Monday, January 29, 2018

Take Out Fake Out: Fried Rice (or Quinoa)

I love Chinese takeout. There's nothing quite like a little paper box with red writing on it when you're hungry and you know the contents will be flavorful, delicious, and familiar. One of my favorite take out dishes is fried rice. There's a few local Chinese places we like but we've been spending a lot more time at home lately with our little guy so I decided to try my hand at this "take out fake out" vegetable fried rice. I found my inspiration online and made a few tweaks and came up with this recipe! I made mine with quinoa because I had some on hand. This would work with quinoa, white rice, brown rice, and I bet it would even work with cauliflower rice (but that's not my jam so you'll have to let me know if you try that). I had to buy some teriyaki sauce, scallions, and frozen veggies (you could use fresh veggies but chopping it all? ain't nobody got time for that), but other than that, I had everything else I needed!

You will need:

1 and 1/2 cups quinoa cooked in 3 cups water
3 tbs. soy sauce
2 tbs. teriyaki sauce
butter (around 2 tbs)
minced garlic
1/4 of a white onion finely diced
1 bag frozen peas and carrots
crushed red pepper
olive oil
1 bunch scallions
3 eggs
sesame seeds for garnish

1. To begin, make your quinoa or rice in advance. I just made mine in the morning and popped it in the fridge. Everything I read said fried rice works best with cold cooked rice  (a meal preppers dream or great for leftover rice too)

2. In a bowl mix your sauce: soy sauce and teriyaki sauce and set aside.

3.  In a skillet, place some butter (I used around 2 tbs) and saute your white onion with minced garlic. Add your frozen veggies (I thawed mine on the counter for about 15 minutes before I began cooking but you don't need to). Then add olive oil (I just eyeballed a few shakes)  a small pinch of crushed red pepper, salt and pepper, and a dash of ginger.

4. Add in your  precooked grain (quinoa or rice) . Stir fry for about 10 minutes on high heat. Toss in the soy sauce mixture.

5. Make a well in the middle of your mixture and crack in eggs, scramble, then continue to stir fry.

6. Top with scallions and sesame seeds and serve.

This makes a HUGE batch. I served it up alongside General's Tso's chicken (frozen....this new mama's not making two homemade dishes for one meal. Ha!). I loved this recipe and how versatile it is, you can add in any meat or veggies you like. The perfect take out fake out! Enjoy!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

January Reads

I read some awesome books this month! Here are my January Reads:

1. Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris: I loved this book so much that I devoured it in 2 days (when I probably should have been "sleeping when the baby sleeps" and doing a whole manner of other things). This book, though, was so eerie, creepy, and suspenseful, I couldn't put it down! It deals with a dramatic case of domestic violence but does so in a way that isn't "Lifetime Movie-ish" at all and has you rooting for the female protagonist the whole time. I was basically cheering her on out loud. Warning: It is a bit violent/graphic/disturbing. My friend Kate couldn't believe I liked it!

2. When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Whalen: This book is about a small Texas town, football, reckless teenagers, their overwhelmed parents, grief, loss, and friendship. It was just meh for me. It has the basis of a wonderfully compelling story but I kept waiting for the climax and it just doesn't really have one. It's like "stuff happens, let me tell you about it" and it just didn't really move anywhere for me. If you are a fan of Friday Night Lights you just might like this book more than I did.

3. Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan: Hilarious! My one word description of this book that could not have come at a more fitting time in my life. This is another book that has you fiercely rooting for the delightfully likable hot mess mom whose escapades to connect and fit in with modern mommies err on the side of ridiculous (pretending to breastfeed so she can hang out with the super cool lactating A Group for example). It doesn't sugarcoat motherhood and marriage but is tender and heartfelt at the same time. This book was a joy to read.

4. Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker: I felt like after a string of 3 novels I needed some nonfiction in my life. This one did not disappoint. I have enjoyed a few other books by Jen Hatmaker and appreciate her witty take on feminism, faith, and family. She is honest, relatable, and one funny lady. This book is  nice mix of thoughtful theological essays (her take on faith and the modern Christian church is beautiful) and funny segments on family life and friendship and  her "how to" chapters had me rolling. ("How to Have a Good Night's Sleep With Kids: You won't. You'll see your child about sixteen times before sunrise"). This book is a great one to pass on to your girlfriends.

5. One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid: I think I've found a new chick lit author I enjoy! This was a story about a woman whose husband goes missing, she moves on and enters a new relationship only to have him turn up again. It's a really interesting premise and I found myself not wanting to put it down to find out how the main character would resolve her life. PS) I think she made the right choice!

6. Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan: I have mixed feelings about this one. It seemed to me the author simply wanted to write a book and so she put this one together without much meat there. It's a memoir of an American girl who travels to Australia for adventure and ends up being a nanny for a widower and his two young children. The story is woven throughout with anecdotes about the author's mother and her gradual realization that they are more alike than they once thought. It's a super fast read and entertaining, but it kept feeling like the author was really reaching to make a novel out of something and making connections that sort of fell flat. Kelly Corrigan has written a few other books I'm interested in so I might have to give those a try.

I cannot say it enough: Reading is such a treasure in my life! What books should I read next?

Savor Your Sparkle,

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Joy in the Journey

I am a nerd. Always have been, always will be. One of the things that makes me a nerd is that I love planners and calendars. This started in my middle school days and continues even now. My school issued planner with important dates like finals week, days off, etc. have been replaced over the years with expensive colorful Erin Condren planners, Barnes and Noble planners (that, let's face it, I probably purchased in September for the following year), and now I use a small paper one I can slip in my purse. I keep a printed off calendar on our fridge, but I just need the little one to write down dates on the go.
This weekend I went on a cleaning spree (I feel like I'm nesting make room for all the baby gear!) and I came across 7 years of planners. 7 years. In those years I went from college student, to grad student, to teacher. From girlfriend, to fiancee, to wife. From  resident of Spokane to resident of Chicago to resident of Salt Lake. From pregnant mom, to angel mom, to Hank's mom. In those planners I planned: lessons, a wedding, moving dates, finances, class assignments, paydays, job interviews, coffee dates, workout classes, hair appointments, dentist appointments, lots and lots of maternity appointments, birthdays, holidays, vacations. I curled up one afternoon last week and looked through them all. It was fascinating. A few things jumped out at me as I opened the pages and let the memories flood in.
-We went to therapy a lot after Hadley. Like all the time
-I have no idea how I kept so many balls in the air in college: I worked part time, took a full class load, and my goodness, the social life! It makes this 30 year old me want to put my hair in a bun, put on some sweats, and curl up with a book and mug of tea for approximately 75 years to recover
-I have a handful of friendships that have spanned the expanse of time and are comfortable, familiar and perfect. Those friends have seen me at my best, my worst, all kinds of things in between. You never know when a "dinner with_____" on a random Wednesday in college will turn into a life long friendship that's deep and true.
-Each school I've taught at has had its share of extra responsibilities---For one school I had written down, "Plan Black History Month Program," another "Take on-line literacy program training," and yet another, "Call parent regarding recess incident." My years teaching and even individual students came flashing back as I looked across my scribbled notes and to do's involving life in the classroom.
-AJ and I have made lots of trips to Oregon. I love it there and now consider it my second home. I love visiting with my in laws, walking the gorgeous shoreline of the Oregon Coast, and buying Red Vines and coffee at small town gas stations as we discuss which music or podcast to enjoy on the open road.
-"Make funeral arrangements" and "Call about headstone" are two things that shouldn't be in anyone's planner. Ever.
-Girls Nights have been a constant in my life and always will be. Give me some wine, good food, and wonderful women who have a lot to say and a lot to catch up on. Sanity saver and a hell of a good time.

-"Day off" (yes in quotes) means I'm planning on taking a mental health/sick day and am already planning it in advance (new teachers: yes, this is vital)
-If I ever can't sleep I'll try and calculate how many manicures I've had in my life. Newsflash: lots. But nail salons are a lot like Starbucks, they're basically all the same wherever you go. And I love that.
-I sure am glad I don't have to fly home anymore. There's something great about a 15 minute drive home instead of a whole day of travel and multiple airports
-My faith community has ebbed and flowed. Some seasons I was really plugged into a great church community, volunteering a lot, some times not at all, but seeking spirituality and learning more has always been important to me.

-Holiday, special days, and anniversaries are a big deal for me (classic ENFJ), and I love celebrating milestones ("7 weeks together!", "Last day of teaching summer camp!," "Moved in a year ago!")
-Self-care seems super selfish when you see it condensed like that...My God, how many dentist, eye, lady doc, hair, massage, eyebrow, counseling, dermatologist, etc appointments does one person need? Adulting is hard.

I'm a do-er, a mover, a get things done sorta gal. Planners are my love language. Maybe that's why I enjoy blogging so much: I deeply treasure writing, memory making, reflecting, and recording. As I glanced through these pages, it made me smile to think that girl in 2009 would never ever in a million years have believed she'd be a 1st grade teacher, living in Utah, still working on that balance of being a foodie and being fit, married, have a daughter in heaven, and a baby son in her arms. She'd never believe driving on the freeway isn't actually that scary, that the world won't implode if the bed is unmade some days, that she'd still be friends with those girls, that she'd date some frogs but marry her best friend, have lived there, hung out with them, felt that way, cried over that, laughed over that, and that all those pages, pen scribbles, and dates held her whole journey so far. I am so thankful for every moment, the messy and the breathtaking. The scary and the awesome. The foolish and the inspired. Each decision in one year danced its way into the next, causes had effects, choices had consequences, and they all wove, twisted, and turned to here, now. It's not where I'm going, it's how I'm getting there. You'll never have this day again so....How will you spend it?

Monday, January 22, 2018

Happy Birthday, AJ!

Yesterday was AJ's birthday! We had a low key weekend celebrating. I made spaghetti and meatballs and my mom made a Funfetti cake. Yum! That morning, I gave AJ his gifts from me and then his gift from Hank....some popcorn from Roosters and in the card it said, "You're the best POP ever!" We both relaxed during the day and my family came over in the evening.

I dressed up Hank for daddy's birthday. Isn't he cute?

Hank was ready to get comfy, so into pajamas he went! 

Hank loves his grandparents! 

I am so thankful for AJ. He doesn't like to make a huge deal out of his birthday and doesn't like to be the center of attention (even knowing this I still threw him a surprise 30th birthday party a few years ago. Check it out here) but he is definitely worth celebrating. He is the solid rock of our family. He makes me laugh constantly, is such a hard worker, is thoughtful and kind, an outstanding teacher, and most of all, a spectacular husband and a wonderful dad. I hope Hank is just like him. Happy Birthday, AJ!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

This & That

    We are more than half way through January and today my baby is ONE MONTH OLD! I feel like in addition to these cute milestone stickers for babies, us moms and dads deserve our own monthly milestones. Yes this is Hank's first month on the planet and duh, it's all about him and I'm not about to steal my own baby's thunder but shout out to AJ and I! We did it, one month of raising a mini human! You veteran parents are scoffing right now I'm sure. One month? Pish-posh, these people don't know what they're in for. And you're right, we don't, but I sure am excited to learn how to parent with AJ and Hank by my side. I can't believe Hank is already a month old and while him growing up and someday leaving behind newborn snuggles, soft kisses, and sweet baby scent makes me sad, watching Hank grow and change will never not be amazing to me. Some parents (present company included) don't get the chance to see their child grow and change. For us, Hadley is forever a newborn so the absolute miracle of getting to witness a child's growth will never ever be lost on me.
Post bath snuggles in his dino robe 
So what's new around here? Our days are a mix of diaper changing, laundry, feeding the little guy, snapping pics of Hank, staring at him all day, washing bottles, pumping breastmilk, making bottles, tidying the house, meal planning, reading, watching TV, squeezing in a shower, some light gym time to ease back into a workout groove, visiting with my mom and sister when they come over to help out (lifesavers!), and making lists on post-it notes for Walmart runs (even the most supposedly prepared parents need late night or early morning store trips. We purchase typical baby stuff but also K cups. So many K Cups. Parents should register for them). This week AJ had 2 days off so it was nice being all together so much. I treated myself to a postpartum massage (that's actually what it's called, it was at the Salt Lake Prenatal Massage Center and it was heavenly). I'm savoring these days and preparing to head back to teaching next month. I'm super pumped to be with my class again but also not excited for lunch packing, early wake ups, and leaving my little mister. We'll survive (with aforementioned Kcups, heaps of grace, and laughing at ourselves).
On a family walk 

    I have been reading lots of great books (the new SL County Library app gets all heart eye emojis from me) and am working on a book post for the end of the month. Also....shows. I feel like they're all back. I've been tuning into:
-The Bachelor
-Married At First Sight
-The Good Doctor
-Teen Mom OG
-This is Us
-My Big Fat Fabulous Life
-Will and Grace
Watching The Bachelor together
I will leave you with this short video. AJ got a picture of LaVar Ball and put it on the fridge to surprise me this morning, I could not stop laughing.
For a non-athletic gal like me, I have taken quite the affinity to LaVar Ball and AJ always calls me over when he's on ESPN. He absolutely cracks me up. In the immortal words of Mr. Ball, "NEVER LOSE!" Have a great week!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Hank's Lumberjack Lodge Nursery

It's time for a tour of Hank's space! I love decorating spaces and baby rooms are the BEST! Even before I was pregnant, I loved looking at nursery ideas online and going to the baby store. Hadley's nursery was almost finished when she arrived. Her room was gold, coral, and teal and featured polka dot and gray accents. Before we found out the gender of baby #2 I decided even if we were having a girl, I would switch up the nursery because that was Hadley's space and her decorations. When we found out in August we were having a boy, it was game on in the nursery department and I began collecting items for it right away. The way I see it, this is the last time we will have complete say in how his room is decorated so we might as well have fun doing it, right? We had the crib, dresser, rocker, and bookcase already. Once we picked the paint color, we let the fun begin! Since Hank arrived in the winter, we thought a cozy Lumberjack Lodge theme was perfect for our little guy!

The paint color is Tres Naturale by Sherwin Williams. I loved how it turned out (the nursery was gray before).
Right when you walk in we have a print that says "Amazing Grace How Sweet The Sound" (Hobby Lobby). AJ's dad installed a light dimmer and I LOVE it! 
These floating shelves are from Ikea. Of course we needed the Boss Baby book on display. The plaid candle was a gift from my family. The tree and moose are from Hobby Lobby 

Even though Hank sleeps in our room we set up the video monitor to use when Hank was on light therapy in his crib. Jesus Calling is a great devotional for kids....I used it when I taught at the Catholic school and love the daily messages to kids from Jesus. The fishing bear is from At Home. The white rose is dried and is the one from Hadley's funeral.
These trees! These have white lights and they are from Sam's Club (Thanks to Kandi for having your eye out and finding them for me. I searched and searched and wanted a matching set of 3 skinny trees that were prelit and affordable. These are them!). AJ was not into the idea of trees in the room year round (not just for Christmas) , but once they were in place, he agreed they bring this corner together. It's a perfect space to put Hank's stuffed animals. When he gets bigger, I'm going to use these trees for living room Christmas decorating #recycling 

Our beloved Diaper genie! The crib changing pad cover is from Etsy (Lola's Lovelies) and the wood banner is from Hobby Lobby 

I adore this corner! AJ's dad does woodworking and I requested a tiny table (to hold bottles etc) by the rocker that looked like a log. Look what he made for us! I love this unique piece! 
Canvas print from Hobby Lobby 

This picture frame is from Ikea.. We included some wedding pictures, family pictures, us and some quotes and lyrics we like 
The burlap curtains are from Amazon. Our house smelled like a potato sack for about a month, but the scent has finally disappeared! 

I ordered some sheets from Etsy (Lumberjack Beavers), picked up some basic ones at Target, and splurged on this personalized one from Carousel Designs 

A family friend made this cross stitch for us! It says "From Little Seeds Grow Mighty Trees" and it has his birth date and weight on it. 

The plaid moose is from Hobby Lobby. AJ's mom made the "H." It's made from twigs and is so cool looking. 

All these items are from Hobby Lobby. The wooden flags were too long for above the changing pad so I decided to cut off three from the original strand and stick them here. 

I ordered the Bear Lamp from a catalog called Collections Inc..When it's dark and you turn it on, pine tree silhouettes show up on the lampshade. It's so fun!  A friend made the cute plaid leaf cross stitch for us. Next to the books to the left is a framed picture of the beach at Lincoln City (our favorite place). The whale is the very first thing we bought for Hank! The gray polka dot bin has some toys.rattles etc. 
We were gifted this Harley Davidson frame (for my motorcycle biker baby Hadley) and knew we needed to include a picture of big sister in the nursery. 

The Flannel candle smells so good and makes a relaxing/yummy scented space in the nursery. To the left is a sound machine. 
These moose hooks are from Hobby Lobby (can you tell I love that place?). He has some hats on the top one and the bottom one features the next holiday from his seasonal bib collection (Valentine's Day we are ready for you!). 

We searched all over for a great light fixture that was rustic but not like an antler chandelier! We found this one at Lighting Design. It has yellow-ish Edison bulbs that look just as nice on as they do off 

I ordered the wall decal online and I cannot for the life of me remember where it was from! The crib skirt is red buffalo check plaid and matches the changing pad cover (they are from the same Etsy shop). To the right of the crib I have a little bouncy seat I found on KSL that he's a bit small for now. Eventually I want to put in some additional shelving there for toys, games, and books. 

Thanks for stopping by Hank's Lumberjack Lodge!

Savor Your Sparkle,