A Christmas tree huntPrint Recipe Print Recipe

Oh this smell. I want to bottle it up.

That and the newborn smell.

Which, funny enough, I had both right under my nose.

This past weekend, we met our friends, Ashley and her husband at the tree farm and she kindly took these photos of our little hunt. I’m usually the one behind the camera so it was nice to have these sweet captures! I love them so much, I just had to share.

 

This one feels like a winner, dad.

 

We’re very curious about this whole tree cutting down thing.

 

As Ben cut down our tree, Mason yells “OWIE!”.  Our future environmentalist. Nice.

No. Of course I would never laugh at my child…

 

Little heavy there, Mace?

 

He’s the best helper.

 

Our little family, and our little tree.

 

Let’s just pretend I did cut down our tree, k?

And while wearing child. Obviously.

 

 

Green Chili, Turkey & White Bean EnchiladasPrint Recipe Print Recipe

 

I can’t believe my maternity leave is coming to an end. My four months is FLYING by! Not okay.

I mean, I have until the first of January, but that’s basically tomorrow.

Not that I wouldn’t go back. I need to go back. I know myself, I’m just a better mama (AND wife!) when I have a job to go to.

But when I think about our new routine, how am I PHYSICALLY suppose to get a baby, a toddler and myself ready and out the door before 8am?

Then be awake enough to have adult conversations ALL DAY LONG…

THEN somehow get everyone back home and have dinner on the table before bedtime?! Then bedtime… Then do it all over again??

I just don’t see how this isn’t going to be complete chaos. Or how many times I’m going to show up to work without mascara, my shirt on backwards or my hair dripping wet and on top of my head. It is going to be complete chaos, isn’t it? Awesome. Someone please hook me up to a coffee drip, STAT.

 

 

Because I’m a crazy person, I’ve already started making freezer meals.

And of course these are the first on my list!

We’ve being eating these enchiladas ever since I got my hands on this cookbook. WE CANNOT STOP.

Just last week I doubled the batch so I could put a hefty tray of these right into the freezer. I’m now thinking I should have done two…

This would also be a great dish to give to someone who might need a little extra support – new baby, care-taking, etc.

 

 

I love mexican food, period. I can eat it all day long and I SWEAR I’m not pregnant. Oh my god, could you even imagine?? Forget it, don’t imagine. Moving on.

These are a nice change from the traditional enchiladas. White beans and ground turkey, plus some vegetables, oh yeah sign me up!

 

 

This cookbook is awesome.

I’ve probably made at least a dozen recipes from it already. Some of my favorites so far – Roasted Cherry, Coconut & Quinoa Breakfast bowls. Breakfast cookies. Chewy Granola Bars. Sour Cream and Onion Popcorn. And an awesome Wedge Salad! There’s still so many bookmarks left on the recipes I’m waiting to try.

I’m so freaking proud of you, Jess! Such a kick ass cookbook. <insert high-five emoji>

 

Green Chili Turkey & White Bean Enchiladas

Recipe adapted (to be gluten-free) from Seriously Delish Cookbook

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 sweet yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon plus a pinch of salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (4-ounce) can diced green chilies
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup canned white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 1/2 cups enchilada sauce
  • 6 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, freshly grated
  • 8-10 corn tortillas (she used whole wheat)
  • 2 tablespoon chopped chives (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add olive oil. Add the onions and peppers with a pinch of salt and toss to coat. Cook, stirring for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and green chilies. Stir and cook for 30 seconds.

Push the vegetables to the side of the skillet and add the ground turkey. Break it apart with a wooden spoon and cook it until the turkey is browned, 6-8 minutes. Add the cumin, paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, remaining  1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, and chicken stock to the skillet. Stir well to mix the turkey and vegetables together and reduce the heat to low. Add in the white beans. Cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce to the skillet along with 2 ounces of the cheese and stir it together. Turn off the heat.

Pour 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce into the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish and use a spoon to spread it evenly over the surface.

*If using corn tortillas – place in a small pan over medium heat. They need to be warmed slightly so they’ll “fold” without tearing. 

Spoon about one-quarter of the turkey filling into each tortilla and roll them up tightly. Place them in the baking dish, seam side down. Once all of the tortillas have been filled and rolled, pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the top and brush it to cover every portion of the tortillas. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Bake the enchiladas until the cheese is golden and the sauce is bubbling, 30-35 minutes.

Optional – top with freshly chopped chives.

Serve and enjoy!

 

*gluten-free

 

 

My family & a peek into our livesPrint Recipe Print Recipe

 

My family, the people that make my world go around.

I’m so grateful for Catherine Abegg who documented our family so beautifully.

I love how she captured our family in our environment. Aside from my hair not being tossed on top of my head and my husband wearing a sweater, this is a peek into our daily life. Our counters have dishes on them. Mason’s toys aren’t organized. I’m still in the early stages of designing/decorating our home. But, it’s cozy. There’s an incredible amount of love under that roof. And at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.

Now excuse me while I kindly tell my perfectionist self to be quiet… Here you go. Here’s a peek into our lives.

 

 

Mason is our love bug. Watching him grow into this kind and gentle little being, makes me so proud. He’s sensitive. He listens and watches what we do. He’s an observer. And he’s such an incredible and helpful big brother.

Every morning between 7 and 8am, he’ll stand up in his crib and yell “mama! dada!” The longer we wait, the more impatient his cries for us become. One of us, usually Ben will get him changed and dressed. Pre-maternity leave, I would pull out one of his toy boxes and he’d play while I’d put on my makeup. Sadly, we’ll get back into that routine in just a few short weeks.

I can’t help it. I constantly smother him with kisses and give him the longest hugs until he starts to pull away. I’m not ready for him to grow up and not let me love on him. He’ll always be my sweet baby.

 

 

Gray is the happiest when he’s being held. He’s much more wiggly and requires a little more attention than Mason did at this age, so I’m constantly doing the “mom bounce”. At least he loves to be worn. Sometimes it’s the only way I can get anything done. He’s also an excellent sleeper, thank goodness!

He just turned 3 months and has the biggest smiles and is also very vocal, which has been a lot of fun. Of course that’s not going to make going back to work any easier.

I have loved spending the past several months with him. I’m not totally ready to let him go, but I know he’ll be in great hands. Postpartum was much rougher than the first. So many ups and downs around my mom. On hard days, I’d just hold onto him and cry. Although I don’t see my mom in him, I feel her when I hold him or when I look into his eyes.

I knew he’d be a gift to our family.

 

I can’t imagine loving anyone as much as I do these two boys.

In the mornings when we come downstairs, Mason helps me get out the changing pad and a diaper for Gray. He’ll cuddle up next to his brother while I change him (as seen as above). When I’m done, Mason grabs the diaper and takes it to the garbage to throw away.

Mason is someone who likes to have a “job” and is very proud of himself when he completes a task. Ben and I are constantly amazed by him!

 

 

My sister is a huge part of this family.

After we all lived together for 7+ months while we cared for mom, we’re pretty much become inseparable. She’s a huge help with the boys or even nights when I just need a few more hands, she’ll come help with dinner while I wrangle the boys (or vice versa).

I’ve also loved watching the relationship between her and my husband. They’re more like brother and sister, but really good at calling each other out on their shit. Watching the two of them and their love for scary movies and sour candy makes me so so happy.

I know mom would be proud to see us all so close – and that includes our dad!

 

 

Oh that smile.

He’s truly a happy kid.

We have a great window bench that Mason loves to run over to or climb up on and wave to everyone who walks by or any garbage truck – (pronounced “cock”) that drives by.

He also thinks he’s very funny.

 

 

A full belly, a soother and a tight swaddle holding down his arms, Gray’s a happy camper.

He also isn’t phased by anything Mace does. Clearly.

We tried to get Mace to lay next to Gray and he fought us and continued to run away. At one point Mason thought it was a game to try and “jump” over his brother.

 

 

I love this photo so much.

Having two kids, especially at this age, everything is a juggling act. So many times I’m breastfeeding Gray while entertaining Mason, even if that means making silly faces at each other – as you can see here. This is a very common scene at our home.

 

 

Weekend mornings start out slow around here.

My husband makes coffee in our french press. Mason gets excited for his greek yogurt and granola. We’ll watch an episode of Full House (he loves it, no joke!) or something on the Disney Channel. If it’s Sunday, we watch Football.

I wouldn’t change any of it for a second.

 

Oh and those curls… I know.

 

 

The love and laughter captured right here is beyond.

I love watching these two.

I don’t often acknowledge my husband as much as he deserves. He loves this family and is always putting us first. He’s a hands on dad and doesn’t hesitate to step in when things get crazy. And they can get crazy, especially with two! He’s the one who brings it back to him and I. He isn’t afraid to have the hard conversations in order to keep us grounded and connected. We make a good team.

These boys don’t even know how lucky they are. And truthfully, I probably don’t either.

 

 

These images aren’t even half of them! Thank you, Catherine for capturing these sweet moments with my family. I hold them so close to my heart.

And thank you for getting me addicted to family photos, I now want to do this every 6 months!

 

 

Oatmeal Cranberry Pecan Comfort MuffinsPrint Recipe Print Recipe

 

Sometimes the best therapy is curling up with a cup of coffee, a warm homemade muffin and a little piece in quiet.

Or a bottle of wine… massage… vacation.

Annnnd I’ll take one of each please!!

Damn, it’s been a tough few weeks. So many things have come up recently that have made the grieving process that much harder. Plus, the hormones and lack of sleep from being a new mom don’t help.

Last week, my sister and I stood in front of a packed ballroom. Bright lights and microphone, eyes and ears all on us. We already had tears in our eyes before we made our way to the stage. There was an incredibly long pause as I tried to get out the first words. “Most of you in this room knew our mom…”

We were asked to speak at a fundraiser luncheon for the non-profit, Art with Heart. Mom served on the board before becoming President of this organization. During the course of seven years, she helped merely 800 children who had experienced some sort of trauma.

To honor her and to continue her legacy, we didn’t hesitate when asked.

Now, we prepare for the next one.

 

Tomorrow we stand in front of nearly 500 people to tell our story. This time, a fundraiser for Hospice.

This is very close to our hearts as they were such a special part in our journey.

Writing these speeches have been incredibly emotional, as you could imagine. Then practicing again, and again saying the words, “mom died of a brain tumor in 2014″ just never gets easier.

I know with both the writing and the public speaking, we’re getting just a little more complete in our loss journey. I’d also like to think that those listening will find comfort and peace in their journey as well.

This sounds funny, I know, but I feel that losing mom has made me a better person.

Whether someone is putting their grief and anger on me or I’m faced with a hard conversation or even just my reaction to my toddler’s full blown tantrum, I just think of my mom and what her advice would be. It’s always clear what she’d be telling me.

I hope that never goes away.

 

 

While mom was sick, a family friend brought over these muffins and before the night was over, we’d eaten them all. Clearly, we needed a little ‘comfort food’. After that, we had requested the same muffins every time she offered to bring something.

Ever since, I make these muffins every time we or someone else needs a little comfort.

 

 

Okay, enough with the tears and more about these muffins!

The muffins are light and won’t leave you feeling guilty. They aren’t overly sweet, but just the right amount of sweetness that if feels like a treat. If I don’t pack them in a care package, I’ll eat them for breakfast with my coffee or enjoy as an afternoon snack. My son also loves these muffins and I don’t feel bad sharing them with him.

Of course, they’re best eaten warm and my favorite, a little smear of coconut oil!

So, whatever your therapy is, here’s a little piece of comfort from me.

 

 

Gluten-free Oatmeal Cranberry Pecan Muffins

Recipe adapted from Dr. Oz

makes 12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup gluten-free oats
  • 1 cup low fat buttermilk + 1/3 cup
  • 1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour*
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • turbinado sugar for topping – optional

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Grease muffin pan with a little butter or non-stick spray.

Add the oats and 1 cup buttermilk in a large bowl (you’ll eventually add ingredients so make sure there’s room).  Stir well until the oats are nicely coated.  Cover and let sit for 20-30 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix together the gluten-free flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add in the cranberries and pecans.

Uncover the oat mixture and add in the oil, egg and brown sugar. Add in the reserved 1/3 cup buttermilk & mix together.

Add the oatmeal combination into the dry ingredients.

Stir to combine, but careful not over-stir. It’s okay if its lumpy.

Pour or scoop with ice cream scooper the batter into the greased muffin pan. Optional – top with a little raw or turbinado sugar. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Remove the muffins and let sit for about 5 minutes before removing them from the pan.  Place on a cooling rack.

Also good with a little slab of coconut oil!

Best eaten within the first few days of making.

 

*I had the best results with Cup4Cup gluten-free flour. Next best were Arrowheads gluten-free flour and King Arthur gluten-free flour. 

*gluten-free