Spinach Salad, 2 Ways.

I hate to say that I'm on a diet for two reasons. The first being that "diet" sounds so negative and restrictive and I just don't think it's a realistic way to live. I am not a person that thrives on deprivation. I don't find it cool, endearing or impressive. But the second reason is that the kind of diet I'm currently on isn't really a traditional diet - it's mostly about being extra mindful about the kinds of things I'm putting in my body. I am breastfeeding a little giant and I don't think "dieting" in the traditional sense of the word is very healthy or sustaining for my little person. So I am fumbling around, figuring how the best way to eat healthy & wholesome for him while still achieving the right amount of weight loss for me.

I knowwwww that it takes time to lose baby weight. But I also know it's not going to just fall off, especially after baby #2. And I would like to fit into my clothes one of these days, you guys. That would be fun. So I am doing my best, cutting sugar and alcohol (again, for the most part - I will allow it here and there if it's a special occasion.) I am trying to focus on what I can eat instead of what I can't. So while I am trying to have lots of fresh fruits and veggies and wholesome carbs and - I am allowing myself to eat these lactation cookies. They are really tasty, and the only sweet thing I'm having in my life right now. But they are doing the trick!

I try to eat a salad every day for lunch. I am mostly annoyed with salads because they are rabbit food, so they have to be goooood if I'm going to eat one every day. These are two recipes that I love having over and over again, and I thought it was high time that I share them with you. I can barely call it a recipe, because I mean, it's salad. But still - here are two that are so super duper tasty and wonderful.

Salmon + Caper Salad.
Ingredients:
- spinach
- salmon*
- 2 tbsp. capers
- 2 tbsp. sun-dried tomatoes
- 2 tbsp. shaved Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 an avocado, sliced lengthwise
- 1/4 cucumber, thinly sliced
- the juice of 1/2 a lemon
- olive oil + balsamic vinegar to taste

*I like to prepare my salmon by putting it in a glass pyrex dish, pouring some Italian dressing over the top and baking it at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. It's divine.

Method:
I start with a bed of lettuce, add the other ingredients, drizzle with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and lemon juice, and then chop up really good. I've realize that I enjoy salad way more if I chop it and mix it really well.

Strawberry & Goat Cheese Salad.
Ingredients:
- spinach
- 1/2 chicken breast*
- 2 tbsp. sliced almonds
- 2 tbsp. crumbled goat cheese
- 1/4 cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup each: sliced strawberries, blueberries, blackberries
- olive oil + balsamic vinegar to taste.

* I prepare my chicken breast by boiling it for 20 minutes in a pot of salted hot water. Once the meat is cooked and white all the way through, I drain it and immediately shred. I usually prep this on Sundays and keep the chicken in a seal-fresh container, using it throughout the week for anything from salads to tacos. It's super helpful to have cooked protein on-hand at all times!

Method:
Start with a bed of spinach, layering the rest of the ingredients on top. I like to dress with the olive oil and balsamic, but if you have access to sweeter balsamic vinegars (like pomegranate, etc.), this is a great salad to use it on! :)

And there you have it! Any yummy salad combos you'd like to share with me? I'd love to hear!

Jump for Joy.

Jump4.jpg

I'll be honest. Family life is harrrrd right now. Not bad-hard. Just all-encompassing hard. Stevie and I keep looking at each other, when we've both been anointed with spit-up and pee and both the boys are screaming their brains out, and kind of sarcastically say, "You having fun yet??"

We had a LOT of years of goofing off and traveling and dating and having tons of fun, so it's not like we didn't really make the most of our time, pre-babies. We really, really did. We are just in the stage of life where family is our THING and whew, we are in it, you guys. We are in it. Bottles, bedtimes and boogers; discipline, diapers and diets (for me, not them). Haha don't we sound like SO MUCH FUN. Come over. I dare you.

But even in the midst of this stage of life, I literally can jump for joy because I am a blessed, blessed woman. I have so much to be thankful for and I wouldn't trade one second of my circumstance for anyone else's. I truly wouldn't. These people are my joy! Now let's talk about this little jumper/romper situation.

I love it.

There aren't enough clothes in the world that are cute/functional for breastfeeding, so I am going to do my best to share with you when I find something that ticks all of those boxes for me. We mamas gotta help each other out, amen? I found this little number at Target and I love pairing it with my trusty old leather Keds. I got so much crap for buying these Keds about 5 years ago (because apparently its a very grandmotherly thing to wear, white leather sneakers), but I LOVE them. I will gladly graduate to granny status now if that means wearing and enjoying them because oooh, they comfy. And white leather means they clean up so nice with a little rub of nail polish remover every now and then. And apparently these kinds of sneaks are "cool" right now, so that just goes to show ya - follow your own instinct and wear what you think is cool, no matter what anyone else says! And while we are at it... just trust me when I say that fanny packs are coming back, too. All in due time, friends. All in due time.

I also want to point out that this is a great piece to have in your closet when you are like me and in between sizes. The postpartum body is one that is seriously hard to dress - what shirts will fit your new knockers? What pants will actually get over these thighs? Rompers are looser-fitting and only require 1 choice: pulling it out of the closet. It doesn't need a pant/top as a buddy, so it's much less likely to stress you and and cause extra anxiety. I'm all about reducing the stress!

What pieces are working for you these days? Any spring trends that have you excited? Happy Monday, friends!

To 3-Month-old You.

It's true what they say, the time passes more quickly with the second babe. I can't imagine what the third, fourth and fifth times feel like - something like leaping into the future with each passing moment? I perhaps that's what all this is, anyway. This thing called living. Raising you. You're an absolute joy, Daxton bear.

Of course, the exhaustion isn't a surprise. But it is just as brutal as I remember it being with your big brother. Somehow I forgot how debilitating lack of sleep can be. The morning fog of feeding you, changing you, making your brother breakfast, gulping down water and vitamins in a flurry of getting him off to preschool, and then a hazy crescendo into the quiet of laundry, cleaning the kitchen and coffeeing my very soul.

You, my son, are just as perfect as can be. You are sweet and good, and your calm heart actually ministers to my busy jumbled self. You help me slow down. You help me remember my purpose. Not because you scream or cry (you do these things, but not nearly as much as I expected you would). But you have helped me realize that mothering you and your bro is just the absolute privilege of my life. Even when I am frustrated that I didn't get my workout in, my blog posts have gone unfinished, my kitchen is a nightmare and my sleep is interrupted - I am certain that you are part of my very purpose here on Earth. And I am changing the world, just by being with you. You are going to do brilliant things with your hands, your heart, your words. Your life is already rippling the destiny of so many others, causing and affecting great wonders in all the Earth. I am so proud of you, beautiful boy. You are growing stronger with each breath. You are mighty, in fact. And you are so long.

Somehow you are three months old. These days you are smiling, right at me. You are talking. (Okay, you are cooing, but I know you are talking right to me when you do it.) You are aware of all of us and you love when your brother gives you kisses. You have a little fox stuffed animal that has been named "Bear" for you (thank you Everett?) and I actually think you like that little thing. You aren't a fan of hats, but kid - it's been really cold outside. I'm sorryyyyy. You look handomest in blue. You are wearing 12-month onesies. You like seeing yourself in the mirror. And you have already changed all of us for the absolute better.

You are such a piece of Heaven. You are my peaceful one.

I love, love love you. Thanks for letting me be your mom.

The Simplest Banana Bread.

A cold front came through the south this weekend, just when we thought for sure that spring was in full force down here. Oh Georgia, make up your mind! With the burst of cold, I woke up craving something warm and home-y. Since Stevie was gone playing guitar at church, I decided to spend a little time in the kitchen with Everett while Dax napped. Everett has been quite the little helper lately, and he loves standing on his special stool and helping me dump all the ingredients for simple recipes like cookies and breads, or 1-pan dinners. He was begging for this one the entire time it baked. Let me just say that 55 minutes of a toddler begging for banana bread feels, well, longer than 55 minutes.

Ingredients:
- 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 2 eggs
- 2 large bananas, browned, either mashed or sliced
- 1/4 cup almond milk
- 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- Optional add-ins: dried cranberries, dark chocolate chips, shredded coconut, etc.

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and grease a 9x5 loaf pan (my absolute favorite here).
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the melted coconut oil and maple syrup. Add in the eggs and beat well, followed by the almond milk and finally, the mashed/sliced bananas.
3. Add the baking soda, vanilla, salt and cinnamon - blend lightly.
4. Slowly add in the flour while your mixer is still running (if you have an upright mixer like this), otherwise, slowly add and whisk to combine.
5. Bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow bread to cool for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling and slice.

A few notes:
- I didn't add any mix-ins because I was craving a really simple bread, but I think this would be almost sinful tasting with the ghirardelli dark chocolate chips.
- I never used to think a wire rack for cooling was necessary, but after purchasing this one, I can't believe how evenly everything cools. It's definitely worth the investment! I love using this bad boy.
- I doubled this recipe and froze the other loaf for later this week when we have family in town. I double most recipes these days and save half for another meal later - its so helpful.

What are your favorite comfort recipes? Its my goal to clean up our recipes so they still taste great but consist of more healthful ingredients. Happy cold front to all of you, my East Coast friends!