Tuesday, March 31, 2015

I'm going to be taking a break from the blog for a bit. I want to savor this week leading up to Easter and spend more time with my family (Katie is tracked out for 3 weeks).  I hope you all can take some time to really think about just how special and awesome Easter is. He is risen!

Easy Paleo Pumpkin Bread

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

I've had this recipe for awhile and have adapted it several different ways and each time I make it it's great. I try so hard not to eat many sweets due to my history of gestational diabetes and my blood sugar issues but sometimes I just want something yummy! The girls love this recipe as well and I can give them this without feeling badly about any of the ingredients. The recipe was originally for making pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and I still do that when the mood strikes but when I don't feel like cookies I make this bread. One of the main ingredients is almond butter, my new BFF. I use it daily when I eat my beloved sweet potatoes, but that's another post.

The ingredient list below has been doubled to make the bread (half it if you just want some cookies).

1 cup almond butter
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup maple syrup or honey ( I used coconut sugar in the above rendition) all work well
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda (which I forgot above, but still turned out well)
1/2 tsp. salt
Mix-ins of your choice: I used Enjoy Life Chocolate Baking Chips but you can use whatever you want and I never measure.
Little bit of coconut flour IF you want a firmer dough. I found that when making cookies especially, I needed to add about 1 tsp or so of coconut flour to firm them up or they were super runny. I added some to the bread above but may not have needed to

Pre-heat to 350
Mix the eggs then combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl.
Drop by the tablespoon on a greased cookie sheet for cookies or into a pan (as above) for bread.

For cookies, bake about 12-15 minutes. For the bread, I baked about 30 minutes, but the middle was still not done so I baked it for about 10 more minutes.

See, so easy!!

I went a little crazy and topped mine with a bit of Kerrygold butter...so good if you can tolerate a small amount of dairy!

Friday Favorites

Friday, March 20, 2015

Happy Friday! We had some nice weather this week and I'm so thankful it's now officially springtime. Our bathroom remodel is still going on but I'm hoping that we get it all wrapped up by this time next week.

Linking up with AndreaErika, and Narci for Friday Favorites.

First, I had to take some pictures of my two little leprechauns on Tuesday. Both girls came home from school with hats they'd made. I love that holidays are a big deal at this age.

I don't buy a lot of earrings, maybe I'm just too lazy to change them out, but I saw these featured on this blog and loved them. Most of the earrings I do wear are small and I thought these would be perfect. I just got them and haven't even worn them yet, but I really like them and I think they'll hold up well.

My mother-in-law got the girls these plates a few years back and I love them. Anything to get them to eat their veggies!

This next thing is not necessarily a "favorite" but it was a wake-up call to me and for that, I'm thankful. My oldest had a rough day this past week...long story short, it became clear that she has been having anxiety/panic attacks. If you're interested, I blogged about it here. If any of you have an experience with this or any strategies you can recommend, please share!

I'm so ready for this weekend. My husband and I are actually getting a babysitter and going out--we still haven't celebrated Valentine's Day yet!


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A blog post on stress and anxiety isn't something I ever thought of writing but honestly, it was pushed into my face this morning (more on that later). It's not that I mind sharing some really personal things, but I created the blog mostly as a way to document the changes we've made to our home. So far, blogging has been fun and provided me with a little creative outlet. But this is real life, so why not share and maybe we can all encourage one another. Be warned, though, this is a long post.

I have one or two friends that have this magical quality of not appearing to be anxious or stressed out about life. They go with the flow, roll with the punches and almost always have a smile on their faces. I want that! I view them as I would a unicorn. Are they for real? How is this possible and how can I  get some of that?? I can't remember a time in my life when I haven't been stressed out or anxious about something. How sad! I admit I am a recovering perfectionist.  My type-A ness has gotten better now that I'm out of school although, if I'm truly honest, it's probably just seeped into the nooks and crannies of being a stay-at-home mom.
My mother can testify to the fact that I was typically an anxious, overly serious child who stressed about picking the "right" lunchbox before the start of a new school year and cried every Sunday night about going back to school on Monday morning. Hearing this makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time and I wish I could tell 5-year-old me that it's so NOT that big of a deal.

 Fast forward to 40-year-old Brooke stressing about bathroom tile and lighting choices. Or whether a traditional calendar school year is better for my children than a year-round option. Heck, just driving in the Whole Foods parking lot at lunchtime looking for a parking space is nerve-wracking for me. Freedom and choices are a wonderful thing, but for someone that second-guesses everything it can be exhausting. Oh, and attempting to grocery shop with young children? Get behind me, Satan!

As a Christian, I've struggled for years with "taking every thought captive." There's no quick fix in controlling or conquering anxiety, that I know of. Rather, it seems to be a journey and a process through life's ups and downs. What I do know is that no matter who you are, bad times, stressful times, change, and weird health situations will happen. We are not guaranteed  smooth sailing through this life. I've probably grown the most in my faith and my relationship with Jesus just in the past 10 years which coincides with getting married and starting a family. My husband and my children are without a doubt the biggest blessings in my life but have also caused me the most stress and anxiety I've ever experienced. We've been through career changes, miscarriage, illness/health, and colic just to name a few. And parenting two girls? Where do I even begin? So.many.things.to.stress.about.
Or maybe I should say so many things to potentially stress about. I'm self-aware enough now to realize that living in a state of worry and anxiety is a sin and something I need to be on top of. I think that going through bad times in life has been a blessing in the sense that I needed to be reminded that I cannot control and be the architect of all the details in my life or the lives of my husband and my children. This is where spending time in God's word has been the biggest comfort to me. The Gospel always points us to Christ and not to our own ability to do anything.  Just this fact has been life-changing for me. 2 Corinthians 12: 8-10 has become one of my favorite passages to cling to in times of trial when I feel the most stressed and out of control in life.


How did I get so far off track? Anyway, the point is that this morning, my 7-year-old had a major meltdown before school. I sent her to her room and told her she needed to get it together but she just kept crying and being "dramatic." Typical, really for us these days. She kept escalating to the point that I just pulled her down on the floor with me and told her to talk to me. I asked her if there was anything I could pray about with her. Through her tears, she told me that she had been afraid to tell me something. She described what are essentially panic/anxiety attacks and that she has a hard time breathing. (We ruled out that it was a medical issue). She told me that this happens to her at school sometimes when they have lockdown drills or even if they simply close all the doors. She also told me she was worried that a burglar was going to break into our house or that we'd have a fire. At this point, I was trying not to cry as I realized how much fear and anxiety she must carry around. We had a long conversation about how those are things that we cannot control and that God is sovereign and that we trust Him.

This has been a wake-up call for me. I had no idea she really worried about anything. I mean most of the time, she's happy and silly and asking to play video games after school. But, the world creeps in, even when you're 7. I immediately started asking myself where I failed her, where I went wrong. I need to be stronger, better, more organized, less stressed, etc. But then it hit me...she needs to see that I worry and that I get stressed. But she needs to see me take my worry and fear to Jesus and to leave it there with Him. Parenting is hard. I don't have any of it figured out.

What about you all? Have you experienced this with your kids? How do you handle it?

Life Lately

Monday, March 16, 2015

Not a lot going on here lately that's truly blog-worthy.  We stalled on the bathroom last week as our contractors were waiting on other things to be completed (granite, shower door, electrician). Finally today our electricians were here most of the day to put in new outlets (there was a pipe in the wall right where we wanted to put an outlet) so they had to come up with something else.  It's been a bit stressful and the 4 of us are still sharing one bathroom which is not ideal to say the least. All of this makes me wonder how those of you who've lived through a really big renovation or even had a house built did it.

No bathroom pictures to share, but here a few random ones:

My partner in crime as I run errands on the days she doesn't have school. I've been overindulging in my coffee lately and I had to bribe Lily with a cakepop. We had to psyche ourselves up to go to Wal-Mart so it was totally warranted!!

Currently the only vegetable I can get Lily to eat--Katie is better, but I always keep broccoli on hand for dinner for Lily. These plates help put them in a "good" dinner mood. Oh the games we have to play.

So when you are eating paleo and also trying to limit your sugar (why, oh why must I be prone to diabetes??) you tend to get creative with your food and especially your treats. I know this may sound weird, but it has become my new snack/dessert....sweet potatoes mixed with almond butter and cinnamon. I bake tons of sweet potatoes each week and then keep them in the fridge for when I want my "dessert". I mix some almond butter and cinnamon and warm it all up. Sounds weird, but it's really good. I've even gotten Lily hooked on it.

That's pretty much all I've got...ha ha. Just thankful that spring is just about here and our days are longer now! Bring on the warmer temps and sunny days.

Master Bathroom Update

Monday, March 9, 2015

Now that the crazy winter weather seems to have calmed down, work has picked back up on the master bath remodel. Except for some touch-ups, the tile is almost done and the vanity was installed.

First, the "before" to help you remember just how bad it really was:

and now that scary bathtub:

Rob made a good call by suggesting more lighting, hence the transom window

 Lots of work yet to be done...including vanity hardware and lighting, a countertop, and selecting a paint color but it's coming along! I will say that going to a tile shop and attempting to select floor and shower tile that match is hard (or at least it was for me). I freaked a bit because the shower tile is a bit darker than the floor tile is and now I kind of wish that I had gotten the same tile for both the shower and the floor. Oh well, live and learn!

Friday Favorites

Friday, March 6, 2015

I cannot tell you all how happy I am that it is now March and that we can say goodbye to cold, dark January and February. I'm looking forward to longer days, sunshine and spring and for the weather to cooperate so we can finish our bathroom remodel. I missed linking up last week as we had a bunch of snow (for the south--around 6-8") and our power was out for 24 hours. I'll spare you the details...on to happier things and a VERY random list of favorites!

My cousin's wife owns Ruby and Oliver, a business which specializes in monogramming and appliques. She has done various holiday shirts for Katie and Lily over the years, including some birthday outfits for them in 2013 (they had a joint birthday party since they both have birthdays just a few weeks apart). She recently sent some monogrammed shirts for the girls and we love them. I hate when they outgrow their monogrammed clothes and wish I could think of something creative to do with them. If you're looking for high-quality monogramming I would highly recommend Ruby and Oliver.
glitter monogram appliques
Rainbow birthday party theme monogrammed shirts and matching skirts

So I was folding clean clothes to be put away, and I opened up one of Katie's drawers and lo and behold, I find this...she had helped herself to some Dove chocolates I had just bought earlier in the day and put up in the pantry. Guess she found some old Christmas candy as well. This just made me laugh. When I asked her about it later, she told me she wanted some candy of her own. I have to watch this one because as she gets older, she is becoming more and more sneaky.

I love reading and am always wishing that I had more time to read (without feeling like I should be doing something else). So with all of the recent snowy days and my yucky head cold, I decided to take advantage by trying out a new author. I kept seeing Liane Moriarty's books all over blogland so started with What Alice Forgot first and loved it. Next, I downloaded the Husband's Secret which was good although not quite as good as What Alice Forgot in my opinion. I was on a roll and also read Big Little Lies. I liked it (especially the ending) but my favorite was What Alice Forgot. These books are definitely great for a little escape and are quick reads. Have you all read any of these? Which one was your favorite?

Look who else is reading for pleasure now?? Finally, my oldest daughter, Katie, has discovered that reading can actually be enjoyable. This is the first chapter book she's completed all by herself and she's quite pleased especially since she read it all in one day! I sure am hoping she continues and finds some other series that she likes.  There must be something in the air, because Lily, my 4-year-old, grabbed some of her sister's old BOB books and just started sounding the words out--I was shocked! She's been interested in sounding out simple CVC words (e.g. "mat", "sit", etc.) and even writing a few of the words when I call them out, but to put it all together and start reading just kind of shocked me. She really is growing up. My hubby and I love to read, so I truly hope the girls will be readers as well.

I'm so glad my husband convinced me a (few years back) to try The Walking Dead. Once I actually watched it and realized it really is about more than just zombies, it quickly became my favorite show. (I had just finished Breaking Bad and was sad that it was over and felt like there'd never be another show that could be that good). You can't really compare the 2 shows though, because they are so different.  Anyway, in this past week's episode we said goodbye to Rick's beard! I love this show, but now that the group is in Alexandria, the whole dynamic has changed and things feel weird. I'm sure that's intentional but at least they all got a chance to clean up, right? I feel like with each new season of TWD, I have to re-adjust because it's almost like a new show each time they start back up.

Here's to a warmer weekend!
As always, linking up with  AndreaErika, and Narci

Decorating "Rules"

Monday, March 2, 2015

Happy Monday! I didn't mean to take so much time off from blogging, but last week was not a fun one with more snow, no school (Katie only went one day), and 24 hours without any power. Spring, please come soon!  On to happier topics. Today I'm just popping in to share a few resources on the more "how-to" side of decorating.

I follow several decor blogs and there's just so much helpful information out there. First is a great post from Kris at Driven by Decor on the dimensions of furniture pieces, rugs and how high to hang your artwork. This is great advice for someone like me who tends to get overwhelmed by all the options. One of my goals this year is to actually put artwork and family photos on the walls and not have anxiety about it!

I've recently been thinking more about making our master bedroom more of a cozy space especially since we are currently redoing the bathroom in there. We have carpet in all of our bedrooms so there's no true need for a rug, but it could really warm up the space. I found this post by thedecorologist.com with some great recommendations on what size rug to use depending on what type of bed you have. Courtney, over at her blog A Thoughtful Place, has a gorgeous bedroom in which she layered a rug over carpet very successfully.

Alas, Rob just walked by and said for me not to even think of spending any more money at this point since we're doing the bathroom now. Oh well, maybe later on in the future...
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