Friday, May 6, 2016

Things My Momma Taught Me

My mother is the most beautiful person in the whole world. Inside and out. In my short 26 years on this earth, she has taught me so much. I'll name just a few:

1. You can never have too much black/gray in your wardrobe. I'm pretty sure she's got Hepburn blood running in her veins. She wears black almost constantly. And she looks fabulous in it.

2. We work before we play. I can still hear her voice when I was younger, rightly scolding me for playing when I hadn't finished that day's chores yet. It's a valuable lesson I hope to pass on to my children.

3. There's always something more to learn. My momma loves learning. She's always reading. And not just books. She's the person that got a MacBook and instead of getting someone else to show her how to use it, she got out the manual and read it. And got all giddy when she learned all the fancy finger-swiping tricks. It was adorable. All throughout my childhood, anytime I would ask her what a word meant, she would say, "Look it up." I'm not sure why I kept asking her what words meant when I knew she wasn't going to tell me.

4. Don't be a quitter. I've watched her go through difficult circumstances over the years. Circumstances that she could have easily just decided to stop trying at. But she didn't. She would ride it out till it was time to quit, not when she felt like it. This is why I was technically in marching band for all of 7th grade even though we moved halfway through and I was way behind the other kids at the new school and my teacher didn't even really make me play because I was so terrible.

5. Make lists. Make list of your lists. To do lists. Packing lists. Shopping lists. I used to make fun of her for her lists. But I can't do that anymore...because I got the list making bug. Here I am, making a list of things she taught me. So yeah. #allthelists

6. Despite your circumstances, Jesus is always enough.

7. Having a hairdresser you trust is crucial to happiness. Yes I know this contradicts #6. I'm being hyperbolic.

8. Love is not always mushy gushy. I've gotten so many hugs and kisses over the years, but I also got tough love. And I'm so thankful for that.

9. She taught me how to sew.....twice.

One more. And it's a biggie.

10. She taught me how to cook. She is a fabulous cook and she has loved her family and many other people well with her delicious meals. Some of my most precious memories with my Momma are in the kitchen, with our aprons on, chopping, sautéing, tasting, laughing. She loves food and she passed down that love to me. And for that I am forever grateful.

I could go on and on with the depths of wisdom my mother has passed down to me. And I'm still learning from her. I am so thankful to call her my Momma and best friend. Happy Mother's Day, Ravishing Rita! I love your guts!


What is one of your favorite things your mother taught you?

Sunday, April 10, 2016

DEWPS: A Dietary Journey Part 2 Spaghetti and Meatballs

I recently started a dairy free, egg free, wheat free, peanut free, soy free diet with my 1 year old who is allergic to all of these things, (You can read that whole story, here). The only reason I started it was because he was still nursing. Then about 5 days into the diet, he decided he was done nursing. Gee thanks, kid, for making me go through the withdrawals from wheat and dairy just to quit nursing. However, instead of going to attack the block of cheese in my fridge, I decided I liked how I felt and to stick with it for at least 4 weeks.

Today is day 11. (Update: I procrastinated getting this posted so it's actually Day 16, but who's counting, eh?) (Update #2: My computer wasn't cooperating and I couldn't get the pictures to upload so it's actually day 17 #bloggingfail) So far it's been the hardest since I got over the withdrawal hump. I just really really want some rosemary olive oil bread, or a cheesy pizza, or a cheeseburger from The Pharmacy. Oy. In an effort to scratch the pasta/bread itch, we are having spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. We are using gluten free spaghetti made from rice and quinoa. As far as the meatballs go, I had a hard time finding a recipe online that was DEWPS friendly. It seemed like if you took out egg, they added wheat, and vice versa.  So I concocted my own recipe.

I made a really big crockpot size batch of sauce and meatballs since we like leftovers around here.

"Mmmm, this is good, Momma!"

"If I don't eat it all in one bite, it might disappear..."

DEWPS Stupid Good Spaghetti Sauce w/ Meatballs

4 big cans crushed tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tbs olive oil
1/4- 1/3 cup dry red wine (optional)
1 1/2 tsp each of parsley, basil, and oregano (fresh herbs make this even better, but I use dried most of the time)
1tsp. salt, more to taste
3/4 tsp pepper, more to taste

Dump all of this is your crockpot with seared meatballs (recipe below) and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4 hours, stirring occasionally.

3 1/2 (ish) pounds of ground beef (for added flavor, sub a pound of the beef with Italian sausage)
1/8-1/4 cup chicken broth
2 TBS olive oil
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
11/2 tsp. each of parsley, oregano, and basil
1/2 tsp. onion powder (next time I want to try grated fresh onions)

In a large bowl, mix ground beef with chicken broth and olive oil with your hands until you can form a meatball that holds together well. Mix salt, pepper, parsley, oregano, basil, and onion powder in a separate small bowl and incorporate into the meat with your hands. (You could technically do all this mixing with your stand mixer but its easy to over mix and then you have tough meatballs. That would be no good). Now, roll out your meat into cute little cocktail sized meatballs.

Heat a couple more tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in an iron skillet, and sear the outside of your meatballs, before dropping them into your sauce to finish cooking in the crockpot.

When the meatballs are cooked through and the alcohol has cooked out of the sauce, boil up some gluten free spaghetti, add a side salad, and ENJOY!

"Nom Nom Nom!"

"Can I has some more, pwease?"

Happy Eating!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

My StitchFix Story + A Fashion Show

Shortly after my sweet , little Calvin was born, a friend of mine posted about her Stitch Fix experience on Facebook. I had just been lamenting about my own wardrobe being a bit ratty and quite frankly not age appropriate since the only things I could find to fit me were in the juniors section. Except now all my juniors clothes didn't fit my post baby body and getting dressed (when I did actually make the effort to do so) was getting downright depressing.  So I signed up for what would become my favorite way to shop in the history of EVER!

I carefully filled out my style profile and even read blog posts about how to get the most out of each "fix". I also created a Pinterest board specifically for my stylist and loaded it up with all my favorite pins that had been lurking on my fashion boards. After writing more specifics for my stylist in a "Fix Note", the only thing left to do was wait. When the waiting was finally over and that first box arrived at my door I was completely hooked. You can read about that specific fix HERE!

If you've been thinking about trying StitchFix or maybe you've never heard of it, you should definitely check it out! And in case you're interested, here's what I personally LOVE about StitchFix:

1. The clothes are unique, designer, and high quality! The jeans I own from StitchFix feel like BUTTER! The dresses I have are CRAZY comfortable and definitely not see through or cheap fabric. And same story with the tops I have. The clothes are just wonderful.

2. It's like Christmas morning! It's like a pretty box, just for you! And even though you know it's clothes, there's still that element of surprise in not knowing exactly what you're getting. :-D (Unless you're one of those heathens that has the StitchFix app and as soon as your fix ships, you peek at what they're sending. Sorry, but we can't be friends.)

3. No malls. No crowded stores. No pushy salesperson. Just you and the pretty box and 3 days to decide what you want to keep.

I could go on and on, but I'll leave you with those main reasons for now. I will however, mention a little something about the prices. As I mentioned in point #1 up there, these are quality, designer pieces. Not Target brand things that become misshapen after a few washes. Therefore, you're going to pay more. There is a section in your style profile where you can specify a general price range. I always have mine at "The cheaper the better" and the next level up is $50-$100. So yes, it is expensive. But I'm at a stage of life where I'd rather make the investment in pieces that are going to last me several years, than go buy a whole new wardrobe every season because everything from the year before is worn out. Since it is expensive, I have just been getting a fix every season and aside from my very first fix, I don't keep everything. I only keep what I LOVE.  Some people get a fix every month but no matter how often you get one, you're not locked into a fix schedule with Stitch Fix so you can get one whenever it strikes your fancy! :-D

And just to give you a little taste of what you can get from StitchFix, I decided to do a little fashion show with the pieces I've gotten in my fixes. I should also mention that a couple things I've gotten from a Facebook buy/sell/trade board for StitchFix items, which is a great way to get one specific item you're looking for without getting an entire fix.

Without further ado, I give you StitchFix!

First up: Pixely Greenich Striped Knit Top & Level 99 Giovanni Skinny Straight Leg Jeans in Green

This is my birthday fix outfit! I scheduled a fix to come the day before my birthday and specifically asked for a bonfire outfit and my stylist, Erin, nailed it! I wore these pieces constantly throughout the fall and winter!

Next: Market & Spruce Corinna Striped Dolman Top & Pixley Stacey Scallop Hem Cut Out Detail Skirt

Let's start with this shirt. OH MY! SO SOFT. It's a highly coveted item in the Stitch Fix world and there's a rumor that they're phasing it out. I SO hope that's not true. Because I need it in every color that it possibly comes in. It's unbelievably versatile and I kinda wear it all the time. Here I've dressed it up with a skirt that I got in my last fix. It is truly adorable and unique. And it's navy which means just about everything I own will coordinate. :-D

Below, you'll see even more of this fabulous top's versatility. I've dressed it down with a pair of Level 99 Giovanni Skinny Straight Leg jeans in a different color. (I got these jeans off eBay when I realized that the green pair fit me as if my fairy godmother had sewn it herself). And of course I added a pop of color with the converse I wore at my wedding!  :-) 

Neeeeeext!Queensland Dolman Jersey Top and Just Black Adorra Skinny Jean

This top was one of those pieces that I would have never picked up in the store. But my stylist sent it in my very first fix for me to try and I love it! It is CRAZY comfortable! It's not as versatile as some of my other pieces but is fun to put on for a casual date night with my leopard pumps and yellow beads. These jeans. Oh these jeans! I feel like a broken record, but these are also CRAZY comfortable. I like the darker wash for when I want a dressier look. I purchased these from a Facebook Stitch Fix buy/sell/trade board. 

 This next one has a story behind it: Gilli Jessie Maxi Dress

At this point you're probably thinking, "Wait...that's not a maxi dress..." Indeed, it is no longer a maxi.
 So here's the story. Once upon a time, my sweet hunk of a husband was being awesome and doing laundry. He was not aware that it needed washed on the delicate cycle. He was also not aware that it was line dry only. So when it came out of the dryer, it was at this awkward shin length that was extremely unflattering. So, I had it hemmed and to be quite honest, loved it way better on me as a knee length dress! I even thanked my husband for ruining my dress. He asked if he could have that in writing. I said no. I love him. The End.

And last but not least, my MOST favorite Stitch Fix purchase to date: 41 Hawthorn Sara Dress
Where to begin with what I love about this dress. The material is so soft, the cut is so flattering, the stripes are so fun, I heart that it's navy, it's the perfect length, it's so happy and feminine and wonderful and I JUST LOVE IT SO MUCH! Below, is how I wore it for Easter Sunday. Those blue mint shoes are just to die for as well, but they are ModCloth, not Stitch Fix.
 And as you can see, this dress is the very definition of versatile:

Isn't it so FUN!!??

 I got a little carried away....

 AND! It's not JUST for summer time! I dug out my cozy, thick mustard cardigan, boot socks and boots, and now I'm ready for fall again!

Okay. I'm done. I promise. 

As you can see, Stitch Fix is just a whole lot of fun, and you can acquire some really great pieces to add to your wardrobe. If you've never gotten a fix, you seriously need to try it! Feel free to pin any of my pics to your Pinterest inspiration boards!

Oh and one more thing! If you wouldn't mind signing up with this link right here, I'd appreciate it immensely! Ya see, one of the cool things about Stitch Fix is that after you sign up and get a fix, you can recommend it to other people and get referral credit towards your next fix! Super awesome!

Thanks for reading! 


Thursday, March 31, 2016

DEWPS- A Dietary Journey

Let's start at the very beginning....a very good place to start. A couple months back, our son Calvin who was around 10 months old, started breaking out in eczema all over his face, neck, and even some spots on his back. The poor kid looked miserable. We weren't sure what was causing it since he had been eating a variety of foods since he was around 6 months old and we hadn't introduced anything new before the breakout. At our doctor's suggestion, we switched to fragrance free soap, cut out eggs from his diet, and started putting Aquaphor on his eczema spots. That seemed to clear it up a little, but it never really went away. Then a week or so before his first birthday, it got worse again. His face was bright red, his eyes were always puffy and watery with dark circles under them, and the backs of his arms would randomly get red and hot and puffy. He was no longer my happy-go-lucky, smiley baby. He was quite obviously, miserable. After seeing our doctor again (who we LOVE, by the way), he was convinced it was a reactionary rash to something he was eating and that a blood test would be the most accurate and fast way to pinpoint what we needed to eliminate from Calvin's diet.

I won't EVEN get into the circus that was my week trying to get blood drawn from that poor kid. The bottom line is, we got the blood and the results came back saying he was mildly allergic to the following: Dairy, Eggs, Wheat, Peanuts, and Soy (DEWPS-I made up this acronym all by myself!). Next, we made a game plan. Eliminate all of it for 4 weeks, and if the rash clears up by then, we re-introduce one food at a time to see which one(s) is causing the eczema. If it doesn't clear up after those 4 weeks, we have to run more extensive blood tests.

My brain was immediately like, "OMG WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO COOK FOR HIM??!!!" Then my our doctor proceeded to tell me that the blood test also showed that his iron and zinc levels were a tad low, and that even though I was about to quit nursing, I should keep nursing because that would help make sure those levels go up (And we're giving him supplements). Which means I need to not eat dairy, eggs, wheat, peanuts, and soy. Then my brain went, "OMG I AM GOING TO STARVE TO DEATH!! WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO EAT!!!!!!!!?????"

For those of you who may not know me, let me explain something....I LOVE TO EAT. ALL the foods! I love to cook and I use a LOT of butter and CHEEEEEESE!!!! We buy our cheese in bulk because we eat SO much of it. Ever seen Oprah talk about how much she loves bread in that Weight Watchers commercial? Yeah that's how I feel about bread too. I also love to bake. Just about every single one of my favorite baking recipes has butter, eggs, milk, and flour in it. All of which I can now not eat. WHAT in the actual what. Pity parties ensued as did massive withdrawal headaches and fatigue.

(Side note: The day before I got the blood results I had been praying that God would reveal idols of my heart that were taking His place. I believe this was a direct answer to prayer. Not what I had in mind. But when is His plan ever what I had in my finite, fallible mind?)

After I got over the initial pity party phase, I yanked on my big girl panties, got on Pinterest,  and planned an entire 4 weeks worth of DEWPS friendly meals. Some of them are brand new recipes that I've never tried and others are recipes of my own that I've adapted. I also tried to make the meals things that you could easily add cheese to for my Hubby and other son. For now, I'm trying to make do with ingredients I'm used to working with. I did however, buy some vegan cheese, (NEVER again) that Calvin seems to like a lot, but makes me shudder every time I take a bite.

Today was Day 7 of DEWPS.
Breakfast: sausage patties, avocado slices, tomatoes, and fruit.
Lunch: Leftover bun-less burgers, guacamole, and chili roasted sweet potatoes 
Snack: Skinny Pop Popcorn, 2 DEWPS friendly cookies I found in the healthy section at Kroger
Dinner: Lemon-Garlic roasted whole chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans with tomatoes and bacon

There has been lots of guacamole made in the past 7 days. Thankfully, I can still get my carb fix with tortilla chips, rice, potatoes, and corn. And I can still have coffee and wine. So life is still pretty good. Not to mention, I FEEL great! Super energized, motivated to do yoga in the mornings, and just all around healthy. Calvin is back to his smiley self as well and his little chubby cheeks are starting to look as clear as they did the day he was born. So far his favorites of this new diet have been the guacamole and the chili- roasted sweet potatoes, but he's pretty much a garbage disposal for anything we throw on his tray.

Funnily enough, all this work and as of a few days ago, I can't get Calvin to nurse. He is just not interested anymore. So, I could technically go back to eating whatever I want. However, I made it a whole week. And like I told my hubby, this is good for me to do something I don't want to do. It's good for my physical health and I think it's good for my spiritual health as well. Learning to look to Jesus for comfort, rather than food. Learning to use self-control. Learning that just because I "want" something, doesn't mean I need it.

Throughout the rest of the 4 weeks, I will be blogging some of the recipes I'm trying and maybe someone out there is looking to the cyber world for inspiration, because they just found out their kid has food allergies. And maybe, just maybe, this little blog might be of help.

Happy eating, folks!