Wednesday, February 7, 2018

My Little Valentine

I've always looked forward to having a three-year-old. This month that dream comes true! Since the second she was placed in my arms, I've felt a super special bond with Petra. It's funny how such a tiny human can give you so much strength. In the last year, Petra's shining, fun-loving, independent personality has really come out and it's so fun to see, although frustrating at times too. Ha! There is nothing like having a toddler repeatedly ignore, defy, and disobey you to teach you that the best way to connect with someone and get them to listen to you is to slow down and listen to them! 

Since Leland's arrival, I've learned that it is extra important to give Petra quality one-on-one time when I can: get down on her level, get in her world. This often results in singing and dancing to Disney songs. She's on a big Beauty and the Beast kick lately and her favorite thing is to recreate the "Tale as Old as Time" ballroom scene...she mimics the choreography from the movie and it's super freakin' cute to see how serious she takes it. 

A few months ago, I was really struggling with having a two-year-old...the terrible two's are real, people! Then one morning at the park as I watched Petra's pigtails bounce around from slide to slide, I had a realization that changed everything. I realized that for the rest of my life during major life moments, like Petra's graduation or wedding day, I'm going to think back on her as a little girl and wish for those days back. For the next sixty years or however long I'm lucky to live on this earth, I will wish for these next few years! But RIGHT NOW, I get to live them! So I am going to enjoy the heck out of them. 

Eliminating distractions so that I can be present with my kids makes all the difference in my ability to enjoy my time with them and be a better Mom. Everything from phones to clutter around the house to even the clothes that I wear can be a distraction. I love this shirt from Cleo Madison for how long it is in the back! As a Mom, I'm constantly living with "crack potential" (ha!): bending over, sitting on the floor, squatting down. It seems so insignificant but wearing clothes that cover up my lower back makes a big difference in my overall stress and comfort level, resulting in a kinder, happier Mom.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Leland Eric

On July 11, 2017, six months ago, I gave birth to a beautiful 10 lb., 11 oz. (!!!) baby boy. Having a boy feels different than having a girl. Maybe it's his size, maybe it's his gender, maybe it's his spirit, or maybe it's just me, but I've always had this feeling that Leland is gonna be okay. He is strong and capable and mellow and just so darn happy! I love him so much and can hardly remember life without him. 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Kung Pao Chicken

Since I got married, I've had a goal of obtaining a strong arsenal of dinner recipes that I can cook up fairly easily so that when I have a house full of children and chaos, I will still be able to provide nutritious, home-cooked meals for my family without feeling too much stress. Some of my favorite go-to meals currently are Chicken Parmesan, Smoky Sweet Turkey Chili, and Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos. I just discovered this Asian recipe a couple months and I can already see it joining my list of tried and true dinner recipes. The corn starch coating gives that awesome crispy texture that makes Asian food so good.

Kung Pao Chicken
From Maebells
Yield: 4 servings
Time: about 45 minutes


2 chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon corn starch
1/4 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon water
1 bag frozen stir-fry veggies (optional)


Place chopped chicken and 1/2 cup corn starch in a large plastic bag and lightly shake until all of the chicken is coated well.

Heat a large skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat and pour in just enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Cook chicken (in batches if necessary), taking care not to over crowd your skillet.

Combine soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, brown sugar, and minced garlic in a small bowl or measuring cup to make your sauce. Add to cooked chicken.

Combine one tablespoon of water with one tablespoon of corn starch and mix well. Add to chicken.

If desired, add one bag of frozen stir fry veggies and cook until heated through.

Serve with rice. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

As I've transitioned to the busy life of a business-owner Mama, I've really grown to appreciate delicious, hearty meals that take a minimal amount of effort to prepare. I'm hoping to add more of these to my repertoire and I've been really grateful to discover this yummy slow cooker chicken tortilla soup. I prefer my soups thick and creamy and this tortilla soup is just that, with the right kick of spices and a great dose of filling protein. And it's just so easy. 

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup
Yield: about 8 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 4-6 hours
Total Time: about 5-6 hours


1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cans condensed cream of chicken soup
1 cup salsa
2 cups frozen corn
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chopped cilantro
1 cup shredded cheddar or Mexican cheese

{Optional Toppings:}

Sour Cream
Diced Tomatoes
Green Onions
Shredded Lettuce
Diced Avocado
Tortilla Strips


Spray a slow cooker with cooking spray. Add chicken to the bottom of the slow cooker. In a medium bowl, mix cream of chicken soup, salsa, corn, black beans, water, cumin, and cilantro. Pour over the top of the chicken. 

Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Remove the chicken and shred with two forks. Place back into the slow cooker and add shredded cheese. Continue cooking until cheese has melted, about 15 minutes. Serve with your favorite toppings. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

A Rainy, Muddy Hike in the Santa Monica Mountains

{Believe it or not, there's actually a stellar view of the Pacific Ocean behind us.}

A couple of months ago, we set out on a hike to Sandstone Peak, the highest point of the Santa Monica mountains, known for its amazing views of Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean. I was excited to view my favorite city from a hiker's perspective. Well, the day came for our hike and as we were driving up the famous twisty-twiny Mulholland Drive, it was nothing but rain pouring down. We pressed forward with the six-mile loop, hoping for a cloud break somewhere along the way. 

When we finally reached the top, it was super windy, misty and kinda sketchy--we had to climb up slick rock for the last several yards, which is scary in the rain! I couldn't help but laugh as we scrambled to the top. My hopes for a gorgeous picture were dashed, but as I look back on the photo above, I see two genuine smiles and I think of happy memories together. 

{Eerie, creepy views of the Santa Monica Mountains}

{Some serious caked-on mud happening to my shoes. Brad's got so ruined, he ended up throwing them away in the parking lot trash can!}

{Taken on our way down, just as the sky is starting to clear}

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Seven Magic Mountains

Twenty miles outside of Las Vegas lives an art project called Seven Magic Mountains. It's beautiful. This video gives a great behind-the-scenes look at how it was built. 

Many question the purpose of art, especially large-scale modern art installations, like Seven Magic Mountains. In response to that question, the following quote resonates with me: 

"What art offers is space - a certain breathing room for the spirit." -John Updike

Art allows people the confidence to dream that things are possible. Someone may wonder, "If this artist can put these brightly colored boulders in the middle of the desert, than why can't I fulfill my dream of going to college, starting my business idea, or building my invention?" The great thing about this world and this life is: you can. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Swedish Meatballs

I love taking from other cultures to inspire my food palate and Swedish meatballs are the perfect addition to a well-rounded family dinner plan. It's comfort food, for sure and one of those meals, that makes you really grateful for home. 

Swedish Meatballs
Yield: about 24 meatballs
Total Time: 


2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
2 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt & pepper to taste

{for the gravy}

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups beef broth
3/4 cup sour cream
Salt & pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons fresh chopped parsley leaves


Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until onions have become translucent about 2-3 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine ground beef, ground pork, Panko bread crumbs, egg yolks, allspice, nutmeg, and cooked onion. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Using clean hands, mix together until well combined. Roll the mixture into 1 1/4-to-1 1/12-inch meatballs, forming about 24 meatballs.

Add remaining one tablespoon olive oil to the skillet. Add meatballs, in batches, and cook until all sides are browned, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and keep warm with tented foil. Use more olive oil as necessary to avoid burning. 

To make the gravy, melt butter in the skillet. Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about one minute. Gradually whisk in beef broth and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in sour cream. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Stir in meatballs and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through and thickened, about 8-10 minutes. 

Serve immediately, garnished with parsley and mashed red potatoes on the side, if desired.