Taking the next step

In March 2013, we packed up everything we owned, said goodbye to dear friends, and drove 7 hours to move into an apartment roughly half the size of our previous home, in a town where we didn’t know a soul, so Kevin could start a new job that was full of promise and excitement (and turned out to be a far cry from what was advertised).


One month later, we celebrated Little Miss’ first birthday.

Another month after that, we learned that our family would be growing.

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We waited for months and months for our house to sell so we could find a new home in our new town. When it finally did, we were thrilled to find a house that is just perfect for us. So, in December, while I was about 7 months pregnant, 10 days before Christmas, and during a crazy Midwest blizzard (that made it impossible to get the moving truck down our street), we moved in.

The past 16 months have been stressful, sometimes very lonely, and trying for all of us, but through it all we had the peace of knowing this is where we are supposed to be. We didn’t just make this move on a whim – we followed where we were sure God was leading. Since then we have felt a bit like the Israelites, wandering through the dessert. We have spent quite a bit of time trying to understand what purpose He has for us here and while I can’t say we know the answer to that question, I think sometimes God lets us wander through the dessert so our hearts will be prepared to make the next tough choice.

Two weeks ago, Kevin made the decision to leave his job. There are a million and one reasons that led to that decision, but ultimately we just knew it was time to take the next step. After years of dreaming about someday owning our own business, we are taking the plunge and giving it our best effort. We have a vision for where we would like it to go and I’ll be sharing that later, but for now I’ll let you check out the Tripp Designs about page.

So, if you need business cards, brochures, flyers, etc…

love Jesus

Little Miss has recently started remembering and singing the words to songs she has heard.

 

Tonight, after daddy read the nightly story from the Jesus Storybook Bible and we settled in to snuggle for a bit, she lifted her head up to look at me and said, “Love Jesus.” It was a request, but really more of an announcement, “We’re going to sing the ‘love Jesus’ song.”

 

Oh, how I love Jesus. Oh, how I love Jesus. Oh, how I love Jesus, because he first loved me.

 

She chimes in for just those two words each time: “love Jesus.” And my mama heart melts.

Bringing Home the Greens

I’ve been wanting to join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture – basically, you pay a flat fee at the beginning of the year, then get a share of the harvest every week for the whole season. Good for you, great for farmers!) for a few years, and this year we finally did it! We signed up with Cook Farm here in Bloomington, IL and two weeks ago we picked up our first share!

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One of the things I’m most excited about with being part of a CSA, is that it will give me an opportunity to try new foods I wouldn’t have necessarily chosen at the grocery store. It is going to help me along in refreshing my go-to recipe stash!

My favorite from this week’s CSA? Sorrel.

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I had never heard of it before, but it is delicious! It has a surprising citrus-y flavor that was great in some summer salads. I also tried two new recipes with it and both were fantastic. First, I tried this Spring Scrambled Eggs with Sorrel. When you eat eggs every day, it’s nice to try a new take on them!

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The other sorrel recipe I made was this fantastic salmon dish. Friends, it was SO good. The hubs agreed and Little Miss gobbled it up, too!

I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out for sorrel from now on and I can’t wait to see what we get in our next CSA share. Have you been cooking with anything new lately?

Five Minute Friday: Lost

Happy Friday, friends! Today I’m joining Lisa Jo Baker and a community of bloggers who are each spending five minutes blogging on one topic: Lost. Want to join in? Read all about FMF here.

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Some days I get lost in the giggles and snuggles and tea parties, but some days are lost to to-do lists and Facebook and stress.

The days are too few to spend them being needlessly busy. In my two year old’s mind, the most successful days are the ones I spend sitting on the floor, building endless towers and reading books until they are burned into our memories. She isn’t burdened by the laundry that goes unfolded or the sink full of dishes, and in the days I follow her lead, I think she’s got it right.

It takes intention to be sure I am lost in my days rather than letting the days be lost. Today I chose to lose myself in the joys of watching my babies grow, even if it meant losing my evening to unfinished chores.

Refreshing my Go-to Recipe Stash

Between the LONG cooking rut I’ve been in (we’re talking a year + here, folks) and the changes we have been making to the way we eat (more on that later), I’m in pretty desperate need of a recipe stash overhaul. Trying new recipes just feels like so much more work though. It takes time to sit down and hunt for new recipes – recipes that meet our health goals, don’t contain crazy ingredients I’ll never use again if the recipe flops, and that come from reliable sources or with enough reviews to feel confident it’s worth trying. Then, when it comes time to cook it takes work to actually read a recipe and use ingredients I may not be familiar with. With a 2 year old (currently in a super clingy stage) and a 4 month old (What?! How did that happen?), anything described as “more work” is just. not. happening. So, I stick to my staples that I always keep on hand (which saves brain power when it’s time to grocery shop, too) that I can throw together while thinking about a bazillion other things. Thus the rut.

 

I’ve come up with a solution to break away from my easy-peasy roasted chicken, breaded pork chops, and grilled salmon. A few weeks ago, I decided that I’m going to start trying one new recipe every week. It has to be in line with our new eating habits, and it has to be different than what I would normally cook – a different method, new ingredient or combination of flavors, etc. I was a little wary because, well, I just don’t trust recipes. I NEVER follow one exactly, and changing up a recipe is hard to do when you aren’t familiar with all the components. I was dreading all the “work” I mentioned above.

 

Let me tell you, the first recipe I tried was so great, I ended up trying three more that week! 3 of 4 were definitely-make-this-again successes, and the fourth I was able to get Little Miss to finish off with some major tweaking.

 

So what were these new recipes?

 

Chocolate Chunk Paleo Cookies

These are AWESOME. Maybe my enthusiasm is partially due to the fact that I hadn’t had a “real” cookie in almost 3 months, but my husband wolfed these down, too. Only problem? I think the recipe says it is 10 servings. I say it is 2. Oops.

 

Easy Sweet Potatoes and Eggs

Super yummy, super easy. Breakfast for dinner is always a win!

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Pioneer Woman’s Chicken Cacciatore

Requires a bit of thinking ahead to plan the timing, but overall was pretty easy. Very tasty, even with my changes –

I omitted:

noodles, mushrooms, tumeric, red pepper flakes, & parmesan

I replaced:

All purpose flour with Gluten Free flour

Chicken thighs with a whole, cut up chicken

Green peppers with orange peppers

 

Carrot Cake Pudding

This was easy enough, but I wasn’t a fan of the flavor at all. I don’t know if it’s my super strong vanilla, or the spices, or maybe a funky batch of carrots, but there was a bitter after-taste that I couldn’t get past. I mashed up a banana to mix in & Little Miss was content to finish it off. I’m thinking about trying it again, but maybe replacing half the carrots with sweet potato or pumpkin.

 

I’m looking forward to trying (and sharing!) many more new recipes. I hope you’ll share some of your own as well.

Homemakers’ Hodgepodge

For a long time, I’ve wanted to open an Etsy shop that was a collaboration between myself and other like-minded ladies. I love to dabble in all kinds of domestic arts, and would love to have a venue to sell the goodies I make, but I just do not have the time to devote to keeping up with a shop (I know, because I’ve tried!).

I figured, there must be other homemakers out there with the same problem – why not help each other out? With several people contributing, no one would have to feel the pressure to keep the shop stocked. So, I asked a few ladies whose creativity I am well familiar with if they would be interested in participating. I am happy to say I got a few positive responses and we have been working on stocking the shop for a couple weeks, now.

So, without further ado, I am thrilled to announce the Grand Opening of Homemakers’ Hodgepodge! Please check it out and if you see something you like, use the coupon code GrandOpening10 to receive 10% off (Coupon expires July 25, 2014). You can also follow the shop here on Facebook.

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Blackberries & Cream

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There aren’t many things that taste better than fresh berries in Summer. Especially if you have freshly whipped cream to dip them in. Today, Annabelle experienced this truth for the first time.

First, she helped me make the whipped cream.

Want to try it? Fill a mason jar about 1/3 with heavy cream, add a splash of vanilla and a splash of real maple syrup. Shake, shake, shake. But don’t shake too long or you’ll have sweet butter. It’s best to check periodically, but you’ll learn to feel the difference once the cream is “whipped” after you do it a time or two. Bonus: just think of all the calories you burned shaking that jar and eat another spoonful.

With the cream whipped up nice and fluffy, and the berries washed, she finally got to try one.

Watching my big girl experience simple joys is one of my favorite mama perks.