Friday, February 28, 2014

Weekend Inspiration


I made these cheesy potatoes a while back, and oh my goodness they were good. I ended up finishing them off with club crackers, because as we all know, every starch just needs another starch to go with it. The blasted weatherman ("sunny, then sunny and hot, then hot and even more sunny") is predicting rain for this weekend. I'll believe it when I see it, but just in case, these are going in the crock pot first thing tomorrow. They are the perfect thing for a rainy day!



I want my hair to look like this. All.The.Time. Alas, I don't have perfect hair and no matter what I do, my braids always look like a 2 year old did them so it's probably never gonna happen. That's not going to stop me from trying to achieve this look this weekend!


Speaking of this weekend... We got a call from our new landlord on Thursday telling us the house is ready for us to move in right away! We are a little bit in shock, a lot excited, and more and more ready to start moving in. I haven't packed a thing, and it may or may not rain on our moving parade, but I'm taking deep breaths and telling myself it's all going to work out just fine. I can't wait to start organizing all of our things again. Hoping it turns out a bit like that photo above. :)


One of the things I'm looking forward to the most is starting fresh with Emmett's room. I almost called it a nursery, but he's a kid now apparently so let's just call it his room. I'm thinking lots of animals because he's obsessed with them, tons of books, and a little reading nook in one corner.

I'm hoping all of you have a wonderful weekend ahead, just maybe not as busy and hectic as ours will be. Happy Friday, friends!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Quick, Easy and Delicious Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies


I've been making these cookies since high school. They are the first thing I learned to bake, and in the fall my friends and I would make them after school for a quick and easy snack. We would eat the dough from our spoons and bake a few batches, then bring them outside to our friends playing basketball next door. Oh, how simple life was back then!

Each fall, when the weather begins to cool, I start craving these cookies. They are so easy to make, I can whip them up and have them warm out of the oven in half an hour. So whenever I'm craving something sweet, this recipe is the first thing I think of!


The original recipe came from the inside of the Quaker Oats box top. I memorized it years ago, and I've made a couple of minor adjustments, but the Quaker Oats recipe will always bring back years of happy memories for me.



Ingredients:

1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups oats (always use the old-fashioned oats! quick oats are chopped up really small, so you don't get the same oaty texture from them)
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (or 1 cup raisins, if you must)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using a mixer, beat butter and sugars together in a large bowl. Add eggs and vanilla, and mix. Slowly fold in combined flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt, and beat until smooth. Add oats, then chocolate chips, and mix well.

Line baking sheets with wax paper (aluminum foil heats and bakes the cookies from the bottom up, which I hate!), and drop spoonfuls of dough 2 inches apart onto the paper. Bake 8-10 minutes. Cookies will just barely begin to brown around the edges.

And that's it! Easy as pie. Or really delicious cookies.




Wednesday, February 26, 2014

8/52

"A portrait of my Emmett, once a week, every week in 2014."
Emmett is bath obsessed. Lately it feels like he spends more time in the bath than out of it, although I know that's a gross exaggeration. When he was sick last week, nothing calmed him down until I put him in the bath. Then he wouldn't get out for almost two hours. Each night as he's finishing dinner he starts squeaking "ba ba ba!" over and over until his dad goes to turn the water on. It's pretty cute. He loves the water, and we love that about him.

This week, I want to remember my little boy, happy and giggling in the bath.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Pinspiration: New Home

Follow Anna Kate Wilby's board Home Inspiration on Pinterest.

I've been thinking a lot about this new house we'll be moving in to. Ray and I are both anxious to move, but trying so hard not to let that spark discontent in our hearts for the place we are now. We have loved living with Ray's parents. It's been amazing for Emmett and such a gift to us financially. It has been a time of rest, of letting go of our worries and stresses and just being all together as an extended family. But we're ready to go out on our own again now, so the waiting is difficult.

Instead of sitting around wishing and waiting, I've started pinning! I have so many ideas for how I want our new space to feel, and of course Pinterest is the best place to keep ideas all together.

We are renting, so I'm looking forward to embracing the white walls and neutral tones in the house. I've been tending towards white anyway, with grays and natural notes and little pops of color as accents. I can't wait to take a blank canvas and make it ours, little by little. A friend of ours has been renting this particular house for a few years, but she just got married and moved away. So for me, it will be a nice little challenge to take her ideas for the house and rethink them to make the space work better for us. Luckily for me, Ray is really great at looking at a room and having a vision for the best use of space.

I'm excited to take the energy and excitement Ray and I are feeling and put it to good use on Pinterest. I hope it makes the waiting a little bit easier and helps us to really cultivate a vision for our new place together. When we were married I moved in to the home he owned and lived in with his friends, so while I was able to give it a woman's touch, it never felt like a place we would have chosen together. It will be wonderful to have a fresh start, in a place we can call our own, as a family.

Also, I really want to build a garden. If you have one, or have any expertise in gardening, I'd love to hear about it! I will be pinning lots of gardening ideas, and Ray's brother is an expert in sustainable gardening and agriculture, but I am clueless so I can use all the help I can get. I just love the idea of growing fresh fruits and vegetables in our own yard, along with flowers and herbs. Emmett eats berries like it's his job, so they are also at the top of my list for things I'd like to grow!

Follow me on Pinterest to see more of what I'm looking for in this new place of ours. And if you love Pinterest as much as I do, let me know so I can follow you!

Love in Motherhood, Week 3

Our next installment of the month-long “Love in Motherhood” series is today! Read along, check out the hosts, and link-up if you'd like. We’d love to see how love rewrote your story.
THE HOSTESSES:
  1. Anna Kate of Home Away from Home
  2. Jen of Defining My Happy
  3. Kristin of When at Home
  4. Jenna & Mary of A Mama Collective


Monday, February 24, 2014

Currently. Eight



Thinking about: Over the weekend I had a conversation that has been weighing heavy on my heart for a few days now. Whether it was intended to be or not, the conversation felt like a direct attack on my life - my choices, my lifestyle, and the way I intend to raise my children was questioned and attacked and it made me so angry! Not so much at the person I was speaking to because I don't think she meant to insult me, but I was angry and I haven't been able to let it go. More than anger, I feel determined. I think it's good sometimes for people to question our beliefs and our choices because it can strengthen our resolve and make us cling to our beliefs even more than before. I know my choices are right for me. I know that my husband and I are working hard and doing our best to build the kind of life we want for our kids, and I am confident in that knowledge.


Watching: Emmett grow up right before my eyes. He's a little boy now, talking and playing in the dirt and understanding more and more about the world each day. I look at him each morning and can't believe how much he's changing. I hardly see my tiny baby boy in him at all anymore. I absolutely love the little boy he's becoming and even though my heart aches for him to stay little, I'm so proud of him. He makes us so happy, that sweet little boy. I long for more children, but when I look at little Emmett, covered in dirt and little boy sweat and squealing with delight whenever I walk into a room, he is enough.

Looking forward to: Moving! Sometime next month we will be moving into the sweetest little house down the street. We haven't sold our house yet, so pray that happens quickly! Money will be tight while we rent this new place and carry the mortgage, but we are so excited to have a space all to ourselves again and I can't wait to start decorating. :)

Our Weekend: Was a busy one! A dear friend got married on Saturday, so our evenings were filled with bachelorette parties, a surprise party for a friend who was in from out of town, and the wedding Saturday. We caught up with friends we don't see often enough, and Ray and I got to spend some quality time together, just the two of us. It was one of those weekends that build you up and drain you all at the same time, but it was wonderful.



I hope you had a lovely weekend! Linking up with Jenny & of course, the lovely ladies at A Mama Collective!

The hosts of Currently.:


A Mama Collective’s Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | bloglovin
Home Away from Home’s Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | bloglovin’
Linen and Lace’s Blog | Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram | bloglovin’
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Friday, February 21, 2014

Friday Thoughts


When I wrote this post the other day, I was a little bit worried that I might rub people the wrong way. That was absolutely not my intention, but this is such a difficult topic. We moms are a fragile bunch in some ways. We all suffer from mom guilt, and it's so easy to compare our decisions to those of other mamas. So when I talk about how working from home has been a huge blessing for me, and how it's helped me to achieve my goal of being home with Emmett full time, I don't meant to imply in any way that my decision is the only good one.

The way I see it, every single mama is different. Every single family is different. What works for me may not work for you, and that's fine! What I want for my life and my family may not be what you want for yours. And that's great! I have friends who work full time, some who work part time, and others who don't work at all. Each one has her struggles, and each one has her joys.

I have friends who are struggling with their work/life/mom balance right now, and I should have been sensitive to that when writing that post. I am incredibly blessed in my life right now, but it hasn't always been that way. I have struggled, and felt lost and unsure and like I was making all the wrong choices. I am lucky to be on the other side of that now, and I'm praying for those friends who are struggling to find what works for them.


Emmett was so sick yesterday. I've always dreaded the day he had his first stomach bug, and it was just as bad as I'd imagined! He was so panicky every time he would throw up and my heart would just break watching him so sad and confused. He got better little by little throughout the day though and is much better today, thank God!



My little sister's roommate's father was struck by a car today as he took his daily walk with his wife. He was killed on impact and his wife is in critical condition. My heart is breaking for that family, for my sister's dear friend. I can't imagine the pain she must be feeling, and I hate that my sister is having to experience the agony of loss along with her friend at such a young age. What a cruel, awful tragedy.

My own dad is such an important part of my life. I miss him every single day, and can't imagine what life would be like without him. I honestly can't imagine it. I'm hugging my family tight today and praying constantly for those who are missing loved ones. Especially the ones who's wounds are so fresh.

We have lots of out-of-town friends in for a wedding this weekend, so we can't wait to start celebrating with them! I hope you all have a happy, safe and joy-filled weekend!

P.S. If you're looking for the perfect weekend breakfast tomorrow, try this! ;)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Avocado Toast + How To Make A Perfect Soft-Boiled Egg



I posted a photo of my favorite breakfast to Instagram recently, and got a few requests for my recipe for a perfectly cooked soft-boiled egg. So, here it is! 

Start by boiling half an inch of water in a medium-sized pot. The small amount of water will steam your eggs instead of actually boiling them. This is the key to a perfectly cooked egg, every time! You can cook one egg or 10, and they will all come out perfectly.

Set your timer to 6 minutes 30 seconds, add your eggs to the boiling water, and cover with a lid. Start timer. *If you like your yolk really runny, set your timer for 6 minutes 20 seconds. If my whites are even a tiny bit runny I lose my stomach, so I cook mine for just a little bit longer. 

Have a bowl of cold water ready.

When your timer goes off, use a spoon to pull the eggs out of the water immediately. Transfer them to your bowl of cold water to stop the cooking and cool the shells so you can peel them. 

Once the eggs have cooled slightly, peel the shells. *TIP: Add a teaspoon of baking soda to your boiling water to make shells easier to peel! 

Avocado toast:
While your eggs are boiling, toast your bread and smear on a little bit of mayonnaise. (Or a lot, if you're me...) I like to use a wheat or grain toast, but choose whichever bread is your favorite.

Cut your avocado in half, and slice longwise while still in the skin. Slice across each half a few times to cut avocado into small chunks.

Spoon out the avocado, and smear half on each slice of toast. Spread evenly.

Place one egg on each slice of avocado toast, and use a knife to break the egg. Chop the egg on top of your toast, and finish with salt and pepper.

Enjoy!



Wednesday, February 19, 2014

7/52

"A portrait of my angel, once a week, every week in 2014."
All last Summer, we fought over that hat. The sun is brutal here in Arizona, and he had very little hair, so I begged and pleaded with him to wear that hat. He refused. Then one day this week, Ray got him dressed in the morning and showed Emmett that this hat is just like the hats daddy wears. Now, Emmett won't take it off. So this week, I want to remember my perfect little boy, digging in the dirt with that hat on backwards. It's my absolute favorite.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

What a Difference a Year Can Make

Our second installment of the month-long "Love in Motherhood" series is today! Read along, check out the hosts, and link-up if you'd like. We'd love to see how love rewrote your story.

What a difference a year can make. 

This time last year I was heading into what seems like the hardest summer of my life. Emmett was seven months old, and I missed him. I was working full time, and hating it so, so much. I cried each and every morning as I headed off to work, leaving Emmett with my sister. She was wonderful and took great care of him, but I wanted it to be me spending days with my tiny little angel baby. What a difference a year can make.


I thought I would work full time forever. We were struggling financially as it was, so we couldn't imagine a way for me to stay home, even part time. I complained and cried and made my poor husband as miserable as I was. It was awful. 

My dad was so encouraging. When I said I just couldn't make it another day like this, he reminded me that I could, and I was. I was making it through each day, and I was okay. He told me to thank God for the life I was leading. To thank Him for the job that I had, the job that I hated. He told me to praise God and to learn to love my circumstances. And to ask God to change them. So that's what I did.

I stopped complaining. I stopped crying (at least in front of people), and I started finding the positive in my days. My sister brought Emmett to see me on my longest days and that helped. I prayed, and thanked God for the things I had and the gifts I'd been given, and He slowly began to change my heart. I pushed through the awful summer, and in July we found out we were pregnant.

All of the frustration and anxiety and helplessness came back like a wave crashing over me. How in the world would I continue to work full time with two kids? I knew God didn't make me a mother twice just so I could leave my babies with someone else all day. I knew this couldn't be the way life was supposed to be for us. I called my dad in tears, and he talked me through it. He gave me sound advice like he always does and he told me to buck up. We would be okay. He reminded me to thank God for the life I'm living, and to ask Him to change my circumstances. So that's what I did.



A few weeks later, I miscarried. In the midst of that pain, my hours were cut in half at work, and we couldn't believe this was happening to us. Thank God for my husband. He jumped into action, and came up with a plan. We cut down all of our bills. We moved in with Ray's parents in November so that we could sell our house. We're still working on that, but it's all falling into place. We hardly spent any money on Christmas gifts and somehow, we were okay. We had enough to pay our bills each month, by the grace of God.

We flew to Georgia to visit my family for Thanksgiving, and while we were there a dear friend of mine mentioned a job she thought I'd be perfect for. It was writing, which I love, and it was freelance, so I could do it from home. It seemed too good to be true, so I jumped at the opportunity and got the job. I started in December and it has been the most wonderful blessing for our family.

In January, one of our babysitters had to quit. We knew that meant it was time for me to quit my now part-time job and stay home with Emmett. I would take on more freelance work, and we would hope for the best. I was terrified at first. You know what that's like - you have a dream that you never imagine will come true. You think about it night and day and then when it finally happens, you're afraid. Because what if it's nothing like you imagined? I worried about what I would do with my time, and wondered if I'd get bored and frustrated with Emmett. I was anxious about finding time for my work and worried that I'd get too caught up in it to be present to Emmett.

Then I realized that none of that mattered. I was being given an incredible gift. All I ever wanted, from the time I was a little girl, was to be a mama. Nothing else matters. So I stopped being afraid and started getting excited.

Now I work from home while Emmett naps and a couple of mornings a week while he's at preschool. I really enjoy the work and it's been enough to provide what our family needs. It's been wonderful. I keep busy by baking and cooking and finally getting all the laundry done. I spend hours reading to Emmett and singing with him and teaching him things. We babysit one of Emmett's friends on Thursdays and we love that too.



I asked God to change our circumstances, and He did. Not in the way I expected, not in the way I would have chosen, but He knew I needed a push and He gave me one. If my hours hadn't been cut when they were, I would still be working full time. He opened the door for this new job for me and I am so thankful for that. We made sacrifices, we still are, but I wouldn't change a thing. I don't want money as much as I want time with Emmett. To see him learning and growing and turning into a little boy each day. That's what's important. 

I know staying home isn't for everyone. It's not easy. There are days when I'm bored to tears while Emmett takes his nap. Days when I fail at so many things. Days when we get nothing done and make endless messes. That's okay. This is just where I want to be.

What a difference a year can make.

THE HOSTESSES:
  1. Anna Kate of Home Away from Home
  2. Jen of Defining My Happy
  3. Jess of Sadie Sky Boutique
  4. Jenna & Mary of A Mama Collective
HOW IT WORKS: First, head to each of the hostess’ sites to check out their posts!
Then, write your own post about Love in Motherhood. We want you to tell how love rewrote your story!
You will then link up on any ONE of the hostess’ sites. Our links will be interlinked which means that your post will be displayed on all of our sites!

We will have a new post go live every single Tuesday for four weeks to continue to spread the love in motherhood story. You are welcome to link up with us every. single. time. Or just once. You choose!
Please share on instagram with the hashtag #loveinmotherhood so we can support each other. We can't wait to see what you all have to say about the journey of love in motherhood for you.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Currently. Seven


Watching: Friday night, after Emmett went to bed, Ray and I sat down to watch a movie together. We don't do that often anymore - Ray loves to watch movies, but since having Emmett, I struggle with movies. I fidget, and need to be busy all the time, so I end up playing on my phone or blogging or something and miss all the important parts. Also, movies affect me. I love movies, really I do, but I have to be incredibly careful what I let myself watch because the things I see affect my mood and my heart and mind for days afterwards. Sad scenes hurt me and I can't let them go. It's a problem.

But it was Valentine's Day, and my husband wanted to watch a movie. We searched through Netflix looking for something we'd both love that wasn't sad at all, and finally came across Warm Bodies. We both said that's it! at the same time. I know, it's a zombie movie. But y'all, its really really sweet. And not gross or violent like you'd expect. There's a little bit of violence and a little bit of brain eating, but it's really not horrible. I promise!

Reading: Rebus. I know, I need to expand my horizons. It can't be helped.

Befuddled by: This weather. High 80's all week and I'm dying. It's not right to be sweating in February. I know most of the country is dealing with insane winter storms and begging for Spring, but all I want is a normal, cold winter day. When the weather is warm this early in the year, all I can think is SUMMER IS COMING and I know I'm never gonna make it. It'll be August before we know it and I'll be melting and losing my mind.

My hometown was it with a crazy ice storm last week that caused trees to fall all over the place, taking power lines down with them. Everyone I know there was without power for at least a full day, many for two or three days. They were eating off the grill and bringing hot bricks inside to stay warm. Meanwhile in Arizona... Then to top if all off they had an earthquake late Friday night to throw them into further hysterics. Such a weird week in Georgia!

Thankful for: My family, of course. I love that husband of mine and that little angel baby so much it hurts a lot of the time. I am a lucky, lucky girl. It's easy to fall into wanting- wanting a car that works and a home of our own and another baby (any day now, God!). But all I need to do is look into Ray's bright blue eyes or listen to Emmett chatting away to his toys to remember that I'm content with what I have. It's enough, it's wonderful, and my life is so full.

Our Weekend: It was another good one. Friday I started making sugar cookies and finally finished them Saturday afternoon. I always forget that sugar cookies are such a labor of love. They take forever! I made the dough on Friday and chilled it overnight. Then I baked them Saturday morning and spent the afternoon decorating them in between writing for work. I had a big deadline, so I made myself write between batches.

They came out almost as pretty as the pictures from the recipe, so all that work was worth it in the end. We brought them to a Lord's Day dinner at a friend's house Saturday night, and brought the rest to neighbors Sunday afternoon. I love doing that. Baking something sweet to surprise neighbors with. It always ends up being such a blessing to me and to them. One friend told me she was having a hard time at work and her baby hadn't been sleeping and she needed something sweet so badly that day! It's funny how God does that - uses us to bless our friends. Another neighbor gave me a cookbook that I'd been admiring on her coffee table. I'm so excited to try some of the recipes!



There were definitely moments when I wanted to give up on the cookies, when Emmett was clutching my legs crying and I couldn't pick him up because my hands were caked with icing, when I needed a shower and we were running late for dinner and I just had a few more to finish! I was having doubts about dropping by at neighbors houses unannounced. But I'm so glad I pushed through. It was fun and I hope to do a lot more of that with Emmett in tow.





^^^Valentine's day morning date at Chic-fil-a with my littlest Valentine, and yes, that biscuit is heart shaped. Just one of the million reasons I love breakfast at Chic-fil-a. My sister sent me that little love bobby. Isn't it sweet? For dinner Ray and I made one of my favorite appetizers- crustinis with mozz, tomato, basil, olive oil, balsamic and a splash of lemon. Yummmm.




^^Helping mama make icing, and that's me enjoying leftovers in bed with my new cookbook while Emmett napped yesterday. Best way to spend a nap time ever!

I hope you had a lovely weekend! Linking up with Jenny & of course, the lovely ladies at A Mama Collective!

The hosts of Currently.:
Currently. hosts
A Mama Collective's Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram
Home Away from Home's Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

If you are interested in co-hosting, please email Jenna at info(at)amamacollective(dot)com to get on the list!

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Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

Oh, how I love these two.
Happy Valentine's Day, friends! We've had a fun day so far. Emmett slept in until 7:15 this morning, so everyone is feeling rested! Ray is off work (doing some painting and other projects at our house. Pray it sells soon!), so we've been able to spend a little extra time with him today, which is always a treat. 

Emmett and I had a breakfast date at Chic-fil-a then went to the post office to mail our incredibly late valentines, and we've been baking every since. I'm hoping to make these beautiful cookies in time to drop them off at neighbors houses later! The dough is chilling in the fridge as we speak. I'll let you know how they turn out!

Valentine's Day always gets me thinking about love. There are so many types of love, and so many ways to show it. It has been on my heart lately to work harder at being love to the people in my life, so I always look for little things I can do to make people happy each day. It isn't always what I want to do, and it doesn't always come easy, but it makes me feel better in the end, as well as blessing those I love. 

Valentine's Day is one of my favorite days. The flowers and the candy and the balloons at the grocery store are all pretty and fun and exciting, but it's the hugs from my husband and the sweet smiles from my Emmett that make it special. I'm overwhelmed today by how full our life is, how lucky I am to be living life as a mama and a wife to my boys, and how well God is taking care of us these days. Life is good and beautiful. Even in the hard moments.

I hope you are feeling loved today. I pray that God blesses each and every one of you, and shows you His love today. 

My little Valentine at breakfast this morning with his little Valentine, his Beloved, his "bibbit."

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Salt River Bars


Since the first time I tasted one of these at Liberty Market in Gilbert, Arizona, I dream about them. Like, once a week. They are my all-time favorite desert, hands down! So when my mom came across a recipe online, I was thrilled to try it! 

The first time I made them, I followed this recipe. I wanted tons, so I made the recipe for a 9 x 13 pan instead of the 8 x 8. They were so good! But I knew I could make some minor changes to make them taste a little bit more like the ones at Liberty Market



So, here's what I did:

Ingredients:

1 box of Club crackers
1 1/2 cups butter (3 sticks)
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 jar of real peanut butter
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Course sea salt

Directions:

Line your 9 x 13 pan with aluminum foil so that the edges hang over the side. This will make it easy to lift the bars out of the pan when they are finished. Spray with non-stick cooking spray.

Layer the pan with Club crackers. Sprinkle 1/3 of the butterscotch chips on top, then drizzle peanut butter over the crackers. My peanut butter was really liquidy (is that a word?) so it was easy to drizzle, but you may need to heat yours up first. I wanted just a hint of peanut butter so I didn't add much, but you can add as much as you like.

Over medium high heat, melt butter and brown sugar together, stirring constantly, to form a caramel. It took me a little over 4 minutes, just like the original recipe says. You'll notice the mixture become smooth and begin to bubble when it's ready.

Pour 1/3 of the caramel over the crackers, butterscotch and peanut butter. This melts the butterscotch chips and peanut butter so you can spread them all out evenly if you want. I'm neurotic, so I did. 

Add another layer of crackers, then butterscotch, peanut butter and caramel, and then repeat one more time. Top the last layer with crackers. Aaaand I just realized I forgot to add the top layer of crackers. Whoops!

Melt your chocolate chips, pour them on top, and spread. The first time I made these I thought there was too much chocolate. I know, that's crazy! I was trying to replicate my beloved SRB's from Liberty Market, so I wanted just a little bit less. Also, the second time around I didn't scrimp on the chocolate chips. I bought the expensive ones, and it made a big difference. Sprinkle sea salt on top and pop in the fridge!

The original recipe says to take the bars out of the fridge after 20 mins to lightly cut through the bars to make it easier to cut through once they're fully cooled. I tried that the first time and the layers were still too melty, so I just waited to cut them until the end.

I made mine after dinner and left them in the fridge over night, but I'm sure they'd be ready after just a few hours. Tooootally up to you.

They aren't exactly like the ones at Liberty Market, but they're pretty darn close and who cares! They're so delicious. I brought them to a Super Bowl party and everyone raved about them! I left with an empty plate, so I guess everyone must have loved them. These will definitely be my go-to party dessert from now on!


Be sure to save the crumbs! I left mine on the counter for a few minutes, and when I came back to the kitchen, the foil was practically clean! My family is just as obsessed with these as I am.

Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

6/52

"A portrait of my Emmett, once a week, every week in 2014."

This roller coaster is his favorite toy. He squeals when he sees it for the first time each day, and never get's tired of it. He climbs those little stairs and smiles as he throws a leg over the car. He cries "wheeeeeee!" as he pushes off, wind in his tiny little hairs, and then runs to start the whole thing over again.

This week, I want to remember my Emmett on his roller coaster. It's one of his favorite places.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Love in Miscarriage



To kick off our month-long Love in Motherhood series, I want to share a time when I really struggled in motherhood, and how God weaved love into my story. Brace yourself, this is going to be a long one.

This summer was a really hard one for us. Every summer is hard for me because we live in Arizona and I'm not a fan of extreme heat (or cold, so I guess I need to live in... Hawaii?), but this one was particularly brutal. I was working full-time in a very, very busy office, struggling to survive the long days and feeling incredibly guilty about leaving my little at home so much. If only I'd known what was coming.

Eating his birthday cake. :)
Emmett turned one in July. Ray and I decided when he was about nine months old that we were open to getting pregnant again, and after what seemed like months, we saw that glorious second line on a pregnancy test. It was so faint I almost missed it, but it was there, and our hearts soared. I was scared, and worried because I know a lot of mamas who miscarried with their second pregnancies, but after a few days I became really excited and started to fall in love with the tiny baby growing inside me.

After about a week of bliss, I noticed a tiny brown tinge on the toilet paper one night in the bathroom. At first I didn't think much of it, but a fear started growing and I called my doctor first thing the next morning. The sweet nurse was reassuring, but they asked me to come in right away for some tests. They drew blood, and we did an ultrasound to check on the baby's age and development. It was too early to see a heartbeat, but the doctor was hopeful and sent us home feeling confident that everything would be okay.

The bleeding didn't stop. It was very light, and would slow down for hours at a time, but each time it came back I was hit with an incredible fear all over again. I called the doctor again the next day, and then the next, and they told me to come back in. I was sure I was miscarrying, so I called my boss and told him I needed some time. Thank God, my boss is a father and a husband and he was very kind. I took a few days off, and went in for blood work nearly every day. The doctor put me on progesterone because my levels were low, but my hCG continued to rise, so we continued to hold out hope.

Here's a passage from a post I wrote in early September, that first week:

The next day, Thursday, I woke up to more spotting. I called the doc and they told me to come in for another blood test. Ray was already at work so I went on my own. When I got there I sat down to have my blood drawn. My friend the PA, who happens to be about 36 weeks pregnant, knew that I was there, so she came out to see how I was doing. She was kind and gentle and I was so afraid. I broke down in that chair and she squatted down next to me, big belly and all, and rubbed my back while I cried. She told me that I would be okay, and that they were all praying for me. I looked up to see the nurses and the girls at the front desk watching me and I knew that they were praying for me then. I could see that they felt my pain and that they really, truly cared, and I felt reassured. We decided to order my labs to come back that afternoon. That way if the baby had stopped growing, I wouldn't have to go through the ultrasound the next day. As I left, the sweet nurse held my hand and told me not to be afraid, but to have faith. It felt like a lightbulb went off when she said that. "Oh yeah," I thought, "I'm supposed to have faith." I wasn't supposed to be afraid, I was supposed to believe that God had a plan for me, and for my baby, and I needed to have faith that He would take care of us, no matter what happened.

Already, God was working love into my story.

After about a week, there had been no change. I had a second ultrasound, and although we still didn't see a heartbeat, we knew from my NFP charting that I was only just five weeks along, and we saw growth since the first ultrasound a week earlier. I flew home with Emmett for a long weekend at the beach with my family, and told them about the baby. I was afraid, but peaceful. I knew God would take care of us, and I had hope. I was able to rest in my family, to relax, and to pray almost constantly. It was such a blessing to be away from my incredibly stressful job for a few days.




All of my labs continued to be positive, and I was able to stop taking the progesterone. My doctor was still confident, but the bleeding was only getting heavier, so we knew something was wrong. My thyroid was enlarged, so I went in for an ultrasound of my thyroid. I was still afraid, but peaceful.

When I returned to work, my boss called me into a meeting to tell me they were cutting my hours from 40 to 20, effective immediately (read the full story here.) It was a huge blow and we were stressed, but we jumped into action and came up with a plan. My boss told me my accounts were complaining that I hadn't been around during some of the busiest months of the year, but then told me I could take more time off if I needed to. It was all very strange, and felt like being kicked while we were way, way down, but almost immediately I saw it for what it really was: a blessing.

Tuesday, September 10 (my dad's birthday), we got some not-so-good news from the doctor. My last round of blood work showed that my hCG levels had slowed, and the doctor told me she suspected I was having a molar pregnancy (see the full story here.) Wow. What a terrible, horrible, bizarre turn of events. I was numb, and so afraid. I wrote this post, trying to pull myself out of the black hole I was falling in to.

Looking back on that post, I see the love I was feeling for my family. For Ray, Lucia, and my dad specifically, but for everyone in my life. It's amazing how loss brings you closer to your loved ones, and strengthens the ties that bind you together. Again, there was love in the midst of darkness.

We had a third ultrasound that Friday, and by then the bleeding was constant and fairly heavy. I was terrified that the pregnancy would turn out to be molar, that I never even had a baby, but I was peaceful that morning. We went in to the ultrasound dreading what we thought we'd see - a blob of tissue instead of a sweet baby. The ultrasound tech didn't say much, and we couldn't tell what we were seeing, but we knew there was no heartbeat. We were quiet and scared and numb, until we were alone again. I broke down and Ray comforted me, and then we were strong together.

When our doctor came in to see us, he said the magic words: "We see a baby." I was overcome with relief, and forgot to be scared after that. I forgot to ask questions too, but that was okay. Our doctor told us it wasn't over yet. There was no heartbeat, but we weren't totally sure when we conceived so it could just be that it was still too early for a heartbeat. He told us what to expect in case we did miscarry, and we went home feeling so much better. We still had hope.

Then that night, the contractions began. They came slowly, and then disappeared again. Same thing on Saturday, and then again on Sunday. They were getting stronger, but I was still clinging to hope. I lay on the couch with Ray Sunday afternoon, and didn't let myself think about it, even when I suddenly felt the urge to push. I was still in denial, so it hit me like a ton of bricks when it really began. I was in shock, and in so much anguish and pain and agony. My heart broke, up there all alone in the bathroom, birthing my tiny, quiet, lifeless baby on the toilet. And I wailed.

Ray sat outside the door offering silent support, just waiting for me to need him. After a while, when I could speak again, I asked for him. He was love to me then, in the way I needed it most. He was there with me in my darkest hour, and loved me. We called my doctor at home and told him what happened, and he confirmed what we knew. I had miscarried.

We spent the next few days quietly together. I didn't feel strong enough to go out, to face the world, broken as I was. I remember laughing a little bit in those days, but crying a whole lot. After so many weeks of not knowing, of waiting and seeing, we were relieved it was over. And I felt guilty about that, because all I wanted was to be pregnant again. I remember pain, but peace too.

We were able to bury our baby, who we named Oliver, a couple of weeks later. What a blessing that was for me. (You can read the full story here.) The sweet ladies at the cemetery were like angels- gentle and kind and like a light in the darkness. It was a beautiful day, and gave us so much peace.








Since those days, I've received countless emails, text messages, cards and flowers from strangers, loved ones, and friends. Women I've never met who read my story tell me it helped them, and that makes it worth it somehow. Recently a dear friend of mine lost her baby nine weeks into her pregnancy, and it hurt me so much to see her go through that pain. It still hurts. But I was able to be there for her, to understand her pain, and that makes it worth it somehow.

I told that friend the other night that losing my Oliver has changed my entire life, and every single relationship I have. It has made me stronger, made my life more beautiful, and made me love harder. It has strengthened my marriage and made me a better mother to Emmett. It has made me want to be nothing but love to those I meet in my short life. Nothing but love. I've built new friendships because of this story, and strengthened many old ones. I see the people in my life in a whole new way, and feel love everywhere I turn.

It's strange to be grateful for a miscarriage, but in many ways, I am.

Our little family at Christmas, 2013.

I love you, little Oliver boy.



love in motherhood-2
Today we begin a month-long series on Love in Motherhood. We (and a few of our blogger friends) will write a post about the story of enduring a struggle of motherhood (guilt, temper, busy-ness, comparing to others, etc.), and how someone weaved LOVE into our story. A friend, a spouse, a stranger, our children, God, anything/one.


Each of the hostesses will be sharing and we want you to play along!

THE HOSTESSES:
  1. Anna Kate of Home Away from Home
  2. Jen of Defining My Happy
  3. Jenna & Mary of A Mama Collective
  4. Kristen of When At Home
HOW IT WORKS: First, head to each of the hostess’ sites to check out their posts!
Then, write your own post about Love in Motherhood. We want you to tell how love rewrote your story!
You will then link up on any ONE of the hostess’ sites. Our links will be interlinked which means that your post will be displayed on all of our sites!

We will have a new post go live every single Tuesday for four weeks to continue to spread the love in motherhood story. You are welcome to link up with us every. single. time. Or just once. You choose!
Please share on instagram with the hashtag #loveinmotherhood so we can support each other. We can't wait to see what you all have to say about the journey of love in motherhood for you.

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