Self Care and Taking a Breath

Dear sisters,

I find myself so fascinated by this concept of self care. It’s all the rage right now, maybe because everyone is realizing how very wonderful it is. Instead of a Donna Meagle
TREAT YO’SELF day (which is also great), you can do something special and call it self care!

Moving, having a baby, travelling to see family over the holidays, everyone being sick for a month, these things kind of put me in survival mode. There were still plenty of wonderful days and memories to be had, but my over-arching feeling was one of tension, bracing for more illnesses, gritting my teeth and wearing Helen for naps in the airport, not sleeping much so both children were happy and settled. Recently, I’ve realized I don’t need to be bracing for anything, nothing to grit my teeth for! We are here, settled in Fort Collins, we have a fledgling community of friends and acquaintances that we’re getting to know better, and it’s time to take a breath. I wanted to stretch and enjoy my days a little more.

My first step in doing that was journaling. I wasn’t able to think this clearly about what I needed at first. So I started writing out thoughts.

From my first journal entry: “I have a feeling like my brain is turning to mush. I have so many thoughts throughout my day about my life/career/future as a family, etc. and I have no outlet, no way to sit and think them through before I move on to doing something new.” I share these thoughts with Kevin later in the day, so he can get a glimpse into my life at home. He fully agreed with this feeling. Life with two children feels hectic. We’re still figuring out how to communicate with each other about our own needs while parenting our children.

A journal, a book, and two Mennonite Hymnals. Good stuff.

The next step was to find time to read books that help me grow. I LOVE to read. My favorite app on my phone is probably Overdrive. When I’m rocking Helen to sleep, or nursing her, or snuggling with Calvin during Paw Patrol, I’m usually simultaneously reading something on my phone (or sometimes scrolling through Facebook and Instagram…). I love that my phone allows me to have those moments of “me time” while I’m home with the children, but looking at my phone so much also makes me feel fuzzy. I needed to carve out time to read a real book, think thoughts fully, and breathe.

Naptime is my time to do that. Very recently, I’ve managed to sync up Calvin’s nap with Helen’s mid-day nap, which is amazing. I realize I am pretty lucky to have a 2.5 year old boy that takes a 1-2 hour nap every day. He only falls asleep if I’m snuggling with him though, so it’s not perfect ;-). Helen usually goes down a bit after Cal and sleeps for 45 minutes to an hour. Just in the past week have I instituted this self care routine. I’ve done yoga that focuses on breathing and back pain (hello big baby problems). I’ve been reading a few books that help me as a parent and a person. I’ve baked and prepped delicious meals.

I really enjoyed this one! Some good strategies and reminders about how to lovingly set limits to keep yourself sane. Still in the positive parenting genre.
Food prep! Soup and bread and my daily cup of tea :-). This is one of my happy places.

Those are the successful days. Don’t be thinking I’ve got this all figured out. There are also those days where I get Helen down for a nap after Calvin falls asleep, settle into a hot bath and the SECOND I lean back to relax and read hear Calvin calling for me. There are days where Kevin is tired out from having to go to Calvin multiple times a night and we’re snippy all day. But overall, I feel like I’m living a fuller, lovelier life. I’m taking more delight in things.


Looking back, I think I’m kind of healing from the stress of having a baby, moving, losing our friends and sense of community back in La Crosse, realizing we’re so far from family. Kevin and I are very gung-ho people, we jump in and assume we can handle it. We did and we maintained a relative sense of happiness and security through the whole thing, but I can see how I tempered my emotions, locked myself down into survival mode to do it. Now I feel like I’m feeling and thinking in technicolor.

Enjoying a beautiful day, watching Cal play with a friend from across the street, chilling in the garage with my gal.

Sisters and friends, are you doing anything small or large to help yourself? Are you needing something and don’t know where to start? I hope you’re all finding little ways to breathe and treat yourself to something wonderful (even if it’s just reading a book for a few minutes).

Love to you all,


food, glorious food

Hi sisters.

I have felt my creative cooking energy returning with the influx of fresh produce with the start of summer. I thought I’d share with you what’s been happening in our kitchen recently.

My love affair with rhubarb continues. I’m so intrigued by it. It’s used mostly in desserts but it’s sour. I love that! I’ve been playing around with having it as the centerpiece of a dessert rather than always pairing it with something else. Recently I made this galette which turned out great, so I made it again. Caution: use less sugar than what is listed, if you want the nice sour flavor to come through. I used maybe 1/3 a cup the first time I made it and it was great. The second time I followed the recipe more closely (I probably added 1/2 cup, maybe more?) and it was a bit too sweet.

I also like to make rhubarb simple syrup for cocktails. It’s such a pretty light pink color and it adds a unique flavor to drinks. We made this cocktail with the simple syrup and enjoyed it (note: use less sugar for the syrup–you definitely don’t need a full cup!). You’ll notice that the cocktail and the galette both pair rhubarb with ginger–it’s a great combination.

All the rhubarb in all the things! Cocktails and galette.
All the rhubarb in all the things! Cocktails and galette.

Continue reading “food, glorious food”

Throwback Thursday: Cooking inspirations

Dear sisters,

I feel like I’ve finally hit that comfort zone with cooking where I can “create” and execute a recipe all by myself, without relying too much on a recipe from the internet. I think I’ve read SO MANY COOKING BLOGS that I’ve absorbed some of the trends and flavor profiles that appeal to me and am now confident enough to go forth and create good meals.

I’m the best at coming up with good tacos. It’s hard to go wrong with tacos. Recently I’ve loved sweet potatoes in tacos, which was inspired by those amazing sweet potato tostadas that Rachel and Krestia made for us a long time ago on our family vacation in Maine.

This isn’t the actual meal, but a reminder of that little table we crowded around to eat at!

I loved the texture and flavor of those grated sweet potatoes. They were amazing on deep fried tortillas with salsas and cheese. At the time it was a new and amazing way to have tacos! Nowadays I grate sweet potatoes and toss them in some olive oil in a pan, add a sprinkling of cumin, chili powder, oregano and a dash of cinnamon, let them cook for awhile and add salt, pepper and lime juice at the end. When I’m feeling lazy I just dice the sweet potatoes and toss them in olive oil and the spices and in the oven they go!


The other part of my favorite tacos is a rice/quinoa pilaf with beans, peppers and onions (corn too if you feel like it). Sometimes I add tomatoes, sometimes lots of lime juice, zest and garlic. It depends on my mood.


The toppings make the taco: homemade guacamole (this time I added corn), queso fresco and spinach. You don’t need much when the fillings are so good! These were so delicious.

Thanks for the recipe inspiration all the way back in 2011 Rach :-). I like that we share our meals virtually every once in awhile. Recently we also had this oven roasted chicken shawarma that Rachel mentioned and it was OH SO GOOD in pitas with cucumbers, spinach, feta and hummus. YUM. Martha recently mentioned a mango curry that I’m dying to try. Sisters and friends, tell me your favorite dinners recently so I can get more inspiration!


the state of our household

Hi sisters.

Life continues at its hectic pace around here. So much happens at home with my little family and I miss taking the time to sit down and write to you all about it. So, I thought I’d try and summarize a bit.

Miriam always requests icing cookies when we bake together
Miriam always requests icing cookies when we bake together

Continue reading “the state of our household”

My week in food

Hi sisters,

Every once in awhile I feel like I do well with meal planning and end up making meals that I’m actually excited to eat. I thought I’d share my plan from this past week for those of you who are feeling stumped in the kitchen. I’m only going to share the big meal of the day because breakfast and lunch are usually super boring for me. Continue reading “My week in food”

From my kitchen to yours

Dear sisters,

Pre-baby I had so much time to cook, bake, plan out meals for the week and grocery shop. Now that I’m working more and have a baby I find it harder to plan the meals I want to make (Cue me feeling silly for having “less” time when I’m the only sister working part time). I still meal plan, but I have to take into consideration prep time and whether the leftovers will be easy to eat at work on my pumping breaks. I work afternoons Tuesday and Thursday, Wednesday until 8 and all day Friday, so, whenever possible I make dinner before work to be reheated or assemble the ingredients so I can whip it up quickly. One of my peculiar cooking quirks is that I like to work FAST. Once I get going I don’t like to stop and I like to see if I can get good food made in as little time as possible. One of my first meltdowns post baby was when Calvin woke up from a nap in the middle of me making bread dough. I JUST WANTED TO FINISH KNEADING MY BREAD DOUGH. Can’t you understand that baby?

Yummy homemade salsa: roast tomatoes, jalapeno, onion and garlic cloves (tossed in olive oil and salt and pepper) under the broiler until well charred and soft. Roast a red pepper or other veggies if you want (or fruit!) Blend, add salt, pepper and lime juice.
Yummy homemade salsa: roast tomatoes, jalapeno, onion and garlic cloves (tossed in olive oil and salt and pepper) under the broiler until well charred and soft. Roast a red pepper or other veggies if you want (or fruit!) Blend, add salt, pepper and lime juice.

Continue reading “From my kitchen to yours”