Unlike last weekend, we actually saw some sunshine this weekend!! Around here, sunny days mean a walk to the lake for Huckleberry so he can burn off some pent-up energy. To say he was excited would be a vast understatement. He basically runs around for the first 10 minutes or so like a deranged, rabid beast, and then settles down to a nice game of fetch in the water.
It's pretty amusing.
Saturday afternoon, Steven and I decided to head to North Bend to do a little shopping and grab some lunch. I had never been to the area before and even though it was a small town, I thought it was cute with surprisingly spectacular scenery. With all the overcast days here in Seattle you can easily forget how beautiful the mountains are, but on a clear day the views here can take your breathe away.
Lunch wasn't too shabby either.
dry vanilla bean soda you see above was awesome! It's a refreshing, all-natural soda with only four ingredients. I've definitely found my new go to soda indulgence!
But the best part of the weekend was the discovery that Huckleberry's snow nose is starting to recede now that the weather's getting warmer. I mean, I love him pink nose and all, but he is just so handsome when his nose is sharpie black!
Does your doggie suffer from a case of snow nose during the colder months?
Well, he/she is not alone.
Huck feels their pain.
I have made these cookies on two occasions and both times they were devoured in an alarmingly short period of time. Because, well...they are awesome. So if you want to fill your face with delicious, comfort food goodness without all the guilt associated with GMO infested goods, I suggest you make these cookies pronto!
2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/2 agave nectar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup dark chocolate (73% cacao) I used these gluten, dairy, nut, and soy free chocolate chips.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, salt, and baking soda. In a medium bowl, whisk together the grapeseed oil, agave nectar, and vanilla extract. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until thoroughly combined. Fold in the chocolate and then refrigerate for 20 minutes. Spoon the dough onto the baking sheets, pressing them down with the palm of your hand to flatten, leaving 2 inches between each cookie. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Let the cookies cool and then serve warm. Makes about 18 cookies.Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook.
I confess. I ate way too many of these cookies, but the great part is I didn't experience any of the stomach pains that usually arise after I eat sweet treats. Gluten, dairy, and refined sugar free desserts are surprisingly delicious and most likely won't upset your stomach if you have a sensitive system like myself. You can still enjoy sweets without the setbacks associated with gluten and dairy intolerances! My story is proof of that! If you haven't read about my yeast free/paleo journey yet, you can do so here. Enjoy!
Some people go for a run, others prefer to get lost in the rhythm and melody of music --I escape in between the pages of a book. We all have our own preferred form of escapism and I really don't believe there is anything wrong with that. The world can be stressful, scary, and confusing, why not take a few minutes to simply slip away from time to time?
These last few weeks I've been making it a priority to read. I had been in a dry spell for a few months, feeling uninspired, and I realized that much of what was causing my mood was simply not allowing myself to sneak away and enjoy a good book.
When I'm not reading, I'm not feeling inspired...And when I'm not inspired, I can't write...And when I'm not writing, I'm not living up to my full potential.
It's hard. Life can be crazy busy and it's hard to find that time for you. But I think it's important. It's important to escape from time to time and do something that you love, something that causes you to be the best version of yourself.
So tell me, what is it that most inspires you? And why not let yourself escape a little more frequently to do that very thing?
Speaking of good reads, today I want to introduce you to Chealsea, the blogger behind Little Lessons in a BIG City. Chelsea lifestyle blog covers everything from tasty recipes, fun (and super creative!) date ideas, and some great DIY projects! She definitely has some great life experience under her belt, originally an Iowan, she's also lived in the Big Apple and Chicago! Stop by her blog and make a new friend! (Bonus: today she's sharing a delicious recipe for banana chocolate chip pancakes! Need I say more?)
This weekend I was a terrible person. It began with boozing at the office on Friday and ended with a bacon, guacamole burger on Sunday. To say I indulged in an understatement, and my tummy ache last night was an unwelcome reminder of why being gluttonous is never a good idea.
Sprinkled in between the binge eating were trips to Petco (to tame an extremely hyper active pup that is suffering from cabin fever due to all our rain), the best sort of date night with my man (i.e. ice cream and Les Mis), and lots and lots of flannel wearing and puppy cuddling to keep away the chill the pervaded Washington all weekend.
car rides = a happy Huck
It was a simple weekend really, but sometimes that's the best kind. And although Monday's are always a drag, there is a little bit of sun in the sky this morning causing me to have an extra spring in my step! Say a pray for me and my fellow Washingtonians that it decides to stay around!!
Dear Readers - Can we all just take a moment to reflect on how big Herschel has gotten? He was the tiniest, cutest kitty and now he's a big, evil murderous cat! (evidence here) We still love him though. Dear Arms - Ouch! Last night I decided to do this arm workout and it was much harder than I expected it to be! My arms feel like jello, but it's such a good feeling. Does anyone else like being sore the day after working out? Or am I weird? Dear Weekend - Obviously it calls for rain all weekend so I simply plan on hunkering down to catch up on some TV show watching and maybe, if I get real ambitious, I'll read a new book. I know, my life is too exciting for you to handle. Dear To-Do List - For once, I'm going to crumple you up and throw you away. This weekend I really don't want to stress about dirty floors and laundry. I need a break from a few responsibilities every once in a while. It's hard working 40 hours a week and then spending my weekends cleaning! I need a break, and this weekend I'm going to take one. And you know what? There is really nothing wrong with that! :)
I hope everyone has a great weekend! And if you've had a busy, emotional week (which I'm sure plenty of us did this week) find a few hours to just relax. You deserve it, too!
hi grandma. it's your grandpup, Huck.
have you forgotten about me?
i haven't seen you in a few months...
and i've noticed there's been no hotdogs in the mail.
i thought maybe it's because i haven't written in a while
and you forgot how cute i am.
Ha! SIKE! it's impossible to forget how cute I am, huh?!
i bet those sad puppy dog eyes made you feel real guilty though
that trick always works on mom
i use it every saturday morning to make her get out of bed and play with me
anyways, momma says you don't have instadog
which basically means you don't get to see as many photos of me as everyone else does
that's a real shame...so i made you a college of myself and all my cuteness!
also in case you forgot
(you seem to be forgetful these days)
my birthday is in 4 months.
i'd like hotdogs, carrots, and some sticks.
thanks grandma! you're the best!
p.s. we still have that small furry creature mom and dad refer to as "herschel"
if you know someone who knows someone who knows someone that can get rid of it...
just let me know.
it licks my face.
and it needs to stop.
To read more of Huck's letters to his Grandma, go here!
A few things have happened this past week that has made my heart swell. You know, that feeling you get when happy, overwhelming emotion seems to sit right on your heart weighing so heavily you think it might burst, but in a good way? A swelling heart. I've had those symptoms a few times these past few weeks.
I first recognized the symptoms when I read this article. It's long and most of you won't read it, but it's about my alma mater, Liberty University, and when I read it I felt so much pride I thought I would burst. I cried instead. It's about a homosexual man who attended Liberty, the largest Christian university in the world, and his experience there. His experience with those very professors who instructed me. His experience of finding love and yes, even acceptance, in a place where our culture would believe to be the most unlikely. I am proud of my alma mater and those professors who loved him the way Jesus would...how everyone of us, no matter our beliefs, should love another.
The second time my heart swelled was when my husband sent me a link to this video. If you haven't seen it, it is about self image and how we all are our own worst critic. My heart didn't swell because of the message in the video (although it's a very good one), but instead because of who sent it to me. If my husband thinks I'm beautiful than why does anyone else's opinion matter? I'm a lucky lady.
And the third time I experienced these emotions was after taking that silly photo above. I feel so much love for my husband. So much gratitude for the home he has provided for me 3,000 miles away from the only home I'd ever known. He has done a great job loving me this past year and I feel very blessed. I love our silly pup who brings so much laughter and joy into our lives. I love the house that I share with the two of them and all the character and memories already within it that make it a home.
I feel proud, loved, beautiful, and grateful. So much so that my swelling heart may burst.
I was going to post a Paleo cookie recipe today, but obviously there are more important things going on in the world that we need to focus on than a cookie. It's sad how easily we forget. It seems to be in our nature to feel this hopelessness, sadness, despair, and possibly fear for only a short while, and then we quickly move on and begin complaining again about a lazy coworker or stressing over our weight or a bad haircut. I'm guilty of it too.
We quickly forget the important things in life and then when tragedy strikes we point our fingers anywhere we can to find someone/something to blame. Why do you think we do that? Why must we have an object of derision? Why must every tragedy be the Republican's, Democrat's, North Korea's, God's, etc. fault? Is it because we fear that if our finger isn't pointed away from ourselves someone might dare to point their's at us?
Deep down, I think we all feel a sense of obligation to one another --our fellow species. Why wouldn't we? Jesus said the second greatest commandment was to love one another, but the truth is day to day the average person doesn't do a very good job with following through on that one.
Could you have prevented yesterday's tragedy in Boston? Of course not. That is not at all what I'm trying to convey. I think that we feel so violated by it because we have an obligation to one another and an innate protectiveness for our species. And to think that another human being(s) is behind this horrific event goes against everything in our nature and makes our blood boil. At least I know it does mine...
But then the blaming game begins, and well, that really doesn't get us anywhere. Instead, it's counterproductive as we waste time and energy hating a group of people instead of loving on the one's around us.
I guess all I'm trying to say is let's love one another and not waste another moment filling our hearts with hate. It's okay to feel sadness or even anger, but in a few weeks, when the sting fades, let's continue to love one another.
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."
And let's be thankful for those brave ones who raced towards that explosion to give a helping hand.
I apologize for the heavy post. This message was laid on my heart yesterday and I just felt like posting on anything else would be a disservice to myself and my readers.
I apologize for the heavy post. This message was laid on my heart yesterday and I just felt like posting on anything else would be a disservice to myself and my readers.
I lost myself in between the pages of a good book.
I enjoyed the aroma of baked goods on a chilly Saturday morning.
(YES, those cookies are gluten, dairy, and refined sugar free!)
I indulged with a few of my girlfriends.
(drinks: red cupcake velvet wine, mixed berry sparkling water, and fresh fruit)
And I made sure these two boys got plenty of cuddles.
What did you do this weekend?
Happy Friday, friends! I just wanted to drop in real quick to wish you all a happy weekend and provide you with a little reading material for your Friday afternoon ;)
My amazing wedding photographer and good friend, Bridget, submitted mine and Steven's special day to be featured on a wedding blog, and I'm thrilled to be able to share it with you all!
If you have some spare time, visit The Lovewell Post to see some more photos of my wedding and read all about my experience as a DIY bride! And it would be oh so kind of you to leave a comment telling Kate, the author behind The Lovewell Post, that you enjoyed the post!
Thanks, loves! I'll be seeing you Monday.
Also, to all you other DIY brides...was your experience similar to mine? Or did you find the extra work of being a DIY bride a little too much? I'd love to hear your story!
One last thing...how cute is this sidebar button I made of Huck?? Oh goodness, that pup is too cute to handle. If you'd like it feel free to grab the code below!
“She asked me to meet her...to see if anything was still there.”
Silence ensued for a few seconds as I gathered my thoughts. What can I possibly say to him, my very best friend?
All I could come up with was, “What did you tell her?”
“I told her there is no way I could leave my life here. I mean, honestly, I’m curious, ya know, to see what could have been. What may possibly still be if I allowed it…”
Relief washed over me. As much as I knew that she was the one for him, that his life could be greater if he fled this small town into her arms, I couldn’t bear to see him go.
All I could offer was a sad smile. “I know it sucks right now, but it will be better soon. You’ll see. You made the right decision.”
Lies. Everything I said was a lie. It’s easy to lie, even to those you love most in life. It’s so easy to offer surface sentiments and clichés. It’s easy to simply give a slight smile even though you’re jumping for joy inside. It’s easy to damn the ones you love to a life of mediocrity. Being selfish is easy.
He lifted his eyes to mine and gave a sad smile back. Except his was different, it wasn’t masking joy, but grief. Open, vulnerable, ugly grief.
“You really think so?” he said.
“I know so.”
Writing for me is one of the easiest, most natural things I do, but sharing it is always hard. Especially on this blog (now that more people than just my mother and husband read it). But sometimes I think it's worth putting out there....even if only in small, incomplete pieces.
But honestly, this blog has become an excuse not to write. After reading and writing at work all day, and then writing for Taking Notes..., I find that the last thing I want to do in the evenings is sat down at my computer and write for me.
Lately, that has become a problem. I feel uninspired and unfulfilled. Sometimes something has to go.
I vote my job. What do you think? ;)
It's a circus act, really. And, quite frankly, I've never cared enough to learn how to juggle.
If you're interested, you can read more of my fiction here.
Today I just wanted to take the time to answer a few questions I've received since I first posted about my yeast free cleanse. A lot of the questions I pretty much answered in part 1 and part 2, so make sure to read those posts if you don't see your question below!
Here we go!
Q: Did you experience any "die off" symptoms (such as headaches) when you first started the cleanse?
A: In short, yes! But not in the form of headaches, low energy, etc. About one week after starting the cleanse, Steven noticed a rash on the back of my neck. I'm not going to lie, it was pretty gross. Basically, it was a localized breakout. I had a feeling it was due to the cleanse, but I waited until my Dr. appointment a week later before putting anything on it just in case. She confirmed that it was in fact from my cleanse and gave me a herbal cream to put on it twice a day.
Here's the interesting part...our bodies naturally release toxins in the form of waste, but the Dr. told me that when you are killing off toxins faster than your body can eliminate them, your body begins to use your skin as another means of elimination. So in a nutshell, I was killing off the yeast cells and other harmful bacteria so successfully and so quickly that I stated detoxing through my skin --causing my nasty breakout.
The doc's advice for my "die off" symptom was to wait it out. I did use the cream, but it didn't seem to help much. After about 3 weeks my rash went away and my skin has never been clearer in my life.
Q: How do you handle eating out?
A: The first two weeks is when this cleanse is the strictest, so we avoided eating out for the first two weeks. After that it was pretty easy! I usually order chicken or fish with a side of seasonal veggies or a big salad and ask them to hold the cheese and croutons. I do order a dressing for my salad, but a vinegar based one rather than mayonnaise based.
Q: What's the difference between yeast-free and Paleo?
A: I've gotten this question a lot and the answer is not much! Both lifestyles include no sugar, no dairy, and no grains; however, the yeast free (better know as the Candida diet) is a little stricter when it comes to natural sugars. On yeast free, you avoid maple syrup, raw honey, and some fruits that are highest in sugar content (i.e. bananas) even if they are organic. On Paleo, organic maple syrup, honey, and all fruits are acceptable. Now that I'm done with the 30 day cleanse I more closely follow Paleo guidelines.
Q: I want to give yeast free a try! Any tips to help me stay motivated?
A: Have an accountability partner! I don't think I would have lasted the first two weeks if Steven wouldn't have done the cleanse with me. It can be a significant other, a best friend, or your mom! But find someone who is willing to give this cleanse a try with you and keep you accountable!
Also, about a week into the diet I watched the documentary Hungry for Change and let me tell you...It. Changed. My. Life! Seriously, it's that good. You will never look at food the same again. I watched it on Netflix, but if you don't have Netflix you can also rent it on Amazon. If you need motivation, watch it! That is all.
Q: I've noticed you've been baking a lot recently. Is that allowed on this cleanse?
A: On the cleanse, no, not really. But I've been done with the cleanse for almost a month now. For the 30 day cleanse I refrained for all sugars, except for fruit after two weeks. I'm no longer "cleansing," I'm simply living a new way of life...and let's be real, a life without chocolate is not a very happy one! However, when I do bake I only use all natural ingredients (including organic chocolate!). No more gluten infused grains or refined sugar, etc.
Look at the ingredients I used to make lemon bars to get an idea or what sort of flour and natural sweeteners I use to bake with.
That's all for today! If you do have any more questions feel free to leave a comment and I'll get back to you through email! And if there are a lot more questions I'll post a follow up Q&A!
I made these Paleo lemon bars for Easter and I'm not exaggerating when I say they were divine. Divine, people! This was my first experience with a Paleo dessert, and since then I have kinda been on a baking spree (if you follow me on Instagram you've seen evidence of this). If you're worried about making the switch to a Paleo/yeast-free lifestyle because you hate the thought of sacrificing taste, I encourage you to make these. I think you'll be surprised just how tasty being healthy can be.
This recipe is from the Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook. I doubled the ingredients below and used a 9x13 baking dish. If you use the recipe below use an 8 inch baking dish.
- 1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
- 1 tablespoons agave nectar
- 1 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
- 1/4 cup agave nectar
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Preheat the over to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 inch baking dish with grapeseed oil.
- To make the crust, combine the almond flour and salt in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together the grapeseed oil, agave, and vanilla. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until thoroughly combined. Press the dough into the prepared baking dish.
- Bake for about 15 minutes or until lightly golden.
- While the crust is baking, combine the grapeseed oil, agave, eggs, and lemon juice in a blender. Process on high until smooth.
- Remove the crust from the oven. Pour the topping evenly over the crust.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until topping is golden. Let cool for 30 minutes, then refrigerate for 2 hours to set.
- Cut into bars and serve.
I know I mentioned in my Friday Letters that this weekend was calling for never ending rain, and that's exactly what we got. It poured nonstop and apparently Huckleberry and Herschel take after their momma and don't like to get their hair wet. Those two pretty much stayed indoors all weekend and demanded cuddles and extra long naps.
I ever worked up the nerve to put my rain boots and coat on and slosh around in the rain with Huck... but he wasn't having it!
Luckily after work on Friday I made a stop at a natural food store and scored these amazing dairy, nut, and soy free chocolate chips! There is something really pleasant about baking on a rainy day...
I used the chocolate chips to make a gluten-free, dairy-free chocolate cream pie and ya'll, it was awesome!! People are always so concerned that eating healthy and all natural means they can't enjoy sweets, but you can! Just take all that crap that you usually put in a pie (refined sugar, all purpose flour, processed milk) and replace it with all natural ingredients (agave, almond flour, coconut milk)!
You don't have to sacrifice flavor to be healthy!! But I digress...
Baking is always a relaxing way to spend a rainy day, but nothing is more relaxing then curling up in an oversized, plush blanket with a good book and coffee.
Right now I'm reading one chapter of Crazy Love a week in preparation for the Wednesday night Bible study Steven and I attend. With every chapter I am flabbergasted more and more by how much my heavenly Father loves me. And I'm really excited that I was able to use the word flabbergasted on my blog.
And in true rainy weather fashion, we opted to order pizza rather than cook. Just down the street from us there's an awesome pizza/deli that we don't go to nearly enough. The food is always fresh and delicious! If you're ever in the Black Diamond area I highly recommend stopping there for a bite.
What did you do this weekend? If you had sunshine I don't want to hear about. JK...no really, don't tell me. ;)
Oh yeah, thanks to everyone who gave me suggestions of where to find season 3 of Downton!! I found it (for freeeeesss!) and wasted many rainy hours greedily feasting on their english accents and Matthew Crawley's blue eyes.
Dear Spaghetti Squash - You will be happy to know that this week I successfully bought the right kind of squash to make spaghetti. It was yummy! I don't think I prefer you over the butternut squash, just because it has a sweeter taste, but either way, the dish was delicious. Dear Husband - You are pretty much the best. The gluten-free, dairy-free muffins you made were awesome! I never knew I had such an accomplished baker on my hands!! Dear Weekend - Mr. Forecast Man says rain, rain, rain all day, everyday. This means I am forced to have a little staycation in mi casa and watch all the Downton Abbey episodes I can fit into 2 days (which I'm assuming will be a lot). Dear Downton Abbey - Fortunately one of my co-workers introduced you to me and these last few days have been amazing together. I'm already half way through season 2 and simply cannot get enough!! Dear Blog Friends - I was able to watch season 1 of Downton on Netflix and I'm currently watching season 2 on Hulu+....but can anyone tell me where I can watch season 3?? I haven't been able to find it anywhere. Much obliged.
Hope you have a great weekend! See ya Monday!
I have commitment issues. Well, at least when it comes to home decor. Steven and I have been living in our home now for almost one year and I still haven't finished one single room in the house! My problem? I simply don't know how to go about decorating a home! There are so many options and resources that I find the whole process a little overwhelming... So for the last 8 months or so, this is what our living room has looked like.
I know, pretty boring and lifeless. Hey, at least Herschel enjoys the carpet. I always liked the idea of white, on white, on white. The problem is, not only is that not very practical for someone with 2 indoor animals and a desire to procreate on day, but it is also very limiting. Basically, I'm stuck in a home decor rut.
But not too long ago I saw a post by Cara on her blog In Search of Sunshine. It was filled with beautiful photos of her finished living room. I was taken about by how much I loved it and how quickly she seemed to put it all together!
I love the pops of color she used against the neutral walls and furniture and how it makes the room come to life (a huge contrast from my current living room above!). So I decided to ask her to share a little bit of her decorating process and some tips to help fellow home owners (with commitment issues like myself) along the way.
So here's Cara! Enjoy!
So here's Cara! Enjoy!
...................................................................................................................................................................When my boyfriend and I moved to San Francisco in December from Seattle, I was so excited to be back in California, but also to decorate our beautiful new apartment. It was a blank slate and I had so many ideas rattling around in my head. You can be sure that I'd spent a fair amount of time on Pinterst in preparation for this. I wanted to keep everything neutral- creams, beige, browns, metal, rustic wood- very Restoration Hardware meets Pottery Barn. When I finally had the chance to see the apartment (yes, I let Evan pick it out without seeing it- brave, I know!), he forgot a few small details... like the ceiling coves were dark red and that the living room was small (the couch I originally bought wasn't going to fit through the door). I knew that I'd have to go back to the drawing board on this one. The idea that I had created in my head just didn't feel right in this apartment.
I took my time and did a lot of research before I made any big decisions. It took me weeks to find and decide on an area rug, I bought the throw pillows from 3 different stores and I checked design sites like One Kings Lane, Wayfair, and Gilt Home every day to see if anything screamed at me. I anchored the room by keeping the large pieces neutral and bringing in color with accents (rugs, pillows, etc). I bought the bigger pieces first, like the couch and the 2 club chairs and decided on colors after I got the neutral pieces in the room. I ended up adding lots of color- very opposite to my original ideas. It seems that I always gravitate towards red, and I still managed to bring in other colors completely out of my comfort zone.
It doesn't take a lot of money or even time to spice up a space that is feeling a little plain. Don't be scared to bring color into a neutral room.
Here are some of my tips for adding color into a blah room and finding that perfect color scheme or design theme:
- Don't rush it- everything doesn't have to be done in one day. Take some time to think about what you want to do and what would look best in the space.
- Start small- add throw pillows, a rug and curtains and see how much this changes the room- it might just be enough.
- Shop around- stores are always having sales. You don't have to spend a ton of money to have a cute space.
- Look for pieces that will last- don't buy a ton of stuff only because it is the cheapest thing, I guarantee you it won't last.
- Start with one thing for inspiration- maybe it is a rug or a picture- pull colors out of it as inspiration for a theme or color palate.
- Craigslist is great for re-purposing- you can find inexpensive furniture that can be painted or stained for a whole new look.
- Paint does wonders- you'd be surprised what a change an accent wall or a new color in a room can do for the overall feel.
- Mix up finishes- use light and dark woods, metal, different fabrics, etc.- everything doesn't have to be matchy matchy.
- Keep it personal- bring things into the space that mean something to you- pictures of family, your favorite books, etc
To see more photos of Cara's living room tour, go here! And if you have any home decor tips of your own feel free to share them in the comments section. I'd love to hear what has helped you make your house a homey home!