Friday, October 21, 2016

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins

I've made a lot of sub-par gluten-free pumpkin muffins in the past few years. Most of them taste okay, but they're fairly dense and not my favorite, in the end. Here's a recipe I think I can finally stick with!

Pumpkin Muffins

Dry Ingredients
1 cup gluten free oat flour
1/4 cup arrowroot flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
dash of salt

Wet Ingredients
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbs molasses
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup almond milk at room temperature
1 tsp apple cider vinegar (optional)


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients, mix well, and set aside.

In a larger bowl, combine the butter and almond milk until smooth. Add apple cider vinegar, if using, and mix well. The vinegar is optional, but the acid will help make the muffins a little fluffier.

To the butter and milk mixture, then add the pumpkin, eggs, sugar, and molasses, and blend until smooth. Stir in the dry ingredients until combined, and then distribute between 10-12 prepared muffin cups. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Thai Noodle Bowl

Jalepenos and fall cilantro are the last ones standing in our garden right now, so this Thai-inspired dish couldn't have come at a better time. Once again, this recipe was slightly modified from Bev Cooks, because a lot of her recipes are relatively easy and taste amazing. This was so very different from what we normally eat, in a great way. 

Of course, if you really want a good idea of what you're working with, check out the original recipe here, but this is how we made it. And how we will probably make it next week, too! It was that good.

Thai Noodle Bowl


2 cups rice cellophane noodles
1 pound ground pork or ground beef
2-3 Tbs. Chinese five-spice seasoning
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbs. fresh ginger root, minced
2 Tbs. brown sugar
1 cup plain peanuts, roughly chopped
4 scallions, finely sliced
2 cups loosely packed cilantro, chopped
2 jalepenos, minced (optional: more jalepenos, sliced for garnish)
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
juice of 1 lime
2 Tbs. gluten-free soy sauce
2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 tsp coarse salt
Sriracha sauce for garnish, as desired

Heat 1 Tbs. oil in a pan over medium-high and start browning the pork. Once almost done, add the five-spice powder. Toss around for a second. Add the garlic, ginger, jalapeno, brown sugar, peanuts, 1 Tbs soy sauce, and a pinch of salt. Stir to combine and take off heat.
Prepare the noodles according to package directions and drain. Combine the noodles, cilantro, scallions, and red bell pepper. Add the browned meat mixture and toss to combine. Squeeze the lime juice over the mixture and drizzle with 1 Tbs soy sauce and remaining olive oil.


Friday, October 7, 2016

Currently: Change of Seasons

Favorite part of the day: Naptime? We had a busy weekend and I'm craving some down-time. I also worked night shift Monday night and didn't sleep for over 24 hours, so I'm still recovering.

Eating: A gluten-free chocolate crinkle cookie from Dolce Bakery.

Drinking: Decaf coffee. The doctor I saw this spring recommended avoiding caffeine when possible, because it will just continue to stress my adrenals. Even though I only drank it in the morning, it was affecting my sleep at night.

Reading: For fun, I just finished the novel The Highest Tide. It was good, it reminded me of my first love (the ocean), and the character was obsessed with Rachel Carson's work. Which reminds me, I've been wanting to read her books for years! For church small group, we are reading The Voice of the Heart: A Call to Full Living. It's a book about feelings, which sounds weird, but it's really good. For Bible Study Fellowship, I'm reading the book of John. And on top of all of that, I'm slowly working my way through Shauna Niequist's Present Over Perfect.

Listening To: "It is Well" by Kristen DiMarco and Philip Paul Bliss. They sang it a few times at the Women's Conference I went to last week, and I really like it.

Guilty Pleasure: I've been making a lot of trips to Dolce lately since I'm baking less at home.

Wanting: A clean house/no more renovations!

Needing: Umm... same as above?

Loving: Sunshine! The cool mornings are still tolerable because it's t-shirt weather by afternoon. I'm learning that I like fall well enough, but it gets a bad rap in my head because it just means winter is coming.

Thinking: I have so many thoughts in my head right now, and I'm struggling to get them all out in my journal, to my counselor, or on this blog to help me make sense of them.

Feeling: Grateful with a tinge of bittersweet. This time last year, I was pregnant, and right now my arms are empty. It's weird. At the same time, Noah's definitely outgrowing the baby stage, and I miss him needing me so much. It's all emotional!

Missing: Summer! The pool! Our June and July routines!

Exercise: My pain has flared up the past few weeks, but before that I was enjoying the simplicity of the 30 minute workouts via 21-Day Fix. I'm trying to get into Yoga with Adrienne on YouTube even on the days I feel blah, though.

Bane of my Existence: Um... my pain? I'm struggling with some new ways of thinking of it, and the fact that it may indeed be chronic. It's still an overwhelming thought.

Mood: Pensive and anxious.

Link: I'm Pro-Life. And I'm voting for Hillary. Here's Why.

Outfit: It's leggings season!

Looking forward to: This Sunday! We're planning a family day, since things have felt pretty crazy lately.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Crack Slaw

My friend Kim shared this recipe with me, and Ross, Noah, and I inhaled it this week. It's really nice to have a new, easy way to use ground beef because we default to tacos or Bolognese sauce over pasta A LOT.

The first, couldn't-be-simpler version I tried is here, but I may try this fancier version one day, too.

Crack Slaw 

1 lb ground beef
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 green onions, sliced
1 bag of coleslaw mix 
2 Tbs coconut aminos OR gluten-free soy sauce
1 tsp Sriracha sauce
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp coconut sugar OR brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste
optional: sesame seeds or cashew chunks to sprinkle on top

1. Brown the ground beef, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from pan and set aside.

2. Heat the sesame oil and saute the garlic, onion, and cabbage in sesame oil until the cabbage is soft.

3. Stir in the soy sauce, Sriracha, sugar, ginger, and vinegar.

4. Add the ground beef back to the pain and mix everything well before serving!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Pumpkin Chocolate Chips Bars

So our oven finally breathed its last over the weekend. Not the best timing, but it was inevitable. So we got a new one thanks to the Lowe's 30% off sale! I broke it in with this recipe. Super easy, super low-sugar, super fall-ish.

Flourless Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

1 cup creamy almond butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
4 Tbs brown sugar
1 Tbs vanilla extract
1.5 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Spray an 8x11 baking dish with nonstick spray.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and almond butter until fluffy. Add pumpkin, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt and mix well. Fold in the chocolate chips.

3. Pour into the prepared baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes until slightly golden and set. Allow to cool before cutting.

Friday, September 30, 2016

The Power to Make it Through the Day (Part II)

In the last post, I talked about how I was really convicted about needing to re-start spending very intentional time with God. I feel the need, I feel the call, but I'm not sure how to put it into action. Noah weaned (WOW emotions), he started potty training, then he got his first stitches, my computer broke, then we went through a few weeks of "terrible two" behavior requiring reinforced discipline, then my pain flared up. August and September got the best of me, which is why I had my initial "aha" moment early this summer, and I'm just now processing it at the END of September!

(How is it the end of September!?)

Except... it's not really like that, I guess. It's not like nothing's been happening in my heart. I've been reading, I started seeing a new counselor, I've been reaching out in friendship more, I've been talking to Ross about not assuming the worst of people (especially of my spouse). I recognize the void, and I guess I've spent the last few months really feeling it out. This is how far and how wide and how far-reaching it goes: the absence of God in my life touches everything.

God is in constant pursuit of me, and the last 5 years of my life have been spent letting go of how I thought my story should go, softening, changing, and realizing this is God's story. In fact, sometimes I go through this entire range of emotions in a 24 hour period! Marriage, miscarriage, and motherhood have continued to refine me this past year, possibly more than ever. Which is funny, because I thought my marriage falling apart in 2012 was the biggest upheaval my life would ever see.

Anyway, I'm starting to feel like I'm moving into a new season. I'll always need to be letting go of little idols and expectations, yet I can't help but think that this new season is more about taking hold and standing firm than it is about letting go. Taking hold of the promises of God. Taking responsibility for my thoughts, feelings and actions, and actively sifting the good from the bad. Using my time wisely. Standing firm in the faith to which I have been called.

With these thoughts floating around in my head, I started reading Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist, and this image caught my attention early on in the book.

I loved my life, but I had become someone I didn't want to be around. I had become someone I didn't want to be. This book is an account of my winding, messy journey from exhaustion to peace, from isolation to connection, from hustling and multitasking to sacred presence... The greatest, most challenging, most rewarding sea-change of my adult life. 
I had no idea what it meant to remake my life from the inside out. Now, more than three years later, I'm so deeply thankful to look back and realize that's just what I've done, although in the twistiest, most circuitous possible way. I tried all the outside ways first-- I imagined the changes I needed to make were about time management, or perhaps having the cleaners come more often. I quickly found it was not about managing time or housekeeping. It was not about to-do lists or scheduling minutes and hours. This journey has been about love, about worth, about God, about what it means to know him and be loved by him in a way that grounds and reorders everything. 
It IS work, of course. It feels, I'd imagine, like adding a basement to a house that's already been standing for decades. I thought it would be more like adding new shutters, but I'm finding it to be more like lifting up a home and starting to dig, re-orienting the very foundation. There is nothing superficial about this process.

This really captures my imagination because the other week, I was at work and Ross texted me a picture of this exact thing: someone's house on stilts, while they added a basement beneath! Of course, he sent that picture to tease me about our own never-ending renovations, joking that we should do this next. All I could think of was how horrifically disruptive and expensive it would be. (But I entertained it for about a second because our moldy crawl space drives me nuts.)

Anyway, when I read Shauna's words, they really had an effect: how horrifically disruptive this would be! Followed swiftly by the thought, I need a change in my life, internally. For so long, the tidal waves of disruption have come from the outside. This is gracious, in a sense, because my external circumstances have spurred internal heart-change that might never have happened otherwise. But... what if this time the disruption could be my own? What if I was able to see: this is where I want to be, and this is where I am, and I can't carry myself from here to there on willpower or passage of time alone.

As I sit here thinking, dare I say? The waters have stilled a bit. I've caught my breath. I look at life very differently than I did 5, 10, 15 years ago. For better and for worse. I love my life, truly. I'm so happy that the avalanche of all the things led me here. I love being a mom. I love my job at the hospital (the ninth job in as many years-- although many of them overlapped-- and the fourth job in 2 years). I love that I'm about a million times less anxious than I was this time last year. I love that my laughter overrides my anger more often than not when I'm home all day with a toddler. I feel softer, in a lot of ways. So many of these changes have been necessary in my life, but I feel like I've taken them as far as they can go. The house (literally and metaphorically) has been organized and tidied, and now... maybe... it's time to begin addressing the foundation so I'm on solid ground when the next storm hits.

I've come a long way AND I have a long way to go. These two things will always be true.

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Power to Make it Through the Day (Part I)

I have a few podcasts that I love listening to on morning walks. It's like listening to an older, wiser friend without having to chime in or fear mom judgement. I have plenty of favorite episodes from a few different women, but Episode 21 of Mom Struggling Well has been so applicable to my life the last few months, that I finally decided to write down the bits that really spoke to me.

In it, Kristin Lemus is talking about how God's truth applies to her motherhood:

I really struggled, for the longest time, with feeling like a bad mom... I would have days where I'd get to the end of the day, and I would just be exhausted, my kids were whiny, things didn't go right, potty training struggles, whatever it is. And I would be like, 'I am such a bad mom. I can't get it together, I can't get organized. I'm not spending time playing with my kids...' whatever the thoughts were. I kept feeling overwhelmed with motherhood. I'm thinking, 'at some point I should be able to figure this out and get on top of it.'

One day, I just hit my limit... I was talking to my husband and I was just like, 'I'm such a bad mom, I got upset with the kids today. I don't know how to overcome these feelings.' I knew in my head I wasn't supposed to feel like this, I just didn't know the way out. I just felt stuck.

...I started talking to God the way I'd been talking to my husband: 'I am such a bad mom and I don't know what to do about it. I don't know the answer!' And I just heard His voice in the moment: Who says you're a bad mom? I don't say you're a bad mom! When I created everything, I looked over all of it and declared that it was good. I designed you. I made you a mom. And I declare that you are good. Instead of confessing all those other things, like 'I am so overwhelmed,' begin to confess that 'I'm a good mom because God calls me that'... Take the bad thoughts captive and you will begin to become what you are confessing. It was a process, but it totally transformed my life and my mothering...

The interviewer asks, "So what does that look like today? What is that process?"

It's really so much about taking our thoughts captive, because the enemy wants to come in and speak to us in those moments when we are feeling all those overwhelmed feelings... It's a matter of stopping them and saying, 'No! I'm not going to choose to agree with that. I'm going to choose to agree with what God says about me.' ...You hear those negative things super quick. But the more you combat it, the faster you get at it, and the less power that it has over you. It's a matter of putting it into practice.
"What weapons are you fighting with and how did you make them accessible?"

I started to dig into God's word... Scripture about who God says I am, and about God's love... I had to read His Word more intentionally and write those things down and memorize those scriptures, so that it was in me. So when the opposite was coming toward me, I had something to fight it off with.

The other thing I've learned, is just spending time with Him in His presence, it makes such a huge difference. The Bible says that the same power that rose Christ from the dead lives inside of us! The Holy Spirit is so willing to give us the power we need to overcome these things. He wants to equip us and strengthen us, and his fruit is so good, and so sweet, and so powerful, and that's what we want to be as moms. We want to be loving, and kind, and have self control, and all of those things that are the fruit of the spirit. But the only way we get that is by spending time with Him and becoming friends with Him, and letting Him work those things in us. The more we do that, the more it is in us and comes out of us.

"So what does that look like for you on a daily basis?"

So I used to be the person who was like, 'I have to get up super early in the morning, and I have to have my quiet time now or it doesn't count.' ...I'm so not that person anymore. I feel like God has taken me through a lot of seasons. There have been some seasons where I felt like He's said, I want you up early before everyone else, and then there have been other seasons where he's like, I want you to rest and spend time with me later
But I will say this... when I was a really young mom, I had a lot of voices around me telling me, 'God has so much grace for you,' and 'Don't worry about when you get your quiet time in... just pray in the shower!' And I totally soaked that up. I'm like, 'I need all the grace I can get! I can barely breathe, I'm lucky if I get a shower...' So that was what I lived by.

But now, honestly, I'm a little frustrated by that advice. It's not that God doesn't have soooo much grace for us. He's not gonna come and whack us over the head if we don't spend time with him every day. BUT what I felt like was happening is that advice robbed me of the power that I needed to actually make it through my day! If we miss it, grace grace grace! However. If we do take that time, make that effort, make it a priority, give Him our best and our first, He meets us there and equips us. I just thing that's so powerful... I finally figured this out with my fourth kid, and I remember saying, 'I don't care how tired I am, I'm gonna spend some time right now praying and reading God's word and asking Him to speak to me, and listening.' That was such an incredible time. And it changed my mothering.

I would challenge women to make it a priority. Like I said, there's always grace. But we need this! It's like the oxygen for our day. It's so life-giving. Mothering is so tough, but there really is this power that comes from the Holy Spirit. He really does want to help us to have self-control and be loving and kind. It's a process, but giving him our priority is such a huge thing.

...Take time to speak and pray and be still and listen and read his word... He spoke the world into existence, right? He's the Creator. So when He speaks, it's creating something. When He's speaking peace into your life, He's creating peace. Whatever it is, he's actually creating that very thing in your life. It's so life-giving.


Wow. Right? I've been playing it over and over, and this is what stops me in my tracks every time:

"What I felt like was happening is that advice robbed me of the power that I needed to actually make it through my day. If we miss (quiet time)... grace grace grace! However. If we do take that time, make that effort, make it a priority, give him our best and our first, He meets us there and equips us."

That line massively convicted me. I remember being so entrenched in my morning quiet time routine early in my pregnancy with Noah. I needed it. I thrived off of it. But once we moved, I lost my footing, my routine, my safe space so to speak. I didn't feel comfortable just sitting in the middle of someone else's living room with my books and journals everywhere. I guess I should've known that when you have a baby, you have no personal space! Moving just accelerated that process a bit.

Anyway, I remember asking friends how they did quiet time with a newborn. A few told me that they read a Bible app or something while nursing, but with Noah's tongue tie, and my back pain, nursing was always a two-handed process for us. Others, of course, told me to give myself grace and speak to God throughout my day and know that eventually I would find a new routine. Well I did the first part, but I never really did the work of looking for a new routine beyond a few halfhearted streaks of naptime devotions here and there. I did lots of talking to God, but not much listening. And like Kristin says above, a lot of my talking was the 'gospel' truth of, "I'm so tired, I'm so overwhelmed, I'm so bad at this, once I get on top of my life things will be better."

Now I've reached the point where I'm potentially the most "on top" things I will ever be (ha!) and I'm feeling that God-time void. My mind is running in a million different directions, and I'm constantly choosing to "just clean up" of "just do a quick workout" or "just get some sleep" ahead of choosing to spend time with God. How will I get to know Him without spending time with him? I won't!