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I love cooking.

I could spend all day in the kitchen with my Taylor Swift station on Pandora and little people running around my feet.

It’s my happy place.

I grew up watching my Dad whip up fancy recipes but other than him a love for cooking wasn’t really in our family history.

I rarely walked into another home that smelt of pot roast that had been cooking all day, or eat a bowl full of warm fresh soup with homemade bread.

But to me, those things, like beans cooked from scratch and homemade bread being cooled on the counter top, those things are little pieces that bring together the entire experience. Things like slow cooked beans and homemade bread take you back to another time. A time where life slowed down enough to appreciate the energy that was spent on these tasks.

Slow.

It’s my word this year.

And so begins the time spent enjoying the process in the kitchen.

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Friends, cookbooks are a part of that slow culture. I don’t know how many of my recipes are stored on my computer or phone, but I love thumbing through a cookbook, marking the pages of recipes I wish to make. It’s just a part of the experience my friends.

This bread is one that has been marked in my homemade bread recipe book for the longest time. I made it on an evening that was particularly cold and served it alongside a warm bowl of stew.

The smells that will fill your home are worth making this bread alone. So friends, take the time, slow down, and enjoy.

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Italian Herb Bread

Ingredients

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

3-5 Cloves Garlic minced

2 Tablespoons Italian Seasoning

3/4 Cup Water warm

1/3 Cup Milk warm

1 1/2 Teaspoon Sugar

1 1/2 Teaspoon Salt

3 Cups Bread Flour

2 Packets Yeast

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Italian Herb Bread

Directions

Heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil, garlic, seasoning, and salt. Cook until fragrant. I use a bread machine to do the work for me, so if you are using one, add all ingredients to machine and choose the dough setting. Bread machines take the guess work out of kneading and rising, but I do love baking the bread in my oven.

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If you are not using a bread machine add the liquid and yeast to your mixer and wait for the yeast to activate. Once bubbling add dry ingredients and olive oil mix to the mixer and knead with dough hook attachment until just combined. Allow to rise and then knead by hand on a well floured surface. Place dough in a prepared pan and cover with a warmed towel. Allow to rise for another twenty minutes or so before baking. Bake at 325 degrees for approximately 25 minutes. Allow to cool before slicing. Enjoy immediately or store in an airtight container preferably in your refrigerator because of the lack of preservatives.

This is a crusty but soft bread and is perfect alongside soup or in a sandwich.

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My sweet wild one turns four on Valentines Day.

Oh my aching heart, four.

It’s the same thing every year but I just don’t know how we got here.

She is all sass and is all about her birthday this year.

We often have talks about her party, her request of course.

They go a little like this….

Mom no boys are allowed. Only girls. But little boys can come and that’s okay. You can come too mom but you have to wear a tutu. We are all wearing tutu’s. Only girls though because boys run and are loud. And we are having a tea party.

We have those talks approximately fifteen times a day. She’s her mothers daughter, what can I say?

I have had so much fun with her every year because he birthday is on Valentines Day, and she is my only girl, so bring on all the pink and all the glitter.

Well like she has stated over and over, we are having a girls only tea party, I have grand ideas and we are on the hunt for the perfect tea set.

For the food I was thinking teeny tiny sandwiches, these scones, some fruit, of course the most perfectly pink birthday cake, and other small snacks.

For drinks we will have real tea, with milk and sugar of course, strawberry lemonade, and some infused water with citrus fresh essential oil.

Now to the decor, which is probably my favorite part.

Minted has an amazing amount of Valentines Day party decor. Which is absolutely perfect.

They have packages where you can either pick or choose and create your own, or packages that are already put together for you like this one.

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I love that you can personalize it and I love the simplicity of it.

I always try and make those treat and sip signs myself and well, my handwriting isn’t particularly pretty so you can only imagine.

I also love this garland.

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I seem to collect garlands over the years and it goes perfectly with a few that I use every year.

I will probably also make coffee filter pom poms like I did last year because they were so simple and so cute.

And of course…since you have so many girls, I will have to get these crowns.

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They are so simple and so so cute!

I’m sure I will be scouring Pinterest looking for more ideas, so follow along if you would like.

And if you want to check out wild ones birthday from last year you can here, but don’t judge my hair. Such a bad decision.

Happy Monday my friends!

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So as I am sure you all know, I have an undying love for essential oils.

I have been using them since October and I see such a change in our home that I am too excited not to share with anyone who will listen.

We have used them for sickness, sleep aids, cuts and scrapes, attitudes, emotions, attention, the list can continue on for quite some time.

I know that you all are bombarded with them right now, they seem to be the next big fad, yeah?

But sit with me a moment.

They have been around since God created the heavens and earth.

He placed each one of us on this Earth for a specific purpose, he knows the number of hairs on our head.

So why wouldn’t he place every plant on the Earth for a specific purpose.

He gave us everything that we need to survive and thrive. It’s human nature to use it or not.

I am beyond happy that these oils are becoming a new “fad” because I can’t help but think God has wanted them to for quite some time.

Friends….

Like I said, my love is undying, and I want yours to be as well.

I am offering a pretty amazing deal for y’all today if you want to join me on this journey.

Sign up today and I will send you a roller ball of my favorite oil (which is not in the starter kit) Cedarwood.

Cedarwood is fantastic for calming and grounding. Use it as a sleep aid, or to call some overworked nerves. It also is great at firming and helping with cellulite. Friends, its a miracle oil. But I am pretty sure I say that about every oil.

My team is still growing, so my attention to helping you achieve a more natural lifestyle and get the most out of your starter kit is completely personal. I am here for you and I want to equip you with the necessary tools to help your family.

Simply follow this link to sign up and I will get in contact with you to get you as much information as possible, add you to our closed Facebook group, and get you your welcome gift.

Thank you friends, I am excited to join you on this journey!!!

village

I always hear the saying it takes a village…to raise a child.

I am sure you all have as well. But one thing that I have learned over the years is how untrue that statement really is. I can’t help but think and say that it takes an entire country.

I often wonder what people do when they aren’t blessed with family or close friends near by.

I think back to when I was a working mom and the amount of help we truly needed. How we survived those years I will never ever really know. I had grandmas picking kids up at the last minute, Aunts and close friends watching the kids while I worked weekends, I even had Grandmas take off work when the kids were sick and I couldn’t.

Then we moved onto the years where sickness crept in, and did so fast and fierce. We would spend weeks in the hospital due to asthma flare ups and respiratory sickness. Weeks away from the other babies. Weeks where I realized how time doesn’t wait for you and life just continues to move on. I often thought about the moms who were living through a more serious illness. One where a week in the hospital felt like a relief. One where life would be spent in the walls of the hospital for months upon months. I thought how hard that must be and how much you would need your team, your village, and in those moments, your country to survive.

I think that’s why God created us the way he did. To love and thrive in community. Because really, that’s when we do best. I notice it most when I find myself too proud to ask for help, when I try and do it all, only to fail miserably and fall completely on my face. But then just as I think I have time to feel sorry for myself my people swoop in and pick me up.

Its beautiful, and I am blessed.

I mentioned the other day how we have gone through so much change these past few months and part of that was having our home sell and our dream homes fall through. We moved in with my parents with the intention to live there for a couple weeks and then our home would close. Well, that home fell through, and what was supposed to be two weeks turned into four months.

While it felt overwhelming and claustrophobic at times, my family of six became a family of eight. I had my mother and father with me to help me at all hours of the day and night. I watched them love on my kids and my husband more than I ever have in these past eight years.

It was beautiful, and I was blessed.

God’s plan is always so far from ours. We have these beautiful dreams that are tied up with a pretty red bow, and God has mountains to climb and ditches to dig through, but all the while it is beautiful, and teaching us more than we could ever learn from just unwrapping the perfect gift.

It takes a village and sometimes a country to raise a family friends, but I can’t imagine anything better.

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Anyone else out there a creature of habit?

I totally am, and really hope that I am not by myself in this one.

I’m pretty sure I always take the same route to the same places and if the streets closed, well, I give up and sit on the side of the road until I can talk myself off the side of the cliff.

I am kidding.

Kind of.

What I mean by creature of habit is, I get on these kicks. Things I enjoy, for breakfast or lunch, and then I repeat until the joy is gone. But for some reason, this peanut butter and banana green smoothie hasn’t been kicked yet, and I crave it every morning for breakfast, and sometimes for an afternoon snack.

It’s smooth and delicious and sweet enough to feel like you’re getting a treat. That’s my kind of smoothie, and one that will always win out over the fruity kind, unless we are talking about a peanut butter chocolate smoothie, then I am pretty sure that one wins every time.

But for reals.

This is the perfect breakfast or afternoon snack, so toss the ingredients in the blender and…

Enjoy.

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Peanut Butter and Banana Green Smoothie

Ingredients

2 Cups Spinach

1 Banana

1 Cup Ice

1/2 Cup Milk or milk alternative

1 Tablespoon Peanut Butter

1 Teaspoon Cinnamon plus more for topping

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Peanut Butter and Banana Green Smoothie

Directions

Add all ingredients to blender beginning with milk and topping with ice. Blend until smooth. Pour into glasses, sprinkle extra cinnamon on top, and enjoy immediately. Serves two.

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Hi, can we talk for a minute?

Like talk the way we used to talk?

This space has gone through so much growth in the past year and a half it’s kind of crazy.

I don’t know who is out there still, from the looks of things it seems like just passerby’s looking for a recipe or clicking through a link on pinterest, but I am talking to you.

The one who has been with me since the beginning, or popped in part of the way through. The one who has followed along as I have shared my triumphs, and failures, and lessons, and everything in between.

I miss you.

I miss this space.

I miss blogging the way it was and I miss my fingers tapping away and allowing the inner thoughts to come out.

It’s been an interesting go the past few months.

We struggled with the move more than I think we let on.

Or, I should say I struggled a little bit more, everyone else made it pretty clear that they had a hard time.

That’s the thing about us mamas, we hold it together and internalize it, making our thoughts and feelings known through complaints or attitudes but not so much working through it. It’s easier to get to yourself last, figure out everyone else’s hard times and emotions and then you will get to yours. Tuck it down a little deeper and deal with it tomorrow when you have energy and time.

I am by no means being a martyr. I truly believe that this is necessary. We have to hold it together, because if we don’t, who will?!

There was a lot of prayer. A lot of trust. But change is tough.

We had change on top of change on top of change.

And I never quite felt comfortable, never able to relax, never able to let my inner mama hen out to fix up her roost.

This home is beautiful and we are blessed, but I haven’t had the time or energy to make it ours yet, and it’s funny how much that affects you.

I stared at this screen a lot.

Looking at it, wanting to say something, wanting my creative juices to flow. But I just didn’t have it in me. Then it got to the point where I didn’t even stare anymore. I stopped checking in here, stopped trying to write, let this place collect dust so to speak.

And it was good.

It was cleansing, and nice, and good.

But, I miss you.

I miss the creativity, the challenge, and the mission of this place.

And so, without any promises, I feel like I am ready to come back.

God is writing a beautiful story in our lives. One that I am so blessed to call mine. He is here, present, and working. Growing my babes into little people, changing and shifting in their hearts and mine. I can feel his whisper in this home. The ministry that can be done here, around the table, in all the places, and through this screen.

I know its good.

I know it is something I need to step forward and do again.

So friends, thank you.

Those of you that have hung around, and those that are passing through.

Thank you.

And I look forward to our time together.

winter

Well hello.

It’s been a hot minute since I have popped in here.

December was busy, yeah?!

Christmas, New Year’s, and now we are here, at this fresh new start.

At church on Sunday they said how God was pretty amazing at thinking of how much we would need and want fresh starts.

Between New Year’s and Birthdays, we just get to hit that refresh button.

We get to refocus and see what needs to change.

I, like many others, am hopping on the eating healthier train. While I am always a big lover of whole healthy foods, I also have probably one of the biggest sweet tooth’s ever, so I definitely need to reset that.

It’s been cold here, I don’t know whereabouts you are reading from but here in AZ we are not used to the cold, and this past weekend…..well, it was a doozy.

Frost on the ground and lows well below freezing, I felt a little like a fish out of water, but it was fun!

After checking out a lot of my most popular posts from last year I noticed one common thread, food.

I can’t help but think that that is the route this blog needs to take. I know for one I love the creativity behind styling photos and creating recipes you all love, but I also love the quirky little stories I get to include. So for another New Year refresher, I think I will pull that camera out and begin to delve back into food posts.

I hope you all have a wonderful fresh week back in the normal flow. Have an extra smoothie and a handful of nuts to curb that sugar craving if you’re anything like me;)

Catch ya guys later!

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slow

Last year was my first time choosing a word for the year.

I chose peace.

I look back at all we went through and wonder if I would have known, would I still have chosen that word?

From the selling of our home, to living with my parents, to losing a home, then another, and another, and then settling upon this one right before the holidays, all that turmoil and change and inconsistency, did I feel peace? True straight from the source peace?

I think in my heart of hearts I really did.

I learned the bigger picture. That no one except God is truly in control and that in the midst of all the wrong He is making right. It wasn’t easy by any means, but it was a year of growing and stretching and learning. Learning to trust in him and his plan and learning to be humble and realize we cannot have everything we wish and dream and hope for.

So this year as I was trying to settle upon a word, I decided to look through the Bible for inspiration. To listen to what God was whispering to me, what he would like for me to concentrate on and really see this year.

I kept being drawn to slow.

Such a funny word really, who strives to be slow?

It’s a word that doesn’t fit my personality. I am one to go and do. To constantly fill up my plate. To stay busy and get things done. But how much do I miss when I am doing that?

I miss spending time in the word. Letting it seep deep down into my soul. I miss sitting on the floor playing with my kids watching their eyes and learning their laughter. I miss sitting with my husband and seeing him, and choosing him over the long list of to dos. I miss allowing myself to rest and be present and fully aware of those around me. I miss the woman who needs a smile. The friend who needs a kind word. The stranger who needs help.

I miss amazingly important opportunities to show those around me Jesus. 

I get frantic and stressed and wish the kids into bed.

I miss all the good and get consumed with the lists.

So this year I choose to slow.

I choose to listen, to see, to feel, to observe, to stop doing and to start being.

Just like last year the Lord will use this word to shape me and mold me in ways that I cannot even begin to imagine, and I am okay with that. 

Use me Lord, change me, shape me, and slow me.

While I have yet to photograph beautiful assortments of cookies for y’all this year….fear not!!

I have posted plenty of cookie recipes, can you tell that they are my weakness, so I decided to post a small compilation of some of my favorites for you all today.

I don’t always gift presents to all the teachers and helpers and amazing neighbors in our lives…but I do bake. And I have learned the key to anyones heart usually lies in their stomachs….at least I know mine does! So I just bake my little heart out and make the kids take the cookies to the neighbors…it teaches them to be kind and to give to others…and I only have to wave and say a few words from the distance…(raise your hand if you are an introverted extrovert….this girl!!!!!)

So here you have it…make some, make all, but be sure to share a few;)

Simply click the picture and it will take you right over to the recipe….

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These cookies are seriously decadent. They are sweet and nutty and delicious and they will win over any mans heart…promise;)

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Browned butter, coconut, chocolate chips, I mean I am pretty sure this cookie has every teensy piece of my love language wrapped up into it.

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While I doubt you would pass icecream cookies out to the neighbors…the recipe for the chocolate chip cookies is my go-to. This recipe calls for browned butter, which creates a chewy nutty and perfectly soft chocolate chip cookie. And save the icecream for when the kids go to sleep;)

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This may not be a cookie…but this candy is by far my most requested Christmas treat. Every year people make super strange noises as they bite into these delicious salty sweet pieces of heaven.

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And now we begin to get into my older photography…its kind of funny to see your pictures change over time. While I should probably re-photograph this recipe. These snickerdoodle cookies are divine. Moist, soft, fluffy, chewy, and perfect in every way.

Enjoy my friends. Indulge and treat yourself because we all know as soon as January hits we will be throwing out all the sugar and doing every cleanse imaginable.

So December has kind of gotten away from me.

Between moving, getting unpacked, a complete shift in our routine due to some answered prayer, and a whole lotta other life moments, this blog began to collect some dust, as it should when life gets in the way.

While I am still checking in a couple times a week its nothing like I would like it to be.

I have yet to do a home tour, or even a recipe, mainly because I don’t feel settled enough to show you around, and I still haven’t figured out the lighting in this house. But, I have decorated for Christmas, and I think this is my most favorite year of decorations yet.

I scaled back, kept things simple, and really quite natural. It’s funny how your taste and decorating sense develops and changes over the years. I still remember our first bathroom, red with black everything. And now I don’t even want to put a thing on the walls.

So, my Christmas decorations involve a whole lot of greenery some natural colors and a touch of glitter. Because really, what other time of year can you get away with glitter.

The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.

-Buddy the Elf

If I had a quote for Christmas mine may be something about spreading glitter, oh yeah, and eating cookies, all the cookies.

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This is our first year ever having a fire place.

Needless to say the husband asked if there was even a mantle underneath all that stuff. Guys just don’t get it do they? But…..hashtag nice rack?!? Yea???

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Sometimes I laugh at my own jokes….

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Give to me all the glitter, specifically gold.

Please and thank you.

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I have seriously contemplated calling Christmas off and filling all of these stockings with coal. Mine included. But I am not sure these sweet little stocking holders could handle that much weight.

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I still so love our Christmas Tree.

The memories are amazing but I also love how simple it is. Kind of reminds me of a perfect combo of the tree from how the grinch stole christmas and charlie brown.

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Our tree is a nice combination of homemade ornaments and super special ones, like my hand blown glass ones that go all the way up at the tippy top so curious little hands can’t even think about touching them.

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Simple is key this year.

The simpler the better.

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And what it is all about anyways.

I love this Nativity set. If it was the only Christmas decor I had I would be happy.

Oh and that mini teeny tiny nativity, that is the saving grace of the big one. Little hands can set it up and take it down over and over again until they lose interest. Thank goodness.

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I love all the green scraps left behind from the christmas tree. I think that is the best part of having a real tree. Free decoration, that doesn’t need to be stored afterward.

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And there you have it.

A simple Christmas.

Not picturing all the piles of laundry and half full coffee mugs.

Have a blessed week my friends.

/He leaves us with Peace print via Naptime Diaries

/Let it Be.. and Better Person sign via Jaxn Blvd