Simply beautiful...

Simply beautiful...

Monday, February 28, 2011

Change & Two Incredible Blessings

(This is a bit sentimental, but it's for my husband and kids)

I love having two kids... I LOVE having two kids...

I have been struck recently with just how blessed Jeremy and I are to have two, healthy and beautiful children. It is a pleasure and an honor to be Harper and Bentley's mama and dada. There is something so tender and sobering when we stop and realize the magnitude of our responsibilities - that we are raising, pouring into and shaping these two little people.
Two little people who already have ripped our hearts wide open to show us what love really is - and they are only 2 years and 4 1/2 months old... I have tears of joy in my eyes and I will cherish every step of the way.
Harper and Bentley, God has planted the sweetest little hearts in both of you... Your smiles, vibrant spirits and honest joy are little sparkles of heaven to me and your daddy. You inspire your mommy and daddy everyday to be better, to keep growing and to never give up. It is our life-long prayer that we will allow God to transform us, so we can love you both (and others) like He does. We will never be perfect at it, and when we are not... look to Jesus... and we promise to keep on trying. We love you both, Oh! so much and ALWAYS will!
I don't want to fool anyone... the transition to two has been hard. Really hard. It's always difficult and challenging when God stretches you and gives you more to watch over than before. It's been overwhelmingly difficult to stretch into two kids for us... and at the same time... a new state, a new home, a new church and new friends. For those that know me, I am an exceptionally emotional/sentimental woman (let's face it, we all are to some extent)... not exactly a personality that goes smoothly with change.
For that reason, I am so thankful for you, Jeremy... for supporting me (and the kids) with an unending love... For always taking the extra step when I can't go any further. You have revealed so much to me about your character - your heart to follow God and desire to lead us. I am so blessed, thankful and in love with you. I am so happy to be called your wife.
Right after we moved, I had a close family friend share with me a quote that helped her in similar circumstances:

"Bloom where you are planted".

Whenever I have been bowled over by the emotions of change, I have remembered this quote, in addition to opening my Bible. Thank you Lin, for your encouragement... you had no idea how much of an impact it would have on me when you shared it. God has us here now... with our two kids and it may be a challenge, but it is not a mistake. We want to bloom here in Oregon, however long God has us here.
(This picture is the sunset taken from our balcony... we are so thankful.)

Vanilla Nut & Pear Scones

This past week, my husband and I had our friends come stay with us from San Diego. I love hosting friends and family in our home. There's nothing sweeter than spending time with good friends after a long absence. I love lingering over a cup of coffee in the morning or a glass of wine at night, talking about the details of our lives. In addition to that, I love planning the meals and treats we'll enjoy together during that time... simply because I love food and how it brings us together.

I decided to make scones to go with our coffee, as I know this is a favorite of our friends. As I scoured scone recipes, I turned to one of my favorite websites, Eating Well, to see if I could find a healthier version. Scones are usually a bit of a treat for me since they call for so much butter. I found a Maple Nut & Pear scone recipe and was curious how they would turn out since it called for ingredients unfamiliar to me in regards to scones. The recipe decreased the white flour by incorporating whole wheat pastry flour and rolled oats and decreased the butter by replacing some of it with reduced-fat cream cheese. I used a Bosc pear that was perfectly ripe and used some of my divine vanilla extract from Mexico since I did not have maple extract.
We couldn't have been more pleased with the results and even stated that these were some of the best scones we have tasted! I was so pleased with them that I made them again at the end of the week to take to a family get-together. Scones are still a bit of an indulgence to me, but I always feel satisfied when I can take a recipe, make it a little bit healthier and have it taste wonderful!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

More is Better?: Part 1

The other night, I was disappointedly reminded of something I already knew. That we Americans just tend to over-do it often and unnecessarily when it comes to food. Just a few weeks ago, our family moved into our first home. With a garage full of boxes to unpack, a 2 year old and a 4 month old to take care of and our sanity to maintain... I asked my husband to ease our load by picking up dinner while he was out running a few errands. He came home with a delicious pepperoni pizza. Vegetarian pizza is usually my favorite, but I love pizza in general. On this particular evening, I was reminded just why I usually go vegetarian in regards to pizza.He brought home this pepperoni pizza which contained FAR too much meat on it. We decided to intervene by taking off some of the meat and adding the little spinach and few pepper slices we had in our refrigerator. We were able to remove about 30 slices of pepperoni and (in my opinion) the pizza still contained more than enough meat. I didn't feel we were skimping it on the pepperoni. As I ate, I couldn't stop thinking about how we over-do it when it comes to portion sizes and how we fail to practice moderation. It's not that we can't consume things like pepperoni, but why can't we savor and enjoy a smaller amount of these less-than healthy items? Why do we as Americans respond to making sure we get our "money's worth" when it comes to food? Especially when that often comes at an unhealthy price? Why do we think more is better?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Harper Dancing at 2 years old

I just wanted to quickly share this video of Harper... she received a dress-up set from her Mimi and Baba. The shoes ended up being a big hit and she entertained us with her "happy feet" as we call them. She LOVES dancing like the tap dancing penguins from the movie Happy Feet! We love her free spirit!

Salad... Boring?

I love salad. All variations and varieties... but let's face it. Sometimes even a salad lover can get bored of the typical lettuce, veggies and dressing combo. It is typical and somewhat expected to find a salad at our dinner table most nights. In light of this, my sister-in-law and I decided to spice up our family dinner by making two of the Barefoot Contessa's recipes and combining them into a wintery salad that turned out to be wonderful, rich and filling.
We made maple-roasted butternut squash, served it over lettuce with goat cheese, walnuts, dried cranberries and drizzled a warm cider vinaigrette over it. Both of these recipes are found in Ina Garten's Back to Basics cookbook.
Not only did everyone in both families love the meal, but there were two distinct victories in my mind. First, my brother-in-law usually has to choke down any sort of salad (nearly literally). He might kill me for saying so... but a week after this meal, he requested we make it again for his birthday dinner. Secondly, it was wonderful to find a vegetarian meal that is satisfying and delicious. Even though no one in our family is a strict vegetarian... in my mind, it isn't necessary to always have meat in a meal. For these two reasons, this meal will definitely be a staple among the Swift family recipes.