Monday, April 21, 2014

Easy Ham and Swiss Pasta Carbonara

I often post favorite whole grain recipes, but I've slacked off a bit lately in sharing our family's favorite main dishes!  This is a new favorite that is frugal and fast to make.  I've added my own spin on it (it traditionally is made with prosciutto and Romano cheese; I've subbed ham and swiss) to make it perfect for using leftover Easter ham!

It's a pretty kid-friendly dish too.  I think both the girls had seconds the other night when I made it!  This recipe serves 6-8, so we had the leftovers for lunch the next day.

It takes less than 30 minutes, start to plating, so it's a great "Ack! What's for dinner?!" meal.
Pasta Carbonara
   adapted from here

1 lb. whole wheat thin spaghetti
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup cooked ham, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
1/2 cup dry white wine (or chicken broth)
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup reserved pasta water
1/2 cup finely grated Swiss cheese

Start boiling water in a saucepan for the pasta and continue with next steps below.

In a pan, heat olive oil over medium heat and lightly brown the ham in it.  Add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes and cook just until garlic is fragrant (30-60 seconds).  Add white wine and scrape bottom of pan while cooking.

Add pasta to boiling water.  Drain when cooked al dente, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water.

In a bowl, whisk together 3 egg yolks and 1/2 cup pasta water.

Add drained pasta to the pan with the ham, oil, and wine.  Pour egg mixture over and add finely grated Swiss cheese.  Toss well to coat.  Remove from heat.

Serve with chopped fresh parsley and an additional sprinkle of cheese, if desired!


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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Blessings

We had a beautiful Resurrection Day celebration today, and we hope that you did too!

Our pastor spoke on how Jesus is the true and better temple.  It was a great sermon!

Hebrews 9:11-12, "But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption" (emphasis mine).

I enjoyed preparing a nice meal for our family (and we're all still a little stuffed from it!).  I think the girls ate as much food as I did!

Jude was smiley and sweet on his first Easter!

Instead of doing Easter baskets this year, we focused more on reading books about the true meaning of Easter and opening our Resurrection eggs each day leading up until Easter.  Vera is at an age where adding candy to a holiday quickly transforms its meaning to be candy-centric rather than Jesus-centric.  So candy this year was very, very minimal.  :)

We sang this song at worship this morning, and I love it!  Listen to it today if you have time.

Happy Resurrection Sunday!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Zero to One, One to Two, Two to Three

Tad and I have talked recently about the transitions we made in having children: from no kids to one, from one to two, and from two to three.

We realize we differ in our opinions as to which transitions were harder!
Zero to One
My Take:  Going from having no children to having one is definitely a big jump.  Suddenly you're in charge of caring for every need of a helpless baby.  I remember how hard it was to get out of the door, and how (mostly) giving up spontaneity was challenging.  There is also so much of an opportunity to trust God in the face of temptation to worry about everything concerning your baby's life.  Everything is new: diapers, feeding, milestones, sleeping, etc.  People are always giving (well-intended) advice, and it's sometimes hard to feel confident in making decisions (since there are so many different ways to parent well).  I did eventually get in a groove, but shortly after that time, we had a new one in the mix!
Tad's Take:  Zero to one changed everything.  It meant we had someone who was completely dependent on us for every need that she had.  On the way home from the hospital, I had the thought, "What are they thinking letting us take her home?"  We didn't know what we were doing, but we were able to figure everything out.

One to Two
My Take:  This was really hard for me.  The first time I ever went a whole day without seeing Vera was the day after Cordelia was born and we were still in the hospital.  It completely broke my heart to be spending time with Cordelia instead of both of them together (even though Vera was being lovingly cared for by my mom).  That feeling of being "torn" didn't go away for a while.  It was crazy challenging to try and meet the needs of two little people, both of whom did not understand waiting.  This transition may be easier for families where the age gap is greater, but for me, it was really hard.  I didn't go anywhere with the two girls without Tad's help for months.  I was really brave (I thought) last summer when I took both girls out to eat for Vera's birthday (sit down restaurant, potty-training preschooler, food-flinging toddler, and full-term-pregnant mama).  Getting up the nerves to make that trip was really hard, but I'm so glad I did it.
Tad's Take:  We brought a baby home from the hospital before, so we knew what we were doing (kind of).  There were two of us, and two of them, so we were evenly matched.  One of us could always take care of each of them.  It was difficult when both of them were left with me, because then I was outnumbered.  Also, sometimes they would both demand our attention, so it was sometimes difficult.  I believe this was the easiest transition because we already had experience with a baby, and we could do a man-on-man defense.

Two to Three
My Take:  Slipping a third baby into our family was easier for me than going from one to two.  I think there are several reasons: Vera is old enough to be somewhat helpful (plus she understands waiting), Cordelia is a more compliant child than Vera (though not perfect by any means!), and Tad has been home a lot because of his job situation.  I didn't deal with baby blues at all this time (I did when Vera was born, though I didn't realize it until later), so I'm sure that has helped.  When you're down, it's hard to see the big picture and enjoy the present.  Even though we're outnumbered all the time, I do try to keep a sense of humor.  For example, we have a "rule" that we can't have all three kids crying at once, so Tad and I do whatever it takes when we're nearing that moment (2 out of 3 are wailing with a third one's lip quivering) to not let all three cry at the same time (we pick one up, dance, are silly, etc.).  Because I don't have enough hands, I think I'm more aware of my dependence on God in this season.  I'm learning to trust and let go more while praying lots for protection for my kids.  God loves them even more than I do, and that's a lot!  This season with three is the "new normal," and now that Jude is 7 months old, I'm starting to feel like things aren't as crazy as they used to be.  (Just wait until he starts walking!)
Tad's Take:  Going from two to three was difficult because we now have three children and only two of us.  The position of authority is almost an illusion when you have three children and only two adults. (If children ever realize this, we'll all be in trouble.)  But what are you to do when your youngest child just spit up on himself and had a blow-out, your middle child is running around naked, and your oldest child is crying in the corner because she lost her coupon?  (I'm not making this up.)  You're going to have to make some challenging ethical decisions about which child to save (spoiler, not the one crying over a coupon).  The transition to three was difficult, but I hear it gets easier at 4 (no, this isn't an announcement).  

Ultimately, we know that God has sustained us at each point of transition and that he is using parenting to sanctify us!  Having kids is challenging, definitely, but it's another beautiful opportunity to cling to the Lord in all things.

We're dying to know... if you have one kiddo, how was the transition from 0 to 1?  If you have more than one, what were those transitions like for you?  Anyone out there with upwards of 4?  We've been told that's the point where it gets easier.  :)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Just the Girls

Yesterday morning I asked Tad if he'd take some photos of "just the girls" before church.

Vera wanted me to take her picture in the rocking chair first.
My, what big blue eyes she has!
Of course Cordelia Mae wanted her picture taken too!  She picked out her (my) scarf to wear also.
I love my sweet, sweet girls!

Thankful for relaxing Sundays and the opportunity to go and worship together as a family!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Jude's Seven Months Old!

Happy seven months, Jude!
Some milestones:
-weighs 22 pounds
-puts some weight on his feet when you hold him up
-loves to chew on his toes, and anything for that matter
-has one tooth on the bottom that just came through!
-loves to take baths before bed
-grabs for everything
-rolls across the floor (both ways)
-is starting to like stuffed animals and blankets
-started going to bed at 9:00-9:30pm and sleeping until 5:30-6:30am
-nurses 8 or 9 times a day (hungry boy!)
-makes funny noises (little "shrieks" are new this month)
-smiles a lot
-is very ticklish

We love our sweet boy!  (And aren't his little plaid shorts adorable?)

Thursday, April 10, 2014


A sweet lady at my parents' church was giving away these lovely succulent plants, so my dad picked some up for me!  I potted them in a few containers I had already (two on left: IKEA, one on right: thrifted).

I've had succulents before (posted about them here and here), and they did better when I wasn't watering them very often.  This works out great for me, since I am pretty bad about remembering to water plants.

I'm hoping I'll be able to keep these alive, because they are gorgeous!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Undercover Mama

Today on She {hearts} It I'm reviewing a great nursing shirt that helps make breastfeeding more convenient.  I love this top, and I know you'll want one too... which is why I'm also giving one away (open to US and Canada)!  Click on over to enter.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


On Saturday, we met my family "in the middle" between our two cities at a beautiful community park.  The weather was absolutely amazing, and we enjoyed a picnic lunch, a fun playground, rides, and lots of laughs!

Vera loved riding the carousel.
Cordelia wasn't as sure, but she did ride it once.

I also took some pictures with my cell phone.

Jude liked seeing his Uncle Nich.

The boats were very popular!
Vera told us that it was her "favorite day!"

Friday, April 4, 2014

Flatbread (and a Quick & Easy Dinner)

This post has also been posted on Baking Whole Grains, a site I write for which compensates me for sharing whole grain recipes.  While I receive compensation, this does not influence my opinions.  All photos and directions are my own. 

Every now and then, I get on a real "Greek food" kick, where I pretty much put hummus and feta cheese on everything.  I recently learned how to make flatbread, which has been a delicious addition to our "Greek fests"!

This bread is chewy and filling, but still puffy and perfectly browned.  It's great for making an open-faced sandwich (see recipe below!) or even as the base for a simple, broiled pizza.

I know you'll enjoy making it!
Flatbread     (Print this recipe here.)
    adapted from here

2 1/4 tsp. yeast (1 packet)
1/2 tsp. sugar
3/4 cup whole wheat flour, freshly ground
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. dried thyme
3/4 cup warm water
1 tsp. olive oil

Grind wheat in the WonderMill.

In a mixing bowl, combine yeast, sugar, flours, salt, and thyme.  Whisk together.

Add water and stir just until the dough begins to stick together.  Knead dough on a floured surface until it forms a ball that is smooth and elastic.

Using the tsp. of oil, coat a bowl with oil and place the ball of dough inside.  Cover, and let rise until doubled (about an hour).

When dough has risen, divide dough into 6 equal portions.  Roll out into ovals.

Heat a large pan over medium heat (do not oil).  Add the dough rounds (I did three at a time) and cook on one side until puffy and lightly browned.  Flip once and cook until the other side is lightly brown as well.

Use the flatbreads to make this delicious meal:

Quick Dinner: Greek Chicken Flatbreads
    adapted from Better Homes & Gardens

1/2 cup roasted garlic hummus
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
flatbread (see recipe above)
spinach or baby romaine
grilled chicken, sliced
chopped cucumber
chopped tomatoes
(optional) chopped onions
crumbled feta cheese

Combine hummus and yogurt in a small bowl.  Spread over the flatbreads.  Top with spinach or baby romaine, sliced grilled chicken, cucumber, tomatoes, onions, and feta cheese.  If desired, sprinkle with parsley.

Serve with additional veggies, hummus, and pita chips!

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This post contains an affiliate link to the grain mill I use and love!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Kitchen Sweet Spots

My kitchen is my favorite room of our house.  I'm not sure if I have invested in making it pretty because it is my favorite room OR if it is my favorite room because I've invested time into making it pretty.  Either way, here are some areas of my kitchen that I've "feathered."

Everything has been collected over time (4+ years).

I like keeping flowers on the table in the breakfast nook, so about once a month I'll "splurge" on some $4 long-lasting flowers.  Daisies, chrysanthemums, and alstroemeria (below) are all inexpensive and look beautiful for a long time (3+ weeks)!
I have a thing for aprons.  I love wearing them, and when they are easily accessible, I'm more likely to grab one.

This apron was a birthday gift, but it's from Hobby Lobby.
I love these hooks (from IKEA).
We love our coffee station in the breakfast nook.  Tad got me this mug stand (and pretty mug - World Market) for Christmas (Amazon).
To the right of our coffee station I store our cloth napkins and I keep my recipes organized.  I'll have to do a post about my system sometime!  The notebooks are from Target (clearance).
You've seen my big chalkboard before.  I like to keep it fresh with songs, verses, and seasonal messages.
I found these fridge magnets in the dollar bin at Target, and I thought they looked really cute!
I spent more on this notepad (Anthropologie) than I should have (birthday money last year!), but it really makes creating a grocery list more fun!
I keep oats out on the counter since we use them every morning for breakfast.  This jar is from Target and the measuring cup is from a set from Pier One Imports, but I got it at Goodwill.

This glass pitcher makes me smile.  It was a wedding gift.
You've seen my little baking vignette before.
 The little chalkboard jar is from Michael's, and everything else is thrifted, I think.  Except the tea towel (West Elm clearance) and ceramic measuring spoons (wedding gift - Crate & Barrel).

I keep my salt in a little bowl so I can grab a pinch as needed.  I love my oil/vinegar bottles too (from Ross or TJ Maxx).
I usually keep a bright tea towel or two around my kitchen to keep things fresh.
I really love spending time in the kitchen serving my family, and I'm thankful I get to do so surrounded by pretty little things!
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