Monthly Archives

March 2019

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!