* This was intended to post a month ago and somehow slipped through the cracks. It is a yummy meal though, so we thought we would share it anyways!

There has been a minor hiccup with our Monday night cooking sessions as my cooking partner has taken a second job for the tax season and is missing cooking time and yes, The Bachelor. Gasp! If you know her this is a true and heartfelt Gasp!

I do have a few recipes to post and will link to the Recipes Ala Bachelor tab above, but tonight I wanted to share our dinner on the fly. It was a "not inspired", I hadn't planned for dinner, "what do I do?" type of conundrum that was quickly solved with a bit of this and dash of that. The result was a festive fall meal that even our toddler enjoyed.

Roasted Acorn Squash, Chicken with Apples, Red Bell Peppers 
and Grapes with a Brown Rice Medley
The steps are for the entire meal, rather than by dish.
 1/3 cup "ish" for marinade, 2 spoonfuls for sauce(to taste), Dark Berry Jam/Preserve
1 Chicken Breast
1 Acorn Squash
1 Red Bell Pepper
2 Apples
2 Cups Chicken Broth
1 1/4 cup Brown Rice Medley
1 Large bunch of red seedless grapes
1-2 TBS Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Add a "dollop" of jam, preferably a blackberry, blueberry, Marion berry type, to chicken breast and return to fridge to marinate.
  2. Preheat oven to 375.
  3. Slice Acorn Squash in half. Scoop out and discard seeds.
  4. Place squash hollow halves down in pan with edges, add 1/2 inch or so of water to the pan. Put in oven.
  5. Begin to heat saute pan with either a little butter or olive oil, your choice.
  6. Slice Red Bell Pepper and Apples into similar sized chunks.
  7. Add to pan and saute until still slightly firm, about 5 mins. Cover and reduce heat to medium low.
  8. Start boiling broth for the brown rice medley. Add rice when at a boil (follow directions on package).
  9. Remove chicken from fridge and marinade and add to pan with pepper and apple. Cook covered until cooked through, 5-7 mins. or so. 
  10. While chicken is cooking rinse and halve grapes.
  11. Remove chicken from the pan and let rest. 
  12. Add jam, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to the pan. Mix until smooth.
  13. Slice chicken and add back to pan. Add grapes as well. Stir and cook for about 3-5 minutes. 
  14. At this point the rice should be almost done. The squash should be done, so turn off the oven and remove from pan and water. Serve all quickly so the grapes keep their crisp crunch. Enjoy!

Dinner is served!
Just a quick follow up to our blog on Pinterest our new little love addiction. We realized we hadn't give you the link to our Pinterest Boards. So feel free to pop on over and see what we are up to there! Are you addicted to Pinterest yet? What is your favorite board or poster? Share with us!

It is so true that it is the little things, the tiny moments and gestures that can alter the course of a day. This Thursday we are thankful for such acts as these and the people who go out of their way to create them. 

This past month in keeping with the pregnancy rule of craving for at least a week as mentioned in this post, Abbey has held off from buying a Cadbury egg for the entire month. A tradition she shared with her grandmother while growing up, the treat is more nostalgic than anything else. That said, they are caloric and once you bite into it you are committed to the entire egg. Am I right? Fast forward to the weekend before Easter and lo' and behold they run out of every type of Cadbury Egg! There were a few moments of pregnancy induced craziness on the phone when the news was relayed, but there was truly nothing to be done. The sad pregnant lady resigned herself to an Easter without her little treat.

24 Fresh Cadbury Creme Eggs
Kevin is telling a classmate and friend how badly he felt not being able to find it and she chuckled, reached into her bag and pulled out one perfect classic Cadbury Egg. She thought the whole thing hilarious and he was ecstatic to get home with the highly coveted golden egg. Little did she know that this random act of thoughtfulness would stir gratefulness in us both all week long. Desiring something, being denied and then gifted it from a random source makes it taste that much sweeter.

We encourage you to look around and watch for a chance to commit a random act of thoughtfulness this week. 
Because the little things really do make a difference!

Play along with us! Every Thursday we will post something we are thankful for, and I would love it if you did so as well on your blogs.The Button is on the right hand side of the page, just click, copy and paste. Oh! And let people know where you found it! It is medicine for the soul to give thanks and when done regularly contentment comes into reach. And it can be anything, silly, personal, or blog related. Just take a moment to give thanks!
We wanted to follow up with our post about the insanity of the Easter Basket Market. We received some great ideas and love all of the feedback, here and on Facebook. We really loved the idea of putting pieces that represent parts of the Easter Story inside the plastic eggs, and think we will use it next year when Baby Love is just a little older. 

For his basket we used a lovely old wicker one that we had on hand and Abbey wove ribbon through it's sides. Wrapped ribbon around the handle and used some straw "stuff" we had on hand. For his Easter Egg Hunt Basket we used his little yellow basket that holds his sand toys and wove ribbon through that as well. It has holes on the bottom so the grass and dirt sifted out long before we reached the car. The nice part is the ribbon can be reused as it wasn't glued or cut into small strips. Win!

For the contents we started gathering items a few weeks ago, whenever we saw them. There was the excellent deal on a season of Ducktales, a series we both loved as children. The Looney Tunes bowling and golf set are from Marshalls, on sale. And the icing were little toys that we picked up from the dollar section of Michaels. It is amazing what we have found in that section! We filled the little plastic eggs with change for his piggy bank and 5 little chocolate bugs. The winner in that competition was the change. He was so excited to fill his little piggy bank! The final item and the most time intensive were a set of vintage animal flash cards. After searching websites that had royalty free vintage images of animals Abbey cropped them and added the letters. Laminating them at Kinkos was the final step and they were done. 

We snuck in and left it on his little table.
All of the items, minus the chocolate, were ones that we desired to add to his toy box and have been on a list for awhile. In the aftermath of the holiday there isn't anything that is headed towards the trash, except maybe some of that candy from the easter egg hunt. We have so many thoughts on what to make for next year's basket and will mark our calendars to start earlier. What did you do for Easter Baskets this year?


From My Heart
I have a habit of making great lists that usually far exceed my limitations of time, energy or resources. For example, when planning a party my menu has an absurd number of food items to cook and assemble. I go into the process knowing that only about half of them will be completed, but they all go well together. This gives me the ability to change my mind if something doesn't go as planned, and having too much on the list pushes me into over drive to accomplish the tasks at hand efficiently and well. Unfortunately it is also exhausting. This bad habit of mine has carried itself from my last pregnancy into the present one and it always brings about what I call the 3rd Trimester Blues.

This is the point when I realize how little I am able to get done in a day and I start counting the days left of the pregnancy. Then I compare these against my list of To-Do's and To-Want-To-Dos, and see the gap. My heart breaks a little as I have to go about crossing things off the list because they just aren't possible. And unfortunately I struggle with feeling a teeny, tiny bit of failure in knowing that I just couldn't get it done. Almost succeeded, but as I have always said, "almost never accomplished anything".

This time around I have struggled to see the hope and joy in my bad habit. I have realized that thankfully I am self-aware enough to pre-empt exhaustion and poorly planned moments, which is why my list consistently exceeds the time alloted. If there are 11 items on the list 9 will without a doubt be accomplished and my drive to succeed will propel me into tomorrows daunting list of 8 to do items. As a stay at home mom (SAHM) there is an absence of competition and I realize this habit has allowed me to compete against myself, which motivates me in the tedious tasks.

So here I am in the 3rd trimester, crossing impossible items off the list and finding joy and peace in knowing that my best has been put forward. Thank you for hearing my heart.
March (6 month Prego)
Maintain 5 mile runs, increase stairs
~Maintained a 4 mile run until the end of the month. 
Family Christmas gifts made
~Packaging purchased, 75% of project completed by end of month.
List of other homemade items decided on
~Decided and a secret!
Plan and throw Shannon's Birthday
~Planned and invitations made, but due to a last minute scheduling conflict the party didn't happen. Sadness.
Trim/fix/gather baby items
~Done! Only a few things left to obtain at consignment sales in April.
Trip to CA to visit family
~Postponed due to spastic back pain that has made carrying baby love a problem. Which there would be a lot of on a trip like this by myself.
Read: The Discipline Book by Dr. Sears
~ Loved this book, read my review here. So glad I read it and have already put it into practice.
* Find out where Kevin's rotations are! PORTLAND! We don't have to move and are so grateful and relieved!!
Story time with Dad. Precious tiny moments.
Checking in the mirror to make sure his hat was on right.
Goodbye March! Hello Spring!
I adore this term and every time I write it or hear myself say it I feel uplifted and blessed, for we truly are blessed and this is so much more appropriate than In-Laws. Kevin's parents, my in-loves, live nearby and have been such a help. This post is being written because of my mother-in-love's willingness to drive out for the second day in a row to spend the morning with my active toddler. It isn't a short drive, about 30-45 minutes, but they willingly make it time and time again to spend time with our son and to give me a little break. With Kevin being gone for large spaces at a time this is incredibly recharging and such a gift. I could go on and on about how much this means to me, to us. Talk about their amazing ability to calm sweet little man, distract him for hours, teach him new skills I haven't thought of and give him the attention he needs to keep his love tank full. How Poppa (Kevin's Dad) will drive in while Oma is sitting with him to see Baby Love, if even just for an hour. But there simply aren't the proper words to show our gratitude. Thank you just doesn't seem big enough. Hopefully my in-loves know just how much we appreciate them, and if not I know they will read this at some point this week and know just how appreciated they are.
What we are greeted with every time they leave, a clean sink!

Dishes done and drying, just because.

Drawing with Oma and Poppa
(Baby Love's terms of endearment for them)

Because they knew Rowan wanted his bear to come with them on an adventure, and you can't leave the house without shoes right?
With Baby Love and Hubby

Play along with us! Every Thursday we will post something we are thankful for, and I would love it if you did so as well on your blogs. It is medicine for the soul to give thanks and when done regularly contentment comes into reach. And it can be anything silly, personal, or blog related. Just take a moment to give thanks!

We have had a frigid introduction to Spring this year and it is getting really, really old. To brighten the mood inside our home we came up with this salad and have already reinvented it twice this week! We are excited to share it well into the Summer with our friends and family and can imagine it pairing well with many dishes.

Strawberry Spring Salad
Spring Greens, or Romaine Lettuce
8/9 large strawberries, diced
2 oz. Feta, crumbled(I love Trader Joe's LF Block style Feta)
Briannas Poppy Seed Salad Dressing
Shredded Chicken (optional)
Toss and enjoy! 

~To make it a meal add the shredded chicken and serve with lightly toasted bread rubbed with garlic and a little butter.
~Using the block style Feta makes a huge difference to us in how the salad tasted. 

*Update: In thinking about the conundrum of buying a new salad dressing and only really having one way to use it I decided to experiment a third time the following night. Here is how we altered the recipe above:
Apples, cubed
Red Bell Peppers, cubed
Romaine Lettuce
Briannas Poppy Seed Salad Dressing 

Delicious and colorful! The only change I would make would be to use currants or raisins instead of the Craisins. Either way a great side salad. Enjoy!
There are many pluses to having a house, space for an extra freezer is pretty high up on that list. Growing up this was commonplace for us both. It goes without saying that this is not an option for those living in small spaces, like us. One solution we have come up with is space sharing. It works really well for those trips to Costco, or frozen meals prepared in advance for an event.

Here is how our arrangement works. We have always made friends with our neighbors and have even worked to move friends into our buildings. If you find a good thing, spread the word! Our friends trust us and have loved living in the same building as people they trust. Some of our good friends work long hours and don't have time to cook often. So they let us use their extra freezer space and in return we host meals often at our home. Many times using the items we are storing!

Family Dinner
In order for this to work you need to trust those you space share with as you would want to give them a spare set of keys to your space. We have always swapped keys with a few people, making sure we are never locked out of our apartment and guaranteeing peace of mind when you think the stove might be on.

This is a great solution for both. A great reason to share meals, inspire creative dishes for a wider palette and no space is wasted! This idea can be used for a variety of reasons. Have extra closet space not being used? Why not let your friend/neighbor store some coats in the back? In exchange maybe they will lend you extra fridge space before a party. Again, trust these people. But as "city dwellers", as our good friend Cari put it, you learn to create community wherever you live. Whether you are protected by a white picket fence or hallway. And we are very grateful for our little community that are so generous with the extra space they have.

Planning, labeling, organizing and compartmentalizing. These are common words in our home and are the lifeline that keep our tiny home running smoothly. So when we heard about this new phenomenon Pinterest, that allows you to store all of your hearts desires, party plans, images, etc... in one place, inspiration board style, we couldn't run fast enough to create an account. So today it is what we are thankful for. A brilliant idea that is guaranteed to cut down on the clutter (those magazine snippets), and focus the vision of all those parties Abbey so loves to throw. Sometimes it is the littlest things that make life so much easier that cause us to pause with gratefulness. 
Example via

Do you have a Pinterest account? If so how are you planning on using it in your life?

Play along with us! Every Thursday we will post something we are thankful for, and I would love it if you did so as well on your blogs. It is medicine for the soul to give thanks and when done regularly contentment comes into reach. And it can be anything silly, personal, or blog related. Just take a moment to give thanks!
One of the projects we worked on in our week absence was the addition of a table and chairs for baby love. We had been looking online, at consignment sales, craigslist, you name it we searched there. Being that our budget is squeaky tight we really didn't want to spend more than $30 on this addition. After much debate we made the trek to Ikea where we found our little lifesavers on accident and THE table and chairs.
Priced at $19.99 they fit our criteria for cost and were smaller than some of the other ensembles. After Abbey's pregnant self tested out the chairs they were approved for adult use as well. And from Drab and Sterile they were transformed to a pretty Fab little set. If we do say so ourselves.

Want to do it yourself? Here is what we did with a few tips and tricks included free of charge. <wink>
~We found a vintage map that we loved on this wonderful website with all sorts of vintage maps and animal prints. 
~After saving the image to our computer we opened it with our favorite photo program of the moment, Picasa. In this program you can make the image into a poster and it will allow you to split the image, which we did, into four pieces. 
~Then we printed the four pieces onto normal paper, having the image bleed over to the edge. 
~Using Modge Podge we quickly smothered the backs of the pieces of paper, lined them up and adhered them to the surface. We knew it would be almost impossible to keep it wrinkle free and loved the distressed look wrinkles can add to a finished project. So we pressed some of them out and embraced other sections that became very wrinkled. 
~Using a large paint brush we spread Modge Podge all over the top surface as well, even the surrounding sections that didn't have the map on them which ensured that the surface was level at the end of the project. Over two days we applied multiple layers, giving a great seal and gloss to the table top. At the end we realized, UH OH. Any wetness, aka spilled water cups from snack time, would make the surface sticky. We searched online, thank you google, and found many recommendations for using a spray adhesive,Krylon's Matte Finish 1311, which we had on hand. After three layers of this the tabletop was sealed and ready for use. 
Note: we did let it air out on our deck so the house didn't smell like fumes. Use your judgement on this aspect and don't keep it inside if it is still stinky.

Its that time of year, when bunnies in every variety of sweetness sit on the shelves beckoning you and your children to take a bite out of their ear, just to see if they are hollow or not.
When candy seems to take over the minds of children and adults alike since they come in wonderful little shapes and spring (what is that again?) inspired colors. The candy is sweeter, the toys noisier and the stuffed animals larger than life. What other time of year can you find a behemoth of a bunny that towers of your toddler? Punching bag anyone?
So here we find ourselves and for the first time we actually need and want to care about what goes in those lovely little baskets. As we embark on this path of parenthood we find a number of questions popping up.
~Storage. Where do we hide these little surprises? How far in advance can we prepare?
~What do we put in a basket of a toddler that doesn't even drink juice? He has had sweets and loves them, but really? Do we want to provide it on our end when it will be EVERYWHERE?
~How can we make this a green and local holiday for our home? The "made in China" stickers are everywhere and are not welcome under our roof. No offense China.
~The most important aspect: How do we use this as a teaching opportunity for our children? We are setting foundations in all that we do and this opportunity isn't any different. As believers we desire to make sure our children remember the reason for this season as well.

Don't worry, we know this is a treasured holiday to us and we don't plan on making it dreary with our concerns. But we have realized that "parenting intentionally is what makes the difference between a great and a good parent" (credit goes to Joy Dombrow for that nugget of parenting wisdom). 
So tell us, what are you doing for Easter baskets this year? Any ideas? And if you don't have children, what was your favorite Easter basket growing up? We would LOVE to hear your ideas and memories!

Sorry this took so long, we have been itching to share all of the details we alluded to here but wanted to be thorough.
Our hosts and dear friends blogged here about the party as well. Pop over and see what they had to say. We were so incredibly and abundantly blessed by their love for us and this sweet little boy.
That morning Kevin and I dressed to reflect what we thought it would be, he wore pink and I wore blue. While waiting for him to come home for our afternoon appointment I was inspired to make these:
Blueberry Muffins
Which were a huge hit with Baby Love. I think he ate two in a sitting. Kevin arrived and we headed out, leaving Baby Love with our In-Loves. We revealed in getting better acquainted with our new little boy. Then we set out to collect blue balloons filled with helium, "It's a boy!" Mints and a blue hyacinth plant. Our cousin Erin and back up birthing coach for Baby Love wouldn't be able to stay until the reveal so we made a little card and filled it with these little mints(wish I had taken a picture!) for her to take home with her. And our Aunt Mary, also our other back up birthing coach for Baby Love and incredible life saver during Baby Love's birth, wouldn't be able to make it to the party. So we left the blue hyacinth plant scattered with the mints and a card on her doorstep. These two have been incredibly special to us and we can't imagine the past few years without them.

Off to the party where our sweet hosts had the place decked out with all sorts of food boy and girl themed.

There were pink lemonade cupcakes, mini weiner dogs (oh come on, thats funny!), Fruit Skewers, homemade Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies, and so much more! There was an old window that they have hung in their dining space and using erasable sharpies they put up a space for you to cast your vote, in case you changed your mind part way through the night.

Little Love in the shirt I made him for the special occasion.
As soon as everyone arrived, had some food and cast their vote we started Bunco! The tables were able to all be in the one main area so we just shuffled from table to table. Well everyone except Abbey of course. Normally a great Bunco player she spent most of the night at table #3, the lowest of the tables!
Table #1 at last!!!
After we had all run around to the different tables and adequately tasted all of the delicious bites, it was time to tally the scores. And the winner of the most Baby Bunco's was...Pat Haffner! Kevin's mother.So she got the honor of opening the large box that we had filled with balloons. Up floated all of the beautiful blue orbs. Then we pulled out the pictures of the ultrasound, took plenty of pictures and enjoyed the company of our dear friends. We were so blessed to start this next chapter of the journey feeling so incredibly supported.
Team BLUE!!
Team Pink!
Helping Uncle Chris "Clean Up"
Yep, he went up again and again until all of those balloons were back in the box!
With my sweet friend Katie.
Baby and his very excited Aunts
With the hostess and my dear friend Jessica
Sweet Baby you are so loved already. Your arrival is highly anticipated not as the main event but as the beginning of a new chapter that we are all so excited for. Your world is full of loving people and wise role models. We can't wait to welcome you to our little corner of the world!