recipes. a few of our favorites for the Lenten season.

Lent. The forty days of fasting, prayer and service leading up to Easter, beginning Ash Wednesday. When I was younger, I never really “got it”. I didn’t enjoy nor welcome the solemnity or extra giving of myself these several weeks before Easter were supposed to require. After all, shouldn’t our days always include service, prayer and giving of ourselves. Why were “these” so special? However, the more years I gain the more I understand. It’s kind of like that new start and those resolutions we make at the start of a new year. “Lent comes to reawaken and shake us from our lethargy.” – Pope Francis

Here are some foods we enjoy all year round but also nicely fit into the Lenten season.

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Recipes:

1 – Roasted Cauliflower Soup

This recipe is my “go to” and has it states there are many different variations. Feel free to leave out the cream, add greens or beans, etc. On this particular occasion I left off the hot sauce because I was sharing with the baby (my first photo).

In my second photo, I didn’t use the cream and instead of making it a purée I just used the pulse setting and chopped (and then added a little cheese).

2 – Honey Ginger Shrimp

I found this recipe of Ayesha Curry’s a week and a half ago and have already made it twice. The flavor is just so fantastic! Not to mention, the whole recipe from start to finish takes less than thirty minutes and requires few and simple ingredients.

3 – Wild Rice Soup

I love this soup! And even though it’s called Cozy Autumn Wild Rice Soup it’s perfect for a cool Spring day as well (especially those ones leading up to Easter requiring no meat). It’s packed full of veggies and really so delicious.

Plus, most of the ingredients are common and ones you might already have in your fridge or pantry.

Variation: Add baked and then shredded chicken. I did this a couple of times this past winter.

4 – Southwestern Frittata (minus the meat)

(from Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain – Meals Made Simple Cookbook)

Ingredients:

1/2 pound ground beef (or negate for a meat free Lenten meal)

1/2 cup diced sweet potato, peeled

2 tablespoons diced red onion

2 1/2 teaspoons Taco Seasoning

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 cups baby spinach

1/2 cup diced zucchini

10 large eggs, beaten

(salsa, chopped cilantro or sliced avocado for serving)

Preheat oven to 350° F.

In an ovenproof 10 inch skillet over medium heat, sauté the beef, sweet potato, onion, taco seasoning and salt for 6 minutes, until the meat is mostly cooked through.

Add the spinach and zucchini and cook for 4 more minutes.

Pour the eggs into the pan and bake in the oven for 12 minutes, until the eggs have puffed up and are cooked through.

*I have also transferred all to a glass baking dish before adding in the eggs (like the above photo). Which perhaps makes it not as much “frittata-like” but a bit fluffier and just as tasty.

5 – Lime and Thyme Carrots with Salmon

(from John Whaite’s Perfect Plates in 5 Ingredients Cookbook)

*not pictured

Ingredients:

14 ounces baby carrots

4 banana shallots

Juice of 2 limes

4 sprigs of thyme

4 salmon fillets

(sea Salt and coarse black pepper)

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Place the carrots in a large roasting pan or baking dish. Peel the shallots and slice them in half lengthwise, and add them to the pan along with the lime juice, thyme, and 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Cover with foil and roast for 1 hour.

While the carrots are roasting, season the fillets with a pinch of salt and pepper. After the carrots have cooked for an hour, remove the foil and place the fillets into the roasting pan. Return to the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until the salmon is cooked through.

All of the meals in this cookbook are simple, yet feel really special!

6 – Breads or Pizza (veggie and cheese)

Breads topped with preserves or butters or paired with baked or grilled veggies is also another favorite.

I’m definitely still working on my bread making skills but these are a couple simple, less time consuming recipes that we like (that have turned out ok enough to eat 🙂 ).

Mark Bittman’s No-Knead Bread

Julia Child’s White Sandwich Bread

And we love this thin crust pizza dough recipe.

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“Fasting makes sense if it really chips away at our security and, as a consequence, benefits someone else, if it helps cultivate the style of the good Samaritan, who bent down to his brother in need and took care of him.” – Pope Francis

hair and skin. some “cleaner” basics i’ve been loving lately.

I love messy hair (held back with a kerchief) and a simple beauty routine. With my routine and products, I normally find something I like (or grow accustomed to) and stick to it. Pretty much followed the same routine for 15+ years, ugh. However, throughout the past few years, my search to find cleaner and safer products for myself and my family has encouraged me to find and use some products that not only “just work” but ones that I really love. Also, our first winter back in the midwest (after living in the south for six years), has prompted me to find a few new ones recently to help my skin deal with the colder, dryer temps. Here’s some of the basics that I’m loving right now . . .

Beautycounter Hydrating Foundation

I had used the same foundation for well over fifteen years (I like change but not always :)) when a little over two years ago a friend shared Beautycounter’s story on one of her Social Media pages. At the time, I had just began looking for cleaner, safer and healthier products for ourselves and our home. I have been using this foundation ever since and I love it. I’ve always had somewhat problem skin so I was nervous to make a change (especially with my foundation) but I really think I have benefited from the change. It’s lightweight and blends nicely. Not to mention, it feels great on the skin no matter the climate.

You can read Beautycounter’s story here.

Acure Facial Scrub

Acure Night Cream

I have also been using a variety of Acure products for the past couple of years as well. They have just recently changed their packaging and added some new products. I’m currently using these two and their eye cream. I’ve also used their day cream but this winter I just dab a little of the night cream on in the morning as well.

Ere Perez Face Nectar

Ere Perez Face Tonic

I have just began using these in the past month or so. I absolutely love the little extra punch of moisture they have given my skin during this dry winter. My skin is definitely combo skin that can be both oily and dry at the same time. These seem to take away some of that dryness while not making it more oily. Before I started using these, I used argan oil some with my nighttime routine.

Sailor Sea Salt Refresh Spray

I don’t really use any other hair products but this one. I use it to increase texture and make it workable on those days I want it to look at least one step above messy. 🙂 I’m definitely more of a “beach hair” type girl so this spray works great for me.

Quinn’s Witch Hazel – Rose Petal

The smell of this one reminds me of my great aunt. XO! But even more so it doesn’t leave your skin feeling greasy or too tight like other toners I’ve used in the past. Not to mention the million other ways it useful.

Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap

Dr. Bronner’s soap varieties have been a staple in our home for several years now. It is a pure castile (olive oil based) soap and can be used for just about anything from washing your hair and face to cleaning your fruits and veggies (you would want the liquid variety for this). I’ve been particularly fond of the peppermint this winter!

Weleda Skin Food Cream

I love the texture and organic smell of this cream! I’m not always big on creams because I feel as if they are just too heavy and sit on top of the skin rather than nourish, but this one isn’t that way at all. I liked this one so much that I gifted it at Christmas to a few close friends including my mom.

Pacifica Face Wash

I’ve used a couple different types of their face wash and they both have left my face feeling good (not too tight and dry nor too oily). This particular one I’ve been using for about the past six months or so.

Young Living Essential Oils

We love essential oils. The Thieves and Lavender are the two that we use the most – either by themselves or combined with others. I also love this brand!

Happy Sunday! It’s a cold and snowy one here on this third day of March . . .

diy spring flowers. made with fabric scraps.

Happy Monday!

March happens at the end of this week- yay!!! I love the transformation the earth seems to take on during the days of this “still winter yet start of spring” month. In the home, I’ve been craving more color and vibrance. And for myself, I’m already noticing that little extra energy one seems to get at the start of a new season.

It’s no secret that I love paper and fabric almost as much as the smell of a new bebé! I always seem to have bunches of both lying around. Last week, I saw a beautiful photo of one of these rain soaked and it prompted me to try the below. And even though mine turned out really looking nothing like my inspiration source, I enjoyed the time I spent making them. They were simple enough that my mind could wander and relax. Not to mention, they’ll add a little extra “pretty” to baskets and gifts come Easter!

Since I just made this up as I went along, there really is no right or wrong way to do them. Feel free to put your own twist on them or add your own details. My main goal was to just keep them simple (and inexpensive) by only needing a few supplies and those supplies being things I already had on hand.

Supplies needed:

  • Small foam or paint brush & Scissors
  • Fabric scraps – torn into strips (bigger or smaller depending on what size flower you are wanting to make)
  • Mod Podge or diluted Elmer’s glue (or fabric stiffener) I had the fabric stiffener but I love and prefer the texture that the mod podge gives the fabric once it dries.

Step 1:

Tear your scraps into strips. Mine were about 1 to 1 1/2 inches wide. You don’t want to get too wide because they will be harder to tie and shape. The length can really be any length. I tore my strips and then cut them in half (but because I was using scraps the lengths varied). Just remember the longer your strips the bigger your flowers will be. For solid flowers, I used 10-15 strips of the same color for each flower and then I tore some small strips (1/2 inch wide or so) for the inner part of the flower. I just used one small strip per flower for the center. I also tore one to two wider green strips per each flower (for the leaves).

Step 2:

Cover your workspace with parchment paper or old newspaper and then lay all of your strips out flat. Use your brush to cover each strip with mod podge (or glue substance) so that they are completely covered. Once all tops are dry, turn them all over and cover the bottom of each strip and let that side dry completely as well. If you want flowers with less stiffness, only cover one side or use less mod podge.

*do not mod podge your smaller center strips at this time.

(All of these strips of solid color fabric reminded me of when used to do the winding of the maypole every spring in elementary school 🙂 )

Step 3:

In really no right or wrong way, criss cross the strips you have chosen for your flower over each other. Use a small scrap or strip to tie the strips together (this one does not need to be mod podged or stiffened). Lay it over the flower as shown below.

Step 4:

Use one hand to hold the strips in place while you turn them over to knot the small strip. From here you really can do no wrong. This is when you you pull, rumple, fold, etc. each “petal” of the flower. The more you mess with them the more texture and life you create.

Step 5:

Once the flower is to your liking, find the center and flatten it. Brush a good amount of mod podge onto the center area of your flower. Then take a small center strip and crumple or ruffle it between your fingers. At this time generously coat it in mod podge so that it stays together and then place and press it in the flattened center. See below. Let it dry completely.

*you can also use hot glue to secure the center

Step 6:

If you want some “leaves” thread one or two strips through the knotted strip on the back or bottom of the flower. You can use these or some twine to secure the flower to baskets, wreaths, or anything else you want to add a little “spring” to!

Step 7:

The fun part! Use them to adorn or decorate whatever you please. They’re perfect for Easter baskets or wreaths! Or we are hanging onto our egg cartons, painting them and filling them with goodies to deliver to our neighbors during the Easter season so they will add a little extra “pretty” to them as well!

Yay for March! And Yay for Spring!

– XO!

saturday morn. vanilla-pear muffins.

Happy Saturday! It’s a foggy and rainy one here. Perfect weekend morning weather! It’s also another weekend morn with exactly nowhere to be. That’s a couple in the last month which feels amazing! So with some time and pears on hand I thought I would give these a try. They did not disappoint – the taste nor the smell that’s still lingering throughout our home.

(I left the topping off of a few for the babe.)

(birthday present for isla’s friend. lovely hand lettering by her cute nine year old self.)

The dishes and laundry have been gathered. But first, I sit and enjoy the rest of my coffee while the littlest takes his first nap of the day. Delightful!

Have the BEST weekend! XO!

Recipe:Williams Sonoma Vanilla-Pear Muffins

“name” chocolates – personalized valentine’s day gifting (part 2).

My oldest two are now old enough that I feel like we can fulfill the necessary chocolate gifting that seems to be a Valentine’s Day requirement. I wanted to do something that felt special and personal. After all, isn’t that what the day is all about (and chocolate)!

I have hopes that the things handmade by me for them will be memories they can take with them. AND even on the days where I’m not at my best, they still know they are special to me partially because of these times and small gestures I did for them on my better days! In other words, may the good outweigh the bad in their beautiful minds. 🙂

For making the name chocolates, I have this silicone letter mold and I used dark and white chocolate ghirardelli melting wafers (the ones I used did not need tempering). Place the mold on a baking sheet (so that you can move it without the chocolate shifting in the mold). Melt the wafers over a double boiler and then with the help of a small spoon pour or drizzle the completely melted chocolate into the letters you prefer (or use a plastic squeeze bottle with a small tip/ opening for a cleaner approach). Next, use a toothpick to stir and even out the chocolate once it is in the molds. I then used my dough cutter to scrape over the letters to create a nice flat bottom. After you’ve evened out your letters, place the mold (still on the baking sheet) in the fridge or leave on the counter until completely cool or dry. When moving the mold, be sure to keep it as level as possible. Once completely dry, pop the letters out of the molds and put them in any sort of packaging you wish. I placed mine in a haphazardly sewn pocket that I made out of parchment paper (it just happened to be what I had on hand). The end! Enjoy!

Happy Heart Day!

P.S. – Speaking of chocolates. Check out all of this cuteness!

photo books – personalized valentine’s day gifting (part 1).

Every new year one of my resolutions is to get our family memories (photos, videos, menus from those special restaurants, tickets from our trip to the zoo, etc.) organized and every year I fall short or really long. :). BUT this year I’m using Valentine’s Day as a great excuse to start tackling the 30,000+ photos on my iPhone.

I took all the special photos for each kiddo from 2018 and made them into books. Even though I’m more of “a flip through a set of prints type” gal, I thought that books would be the best option for them and of course they make a great gift.

My goal is to do this every year. For it not to be so overwhelming next Valentine’s Day, I am saving (at the end of each month) all of those special photos of them/ for them to separate albums that I have created for each of them on my phone.

For creating and printing the books, this year I used the Shutterfly ap because I had already downloaded some of the photos there while making some projects for family members over Christmas. However, for the few photos I have printed in the past years I have done so with Artifact Uprising, Mpix, timeshel, and Chatbooks.

One of my favorites was the Chatbooks book below I did of my pregnant belly – what a special time. I love the quality of the photos (even though they are all Iphone) and the quality and matte-like finish of the cover.

(sorry for the detour)

Let’s hope the kids will be happy with some memories to hold onto- literally. I had so much fun looking back at this past year. Hopefully they will to. Now onto to tackling the remaining 29,800 photos! 😉

(They are also being gifted part 2 – see “name” chocolate post. Just in case they may not be as excited about the photos books as their future self might be.)