A Friendly Foodie Thanksgiving

If by "foodie" you mean a consumer of delicious food items and nothing else, then count me as such. Cooking is not one of my giftings. I wish it was. But unless a dish has under 5 main ingredients, I will neither pin nor prepare it.

Thankfully, I have dear friends with the culinary chops & ambition to take on the November issue of Bon Appetit Magazine and host the most incredible friendsgiving feast possible. Funny how one women's dream is another woman's nightmare...

If you are interested in any of the recipes mentioned, you will have to google my description of it;)

[Above: The turkey was soaked in a cider brine the day before the meal. Pieces were juicy throughout, even the lighter sections.]

Skillet cornbread with sauteed onions and apples.

My plate was also adorned with stuffing (made with olive ciabatta & sweet bread), whipped sweet potatoes (made with butter & cream cheese, garnished with pecans & blue cheese), brussel sprouts w/ bacon, and an array of veggies.

Not pictured: the chocolate Cognac pecan pie I had for dessert. OHMYGOODNESS, YUM.

Special thanks to Allison & Leslie for all of your hard work. Everything was THE BEST. You truly blessed us with this spectacular meal and we are so thankful to have you in our quiver of friends.

As always, THANK YOU for reading and a Happy Thanksgiving to you & yours!! xx


Getting Organized.

Here's a little peek inside my home office! Ok, not really. But if you were to drop by our house on any given day, you will find my "work station" camped out at the end of our dining room table.

I was hoping to touch on this sort of topic during my 31 Days series, but I think we all got to see the extent of my hot mess-ness while trying to keep up with the blog challenge; publishing sub-par posts and neglecting most of my daily chores.

I am happy to report now that I actually am able to (sort of) stay on top of my housework when I am not blogging every day.

One of the things that is helping me to stay in line is keeping a house management binder. I did not invent this concept, however I was able to tailor one that is specific to our family's needs. I have sections for cleaning, cooking/ menu planning, health/ essential oils, and DIY projects. I am hoping to add some more tabs for kids activities & finances.

Here's what I reference for cleaning chores. There are dozens of these checklists available across the web, but the key is finding something that is actually feasible for you. My favorites are the Daily Quick Cleaning Checklist from Real Simple, the Weekly Checklist for House Cleaning by Household Management 101, and the Project: Organize Your ENTIRE Life Mega Cleaning Action Plan from Modern Parents Messy Kids.

I printed these out and placed in clear pocket folders so I can check off with a dry erase marker and reuse.

I also use the same clear pocket folders for my grocery shopping list. This list is also from Household Management 101 & is proving to be more efficient than the bits of paper I had been scribbling them out on.

In addition to my house management binder, I also use a good old-fashioned planner. I bought one that shows the calendar month with grand intentions to do some meal planning. Turns out, I suck at it.

A system I find a little more realistic for me is to keep my main dishes on post-it notes and place them on the calendar after a big shopping trip. This way I can easily switch them around if our plans change or we don't feel like eating that particular thing that night. This is a new system I am implementing, and so far, its helping.

So, those are just a few of the tools I have been using to better manage our home! I've definitely missed blogging since my 31 Days series ended, but I have really been enjoying a clean house. Also, knitting. It's officially the time of year to bust out the needles and bask in the stench of seasonal pine & cookie scented candles. I'm trying so hard to restrain myself from decking the halls until after Thanksgiving, but I don't know how much longer I can hold out on that...


Into the Wild

There's not enough places in Iowa like the Ledges, but we take what we can get. And the Ledges in Autumn is as beautiful as can be. Since it had been years since our last visit, we made sure to go at the height of this Fall's firey foliage. This past Saturday was the perfect day for it too with temps hovering around just right. 

When I wasn't trying to trick a toddler into looking into my general direction for a picture or shouting at her not to get too close to a drop off, I felt like I was standing at the foot of creation. Which is a good reminder for this city girl. A reminder of God's great enormity and inventiveness.

I hope you have had a chance to be still & soak up some of the beauty this season. xx


Halloween in the East Village

So, I thought I was going to take some time off from blogging for bit, but I HAD to share these pics from our trick-or-treat excursion through Des Moines' East Village. This is the way to do it, parents. That is, if you don't want copious amounts of candy stashed around your dwelling. And after trick-or-treating the last three nights in a row, well, I'm going to need to be exercising some serious self-control over the next few weeks.   

Lumberjack Dad & Snow White Ruby. 
Wayde really struggled with taking our girl out in this costume since she didn't have a black wig.

 The most handsome little lion I have ever layed eyes on. 

First stop, Eden. I caught Ruby eating the one piece of candy she had obtained up until then. 

Eden is my FAVORITE place in Des Moines to buy gifts. These The Moon & The Honey dolls are the cutest and a Bill Murray coloring book?! I mean, seriously.

We stopped into Eight Seven Central next to see some of our screenprinter / designer friends at work. 
Also, more candy. 

Someone with a big box of Scratch cupcakes came in and started handing them out. I was about to say, "Get jealous, Dena & Maren!" but they tasted like day-old's, so you girls didn't miss much. 

My friend, Allison, and her minion twins.

Um, can we talk about this shirt for a minute? I saw it through the door of Aimee and had to take a closer look. Anyone that has this movie etched into the fabric of their pre-teen existence is a kindred spirit, 
in my book. SONORA!!!!

Lastly, we got to pretend to be models at Raygun. Finally, a decent(ish) photo of the whole family! 

Hope you all had a happy & responsible Halloween. And now, that break I was itching to take. Unless this daily blogging thing is too much of a habit now;)


We Made It [31/31].

31 days. 31 blog posts. Phewsh. This sort of feels like a huge accomplishment for me. There were lots of times that I felt like giving up or that this challenge wasn't worth doing, but as I look back on my blog posts this month, I'm so glad I stuck with it. The month that I cut the net from beneath me and plunged into this sweet, wild world of being a Stay-at-home-Mama.

If I ever decide to do a blog challenge like this again, I'll definitely go into it with a much better game plan. There were lots of potential topics I would have liked to write about, but maybe this "fly by the seat of my pants" concept was the most honest portrayal of life as a beginner SAHM I could have displayed.

I received a number of encouraging comments throughout this challenge, some from people I have never met, that really helped me keep going these last few days. Sincerely, thank you. I do intend to keep blogging, but not at the pace I've been at this month. Obviously. I would suggest subscribing to my Bloglovin feed if you want to keep following along.

Again, thank you for reading. Now, pardon me while I go catch up on all the housework I've neglected since I started this challenge...

I’m linking up with The Nester every day in October for #31Days. You can find a list of all 31 posts as they are published by clicking here.


GUEST POST: My Sister-in-Law, Nicole! [30/31]

Readers, you are in for a treat!! I am SO excited to be sharing this post from my sister-in-law, Nicole! Not only is she a beginner stay-at-home-mama, she's a new mama to boot! Nicole & her husband, Scott, are adjusting to their new life as parents while in the process of renovating an adorable, old home in Minneapolis, MN. She's done some blogging in the past, but maybe if we send her enough love, she'll get back into it! Until then, you can find her on Twitter or Instagam.


I'm very excited to have the opportunity to do a guest post on Erin's blog! She's done such a great job giving us glimpses into her everyday SAHM world. I'm quite new to the SAHM life and feel like I know almost nothing yet. My daily companion is my 7-week-old son, Peregrin. As my husband and I started discussing parenthood several years ago, we both felt that me being home with our children was the right choice for our family. Now here I am!

Nicole's husband, Scott, & Peregrin. 

One of the biggest lessons I've learned so far as a SAHM is that balancing caring for my child and getting anything done is hard. Obvious, I know, but this reality is still rocking my world. Last week I cooked a meal for the first time since Peregrin was born. That's right. It took me SIX WEEKS to pull off cooking a full meal. Clearly I have a lot to learn. Daily I wonder how other moms run their households, how they balance caring for their children with their many other responsibilities. I cooked for the second time last night. In fact, I made both dinner and a crockpot breakfast that we'll be able to eat in the mornings all week. I did not, however, have the time or energy to clean-up after myself and went to bed with my kitchen looking like this:

This piece was created for me by one of my aunts 34 years ago when I was a baby. It's now hanging on my son's bedroom wall and it's a daily reminder of what's really important during this season of life. I could put any number of things in place of "cleaning and scrubbing". Cooking, watching my favorite shows, decorating our new (old) house. These are all fine things, some are necessary, but I don't want to take this moment in time for granted. I'm stunned at how much my son has changed in just seven weeks, how much more in seven months! So I eat whatever is easy, ignore my bare walls and play with my tiny son. 
Of course things do need to get done at home and this is where I need some serious refining. I'm realizing that being organized and having a plan isn't just good, it's vital. Gone are the days where I could pour over recipes to find something new, make a list, go to the store for just that one meal's ingredients and then spend hours cooking. Gone too are the days where keeping on top of our family's finances could happen whenever and as often as needed. Of course, finding time to sit and draft a working schedule for my life isn't easy either so it's going to be a process. In the mean time I'll have to live with more crazy than I'm comfortable with but by God's good grace we'll manage to eat something and the bills will get paid on time, even if just barely.

                                      "What may be done at any time will be done at no time."

True. Being a SAHM is my new job and I desire to do it well, to take it as seriously as the work I did outside the home. I no longer have a boss potentially looking over my shoulder and my deadlines are more loose, if they exist at all. But I believe this is the most important work of my life and it's up to me to provide my own structure so that I can thrive in this roll. Right now Peregrin rises early (6 a.m.!), too early for me to rise before him, but I hope that over time this will change. Everyday I realize how incapable I am of handling all this on my own. I hope to rise before my son and spend time with the Lord at the start of each day. I need His strength and wisdom. I need Him to pour into me so I have anything at all to offer my family. On the lonely days I need to be reminded that He is with me.

Every day is its own adventure right now and mostly I feel like I'm flying by the seat of my pants. Years from now I hope to be able to look back on these days and see them as the beginning of a journey of maturation, of coming into my own as a wife and mother. As for tonight, dinner consisted of nachos and ice cream. But hey, I spent the evening playing with my son and I whipped that kitchen into shape so I'm still going to call it a win. 


I’m linking up with The Nester every day in October for #31Days. You can find a list of all 31 posts as they are published by clicking here.


Up All Night [29/31].

That was us last night. Sterling is dealing with some cold-related congestion (again), so we camped out on the couch, waking every hour or so. It was brutal, but I didn't get too frustrated. When my kids aren't feeling well, I can somehow adopt this Florence Nightingale persona I didn't know I was capable of.

The worst part was once Sterling was able to get comfortable & fall back asleep, I couldn't do the same.

I think I am losing my ability to fall asleep. 

Naps are easier, but I had the opportunity to take one today and just...couldn't. My mind doesn't want to sleep. It is too busy thinking about how fast these days are going by and how little I am getting done in them.

Part of this lack of productivity can be attributed to my childrens' ages. They're babies. They require a lot of attention, maybe even more than the average. And it is my great pleasure, as hard as it is, to give them all the attention I think they deserve.

The other part is that I have an infant that does not want to be put down. He fusses if somebody is not holding him and I can only handle the fussing for so long before I'm pacing around with him in my arms again. I cracked open this book today that a friend lent me in hopes to find some insight on our situation, but no luck thus far.

We know it isn't anything wrong with him and we know this stage won't last forever, but it's really easy to forget that when you're in the trenches.

I don't want to sound like I'm complaining too much because there are MANY sweet moments punctuating the craziness. A smile from Sterling or a hug from Ruby can so easily bring my heart back to a jovial place. But if I'm going to be honest about what being a beginner SAHM entails, then this is just part of it.

In the vein of this slightly subdued post, I read something on Shauna Niequist's blog today that really resonated with me. About the word SHOULD in relation to the way you think things SHOULD be. From Shauna's post:

We all have these weird rules about what we should love and what should make us happy and how things should work.  Should is a warning sign, frankly. When you’re using the word should more and more often, it’s a sign that you’re living further and further from your truest, best self, a sign that you’re living for some other set of parameters or affirmations that you think will bring you happiness.


I was hoping by the end of this 31 Days challenge, I would have nailed something down or solidified some habit. In reality, it has only exposed how so very far away I am from having it all together. And that's ok. Otherwise, there wouldn't be any room for grace or need of a Savior.

The kids are now asleep and I'm sitting amongst piles of folded laundry that will just have to wait until tomorrow to be tucked in their drawers. Instead, I'm going to take shot at getting some much needed sleep and praying I get more of it tonight. Amen.

P.S. I have yet to read one of Shauna Niequist's books. I hear they're all amazing. Where should I start?


GUEST POST: Jessica from For the Love of Justice [28/31].

You guys. I am SO excited for day's guest post!! Jessica writes at For the Love of Justice, a blog about intentional living & everyday justice. She's a little bit more of a seasoned SAHM than I am & has so beautifully captured a day in the life of their family. Her kiddos are ADORABLE and it looks like the 3rd one will be making his arrival sometime TODAY! Be sure to check out her blog & fair trade database when you get a chance:)

Hi there!  I’m Jessica and I am so excited Erin allowed me to share a little bit of my SAHM life with you!  I have two kids – Laura who is four and Titus who is almost two.  I am also about two weeks away from the birth of our third child, another little boy.  Life is definitely crazy around here!
I began my SAHM journey with the birth of our daughter.  Growing up I always knew I wanted to be a mom, dreamed about it, really.  Before Laura was born my husband and I decided I would stay home with her and I’ve never regretted that decision.  While some days are complete chaos (as Erin so honestly describes!), other days are so beautiful, I feel like I have the greatest job in the world.  
The best way to describe my life is to show you.  I loved the idea of taking a photo an hour for one day so here is a little peak into our lives:

7:00 – Titus wakes up and starts calling for me.  By the time I go to get him Laura is coming down the stairs.  I would love to say that our early mornings are wonderful but that is simply not the case.  I need space and silence to fully wake up but the kids don’t understand that concept yet!  I don’t know if it’s just me or what but they are always ridiculously loud in the mornings.  I make breakfast while reminding them over and over that, “It’s too early to be this loud.  PLEASE be quiet!”
8:00 – By eight things are usually looking a lot better.  I’ve had coffee.  The kids are fed and Laura is out of her pajamas.  There is a load of laundry in the washer.   Today the kids are content to play together without arguing so I slip out on to our front porch and drink in the cool crisp air.  This wakes me up more than anything else.  We moved to Idaho from Alabama about a year ago and my favorite part is still SEASONS.  Especially fall.  The leaves are beautiful right now.  
The kids are still playing together (miracle!) so I take a minute to read my Bible.  I have been slowly reading through Psalms and highlighting every place where “steadfast love” is used.  It’s in there A LOT.  I love it.  God’s steadfast love: immoveable, constant, unwavering.  I need a reminder of that daily.

9:00 – My husband is awake (today is his off day, yah!!) and entertaining Titus.  Laura is engrossed with coloring so I jump in the shower.  By the time I am out the TV is on, something that happens for an hour or so every morning around here.   
10:00 -   I convince Laura to come outside to play while I rake leaves.  Titus has a complete meltdown because the TV is off and he doesn’t want to go outside.  Or be held.  Or play with toys.  He wants to wander around the house and yell/cry.  Great.  He eventually gets over it and joins his sister in playing in the dirt.  It’s their favorite outdoor activity.
11:00 – I make a quick lunch, which is really breakfast – eggs, fruit and hash browns.  We are a breakfast loving family and can eat it for any meal of the day.  Oh, and trucks and trains are never far from the hands of my kids, even at the table.

12:00 – Titus goes down for an early nap because we have a mid-afternoon doctor appointment.  Laura heads to her room to rest and play quietly (sorta).  While the kids are in their rooms my husband and I catch up on the latest episodes of New Girl and our new favorite, Brooklyn Nine-Nine.  I am unusually tired today (thank you, nine month baby) so it feels good just to lie on the couch and relax.
1:00 – Laura’s rest time is almost over.  She usually watches a show while I finish up the projects I was working on during her rest (like blogging) but today I go up and spend time with her instead.  We read and tuck her favorite puppies into bed.  This photo-an-hour deal is making me pause and see things a little differently.  I probably should spend more time with just Laura instead of trying to get so much work done.  It’s a balance I think I will struggle with all of motherhood.
2:00 – We are on our way to the pediatrician to get Titus’ staph infection/diaper rash checked out AGAIN.  This thing never goes away.
3:00 – The kids love watching the fish in the waiting room.  Titus couldn’t stop stringing together long lines of excited gibberish.  Thankfully, our pediatrician confirms  what I think, the rash appears to be healing and this will hopefully be our last visit for a while.  Yah!
4:00 – While we are out, we swing by the mall to get my phone contacts and such switched to my husband’s old phone.  My phone had a tragic accident with the sidewalk earlier this week and has a spider web of cracks to prove it.  We pick up dinner at the food court and wander around a few stores before hitting up one of our favorite parks on the way home.

5:00 to 6:00 – We spend a while walking around the park.  It’s basically a huge, beautiful wooded area with sidewalks and a pond.  Last winter we saw three deer.  In the spring we saw geese with their fuzzy babies.  It’s a cool place and also, we discovered, THE place to take family photos. We counted no less than ten families getting their Christmas pictures taken, plus two weddings.  

7:00 – We finally get home and the kids watch a little TV before bed.  Bed time is often one of the hardest parts of the day for me, not going to lie.  Everyone is tired and cranky, the kids are both going through a stage where they hate baths…fun times!   My husband works the evening shift so bedtimes are usually my gig but since he is off I get some extra help.  Tonight I put Laura to bed while my husband wrangles Titus.  
8:00 onward – After the kids are in bed I get some quick blog stuff taken care of and then start on my big project : coming up with meal ideas and making a grocery list for my shopping trip tomorrow.  Sometimes I enjoy this job but lately I haven’t been into cooking AT ALL.  By the time I am done planning, browsing Pinterest and chatting with my husband, it’s almost 11 and I am ready for bed.  I check on Titus one more time to make sure he actually fell asleep in his bed (a feat that has only happened a handful of times since we moved him to his toddler bed a month or two ago).  He actually made it into bed tonight and I take a minute to watch him sleep before I go to bed myself.  It’s so peaceful.  

I can hardly believe I’ve been at this mothering thing for over four years.  Sometimes I feel like I am a fresh-faced newbie who knows nothing.  Every stage has its own unique challenges.  One of the most important things I have learned is to take the time to find out what really works for you.  There can be a lot of pressure to be some kind of perfect mom or to do things a certain way but everyone has different ways of dealing with motherhood and running a home.  One way is not better than the other.  Find a routine, a method, a way of doing things that makes things easy for you.  Just like at a typical workplace job, if you don’t love what you do, work becomes a chore and something you dread.  Being a SAHM mom is the same way.  If it’s not working, if it’s more frustrating than fulfilling, something needs to change.  Maybe it means you create a routine, you re-think how you are doing laundry, you ask for outside help, you intentionally take “time off” to be by yourself.  Make it work.  Love what you do.  When we find our sweet spot (which may be different with each changing season), it shows.  We become a better parent, a better wife, a better homemaker.
Well, that’s all I have…thanks for letting me share a bit about my life with you!  As a side note, you can find me at ForTheLoveOfJustice.com – a space I created to talk about my journey in living intentionally and practicing everyday justice.

I’m linking up with The Nester every day in October for #31Days. You can find a list of all 31 posts as they are published by clicking here.


House Divided [27/31].

Just a little healthy, family football rivalry going on. As I write this, our Vikes are looking pretty terrible. But that's a given. I think the case could even be made that they're the worst team in the NFL.

We've only been into watching football for a couple years now. It was my family's thing, so we'd get sucked in to watching games, and then it just kind of rubbed off on us. Since we spend a lot of time up in Minnesota with family & friends, the decision to become Vikings supporters was kind of an easy one. Good thing we love underdogs.

Hope you had a great weekend & stay tuned for my first guest post tomorrow!!

I’m linking up with The Nester every day in October for #31Days. You can find a list of all 31 posts as they are published by clicking here.


Nothing Is Easy Anymore [26/31].

Tonight was the marriage celebration of our friends, Seth & McKenzie. Their actual wedding was in a private ceremony back in April, so the guests just got skip to the good part—the cake (or apple pie, in this case)! Not that we wouldn't have enjoyed witnessing their vows, but you get it.

We thought we'd try to be super on top of things with two kids in tow and ended up overestimating how long it would take to get to the reception. So we got to sit around like dorks for a little bit while the last minute preparations were being made.

Let's not even talk about how hard it was getting out of the house in the first place with both little ones crying simultaneously. The truth behind the smiles...and do you like our "family photo" (see above)? We asked two different guests to snap one for us and they turned out blurry or cutting someone out of the pic. Yeah.

This was before Ruby choked on her chip and I had to stick my finger down her throat to dislodge it. 

Taco truck at the reception. Thankfully, someone else was able to retrieve my food while I stayed inside to calm/ nurse Sterling. He was not having a good time for awhile. A friend's mom noticed me struggling and offered to take our son long enough for this Mama to eat her food. Wayde was busy feeding Ruby.   

I think we'd all like to forget this part of the evening...when Sterling had a huge blowout. The reception was held at an old post office, so not surprisingly, there weren't any diaper changing stations. Wayde & I tag-teamed it in a side storage room amongst boxes and party supplies.

Ruby girl had a blast dancing along to this bluegrass trio, all hopped up on homemade root beer & pie. I chased her around making sure she didn't mess with the buttons on the P.A. system or pull any speakers over on her. In heels, I might add, which I am now paying for.

When Ruby gets all hyper & diva-esque in situations like this, I can't help but wonder who is this little girl?! And then I feel like a fun-hater for having to be all stern with her. Just part of being a parent, I guess.

Us with the happy couple. Also, Ruby's face. 

Despite how stressful it was to be at this reception with our little family, I think we're only going to look back on it and remember how beautiful it was and how delicious those tacos were. Plus, if we hadn't taken the kids, I would've wished we had. I love it when we are all together. Even though nothing is easy when it involves the four of us, I know it won't be this way forever. Which makes it easier to embrace the crazy.

This reception was curated by our lovely friends at The Wedding Format! Check out their full range of services here. We could not recommend them more highly:)

I’m linking up with The Nester every day in October for #31Days. You can find a list of all 31 posts as they are published by clicking here.
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