My Latest Food Obsessions: Smoked Salmon Bagels, Pickled Red Onions, and Cheese Boards

We love to eat around here, and we love to eat well. A grocery budget and hungry little mouths to feed don’t stop me from wanting to eat things that make my tastebuds soar. Here are a few of my latest food obsessions that I serve my family on repeat:

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A quick and semi-healthful breakfast or lunch –

We’ve enjoyed creating our own version of Lox breakfast sandwiches with ingredients that can be found at Aldi:

Seed bagels
cream cheese mixed with cracked pepper, dill, parsley, and garlic salt
arugula
sliced cucumber
sliced red onions (pickled are even better, see below!)
smoked salmon
a smattering of capers

Toast your bagel, fill your bagel, then enjoy! Continue reading

Currently

This list of things I’m currently enjoying is straight from my Happy Planner! I don’t ever fill it out, but I thought it would make a fun writing prompt. 🙂

LOVING:

It is finally warmer here in Ohio. Hallelujah! The sun was out today and I enjoyed two of my favorite things in the whole world – yoga and sunshine! Oh glory be. I feel so desperate for the nicer weather this year. This past winter felt so long and blahhhhh and cold and ALL OF THE GRAY THINGS. I love my kids so much, but when you are trapped inside with them 24-7, something inside of you starts to snap. Never underestimate the healing power of a momma, sitting in the sun, ignoring her kids’ whining.

EATING:

Aldi currently offers this pineapple poblano pepper guacamole. I’m not going to say it’s changed my life or anything, but if this guacamole were a person I would have already invited it to come live with us. I love it so much. I looooove it, you guys.

DRINKING:

The kids and I made dandelion lemonade the other day and it was a huge hit. It was fun to make, tasty to drink, and dandelions that have been steeped and turned into a beverage are incredibly good for you. “Dandelion blossoms steeped as tea can help relieve headaches, menstrual cramps, backaches, stomach aches and even depression.” (From LearningHerbs) The recipe that we used for our inspiration can be found here. You can also add any additional herbs or edible flowers to liven up your blend!

WATCHING:

I’m still working my way through Downton Abbey. I’m almost through season 6 and loving it. Mike and I only have two episodes left of News Room and I’m not sure I can emotionally take the ending of this show. It’s been such a powerful and inspirational show to watch, giving Mike and I lots of food for thought and great conversation starters. I’ve loved every minute of it.  Continue reading

The Joy of Motherhood

I heard someone say that the joy of motherhood comes in moments. That feels so true. There are such long stretches of work, sleeplessness, worry, and yes – frustration – but all of that can disappear in a moment. Those special little flashes of delight that make the harsh edges of the world go soft. In those moments, all the difficult things recede in the light of all that is glorious and good about being a mom. Joy. It’s pure joy. Not pure fun and games. But pure joy – absolutely.

Today my first born turns six. SIX!

They say that the days are long but the years are short. And honestly, I don’t feel any pressure in that statement the way I used to. I used to feel so overwhelmed when people would look at my kids – the same ones who had been making me want to pull my hair out all day – and say, “Oh, enjoy it! It goes by so fast.”

There are so many unenjoyable things about raising little ones that this felt like a judgement of the many things I wasn’t enjoying. Should I be enjoying the sleepless nights and the health struggles and the constant messes and the destructive energy and the willfulness that threatens my very existence? Do I HAVE to enjoy all that?

But now, I’ve made peace with this phrase, and all the people who tell me to “enjoy it.” I DO enjoy motherhood. I enjoy it a whole heck of a lot. But there are plenty of things about motherhood and each of my kids that drives me insane, and I embrace that too. I think I would be crazy not to feel this way — this is, after all, THE most all consuming, mind boggling, physically uncontrollable thing I’ve ever experienced.

I don’t face today with any sadness. Six has been hard fought. We’ve come along way to get here baby. So much work. So many tears. So many struggles. I feel proud of us to be here! We maaaaade it!

I also can think of about one billion moments that have made each year of six absolutely magical. Moments that make my heart grow three sizes and my eyes automatically close as I drink in the memories. Six years of hard work that felt hard, yes. But also, six years of unbelievably good moments from an unbelievably amazing kid.

Here are six of my favorite things about my first born. Continue reading

Better Together: A Post-Easter Post About Preemie Babies But Also About Friends And A Little Bit About Stupid People

Yesterday was Easter, and my husband and I were reflecting on our first Easter as parents.

Our son had been born premature earlier that month and so we spent the holiday alternating between the NICU and the hospital lobby.

I remember that my family came up that afternoon after the extended family get-together, armed with leftovers and a few Easter treats for our little boy.

We sat in the lobby with canned lobby music playing, opening plastic eggs, eating leftover stuffing, and catching up on our family’s news.

It was a hard Easter, because as you may or may not have experienced for yourself – holidays are pretty much irrelevant in hospitals. Sure, they might tape up a few decorations here and there and the calendars will all be flipped to the appropriate day, but everything you know and hold dear about that day will suddenly seem incredibly beside the point. The day will cease to be a holiday, and suddenly, just another day spent wandering between the isolette in the NICU and the stiff plastic sofa in the hospital lobby.

(This isn’t really a post about Easter.) Continue reading

My Skincare Routine

Talking my skincare routine today, aka “how I wash my face.” Riveting, no?

Still, I don’t do your typical face wash routine so I thought I’d share a little bit about what I use, how I use it, and why! Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a blogpost full of curve balls, thrilling emotions, and suspense!

Just kidding. It’s not going to be any of those things. But it should be fun! Here goes.

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I wash my face using the oil cleansing method. I should stop right here and mention a little history about my face.

I’ve never had acne. Please don’t hate me, I have plenty of other annoying-horrible physical struggles, acne just isn’t’ one of them. I am, however, incredibly greasy. My pores are huge. And I’m prone it dark circles under my eyes and redness on my cheeks. I also tend to not wear makeup. There really isn’t a great reason for this, other than the fact that I just feel like I look WEIRD in makeup. I love lipstick and will wear that fairly regularly. I wear mascara every day. Other than that, I don’t really wear much. Because I have fairly even skin I can get away without too much makeup. But because I have oily skin, it doesn’t really matter if I wear makeup or not — it still looks oily. Such is life, people.

I’ve used all kinds of skincare products in the past. Probably many of the same ones you’ve used or are currently using. Many would work ok enough, but they would often leave my cheeks way too dry and would do little to shrink the crater-sized holes that are my gaping pores.

I learned about the oil cleansing method a few years back when I was trying to get rid of as many store bought products as possible and switch to more natural, homemade, and simple products. Although it sounds crazy to use oil on your face, in fact, it’s MAGIC! Just kidding. It’s not magic. It is science, though! Or more specifically, chemistry.

Oil cleanses oil because as we may or may not remember from chemistry class (I remember nothing other than our tie-dye project), like dissolves like.

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The key ingredient to the oil cleansing method is castor oil. Castor oil is what does the heavy lifting for your skincare. Many people say that castor oil will leave your skin in better condition than it finds it, and I tend to agree. It’s incredible. Continue reading

Our First Year of Marriage

One thing I’ve never doubted was our decision to get married when we did. We met, dated for less than six months, got engaged, and were married that same year.

We were married the summer before my junior year of college, Mike’s senior year.

So many people told us to wait.

I am so glad we didn’t.

We knew how to do college. We figured, why not get married during a period in our life where at least the next one-two years was pretty much figured out? It seemed easier to us to tackle marriage then, rather than wait and have to figure out marriage, our careers, and life in the real world all at once.

So we got married in a fever, as June and Johhny once said, and headed off to our honeymoon in St Louis before returning to our new home, an apartment in our college’s married student housing.

The apartment was small and hot, but we were young and so in love. So we made the most of the space and took advantage of the heat that beckoned us to, you know, not wear too many layers (wiiiiink).

During that first year, we went to school by day and worked the late shift at the campus coffee shop by night. We were both baristas, but Mike was the manager and therefore my boss. Here is a tip. Don’t work FOR your husband your fist year of marriage. What’s more, don’t do a job where he is required to TRAIN you, in his role as manager and your role as employee. Honestly, I have a lot of good memories working that job. We were in close quarters, constantly bumping into each other and keepin that fever burnin, if you know what I mean. Plus, we were on campus and constantly around our friends. We enjoyed the fast pace. We enjoyed the constant smell and taste of coffee. And we enjoyed each other.

But.

Man oh man. Did we ever have some doozy of fights behind those counters. I can’t begin to tell you how much I hated being corrected and trained and corrected and trained some more by my new husband. He had worked at the cafe longer than me, so not only was he MY BOSS, for goodness sake, but he also had more experience/better skills than me. And did that ever burn me. It gets me fired up just thinking about it now, almost 12 years later.  Continue reading

Life Lately

loving

bubble baths with my baby girl. I love her soft, cubby little legs. I love the way she splashes and wiggles. I love holding her tight – skin to skin – feeling the beat of her heart and marveling at this thing called life.

the podcast Grammar Girl recently produced about the updated changes to the AP and Chicago Style Manuel. I could listen to someone talk about commas, hyphens, and word usages ALL. DAY. LONG.

oliver’s stories. He will just start talking, telling these tales that are spun with so much imagination and whimsy that I find myself simultaneously impressed and carried away by his sweetness.

women who gather. I’ve been so encouraged by a few experiences I’ve had lately where I’ve enjoyed the presence of some truly wonderful women. I’m so grateful for the women who share their lives with me. It’s an incredible gift, and one I don’t take for granted.

having a sister. I’ve always, always wanted a sister. I was able to spend some time with my sister-in-law recently and, even though she has a sister of her own, and I know that is such a special relationship, I just feel happy to get to experience a piece of that for myself.

kids who feed themselves breakfast. Listen. I know that some of you get up and run three miles and have a cup of coffee and pray for every single person you know and knit blankets for babies all before your children get up at 6 am, but I am just not that person. My kids get up before me, poke me in the ribs to try and rouse me, and I mutter at them that I’ll “be out in a minute.” I eventually roll out of bed and, most days, find them in the basement, playing Legos and eating something sufficient enough to start the day. For all of this, I’m incredibly grateful. Judge me if you want. I truly try to “do mornings” but I just can’t. But they can feed themselves. So, you know. #blessed

Downton Abbey, Season 4. Oh my word you guys. I never made it passed season 3 when it first aired, and I just finished the season finale of season 4. SO GOOD! Paul Giamatti! Edith’s baby! Who will win Mary’s hand?!?! I can’t stop.

theo’s tender heart. I’ve so enjoyed watching my little boy become big. He has such a tender heart. He loves to go into Bea’s room at bedtime and sing her a made up “bedtime song.” His soft little voice could melt a heart of stone, and the way he calls her his “sweet girl,” well, I die just thinking about it. Continue reading

My Little Brother Is Having A Baby

My little brother is having a baby.

There are always questions we have before we have our first baby.

Will I be a good parent? Will I enjoy parenthood? Will I be patient enough? Creative enough? Loving enough?

I do not have these questions about my brother.

In my opinion, Josh has always been the superior human being. Of the two of us, he is the kind one. The compassionate one. The brave one. The one who makes everyone smile when he walks into a room. He is loyal and caring, funny and smart, and one of the most tender hearted people I know.

He is going to make an excellent father.  Continue reading

The Story Of How I Met My Husband

I’ve been feeling sentimental about my husband lately. I don’t know what is to blame. It could be the fact that he has been busy lately and I  miss him. It could be the fact that I just read The Pioneer Woman’s sweet story about her and her husband. Or maybe it’s the old photos I was looking through the other day. (Fun fact: our dating-marriage was such a whirlwind that the photos of our second date and the photos of our first apartment are all in one photo album. And I take A LOT of photos, so that goes to show you how quickly things moved!) Either way, I’m feelin thoughtful and nostalgic and a little bit sappy. So here is a thoughtful yet nostalgic yet sappy post all about meeting my husband. You’ve been warned.

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I don’t ever remember making the decision to marry my husband. I mean, I distinctly remember the phone conversation we had one night, each of us at our respective colleges, where I said, “Why would we wait to get married?” and to which he replied, “Well…” and to which I replied, “Exactly. Let’s just get married now.”

But I don’t ever remember thinking through who I should marry, if it were right or safe or practical or a good decision. I guess that’s because, in many ways, it was always a forgone conclusion. From the first time we met, until that late night conversation in my dorm room, there was never any question – just the assumption that this was the guy and I was the girl and of course, we were getting married.

We had been set up on a blind date the summer of my sophomore year of college. I was 19 and he was 20. I had just broken up with the guy I thought I’d be with forever. He had just broken up with the girl he thought he’d be with forever. We begrudgingly agreed to the blind date, not really interested in a relationship, especially with someone we didn’t know.

He showed up that night, on time and wearing what is now, in my mind, the quintessential “Mike-in-summer” look: faded jeans, flip flops, and a soft button down shirt in a solid and light color.

He was, hands down, the most good looking guy I’d ever seen, but still, I whispered to my mom from the top of the stairs where I stood, “Just send him away! I’ve changed my mind.”

My mom did not send him away. I don’t remember what she said, just that before I knew it, we were in his car and on our way to dinner.

I couldn’t tell you if I was nervous during that car ride, or over dinner, because I don’t remember feeling nervous.  Mostly, I just felt skeptical.

“Who WAS this guy, anyways,” I thought, “with his dumb country music and gorgeous face?” Continue reading

How & Why We Use Norwex Products

I do not sell Norwex products and I do not own massive amounts of Norwex stock. No, the unbridled enthusiasm you are about to witness for these products is as authentic as it is *ahem* a little over the top. But I can’t help myself. Norwex has changed my life, and I would marry it and do it’s laundry and make it a Sunday afternoon pot roast each week if I could. Norwex, I love you! I looooove you!

But for reals, people, this stuff is legit.

This is another reader request post. I was excited when my IG friend, Ali, asked me to share my thoughts on Norwex products. Ali, after this post, might be less excited, as my excitement borders on obsession. You’ve all been warned.

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I was introduced to Norwex shortly after Oliver, our middle child, was born. My mom asked me to host a party, with the incentive that she’d split the hostess rewards with me. I said sure, why not, because free stuff is, well, you know, free. It’s hard to pass up.

I wouldn’t say I was “excited” about the product, mostly just intrigued.

As someone who borders on crunchy hippie girl, I do most things as natural as possible. I’m skeptical of anything that comes prepackaged and sold in the big box stores. This doesn’t make me unique, I know, just rather a little hard to please. I realized though, that my cleaning routine was a far cry from natural. I made quite a few of my cleaning products at the time, but I held hard and fast to my skin searing bottles of Clorox products to clean the kitchen. You know, because of germs.

So my ears had perked up during the Norwex party when our host said that the silver in the rags would kill more germs than any other cleaning product on the market, all natural or otherwise. She demonstrated this point by smearing raw chicken allllll over this vegetarian’s counter tops. She dusted the trail of chicken goo with a powder and then shone a black light on top to reveal all the nasty bacteria left behind. Gag.

Then, she took a few products to “clean” up the counter. She wiped one area with Clorox wipes. She cleaned another area with Method’s multi purpose spray. And then she did a single wipe in another area with a Norwex Enviro cloth. More powder was sprinkled on top, and again, out came the black light. There was an incredible amount of bacteria left by the Clorox wipes. Like, an incredible amount. The area cleaned with the Method spray was a little better, but still, the germs were kind of smeared around and not completely eliminated in spots. The area wiped by the Norwex rag, however, was spotless. Spot – less.

Still, this seemed too good to be true, right?

Oliver is now three, so I’ve been using my Norwex products weekly for about three years. Slowly but surly, my skepticism turned to  amazement, and then my amazement turned to belief. All the old bottles of cleaners that I had held on to at first to just “make sure” things were really clean have long since been thrown in the trash. The biggest thing that convinced me of these products is how everything feels when you use the rags. Things just feel squeaky clean. And the smell! This is the craziest part for me.

I know a lot of people don’t want to give up their cleaning products because it is the smell that tells them (and their hubby, lol), that they’ve cleaned. But really, it’s the smell that signals just how toxic most of this stuff really is. As a long time user of Norwex products, I can tell my house is clean as a pin, not because things smell pine fresh or like a tropical breeze, but when there is absolutely no small at all! Seriously, Norwex products have a way of almost clearing up the very air. It’s magic. Especially when you consider that I have three VERY smelly children. No smell is the surest sign of cleanliness.

For this reason, I prefer cleaning with Norwex even over using essential oils. There is absolutely nothing wrong with making your own natural cleaners and adding a few drops of EO for good measure, but I love that I can clean my entire house with just my Norwex rags and mop, and then keep my EO for diffusing, making body products, and for topical use (for health). Again, that is just personal preference.

I also love that, thanks to Nowex, we are a soap free house. That’s right! Soap, free. No soap at the kitchen or bathroom sink because we don’t need it. Our Norwex rags do a safer and more efficient job of killing germs on our hands and on my countertops. Now, my husband and I do still use an all natural body soap in the shower that our friend makes, mostly just because we want to. But that’s totally optional. We wouldn’t have to do that if we didn’t’ want to.

So what Norwex products do I use and love?

body rags

I use the body rags to wash my face. I am a big believer in the oil cleansing method for washing my face, but I don’t need to do that every night. Most nights of the week, I simply use my body cloth, which has the same antibacterial/antiviral silver in it as the Enviro rag. This rag is also used to wipe down the kids.

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enviro cloth/window cloth

How do I clean my house? With these two rags. Did you catch that?

these. two. rags.

That’s IT.

No bottles of chemicals. No harsh cleaners that tell us a room is “clean” by the burning of our nostrils. No more changing into clothes that I don’t mind getting ruined by bleach stains.

Just two little ol magic rags that I clean my house from top to bottom, each and every room – including the bathroom.

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baby cloth Continue reading