Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Nursery Inspiration and Thoughts From an Almost Parent

As most of you know, Bill and I are expecting a little one at the end of this month, and I wanted to share how our gender neutral nursery turned out, since we don’t find out the gender until the big day!

I read a lot about making the space inspiring for you, since the baby has not developed their own likes and dislikes up front.  Make it somewhere you can stare at the walls and dream for them.  Make it a place you are excited about spending time in and, most importantly, get a very comfortable chair.  We made sure to do all of these things, and the space turned into something we both love.  I go in their daily dreaming about how it will begin to shape our little one into an animal, book and travel lover.  I can’t wait to meet them and see them begin to dream big dreams of seeing the world.



The gallery wall was inspired by many adventures Bill and I have been on together – Thailand, Hawaii, Italy, Seattle and New England all have pieces represented.  In addition, I snuck in some produce inspiration on that bulletin board because we both are passionate about produce and farm fresh health (One day we dream of living on a farm).  There are also a few images of places we haven’t adventured to, and I imagine our little family wandering the streets of in the future.   The giraffes and elephants are from my life shaping trip to Africa in college and the zebra and lion we stumbled upon in Target and thought they were the perfect whimsical addition to tie it all together.  Lastly, my wonderful sister in law gifted me the wood plank for the wall and I think it encapsulates such a resounding message… even though Bill and I have seen so much of the world together, this baby will no doubt, be our greatest adventure.  That little reminder will stick with me as I dream for our family and for them as an individual.  



I have been struck lately with the vast responsibility parenting is going to be, but also the amazing opportunity to care for another person and learn another facet of who the Lord is.  So often he is referenced as our father in the Bible, and without being a parent, can we really comprehend that love?  Maybe partially, but I always think first hand is best.  I believe phases of our lives are designed to bring us closer to Him and learn about sides of His being that we can have a taste of here on earth, and this just feels like such a wonderful opportunity to really grasp another part of God and another reality to lean into Him for.

All of the furniture in this room was gifted to us, which is such a blessing and something I am humbled by.  We also have a cradle that will go in our bedroom that we are borrowing.  And you guys, that brown dresser that looks like it is at least 30 years old is… it was Bill’s in his nursery… How AMAZING is that?!  Every single piece in this room brings my heart so much joy.  All those tiny books purchased by family and friends, the side table a dear friend gave us, the travel related posters, the framed picture with the excited grandparents and of course the ultra sound pictures.  I just can’t wait to begin this new chapter and bond with this sweet little love.  It’s gonna be wild and exhausting, but oh so worth it.


If I don’t pop on here for awhile (again) don’t be surprised.  Send up a prayer and send some wine my way… I am sure future me will appreciate that.  I am openly committing to limiting social media and thus the need/pull to compare my mothering to others.  I will reach out to friends and family rather than random internet strangers.  I will take my time and enjoy the moments, because I know they go by quickly.  And every time I am up in the middle of the night, and yes I mean every time, I will think of how deep the Lord’s love is for us. 

I’ll make sure to introduce our little one on here eventually!  
Love to each reader out there :)

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Words of Affirmation and Parties in the Sunshine


Showers are such a special celebration.  All anticipation and excitement.  Lots of advice and gifts.  I really soaked up our baby showers that happened a few months ago and tried to remember these are the moments you hold dear.  When all your people rally around you in support and encouragement.  When you know life is about to change in ways you cannot even fathom.

We held a large shower at our home on a Saturday in April.  Tons of family and friends came through our house and enjoyed tacos and margaritas and brought so many gifts for baby my eyes welled up with tears multiple times.  Everywhere I turned people were laughing and chatting.  Neighbors mixed with family.  Friends from different circles collided.  It was so amazing to see so much bonding taking place in our home.  People offered to host the shower, but I selfishly wanted the memory where we live, because now when I look into our backyard, I think of our baby shower, and my 30th birthday party, Faith and Joshes 25th birthdays, Friendsgiving, Chase’s 30th Birthday, Mikaela’s bridal shower and all the times we have had people there.  Our home is special and as often as possible, I love to be the person who is hosting. 

When I woke up the next morning and everyone was gone and the cups and plates and balloons remained, I could not help but feel so happy.  So happy that so many people could feel hugged by our home.  So happy that I was able to enjoy time with so many wonderful friends.  SO happy to have sat on a blanket with women from different circles of my life and laugh together.  So happy my sweet dog was running around greeting everyone who came in the door.  So happy my husband loved showing people our home and the nursery (pictures of that will be posted on Thursday).  What an honor to host people and make them feel welcome, because in our home, they always are.








My sister’s and dear friend Mikaela threw me a small shower on a Friday night in Mikaela’s beautiful home.  They had a huge spread of delicious food and the small group of women spent time going around affirming things they saw in me that will make me a good mom.  Emotional? Yeah, you could say that.  It was humbling.  My sister’s bought me this beautiful flower crown with cream colored ribbons that fell down the back, and I just felt really beautiful.  Not in a conventional way, but in a soul touching way.  These women said the most amazing things to me, things that I could only hope people see in me.  I am so thrilled to have people such as them in my life.  People who get me and love me and know me and are encouraged as much by me as I am by them.  They gave me a beautiful journal with words from people who could not be there - my mom and best friends from home.  It is such a special keepsake and will continue to be where I write all about the beginnings of motherhood.

When we transitioned into prayer for me and baby and our little family my heart felt peace.  Peace that this baby was being born into such an incredible group that would love them no matter what.  Peace that the Lord already knows baby so deeply and they have not even emerged yet.  Peace that while I know this will be difficult and a transition, I will never be in it alone.  I left that night knowing my heart was understood and cared for, and who could ask for anything more?






Not sorry for the picture overload, because I could not limit these wonderful memories.  My lovely sister Faith took most of them, and these images alone are such a gift.  They are memories I will carry with me as our baby grows up and we learn more and more about what being a parent really is.  I can’t wait to tell you more about this lovely adventure ahead of me.



Tuesday, June 13, 2017

And I Think to Myself, What a Wonderful World


Bill and I wanted to snag a little time away before I got too big to really enjoy it, so a couple months ago (when I was around 6 months pregnant), we headed about an hour away to downtown Redlands and then into the mountains for some fresh air and quiet time together.  This day was blissful.  We had no agenda and took it as it came.  We checked out Downtown Redlands for some breakfast and discovered a small farmers market and a great little downtown area with an outdoor book sale and Norm made a new labradoodle friend named Ziggy.  We found a crepe place and a quaint little ally set up with tables and beautiful murals to sit and enjoy our breakfast to-go.  We both agreed it was a great stop on our way to or from the local mountains.

Upon the recommendation of a local, we went to a smaller lake than we had originally planned.  This was one that we could walk all the way around, and when we got out of the car I felt some tension fall off my shoulders immediately.  Isn’t is crazy how sometimes all we need is a change of pace?  To breathe some fresh air and get away from the congestion and the day to day for a bit.  We soaked up every moment up there, and Norm was a very popular dog.  Everyone stopped us to say hello to him, and of course he loved all the attention.  Spending time in nature is something I am increasingly realizing is very important.  It is a spiritual connection as much as it is physical.  It reminds us how small we are and how great the landscape of the world is.  


 I wasn’t quite ready to leave in the afternoon, so we stopped at a coffee shop/outdoor patio spot (the identity of the place was a little lost – there was a tiki bar with taps that didn’t work but locals would just help themselves to a beer/wine fridge on the patio AND a coffee shop run by a mother/daughter combo) and listened to a local group of guys play some throwback rock n’ roll from their era.  It was like we stumbled into an episode of a small town sitcom.  Everyone knew each other and Bill and I thought it was hilarious and wonderful and the perfect way to end our day. 

When we headed home that evening I was at peace.  It reminded me to get out in nature more and take in different settings more often.  I can’t wait to go back to this little town again.  While my pictures of the day are limited, my memories are vivid.  I slept blissfully that night and look forward to many more days like it.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Rogers Family Garden Update: Summer Produce


I am not the best at taking lots of garden pictures as a progression (especially with Bill and I in them), but I generally catch a picture of the produce when it is on our counter drying from being washed off and harvested.  Over the last few months we have had tons of stuff come out of our garden and have been using it as creatively and frequently as possible.  Beets, carrots, parsnips, cauliflower, Swiss chard, zucchini, cucumbers, berries, sage, dill and recently a jalapeno and a couple of tomatoes (we are about to have a surplus of tomatoes and peppers on our hands).

Over Memorial Day weekend we re-planted a good amount of our garden and as the weather warms up our garden seems to be signaling that is thrilled with the changes we have made.  Originally we had liners in the bottom of the beds, but what we realized is they were preventing the plants from growing deep roots and fruit and after ripping them out we have found much better results.  

Being nine months pregnant makes it difficult to help as much as I would like, but as I look forward to my fast approaching maternity leave I am reminded that I will be able to spend lots of time gardening with a sweet baby wrapped next to my chest.  Some of their first few months will be spent outdoors soaking in the smells of fresh produce and seeing firsthand what a backyard garden is all about, and that will be so glorious.

I love summer and all the fruits and veggies that come with it.  Looking forward to experimenting a little this year and coming up with some original recipes worth sharing on here.


Also, just FYI, if you want to follow the garden via Instagram it has it’s own account for reporting all our successes!  Follow: Growallthethings

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

These Are a Few of my Favorite Things: On Being Pub People, First Borns and Book Lovers



 A little over a year ago, at one of my very best friends weddings, an idea for a book club was born.  After that discussion, dancing commenced and wine was drank and a few weeks later I could not get the idea out of my head.  So I reached out to the two girls I had discussed it with (and another dear friend) and we decided to move forward and see where it went.  We had all been in book clubs before, but for one reason or another they had ended, and we were all feeling like we would give it a shot, but didn’t have the highest of expectations, especially since no one knew each other.  The common threads were friendship with me and a love for reading.


When we got together to discuss what books we wanted to read at my house over Mexican food and margaritas it became obvious that this group had the potential to be kind of amazing.  No one jinxed it for awhile though, we kept meeting and reading and discussing and as the chemistry got better and better we realized that we had stumbled into something life giving.  We started openly talking about how much we looked forward to our debates and how book club is shifting into a priority for all of us.  Now we get together once a month and all our type A, first born child personalities are fueled by the structure we have set up – Monday nights in a local pub where we each pick a book every round and we sit over dinner and drinks considering each other’s take on whatever we have read for that month.  

It’s hard to explain the magic of our little group, but it’s just glorious.



We recently celebrated our 1 year anniversary of book club, and y’all, I think this could go on for a lot of years.  The pictures above include the books we read together over the last year, and I loved that we immensely enjoyed some of them and forced our way through others.  We tried to pick a variety ranging from a couple of memoirs to mysteries to a short story circuit.  I look forward to every time we get together and the inevitable fish and chips one of us orders. 

Cheers ladies!  
To one year down and many more to come!

Friday, March 31, 2017

In the Kitchen - Pesto and Preserving Greens

Bill and I have been gardening in our new home for a little over a year now (to be honest, Bill does the majority of the work, we’ll called it 70/30), and the amount of produce our beds have produced really brings my heart so much joy. Little did I know what happiness could come from the food we would grow, and now I talk about wanting a small farm (including chickens and more land) and I am learning what it takes to care for our plants. It really is such a wonderful therapy.

One of the challenges I have found, is when it takes you a few months to grow something, you don’t want to waste even the smallest portion of it. The first crops we had, the concept of waste was not as clear to me, but as we continue, I am learning that every little part of every single plant is precious and hard work. Composting has become a part of my life and I embrace the decomposing of anything that can’t be used in cooking because eventually it will be returned back to our earth to continue to help our plants be healthy. I have been seeking out ways to use up every part of the plants we grow – beets greens in our smoothies, keeping a jar of lemon juice on hand at all times, citrus finishing salts to use our lemon and orange zest (recipe on the blog next week) and this week’s edition which is carrot top pesto! (I have also experimented with mint, arugula and basil pesto’s to preserve other garden goodies, and Y'all they are all wonderful!).


This is a recipe I found through Pinterest, and made a few modifications. I always double (or quadruple) the garlic. I did not measure anything out, but ended up using Romano cheese (similar to Parmesan in flavor) because that is what I had on hand. Bill and I used this pesto as a pizza base this week and it was excellent (added a little extra olive oil to the crust first to ensure that golden baked goodness), and in the link below you will find a roasted carrot recipe that we also tried, and turned out fabulous. 

 Pesto is such a great way to preserve most greens and herbs, and I encourage you to try it the next time you find yourself wondering what to do with greens. If you make this without cheese, put it in airtight container (we have about a million different sized mason jars) and it can be frozen for up to 6 months. With cheese it lasts in the fridge about a week. Make sure to date your jars! We have a very sophisticated blue painter's tape system that works like a charm :)

FOR THE PESTO:
carrot tops from one bunch of carrots (approximately 2-3 lightly packed cups)
large handful of basil
1 medium clove garlic, chopped
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts (chopped walnuts may be substituted)
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
flaky sea salt, to taste

I haven’t given many updates on our life through this means in a while, and I won’t make any promises, but I felt called to put a few posts together as I felt led. I think the focus is going to shift a little, but I can’t be sure until I dig into this side of myself again. For now, I will let you know, that what I am discovering is my life is what I make of it and I am attempting to be learning to be present with those I love and appreciate every moment I have with them.

Thanks to anyone who reads these words, but the truth is, I am learning if no one reads them, it is in the action of writing them out that I get my reward, not in the followers or comments. Reminding myself that the value lies in the process is so important and has been something I’ve been grasping in a greater way. Eliminate comparison and you will thrive.

Original Recipe Found Here

Friday, October 28, 2016

Food I Ate Friday - Whole 30 Chicken Korma

Y'all, I love love love Fall and all the flavors that come with it (I could genuinely say that about every season, and probably have during the time I have had this blog). However, what I get most excited for is when my husband wants curry everyday like I do. I can eat curry in the crazy heat in the summer. I am a soupy for life. Give me soup. Every. Day. But my handsome man needs it to cool down a bit (and not be 100 degrees), so once the weather cools, the curry lover in me jumps for joy. 

 We have been exploring Paleo and Whole 30 recipes quite a bit recently and this one is Whole 30 approved. If you are an Asian food lover like me and eat Paleo or Whole 30 you should definitely check out the website this recipe came from, because wow, lots of good stuff on there!

Have a lovely weekend friends.  Eat something yummy :)

Ingredients

1 ½ lb chicken breast, thinly sliced to bite sizes
1 large shallot, minced
1 lb pumpkin or butternut squash, cut into bite-size chunks
About 5 1/2 Tbsp homemade korma paste (see below)
1 can (14.oz) full-fat coconut milk
1 Tbsp mint leaves, finely chopped (optional)
Coconut oil
Sea salt to taste

Homemade Korma Paste

4 Garlic cloves
2 large shallots
2 thumb size fresh ginger
1 small bunch fresh cilantro + extra for garnishing
4 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp coriander powder
2 tsp garam masala powder
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper powder
2 Tbsp tomato paste (no sugar added)
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Optional Crispy Shallots

1 large shallot, slice to thin strips
Coconut oil

Instructions

For the Korma Paste:

USE a food processor finely mince garlic, shallots, ginger, and cilantro.
ADD cumin, coriander, garam masala powder, sea salt, cayenne, tomato paste, and olive oil. Blend until it becomes a smooth paste.
RESERVE 5 to 5 ½ Tbsp korma paste for 1 ½ lb chicken. Store extra korma paste in your freezer for future use.

For the Crispy Shallots (Optional):

SLICE 1 large shallot into long thin strips. Heat 2 Tbsp coconut oil in a wok or frying pan over medium/medium-high heat.
WHEN hot, add the sliced shallots, season with a small pinch of salt. Pan fry them and stir frequently for 8-10 mins or until golden brown. Be careful not to burn the shallots. Use a slotted spoon and scoop them onto a tray lined with paper towel. Spread them out so they crisp up.

For the Chicken Korma:

HEAT 2 Tbsp coconut oil in a large saucepan or deep frying pan over medium-high heat, when hot, add 1 large minced shallots and 5 to 5 ½ Tbsp homemade korma paste. Keep stir-frying the ingredients to prevent them from burning for about 2 minutes until fragrant.
TURN the heat up to high and add sliced chicken. Stir-fry for 4-5 minutes until the chicken is lightly browned.
ADD coconut milk. Give it a gentle stir. Cover the pan with a lid and bring to boil.
ONCE it’s boiled, lower the heat to medium. Add diced pumpkin or butternut squash. Cover the pan with a lid. Let it simmer until the squash/pumpkin is cooked through. Stir the bottom of the pan periodically to prevent food from burning.


TO SERVE: Sprinkle finely chopped mint/cilantro/basil leaves and topped with crispy shallots.


Recipe from iheartumami.com.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A Penny For Your Thoughts: On Removing the Word Busy

I have been getting a series of emails from an organization called “Be More With Less” that have really effected my language and day to day attitude, so I thought I would share a few gems/take aways from them.

1. Stop using the word “Busy” – You are not busy against your own control, we are actively choosing busyness and you can actively choose to eliminate the word from your vocabulary and the overwhelming nature of busyness from your life… it will take time, prioritization and sacrifice, but it is possible. Also, my side note that has nothing to do with this, try to stop using “tired” as an excuse as well. It starts to be like the boy who cried wolf. If you aren’t up to talking about something say “I’m not up to talking about that”, not “I’m tired”… It’s just a bad habit worth focusing on breaking.

2. Learn your strengths and release what is not important. This has been SUCH a lesson for me in my current season. It could also be to focus on what you want to be good at and don’t worry about what it is not important to you. We spend so much time doing what we “should” do we aren’t focused on what we are even good at. We are jealous of others giftings when we are equally gifted, just not in the same ways. We wrestle with accepting ourselves for who we are. Accept who you are and fine tune the things that make you tick. I love food, and for the longest time I felt guilt and shame for that. I am learning to channel it. I hate cleaning, and for the longest time I felt guilt and shame for that. I am learning to prioritize it when necessary and remove the shame when it’s not.

3. Linger More – Guys, this is SUCH an American problem. We take pictures of beautiful settings, but we rarely take time to actually sit and enjoy them. Let the candles burn down. Talk. Don’t make 10 plans in one day, make one and then just be there, fully present. Just be with people, don’t fabricate a perfect moment for social media. Be the last ones on the dance floor. Watch the fire burn out. Guys, another thing I am guilty of is fabrication of meaningful moments. I am now even learning to even linger when walking my dog. Just enjoy the moments in life and limit your distractions. Seriously limit them. Start leaving your phone behind… on purpose. Just try it, it’s really very freeing.

4. This has been the biggest one for me: “Lose the guilt. Instead of thinking about the opposite of busyness as lazy, I invite you to consider that the opposite of a busy life is a full life and an intentional life.” 

Guys, these ideas have really been rocking me lately. 

 Remove "Busy" from your vocabulary, learn your strengths, linger more and lose the guilt. 

 Yup, I could work on all those things.  How about you?!


Friday, October 14, 2016

Food I Ate Friday - Whole Grain Breakfast Bars

A few months back, Bill and I decided we wanted to start making our own granola bars, since we want to avoid ingesting as many chemicals as possible, and I finally got around to doing it!

A few notes on my method: I cut the sugar in half (and made sure to use organic) and added other "add-ins" (coconut flakes and a little dark chocolate) and guys... these things are not only delicious but they are healthy and hearty.  I think they could handle whatever additions you wanted to make - any dried fruit or nuts especially.

We bought really good quality stone ground whole wheat flour, which holds more of the nutrients than standard flour, and I use almond milk.  I also up the cinnamon amount because its good for digestion.  This has been such a great grab and go breakfast, as Bill is out the door at 6 am these days, and I love having an easy breakfast option.

Ingredients

4.75 ounces whole-wheat flour (about 1 cup)
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 ripe bananas
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg white
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup dried cranberries
Cooking spray

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375°

2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through salt) in a medium bowl

3. Place bananas in a large bowl; mash until smooth. Add sugar and next 5 ingredients (through egg white); stir until combined. Add flour mixture, stirring until combined. Stir in nuts and dried cranberries

4. Spread dough into a 13 x 9-inch metal baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 22 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 16 bars.


Be healthy my friends!  

Enjoy your weekend and get outside and enjoy the fall :)

Credit to Cooking Light.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

A Penny For Your Thoughts - Releasing Aesthetic

“Life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” – Luke 12:15b

The realization that stuff isn’t making me happy was bigger than it probably should have been for me lately.  I am in constant pursuit of more, but what if I get rid of a bunch of stuff then don’t replace the stuff I have left with anything until it breaks down? 

For me, this is revolutionary, and has removed so much pressure from my day to day life.  Bill and I really are trying to figure out what it looks like to reject consumerism, but still value supporting small businesses and that sometimes the passion for less stuff can be just as distracting as the passion for more.  Our journey in this world is always about finding balance.  We can spend our lives shopping and rearranging, but does that really accomplish anything?  Once you have furniture in a room, can’t you just let it be?  Do we need to redecorate seasonally?  Or is that just another way to spend money? These are the kinds of thoughts rolling around in my mind.

My goal is first to serve the Lord and honor his commandments and secondarily to have friends, family and anyone who crosses our path feel comfortable with us and in our home and have it always feel like a place they are welcome and not judged.  Creating an environment people are comfortable in is not about having the prettiest things or the most aesthetically pleasing home, I think it is more about being present to what they need in the moment.  

I am releasing the aesthetic need for the cutest plates and prettiest serving dishes and remembering that it is more important to show care for their souls and their physical hunger than to post a picture to Instagram of how beautiful our meal is.  However, I do think there is something to be said for making every meal feel special and lighting candles and making a table beautiful for no reason, just because :)  I am just trying to remove the pressure to do so.  Every meal does not have to be colorful.  Every meal does not need to be photographed.  God knows I am guilty of this.  I am sure my husband will read this and praise the Lord for victory over this subject.  In true transparency, I might wrestle with not taking pictures of my food all the time.  However, like everything else, acknowledging the problem is the first step to addressing it.  I feel pathetic admitting that, but I don't want people to think my soapbox has nothing to do with me.  It is 100% my own problem.


Wow, sorry I am stringing you through this thought processing session.  I have SO much on my heart on this subject, and to be honest it is taking me by surprise.  

Come over for dinner and we can chat about it :)  Seriously.