Wednesday, March 30, 2011

i can do this

Heading into a state in my life where it's time to really keep a close eye.

Turning 30.
Taking care of my health.
Trying to beat the odds of endometriosis. (What I blame for my fertility struggles)

I've decided to make a decision - one that I'm not sure how long I can commit to.  All signs seem to be pointing to this: remove animal by-products.

I tried this back in 2008.  I wanted to increase my odds of conceiving.  I started a vegan lifestyle and loved how my body felt - just found it hard to watch my family devour cheese. 
I just really love cheese. 

But.  I also would rather avoid medicating myself to the point of being a dragon to my husband and sons. I would like to keep my system free & clear of anything unnatural.

So here we go...I'm a herbivore once again.  Let's see if it will stick this time.

Maybe I'll try these beautiful fried green tomatoes from Vegan Yum Yum.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

after 3 days

of my boys being at my parents house...we dated, we worked, we slept, we cleaned. 
I could NOT, however, wait to see this smile again. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

new cookie jar

 Something about buying a new cookie jar just makes me want to never leave it empty. 

Something about a full cookie jar keeps little hands & big hands alike coming back for more. 

While I LOVED Nigella's choco chip cookies, this is now my favorite cookie EVER in the world.  No.  The universe.  

The white chocolate oatmeal cookie.  It's not pretentious.  It's not trying hard to be all cool.  It's just hearty, crispy yet soft and goes hand in hand with tea.  

Here is the recipe I used - enjoy!


  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees . Lightly grease cookie sheets.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar until smooth. Stir in the egg and vanilla. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, stir into the creamed mixture. Finally, stir in the rolled oats, white chocolate chips and pecans. Drop by tablespoons onto the prepared cookie sheets. 
  3. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove from baking sheets to cool.  

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

sad & happy

You know wanting the best for someone can be really hard.

Joel and I are privileged to live near close family - still working on trying to get the Kalamazoo bunch here but that's another blog post  - but quite a few precious members & over the last few years we've gotten even closer with 2 of our cousins: Allie & Erin

These girls are beautiful; fantastic babysitters; eloquent speakers; mature WAY beyond their years.
More than that, they are the epitome of creatives.
Music // Design // Fashion

Allison just got accepted here and while we're THRILLED for her...I am sorta dreading the day we give that hug goodbye.

This picture might look strange - why would I put chalkboard art next to a cool tweed skirt?

Well, these are both creations by Allison - the one on the left she made with Leland while babysitting him...isn't she SUCH a girl?  The one on the right is one of the garments she made to get into school.

So proud of this girl and cannot wait to boast about her efforts as her skills continue to grow....

Maybe this blog post will make her want to stay....maybe just maybe.  ;-) 

Either way....4 of her BIGGEST fans will be waiting her for her...with vegan muffins upon each and every visit home.

We heart you Al!

186 days til Ireland...

Monday, March 21, 2011

never been more excited to turn 30

So, it's been nearly 8 years since I walked down the aisle with the man of my dreams...

It's also just about 4 months away from my 30th birthday.

I still feel sometimes like I'm 13 years old...but so much has changed.  So much.

I am definitely reflecting more, hoping more, & allowing for new change.  I'm proud of my 29 years.  Really proud. 

Joel was going to have a surprise party - only reason I know this is because I said to him, "Honey, I really don't want a party for my 30th!"  He was a little caught off guard but glad I told him, obviously.  I told him, 'Let's GO somewhere..."

We talked about Chicago...NYC...LA....and then after pricing out some options....we discovered, "Holy Moly, it's a TON of money to stay in the US...why don't we spend a tad more and REALLY travel."

We had been talking with a travel agent and he had been putting together trip ideas for us...some in Barcelona....some in London...some in Paris.  They were pretty reasonable for the location but still just a little out of our price range.

Then came St. Patrick's day - we got a happy little 'Top of the Mornin' to ya' email from him - attached were UNBELIEVEABLE 48 hour specials to Ireland in honor of St. Patty's Day.

We traveled to MI to visit family, combing through each of the specials, reading hotel reviews, & understanding all the fine print.  Today - it's official.  We're going to Ireland.  We couldn't be happier to plan this trip together and make some beautiful memories. 

Happy Birthday to ME!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

a latte's bff

Over the holidays, my idea for my cousins & Aunt's this year was an idea of comfort.  A pair of maryjane slippers...TAZO tea...and fresh, homemade lemon biscotti.  
 I found the biscotti terrifically easy to make and hadn't made it since.  Since gearing up for our trip to see Joel's side of the family, I thought how wonderful to bring some up to dip in our coffee on those mornings where we're tired from staying up late laughing our faces off.  

Here is the recipe I followed:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder²
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 TBSP butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (It is possible to reduce the sugar depending on your preference)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup walnuts -optional-I left out as we have a relative with a nut allergy
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions for easy chocolate biscotti

Set out the butter and eggs. (The butter to soften, the eggs to come to room temperature).
Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF. Butter and flour a baking sheet.
In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl cream the butter and granulated sugar until fluffy. While this is going on, crack the eggs, beat them lightly and stir in the vanilla. Add the vanilla egg mixture a little at a time to the butter and sugar and beat until well combined.
Slowly stir in the flour mixture and stir until just combined. The dough will be stiff, this is normal. Add the chocolate chips and walnuts if you want them. Flour your hands and divide the dough in half. On the floured baking sheet, shape the dough into two, slightly squashed logs. They should be about 12 inches long and two inches wide.

Bake for about 30-35 minutes - let them cool for a good 20 minutes - using a serrated knife, slice them apart and lay them cut side up to bake again. Biscotti means 'twice baked' hence why they are so crispy and delish. 

Once they are all laid out flat, bake again for 10-15 minutes.  Once cooled, either dust with confectioners sugar or dip in white chocolate like I did.  These just make me happy.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

the haircut


It was traumatic for all involved.  Esp the newbie stylist at Cut 'n' Curls.

Leland clung to me like he was being stabbed.
His screamed as through he was having acid thrown into his eyes or something.
It was crazy & there I sat in the 'kiddie' chair holding my son with his little blonde locks all over me.

It was sad to see his golden tendrils laying on the floor.
They saved me some to keep & now he's a little man.

He looks older & that makes me a little sad.
BUT - he sure is cute & he reminds me even more of his Daddy (which I love)

I think the part that made me smile in that traumatic event was Jude's reassuring tone with his brother.  From the station Jude sat in, he said to Leland, "Brother, just watch me....just watch Big Brother and see it's going to be Ok..."

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

what I love

I love the look on my son's face when he hops off the bus and notices the cookie jar is full.

I love how he hums as he savors his cookie. 

I love how he sighs after that first sip of milk.

I love how Leland comes around looking for a bite. 

I love how Jude doesn't hesitate to give him one. 

I love how Jude enjoys an afterschool hug with his little brother. 

I love that these boys will remember these times together and with me. 


Saturday, March 5, 2011

art says that art is:
the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.
Surrounded by creatives and being one as well, I've found that it seems quite common to be very critical of who is actually 'good' at what they do.  I guess I have always found that intimidating & my traits are given to fearing any type of failure.  This being said, I avoid that which I am unsure of being a little bit good at.  
I am loving watching my son take an interest in art.  Drawing, painting, cooking. 
I had to post some recent projects he brought home.  They simply made me smile and remember that the definition above really does describe what my son is doing.  He really is creating something of more than ordinary significance.   
We are excited to watch this gift develop in him....hoping to expose him to much this summer.  Cooking.  Painting.  Swimming.  Maybe even a little typography project....
Jude created a snowman family complete with Mom/Dad, Elderly grandparent, Eldest sister, middle son & baby sister.  CUTE
Dog, of course.  He purposely folded the tongue up so that he would 'kiss' those who came by.  ;-)     

currently reading

The library has been a place of refuge lately.  Leland is old enough to enjoy reading books and attending story time.  Jude is devouring all of his books at such a pace that we have to keep returning for fresh new ones.

This last trip with the boys was fantastic for 2 reasons:

1-Leland cracked everyone up with how he just walks around like he owns the place and giggled at the fishies in the fish tank.
2-I found a new book for ME!

Nigella Lawson, a brilliant chef, wrote what I believed to be a cookbook.  Although, after making a latte and sitting down with the massive book, I realized it was so much more.  It truly is her memoir.  She tells a story with each recipe.  With every 'food idea' she gives variations or little recommendations so that you can make or adjust to fit your own needs.

Read this excerpt of which I absolutely LOVE:

Sometimes reality has the edge over romance; albeit I have said before, and hand-on-heart declare again, that for me the kitchen is not a place I want to escape from, but to escape to....

She won me over with this line as I feel EXACTLY the same way.  

I am also in LOVE with the photography of the book.  Not only do the meals & desserts look appealing but the step by step photos make these refined dishes seem like a cinch. 

You will see some Nigella food coming soon, folks....stellar recipes that are purposely not pretentious, just comfort food refined. 
Does it help that she is DROP dead gorgeous? 
maple pecan bundt of which I am trying immediately!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

snack of the day courtesty of Trader Joe's

I am WILD about these. 

So are my boys.
So is my husband. 

Perfect combination of graham crackers & animal cookies.  
Best part is snacking while teaching letters and spelling out silly words on our kitchen table. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

16 months

Oh this child...he is all too hilarious for words.  His personality already tells me that he will make others laugh harder than he will ever intend.  His sweet face will make women melt.  His blue eyes will make discipline difficult.  His stubborn spirit will make discipline necessary.

I love this kid but am ready for time to slow down.  From what I hear, it just doesn't.

Happy 16 months, Leland Ryan.  I love you.  ~Mommy

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

monday nights matter

Sometimes I look at Mondays as simply my 'task' day - I get a ton done typically.

Last night, was something special.

We've been reading more with Jude.  Joel has especially taken it as 'his time' with his eldest son.  It's been nothing short of miraculous to watch the transformation since the beginning of kindergarten.  Jude read an entire book to Joel after dinner.

Meanwhile, Leland got into trouble putting the 'connect 4' circular pieces in the grids of the bottom of the fridge.  How does he think this stuff up?
he looks dead but he's just getting into trouble!  xoxo

Feeling so blessed to have these 2 guys - and at such lovely stages.  One is learning to read.  One is learning to push my buttons and make me laugh.

Not to mention a man to father them...with love, discipline & a caring demeanor.  Life is sweet.  If we sweat the small stuff, we miss the sweet stuff.  Look closely & write it all down, friends.  Don't miss it.