Monday, May 25, 2015

my perfect cup of coffee.

I'm A few months back my husband & I decided we needed an upgrade to our morning cup of joe. The bargain brand we'd been drinking since we got married just wasn't cutting it any longer. Lets be honest, we're parents of two kids two & under ... we definitely need a coffee boost to fuel our mornings these days. Off we went to the coffee aisle at Whole Foods and stood there puzzled for what seemed like an eternity. (An eternity is relative when you have a toddler who doesn't want to sit still in the cart.) The choices were endless. Origin, roast, fair trade, organic, blends ... what exactly does all of that mean? I was clueless as to where to begin.
{Mac was so overwhelmed with coffee choices (& vegetables) he promptly fell asleep.}

 I read the bags but it still didn't compute. Ford's patience wore out & I grabbed a bag that had a pretty picture on the label and off we went. What I grabbed was a definite upgrade from our former standby, but it just wasn't the one. 

I was excited when the makers of the SmartCoffee app reached out to me, just in my time of need! SmartCoffee is a super handy tool that teaches you to truly understand what goes into crafting the perfect cup of coffee. The app is full of beautiful photos, interesting facts, & is the perfect place to look up all those buzz words that were Greek to me. 

My favorite part? The quiz. After answering a few simple questions about mouthfeel, acidity, & flavor profiles that fit your particular tastes, the app prepares the information into blend suggestions & tells you what to look for when purchasing coffee. There even is a handy "buy now tool" too that suggests custom blends from Thanksgiving Coffee Company. 

My results suggested I try a light roast blend, with a little vienna & french roasts for balance. The Gorilla Fund coffee from Rwanda was my perfect fit, from cup one. Want to find your perfect cup too? Download the app or visit the web version at Thanksgiving Coffee Company, then leave me a comment telling me about your favorite mug from which you drink your morning coffee. I'll pick one lucky commenter to win a bag of beans tailor made to their taste buds! Winner will be announced Friday May 29th. 

Full disclosure, I was sent a coupon code for one bag of coffee in exchange for reviewing & posting about the Smart Coffee app. All opinions are my own.

Friday, May 22, 2015

It's 4 o'clock somewhere.

Here I sit on my front stoop supervising "the fruit goblin" strategically emptying his little tikes truck of an afternoon worth of rain water in a "mommy time out." It's been one of those afternoons where a few minutes to myself are non existent & the two year old 'tude has been in full force. Even the dog ganged up on me by counter surfing for some oatmeal muffins* I made for the neighbor with a new baby.

Today called for a a recipe that required a beer & a half, & clearly the other half is in my hand on my front porch while the short ribs braise. They were quite yummy & fresh ... Thumbs up Braised Beef Tacos, with beer

 ( * I pretty much love how you can have oatmeal based anything after having a baby & entitle them "lactation cookies" & claim they are to boost your supply for the baby. At least, that's my story & I'm sticking to it.) 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Baby Mac.

When your water breaks you aren't having contractions, your bag is packed, and the house is cleaned your mind tends to think of important things like, "man I really want a cheeseburger" on your way to the hospital. This was my experience when my first born, Ford was born. I should have known something was up when, at 9:30 pm, while watching your favorite basketball team play you crave greek yogurt chicken salad with almonds and grapes.

(Sidebar: I cleaned up my eating habits immensely between pregnancies, can you tell?)

Seeing as I had no progress at my appointment earlier that day and I was 37 weeks 4 days along, I didn't think anything but, "weird pregnancy craving for protein," made my snack, enjoyed it, then off to bed I went. Somewhere around 2AM my stomach was in fits & my brain was saying "DARN YOU STOMACH FOR CRAVING CHICKEN SALAD AT 9:30 AT NIGHT." I was so uncomfortable that I got up, went into the den to watch some garbage TV & pinned spring & summer clothes for Ford. It took me a little while to realize these stomach cramps were coming at regular intervals. You see as I mentioned before, no natural contractions with Ford so even though I was a more seasoned pregnancy veteran this go round, it took me a little while to realize the discomfort I was feeling was real deal labor. They kept coming & when I had the ah-ha moment to time the suckers, they were under 5 minutes apart, after of course the OB had told me mere hours before with my second baby to give them a call when contractions are 6-7 minutes apart. Oops. So I awoke the husband around 5AM & said I thought it was go time, I was going to take a shower & pack my bag. 

(sidebar: don't wait until your contractions are under 5 minutes apart to pack your bag. that was painful, "real real painful" said in my best rap voice.)

At six I called the doctor & he said I could head to the hospital or wait until the office opened at 8 to get checked, just go with my gut since it was my second go round. So in true bird fashion I waffled. I called Grandma CC & asked her to please go ahead & come I thought it was go time, but I still left the asterisk that "it's still pretty early, I bet these will go away." 

(sidebar: ha. labor brain is way worse than pregnancy brain.)

So she arrived, I struggled with if I should wake Ford or not since he wasn't up for the day yet, & then it hurt so bad I could tell the tears were going to start flowing any minute now. We gathered our gear & headed for the husbands ride that needed gas. Seriously. 

(sidebar: my last labor the back glass was taken off his car to repair, this time no gas. I should have seen this coming.)

As soon as we hit the highway for the 10 minute (anticipated to be excruciating) trip to the hospital the contractions slowed down. So we went in search of gas which was in itself a comedy of errors. Gas does not seem to exist near my hospital before seven am. But folks who clearly haven't been to bed yet do. If those contractions hadn't come raging back with a vengeance I would have found this all hysterical.

(sidebar: i didn't. it hurt.)

So we get to the hospital & check in, stopping every 2-3 minutes for said doubling over pain, and I still believed they are going to send me home. (dummy.)

It was the real deal & I got admitted to a L&D room pretty quickly. I labored a while longer before asking for the good stuff & then came the real big stick (that was nothing compared to those contractions.) Well the epidural didn't work. Some mambo jumbo about about a void from last time & nerve endings yada yada... I really don't remember this part because it hurt. Screaming cursing hurt. So the anesthesiologist came back, gave me a bolus to see if that work work and guess what, it didn't. There were more tears & more technical descriptions or what was going on of which I could care less. He finally decided to replace my epidural much higher in my back & within minutes sweet relief. It was a good thing too because about 10 minutes later it was time to push. 

And 10 minutes after that, he was right there, hanging on my chest. And all that pain? Ehh, no big deal. We had our second little miracle.

John McDermott, named for my Dad & Grandfather, was born on March 4, 2015 shortly after 11 o'clock in the morning. Baby Mac was 7 lbs 3 oz and perfect in every way.  He is loved by so many, including his big brother. I am filled with gratitude every single day for our little family of four.

Baby Mac + Me. 

A head full of dark hair.

Hello world.

(sidebar: five if you count Pete, which I do of course.)

Party of 5.

{All of the beautiful photos are from the lovely & talented Laura Simson Photography. If you are in NC or VA you should check her out, she's pretty amazing. I'm so very lucky & blessed to call her my friend & godmother to Ford.}

Monday, April 27, 2015

a fresh start.

I have a secret. 

I (kinda) like Mondays.

These days I LOVE Friday afternoons (and Saturdays & Sundays,) but Mondays  are a fresh clean start. The "I CAN DO ANYTHING" day before the to-do list gets longer & more overwhelming towards the end of the week. 

Today is Monday for BitP. I've been struggling with blogging & how much it's changed since I started, but my husband reminded me this weekend that this is the beautify of the Internet, it can be exactly what you want it to be, without any expectations. Just be you & write what you want. It's my space, my outlet. 

An outlet I have missed. So for now, I'm throwing my hat back into the ring. I can't promise daily posts, or even weekly sometimes. But I can promise there will be love, laughter, & life adventures surrounded by my boys. 


Monday, January 12, 2015

{menu monday} with a side of flexibility & grace.

"Ford love, let's not pour mommy's fancy granola into Pete's bowl." There is never a dull moment in our house with a tall toddler & his spotted sidekick. 
{Pete is never very far behind his brother}

I honestly believe that flexibility is 100% key when mapping out your weekly meal plan. Maybe you've had a crazy day & you need to switch to something super easy. Or "the baby" is craving both lasagna & a philly cheese steak sandwich simultaneously. Give yourself some grace & don't afraid to be creative & adapt recipes as a guideline for what you may have on hand. You might just surprise yourself!


Pasta Primavera w/ Bacon
I planned on making this fabulous Bacon, Leek, & Butternut Squash pasta last weekend but the aforementioned craving struck hard. So I adapted the recipe to what leftover veggies from last week I had on hand (red pepper, carrots, leeks, & zucchini) ... & voila ... a tasty meal without waste. 


Peppery Shrimp w/Grits & Greens
{Cooking Light -- January 2014}


Black Bean, Butternut, & Collard Quesadillas


Grilled Cheese + Tomato Soup



Hands down the Kung Pao Zoodles. I know I know you've been hearing all about vegetti & zoodles and everyones spiralizer since Santa came down the chimney. But it's the truth. This was a hit with everyone & for a noodle loving lady, the zoodles really did make a nice healthy alternative.

{The Prepped Goods}

{The Finished Goods. Nom Nom Nom}

Happy Cooking!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Five Favorites for Friday

1. Balela Salad from Costco. 
Let me start by saying I am not a "Costco person." Honestly sometimes I drive by and see how full the parking lot is & it give me hives. I re-joined about 6 months ago for two main reasons: my child loves GoGo Squeeze Pouches & Veggie Straws. It is so much easier to have bulk quantities on hand than multiple grocery runs with an active toddler & growing belly. Since joining the dark side I've discovered several products that cater to my moonbeam tendencies & are actually way more affordable in larger quantities (hello Kerrygold butter.) Usually I stick to the list on my bi-monthly trips but I picked up this salad on a whim & I'm glad I did. It's protein packed & easy to grab for lunch or a snack (add 1/2 an avocado & some feta cheese on a pita for lunch ... mmm.) Cheers to you, dark side! You've got me hooked on one more thing.

{That's my big beauty on the easel in the middle! |}
2. Contemporary Art by Jennifer Flannigan.
We decided to commission a contemporary piece of art for our family room & kicked off 2015 with it atop our mantle. Jennifer's pieces are creative, colorful, & just plain beautiful. I can't wait to get it hung this weekend to complete our family room!

{30 week belly + a good book}
3. The Library List
It's the netflix que for books. I have been a total slacker in terms of reading lately & wanted to make books a priority in 2015. I've been so beat by the end of the day with this pregnancy that all I could do was crawl into bed with netflix & mindlessly soak in the tube. I placed a few suggested/more popular books on my library request list late last fall & honestly had totally forgotten about it. Enter a little email telling me "Me Before You" by Jojo Moyes was ready for pickup, & just like that, I'm hooked on the books again. My brain thanks me. 

Overwhelmed. That's the best way to describe how I felt about keeping my house clean & tidy. Every time I felt like I accomplished anything, it got undone almost immediately. Additionally the idea of waking up Saturday mornings, a day that should be family focused, & cleaning for hours put me in a bad mood. I came across the clean mama weekly plan & it's revolutionized my routine. It suggests manageable daily tasks so you never have to have a day long cleaning marathon. Is my house always neat, clean, & tidy now? Heck no. But every week theres a fresh start & ideas to handle tasks quickly.  

5. Flora.Forager on Instagram
Simple, Elegant, & Inspired florals that will make you smile. I promise.

Monday, January 5, 2015

{Menu Monday} Zoodles, Grapefruit, & Collards (oh my)

That would be a super gross combination, yes?

Over the past year or so I've found that if I sit down & plan our meals for the week, & get all the shopping done everything runs much more smoothly. The budget is adhered to, food doesn't go bad in the fridge, & home cooked meals are good for the soul (& waistline.) I had a trusty planner I'd been using to template out the weeks but thought 2015 needed a fresh face taped to my fridge and I came across this little cutie, thanks to the super creative folks at elephantshoe.  

Let's pretend that I'm not out of printer ink (again) & you have a pretty picture of my week of meals laid out neatly for this first full week of January 2015. 

Kung Pao Chicken Zoodles

Hambone Soup

Grapefruit, Avocado, Shrimp Salad

Pork Chops + Collard Greens

Butternut Squash + Bacon Pasta
w/green salad

You can find links to most recipes on my Pinterest board "What's for Dinner?"


And might the nearly 30 week pregnant lady suggest for a snack...

No Bake Energy Bites

-I left out the coconut & upped the oatmeal content. Big hit in my house!