Who's Who?

We put Avila in one of our favorite outfits Christiana wore and realized we took similar pictures at the same age. Side by side we chuckled at similarities like build (love those big bellies!!) and same coloring, but their faces are different and unique in all their loveliness. 

Christiana Marie Summer 2010                              Avila Maria Spring 2013


Pack a Picnic: Southern Belle Chicken Salad


I'm a "guest" sister blogger at Anna's big time blog, InHonorofDesign and am starting a picnic series for her
Spring has been a bit stubborn this year, but when warm weather does hit, we find any excuse to eat out side and picnic. We thought it would be fun to start a short series called Pack Your Picnic, to give you some fun ideas to make and bring on the go with you for when that perfect weekend arrives.

Sunday after church, I grabbed the blankets and baskets and headed to our back yard. I first had this chicken salad at Anna’s bridal shower! It is adapted from our good family friend and is a southern style version that will soon be your favorite.
Southern Belle Chicken Salad:
4 C. Chopped Cooked Chicken
2. C. Grapes, Halved
1/2. C. Toasted or Roasted Sliced Almonds
3/4 C. Sour Cream
1/2 C. Mayonaise
1/4 C. Major Grey’s Chutney (This is the special ingredient that gives it amazing flavor! Found near the mustard and condiments in whole foods and other stores)
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/8 tsp. Curry Powder
1/3 tsp. Pepper
Combine sour cream, mayo, and chutney with seasons and stir together with a spatula. Toss in chicken, grapes, and almonds and coat evenly.
For a picnic: stuff into pita with lettuce. For a more elegant variation, serve atop a big leaf of romaine or even just dip with tortilla chips.
Other Options: For a healthier version you can use plain Greek yogurt in place of sour cream, pecans in place of almonds, or add some chopped celery.
Happy Picnicking!


Paleo: On A More Personal Note

This has opened a Pandora's box of self realizations for me. 

Andrew is amused I can think so much. But when you change a whole lifestyle....thoughts abound. 

Leave it to me to think too much....

1. How accustomed we are, especially as Americans, to be so privileged to have our pantries fully stocked, we can run to the store and food is ready and waiting. 

2. How often I take for granted opening a box of brownie mix or running to get a blizzard at DQ or on a busy day throw some chicken patties in my oven. 

3. In many poor countries I've been to, like Mexico, or all of South America, India, and China....the poor eat very simply. Rice and beans or mashed corn.  They don't eat go-gurts on a regular basis, nor can they afford grass fed organic beef and almond butter. 

I'm not saying: 
-  quick meals on a a bad or hard day is wrong, sometimes we have to access our realities and let other things take priority. 
- or feel guilty for buying healthy or guilty for eating a brownie

There are also appropriate and wonderful times to celebrate with good and delicious food if you can. 

4. But I can see how attached I am to convenience and indulging my every whim and fancy on what I feel like eating whenever I feel like eating it. 

5. It has made me take a second look at learning to be more simple in how I approach our eating habits. 

6. To be more grateful that I can put food on my table, no matter what it is. 

7. Sometimes fasting, even from good things, always gives more room for Jesus. I find so much comfort in cooking and creating, but when taken away, I find Him, for He always finds ways to get through to me.  

Like the prayer I said during lent, which I still find myself praying: 

"Father, train us in the ways of self-denial that we might awaken the hunger for Jesus that lies beneath the pleasures we seek." 

I've had to seek motivation....
Maybe I'm not motivated by loosing weight or having a better workout, but I do not have to "suffer" in vain...an end to abortion is always a good place to start. 

See how long this post is? Can you tell how much food must surround my day? 

Shoot, and it's only day 3!  

It has been such a good detachment process for me. Still learning....

Paleo Diet: Day 1 and 2

Day 1
My wonderful friend Sarah invited me over and gave me some of her favorite Paleo recipes. She also sent me home with a crockpot full of Italian Beef for dinner so I wouldn't have to worry about that night. I was so excited to hear it qualified, I've made it before, (view recipe here) so we just ate it bread-less with fried sweet potatoes and salad. 

I'm so very grateful that she sacrificed a morning to help me because it took so much anxiety away. I left feeling confident.  
Fried Sweet Potatoes with Onions...becoming a staple favorite.

Day 2 

Paleo Challenge would have made so much more sense to start during lent...all the fasting and abstinence. 

On my "30 Day Challenge" Food Log sheet...it says you get 4pts. if you did the whole day 100% paleo without any cheats. 

You earn the title "Hunter, Gatherer" and relate to the primordial methods of the ancestors who hunted animals (meat) and gathered berries and seeds. 

I may have a teeny bit felt this way today.....

"Hunter Gatherer"  so appropriate. 

I feel as though I hunted and gathered for hours or what felt like all day. 

I "gathered" lots of different recipes and websites and "hunted" for rare ingredients on amazon and trips to the store and spent an unusual amount of time in the kitchen....

 I appreciate and stand in awe at the ancient will to survive. 

I know this will get easier. 

Hard Aspects: Having the munchies, but tired of nuts and fruit. Trying to decide if living a healthy life is worth it OR just loving what you eat and peacing out at 60 is ok.  

Good Aspects: Food was very good, left each meal full and satisfied, tastebuds and all. 

"Sweet" Pork chops, Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Roasted Vegetables 

Day 3 
Woke up NOT feeling tired, still not feeling tired. Amazed. If there was one "ailment" I suffered from it would be fatigue. 

Marvelous Meatballs via Everydaypaleo.com, smell amazing and are in the crockpot for dinner...

Maybe I do like paleo....Jury is still out as to whether I could do this as strict post the 30 day challenge....


Where We Are Right Now


Favorite Past Time: Goodness that boy loves basketball, or playing the game Trouble with Christiana

Said Lately: Mom, mailbox is a compound word, so is basketball and applesauce.  (heck if I remember what compound words are...I do now, thanks son.)
                   When I grow up, I'm going to give away my toys when I become St. Nicholas. 

Big Steps: Starting to read music notes through piano lessons.


Favorite Pastime: Cooking in the Kitchen, Writing me notes and coloring, playing Trouble with Nicholas, watering her plants for her garden.

Said Lately: Mom, I'm giving my dollars to the poor people. When asked what her name was at PreK day she told her teacher and classmates, "Pud". 

Big Steps: Learned how to read! She just finished her first three sets of Bob Books. Wanting to be just like her big brother may have played a big part in motivating her...along with getting a pink fishing pole if we read for 14 days in a row. 

Coming very much into her own these days...oh what fun we are. 

Favorite Pastime: Dancing in living room to the Rio or Sound of Music soundtrack, stealing Trouble pieces and running away, turning on the water in the bathroom and watching it run, emptying out the entire contents of the cup and tupperware drawer.

Said Lately: Peas Mama Eat (Please Mama Eat)on the hour every hour
"I wuv you"
"Do Re Mi"

Big Steps: Matching our colors correctly, waking up happy, maintaining "stable" behavioral patterns for longer periods of time.


Starting Paleo: 30 Daysof Mental Olympics

Andrew is helping to start a CrossFit gym here in our town. Crossfit adopts the Paleo diet so he is doing the 30 day Challenge....thus I will be doing it.

We start tomorrow.

This looks harder than 40 days of Lent.

I have anxiety.

I've read two books: Nourishing Traditions and Paleo something or other...I do agree with the premise that processed foods and sugar in large quantities is harmful and counterproductive. I don't doubt I can't do it or that it wouldn't be beneficial....

I think my biggest fear/challenge is menu planning.

I just may have to start "The Paleo Diaries" as a therapeutic way to cope through recipe trial and error and taste tests of this whole thing.

A purge to my taste buds and happiness. Detachment.

I will be offering this up...their may be some conversions because of it ;)

Will keep myself posted.  Will be seeking moral support.


Good Vision

Last night, Andrew and I were invited to attend a fundraising banquet for a pregnancy center here in our town. We were both taken aback by the keynote speaker, Gail McWilliams. 

I assumed she was just another Christian speaker...

1. She was told she would never have children. 
2. She ends up getting pregnant, but starts loosing her eye sight. 
3. Pregnant with her 2nd child, her doctor says she had to choose between her baby and her eye sight. 
4. She choose her baby and went on to have 3 more children and lost her vision. 
5. She now talks all over the world about the value of life. 

 She was wonderful, a true life giving hero, one who has surrendered everything to her Lord.

THIS is her story 
But you should listen to her full SPEECH. SOOOO good! 

In the face of this week with Gosnell and Boston she was a such a breath of fresh air and hope. I love knowing their are people who are fighting the battle for life.  

As passionate Christian, she knows of that the "Harvest is ripe and the laborers few" ...if not you who? 

What a good reminder. 


Weekend Snapshot

Favorite Weekend Moments: 

Nobody has to steal these kisses...they are handed out to everyone.  


Weekend Snapshot

Beginnings of our Garden

Her New Found Favorite Pastime...My New Favorite Shoes


Six There's Still Time For You...

It came again as it always does. 

It catches me by surprise, I go into denial, my heart hurts and swells...

 His Birthday. Darn my sentimentality.

His very own box of sugar cereal, so very exciting.

Does he know how much he holds my heart? Does he have any idea how wonderful he is to me? What a wonderful world with him in it. He had me at hello for sure.

I jokingly said while giving him a bear hug..."don't grow up, don't ever leave me!"

He replied candidly, "Mom, I have to go somewhere when I turn 18."

"Oh really? Where?", I asked.

"To Atlanta."

"Atlanta? What are you going to go there?"...this will be interesting I thought.

"yeah, Atlanta or Africa...so I can teach people about God, people who don't know him, and poor people."

Oh boy.  There are many years between now and then, but I will keep that answer in my heart ;) 

His latest passion is basketball. He plays when he gets out of bed, his entire recess (as Andrew sees him everyday), when he gets home from school, and usually before going to bed...we shoot hoops. 

After basketball, your next love would be accumulating race cars and having races with Christiana. She so willing complies to basketball games and car races. 

No matter what you do with your life Nicholas, my prayer for you each night is for your purity of heart and your final perseverance in your Catholic faith. May God watch over you and guide you in this next year of life.