My Dynamic Duo

From playgrounds to playtime and everything in between, the brotherly bond between my Golden Bear and Baby Bear continues to grow and melts my heart at every turn. I know it won’t always be this simple. When Atticus is more verbal or when Liam decides his little brother is too much of a baby to spend time with. The natural ebb and flow of sibling rivalry and banter will slowly trickle in and this Mama Bear will be praying for more patience and guidance to get them all happily through it.

Until then, I will continue to float on the beauty of these little moments- little exchanges between little people who love each other dearly. It comes in so many different forms- a sincere and heartfelt hug initiated by Liam as he wraps his brother in his arms in an embrace. The giggles and coos that reverberate around Atticus like a halo as he finds humor in all of the big boy things his older brother does. My cup runneth over as I stand idly by witnessing such heartfelt moments between a big brother and his baby brother.

Lost in each others company, they play together lovingly- stacking colorful blocks one on top of the other or pushing matchbox cars around an imaginary track on the carpet. Each in awe and wonder of the other. Liam fascinated by all of the things his brother can now do- walking, playing, laughing, and discovering. Atticus intrigued by all of the things he can only dream of doing one day- zip lining across the playground, rock climbing high above his head, or racing across the sidewalk faster than lightning.

As a mother, I absolutely love seeing the two of them leaning on one another and growing as brothers. There is something truly beautiful to see as an outside observer. My two sweet boys may you always look out for one another, want the best for each other, and demonstrate love and support every step of the way. When you find yourself frustrated or angered by your sibling, may you search deeper and let your bond and love outshine the conflict. I will always be here to lend an ear, help you make amends, and guide you back into one another’s good graces. My little dynamic duo, together you will always be stronger, happier, and more alive when you are in it together.

An Honest Look at Marriage

Today marks our two year wedding anniversary. While there are a wealth of amazing memories that I could easily reflect on, today’s post will highlight the more real moments of marriage. For those of you in a long term relationship or marriage with your significant other, you know as well as I do that co-habitating and/or co-parenting with your partner is anything but a cake walk.

From the “I do’s” to the to-do’s, marriage is an ever-changing journey that challenges, tests, and illuminates our greatest strengths and weaknesses. After the mystique and beauty of the honeymoon, real life settles in and the less than ideal characteristics of our partners and ourselves, for that matter, start to show their true colors. Balancing a career, children, personal interests, and caring for a marriage, requires deliberate effort, calculated patience, and unconditional love.

Laundry, grocery shopping, yard work, general housekeeping, cooking, and all of the other components of managing a house can create tension if one partner feels like they are carrying more weight than the other. Our little people have big needs that require constant supervision and attention. Bills, unexpected expenses, and so many other details can cloud our perspective and keep us from taking in the beautiful moments that happen in the midst of all of this.

Marriage is difficult. It takes work that requires frequent introspection, a willingness to compromise, and a desire to honor your commitments to your partnership without exception. Through it all, we have to find ways to look beyond the hard times and reflect on the foundations that built our love story. Carry their love in your heart always. Cherish their help and honor them with gratitude and appreciation. Never stop believing in the person you promised your life too.

Today and every day is an opportunity to grow in love with your husband or wife. Let bygones be bygones and let true love shine through. Life is too short to let resentment take hold of our marriage. Each new day offers us a chance to reconnect, restore, and rebuild any foundational issues our marriage may be enduring. An open mind and an open heart are an integral part of a strong partnership. Live each day in love and let the little things go. In the end, they really aren’t worth our time.

Here’s to loving our other half with our whole hearts. Here’s to putting our best foot forward to be the best wife, mother, partner, and friend we can be. Here’s to saying, “yes,” even when we’d rather say, “no!” Here’s to loving deeply and forgiving often. Here’s to the beautifully chaotic love story that is marriage.

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Marriage is about becoming a team. You’re going to spend the rest of your life learning about each other, and every now and then, things blow up. But the beauty of marriage is that if you picked the right person and you both love each other, you’ll always figure out a way to get through it. – Nicholas Sparks

The Beauty in Imperfections

Parenting is an intricate tapestry tied together with delicate stitches of many varying colors. As parents, we are called to guide our children to be their best selves. This task is one we do not take lightly. It requires infinite amounts of patience, immeasurable amounts of love, and unwavering support every step of the way.

Even with all of these tools in our back pocket, sometimes our children will misstep. These moments will test our wills and make us question our parenting abilities. For mothers in particular, this can prove to be a deeply personal struggle. The internal monologue in our heads can ring loud and often make us feel like we’re somehow letting our children down by not serving as a better model along the way.

But just like us, our children are human. Like us, they make mistakes of varying degrees each and every day. For our children, the takeaway at the end of the misstep is the most important part of the journey. An integral part of their personal growth comes from recognizing and accepting the error they made. With acceptance, they can put their best foot forward to make a more positive choice when they find themselves in a similar situation. Children, however, are not always quick learners. Their innate curiosity may guide them to push boundaries and test limits to see if the outcome or consequence will change.

Through it all, our role as parents should never waiver. We are there to love, support, model, and guide our children every step of the way. When they fail, we pick them up, dust them off, sprinkle in words of wisdom, and send them back out into the world to do it all over again.

Remember, Mama Bears, parenthood is a calling that comes with immense power and infinitesimal amounts of responsibility. There is no manual to consult for the answers to our lingering questions about raising amazing children. We can only ever take it one-day-at-a-time. Love fiercely, support deeply, and accept our own faults as parents. We are not perfect parents so we cannot expect to have perfect children. And if we look closely enough we will recognize how much beauty truly lies in life’s imperfections!

An Open Letter to Myself

Allowing ourselves to be emotionally vulnerable isn’t always easy. Tonight’s open letter to myself offers a candid and heartfelt message of self love and working through challenging moments in our life. It’s addressed to me, but I sincerely believe many of the women who read this post may see themselves in parts of this letter. Writing this for me proved to be incredibly cathartic. My hope is that in reading this letter, you too walk away recognizing how beautiful, accomplished, and amazing you are.

Dearest Heidi,

I know you set out every single day to be your very best self. There are times when you fall short of your expectations and no one is harder on you then when you let the thoughts in your head marinate. You often stew in those thoughts for far too long and carry them around until they feel burdensome and heavy.

Cut yourself some slack. You do so many wonderful things for your family, friends, colleagues, and students. You’re going to slip up sometimes. You’re going to walk into a bad day and it might take an extra glass of wine, an extra mile, or a long, hot bath to walk out of that bad day. But like every challenge you’ve ever met, you will get through it.

Like so many women who have come before you and like so many who will come after you, sometimes you just need to get out of your own head. Walk away from the challenge to regain your composure and work up the courage to start tackling it again. Don’t forget to lean on the people who love you and care about you. You look out for those you love and care about, and those beautiful people who you call friends are there to do the same when you need a little push, some extra reassurance, or a shoulder to cry on. At its core, that’s what friendship is for- lean into it, take the support when you need it, and return the favor when it’s your turn to catch them when they’re down!

You are an amazing woman, but you still need to remember that you are not a superhuman. Some days you will misstep. In your frustration, you might raise your voice when your children test your patience. Don’t lose heart. This doesn’t make you a bad mother. Motherhood will test you in ways you never knew imaginable. There will be days you want to pull your hair out, and there will be days where you wish the beautiful moments with your family didn’t ever have to end. Take it one day at a time. Soak it all up; the good, the bad, and everything in between.

Don’t be so hard on yourself.  As much as you want to do it all. Sometimes something has to give. If it means the dirty dishes stay in the sink overnight or the laundry stays in the dryer for a few extra days until you find the time to fold it, so be it. There will always be tomorrow until there isn’t. Fixating over every little to do is only going to weigh you down.

Love yourself inside and out. Do more of what makes you happy. Surround yourself with positive people. Dream big and work hard. Love fiercely and tell the people in your life who matter the most how much you love them. Give thanks and offer gratitude for your blessings. Respect others even when you may not see eye-to-eye with them. Be proud of who you are. Shower your loved ones with smiles, love, and simple acts of kindness. Cook often. Enjoy good wine with even better company! Kiss your children and your husband every single day.

Remember that every day is a blank slate. The opportunity to hit restart and do it all over again. Slow down enough to savor the little things before you blink and they’re gone. Do one thing for yourself every day- even if it’s just appreciating a sunset in solitude or savoring a cup of coffee before everyone else in the house is awake. Put your best foot forward every day, and get out there and do you!

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With love,

Mama Bear

Five More Minutes

On my favorite local country radio station, a song by Scotty McCreery has been getting a lot of air time. The song evokes strong emotions and often brings me to tears as I sing along to Five More Minutes. 

“Time rolls by the clock don’t stop
I wish I had a few more drops
Of the good stuff, the good times
Oh but they just keep on flying
Right on by like it ain’t nothing
Wish I had me a pause button
Moments like those Lord knows I’d hit it
And give myself five more minutes.”

Holding Atticus tonight before bed as he fell asleep in my arms, I found myself silently singing the chorus to myself. Thinking about how quickly time passes and how before we know it these moments become nothing more than a distant memory.

A loved one we lost before we had a chance to say goodbye. A baby now going off to college before we’re ready to be emptynesters. An embrace with a loved one as you say goodbye and part ways until the next time. In our life, if we were only so lucky to have the opportunity to slow time, hit a pause button, and give ourselves five more minutes with the people we love and care about.

You know as well as I do we would all be so lucky if we truly could afford ourselves more time. But time marches on at the same rate every single day. It is up to us to soak up the beautiful moments, grow from the moments that challenge and test us, and give thanks for all of the little things that make our lives special and rich.

Slow down enough to savor a cup of coffee with your husband or girlfriend and get lost in the small talk that comes from two people sharing time together. Take the long route home when you push your children home in their red wagon after an afternoon at the playground and soak in the smiles and laughter. Give yourself five more minutes on the phone with your mom or best friend even if you have a mountain of to do’s piling up and savor the beauty of your relationship.

One moment at at time. One day at a time. Live it as though it could be your last. We never know when that day will come but allowing ourselves to marinate in these enriching moments will carry us along through the more difficult challenges life throws in our path. It will propel us forward and give us the grace, appreciation, and love to keep these beautiful memories close to our heart. Give yourself permission to give yourself five more minutes…

A Different Kind of Marathon

In my running circle of friends, this week marks an important part in marathon training- the taper. They’ve logged in countless miles, foam rolled and stretched out sore muscles, and balanced their training between speed and recovery runs to prepare for Sunday’s Chevron Houston Marathon. It wasn’t that long ago that I too found myself physically and mentally preparing for the long and arduous task of running 26.2 miles.

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With a fourteen month in tow, these days I find myself training for a very different kind of marathon better known as motherhood. It requires all of the mental and physical stamina of distance running along with a few other tricks of the trade. Without a doubt, my years training and competing in marathons and ultras prepared me for this new marathon I run every day. My 24/7 training schedule as a M-O-M!

Oops, I Fartleked!

A fartlek workout is a well-known part of the vernacular in the distance community. This is a workout that includes periods of fast running intermixed with periods of slower running. This workout can be a great endeavor to take on in a group and is an excellent way to enhance speed and agility.

In mommy circles, a fartlek usually starts with a fart and ends with an incredibly foul-smelling, dirty diaper. Extra points are awarded if it’s an exploding one. This workout also enhances speed and agility as you work as fast as your hands will allow to clean the sh*t storm in front of you and keep your toddler from going into full blow meltdown mode. Because let’s be honest, he’d much rather be playing with his blocks than lying on his back covered in poo.

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LSD- I’m not referring to the hallucinogen!

In either circle, LSD is not an acronym for the hallucinogen most popular in the 1970s. Among marathon runners, LSD stands for Long Slow Distance. This run is typically completed on the weekend and gradually builds to almost the entire length of the marathon. The intention is to improve endurance and maximum oxygen uptake through a constant pace of low to moderate intensity over an extended distance or time. Most marathoners will train up to a LSD of 20 to 22 miles about three weeks prior to a marathon and then begin to taper.

This Mama Bear fondly refers to LSD as Lethargic & Sleep Deprived. This occurs as a result of several key factors. One you have a toddler who’s an early bird and rarely sleeps in past 6:30. Two, you run yourself ragged most days juggling work, managing a house and children, and making time for your spouse. Three, you don’t sleep through the night even if your youngest now does because every little cough, cry, or sigh you hear in the monitor rouses you awake and send you instantly into worry mode. Thank goodness for the invention of coffee. It’s a miracle worker in almost all of the mom circles I have the pleasure of being a part of!

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There’s Carbloading, but it doesn’t involve pasta!

Two nights before a big workout or a big race, distance runners carbload to maximize the store of glycogen in their body. This carb frenzy, free-for-all includes stuffing your face with assorted pastas, pizzas, and breads in an attempt to prepare your body for everything 26.2 miles will take out of you.

On the flipside, most mommies utilize a similar training strategy to maximize the store of patience in their body. It’s called wineloading. This free-for-all includes sipping wine, binge watching Netflix, and finally putting your feet up after a long day of “momming” so hard. Like a marathon, motherhood will take a lot out of you!

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Speedwork- You have to run fast to race fast!

In running circles, speedwork is a critical part of increasing speed and achieving a new PR (Personal Record). There are a multitude of training options including but not limited to Yasso 800s, mile repeats, tempo runs, progressive runs, and track workouts. All of these workouts when paired with recovery runs and cross-training create a perfect recipe for a stellar race.

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Ask any mom about her speedwork and she’ll tell you it’s accomplished while their children are napping. It’s amazing how much you can get done while they nap if you maintain focus, utilize speed, and never slow down until naptime is over. True to the expression, “no rest for the weary,” my speedwork usually includes laundry, meal prepping, general tidying, and incessant organizing!

Cross-training- Building strength and flexibility in muscles to supplement running!

For runners, cross-training helps build strength and flexibility in muscles and is often completed on rest days during a training cycle. Popular forms of cross-training include yoga, weight lifting, swimming, and cycling.

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For most moms, cross-training includes having a baby or toddler attached to your hip at almost all points of the day. You’d be surprised the kinds of muscles you develop from lifting and carrying said baby all around the house with you. Because multi-tasking is already a strong suit of mine, I’ve learned how to load a dishwasher or a washing machine with a baby on my hip. Holding Atticus, I can squat down to retrieve things from the floor. Lifting him in the air overhead to make him laugh and smile has also done wonders for my biceps. Who knew carrying and lifting a baby would prove to be a new form of cross-training for me!

Group runs- A group is defined as two or more, right?

Prior to pregnancy, group runs were a regular part of my training schedule. It was the ideal way to blend the physical needs of training with the social needs of friendship. Wednesday evening runs at Rice and long runs on Sundays at Memorial Park were the highlight of my week.

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Today, however, a group run typically just includes Atticus and me. I push a bright yellow jogging stroller through the neighborhood at a rather brisk pace while an adorable, babbling toddler kicks his legs excitedly and takes in the fresh air around him. While the social aspect has waned significantly, I do find the physical benefits of pushing a jogging stroller to be an ideal way to improve my overall fitness. These runs have quickly become the highlight of my week too!

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All joking aside, long distance running is still one of my favorite pastimes even if my priorities for the sport have shifted significantly. I still run five to six days a week, but it’s more about maintaining fitness, carving out some solitude for myself at the end of a busy day, and recognizing that this new marathon I’m running offers so much to be grateful for.

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Best of luck with weekend to all of my friends running the Houston Marathon. Weather permitting, I will run through Memorial Park with Atticus and be on the left hand side of road at the intersection on Memorial just past the Living Bridge. I look forward to cheering you on with my new training partner in tow. Have a great race. Run fast, enjoy the miles, and kick some serious asphalt!

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Choose Kindness

Why do some women thrive on breaking other women down? It’s a question I’ve reflected on for most of my life, and nearly 35 years later I still feel quite perplexed by all of it.

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I can think of a handful of mean girls who thrived on unkindness in middle school and high school. I remember on more than one occasion pouring my heart out to my mother as tears rolled down my face about how unbearable it felt to face the cruelty of these mean spirited girls. I know I certainly hoped that after high school, girls would outgrow this phase and I wouldn’t have to lose sleep over their antics.

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Even into adulthood, I’ve faced my fair share of mean girls. They thrive on the drama of bringing others down. Oftentimes fueled by jealousy, they bring their toxicity, mean spiritedness, and general crappy disposition into the workplace and it lingers like a bad cold that just won’t go away.

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As a woman, a wife, a mother, a friend, and a professional, I’m always taken aback by these types of women. Are they really so unhappy that they need to rain our parade of happiness? Why do they feel like they have a right to act this way and treat others so poorly?

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Even as a counselor, I don’t have all of the answers. There is undoubtedly a significant amount of insecurity, unhappiness, and anger they are enmeshed in. I work with high school girls who struggle with mean girls just like I did when I was in their shoes. It’s significantly worse now as a result of social media. So few people today filter their comments, think twice about how their words can cut someone else, or even seem to bat an eye when they take it too far.

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I write this piece today for two separate but also distinctly important reasons. First and foremost, all women deserve to be respected and appreciated for who they are. Each of us has unique talents and gifts that we share with the world and someone else shouldn’t think it’s okay to step in and try to break someone down for being true to themselves. Most of my readers are women doing their very best every day to put their best foot forward and make a positive difference in the world. The last thing we should be trying to do is break down one of our own.

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Secondly, encouraging and propagating negative behavior only stirs the pot more and makes mean girls and mean women for that matter continue to behave in this manner. It starts with each and every one of us. Stop giving them a platform. Stop giving them an audience. Stop letting them think it’s okay to break down other women in any other capacity. Our lives as women, wives, mothers, and friends should be about bringing out the best in ourselves and others. We don’t know what kinds of struggles and hardships another individual is carrying with them into work, Wal-Mart, or Wendy’s. It is not our place to judge, mistreat, or berate someone else.

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You might be wondering what prompted me to address this topic today? In truth, I’m quite frustrated by a mean spirited coworker who has been trying to break my own spirits. Her underhanded behavior has definitely gotten under my skin. However I refuse to let her ruffle my feathers enough to stoop down to her level. I will hold my head high, continue to pour myself passionately into my work as a counselor, and kill her with kindness. On my best days, I walk away from work completely unaffected by her behavior. On my worst days, I have a few choice words I use as I vent to my mom on the drive home.

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Even in darkness, kindness makes the world a better place. Today, tomorrow, and the day after that, start throwing kindness around like it’s confetti. Put an end to encouraging the drama queens and mean girls of the world. Squelch out their voice with your kind words, explosive optimism, and beautiful smile.

here's to

 

Carrying the Christmas Spirit All Year Long

The magic of Christmas is magnified when you look at the beauty and mystery of the holiday through the eyes of a child. Their excitement, joy, and wonder is wildly infectious and can help even the grumpiest Grinch find the spirit of Christmas in their heart.

This Christmas brought unique opportunities to bond as a family and share in the merriment of the season. Beautiful weather allowed for outdoor adventures at the local zoo. Liam almost lost his head in the mouth of a sharp toothed crocodile, and he walked into an incredibly cool opportunity when a zookeeper allowed him the chance to feed a giraffe.

An afternoon relaxing in the backyard with my parents and brother brought a low key vibe to Christmas Eve. Watching Liam race across the lawn with Atticus tracking his every move further solidified the adoration our baby bear had for his big brother.

Sharing glasses of wine with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, godparents, and family friends brought the magic of Christmas to life time and time again. Creating special memories for Liam by laying out the cookies and milk for Santa  and sending his elf off with a proper goodbye stand out vividly in my mind.

Constructing and decorating gingerbread houses brought great pride for Liam and a giant mess of frosting, gum drops, and hard candy. I’d gladly clean it all up again to see his eyes light up with pride at his unique creations.

Dressing up for Christmas Eve at my grandparents, toting the boys there in their red wagon, and exchanging gifts with loved ones were just some of the memorable moments that peppered our Christmas. Simple, child-centered, and at its core all about family coming together to offer gratitude and share in fellowship.

This Saturday, January 6th marks el dia de los reyes magos. This holiday commemorates the Epiphany of our Lord when the Three Magi found the truth upon meeting Jesus. In Mexico, this holiday holds more significance than Christmas Day. This is the day they exchange gifts and celebrate with food and family. A traditional rosca, one of my favorite sweet breads, is served with a tiny plastic baby Jesus tucked somewhere inside the bread. Tradition states that the person who finds the baby in their slice of bread must host a party within the month for everyone. What better way to continue spreading the Christmas joy than with a party on February 6th!

This simple tradition offers us a unique opportunity to reconsider how we approach Christmas. It truly doesn’t have to end on the 25th. The spirit of Christmas can live in our hearts for the remainder of the year. Through charity, acts of service, and random acts of kindness we can continue to share the meaning of Christmas with those around us. For children, this magic rarely loses its luster. They carry the excitement of the holiday well into mid February when their sights change from presents, lights, and trees to hearts and Valentine’s.

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Now just a few days into the new year, we have a distinct opportunity to reframe our pattern of thinking and approach this season of Advent through the rose colored glasses of our children. We are their models, their heroes, and the keepers of their hearts. Let us open our own hearts and minds to the endless possibilities carrying the season of Christmas into the new year could bring for us. What will you do to spread Christmas joy?

Standout Side Dishes

*** A quick aside before I delve into today’s post. Because life is a delicate balancing act, I’m moving towards posting three quality blog posts per week. Ideally I will post on Tuesdays, Thursday, and Sundays going forward. When I first started writing this blog, I had grandiose visions of posting daily and for awhile I was able to deliver. The quality of writing is very important to me and so sometimes creating a post truly evolves into a labor of love. To stay true to my writing and true to myself, three days a week of blog posts seems like the most ideal way to share my stories and also balance all of the other complex tasks of keeping things in my life in order.

And on that note, let’s move on to standout side dishes that truly could stand alone on your table and have everyone reaching for the serving spoon for seconds.

As long back as I can remember, cabbage and black eyed peas were a central theme of all New Year’s meals my mother prepared for us growing up. Indulging in black eyed peas guaranteed good luck in the new year, and chowing down on cabbage ensured wealth. Traditionally preparation methods usually include boiling the cabbage and seasoning with salt and pepper. Black eyed peas follow a similar method or might be thrown into a ham soup for good measure. Truth be told, both dishes have rarely wowed me until this year, but I always made sure to put a few of each on my plate for good measure.

I adapted the recipes below from several different websites and added my own flair to create two side dishes that stole the show at our New Year’s Eve dinner. We also enjoyed a low key, kid centered New Year’s Eve that included fireworks, noise makers, and bunuelos. An easy dessert made with flour tortillas, butter, and a blend of cinnamon and sugar. Enjoying bunuelos is another traditional New Year’s food I’ve enjoyed since childhood. It is also eaten to ensure good luck in the new year. Between the bunuelos and black eyed peas, I’d say we’re set for a year of absolute good fortune!

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SOUTHERN FRIED CABBAGE

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cabbage, thinly cut in narrow slices
  • 6 slices of thick cut bacon, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • salt & pepper, to taste

This dish highlights southern cooking and comfort with the savory flavor of bacon. As an aside, I used a soup pot for this dish because of the volume of cabbage. Sauté the bacon on medium heat until browned. Remove the bacon pieces and set aside. Add the diced onion and sauté in the bacon grease. Then add half of the cabbage and continue sautéing. When the cabbage starts to cook down, add the remaining cabbage and the cooked bacon. Stir frequently to evenly distribute the heat. Cook until the cabbage is softened. Season with salt and pepper and serve warm!

Recipe reference: http://www.4theloveoffoodblog.com

BLACK EYED PEA & SWEET POTATO HASH

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled & grated
  • 1 fire roasted red pepper (jarred), diced
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp harissa spice blend (see recipe below)
  • 1 to 2 cups black eyed peas, cooked
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro, stems removed & roughly chopped

This vegetarian dish is ready to enjoy in just a few simple steps. In a large skillet, heat the oil on medium heat. Then add the onion and garlic and sauté until translucent. Add the grated sweet potato and cook until softened. Then add the red bell pepper and spice blend and stir until the mixture is evenly coated. Finally add the black eyed peas and cilantro and cook until the peas are warmed through. And viola, enjoy!

This dish would be exceptional served atop Naan or with a side of scrambled eggs. Consider substituting the black eyed peas with black beans and stuff in flour or corn tortillas for delectable tacos.

Recipe reference: http://www.veganricha.com

HARISSA SPICE BLEND

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After a little online research compliments of Google, I discovered that harissa is is a Maghrebi hot chili pepper paste or rub derived from a variety of peppers. Because I didn’t have all of the ingredients on hand when I happened upon this recipe, I adapted the recipe and created my own version below. I stored the remaining spice blend in an air tight container and will consider integrating it into some new recipes soon. I’ll be sure to share my results in a future post.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, dry roasted on medium heat briefly until browned
  • 1 tablespoon of ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup of ground chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons of paprika
  • 2 teaspoons of garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon of ground black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

Mix all spices in a small container and blend evenly.

Recipe reference: thereapeuticcuisine.tv

 

 

Revisiting 2017

With 2017 in the books, I thought my first post for the new year warranted a walk down memory lane. A way to reflect on the more poignant parts of last year that shaped how I grew as a wife, mother, and woman. Life truly is full of beautiful moments that challenge us, inspire us, and remind us how infinitely blessed we are. Below are 12 pictures, one for each month of 2017. While there were so many special moments I shared with my family all year long, these commemorated an event or captured a moment that resonated something profound within me.

This picture was taken last January in Austin. We were enjoying an outdoor lunch on the deck at Central Market. Liam jumped, climbed, and ran around at the playground just feet away, and I enjoyed a beautiful moment cuddling with Atticus. I didn’t realize my mother was snapping pictures, but Atticus seemed to know as he smiled directly into the camera. I loved the photo so much that I framed it and hung it on our wall. Looking at it every time I walk down the stairs, still warms my heart.

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In just a few short months, the brotherly bond between Liam and Atticus could not be denied. This picture, taken last February on Go Texan Day illuminates their bond. Liam protectively hugging his brother close to his heart, and Atticus taking comfort in the strength and support of his big brother.

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Nothing warms my heart more than seeing my own Mama Bear falling in love with her grandchildren. This photo was candidly taken at a reception at our house following Atticus’s baptism. I love how fondly and affectionately my mother looks down at Atticus. She continues to be an inspiration of the kind of mother I aspire to be most like in life. She embodies the type of kindness, patience, and love I can only hope to exemplify in my own daily life.

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This photo exemplifies the beautiful people who I had the privilege of celebrating my 34th birthday with last April. Each of the people seated at this table have pulled me up through some of my more difficult points in life or showered me with love and kindness at higher points in my life. Each and every one of them holds an incredibly dear place in my heart. Thank you immensely for the gift of your friendship. I look forward to many more amazing years of miles, laughs, celebrations, and joyous moments together.

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May symbolizes the many milestones this last year brought. The birth of my first child. This little person who developed his own personality, learned how to roll over, crawl, babble, laugh, pull up, and walk with help from supportive hands.

Liam ended primary school with a graduation and started kindergarten. He is now actively reading and truly soaking up knowledge like a little sponge. My heart swells with pride at the accomplishments both boys have achieved this year. Big and small, these milestones have monumental meaning for this Mama Bear.

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This photo encapsulates everything I absolutely love- my boys, summer fun, and beach adventures. I fondly look back at the summers I spent with my mom, brother, and childhood friends building sandcastles, combing the shore for shells, and frolicking in the surf. There is nothing I like sharing more than my love of the ocean with Liam and Atticus. I look forward to a lifetime of summer memories built around our time on South Padre Island.

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July is all about stars and stripes as we celebrate our nation’s independence every July 4th. Piggybacking on the stripes theme, this was a simple selfie taken as I was getting dressed in July. I love how incredibly happy Atticus is. His joy illustrates how beneficial it would be for us as adults to take a step back from our busy lives to look at life through the eyes of a child. Innocence, beauty, and joy in its purest sense!

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Hurricane Harvey brought tragedy, humility, and community to the greater Houston area. People came together to help those in need in so many different ways. Our family and friends fared incredibly well while others were far less fortunate. The devastation and loss brought meaningful opportunities to teach the importance of helping our neighbors in times of need and doing our part to make Houston strong.

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September brought the first day of kindergarten. Liam beamed with pride as he posed that morning. He was so excited to make new friends and go to a “big boy school”. In the semester since school started, he’s mastering sight words, can count to 100 like it’s a cake walk, completes mental math in his head like a little mathematician, and asks at least 50 questions a day as all curious children should.

This picture embodies pride all around. A Mama Bear proud of her eldest heading off to grade school. A kindergartner beaming with joy about the prospect of all his first year of grade school will hold. A baby bear who can only dream about grade school but thinks it’s so incredibly cool that his big brother is off to do great things!

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October memories are full and plentiful, but nothing more accurately rounds out milestones for the year of 2017 than the loss of your first tooth. The anticipation of the Tooth Fairy’s visit and the feeling of empty space illuminate all that encompassed Liam’s feelings about losing a tooth. Like any badge of honor, he wears it proudly as he eagerly awaits the next one. With no wiggly prospective teeth in the line up though, it could be awhile until the next one makes its exit!

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November commemorated remembrance and unexpected loss. The tragic loss of a dear friend brought a group of close friends and family together to celebrate the beautiful life Meg led serving others, kicking asphalt, and being one hell of a Mama Bear, wife, and friend. Your radiant light will continue to shine and inspire others even in your absence!

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December marks the importance of family. The holidays offer the opportunity for renewal, togetherness, and the merriment and joy of Christmas. From last year to now, some of the changes in my life have been profoundly significant. In reflecting on this last year, I recognize how infinitely blessed I am in so many ways. I have a beautiful family who I love with every ounce of my being. As a wife, mother, and woman, I had beautiful moments and other times I didn’t let my best self shine through.

Christmas is a time for forgiveness. Recognizing the relationship is more important than our individual egos. In this new year, I will make a more concerted effort to give myself more credit for the good I attempt to do each and every day, and I will forgive myself for the times I feel like I’m falling short. Each day is a new opportunity to start over and try to be more patient first with myself and then with others. In 2018, I will try to cut myself some slack if I deviate from “the plan”. The laundry can wait or we can eat grilled cheese again for dinner if it means more quality time with my husband and children.

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I will close with a quote fondly used by my late friend, Meg. “Life is precious… let us try not to waste it!” Wishing you a precious 2018. Bask in all that this year brings. Every day won’t always be beautiful but if you can find one beautiful moment in those more difficult days, you’ve successfully found your silver lining. Thank you for supporting my blog and giving my words meaning. I look forward to the next year of sharing my stories with you.