lock, stock, and two screaming toddlers.

Save it, by the way. I know that "no one said this would be easy."
I know that no one said that. Because if they HAD said that, I would most assuredly also remember calling them a liar. However.
Holy cow, this can be hard.

And this can be beautiful. And more often than not, it's everything i could ever hope to have or want or achieve. I love my babies. My babies that aren't really babies anymore. 
I have two toddlers.
Come April, I will have a 4 year old and a 2 year old, and that is terrifying and kick ass at the same time.

Right now their dad is gone for work, so for this month, it's just us chickens kicking around this house. I start a new job on the 15th, which means they'll start daycare, and I'll have daily breakdowns from mommy guilt and separation anxiety and I'll make lots of tearful drives to and from work. 

And it means, of course, that they'll be having a blast playing with other kids and getting a break from their stressed out mommy. Which they deserve.

Let's that about that for a minute, yeah?

I've been momming it up for nearly 4 years now, and I still pretty much fucking suck at handling my stress in a constructive way. I don't scream at my kids, but I yell, more than I'd like to. 
My boy is old enough now that he says things. Things that make me feel like a righteous douche bag. 
"don't be mean at me, okay?"
Fuuuuuuck. Talk about a knife in your heart.

I keep waiting for things to get better or easier, and if I'm being honest, they are. I'm learning every day and trying not to repeat mistakes. I love them and I do my best to do right by them. But its a daily struggle to remember that I can't be selfish, that my actions aren't just about me. Hell, they're barely about me at all. 

But what do you do when you hit your limit and no one will eat their lunch and he won't stop taking his sister's fork and she keeps climbing out of her highchair and he keeps getting up to run laps around the table?

...you go sit in the laundry room, have a solid cry for 3 minutes, then get on with it. At least thats what I've been doing.

Do I consider dropping them off at the Salvation Army as donations sometimes? Sure! 
But I probably won't ever do that.

I'm not sure what the point of this post was, but I feel a little better and slightly less scatterbrained, so I'll say it was a good idea. 


long time, no blog.

I haven't posted here in... jesus. in years? a year? 

But, it's Suicide Prevention Day, so, why not today.

Those of you that know me, know my struggle. Bethany, Ricky, you both come to mind. 

I've dealt with depression for the better part of my life. My life. 

I'm 28, about to be 29. Ive had these feelings since I was in the 8th grade. 
Let that sink in. 
I was 12. 
Shit, let me let that sink in.

16 years.

This disease has cost me a lot.
I'm afraid. 
I have commitment issues.
I second guess almost every personal connection I make.
I'm currently in the middle of a divorce. 
I'm constantly questioning my ability to care for myself. 
For my children.

I second guess whether people really like me.
I don't believe anyone who says they love me. 
No one.

Suicide has crossed my mind on a damn near weekly basis for several years now.
I've spent years medicated.
I've called hotlines.
I've talked to loved ones.
I've made bad decisions.
I've turned to substance abuse.
I've turned to educating myself. 
When I was younger, I turned to god.
I've tried blocking it all out.
I've tried talking it all out.
This shit doesn't go away.

I'm a relatively happy and sensible person. 
I live a normal life. 
I also think things like, 
"how easy would it be to hang myself?"
"would it be messy?"
"how would i go about getting a gun?"
"how many of these would kill me? Should i mix them with something?"

I've written letters to loved ones. 
I've written goodbyes and explanations to both of my children.
I still have these letters. 
I look forward to the day that I'll feel like its okay to fucking burn them.
But that's not this day.
And it won't be tomorrow. 
And that breaks my heart.

My post-partum depression after Imogen was born was so fucking severe that I had thoughts of leaving my house. Driving my car off of a bridge and drowning, secure in the thought and belief that my beloved babies were better off without me. 
That was I was bad.
That I was ruined.
That I was incapable of giving them the positive upbringing and role model that they so rightly deserved and needed.
I couldn't trust my mind. I was afraid of myself.
I reached a point, not too long ago, that I was afraid for my safety and the safety of my children. Ricky was gone.
I called Bethany. 
She drove down from DC that very night to stay with me and to help me. 
I'll never be able to express what that night meant to me. Ever.

Then, a few months later, I was so full of fear that I flushed my prescription pain killers down the toilet in an effort to feel safe.

I question all the time whether I'm able to be a good mother. 
A good partner.
A good sister.
A good daughter.
A good person.
Because every goddamn day, be it for a minute or an hour or an afternoon or a night spent awake and crying, I think about how uncontrollably sad I am and how it won't ever go away. 

Please, learn the signs. I really, truly believe that if it weren't for my loved ones, I wouldn't be here to write this today. 

Signs of Suicidal Thoughts 

Signs of PPD

Signs of PTSD

Sometimes, we can't help ourselves.
Sometimes I can't get out of bed, let alone ask for help.

I'm lucky. I'm alive. I know that I am cared for, by at least a few. 
I still don't trust my mind, but I'm getting better and knowing when it's trying to hurt me.

You aren't alone. If you read this. If you see this post. 
I know it hurts tremendously and you feel afraid and lost and alone and paralyzed.
You aren't alone, and I love you.
And you matter.
And it will be oaky.


white girl chicken tikka masala

I probably make some sort of Indian food 3-4 times a month. It should be more than that.
It's easy, smells and tastes fantastic, and it's always impressive.
Buuuut I'm not Indian so I'm not going to say my shizz is "authentic," unless I'm following a recipe, but it's tasty and my little culinary heart is in the right place. ;)

Chicken Tikka Masala is, to me, like the spaghetti of Indian food. Everyone thinks theirs is the best and you can find it ANYWHERE. 
You get the idea.
Here's mine. 
First rule of food: stay away from premade spice blends. They can be bland and just... just don't buy them, okay? Make them yourself. If you're SUPER ambitious, toast your own whole spices and grind them. 
But if you don't want to do that I don't blame you. 
I start my CTM (yeah, we're abbreviating it now) with yogurt. I prefer coconut milk yogurt (unsweetened, not vanilla or anything wacky, but that's a given) 
To my yogurt, I add salt, pepper, coriander, cumin, turmeric, paprika, chili powder, cinnamon, a little cardamom, and a teeeeeeny bit of clove.
No, I don't have measurements. Work it out. I believe in you.
I grate onion, garlic, and fresh ginger into aforementioned seasoned yogurt.
Then I add my raw chicken. I use boneless skinless thighs, but you could use breasts or tenderloins if you wanted to make it slightly less awesome, totally your call. 
Heat a large pot with clarified butter. Not olive oil, not Pam or any of that garbage. 
Clarified. Butter.
Add in your chicken mixture. Cook over medium high for about 10 minutes. Add in a can of petit diced tomatoes. Cook for another 10-15. Taste. Reseason to your liking.
Add a little water to thin it all out, and a touch of lemon juice. Reduce heat to low, simmer for around a half hour.
Serve that sucker over rice. 


"Oh Just Wait"

  One of my only and biggest gripes about being pregnant is just that: the gripes.
I understand, really, I do, that pregnancy is a different experience for every woman, and each pregnancy is different for that woman as well. 
In three weeks I'm due to deliver our second child, a little girl named Imogen Elizabeth.
I haven't really shared many details of my pregnancy. I didn't share loads of details about my pregnancy with Liam, either, because to be honest, there wasn't much to share.
They both were/are pretty uneventful pregnancies. No morning sickness, no incontinence issues, no swelling, no excessive weigh gain, no weird food cravings, not too much trouble sleeping, and not really much else to report.
And if I ever said any of those things, I was immediately hit with "Shut up!" "Oh just wait, it'll get worse!" or "Oh stop humble bragging!"
Real talk: It pisses me off that I feel like I shouldn't speak up or share my pregnancy details when others are because I'm not having a terrible time. Like there's some merit badge I haven't earned because I've never puked so hard that I pooped myself, and therefor I'm not invited to the "prego mommy talks."
I appreciate that women share their stories with me, but I find it so odd that I'm made to feel like my pregnancies are abnormal because I'm not experiencing it the same way they did.
I think pregnancy is fantastic. It has been for me, every time I've been pregnant. 
"Oh shut up" is to me what me saying "Haha, sucks to be you!" would be to you. 
It's rude.
"Oh just wait! It'll get worse."
It didn't. It hasn't. And it won't.
It seems that some women only believe your experience to be legitimate if it's truly horrible. If you run the morning sickness achey back pee when you sneeze can't sleep and grow excessive body hair gauntlet.
One of my favorites is, "You're so tiny!"
Is there something wrong with me? Is my baby too small? Am I consuming enough calories?
I would never say, "WOW! You're humongous!" to anyone. 
Because that's a dick thing to say. Why isn't it true the other way around?
Women who can't commiserate often feel like they're not encouraged to share, which is disheartening, to say the least.
  The same goes for parenthood.
People respond in a very different way when you're having a positive experience and they aren't. 
I know that it's different for everyone, and that for some it is truly very difficult. I just feel that the "motherhood community" seems lately to be geared much more to those who are struggling. 
When we want to talk, too. We want to share our experiences, too. 
But we aren't encouraged to as much. People tend to assume we're lying or exaggerating.
It's frustrating.
...and I thought maybe writing a blog would make me feel better, but it didn't.


Laundry Soap

I stay at home with Liam now, so I get bored at naptime and spend a bit of time on Pinterest.
I made laundry soap! 
It actually works, it smells great, and it made a ton. As in, I won't need to buy detergent for a year, and I do probably 2 loads of laundry a week. 
I really like this stuff. It's great for my clothes, Ricky's uniforms, and all of Liam's clothing. 
As far as towels, sheets, I still love my soap nuts.
(a big thanks to Angelina for introducing me to soap nuts)

I like the soap nuts for cloth diapers as well. If the detergent I made didn't contain the scented part, I think it would be safe to use on them, however. I'm on a mission to find the perfect CD safe detergent recipe.
My laundry soap.
I failed to take pictures at every stage, so I'm sorry. Boo.
You'll need:
A 5 gallon bucket with a lid for mixing
1 box (55 oz) Arm and Hammer Washing Soda
4 lbs Arm and Hammer Baking Soda
1 box (76oz) Borax (not boric acid)
2 bars of Zote Soap or 3 bars Fels Naptha (found in the detergent aisle)
*I used 1 bar of Zote and 1.5 bars of Fels Naptha*
  A 3lb tub of Oxiclean Free
1 container of Downy Unstoppables *totally optional*
A food processor

Okay. So pour your borax, Oxiclean, and washing soda into the bucket. Shake it all around with the lid on. Or make your husband do it because you're pregnant and your back hurts ;)
Now it gets a little more involved.
Grate the bars of soap. You can do this by hand (like I did, because I'm an idiot) or you can use the shredding blade on the food processor.
Once the soap is all grated, pulse it in batches with the baking soda and the Unstoppables in the food processor.  This took about 2-3 batches for me. Don't overload the food processor, obviously.
Add all the pureed goodness to the bucket. Commence mixing and shaking.
That's it.
I use about 2 tbsp per average sized load of laundry.
I have a front loading HE machine, and I just toss this into the drum instead of watering it down and using the dispenser, which you can totally do if you want!
I keep the big bucket in the garage and I have a smaller container that I keep next to the washing machine. I haven't had any problems removing stains or having the detergent discolor anything. 
Hooray for making soap!


Shepherd's Pie that won't make you want to take a nap!

...not that there is anything wrong with naps. I'm 7 months pregnant. I dig a good nap. But after you eat dinner and still want to clean up and hang out with your husband and child...it's nice to not feel like you're going to slip into a food coma. Now I want to watch "While You Were Sleeping."
It's not really pie, is it? I propose that all pies be topped with mashed potatoes. Actually no, that's a terrible idea.
So. I was at the grocery store looking for Colman's mustard (don't buy any other mustard) and I saw this
"You know what I haven't made in a while?"
You can surmise what the answer was.
I don't normally go for gravy or seasoning packets or whatever, but it was Friday, I was tired, and until that moment I had no idea what I was going to make for dinner, so I felt I owed it to this little sachet to take it home.
I love the idea of taking something very heavy and making it...less so.
Shepherd's pie is traditionally made with lamb or beef. Don't get me wrong, I love lamb, but I have about 4 pounds of ground turkey in my freezer. So turkey it was. 
I use fresh carrots, as they maintain their integrity during cooking. Also because any other version of carrots is positively vomiticious in my book. Frozen peas, so they don't become mushy. Some people put in corn. Ignore those people.
Potatoes. I love white potatoes. Buuuuut we all know sweet potatoes are better for you, I had one on the counter, and they're pretty. And my child likes them. 
I'm terrible at writing recipes so I'm sorry in advance. Okay? 
Make some mashed potatoes, using a mix of sweet potatoes and white potatoes. Mash them to your liking, season with salt and some butter (duh), and set them aside.
In a large skillet with high sides, heat equal parts butter and olive oil. I don't care how much of each. Guess.
Brown your turkey, crumbling it up as you go. Season with salt and pepper. Add some chopped onion and garlic, letting that sweat down, then add your carrots (chopped little) and frozen peas. Don't thaw the peas. Surely you know that. Cook until your carrots are softened (I like mine still crunchy.)
Mix the "gravy mix" with 3/4 cup of water and mix in, then heat until simmering and thickened.
Now, in a buttered casserole dish (I used a 9x9) spoon in your meat mixture. On top of that, you can just spread the potatoes over, or you can pipe them on decoratively. Guess which one I did. ;)
Top the whole thing with a little shredded sharp cheddar cheese and pop it under the broiler to melt the cheese and brown the potatoes.
It will look like this, and it will make you happy. I like to sprinkle mine with paprika and parsley. Then I like to forget to take pictures.
Serve with a nice pint of Guinness for your husband and a boring glass of stupid water for your pregnant self. 


Let's take a look at that Virginia.

Soo... guess what. I'm in Virginia now.

Ricky got here about two weeks ago, and then Liam and I drove up a week ago.
15 hours, non-stop, through the night, with a 1 year old.
Fuck me I'm an idiot.
It went rather well, he slept nearly the whole time and I only had to stop and nap at one rest stop.
The welcome center rest stop in North Carolina is CRAWLING with black and white cats, by the way. What the wha?

I almost took one. But they were gross. 
I love our new home and our new town. Old Towne Portsmouth is super cool, lots of beautiful architecture and interesting history, and there's a fabulous interactive children's museum for Liam.
I'm sure other children are allowed in as well.
Downtown Norfolk is about 5 miles away and it reminds me an awful lot of Seattle, which is awesome.
The yard has a beautiful wisteria-covered pergola in the back that will perfect for some outdoor yoga.
The water is right down the street, and I really enjoy walking the dogs at sunset down there. Pretty pretty.

I'll post pictures soon. I'm on R's tiny mutant laptop thing and it's about goddamn near impossible to do on here.


Aw Snap

I totally haven't blogged in like, a year.
Things are awesome, see Powell Sprout for more on family life!

First and foremost, we're leaving Florida! 
Ricky is leaving the Air Force and joining the Coast Guard as an officer. Come November we'll be living in Virginia or Washington DC.
Hey, it's not the west coast, but it isn't Florida. I'll take it.

Things here are swell. I left St. Francis back in October, our nanny moved away (we miss you Kelly!) and Liam started daycare at a center next to Starbucks, so I went back to the Bucks to make the daycare thing/drive/seeing him on my breaks thing easier. It's working out so far.
I had forgotten how much I genuinely enjoy making coffee. How sad!
I'm still cooking lots of awesome things!
 baked ziti with chicken and fontina!
 black bean and quinoa burgers on brioche buns!
 sriracha chicken!
(mix together sriracha, honey, and melted butter. brush on chicken. die happy)
 fish tacos, mexican pot beans, and strawberry frozen margaritas!
 red beans and brown rice with ground turkey!
 braised chicken thighs on chantarelle mushroom and sweet pea risotto
Whole wheat penne tossed with olive oil, fresh tomato, fresh spinach, garlic, and feta!
-this is literally all i can think to post right now because it's late and i'm an old lady. more tomorrow with some sweet recipes too!-


This weekend I swear I will update this thing.
Swear swear swear.


of the Asian Persuasion...

Last night's dinner. Turkey larb in butter lettuce wraps with darling little jasmine rice towers.
The Laotian original is made with pork, but turkey seemed just as good to me. Ground turkey, honey, lime and lemon juice, red chile, green onions, soy sauce, fish sauce, cilantro, parsley, and mint. That's it. It was pretty awesome.
I went with turkey last night because I was making this tonight!
Japanese braised pork belly served on rice with a raw spinach salad. I just braised the belly in the Multi-Cooker with soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sugar, a red chile, some green onions, and star anise. The braising liquid made the most fabulous warm dressing for the spinach. I could eat a bowl of just that. And maybe I did that very thing after dinner. You don't know.


Colored Denim

 So I'm totally in love with these awesome pants from Loft.
I'm also in love with the fact that I'm down to my pre-baby pants size.
Shouldn't everyone have a pair of chartreuse pants?
I think so.
Today I went to the mall, picked up some stuff for dinner, and might take Yams to the zoo here in a bit if it cools down a little.
For dinner I'm making spicy ground turkey salad in lettuce wraps.
I went back to work on the 2nd of July, and so far I feel okay. I wasn't sure how I'd do with being away from Yams, but it's working out. We have a great nanny, and I work so close to home. I'm also off Friday, Saturday, and Sunday which is great. It's nice to have 3 days in a row at home.
I have yet to become one of those hurried working moms with the messy hair, sweats on the weekends,  and the never-clean house that I was so afraid of becoming. We'll see how it goes.



Turkey! I love using turkey cutlets whenever I can. This is a simple recipe, but a delicious and impressive one. I doubt people would guess it's turkey. Coat the cutlets first in egg wash then in breadcrumbs and brown (slowly over medium heat, otherwise you'll ruin them!) in olive oil. Remove from the pan, and add diced tomatoes and their juice, zucchini, onion, and enough chicken stock to make it loose. Add the turkey back into the sauce, and top each piece with a slice of prosciutto and some thick shavings of parmigiano reggiano. Finish the whole thing in the oven to melt the cheese and crisp the prosciutto. This is best done in a big cast iron skillet, which can go from stove top to oven easily.
Not turkey. Thick (they look like little meat icebergs, don't they?) filet mignon with mushroom cream sauce.
Just brush the steaks with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Ricky and I both like ours rare so I cooked these for 5 minutes per side. Don't move them if you want pretty grill marks. I did these in a grill pan but outside would be lovely, it was cruddy out this day though. Once done, let them rest for 10 minutes.
To make the sauce, saute a chopped shallot, some fresh thyme, and 8-10 oz of mixed mushrooms in olive oil over medium heat. I used shiitake, cremini, and button, but whatever you can find is fine. I wouldn't use portobellos, though.
Once those are nice and sweated, add 1/2 cup-ish of brandy to the pan. It might catch on fire, don't be alarmed. Do not, however, pour straight from the bottle. That's just stupid.
If you want it to catch on fire and it doesn't, you can do what I did and ignite it with a long fireplace match.
Brandy flames are lovely.
Next pour in 1/4 cup of cream and 1/4 cup of chicken broth. Let that simmer and reduce a bit.
Spoon some sauce onto each plate and set the filet mignon on top. Garnish with something green, like parsley (like me) or chives.
Ooooh or tarragon.

Soup. Because soup is easy.

What is easier than putting on a pot of soup for dinner and serving it with crusty bread?
Nothing. The correct answer is nothing.
Except maybe ordering takeout but come on.

Chicken sausage, cannellini bean, and escarole soup.
Super easy, super delicious, and it tastes like it took you more than 25 minutes.
-but it didn't.
1 package Italian-style chicken sausage. You could use the kind that you slice and cook or the kind that gets crumbly out of the casing. Whatever.
1 head escarole (it's next to the lettuce and kale and collards and whathaveyou.) Chopped.
1 15 oz can cannellini beans or other small white beans. Drained, of course.
4 cups chicken broth (1 package is about 4 cups)
2 cloves of garlic, minced. Do not use a press. In fact, throw your garlic press away.
Those things are stupee.
2 tbps olive oil, plus more for drizzling.
salt and pepper
crush red pepper flakes, because spicy soup is awesome soup.
-Slice (or remove from casings and crumble) the chicken sausage. Heat olive oil on medium heat in a large stock pot with a lid. Add sausage and cook until browned. Add garlic, cook for 1 minute more until fragrant, then add the beans and the escarole. Cook until the escarole is wilted down. Add some salt, pepper, and red pepper to taste. 
Pour the chicken broth over, cover, and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Serve with some extra virgin olive oil drizzled over the top and some warm, crusty bread.


living with Lupus

It's been almost a year since my "formal" Lupus diagnoses. If you don't know about Lupus, please learn more here. The diagnoses was almost a sort of relief...I finally knew what was going on with me, what had been going on with me for so long. I still don't completely understand everything about this disease, and I'm still not super confident with how I'm living with it. Granted, being a nursing mother keeps me from taking many of the traditional pharmaceutical remedies for my symptoms. I eat healthy, drink plenty of water, make sure I'm active (I work out just about every day in some form or another), all the basic stuff. I take Aleve when I can (not while breastfeeding or during pregnancy, though), and I've started looking into fish oil/glucosamine/chondroitin.
I've had a few pretty bad flares, but the worst by far has been this one. I've been reading about it, and apparently it's common for women with Lupus to have a really bad flare after giving birth. Maybe it has something to do with the hormone shift? I don't know.
It's terrible. And frustrating.
I feel like I have the joints of a 90 year old woman. I can't make it through a workout DVD without nearly crying because my knees hurt so badly. My ankles are sore, inflamed, and swollen beyond recognition. My knees hurt just walking around. My wrists feel like they need to have braces on them. Some mornings my wrists are so sore that I have to wait a bit before I can pick up my son out of his cradle. Those are some of the worst times.
The fatigue is probably the next worst thing. No matter how much sleep I get, I'm still groggy and exhausted. Groggy and exhausted aren't exactly helpful with a newborn. He's awesome during the night. He wakes up a few times to be fed and changed, then goes right back to sleep. If it weren't for this ridiculous disease I'd feel awesome. It doesn't matter if I get 2 hours or 9 hours, I still feel awful. It's so frustrating. I'm getting worked up just writing about it. I don't know what to do. I don't know how I can maintain this. I wanted so badly, when they first told me that I have Lupus, to go on with my life as usual.
"Lupus isn't going to affect my life."
I wanted to be one of those people that laughs in the face of a chronic disease. To maintain my social life, work schedule, exercise schedule, and home life. 
Now a year later, I honestly just feel like I'm fighting life, not living it.
Something's gotta give, ya know?
This flare has lasted more than 2 weeks now and it's showing no signs of letting up. I have to cover up with makeup to hide the weird blotchy-ness on my face. I'm just thankful that my hair isn't falling out again.
I don't know how to make this make sense to people, even my husband.
"But you don't look sick" is officially my least favorite thing to hear. It's so hard to make someone understand what it's like to feel like your body is working against you. I feel like a prisoner in this sometimes. Like I'm not the one calling the shots, the Lupus is.
I've been working out every day for the past week or so. The last few pounds of pregnancy weight are being a total pain in the ass, perhaps thanks to the sluggish thyroid that accompanies Lupus. It's helping the depression that comes with my flares quite a bit, but it's hurting my body. I feel so conflicted... I want to keep at it because it helps my mind, and I need to work out after having Liam, but I can barely get out of bed the next morning. I can run for 30 minutes, which makes me knees feel like they're on fire, or I can walk fast for 75 minutes. I'd much rather be on the treadmill for 30 minutes, but I can't maintain this every day if I'm running. Seriously, I wake up the next morning and it feels like Kathy Bates hit me in the legs with a baseball bat. Misery indeed.
(See what I did there?)
I'm thankful for the good parts of my health, I know that I could have it much worse. I just need to stay positive and find a lifestyle and a balance that works for me.
I'm off to do a much longer cardio session than I'd like to.
Enough whining.  


Summa' Time

Whenever I see rhubarb in the grocery store (the store today was Ever'Man Natural Food Co-op in Pensacola, love that place) I can't help but think "aaaah it's summertime!"
I remember my grandmother growing rhubarb in her back yard.
Or was it horseradish?
Whatever. She grew stuff and it was nice and rhubarb makes me think about that.
Except now I'm thinking about what a horseradish pie would taste like and I'm pretty sure it would taste like death and fire. 
Moving on.
So like I said, I was at the store and saw organic rhubarb. I got excited.
I looked to my left and saw organic strawberries.
I got a little more excited.
Liam looked confused at all the "gasp!" and "eegads" sounds that I was making.
He'll appreciate these things when he's older.
So I bought the rhubarb and the strawberries but I was too lazy to make a pie crust (shut up) so I made a crisp instead. A crumble? I think they might be the same thing.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp/Crumble
2 pints fresh strawberries, cut in half they're bigguns', hulled
5-6 stalks fresh rhubarb, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup fresh orange juice + the zest
tablespoon cornstarch
teaspoon vanilla extract
tablespoon lavender buds (I almost wrote "lavender bugs")
3/4 cup + 1/2 cup white sugar
teaspoon salt
1 cup spelt flour
1 cup quick cooking rolled oats (not instant)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
12 tablespoons (Whoa Nelly!) cold butter, cut into little pieces
pinch of cardamom, if you dig that sort of thing.
Preheat your oven to 350
Toss the strawberries, rhubarb, orange zest, lavender, and 3/4 cup of sugar together in a large bowl. 
Mix the cornstarch with the orange juice and vanilla until dissolved. Pour over the fruit and toss to combine.
Let it hang out for a sec while you make the topping so it's nice and macerated.
If you're unsure of it, you may also use this time to look up "macerated."
Mix the 1/2 cup sugar, salt, spelt flour, brown sugar, cardamom if you're sassy, and oats together in a bowl.
Scatter the butter over the top, then get in there with your hands and work it all together to form a crumbly topping. You could do this in a mixer but it's just as quick to do it this way, plus you don't have to dirty your mixer bowl or an attachment. I'm here for you.
Pour the fruit into an 8x11 baker. Set that pan on a cookie sheet lined with foil or parchment. Trust me.
Scatter the topping over the fruit. Bake for 1 hour, all the while enjoying that heavenly smell.
Serve warm or at room temperature, with ice cream or whipped cream or whatever your little heart desires.
Except horseradish.


Chicken. And brownies. And an almond tart. Guess which one I liked better?

 The tart. Duh. It's like marzipan in tart form. With cherry jam, which can never be a bad thing.
When Liam is taking naps I'm really trying to make time for cooking and baking. That sounds weird, but I love it, and it helps me relax. I've been able to keep up with making dinners, and I'm really thankful for that. I know it's hard to believe to some people, but my favorite part of my day has always been cooking. Now my favorite part of my day is whenever I'm holding, feeding, or just staring at my new son, but I really wanted to keep food/cooking in my life. I'm so happy that I've been able to so far, granted it's only been 2 weeks.

 These are the brownies I made my for my and Liam's nurses the day we got home. I think they're adorable. They smelled fabulous! I love brownies with nuts, but if you're allergic or just don't like them, lavender brownies are just as tasty without them.
The aforementioned marzipan in tart form experience. Italian almond tart. It looks fancy and complicated, but honestly the hardest part was finding almond paste and the grocery stores around here. I was finally able to find the canned kind (way better for baking that the stuff in the tube) at a Publix in Mary Esther. The recipe is here at Ever So Sweet.
Chicken! I was wanting something with lots of vegetables. I cut and pounded the chicken breasts into paillards, then browned them in olive oil. Once they were pretty and golden, I removed them and kept them warm. To the same pan I added chopped tomato, garlic, white onion, an anchovy filet, and green olives. I threw in some parsley at the end when I put the chicken back in. 
Served with rice and green beans. Quick, easy, delicious, and good lookin'.
My kind of dinner.


There's an App for that.

 Ricky had some people over tonight to hang out and celebrate baby Liam. Scotch drinking (none for me!), chatting, and snacks. 
I, much to his chagrin, wanted to make some simple appetizers for his get-together. 
Easy, fast things that I could finish while Liam napped. He naps a lot. This is what I decided on. 
Rosemary almonds, Gorgonzola puff pastry bites, spiced olives, pepper crackers with cream cheese, smoked salmon, and caviar, and warm dates stuff with almonds with sea salt and lime zest.
 Almonds on the left, cheesy, salty, yummy Gorgonzola puff pastry on the right.
Both very simple. The almonds are just sautéed in butter, salt, rosemary, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce and then roasted for 10 minutes. Worsh-te-shister-shawwww.....
The Gorgonzola bites are embarrassingly simple. Roll out puff pastry, press crumbled Gorgonzola into it, sprinkle on fresh cracked pepper, cut into squares, then bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
 Olives on the left. Just toss good-quality olives in olive oil, minced garlic, lemon zest strips, and red pepper flakes. Let them hang out at room temperature for a while for everything to get to know each other.
 Pepper water crackers topped with smoked salmon and caviar. I made more than 6, I swear.

The best thing! These dates are to die for.
Remove the pits from Medjool dates and stuff each one with a roasted almond. Sauté for 3-4 minutes in extra virgin olive oil, then  remove them (with a slotted spoon or tongs) to a bowl and toss with coarse sea salt and fresh lime zest.
Seriously. So good.
All of these things were very easy to make and took very little labor and time, less than an hour, which was nice for me.
Appetizers are a great way to entertain, so much less fuss than a full meal, and everyone can pick what they want and graze throughout the evening. It's also way easier to clean up!



 Also breakfast. This is what I ate the other day. I promise there is cereal down there somewhere.
Pretty ridiculous. Ricky said I couldn't finish it. In your face, Ricky.
 Leek and potato soup with chives and a little bacon. Because... well, to be honest, bacon doesn't need a reason.
 Crispy mustard glazed pork belly with onions and fennel on Spätzle.
 French onion soup with cannellini beans and Gruyere toasts and salad.
You need something vegetarian after having pork belly the night before, I think.
Salmon brushed with dijon mustard and honey, served with crispy roasted potatoes and mustard greens.