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Tuesday, July 22

An Update of Sorts

Things have been quiet in this space lately for a few different reasons... life has been pretty hectic, juggling a full-time job, a commute, managing a household, planning/prepping meals and wrangling a new babe. In all honesty I've stayed away partly because I didn't want every post to read 'oh my gosh, I'm so overwhelmed with life,' but that is often my reality these days. We are in the throes of the four month sleep regression (hello, two hour chunks of sleep, I thought you were a thing of the past!), but we starting to figure it out and make concessions where we can. I'm focusing on living in and enjoying each moment, not always looking ahead to what's next. And it's so liberating, you guys. Especially for this planning, organizing type-A gal. 

That's not to say that there aren't long, difficult days. And my ability to deal with these days correlates exactly to the amount of sleep I've gotten (read: the amount of sleep my baby allows me). I know this is stating the obvious, but motherhood is such an adjustment. One day it's just you and your spouse and the next there is a tiny little life that requires your complete and undivided attention, twenty-four hours out of the day.

It's hard, but it's glorious.

So, a few things...

This post on the first three months of motherhood struck a cord with me. My sentiments exactly.

Loving the new She Reads Truth app. Today is the first day of the study on biblical justice, and I am already excited about what I will learn. Also, the study packs are so lovely!

Husband and I are planning a backpacking trip to the Wind River Range in Wyoming for next August, and my restless soul can hardly wait.

We are also planning a two night backpacking trip to the Smoky Mountains this fall as a small preparation trip for the Wind River Range.

We are in the middle of redoing our master bedroom. (side note: large house projects with a new babe are not a good idea. lesson learned.) So far we have freshly painted white walls, a smoothed out ceiling, and lovely dark hardwood floors. Next up is replacing the windows with full-view panes and painting our wood trim white and our doors black. You can find some inspiration pictures here.

Speaking of bedrooms, this quilt is so lovely. I also really love this coverlet in muslin, which would work well with our current monochromatic bedding. I'm all about light, neutral layers when it come to bedding.

This instagram feed in my new favorite. So many great paleo recipe ideas!

Today is my Monday... here's to a great week!

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Monday, June 9

Paleo Basics // The Ultimate Burger

A really good hamburger is not only totally satisfying, it's incredibly simple to make paleo. Nutrient dense toppings such as a fried egg, grilled portabella mushroom cap, and avocado slices more than account for the lack of bun. Also, you needn't forgo any summer barbecues just because of your diet. It's one of our favorite, simple meals, and with summer just beginning, there are a lot of ultimate burgers in our future.

To make 3 large burgers (or 4 smaller ones) you will need:
1lb grass-fed ground beef
about 3/4 tsp liquid smoke
a few healthy shakes of Worcestershire sauce (this has molasses in it. omit if you want.)
a generous few shakes of steak seasoning (look out for sugar and seed oils)
1 small red or yellow onion, whole
1 portabella mushroom cap per burger

1 farm fresh egg per burger
avocado slices
fresh tomato slices
organic spring mix or other lettuce
organic pickles (read ingredients!)
organic ketchup, mayo, Dijon mustard (read ingredients!)

How to:
Marinate your ground beef in the steak seasoning, Worcestershire and liquid smoke for a few hours before grilling. Patty out into three or four burgers and grill until desired cook is achieved {we go for medium/medium well}. Cut the ends off your onion and place it in a piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil, then close the foil around the onion and place it on the grill for 10-15 minutes. Wash the mushroom caps and brush with olive oil, then place those on the grill as well. Grill the mushrooms for about 3 minutes per side. While the meat and veggie are grilling, fry the eggs for each burger and slice the other toppings.

We like to eat our burgers with crispy sweet potato fries. This recipe is a good one, with or without the rosemary. Also, if you're just really craving a traditional hamburger with a bun, this recipe is a great option.

Happy grilling.

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Thursday, June 5

Vanilla Almond Granola // Against All Grain

Oh, granola. It is one of the things that I missed most when we switched to a paleo diet. I missed granola so much that I would periodically cheat and allow myself some gluten free granola that usually contained seed oils and corn. And until I found this recipe by Danielle Walker, I hadn't been satisfied with a paleo version of my beloved snack. But, like all her other recipes, this one is a definite winner. 
I omitted the flax seed and used 1/2 cup of maple syrup instead of the 3/4 cup of honey. I also substituted golden raisins for red ones. Next time I think I will try it with cranberries!

This granola is great over refrigerated coconut milk, coconut yogurt, with a splash of almond milk or eaten alone. It also makes a great gift!


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Tuesday, June 3

Memorial Day 2014

We spent Memorial Day weekend surrounded with family and friends. On Saturday morning we packed up Elliot and Sambo and headed to North Georgia to spend  the evening at our friends' cabin. K spent many a weekend at the cabin growing up and into college, so taking E for the weekend was pretty great. We didn't do much, just drank coffee on the porch swing, went on a short waterfall hike, ate delicious grilled salmon and talked about life. Perfection.

Monday we drove over to K's Aunt's house to hang out at the salt water pool. Elliot was less than impressed with the cool water, despite his love of bath time, so we left shortly after lunch. It was just enough time to soak in some sun before the afternoon rain showers. We grilled burgers at home and made crispy sweet potato fries {recipe soon!}, then snuggled on the couch as a family and listened to the rain. Again, perfection.

Sometimes the simplest things are just the best.

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Monday, June 2

Paleo Basics // Sauces, Dressings & Marinades

Sauces, dressings and marinades are one of the tricky things to navigate when it comes to eating paleo as most packaged sauces contain sugar and/or seed oils. The best solution, of course, is to make all sauces and dressings yourself, but sometimes that can be overwhelming. So here are some of my favorite paleo sauces that don't have any hidden ingredients.

These dressings/marinades hit it out of the park. I'm partial to the Zesty Ranch and the Lemon Garlic. They also make a paleo-friendly ketchup!

Coconut Aminos:
A substitute for soy sauce, I use this for marinating meats, in stir fry dishes, as an addition to homemade salad dressings, and to season sauteed vegetables. Use as you would soy sauce!

I like to add a splash of this to our chicken to give it a bit more flavor. I also use it in stir fry or the sesame orange chicken recipe from this book, which is amazing!

Add this to slow cooker chicken tacos, put it on eggs or atop a taco salad. It is especially good when combined with homemade guacamole - no salad dressing needed!

I add this to grass-fed beef marinades and slow cooker roasts, salad dressings, and splash over sauteed Brussels sprouts and oven roasted butternut squash with cranberries.

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We do use a couple sauces that aren't strict paleo because they contain sugar. We are okay with this since we use these items sparingly and avoid them completely during a Whole30. 

Sweet Ginger Chili Sauce:
This one isn't strict paleo because it contains sugar, but it is delicious nonetheless. A bit spicy, a bit sweet, a bit gingery, it's great over grass-fed burgers and in stir fry. 

Another item that contains sugar/molasses, we use the lower-sodium Worcestershire sauce mostly for marinating steaks and sometimes for grilled chicken. 

As a general rule, we make most of our dressings and marinades from simple but flavorful ingredients like olive oil, sesame oil, balsamic vinegar, raspberry champagne vinegar, Dijon mustard, lemon or lime juice, and spices. Sometimes we add honey or maple syrup, which we are okay with, but you choose for yourself. That being said, it's nice to be have things in the pantry that are paleo-friendly when you just don't have time to make your own!


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Thursday, May 29

Healthy Living // Post-Baby Fitness

Weeks after giving birth and experiencing the healing that then ensues, the reality of working out was overwhelming. Nonetheless, post-baby fitness is so important to me. I honestly only have about  five pounds that I want to lose, and I am certain that eating paleo throughout my pregnancy and breastfeeding have allowed me to get really close to my pre-baby weight quickly and with minimal effort.

Just to give myself a set schedule and not have to think up workouts, I joined EPLifeFit for the next couple months. The basics of the program include Olympic lifts and short metabolic conditioning workouts. And after only a few weeks, I can tell a difference. I am also back to eating strict paleo with an allowance for a few extra carbs and calories since E is still exclusively nursing.

This is what my current workout schedule looks like: 

-- I workout on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday and complete a two part workout. 
Part one: Heavy Lift Rotation (back squat or deadlift or bench press)
Part two: Metabolic conditioning workout (metcon), always less than 20 minutes

-- On weekday afternoons we take walks around the neighborhood. As I mentioned last week, Elliot loves to be outside, so late afternoon walks as a family are one of our favorite things.

-- If possible, I try to sneak in 30 minutes of yoga at least once a week. This usually occurs while little E is napping, but I often have to choose between practicing yoga and prepping dinner... and dinner typically wins.

-- Saturdays are for trail runs, swimming laps, long walks in the woods, yoga, riding my road bike or any other sport type activity. If  we have time or feel like doing one of these activities, we do them, but there's no pressure. I no longer use running or swimming as my means of maintaining fitness. Instead it is a hobby, a sport I enjoy. {Read more about why I've made this change here.}

-- After listening to this super interesting podcast, we also recently started making mobility exercises a priority, aiming for at least three days a week of committed stretching, foam rolling, or completing one of these alignment videos.

Also, it is super important to note that exercise isn't enough. Eating whole, paleo foods is absolutely essential for good body composition, fitness and general well-being. And we can't forget sleep. Getting enough sleep helps keep cortisol levels low, which allows for good body composition, fitness and well-being.{That being said, I am probably not getting enough sleep these days, but with a 10 week old and going back to work, it just isn't possible some days. I do my best to get at least 6 hours and have at least one night a week where my sweet husband takes over night duty so I can get some uninterrupted sleep. I definitely notice a difference in my workouts on the nights that I get less sleep, though!}

Hope this helps any of you working to get rid of baby weight or anyone trying to improve overall strength and body composition. I truly believe in this plan and this type of exercise!


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Monday, May 26

Paleo Basics // Grilled Salmon + Sauteed Vegetables

I am including this recipe in the Paleo Basics series because this recipe is easily adapted to whatever you have in your refrigerator. The key is simple seasonings that provide lots of flavor. This dish easily becomes grilled chicken with sauteed onions, zucchini and bell pepper. Or how about flank steak with sauteed shredded Brussels sprouts and cabbage? You get the idea! 

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Lately I have been making a concentrated effort to eat more fish. Ever since I was a child I've been less than a fan of seafood. It's that distinct fishy taste that I just can't get down with. That being said, when we vacationed in Panama last year, I ate fresh tuna steaks every night and absolutely loved it. So far we've grilled tuna steaks from the farmer's market, wild caught turbot from Whole Foods, and now wild salmon from Trader Joe's. {You can find some of my favorite paleo TJ items here!}

Grilled Salmon Fillet + Sauteed Vegetables

For the fish:
2 salmon fillets (preferably wild caught)
Trader Joe's 21 seasoning salute
Olive oil

For the vegetables:
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 small yellow onion, chopped
1/2 package of baby bella mushrooms, sliced in half
1/2 package organic grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1/2 package organic spinach
1 tbl spoon ghee or grass-fed butter
olive oil
salt & pepper
coconut aminos

How to:
Drizzle your salmon fillets with a bit of olive oil (about 2 tablespoons) and season with 21 seasoning salute or other seasoning mix (no sugar or seed oils, please!) and place in the fridge for about four hours or more before cooking. When it's dinnertime, remove the fillets from the fridge and place on a hot, oiled grill. We cooked the skin side first and removed the fillet when it started flaking, about ten minutes. While the salmon is cooking saute the onions and garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of ghee/butter. Once the onions are translucent, add in the mushrooms. Saute for about 2 minutes, then add in the tomatoes and cook for a few minutes more. Finally add in the spinach and cook for just a few minutes, until the spinach is wilted. Season with a pinch of sea salt and pepper and a splash of coconut aminos just before serving. Remove the salmon from the grill and serve with a lemon wedge and a side salad of organic greens and balsamic dressing.

Happy (paleo) eating!

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Wednesday, May 21

Motherhood // Thoughts of a New Mom 02

8 WEEKS...
Has it really been eight weeks since I brought this sweet little man into the world? In some ways those first few overwhelming, sleep-deprived but oh so wonderful days feel like yesterday. And in other ways it seems like we are figuring this thing out and finding our new normal. I've said it before, but the best advice I received about this whole process... 'Don't. Blink.' So true.

I am back at work but only part time for now. I will eventually go back full time, most likely in June or July, but for now having a few days during the week at home with E is essential. The first day back was difficult but not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. Still, those evening cuddles with my little one are oh so precious and necessary after 11 hours away from him. Luckily, my amazing/generous/rockstar mom is keeping Elliot while we are at work. Such a blessing, I can't even begin to explain.

A few other miscellaneous thoughts from this new mom trying to figure this whole thing out...

-- Babies should come with a dashboard that has indicator lights for bored, overstimulated, I need to be held, I just need to cry and so so sleepy.

-- One on one time with my husband, although sometimes difficult to obtain, is so crucial. I miss that guy so much some days even though he is in the same room.

-- My babe's coos are my absolute favorite sound.

-- Little E is growing so fast it's insane. Despite the fact that his mama is somewhat of a shrimp, he already fills out his three month clothes. What?!

-- Those deep blue grey eyes are the best sight in the world after a long day at work. I seriously hope they don't change color... but if they do, a deep brown like his daddy's would be so handsome. 

-- Elliot loves being outside, a trait he inherited from both his parents, but especially his papa. Our new trick is that when he is starting to get fussy, we simply walk outside and talk about the trees and flowers and squirrels and he quietens down immediately. I may have been known to put the Roo in front of the window so I can prepare dinner. ;) Peace at any cost, right??

Also, we are planning to switch to cloth diapers here in the next month or so. Any suggestions, techniques, tip and tricks are welcome!


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Monday, May 19

Paleo Basics // Trader Joe's Favorites

Today I'm starting a new series about paleo basics. When I published the Whole30 meal plans in January {1, 2, 3, 4, 5} I received quite a few questions about things that I take for granted. Like how to make chicken salad, where to find certain products, and how to eat paleo and not break the bank. All of theses things are second nature to me now since we have been eating paleo for four plus years, and I sometimes forget what it was like in those first few months. It can get overwhelming quickly, so my hope is that this series will help you seamlessly ease into a paleo lifestyle.

When it comes to saving money and eating paleo, one of my favorite places is Trader Joe's because I can get good quality paleo items for a good price. There are a few produce items that I will only buy organic {spinach and sweet potatoes are on the list}, and TJ has good prices on these items as well as some pantry staples and oils. Because we live an hour  from the closest TJs, we go about once every 2 weeks and stock up. We build this into our grocery budget by making the in between week's budget smaller and buying less that week. So every other week we have more to spend on our grocery budget.

See my list of TJ favorites here.

A few notes...

-- We buy meat from our local grocery store or online because we can get free-range chicken and grass-fed beef from local farmers. However, if I can't make it to another store or we are out of our freezer supply, I like knowing I can get decent meat products at Trader Joe's as well.  

-- We get our eggs from our backyard hens or from a local farm. Before we had the ladies, however, we purchased the organic eggs from Trader Joe’s.


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Sunday, May 18

Elliot West // One Month

{better late than never}

When Elliot was born I think I hear the phrase 'don't blink' about a hundred times, and despite the cliche, I have to say it's so. so. true. I feel like I turned around and he was already a month old. Those first days of sleep deprivation and figuring out how to take care of a newborn went by in such a blur, and now I want them back. It is so hard but so rewarding. And this sweet little life has changed mine forever.


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Saturday, April 26

Easter 2014

This year's Easter celebration was {obviously} my favorite yet. We honored our tradition of attending church on the town square, then headed to spend the day with family. We had lunch with my parents and helped my niece and nephews hunt for eggs while my siblings and their spouses doted on little E. He even got an Easter egg from his Mimi with a little start up cash for his piggy bank. ;)

After lunch with my side of the family, we headed over to K's sister's house {which is conveniently right down the street from my parents} for more egg-hunting with nephews. Again, E got lots of sweet attention, and we spent some time outdoors enjoying the glorious sunshine and cool spring breeze. 

And as much as I love Easter because it is a day of family, the true reason for the holiday is so much more important. Praise the Lord that Jesus, the Son of God, was obedient to His Father and suffered torture and death in order that all of us may live in heaven one day. For that I am truly thankful.


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Monday, April 21

Life Lens // Little Moments

A few snippets of our life lately and sweet little moments, some via iPhone and the VSCO app, some via our DSLR.

{So. Much. Sweetness.}

{In love with our Stokke Scoot! Perfect for afternoon walks around the neighborhood on pretty days. And outings for lunch in the city. LOVE this place. We also made some bone broth with fresh oregano from the garden. So so good.}

{Date night in Athens with my one and only. We saw this band and this one. So so good. Also, the Georgia Theater rooftop is my new favorite place.}


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Thursday, April 17

Baby Talk // My Newborn Favorites

There is no shortage of lists out there that tell you what all you "need" for your first baby. It is completely overwhelming, in my opinion. Luckily I have an amazing support group of mama friends that not only gave me the low down on what I really may need but were also generous enough to let us borrow some of the more ahem costly items that their babies had outgrown. Coupled with our commitment to registering for only what we thought we'd really use, we were able to keep our 'baby stuff' to a minimum. And while some things really are superfluous, there were items that we originally thought unnecessary that we ended up purchasing and use often. While I know our 'necessities' will change as Elliot ages, here is a list of my current personal essentials, pared down to what we use the most.

Sleep Sheep Sound Machine: gifted to E by his Mimi, this sounds machine works wonders at night. E responds well to the "S's" {side, swaddle, shush, sway, suck}, and I love that it has a timer. Added bonus is the soft material and the fact that my iPhone speakers are no longer working overtime. 

Aden + Anais Muslin Swaddle Blankets: our favorite light-weight blankets that also make great swaddlers

The Honest Company Body Oil: we use this after bath time to keep little man's skin soft and smooth. I try not to put too many products on him so his skin will stay healthy, and this sweet smelling natural oil is my favorite.

Pee-pee Teepees: filed under 'things I was sure we didn't need,' I use with every diaper change. After being whizzed on and cleaning up the wall behind the changing table at 3am one to many times, I broke down and bought them. Definitely a good investment if you ask me. 

Earth Mama Angel Baby Bottom Balm: we use this with every messy diaper because it  is filled with delicious smelling herbs and works so well to prevent diaper rash naturally.

Aden + Anais Stroller Blanket: a slightly heavier blanket that is oh so soft and snug

Summer Infant Organic Cotton Swaddle Wrap: soft organic cotton and so easy to use at 3am when you're just. so. tired.

Bum Genius Flannel Wipes: we wet these with warm water and use them in lieu of pre-moistened wipes to keep little man's bum free from rashes. 

4moms Infant tub: this is something we borrowed from my girl Kindredly. Is it necessary? No. Does it make my life easier and bath time more enjoyable for E? Yes. Is there another less costly tub that would work as well? Probably. Nonetheless, I love this tub. '

Books: because E loves hear our voices and loves to look at the pictures, and I love reading stories to him already. 

What are/were your newborn essentials?

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Wednesday, April 16

Sunday Truths // Fasting

{Write hard and clear about what hurts. -- Ernest Hemingway}


Fasting hurts. It’s tangible and practical repentance, and repentance must change how we live our lives. We turn from the things that give us false comfort, and only have God.

When I read this commentary I was at a vulnerable and emotional place. I was grieving for the type of birth experience I had longed for, mourning my battered and bruised body, and wallowing in self pity. I had just seen a beautiful photo of a friend who had delivered her second baby girl only a few weeks after I had Elliot. Minutes after giving birth, she looked amazing -- perfect hair, perfect makeup, tear-filled eyes holding her baby. It is a stunning moment and a stunning picture. And deep down in the corners of my heart, I was resentful. And jealous. I was certain that she had a Cesarean.. or an epidural.. or something that made her delivery less of a difficult feat than mine. My heart asked why that couldn't have been me. Minutes after delivering Elliot, I was red, swollen, and sweaty with countless broken blood vessels in my eyes and on my neck and chest. There are no pictures of us from those first moments. Partially because the midwife decided to give me a strong pain medication that knocked me out. {I only have fragments of memories from delivery until waking up in  the mother/baby room.} And while I'm still struggling to work through my experience, my resentment and jealousy are not the response that the Lord requires of me. 

This is just one example of my tendency to constantly compare myself to others, even my friends. It's such a damaging and dangerous habit. And sometimes I'm the one who looks better... but it is a false comfort. Through this whole experience I think the Lord is teaching me not only about patience and trust, but about finding my true self worth in Him and Him alone. If I value who I am in Christ and find my comfort in only that, the things and people I compare myself to will cease to matter. In fact, I wouldn't compare myself at all.

So as a tiny act of obedience I am fasting from my social media vice, Instagram, for seven days, hoping that the Lord will begin to change the black corners of my heart and begin to bring me to a place of finding my worth in Him alone. 

 God’s grace and mercy reach even the blackest hearts. And I’m with Paul when he said he was the foremost of sinners. I don’t gouge eyes, yet pride, envy, and wrath are always within arm’s length for me. “But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life." (1 Timothy 1:15-16, ESV)

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The basis of this study is the story of Jonah, and the basis of this commentary is Jonah 3:5-10
{Italicized writing is taken from She Reads Truth}

Monday, April 14

Monday Musings

Since the vast majority of my days lately are spent at home in workout clothes or pjs, I've been perusing the internet for inspiration of all sorts and finding comfort and happiness in the littlest of things {pun intended}. 

This jumpsuit{despite the fact that my ten year old nephew shops at this store...} I'm thinking of wearing it for an evening wedding in May. Loose waves, simple jewels and killer heels. Thoughts?

This herbal tea. Because I love love love peppermint tea... and I can't drink it right now. This rose infused substitute is definitely making my afternoons more enjoyable.

Paleo margaritas. Enough said.

These sandals. Because they are so comfortable that I may just order a second pair {the coral caught my eye}. I mean, they are made from a yoga mat.

Name rings. One for the first man in my life, my amazing husband, and one for the second, my sweet sweet son.

This little boy. Today and always.

It was a beautiful weekend in my neck of the woods --we had dinner with my parents {grilling out grass fed steaks... yes, please!}, spent some time in the yard planting pretty things, and made it to church with E to celebrate Palm Sunday. Here's to a great week as we move towards Easter and the celebration of the resurrection of our Lord and the amazing gift he extends to us.


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