Friday, April 18, 2014

a week's worth of odds + ends

^ a new space for birdie's books ^
^ some products I've been loving lately ^
^ boots always on hand for a quick walk outside ^
^ summer clothes now fill birdie's drawers, can't wait for her to wear them! ^

Did this week go by super fast for anyone else? It feels like I blinked and it was Friday!! Which is awesome! I love when that happens. Especially when Friday means a trip up to DC to see family, have a few much needed date nights and probably a little bit of shopping. I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am about this!! I haven't seen my mama and papa in ages and I always relish a trip to my favorite city. 
And it doesn't hurt that this weekend is Easter Sunday. I've always had a special place in my heart for Easter. I suppose a part of me even misses the Russian Easter tradition. The Saturday night candlelight vigils and the sound of church bells ringing through the air at the first sign of daybreak. There was so much reverence and sanctity to the whole occasion. It was a time for rebirth, you could see it on the tear stained faces of the parishioners walking home with their blessed pascha's frosted in white. I too am looking forward to taking some time this Sunday morning to reflect on where I am in my relationship with God, where I would like to be and to allow God to work in me. 

Wishing all of you a wonderful weekend and may you be blessed in this wonderful new season!!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

whole30 - must haves

I can't believe there are just a handful of days left before we finish our Whole30! It went by so much faster than I expected and was much easier than I expected. I do believe that a lot of has to do with preparation and having the right ingredients and tools on hand. On that note I wanted to share a little bit about things that we found really helpful on this journey. 
Let me start out by saying that pre-Whole30 both papa bear and I had a big problem with diet coke or just sweetened beverages in general. I was the worst, I couldn't even imagine eating a meal without some sort of "juice" or soda. So I knew a glass of water with lunch or dinner wouldn't cut it. We instead stocked up on Pellegrino at Costco and I took Jenna's recommendation and bought the Tazo iced tea in passion that I already loved so much at Starbucks. I would make batches of the iced tea or jugs of water with berries and citrus fruit and I can honestly say I happily enjoy my meals with either one of those beverages. There are even days I do just have a glass of water (we drink plain water throughout the day as staying hydrated is of utmost importance). 

Next, I'll brake down the products we use the most on a practically daily basis:
  1. Pineapple - this was a lifesaver for me when it came to cutting my sweet tooth. The first few weeks I practically lived on this stuff - just cut up in a bowl with some mango, in a smoothie or to flavor my water. My "dessert" cravings are essentially gone now but I've loved adding pineapple to savory dishes as well - kebabs, cauliflower "rice" or just sautéed with veggies. So, so good. Costco has fantastic ones for pretty cheap too!
  2. Eggs - these little darlings will become your best friend on this diet. It's absolutely insane how many eggs we end up going through in this house per week! I eat some version of eggs for breakfast practically every day, we snack on hard boiled eggs (that are easy as pie to make in the oven) and I've whipped up an omelet for dinner when I'm feeling lazy. I've been getting the most divine bright yellow ones at the farmer's market and I don't think I could ever go back, even Whole Foods eggs don't have yolks this bright!
  3. Grill pan - this thing is our everything. From the very beginning we both knew that if we weren't eating meals that were even more delicious than what we regularly ate we would never make it. Grill pan to the rescue! We picked this one up at T.J. Maxx for $15 and I have no complaints! Thanks to this pan we have had kebabs, steak, lamb chops and grilled just about anything you can imagine. It's also such a healthy way to cook your proteins. It's provided us with some very, very delicious and decadent meals with very little effort. 
  4. Bananas - these are a close tie with eggs for how many we go through. Breakfast, snacks and as a base for smoothies we eat this all day every day. I buy a good two or three bunches every weekend and end up freezing half a dozen or so on Sunday to have them ready for smoothies. Papa bear's patented snack has become a banana with some almond butter, not my thing but he loves it!
  5. Coconut milk - this has become my dessert. It is the most amazing base for smoothies! It instantly takes a boring smoothie up a notch, making it taste like something you would enjoy while on vacation. This brand in particular is great because it's free of anything yucky. We get ours at our local Asian market but I've heard you can get it through Amazon too. 
  6. Limes - we must have gone through five pounds of these at this point. Throw it in some water, drizzle it on meat or do what I do practically every day and use it as the easiest dressing in the world to add a little kick to any salad. Love, love, love these things!
  7. Coconut oil spray - I'm not sure who else sells this other than Trader Joe's but it is fantastic. For how many times a day we end up using frying pans we couldn't live without this stuff - easy and no mess. Plus it smells like Hawaii!
  8. Tazo Iced Tea in "Passion" - I already talked about this at the beginning of this post so I'll simply say - this stuff is awesome and refreshing!
I also want to mention that I made a big batch of clarified butter at the beginning of our Whole30 journey and I am SO glad I did. I save it for things like green beans and asparagus but it's perfect for when you're craving that buttery flavor as opposed to olive oil or coconut oil. This is how to do it!

I hope you find this helpful and as always feel free to ask me any questions you may have. And I have to reiterate that Jenna is the ultimate resource and inspiration! She has so much great material on her instagram so make sure to pay her a visit!

Next week keep an eye out for posts about our lunches and dinners as well as my post about finishing Whole30!!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

whole30 - breakfast

poached egg, sweet potato hash browns, avocado, salmon
avocado, scrambled eggs whites, bacon, tomatoes
eggs whites baked in sweet peppers, bacon, tomatoes
coconut flour pancakes, strawberries & strawberry puree*
omelet with tomatoes, green onions & parsley, sweet potato hash browns

As some of you know papa bear and I started Whole30 21 days ago. I was so inspired by Jenna's story and the way she approached it and explained it and we both decided that it was time for a change for us. I have a lot, a lot, to say about this and our experience but I want to save my thoughts for the end. In the mean time since I didn't want to inundate my instagram feed with food photos I figured I would start by sharing some of the meals we've been having. 
A lot of people say they struggle with breakfast when on Whole30, mostly it seems to be due to a dislike for eggs. I personally didn't have this problem since I love eggs but it was a little more difficult for papa bear. For him, what worked was loading up on fruit with some almond butter and the only way he did like his eggs was "deviled" so that is what he ended up doing. Recently he found some Whole30 compliant breakfast sausages at our local COOP and he's really been enjoying those. It's so important to get a good amount of protein in the morning so I'm glad he was able to find a way to do that. 
If you are interested in any of the recipes simply let me know in the comments and I will be more than happy to share! I will also be doing a "staples" post about Whole30 at some point and I will list all the tools/foods that we have been using on a daily basis that have made this a breeze!

* I realize that this is a what Whole30 would consider a SWYPO meal but every once in a while I feel like you have to treat yourself in order to keep going. I'll talk about this in more detail later. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

bright eyed and bushy tailed

coat - asos, sunnies - karen walker, blouse & pants - target, shoes - shoemint

Last night I was praying I could fall asleep, the cloying heat was unbearable. The whirring fan by our bed offered little solace but I hoped my exhaustion would take me out. Thankfully it did and fairly quickly to my surprise. Heat and all I was off to dreamland...
I woke up pleasantly surprised by the cool air. The birds were singing their spring song and within minutes I heard the predictable babbling from the room next door. It was morning at our house. A quick diaper change was in order and I hastily threw a robe on. Soon our house would be filled with the sound of sizzles from the frying pans, familiar melodies of children's cartoons and silverware clinking its way onto the table. We eat and conversation seeps out slowly out of our still sleepy mouths. Birdie is always done before us and we finish breakfast to the pitter patter of tiny bare feet against our cool floors. 
As papa bear gets ready to leave we don our boots and jackets to see him off. The weather says highs in the 70s today but at this hour the air is chilly, the wind forcing me to wrap my jacket a little tighter around my chest. It's quiet, save for the buzz of a stray fly or two and the occasional chirp here and there. You can hear every step - the crunch of leaves or the muffled thuds over the dry dirt. We wave goodbye and do a little mandatory exploring before heading back inside. 
Once home we resume our daily schedule of mess making and general mischief. Soon toys will be strewn everywhere, crayons will weasel themselves under tables and chairs and a trail of cheddar bunnies will inevitably lead to the culprit. 
It's mornings like these - simple and predictable, that I hope to never take for granted.