Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Beef Tamale Skillet

I have a new recipe for you today! This was a bit of a "clear out the pantry/fridge" recipe that actually turned out great. I got inspiration from a recipe on the back of a tomato soup can and changed some things around to create this dish. It was super easy and yummy and we'd definitely have it again.

Beef Tamale Skillet

Cast of Characters:

1 lb ground beef
1 can black beans drained
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup water
1 can tomato soup OR 1 can mild enchilada sauce
1/2 tbs taco seasoning (love the Penzey's kind!)
15 small corn tortillas (about half a bag) cut in small pieces
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1. Brown your ground beef and drain.
2. Add all ingredients except cheese to the skillet and cook for about 10-15 minutes.
3. Stir in cheese and serve with your favorite taco toppings. We used shredded lettuce, guac, and sour cream.

Chopped green chiles and olives would be delish with this too! Or some frozen corn thrown in? Rotel would give it some nice heat and you could always try another bean like pinto. There are lots of possibilities with a beefy, cheesy, Mexican flavored base. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

February Reads

It's time for my monthly book round up! If you want to see last month's books, click here

I read 6 great books this month. Isn't there just something about curling up with a warm mug under blankets and reading? But I also can't wait for a cool glass of lemonade and patio reading too (Come on, spring!). Ok....let's get to the books. By the way, I spent part of the month on maternity leave so I don't expect to read as many books in March. A girl can try, though....my "want to read" list is long!

1. The Third Wife by Lisa Jewell: This was an awesome book! If you are a Liane Moriarty fan you will enjoy this one. I read a Lisa Jewell book last year and liked it. This one is about a man and his three wives (not at the same time, this is NOT a polygamist story), and the fall out that impacts his family from his divorces and marriages. It is a great look at a family trying to balance it all and the dramatic and.....deadly (!) consequences. This is a suspenseful yet thoughtful read.

2. Parent Hacks by Asha Dornfest: This was a super fast read with numbered tips for parents with kids from babyhood, to toodlerhood and beyond. I really enjoyed this one, it would make a great gift for a new mama. My fave tip? Wrap up spare outfits in an elastic band in the diaper bag. When you use the outfit, the elastic band on your wrist will remind you to update the diaper bag. This book is like a condensed version of hours of pinterest scrolling.
3. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion: This one has been on my "to read" list for months and maybe it should have stayed there. This book was just ok. It features a nerdy autistic narrator (portrayed pretty much like the lead character in the Good Doctor) and his quest for love. This one did not live up to the hype for me. It was cute, it was sort of good, but it was not great. It took me longer to finish than most books because I had a hard time getting into it.

4. The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan: I really enjoyed this love story! It's basically a Lifetime movie meets the story of Megan Markle and Prince Harry meets classic chick lit. I love me a story that spans time and this one follows the American Rebecca Porter on her journey from college dorm days to her transformation to sophisticated royal wife....with lots of ups and downs in between. It was heartfelt, cute, funny and.....long (about 500 pages). About 100 pages too long in my opinion, but overall, I was glad I read it.

5. Sisters First by Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush: I really enjoyed this book written by the Bush twins about their life story. I think Jenna is just adorable on The Today Show and life inside The White House fascinates me (I wrote my senior thesis on First Ladies). I love how this story isn't told chronologically but rather through anecdotes about dating life, being a college student with a secret service team in tow, their awesome humanitarian work, what it's like to hear your dad bashed in the media, and more. I had no idea both Laura Bush's family as well as George Bush 41's were plagued by baby loss. This was a quick, interesting read.

6. Look Again by Lisa Scottoline: This book was a recommendation from my mom and I really enjoyed it. It follows a woman who discovers her adopted son's picture on a Missing Children sign. She investigates and uncovers all sorts of drama and deception. This one reminds me a lot of Jodi Piccoult's books. I highly recommend this one if you're looking for a juicy novel to get lost in.

I'm ready to dive into my March reads!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Blog Business

Hi Everyone!
   I decided to do a blog post all about....blogging! First of all, I want tell you a bit about how I got started in blogging. I began reading blogs around 2010. I was in grad school for teaching and enjoyed the light reading material. Plus, I am fascinated by how other people live, so blogs were perfect to learn a bit more about others. I started with reading a blog called Kelly's Korner that I still read to this day.  I started my own blog to document my first years teaching and living in Chicago. I wrote about two dozen posts and then I stopped. Life got busy, I didn't know much about the tech side of things, and just wasn't really feeling it. I wish now, looking back, I had kept that blog up, if for nothing else, to read my 22 year old perceptions!
image from lovequotesimg.com

   I started this blog that you're currently reading, A Sunday Kinda Love in 2015. AJ and I had been married about a year and we were thinking of starting a family soon. I wanted a place to document our lives and that journey. I named the blog "A Sunday Kinda Love" after the song by Etta James that we danced to at our wedding (I realize it's actually A Sunday KIND OF Love" but this is a chill space so I shortened kind of to "kinda," sorry if that bugs the grammar/spelling folks). I love that song because I adore Sundays and I felt that the relaxing, peaceful, spiritual, comforting feel of Sundays perfectly described our love story and I'm a sucker for sentimentality, so A Sunday Kinda Love was born. I originally kept the blog to myself, only handing out the link to close family and friends. In time, however, I began posting my blog links on Facebook and commenting on other people's blogs and the link spread that way.

     When we knew Hadley would be born premature and I was hospitalized before her birth, the blog became a space to update friends and family. Honestly, I viewed the blog as therapy of sorts and I credit writing out my thoughts and feelings surrounding Hadley's life as one of the main elements in my grief and healing journey. Life didn't make sense (it hardly ever does!) and somehow by writing, I gave voice to my feelings and could sort things out via the written word with more clarity than I ever could by speaking, or even keeping thoughts inside. It was painful to write some of my posts. I kept doing it, though, for two main reasons. One, it helped me! Writing heals my soul. And, two, I want to help other people. I have received a few emails over the years from people who have experienced loss. If my experience and words can make someone feel less alone, then I am more than glad to keep typing away in this space. I don't have it all together, not at all, but if I can shed some light, give someone a chuckle, make my readers think, try and bring about community, and help women (and men) learn how to truly savor the "sparkle" in their lives, then I will consider it a success.

I try to sit down and write at least 2-3 times a week. Does that mean each "writing session" makes a blog post? No way, but I think if my writing (anyone's writing, really) is going to be something, then I must work at it often. Even if what I do that day is garbage. At least I put some words together that day. I've written and scrapped a few posts over the years and I don't share all the writing that I do. At any given time, I usually have a few posts brewing in my brain (like in the next week or so expect a recipe post and my monthly book recap). I write best first thing in the morning.....Lumineers/Brandi Carlile/Joshua Radin/Mumford and Sons Pandora playing and a mug of hot coffee (throw some avocado egg toast into the equation for good measure).

   Just like in the early days of blogging, I really don't know a lot about the tech side of things but I did want to let you know some features!

1.  I updated the categories at the top of the blog page. Here, you can click on pages to give you quick links for: About Me, Marriage, Books, Hadley, Recipes, and Hank. I can't say these pages are always updated but as of today, they are! Woohoo! If you're a new reader, that gives you the basic run down of the heart of this blog.

2. You can input your email and have new posts sent to your email.

3. You can follow the blog on the "Blog Lovin'" network here (full disclosure: I really don't know much about how that all works, haha!). You can also leave me a message/question or comment on the side. I promise I will get back to you.

4. Categories are where you can see all my posts organized by topics. Want to read posts all about "teacher life" or "holidays" or "travel," this nifty area will take you right there.

5. Finally, there's the Blog Archive where you can go all the way back to the beginning.

Ok, now I have some questions for YOU!

1. Does anyone know how to transfer the blog to my own url but still maintain the ease of use of blogger? I'm not positive I'm ready for this step, but it's something I've been considering. I don't want to learn new things (spoken like a true educator, sheesh!), so it'd need to be easy peasy for me to make a change.

2. What are your favorite posts? What do you want more of? Is there anything I haven't written about that you'd like? (My page views tell me you overwhelming read posts about pregnancy).

3. Any seasoned bloggers out there have any great tips?

4. What would keep you coming back to Sunday Kinda Love again and again?

5. Will you share this blog with friends and family? Maybe a post makes you think of someone in your life who might enjoy it, maybe you want to share it on social media or Pinterest? (The social media share buttons are at the bottom of each post).  I firmly believe if someone's meant to read a post, it will somehow end up on their screen.

I love writing. I love blogging. I love that I have all these crazy and amazing memories documented. I love you all for reading. Thanks for sitting with me a minute....for many of you, lots of minutes over the years! Thank you.

Savor Your Sparkle,

Monday, February 19, 2018

Life Lately

Happy Presidents Day Weekend! It's snowing here so that means laundry, tackling the DVR, and chilling. Woohoo! Last week was my first week back teaching and I had mixed feelings about going back. Bittersweet is the perfect word for it. It was so great to be back and see my kiddos. The first day was a bit overwhelming but I have been impressed with how quickly the kids have bounced back and gotten into our groove again.
Sunday dinner at Grandpa and Grandma's house 

 This week was a  CRAZY one for our little family with me returning to work, AJ had parent teacher conferences two evenings, worked his serving job two evenings, Valentines Day at school (which, as every elementary teacher knows, is exhausting), Literacy Night Thursday at my school, learning to pump on the go, and an early morning meeting at school. BUT.....we made it! AJ and my family made it possible for me to return to teaching and I am so thankful. That said, I, of course, missed my chill days with Hank.

AJ surprised me with this sweet Valentine's craft from Hank. It went right up on my classroom wall Wednesday morning. AJ's on paternity leave for a few weeks and I think it's so awesome for him and Hank. 

I paid a visit to my darling daughter last week. I miss her so much. 

My leave went by way too fast and I will forever treasure our sweet early days together, me learning how to be a mom and him learning how to be a baby in the world. I really need to slow down as I drive home from school because I will admit I've been going over the speed limit to rush home and snuggle my boy.

    Hank turned 2 months old this weekend and he got his shots at his two month check up (Doctors with Saturday hours? Amen and thank you!). He was a little champ and he's getting so big. He's already 11.5 pounds! One of my favorite parts of parenting so far has been dressing this little man. I packed away some newborn outfits this weekend and we've gotten into his 3 month stash. SO fun! I lay out a few outfits each day (because rarely does one outfit last us all day!). I don't want to jinx it, but Hank has really been a rockstar sleeper lately. He's been doing 11-5 most nights. The flip side is that he doesn't take very long naps during the day anymore, but I'll take it. He never goes to sleep at night without being in his Woombie swaddle. It. Has. Changed. Our. Lives. I won't swaddle him during the day because I want that to signal "night sleepy time." I know he might not always sleep in nice stretches like that so I am giving thanks for the time being!

We are planning on taking a pic next to this bear every month to see Hank's growth and we captured a real life spit up moment in this shot! Haha! 

There's honestly not too much new stuff over here. I am beyond thankful for Click List grocery pick up, lattes (hazelnut vanilla from The Coffee Shop in Riverton is my new obsession), having a teaching gig I enjoy and most of all, for the handsome gentlemen I get to come home to. This week was a tough one on all of us with the recent events in the news. Violent acts affect every single one of us and it can feel so hopeless. I look at my bright eyed students and son and know that their generation is the one to make changes, to support all people, to enact common sense legislation, and to turn this hurting world around. In teaching we talk all the time about setting our kids up for success. Our country has this same obligation too. I don't know what the answers are, but I know that if we love, nurture, and teach respect  and kindness to young people, change will certainly come.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Granola Bark

I am SO excited to share this recipe with you today. I've tried tons of different recipes for granola and granola bars and I've had issues! The granola I make always seems to taste burnt (burnt oats=gross) and is either too crunchy or too soft. The granola bars I've tried making are hard as rocks or they are too gooey and fall apart. Enter....Granola Bark! I came across this recipe a bit by accident. I set out to make these granola bars but when I went to cut into them, they chipped off into big chunks---perfect for snacking on or adding to yogurt! I have only made this recipe once but there are so many different variations on it that I can't wait to try out.

You will need:

1 cup unsalted almonds
1 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tbs. honey

Preheat oven to 325. Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper (this is key!). Mix all ingredients together and press down onto parchment paper. Make sure it's pressed down hard and really sticks together. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Let cool. Then, break into chunks and store in an airtight container.

This was gone in less than 2 days at our house! Now for the fun part....variations:

-any type of nut (even mixed nuts!)
-chocolate chips (dark chocolate sea salt, anyone?!)
-peanut butter
-sunflower seeds
-pumpkin seeds
-flax seeds

I'm excited to try out new versions of this delish stuff! Yippee for Granola Bark!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018


I realize it's mid February and I'm late to the resolution game but I've really been searching for my "word" of 2018. This one word resolution trend has become popular in recent years. It's basically one word to center your year around: goals, intentions, hopes, efforts, and a focal point for all the different ways one single word can lead us to be our best selves. Some popular one word resolutions are: trust, faith, healthy, disciplined, joy, peace, patience etc.

I truly thought about trying on all sorts of words for 2018 and I finally settled on SURRENDER. I guess you could say since it's already February that I surrendered to the process of choosing a word!  I picked this word for many reasons. To me, surrender represents peace, harmony, and most importantly a "letting go." I want to surrender to the plans God has for my life.

I want to surrender to this new stage in my life: Motherhood. I want to experience it all, enjoy every phase and milestone, embrace all it has to offer and give all I can to my role as Hadley and Hank's mom and then...surrender.

 I want to surrender to the learning process---to teach my students the best way I know how, to mix it up if need be, learn new things for my teacher "tool bag", give my students opportunities for success and then.....surrender.

 I want to surrender my health and treat my body with kindness. I want to push my body to its bounds of strength and fitness. I want to work hard and give my body quality fuel and then...surrender.

I want to surrender to God all stress, worry, fear, and doubt. I want to give it to Him every single day and never try and work out for myself what I know has already been taken care of. I will hand it over in faith and then....surrender.

I surrender to this very word of surrender because honestly, I'm not great at it. I'm not great at letting things lie, letting things go, and letting things be. I can be so busy fussing and fretting that I forget that if I just let go, I'll have a safe space to land. This one word resolution will be a challenge for me. It'll involve me unpacking the road map, tossing it out, and trusting deeply, knowing that at the end of each day I can go to bed surrendering to the notion that I have done enough because I am enough.

 So 2018, I'm ready to dive in and roll with the waves, learning how to be my best self all while letting the tide take me where it may. I surrender to letting life unfold just as it's meant to.

As a side note, Oprah, in all her fabulous wisdom, tells a story of how surrendering changed her life. And she sings verses from one of my favorite hymns, I Surrender All. Check it out.

Savor Your Sparkle,

Monday, February 5, 2018

Life Lately

Hi Everyone,
   This post features lots of pictures and updates on our life lately! I love that I have this space to document some memories for Hank. Baby book? Nope, this mama will be directing her baby straight to Blogger!

Every time I look at this picture I crack up laughing. First of all, his hat makes him look like Mother Theresa but then that face?! I love it! 

I've been savoring this last bit of maternity leave and enjoying every second with my Hank man. He is just the absolute delight of my life! This past week my in laws came for a visit and we had a great time. I was going to work on a Day in the Life post for life these days but I thought it really wouldn't be too exciting. In a nutshell: I try and have myself and Hank dressed, the bed made, and a load of laundry in by 10:00 ish every day. Hank eats every 3 hours, sleeps about half the day, I pump/read/watch TV/wash bottles/fold laundry and we try and do a walk if it's nice enough out. I change endless diapers and Hank usually wears about 4 outfits a day. Haha! My mom often comes by so I can run errands, go to the gym, take a nap, or just keep me company. I am so thankful for her. Honestly, we're in a nice little groove and the days really do fly by. Also, I cannot sing the praises of of Woombie Swaddle enough. We've been putting the "baby straitjacket" (aka: zip up swaddle) on Hank the past few weeks at night and he has been giving us some lovely 5 plus hour stretches at night! All hail the Woombie!
He loves time on his play mat and kick piano. Just this past week he started batting the toys around and kicking the play mat. Yay for playing! 

In the morning when we free him from his swaddle he does the biggest stretches....it looks like he's hatching! 

We went on a date night while AJ's parents were in town. We had a great time and this mama was excited to wear non yoga pants for the evening! I had my first post-baby beer (Blue Moon)  and it was delish! And I was legit obsessed with the dessert we ordered, it was called the Caramel Apple Goldrush. YUM! We went shopping for a bit after dinner and it was delightful. I can see how easy it is to get lost in bottle washing, baby comforting, washing tiny clothes, and rocking our sleepy baby.....we've gone on 2 date nights since Hank was born and both of them have been so so so good for us. I love dating my husband.

We went to a friend's house for a Super Bowl party and I made these football cocoa krispie treats. Aren't they fun? They didn't turn out exactly like the picture (darn Pinterest) but they were yummy anyway. I like getting together with friends, eating yummy food, and enjoying the halftime show and commercials but this year I was most excited for THIS IS US after the game. Shout out to NBC for having something for the ladies on Super Bowl Sunday. After the Bravermans, the Pearsons are my favorite TV family. (Btw, anyone else scared to use their crockpot now?!)

Hank's first super bowl! 

We have been loving this warm January and February. Stroller walks are my new favorite thing! Fresh air for all and some exercise for me, amen!

Life with a newborn is exciting, fun, amazing, and magical....but it can also be exhausting. I am a huge advocate for self care. A few times since Hank has been born I've treated myself to some coffee shop reading/writing time, a massage, a pedicure, and some quiet alone time.

 It's 100% ok to treat yourself and in my opinion, especially once you're a mom! I want to be my best self for Hank and some "me" time can make this mama go from this......

to this:

Have a great week everyone!!

Savor Your Sparkle,