Monday, December 22, 2014

The Silent Struggle

I have blogged before on becoming a mother {you can read about it here}. It was a super scary yet miraculous experience. Even though I was only 19, I knew I'd want to have more kids one day. When I held him, my crazy self said "I can't wait to do that again!" But my rational side said "Slow down. Get grounded financially and build a strong marriage--THEN revisit this in a few years." My husband and I talked about it, and we decided to wait at least 4 years, maybe more. We both felt very strongly that we didn't want our son or any future children to grow up with divorced parents. We were in this for keeps, and we were {rightfully} worried that too many kids too fast at our young age could put undue strain on our marriage. It was rational. It was right. And looking back, I would do it again.

My child is beautiful. He's energetic. He's hilarious. He's precocious. He's smart. He's got a heart for days. He's basically a miracle. Sometimes I watch him play, and tears well up in my eyes. I'm just overcome with gratitude that this wonderful creature is in my life and that I get the great privilege of being his mom.

People started asking us when we'd have another before the kid could crawl. Back then, my rational decision was an easy way to shut down that conversation with a satisfied smile from the one who asked the question. Nowadays, it ain't so easy. People aren't as accepting of my sideways smile and "maybe someday" answer. I get judgmental glares as they poke deeper and demand to know my motives behind stopping at "just one". Those are always the words people use: "just one". I really resented them for a long time, because I happen to believe that my "just one" fills my heart to the brim with love, and I didn't want to have to justify that. Because you know what? If I only have "just one", I am INCREDIBLY blessed because my "just one" is the BEST one imaginable.

I also didn't want to reach down in my purse for my Kleenex to explain why we have "just one". It started innocently enough. I mentioned to my doctor at a regular checkup {when my son was about 5} that we had been waiting for a while to have more kids, and I wanted to make sure there was nothing wrong with me. They ran some tests. All normal. I was relieved and thought to myself that I'm young, my body did this before, it's just not going to happen as quickly as I hoped. I didn't pursue radical treatment. I felt oddly calm about the situation.

Then a year passed. That's when the panic set in. They ran the same tests as before. I got bad news. And I got more bad news. And then the worst news: it is unlikely that we will have more kids without in vitro, which we chose not to pursue. I won't get into the long story of a dizzying array of doctor's appointments, procedures, and crushed hopes. I'll just say it was awful. And it was lonely. People are sympathetic when an infertile couple has no children, but this is not true when you have a child. I've been told I have no right to be sad. I've been told by a mother of many children that she wished she had my problem. I was told that my sadness over my situation could only mean that I must be ungrateful for the child that I have. I was told that I wasn't praying hard enough. I was told that I didn't trust God enough.

So, I chose to struggle silently from that point on.

Celebrate the Light

It's been a very difficult for the past few months in our home. My husband has been traveling a ton, we've been busier than ever, our plumbing has decided to act out like something out of a Stephen King novel, we've had a death of a dearly beloved family member, among other things. It's been hard.

I would love to say that I clung to The Lord and acted as He would have wished. I have not. I have let the stress get to me. A few nights ago, I was getting ready for bed. Any mom out there knows that "getting ready for bed" is not as simple as brushing teeth and putting on PJs. It's packing a school lunch, feeding the dog, unloading the dishwasher, getting chicken out of the freezer for tomorrow's dinner, and on and on. I had been wrapping Christmas gifts, and I took a silent moment to panic over my ever-growing Christmas to-do list as I turned off the lights. That's when it hit me.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Vanilla Bean Buttermilk Pie

I've been digging through some of my family's old recipes. They're like buried treasures just waiting to be restored. They're time tested, and outside-the-box of whatever is trending in food right now. And you know what? They're also grandpa-approved. That's a big deal, baby!


Vanilla Bean Buttermilk Pie

Simple Dessert

Dessert for Party

Buttermilk Baking

Vanilla Bean Pie



I don't know what's wrong with me, y'all. I've been eyeing this recipe pretty much all throughout 2014, and just now made one. I'm really not sure why that happened… This recipe could not be any easier, or any more delicious. Heavenly, I tell ya. All I did to change grandma's version is switching vanilla extract to vanilla bean paste. I feel like she would approve. This a fantastic pie you can tell your family you made from scratch, and they don't have to know "made from scratch" means about 5 minutes of mixing and measuring. Confess your lies by omission to your priest, if you must… But don't tell your pushy & critical Aunt Ruth. Hey, I'm just looking out for your mental health here.

Pray for Ferguson

I think regardless of where you stand on the issue of Ferguson, MO, you could agree that this situation is scary and sad.

I will not weigh in on my opinion of what happened between Michael Brown & Darren Wilson during that awful night. Whether he was wrongfully shot or whether Officer Wilson was under attack--we can agree that the situation is tragic. I think we can agree that the riots are scary. I think we can take a look back at the Rodney King riots, and other racially charged events in history, and agree that those events accomplished nothing more than mayhem and tragedy.

Can we all drop our weapons? Can we all stop arguing for a minute? Can we take a moment to grieve over the fact that race is still such a tragic struggle in our country? My heart is heavy over the fact that racism is still a part of our dialogue in 2014. It's so frustrating that we're still here.


Ferguson Riots vs Civil Rights Movement


We desegregated the schools, but we have failed to integrate our society. No matter how you feel about Michael Brown, I sincerely hope you feel sad about that.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

My Thanksgiving Cheat Sheet



Is it your first time hosting Thanksgiving? Don't freak out. It's just as stressful whether it's your first time or your thirtieth… If you don't have a plan. Start thinking about the details now, and it'll go off without a hitch. Here's my plan for making things run smoothly:

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Just Keep Swimming

If you've ever wondered why I call myself the Messy Mrs, let me enlighten you. I have to be the most ridiculous hot mess of a person I know. I frequently trip on air, I once spilled so much baked beans in my hair I reeked of baked beans for DAYS, and I am very acquainted with the whole "you break it, you buy it" mantra in stores I have no business walking into. In addition to being born with very limited motor skills, ridiculous things often happen to me as well. My friends often say to me "why do these things always happen to you?" I don't know, dear friends. But if you figure it out... let me know. I'll hug you. And probably snag your favorite sweater on my bracelet. You know what? Keep your distance. Better safe than sorry.






Yesterday is a great example of such ridiculousness. I woke up, poured myself some coffee, and looked over my to-do list for the day. "Not so bad", I thought. It's like I bring the messes on myself with thoughts like that. Seriously Sara?? Not cool.

Watermelon… In a salad.

Watermelon + arugula = a match made in heaven. Who knew? I certainly didn't. I was making a salad, and I grabbed a ziploc bag in my fridge I assumed contained diced tomatoes because I'm a hot mess genius. In case you didn't read the title, they obviously weren't tomatoes. HOLY NICHOLAS SPARKS! This mess is fan-flippin'-tastic. BEST. MISTAKE. EVER. {I know… I just said my last food post that was the best mistake ever. But I seriously can't choose which one is the best mistake ever… So make them both & choose which is best, k?}

Sometimes my ridiculousness pays off. Not often, but this was one of those times. Check out the beauty:

Monday, November 17, 2014

Gratitude

I try to be grateful for what I have been blessed with year-round, but November always takes my gratitude to a new level. I know what you must be thinking: Thanksgiving has that effect.

However, Thanksgiving really does not have anything to do with it.

To understand what I'm talking about, you need to go back nine years ago. I was an nineteen-year-old unmarried pregnant girl living in the bible belt. Even though I was engaged to the father before I got pregnant, and even though we loved each other, I still wore the Scarlet A. I lost most of my friends, and my fiancé and I had basically nothing. We were in college, and between us, neither one of us had a car. We lived in the teensiest one bedroom apartment you've ever seen. For realz. One person could pee and do laundry at the same time. It was a furnished apartment, so we owned nothing in it except our clothes and a TV. We did not live close to any family. So we made a new one with some of the few friends we had left. I am very thankful my {now} husband's friends didn't abandon us. Two of the friends I had left who moved next door and became like my sisters. Without the little family we created, I have no idea what we would have done. These friends were kids, just like us. But they bought us diapers, checked in on us, and made sure we were still invited to things we would have been invited to pre-pregnancy. Not one of them ever told us we were too young to be doing what we were doing, and they didn't place bets on how long our marriage would last. They encouraged us and I am completely convinced each and every one was heaven sent.


Leo, me, and a couple of the friends who stood by us

Blueberry Lemon Corncakes

Some of the best discoveries are made completely on accident. Christopher Columbus, anyone? Other famous mistakes include the slinky, chocolate chip cookies, silly putty, potato chips, and post-its.

This recipe just got added to the list. I added in the wrong amount of stuff for another recipe, and totally made this one up as I went. I JUST HATE wasting ingredients, so I'd rather throw a Hail Mary & hope for the best rather than just tossing them out. I prepared myself for monumental failure, threw these bad boys in the oven, and said a little prayer.






BEST. MISTAKE. EVER. 

Lemon blueberry corn cakes

Blueberries and Lemon

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Dear Kim Kardashian, Show Us More



Dear Kim,

You don't know me, and I don't really know you. But I do have some thoughts on your recent "break the internet" photo shoot. Maybe you'll read this, maybe you won't. Maybe it will upset you, maybe it won't. But I would love to chat with you, regardless.

Listen, I totally get that you feel the need to shock & awe people with your body. After all, your image is what you are famous for. I think the entire world knows that you are an incredibly beautiful woman, whether we agree with your choices or not. Of course that image is profitable, and of course it will make people buzz about you. So of course you would want to keep putting it out there.

I don't want you to read my thoughts on the subject and think that I am a holier-than-thou type that is just out to slam you--because I'm not. I have made questionable choices with my body in the past, and I ended up 18 & pregnant. I just happen to be very blessed {or downright lucky} that my child & my child's father are the best possible outcome to a lot of really dumb decisions.

I do care about you. I care about you in the way I care about everyone, simply because God created you. I also care about that fact that we happen to have our gender in common. These thoughts sincerely do come from a place of concern--not of condemnation.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Pinterest Ruins Lives

Pinterest ruins lives. Spread the word. Well, maybe that was a bit strong.



--HOWEVER--
I am not a size 2. I probably never will be. Scrolling through the images of teeny-sized clothing boards & body boot camp pins makes me feel like a slug in sneakers. I know I can't be the only one who feels this way about an issue they feel insecure about.

No other website will make you feel any more inept & ridiculous. The idea is a good one, I suppose. Where else can you find recipes, hairstyles, and countless ideas for what to do with mason jars and pallet wood? But here's the thing though… If we spend our lives pinning away, we'll inevitably end up comparing our failures with the highlight reel of someone else's achievements. I promise your friends will not pin their pinstrosities.




If she's a hair dresser, she'll pin "quick & easy" hairstyles that prove to be neither quick nor easy. Oh, good. Another messy bun I'll fail at.




If she's a cake decorator, she'll post Disney-level artistry of Elsa & her snowflakes. You'll come out with this:

Monday, November 10, 2014

#foodgeektip


If you follow me on twitter, then you saw my #foodgeektip series. If not, I'd love to share it with you! I just posted a few little food tips & hacks in 140 characters or less. It's something I'll bring back from time to time, so make sure you follow me here. Here's some of my favorites I have posted so far:

Seriously. This one works like a charm.

So. Much. Easier.

It may not seem like much, but every penny counts, right?

Works every time.

425 degrees for 20-25 minutes. BOOM!

Trust me.

Tested by me. Many times.

Don't suffocate your food. Leave room for it to breathe.

But you can do this!
Truer words were never spoken.
Don't make your butter mad by overheating it. It'll only take it out on your cookies. 
Just say NO to the microwave!

Fresh, hot rice = soggy, squishy fried rice.

My husband loves this one.

So weird. But so effective.

This one blows my mind every time I do it.

Please leave some texture in your guac. No one wants baby food with their chips.

Tested by me. Over & over.

So many leftover salads after I figured this one out.
I hope you enjoyed these! More to come!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Women's Clothing Rant

Ugh. I hate the women's clothing industry sometimes! I love looking cute & trendy as much as the next person, but GOOD GRIEF! WHY OH WHY does shopping for women's clothes have to be so dang difficult?! I'm tired of putting so much emotional energy into how to be appropriately dressed all the time. I'm tired of spending so much time making sure my skin is covered. I'm tired of the revolving door of trends. I'm just tired of the whole process. Here are some of my biggest beefs with women's clothing:

  • Trends: Every year season, some mythical, mysterious high-priestesses get together and decide everything in every woman's closet is now deemed too ugly to be worn in public. All women need all new stuff, they say--so these priestesses throw out ideas for what they need. Neon, animal print, chambray, colored jeans, boots (but not the same boots they already have--oh no--those are too socially unacceptable to even speak of, let alone wear!), and the list goes on and on. Think about all the trends of years' past--trends that every woman had to get their hands on, then the next year it was out like rusty lawn furniture in a tornado. I looked around me recently and realized low-rise boot cut jeans are the new mom jeans. You know what? I don't care! I'm wearin' 'em anyway! I demand we make a strike for freedom. They new mom jeans are still pretty-dang-cool compared to the ones of yesteryear, so I say it's high time we stop going out in droves to the store to buy whatever the next trend of the minute is. To heck with those high-priestesses!


  • High maintenance clothes: Good grief. Do I really need to separate my laundry out in 12 piles?! What happened to good-old-fashioned hot, warm, and cold? Oh, no! These weird fabrics like rayon and viscose practically demand a string quartet playing as they bubble & tumble. I recently got a shirt as a gift, and it felt like a weird fabric I'd never felt before, so I checked the tag. I kid you not, it said: Do not wash. Do not use detergent. Do not dry. Do not dry clean. What am I supposed to do?! Bury it at sea?! Dear priestesses: If you're listening, PLEASE make your "in" list contain ONLY plain-ole-cotton clothing.


  • Barely there fabric: This one drives me bonkers. It doesn't matter if you're talking about sundresses or sweaters: there's an 80% chance you'll see straight through whatever you're wearing without adding any extra layers. I really hate that when I buy a new dress, I need to stop off in a totally different store to pick up a slip too. Every woman I know wears camis under every shirt they own out of sheer {pun intended} necessity. I have my suspicions that this is {again} the priestesses' fault. They WANT us to have to buy seven articles of clothing for one outfit. I would LOVE to be able to dress modestly and not wear an entire load of laundry to do it.


  • Weird cuts: This one ties into number three. The priestesses sit around and say: "Hey! Let's make boat necks a thing. That way women will have to buy new bras to go along with their new shirts! Cha-ching!" Or "Here's another one: Let's make low rise pants so they'll need lower rise underwear. It'll be like a race to inappropriateness! What fun is that?!" Whether you're a man of a woman, stand around and watch a group of women standing around talking. Count how many adjustments they make to their outfits in a 5 minute span. It's appalling. We have to pull up our jeans, pull down the bottom of our shirts {while somehow not pulling it enough so our bras show}, pull up our knee-high boots, pull down our skirts, make sure our cardigans lay right, and so on and so on. And that's just in a standing position. Don't get me started on how long it takes to adjust when I go from sitting to standing & vice versa. STOP THE MADNESS! Husbands: next time you're annoyed because your wife is making you late, you can safely assume she's spent 20 minutes finding an outfit that covers her completely with minimal tugging. Men do not have to wear 15 layers before they leave the house. Low-cut shirts and hip-huggers are not something they need to worry themselves about. Why should the ladies?


  • Crazy clothing sizes: I know I can't be the only one with 3 different sizes in my closet that simultaneously fit me. How hard is it to make sizing be more consistent? I understand different brands will fit differently, but even if you buy all of your clothes in the same store… I promise this will still be an issue for you. 


  • Fluorescent lighting in fitting rooms: WHY OH WHY?! I don't care if you're a Victoria's Secret model, your body will look terrible in that lighting. Dear retailers, do you really want us to buy those bathing suits? If that is the desired impression you all want your consumers to come away with, I guess not. Although, I bet it does a wonder for online workout DVD sales {or donut shops if you go the self-loathing/stress-eating route}.







What are some of your biggest complaints about women's clothes?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Breakfast Creme Brûlée

I try to be a lovely lady. I always try to act with grace and goodness. However, when it comes to mornings, I am NOT a nice person. And believe me, that is an understatement. A raging monster is more accurate. It's sad for my family, really. Pray for them, will ya?

It's sort of like Bruce Banner becoming the Hulk--super scary & completely involuntary. No matter how hard I try to improve, these epic episodes of anger just come out. I always have the same reaction as Bruce when these episodes are over--bewildered regret. I'm not sure my remorse makes the victims subjects of these episodes feel any better, but I do try.



Coffee used to be the only antidote to my morning mayhem--that is, until I got a little devious & made breakfast creme brûlée. That's right--creme brûlée for BREAKFAST! Not only does it undo my Hulk-ness, but it also puts a smile on the faces of people left in the wake of it.

Breakfast Yogurt Creme Brûlée


If you can relate to my alter-ego situation in the mornings, I know you'll love it as much as I do!




Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons pineapple preserves (or any other types of jam/preserves--I think raspberry jam, strawberry preserves, or even lemon curd would be fantastic!)
  • 1/2 cup vanilla bean Greek yogurt (I tested with Cabot)
  • 2 tablespoons turbinado (sugar in the raw)
Directions:

  1. Place oven rack to highest position & preheat broiler to high. 
  2. Scoop preserves into an oven-safe ramekin
  3. Top preserves with yogurt. Level yogurt by spreading with the back of a spoon.
  4. Sprinkle turbinado evenly over the top of yogurt.
  5. Place ramekin on the top rack of oven. Broil for 4-8 minutes, or until browned. Cool & serve.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Target

Call it what you must: Target, Tarjay {though I may judge you a bit for that one}… Well, I call it my drug of choice. No matter how hard I try, I just CANNOT stay away! And when I go in, boy is my wallet in trouble.


I was recently out running some errands, and I wasn't even planning to go to Target, but it's like my car felt some weird gravitational pull and I was drawn into the parking lot. Now, don't ask me how because my errands weren't even in that part of of town. What can I say? My brain car told me to!

I tried my best not to go. And by that, I of course mean I rationalized the whole thing by saying I needed to stop for some paper towels & I needed a cup of coffee… And Target has both packs of Bounty AND a Starbucks. I'll tell ya, having a brain that works this way is a killer.

I walked in and grab a cart because, well, why not who are we kidding?

Let's be real. The Target struggle is similar to that of a junkie. In both scenarios:

  1. You get so excited when you spot your drug of choice 
  2. Your euphoria as you take this drug is unparalleled to any other experience.
  3. After it's over, intense guilt and shame immediately follow--then you pledge NEVER to do it again.
  4. Withdrawal sets in and you use again. Lather rinse repeat.
I won't get into detail about what I bought, and I think it has something to do with #3. 

But I will say I was wearing a red shirt that day {of course} and some lady walked up and asked me where she could find a welcome mat. I mean, I've never worked at a Target… But I practically live there so of course I knew where they were. I walked her over there and found some weird silver bucket I couldn't live without {but now am planning to take back}. Let's face it, I'm never going to take it back. And if I do make the trip to return it, I'll end up spending $213 and I'll be all: "What the heck just happened?!"

While we're on the subject? I can't WAIT for these commercials to come back. 


That crazy Target lady is my soul sister.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bad Marriage Advice

When you get married, everyone has to put in their 2 cents… And I do mean EVERYONE. From the never been married folks--to the people who have been married 6 times--and everyone in between. Some of it sounds really great in theory… And some of it you hear so many times, you assume it must be true. The longer I'm married, the more I realize most of the junk I heard is an absolute crock.



1) Happy wife happy life. Now, there is some truth to this statement. But isn't a happy husband important, too? Do not use this little adage to treat the good man you married like garbage. Stitch it on a pillow if you must, ladies… {BUT} Be kind to your husband or you may wake up one day without one. Seeking to make yourself happy all the time to his detriment will make you a FIRST wife. And I promise that will make you anything but happy. 



2) You can only be happy if you're old enough/rich enough/have all your junk together before you get married. Balderdash. I am a firm believer that age & financial status have NOTHING to do how happy a couple will be when they wed. It has everything to do with their commitment level. Some of the most miserable people I know have incredibly charmed {and meticulously planned out} lives. Some of the happiest people I know have nothing but each other {we were that couple}. When we got married, we lived in a 700 square foot apartment. We had a bunch of hand-me-down furniture, one car worth less than $3,000, a newborn baby, and our dreams. That was it.  Well, that and our commitment to each other. And you know what? I'd do it again.



3) If you're going to be married that long, you'd better see eye to eye. Wait. What? How is someone supposed to be find someone to marry who thinks exactly like them? A spouse is not a minion, so don't expect them to be! You ARE going to have disagreements in marriage. And you know what? That's a good thing. Marriage is incredibly refining if we let it be. Your spouse will change you for the better, if you let them. Let your spouse's differences infiltrate your heart & open your mind to new possibilities. My husband and I are very yin and yang. We could not be more opposite. And while it can be frustrating sometimes, I like it that way! We balance each other out and give each other what the other lacks.



4) Don't go to bed angry. This one sounds good in theory. But you know what can happen if you stick to this one? You stay up until 3am feeling intense pressure to work your junk out. Then out of frustration and sleep deprivation, you'll inevitably end up saying {or screaming} a bunch of stuff you'll really regret. {Not that this comes from the voice of experience or anything…} Sometimes cooling off is necessary--and sleep is ALWAYS good for a marriage!



5) Always say what you feel. Really? I should always tell my husband all of his annoying habits? And he should always tell me when I could use some more makeup? Some things really are better left unsaid. Unless, of course, they are out of love for your partner. Don't go sneaking around & keeping secrets, but DO filter yourself. People who ALWAYS say what they want in the moment they want to say it… Well…



So there ya have it. My unsolicited marriage advice. Of course, feel free to chuck it out the window if it doesn't work for you. The only one who can tell you what works and what doesn't is Y-O-U. Hey, do your OWN thang.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Peach Pie Smoothie

We have gone through our fair share of blenders in our house. And by that, I mean 7. 7 blenders. We're addicted to smoothies. And by we, I actually mean me.
What can I say? I've got a fever. And the only prescription is more cowbell smoothies.



Especially this one. It tastes like a slice of summer pie in a glass, except it's a whole lot easier healthier. Check it out:

Peach Pie Smoothies

Even better? Any idiot could do it. 

Ready for the recipe?

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup frozen peaches
  • 1 overripe banana
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Directions:

  1. Combine ingredients in a blender. Blend baby, blend! Add in a little water if it's too thick. Add in a little ice if it's too thin. Enjoy. Cowbell optional.
Peach Pie Smoothie