPS group (mothers of preschoolers) and that gave me an outlet to meet other women in the same season of life as I am. There are all kinds of groups to find people you might get along well with, especially if you are in a bigger city. It is well worth the effort to find one!

8) Invite people over, don’t wait for someone else to invite you

It can be easy to feel like as the new person in town that you should wait to be invited to other people’s homes, but you can actually be the first to have people over. Just another way to love on others and start building your community.

9) Download the Marco Polo App or facetime regularly with your people; it is good for the soul

Oh goodness this has saved me time and time again. When I am having those sad, homesick moments, longing for familiar faces or friends and family being able to see actual faces has been so good for the soul. Thank goodness for technology. I am able to keep up with my best friends from home and talk with family “face to face (face to phone?)” regularly.

10) Make a bucket list of all the things you want to do in your new place

When you move somewhere new make a big list of things to do in your new area for your time there. This gives you something to look forward too. Things to put on the calendar and new adventures to be had.

Totally new climate means totally new adventures!


Well that is all I have for now. Anytime I open my maps app I still can’t believe my little dot is up almost in Canada. What a crazy journey we have been on. We are making the most of our time here on the Keweenaw Peninsula and it’s been such a fun adventure. As much as we hope to move back to TX or at least closer to TX after Steven finishes school, I would say we are thriving up here. I hope these tips help you too!

In Blog on
December 3, 2018

Grab and Go Trail Mix

Howdy howdy!

Another Monday, another blog post. Does Monday work well as a blog posting day? I am not sure. Honestly it seems like people are starting to prefer no blogs and everything shared on Instagram. What do you think? Do you have an opinion on this? I have so much to learn about in regards to finding success in this whole food and lifestyle sharing thing. I might as well grab a snack as I try to figure this all out. What should I eat…OH! How about my grab and go trail mix?! How is that for the cheesiest most lame segway into today’s blog post? I’m sorry, I really couldn’t not do that.

Ever since I met my husband he has been nuts for nuts. Another lame joke, are you really surprised? He is all about the trail mix or GORP as the true outdoorsy people call it- Good Ole’ Raisins & Peanuts. This little trail mix is one I have been making for him every week since we got married. I love a store with a good bulk bin section and that is the best for making customized trail mix. If your store doesn’t have a bulk bin section then just find bags or cans of all of the individual trail mix components and mix at home.

This is my husband’s tried and true favorite mix. If it were me, I would totally add some dark chocolate chips in the mix because #chocolateislife. Am I right or am I right?

This isn’t a super fancy or complex post at all but here it goes-

1 cup raw peanuts

1 cup raw pecans

1 cup raw almonds

1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup raisins

1 cup banana chips

1/2 cup dried coconut shreds

Add everything into a big Ziploc bag and shake and mix around, maybe even shake your booty a little bit for a good time.

You can of course do a ratio and amount that you like and add or subtract other nuts or dried fruits, etc. He used to really enjoy the honey sesame sticks in the mix. This is what we do around here and it makes for a healthy, protein rich, sweet tooth satisfying snack. Hope you enjoy! Do you have a favorite pre-made mix you buy? Or do you prefer to make your own?

In Blog on
November 28, 2018

Adoption Day

Hello friends,

Today is our one year adoption anniversary! I sat down to write some words about our adoption day and this is what came out. It is more of a walk through of what our adoption day looked like. It is informal and maybe put together in an odd format but this is it. This is adoption day through my eyes.

Coordinating outfits, people gathered, judge in a happy mood because he finally has a happy thing to do in court. Smiles, tears, and celebrating. Months and sometimes years of paperwork. Choosing to love a child for better or for worse after initially choosing to love a child whether they will be with you for a day or for the rest of your life. Ups and downs. One might call that an emotional rollercoaster.

The family court hall is full of people. Some are there for the worst day of their life. Their family is in the process of being broken apart. Some are there for the best day of their life. Their family is legally saying yes to being together forever. If you are lucky like us you have a ton of people rallying in a tiny court room. You have family, friends, siblings in another state watching via facetime, college roommates, and if you are really lucky your foster and adoption journey has extended your family even further by welcoming your child’s biological siblings and their families into the mix.

The judge smiles. The judge goes through the legalities to make it official. The judge cracks jokes that he can only crack during adoption court. The judge asks you if you will provide for, love, and care for your child forever. With a confident but emotional crack in your voice you say yes.  You look at your child, you look at your spouse, you look at all of the loving and caring faces in the room that supported and loved you through this journey to get you to this point. It feels surreal.

So many pictures are taken. Picture with the judge, picture with the CPS workers, picture with your child’s guardian ad litem, pictures with every single one of the people who came to share this day. You leave the courtroom and go back in to the halls of the family court unit. You are reminded again that your best day is someone else’s worst. You don’t let that sit lightly and choose to remember that. Hugs are given, tears are shed, babies are getting grumpy and overwhelmed, but your heart is so full. You officially share the same last name as the small person you call your child.

Thankful. Honored. This is adoption day.

In Blog, Dairy Free, Dinner, Food, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian on
November 20, 2018

Fall Vegetable Soup

Happy Thanksgiving week! It really doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving where I live because everything is COVERED in snow. Like multiple feet of snow already. WHAT?! So my brain is already in Christmas mode BUT I love Thanksgiving and I love Fall so I am going to reel it back a bit and throw out a wonderful warm fall vegetable soup that will keep you warm and satisfied this season. This fall vegetable soup would even do great on a Thanksgiving table this week as a unique healthy option.

My fall soup combines butternut squash, sweet potato, carrots, apples, and onion all together with buttery and sage undertones. HECK YES. Mmmm. Major mouth party. Ok, that got a little weird, sorry.

Make it and pair it with a good ole salad and something to dip in it, you know a good soup vessel to soak up all the thick creamy goodness in your bowl. Ok, let’s get to it. This soup doesn’t need any more of an intro!


Ingredients: 

1 yellow onion

1 small butternut squash

1 medium sweet potato

2 medium carrots

2 Honeycrisp apples

4 garlic cloves smashed

2 fresh sage leaves finely chopped

1/4 tsp thyme (dried or fresh)

2 tbs butter (use vegan butter to make this recipe fully vegan)

1/4 tsp cinnamon

4 cups vegetable broth

1 can full fat coconut milk

salt and pepper to taste

Instructions: 

  1. Chop onion and melt butter in a pot over medium heat. Add chopped onion into butter to sauté for 2 minutes stirring often.
  2. Add smashed garlic cloves, cinnamon, thyme, sage, salt and pepper and stir around 2 mins.
  3. Add diced butternut squash, diced sweet potato, diced carrots, and diced apples. Stir for 2 minutes.
  4. Add vegetable broth and bring everything to a boil until vegetables are penetrable with a fork. Then add in coconut milk.
  5. If you have an immersion blender, lucky you, stick that guy in and blend everything up, if not, transfer everything carefully to a blender and blend away until everything is nicely pureed.
  6. Enjoy!

 

 

 

In Adoption, Blog, Foster care, Mama, Mi Familia on
November 13, 2018

Beautiful Heartbreak

I have had these words pent up in my mind and deep down in my heart for a while now. These words have stemmed from thinking of all of the aspects of adoption, of foster care, of infertility, of beauty and of heartbreak, not just the joy that adoption has brought us. How did we get here? How did I get to this exact moment in life where I am a mother of a brilliant little girl through foster care and now adoption?

Ever since I can remember I wanted to be a mom. The idea of family, of nurturing, of growing, of encouraging, of being together, was my biggest hope in life. I knew about adoption because I have extended family members who were adopted and while that wasn’t a big topic of discussion in our family I wonder if that subconsciously played a role in my deep interest in adoption. In fifth grade I did a research project on adoption that was presented in front of my whole school. You see, it seems like I was knit together in a special way that adoption would forever be a part of my life.

While I always hoped to adopt, I didn’t know that I would have to trudge through two painful and heartbreaking years of infertility to get to the place of feeling God’s hand leading us in that direction. Infertility was heartbreak that later turned into the most beautiful surrender of my life. Surrendering what I wanted for the sake of finding peace in what God’s will was for my life.

In adoption there are three parties involved. The birth family, the adoptee, and the adoptive family. It would be the biggest disservice I could do to my daughter not to recognize the heartbreak involved in her coming into our lives. While our daughter sadly was an orphan at the time she came into our family, I still am heartbroken for her birth family. When I take the time to think of her story, I am still heartbroken for her, even though she feels 100% my daughter and to be honest in my day to day life it’s easy to forget that she was born to another woman. I grieve for the loss of opportunities her birth parents had, what kind of parents could they have been if they were given the same opportunities I was? What kind of life could my daughter have lived if her birth parents were able to raise her and love her all of her days? These are the kind of questions that could be easy to ignore and not ask if I wasn’t willing to dive into the difficult intricacies of adoption emotions. You see, if we lived in a perfect world, adoption wouldn’t exist because there would be no need for it. We obviously don’t live in a perfect world though and there are no perfect people. It is my greatest honor to be an adoptive mom. I am just a mom actually. I am no different than any other mom except I have my little girl’s story to honor. I have her questions to answer, I have a delicate dance to do to honor her heritage, one that is so vastly different from my own, I have her birth family, that despite what choices they did or didn’t make, to hold in my heart and my daughter’s heart because she deserves to know her story, her roots.

There is no other way I can describe the emotional aspect of adoption other than beautiful heartbreak. Beautiful because adoption made us a family. Beautiful because adoption gave our daughter parents to keep her safe, to stand next to her and encourage her/be there for her for life. Beautiful because it fulfilled my husband and I’s dream to become parents, it brought life, laughter, boundless joy, memories to forever be made, and lessons that needed/ need to be learned into our home.  Beautiful heartbreak because no matter how beautiful adoption is, it involves heartbreak. As mentioned in the previous paragraph there is so much to be grieved. I wonder how often E’s birth parents cry over her? I don’t know if they do but I would imagine despite the choices they made that their hearts are broken.  As my daughter grows I know there will be times, maybe frequently, maybe infrequently, where she will wonder what life would have been like if she was with her birth family. I can’t say what she will or won’t experience heartbreak over in regards to her story, but I know there will be times where it is hard for her, rightfully so.

As an adoptive mom I am learning so much lately. In many cases, our adopted children grieve and struggle with their adoption quite frequently, especially if they are held back from knowing their story. We need to sit with them, we need to listen, we need to point them to important truths, remind them of how loved they are, but most importantly we need to just listen. Despite how loved they are by us, their adoptive families, and how much they love their families in return, it is something we need to talk about often and stand next to them as they find healing/find answers/process things.

I pray God’s grace in my daughter’s life. I pray that she would be confident in who she is as a Child of God, who she is as a woman, who she is as our daughter, and where she came from. I pray that her story would empower her to help others and be the best person she can be. Beautiful Heartbreak and all. 

In Blog, Dairy Free, Food, Vegan, Vegetarian on
October 15, 2018

Top 10 easy, healthy, toddler snacks

Do you ever get in a snack rut for healthy easy ideas to keep your kiddos well fed? I compiled a list of our top 10 easy, healthy toddler snacks. I hope you get some good ideas off of this list. Happy snacking!

Ruby Rockets Fruit and Veggie Coconut Yogurt Tubes

Yall! These are hands down my favorite healthy toddler snack. Yogurt in a tube is so quick and easy to hand to a little one but most are full of sugar and not dairy free. I came across these in the store over the summer and bought them because they are full of fruit, full of veggies, and dairy free and have no added sugar. What a win! They taste like a smoothie in a tube and sometimes I’ll even eat them too.

Ruby Rockets Fruit and Veggie Better Bars with Coconut Milk

These are such an awesome healthy treat for toddlers, actually really anyone! Your kiddo gets to eat a popsicle that tastes delicious and oh hey, it is full of fruit and veggies, and is dairy free and has no added sugar. Boom. What!? Best mom win and kid win ever. Ruby Rockets was so kind to send us a box of each of their four flavors to try. My toddler’s favorite is the strawberry and my favorite is the fudge. While eating these popsicles you would never know that they have beets, squash, and carrots in them!

Larabar

Made entirely of fruit and nuts, Larabar is a perfect healthy toddler snack. These bad boys are dairy free (even the ones with chocolate chips), gluten free, certified kosher, and chock full of goodness! My toddler specifically loves the Blueberry Muffin and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip flavors. These are filling and if your kiddo can’t handle holding the whole bar yet just chop them into little cubes and put them in a snack cup.

Popcorn

Popcorn happens to be my favorite snack, so naturally my daughter has developed a love for it as well. There are so many awesome healthy popcorn brands these days that can be found at most grocery stores. We love Boom Chicka Pop, any store brand organic pre-popped popcorn, or better yet when I have the time I pop our own at home. It is so easy- add some oil to a pot, I use coconut oil, once it is heated you add the kernels, it provides quite the fun activity to gather round and watch it pop, then add desired toppings. We like it simple with salt and pepper. I do not recommend microwave popcorn!

Rice cakes

There are so many different flavors to choose from. We like to buy plain rice cakes and spread peanut butter on top. It can make quite a mess letting a toddler walk around with a peanut butter covered rice cake though. If you are worried about the mess just give it to them plain!

Apple sauce

No explanation needed for this. Just a tried and true kiddo favorite through the years. Praise the Lord for applesauce squeeze pouches! Just make sure apple is the only ingredient for the healthiest option.

Picture by My Kids Lick the Bowl

Homemade Muffins

Homemade muffins take some time up front but once they are done you have quick go to snacks for the rest of the week. There are so many healthy muffin recipes online, our favorite is this ABC Muffin recipe which has apples, carrots, and bananas in the muffin. Littles eat these up!

Fresh or Dried fruit

My toddler loves grapes cut in half, apple slices with peanut butter, bananas, ok , she actually loves pretty much any fruit. If you don’t want the sticky hands try raisins, craisins, or any other dried fruit but make sure it is a good size for your child. My little one loves to walk around and eat this out of her snack cup.

Pretzels

This is a simple, non-messy snack! We love the plain pretzel rods and they provide a perfect crunch that my daughter loves. A great easy snack for on the go.

Chocolate cashew milk

One of my daughter’s favorite treats is a cup of chocolate cashew milk. This is the most sugary idea on the list but I included it because it has 55% less calories and 33% less sugar than lowfat dairy milk. It is delicious, filling, and sometimes mama has a glass as well. Just pour a small serving in your toddler’s sippy cup and voila!

In Blog on
October 8, 2018

You aren’t alone if you feel lonely

94% of the time I feel fulfilled, thankful, and happy- I have the kindest husband, an amazing miracle that I get to call my daughter, wonderful family and friends, hobbies, hopes, and dreams- nevertheless there is a persisting loneliness, a feeling of isolation, being different, a feeling of being left out, that I can’t seem to kick the other 6% of the time. There are factors that have caused me to feel this way such as the fact that in the past two years we have moved twice. Both moves were to places where we knew no one. New adventures, new cities, starting over- that can be exciting, I’m the kind of person who welcomes change, but it can also be so lonely. Or sometimes I feel lonely because I feel different or less than. I let these negative feelings isolate me. Often I wonder if I am the only one. Many days, especially as a work from home mom, can feel mundane, same ol’ same ol’. While I am cleaning up the kitchen or changing diapers I think that everyone else in the world must be having a grand old time- dinner parties, concerts, travels- and I am just at home. By myself, day in and day out, with my toddler while my husband works. The occasional play date, date with my husband,  mom’s night out, facetime chat, hang outs with childhood/college friends, are life savers and I am so thankful when I get to do those things. If you are sitting there too feeling like you are all alone in your feelings of loneliness, like life is a party or an exciting adventure all the time for everyone else- first, you are not silly or pathetic for having those thoughts, and second- more and more research shows that that is not the case.

In fact, I did my own tiny little “research study”( if you can even call it that) on Instagram stories. I took a 24 hour poll and asked “do you feel lonely?” I had 149 responses in 24 hours. 116 out of 149 people responded yes. That means 78% of the people who responded to my story shared that they feel lonely. I had 576 people view the story and who knows how many more would have responded yes- maybe some didn’t take the time to read the question, maybe some didn’t care, or maybe some didn’t feel the desire to be vulnerable enough to share that they too feel lonely. The latter is only a guess. Next I asked if those who feel lonely feel lonely occasionally/situationally or constantly. 151 out of 174 voted their loneliness was occasional or situational while 23 out of 174 shared it was constant.  The next question I asked was for stay at home parents or those who work from home to share if they felt lonely in this role or not. 71 out of 100 people shared yes, they feel lonely in these roles, 29 did not feel lonely in these roles. The last poll was for people who work in an office/social setting. I was surprised the most at this response- 49 out of 68 people shared they felt lonely at work whereas 19 out of 68 shared they do not feel lonely at work.

So why are we so lonely? We live on a planet with 7 billion plus other human beings? I asked people to respond to my Instastories with what triggers loneliness and many of the responses involved the following- comparing personal circumstances to others, moving, isolating illnesses such as cancer or a difficult circumstance like infertility, shame from past mistakes, having a spouse who travels or works a lot, singleness, seeing others enjoying time together without you, losing friendships, spending a large majority of time alone for work or as a parent, feeling like no one can relate, mental health struggles, and grieving through a difficult time.  I had pages and pages of responses. I was touched, saddened, and blown away by the amount of responses I got to this question. It is a very vulnerable thing to admit what causes you pain, so thank you to those who took the time to share.

Ok, the most important thing now that we have admitted that many of us experience loneliness- let’s figure out how to work through these hard feelings. First, I want to establish that there is no shame in loneliness. This is a reminder to myself as well. For whatever reason there is a stigma about being lonely, it makes us feel embarrassed to admit our loneliness. Maybe we think that sharing that we are lonely means we have no friends or less than desirable circumstances. Well, remember at the beginning of this blog I shared all the wonderful things I have going on in my life? I have some awesome circumstances yet I still have these occasional feelings of loneliness. I bet you also have some amazing things and amazing relationships in your life. Second, in these times of loneliness remember your worth- whether you believe it or not you are a beautiful creation by the almighty God who created the universe. He looks at you and smiles; after all, you were created in His image. Third, remember the things that are life-giving to you. I mean a hobby, a place you can get to easily, something you can do or look at, or somewhere you can be that brings you joy, something that breathes life into you again. Fourth, take a bold step and call someone up to hang out! Seriously, I know it sounds scary but I have a good idea that person you have in mind is lonely at times as well and maybe wishing someone would initiate a hang out. Be the brave one, call someone up and plan a coffee date, or invite them over for dinner or a play date.  Fifth, why not start up a conversation in the waiting room or if you see another person alone at a coffee shop? As people we crave connection. If you always shy away from talking to others you eliminate your potential to make new friends. Sixth, remember that you are not alone. There are 7 billion plus people on this earth and no matter what each person’s personal circumstances are each of us has emotions that lead us to feel lonely at times. Maybe you picture some celebrity living the high life or a famous instagrammer whose life looks picture perfect- I promise, their life is lonely too sometimes. Seventh, get involved with something– find a place to volunteer- this will allow you to help and meet so many new people, your church, or a church in general if you don’t go, find a group of people who share an interest of yours- a running group, an artist group, a group for moms with toddlers, etc. Branch out! The things that help me when I feel lonely are praying and giving it to God, spending time with my family, time with a friend, making a gratitude list, starting a positive and energizing conversation with someone, watching one of my favorite shows, getting outside and going on a walk, listening to a podcast, and reading.

Loneliness doesn’t have to be embarrassing. It is a human experience. Let’s talk about it. Vulnerability encourages vulnerability. If I am able to help or encourage someone by admitting something taboo about myself, than I am more than happy to do that. So today world, I tell you that I indeed feel lonely and isolated sometimes. You are not alone if you experience this from time to time as well. We cannot eliminate the feelings of loneliness altogether but we can find ways to help our aching hearts in times of loneliness.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or dread, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

In Blog on
October 1, 2018

Well Fed Weekly Meal Plan #3

IT IS OCTOBER! The best month of the year in my opinion. October means turning leaves, pumpkin everything, trading in sandals for boots, snuggles under fuzzy blankets, Halloween, and warm, comforting food! This week I am bringing to you a vegetarian (you can easily make it vegan) meal plan featuring some lovely fall flavors and comfort!

Any recipe I add in these meal plans are my own or recipes that I have found over the years and have been tried and true winners for our family. Next to the recipe I will note any changes I made and any dietary specifications. Of course, you know the size of the crowd you’re cooking for, so if you plan to follow this meal plan, look at the portions to decide if you will need to double/triple/whatever the recipe.  This meal plan includes dinner, lunch, and  breakfast. Yes, we eat a lot of leftovers, yes we eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch 7 days in a row (usually) but it saves money and time and that’s why I spend so much time looking for recipes and coming up with recipes we love. I hope you enjoy!

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.

Picture by Pinch of Yum

Dinner 1 (M/TH): Pinch of Yum’s 15 minute lo mein

This is truly one of the quickest healthy meals I have ever cooked. We love it and it is perfect for a Monday when you are starting out the week and don’t have much time to be in the kitchen. I do not use light and dark soy sauce, just regular soy sauce and it turns out great each time. You can get creative with the veggies in this and if you need gluten free, use rice noodles.

Dinner 2 (T/F): Well Fed Familia’s Vegetarian parmesan and thyme shepherds pie

I know I am biased because I came up with this recipe BUT this has got to be one of the coziest most comforting meals I have ever eaten. My husband agrees with me on this one too. It is officially fall and temps are cooling, so why not get cozy with this delicious recipe?

Photo by Camille Styles

Dinner 3 (W/Sat): Camille Style’s Tostadas with butternut squash, black beans and avocado

What says fall more than butternut squash? ok, pumpkin does, I know… but butternut squash is super festive for fall as well. We love this recipe. The spiced, roasted butternut squash is on point and topped with all the goodies- avocado, pepitas, and a greek yogurt sauce? I use regular corn tostadas or have tossed the crunch factor all together and done this on top of quinoa. Good times, fam.

Photo by Minimalist Baker

Dinner 4 (Sun)Minimalist Baker’s Sweet Potato Chickpea Buddha Bowl 

This has been a go to meal for us for years. Spiced and roasted chickpeas, check. Spiced and roasted sweet potatoes, broccoli, red onion, and kale, check. Slightly sweet, lemony, tahini sauce, check. Y’all, it really is a simple, cheap, and delicious meal. You will love it, I swear.

Photo by Cookincanuck

Lunch for husband: Cookincanuck’s Crockpot Italian Chickpeas

I doubled the recipe and made a big pot of rice which makes this meal really filling. I also add a handful of spinach and top with parmesan cheese. My husband loves this recipe and it is cheap, filling, and healthy!

Photo by Isabel Eats

Lunch for Adrienne and Evy: Isabel Eats’ Mexican Street Corn Tostadas

To make this more nutritious I add a good amount of chopped spinach onto the tostadas. I also make my own black beans and puree them with salt, pepper, cumin, and lime juice instead of using refried beans.

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

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, Mama, Mi Familia on
September 24, 2018

How to enjoy being a stay at home parent

If you aren’t a stay at home parent you might fantasize about how wonderful it would be to be the director of your days, to choose if you want to sit on the couch all day watching Netflix as your child plays quietly on the floor with their toys or to head off to the shops for a lovely afternoon. As a stay at home parent you know this is the opposite of the truth. Stay at home parenting is no joke- being woken up early, dressing someone, diapers, potty training, cooking, cleaning, feeding, holding, comforting, having someone demand almost every second of your time when they are awake, cleaning, breaking up fights, taking deep breaths when your child slaps you in the face, etc. you get it. Being a stay at home parent can feel incredibly mundane- day in and day out, the same. Some days it’s easy to want to roll back over in bed because you know exactly what to expect and you’re bored with stay at home parent life. Well, here are my 10 best tips for how to actually enjoy your days as a stay at home parent! As they say, the days are long but the years are short. Take advantage of this special time you get with your kids and make the most of it!

  1. Get out of the house at least once a day

This is the most helpful for me. I am the kind of person that cannot stay a whole day at home without feeling a little sad or wondering what the rest of the world is up to outside of my little home bubble. Also, keeping a little human occupied at home for a whole day is quite difficult. By the time naptime is over (if you are lucky enough to have one that naps) the kids have already played with every toy they own, read every book on the shelf, had snacks upon snacks, and now they are just whining out the wazoo. Ok. Let’s get out of the house! It could be as simple as a walk down your street, a trip to a store even if you don’t need anything, a park, the library, a friend’s house. The options are endless but getting out of the house even for an hour helps keep everyone sane!

  1. Get a hobby you can do at home

Having a hobby gives you something to look forward to when your littles are napping, or during those rare quiet moments when they are entertaining themselves. My main hobby is my Etsy shop. I make dried flower crowns and boutonnieres. It has become mindless work for me after 4 years of doing it but I genuinely enjoy sitting down to create whenever my little one is asleep. I also love cooking, blogging, working out, and reading. My hobbies help keep me sane and we all know mama needs to be sane to effectively raise a small human. Playing on your phone and watching TV should not be considered a hobby. Find a hobby that genuinely stirs your affections for life!

  1. Keep a clean house

Now,  I know everyone’s SAHP situation is different pending how many kids you have, if you have a spouse, if your spouse travels, if you homeschool, etc etc. BUT this tip goes out to all the people that are in a situation where they can handle this. Clean your house! Like actually keep it clean. Being a stay at home parent means you are likely at home a lot so why not keep it clean? I know for myself I feel yucky and more irritable when my house is dirty and unorganized. I have the time to keep things clean and organized and everyone is happier when it is kept well so that is what I do. Of course some days are busier than others and sometimes the dishes don’t get done or toys don’t get picked up, but as a rule of thumb, I do my best to keep a clean house and it is a positive thing for the whole family.

  1. Go on an adventure with your kids

You and your kid are forced to be together all day if you are a SAHP so why not make the most of it? Go on an adventure. Who cares that it is 2pm on a Tuesday afternoon, go find an orchard and pick apples, go find a beautiful trail to hike, go on a treasure hunt, or drive to the next town to have a special treat. Find an adventure and take advantage of the fact that you have the availability to go do something fun and make memories with your child whenever you want!

  1. Build friendships with people in your same season

We were not meant to do life alone! It is wonderful to have a spouse to share in the hard realities of parenting but you need to find a friend who is in the same season as you. As an adult I know it is hard to make new friends but suck it up and put yourself out there and get to know another parent who has a child that is a similar age to yours. It is so beneficial to spend time with someone who GETS it. Drink a cup of coffee while your kiddos play and share about the good, the bad, and the ugly of your days and I promise you will feel so much better knowing you are not alone.

  1. Have structure to your day

Your days will be so much easier if everyone in the house has an idea of what they can expect for the day. Wake up at a similar time each day, do certain activities at a similar time each day, get out of the house at a similar time each day, eat your meals at the same time each day, and have nap and bedtime at the same time each day. Kids thrive when they can have a good idea of what the day will look like and when your kid is thriving your day is better too. Now I am not a planner and I don’t schedule playdoh at 9 am and blocks at 9:30 am, I simply mean have some sort of structure so that everyone can have a good idea of what the day to day looks like.

  1. Take advantage of all of the free activities in your community

Did you know that there are wonderful, free activities just about anywhere? I live up in the tippy top middle of nowhere upper peninsula of Michigan and guess what!? There are still plenty of free things I can find to do with my child. Library story time, playgrounds, safety days, free nature hikes, community festivals and fairs. Sometimes it takes some researching but there is always something you can put on your calendar to take your child to.

  1. Commit to a minimum of an hour a day to play with your child

You might be thinking well that is crappy to only give your child an hour of your time each day…Well that isn’t what I mean. If you are a stay at home parent you know that most all of your time is dedicated to your child in some shape or form each day, what I mean is for at least one hour a day put your phone away, turn away any distractions, get down on the floor with them and invest in them and how they want to play. Read books, build blocks, play outside, whatever- but give your child your full attention. I know I enjoy playing with my daughter so much more when I choose to turn away any other distractions and find the joy in the moment of truly spending time with her.

  1. Playing outside is good for the soul

When your kids are whining and you feel crazy, just let everyone loose outside! Go out with them of course unless you have older kids who can keep themselves safe (or go out with the big kids too and have fun). Whether you just sit and watch your kiddo play as you take some deep breaths of fresh outdoor air or get in on the action, there is something magical about getting outside. Blow some bubbles, dig in the dirt, play in the sand, go down the slide for heaven’s sake, don’t take yourself too seriously. I know my daughter and I feel 10x better after spending even just 20 minutes outside. We are able to come back inside with fresh minds as we get on to the next thing.

  1. Playdates for the win!

Invite friends over to play! If you haven’t made good friends yet be the brave one to be the first to invite them over. The kids will hopefully entertain each other and wear each other out while you can bond with a fellow parent who is also in need of some adult conversation. Again, we are not meant to do life alone and being a stay at home parent can sure as heck be lonely. Build friendship, build community, go play at other people’s house, and be brave and invite other people to your home.

I hope you found these tips helpful. Life as a stay at home parent can be enjoyable, so make the most of it! Don’t ever undervalue the incredibly difficult job you have raising your child up to be the best person they can be. You rock!

In Blog, Dinner, Food, Lunch, Recipes, Vegetarian on
September 17, 2018

Baked Falafel Salad with Tzatziki Dressing

In junior high school I had a friend who would bring a delicious looking homemade lunch every day. I would stare longingly at her lunch as I ate my daily peanut butter and honey sandwich. My mom made a lot of homemade meals, we weren’t deprived, however I was raised in a sandwich for lunch everyday kind of family. One of the things that always caught my eye was when my friend would have pita bread with vegetables and these odd little circular patties. I remember one day I asked what they were and that is the day I learned about falafel. Now I didn’t go on to try falafel for several more years, but once I did, I knew it was something I needed in my life regularly!

Now if you are like me in my junior high days wondering what the heck is falafel, let me tell you! Falafel is a Middle Eastern staple made out of chickpeas, fresh herbs, garlic, spices, and onion. Falafel is filling, full of protein, and is absolutely delicious paired with tzatziki sauce (we will get to that later), or thrown in a pita, or on a salad. Today I am going to teach you how to prepare falafel with a salad and tzatziki dressing. Traditional falafel recipes call for uncooked chickpeas, I prefer to use cooked or canned chickpeas in my falafel because I prefer a more moist falafel.

Now about that Tzatziki dressing- first, for those who have never heard of this or maybe you’ve seen it on a menu or another recipe and you thought how in the world is tzatziki pronounced, here you go: “Tah-see-key.” Tzatziki is a tangy yogurt sauce with cucumber, lemon, and dill. It is so creamy and is typically served with Greek gyros.

My recipe today will combine a green salad with crisp veggies, my baked falafel, drizzled with my tzatziki dressing, and topped with feta. Well enough is enough, let’s get cooking!


Baked falafel salad with tzatziki dressing ingredients:

Green leaf lettuce

Cucumber slices

Grape tomatoes halved

Carrot slivers

Red onion

Falafel (recipe below)

Tzatziki dressing (recipe below)

Feta crumbles

Instructions:

Chop salad vegetables, prepare the baked falafel and tzatziki dressing. Plate everything together, drizzle with tzatziki dressing, and toss on feta if you like.


Time: 20 minutes to prepare

           30 minutes in the oven

Yield: 18 falafels

Falafel Ingredients:

3 cups cooked chickpeas or 2 cans chickpeas drained

½ C fresh parsley leaves

½ C fresh cilantro leaves

1 small yellow onion (chopped in half)

4 small cloves garlic

Juice of 1 lemon

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tsp baking powder

¼ C flour

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp paprika

½ tsp turmeric

½ tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

Instructions:

1)      Preheat oven to 375 F.

2)      Combine chickpeas, parsley leaves, cilantro leaves, small yellow onion, 4 cloves garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil together. The easiest way I have found to do this is by using a magic bullet and using the largest cup option. If you do not have a magic bullet use a food processor. Everything combines easiest if you do it in 2-3 batches. If you try to stick all the ingredients in it will either not fit or it will give you a ton of trouble trying to blend it together. Just work with it, you will get everything well combined eventually. If some of the chickpeas and herbs are still a little chunky, no worries.

3)      Once you have the above ingredients combined put it in a mixing bowl and add the baking powder, flour, cumin, paprika, turmeric, salt, and pepper and stir together.

4)      Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or oil it up to prevent sticking. Scoop out 1 ½ inch balls of the falafel dough and roll into a ball, set it on the baking sheet in rows (they do not expand so they can be close together), then flatten each ball slightly with your hand.

5)      Bake in the oven for 30 minutes on 375. Check to make sure they are not getting brown.

Tzatziki Dressing Ingredients:

1 C Greek yogurt

1/4 of a cucumber

Juice of ½ of a lemon

1 tbs dried dill

2 tbs olive oil

2 cloves garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

1)      Combine all ingredients in magic bullet, blender, or food processor. Enjoy!