I have these fond memories of early morning family day trips that began with getting an egg and cheese on a roll from the corner deli as we drove out of town.  I’m not sure where we were headed, but it really doesn’t matter.  Getting a special breakfast as we left for the day was part of the magic.  I also remember the many times that my dad and I would grab buttered Portuguese rolls as he dropped me off at the train station before work, and it started the day on a high note.

Unfortunately, gluten free folks cannot stop at the corner deli, or the quick mart, or even Dunkin Donuts on their way out of town.  Yet, sometimes you want something nutritious you can grab and go.  Something more than a breakfast bar or bowl of cereal, but not something you need to stop and prepare when you’re busy packing up your beach bag.

Egg and Cheese

Egg and Cheese Wraps

When we have a special day trip planned and know we’re headed out early in the morning, we make breakfast the night before.  The fun part is that we wrap it in foil and refrigerate it overnight; in the morning, we pop it in the (toaster) oven and let it heat while we get ready for the day. Breakfast is ready when we are, and we bring it into the car to eat as we begin our adventure.  By making it at home, you have the ability to control what goes inside, slip in some veggies, limit the bad stuff, and save yourself some money.

Ingredients (per wrap)

2 eggs plus one egg white (for my kids, I make 3 eggs, 2 egg whites, and split it between the two of them)

1/2 cup cooked, chopped vegetables

1 wrap (we use brown rice by Trader Joe’s or Enjoy Life)

1/4 c shredded cheese (we use cheddar)

Directions

Prepare eggs with preferred method.  We scramble, but my husband sometimes prefers over-easy, or we make them as an omelet with the veggies in the center.  Once the eggs are cooked, sprinkle cheese on top and heat until melted.  Transfer eggs to the center of the wrap, slightly to the side, and roll into a burrito.  Wrap in foil, write each person’s name or a special message on the outside of each packet, and refrigerate.  In the morning, heat each on low (set to warm if in the toaster oven, 200 degrees if in the oven) until warmed through, about 15-20 minutes.  Grab as you’re headed out the door, and let the kids keep the bottom wrapped and eat from the top down to keep things neat.   It sounds a small thing, but egg and cheese wraps are something we look forward to whenever we take a morning day trip.  It’s the little memories that add up.

To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  May the day trip season be upon us soon!

hope

Is there a room in your house that as soon as you walk in you feel your pulse race and your mind start to whirl in confusion, “how did it get this way?” That room for  me is my home office. It has become a dumping ground for all of my unfinished projects, things I don’t want the kids to touch and their little random collections of stuff. It is also where I organize/plan my blogs, make our meal plans, run a small charity and organize projects for various committees. I just close the door and think, “some day I’ll have time to sort all that out.” If you have a similar experience there is Hope. Literally, Hope Stuart of Apple a Day Lifestyle Services is a professional organizer and efficiency expert.

I read about Hope’s services in her guest blog on Hudson Valley Parent. She posted an offer for 4 FREE hours of home organizing for booking a home party with her. Well, I had to know more! I contacted her immediately and discussed my budget first thing and asked a bunch of questions about how a home party works. Here is what the process looks like so far:

My Desk

A glimpse at my haphazardly organized desk.

 

 

First, I sent her pictures of what I call the “hot spots” in my office. Then we reviewed them over the phone and Hope created a mission statement for my office as well as a 12 page efficiency plan. Admittedly, my office is haphazardly organized into sloppy piles, but I waste a lot of time digging through the piles to find what I need. I have my grocery list in with important contact info for events. I lose stuff all the time and need help creating an efficient way to keep everything organized.

Cover of Plan

Cover page to my Strategic Organization Plan for my office.

 

 

Next, Hope and I reviewed the plan at my home. She took a look at the space, took some measurements and mapped a layout. Now here is where her services really benefit. She will be as involved with projects as you need. I had some specific makeover projects I wanted to finish for the space. I could have easily handed them off to Hope take care of, or do them myself. This speaks to the partnership Hope creates with each client. Then we set a date for the actual make over to take place.

Bookcase Page

Hope created an organizing plan for every area of my office.

 

 

Next, Hope returned a few weeks later to put our plan into action. We were ready with our to-do list and went to work. She is very hands on -including moving the furniture, taming messy cords and she even leaves the room spring clean and perfectly set for you to enjoy. Bonus: Hope is a true master mind at layouts and measuring. I never measure anything!

Hope makeover 013

Hope using her super powers to measure out an area for my framed articles.

 

Hope makeover 009

Hope creating an amazing layout for my new command center.

 

Last, you throw a party with friends! Everyone can ooh and ahh over your new space and Hope can share the process, tips and tricks with each of them. I haven’t had my official reveal party yet (stay tuned for the after photos) but I am assured by Hope it is just snacks, wine and the love of an organized efficient space.

The best part of this process is outsourcing the organizing (and most of my thinking) for this project! A huge time saver for a busy twin mom with too much to do! We communicate mainly via email- which is great with two shrieking little ones running through my house. Hope is very supportive of my project ideas and values my comfort with each step before moving forward. Now I can sit at my desk and find everything I need right when I need it. (And I don’t even need to leave my office chair!).

office pics for mom 004

OK one sneak peek at my newly organized desk!

 

 

Hope is a former Principal with a wealth of knowledge in creating effective and efficient systems that work. Her passion is utilizing her efficiency expertise to help homeowners create spaces they love.  Hope has made over toy rooms, basements, classrooms, pantries, home offices and retail spaces. Here is where you can find Hope for your home!

Hope Stuart Apple A Day President and CEO (Chief Executive Organizer)

845-986-4416 / 845-728-6589   17 River Street, Suite 10 Warwick, NY 10990

 

THE WHATEVER MOM DID NOT RECEIVE ANY COMPENSATION FROM APPLE A DAY FOR THIS REVIEW. OPINIONS ABOUT HOPE’S SERVICES ARE SOLELY FROM THE WHATEVER MOM.

austin birthAs a new mom, one of the hardest things was feeling connected again. Those first few months my job was on hold and my friends were scarce. While my husband was able to get out of the house alone to go to work each day I was left to care for a new, very needy little person every hour of the day and night. Don’t get me wrong, I adored caring for him and soaking up every moment. I knew these times were fleeting and I wanted to savor them but I wanted more, and still do. I wish back then I knew there were local resources for new moms, free playgroups, and support but I didn’t. So I am helping you out today. Here is your list- If you are feeling trapped, alone or worse know you aren’t alone. There are a number of local groups ready to welcome you and your new baby with open arms and give you the support & information you need. Real stories from Hudson Valley Moms on postpartum depression

1. New Baby, New Paltz offers one on one support, workshops, playgroups, support groups, a great website, products new moms love and a welcoming space. New Paltz, 845-255-0624.

2. Health Quest at Vassar Brothers Medical Center holds weekly support groups, childbirth and parenting classes, breastfeeding support, infant/child CPR and even sibling prep classes. Check the site for a list of classes, costs and more. Poughkeepsie, 877-729-2444.

10 sanity saving tips for new moms

3. The LaLeche League has chapters in Orange, Ulster, Sullivan, and Dutchess counties, and beyond. Their website offers information, fact sheets and the online Breastfeeding Guide including topics on “my baby won’t latch on,” to “sore nipples.”  Proper nutrition, expressing milk, and returning to work are covered.  With a click of the mouse, the information is truly at your fingertips.

4. Kingston Hospital/ Health Alliance offers a variety of services for new and expecting moms including a mother’s club and a new mom support group. In addition to the support, the Health Alliance also offers childbirth education classes. Kingston, 845-334-2700 x2241

5. Planned Parenthood Mid-Hudson Valley is an expansive resource on a wide variety of issues including sexuality, birth control, STDs, relationships and parenting. They hold workshops, community outreach programs, counseling and a long list of free services. Kingston, 845-338-0840; Poughkeepsie, 845-471-1540

Finding ‘me’ time after baby

6. Hudson Valley Adoption Support provides free counseling to new and expecting parents considering adoption as well as support and classes to those prospective adoptive parents. Kingston, 845-514-6717 or 845-338-0700

7. Stroller Strides Classes are a fun, healthy way to connect with other new moms while getting your body back after child birth. Check to see if there is a local chapter near you or start your own!

8. Waddle-n-Swaddle, LLC holds free playgroups, a nursing circle and pregnancy group that meet weekly as well as prenatal & birthing classes, parenting education classes and even children’s art, music, dance and yoga classes! Each location also offers a variety of popular baby/ new mom products. Poughkeepsie, 845-473-5952; Rhinebeck, 845-876-5952.ben birth

9. Hudson Valley Parent is honestly a great resources for new moms and moms are all levels. Since the magazine is in its 21st year there are hundreds of articles on the site from local and national sources providing help, resources and information on everything from pregnancy issues through tips for new moms, adoption, school and beyond. Pick a keyword and do a search, I’m sure you can find something to help. And then join us on Facebook you can ask questions, get tips, advice and chat with other local parents.

10. Web resources:

Volunteering at Convoy of Hope with my children.

My family volunteering at a community outreach event in Long Island with Convoy of Hope.

For those of you with children too young for school, let me give you a brief glimpse of what you’re in for. It seems like at least twice a month my kids come home with some fundraiser. I’m not sure if I’m the only one that feels this way, but school fundraisers are like the new junk mail. There’s no stopping them. They just keep coming, along with the persistent pleas of my children who want to participate because it means they get some novelty toy.

Before I have you convinced I’m some horrible person for sending those fundraisers straight to the recycling bin, let me explain. I’m a firm believer that kids should learn the importance of helping others. I want them to make their own decisions though, not be pressured by school or peers. I’m a little peeved because these fundraisers that get sent home are really parent fundraisers. The expectation is that I will buy and I will sell whatever overpriced junk they are pedaling all so my child can feel accomplished because they “earned” a small toy. Perhaps this is where the world of philanthropy gets all screwed up. Here are 4 reasons why I think charity should begin at home long before they encounter it at school:

1. Charity Doesn’t Deserve Strings Attached – I want my kids to learn that giving to others shouldn’t come with strings attached, incentives, or pandering congratulations. Giving should come from a calling of your heart and should be something you would do even if nobody noticed. I’ve worked in the non-profit world and have yet to meet a wealthy benefactor that didn’t want the world to know what they did. It has sadly become a dance that gets played out over and over and not for the charity’s benefit, but for the donor’s. I’m about to lose the non-religious folks here, but as a Christian giving means that the receiver does not see the giver, but the reason behind it – God. I want to encourage my kids to be self-less givers. You never know when you may find yourself on the receiving end.

2. Charity Is  A Priority, Not A Gimmick – I tell my kids that we make it a priority in our budget to give to our church every month. Will other opportunities come up? Sure. We participated in Operation Christmas Child because it spoke to my heart. There are a million needs out there, but we need to give where our heart is.

3. School Fundraisers Creates Disparity Among Kids - One of my biggest problems with this barrage of fundraisers is that it creates peer pressure among children and as I have said before my district is a poor one. I see it as another wedge that drives students apart. I know my kids will be forced to sit outside the book fair if I don’t give them money. It is ridiculous that we can’t teach children how to “window shop.” Instead we segregate those who can’t afford to  buy.

I would rather see my school teach volunteering above “shopping for a cause.” If my school needs donations, I’d prefer to get a letter addressed to me at my home address and I’d be happy to mail off a check.

My family volunteering at our church's free Trunk or Treat in Middletown.

My family volunteering at our church’s free Trunk or Treat in Middletown.

4. Giving Of Yourself Doesn’t Always Mean Money – I’ve taken my children to many community events my husband and I volunteered at from an outreach event with Convoy of Hope, to chicken barbecue fundraisers, to our church’s free Halloween Trunk or Treat. I’m training the next generation of volunteers to give back to the world with everything in their arsenal from a smile or kind word to their time and talents.

The other day my daughter Hannah created a “charity bank” and deposited her dollar that she got from the tooth fairy. I couldn’t have been more proud. It was an act that came straight from her heart. No little toy incentive necessary. I hope my kids will grow up and become successful, but I never want them to feel that they “deserve congratulations” for giving. Giving is the gift! It means their needs are met and they have the means to be a blessing to others.

There’s no bread in our house… living the grain-free lifestyle while healing my daughter’s tummy, meals are kinda boring.  Sweet potatoes are as exciting as it gets. Meanwhile, I was looking back through old recipes and photos, and happened upon a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread I’d made quite a while ago.  Gluten free cinnamon raisin bread is special, in my opinion, because it’s not something you can find on any street corner.  Most stores carry sliced gluten free bread, but cinnamon raisin is unique enough that if you want a nice, fresh loaf, you’ll need to make it yourself.  Please, make and enjoy this for me, since I cannot.  Let me know how it turns out!

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

What the Food has developed and shared a recipe on her blog for cinnamon raisin bread and rolls.  We did not try the rolls, but found the bread recipe to be delicious. It rose nicely, had a great cinnamon flavor, and made excellent toast for breakfast.  Find the recipe here.  I’m sure it would make incredible French toast as well!

Within a few weeks, I  hope we will have reintroduced eggs into our diet, and soon after, almond flour.  Then our diet will broaden, as I will be able to make various baked goods and take you further along on our journey.  Until then, happy baking!

To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.

Our Chinese red lanterns

Our Chinese red lanterns

Last week I introduced the girls to Mardi Gras with our crafts and cheater beingets. This week we are learning about Chinese New Year!

The Chinese New Year celebrates family and hope for prosperity. Many families gather and give gifts of lucky money tucked inside red envelops and take their family portraits. Many celebrations include lion dances, or dragon dances. This tradition is believed to expel evil spirits and bad fortune. Celebrants even wear red clothing to attract good fortune. There are so many different customs to this two week celebration we couldn’t fit it all in. My girls seemed the most interested in dragons and red lanterns. So, we focused on those to start.

At Christmas I gave each of the girls a new book every night as we counted down to Christmas Day. I usually rummage through garage and library sales to find gently used, inexpensive books. This time, I ordered a few books from Barefoot Books simply because I love the quality in both the writing and illustrations. One of our new favorite books to read (and inspiration for this post) is Lin Yi’s Lantern.

Our new favorite Barefoot Book

Our new favorite Barefoot Book

It shares the story of a little boy getting ready for the moon festival and his desire to carry a red rabbit lantern. I love this book because it has a great story, some folklore and includes a craft idea at the end of the book!

Folklore about the

Folklore about the Moon Fairy

A little history about life in China.

A little history about life in China.

We found these dragon coloring pages on Pintrest. Just color, cut and paste to a craft stick or back of a paper plate to  make a mask.

Coloring our dragon masks.

Coloring our dragon masks.

 

Here is what you will need to make your own red lanterns:

Materials for red lanterns - including our Chinese take out menu.

Materials for red lanterns – including our Chinese take out menu.

  • Red Paper
  • Gold Paint or markers
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Chinese food take out menu (all this talk about Chinese culture made me hungry)
Instructions on how to make your own lanterns.

Instructions on how to make your own lanterns.

I let the kids go to town with the dot paints and make their lanterns their own. Once the paint is try simply fold paper length wise, then cut a straight line stopping about 2 inches before the edge of the paper. Repeat about 7 times (depending on how thick you make your cutting lines). Open the lantern and roll it until the ends touch. Tape the ends together. You can make a handle by cutting another strip and taping it to the top.

Our Chinese red lanterns

Our Chinese red lanterns

The girls wanted the lanterns to really light up, so I added some glow sticks. We turned out the lights and carried them in our own little parade and danced like dragons. Now where is that Chinese take out menu?

 

You can read more about Chinese New Year and the lantern festival here.

 

Laura BagnarolBy Laura Bagnarol

During the summer of 2013, I was all over the web looking for a sports camp for my easy-going, princess-obsessed, 4-year-old daughter. She was big into dance, which was fine by me but I was looking to introduce her to something different for the summer. She had participated in a few co-ed soccer programs that she liked enough but didn’t really love.

Growing up playing sports, I recognized I was totally biased but I wasn’t quite ready to give up on the idea of her playing a sport yet. I quickly found a ton of programs for her age that were either hyper-feminine or of the arts and crafts variety but not many team sports programs (other than soccer and tee ball.)

Linnea, 5, hikes the ball to Rhiona, 6, during football practice at the Pigskin Princess Project.  Permission granted from all parents to use photos.

Linnea, 5, hikes the ball to Rhiona, 6, during football practice at the Pigskin Princess Project.
Permission granted from all parents to use photos.

Unexpected inspiration

Much to my delight, I ended up finding a co-ed sports camp for 3-5 year-olds. Although pricey and outside of the Hudson Valley, it looked great … on paper. It turned out to be a total disaster with one main reason being: they had no idea what to do with a 4-year-old girl. She was the only female of that age in the program. They infantilized her, put her with much older girls, and discouraged her. I didn’t send her back after the second day. During her short time at this camp, as I vented to family and friends about my experience, I kept hearing myself saying, “I could run a better program myself!”

Social Worker turned businesswoman turned football coach

Personally, I have always loved sports — any sport. In particular, throwing around a football was something I loved to do and could do well. As a woman (and now a parent), I struggled with the way our culture marketed to girls (and boys). Growing up, I lived for gym class and stickball games in our neighborhood cul-de-sac. I played sports in high school and have always loved me a good competition!

Gracie, 3, gets ready to throw like a girl at the Pigskin Princess Project.  Permission granted from all parents to use photos.

Gracie, 3, gets ready to throw like a girl at the Pigskin Princess Project.
Permission granted from all parents to use photos.

Professionally, before I had children, I worked with survivors of abuse (many of whom were overwhelmingly female). I saw the dangerous ways in which our culture silenced girls and became passionate about keeping children safe and teaching them to use their voices.

So, with my background being what it was, I kept coming back to this crazy idea of starting my own program and, as I toyed with the idea, it suddenly occurred to me to merge two things — football and princesses — together.

It was the perfect response to a culture that treated girls as one-dimensional beings who were only interested in all things pink, sweet, and sparkly! I imagined it being a program that was half football and half arts & crafts with the latter focusing on a particular princess and what made her smart and strong.

PigskinPrincesslogoThe Pigskin Princess Project is born!

With that, I turned this crazy idea into a reality and launched The Pigskin Princess Project at a local rec center in the summer of 2014. It teaches girls ages 3-8 the basics of flag football (no-contact) through different drills and agility exercises. They are taught how to properly throw and catch a football and learn how the game is played.

My program is specifically designed for any girl — she doesn’t have to be a certain “type” or big into sports at all. Parents are welcome to observe or participate! At the end of each session, we spend some time talking about a different princess or female athlete and the characteristics that make her just plain awesome. During our very last class, we create an empowering piece of art that incorporates the main themes of our discussions.

Giuliana, 5, flexes her muscles at football practice at the Pigskin Princess Project.  Permission granted from all parents to use photos

Giuliana, 5, flexes her muscles at football practice at the Pigskin Princess Project.
Permission granted from all parents to use photos

Girls are bombarded with celebrity culture and hyper-sexual images of what it means to be female. There are so many strong female athletes — everyday people — who are doing remarkable things. I think it’s important to tell their stories. In a nutshell, The Pigskin Princess Project introduces girls to a fun and exciting sport. It celebrates the diverse interests and talents that exist in all girls and encourages them to be bold, kind, ambitious beings.

At the start of this whole thing, I definitely heard some wild comments from people. One of my favorites was from a female family member who said girls shouldn’t really play football because they can “get hit in the breast” — a statement that is comical on oh so many levels! Have you (or your daughter) ever been told you couldn’t do something because you were a girl? What empowering programs for girls have you come across in the Hudson Valley?

Laura Bagnarol resides in Dutchess County with her husband and three children. Her next Pigskin Princess program will take place at Geering Park through Fishkill Recreation this spring.

_________

Laura holds a Masters degree in Social Work from Fordham University. She has specialized in working to end men’s violence against women through providing crisis intervention and support services to survivors of all ages. Laura has also provided hundreds of trainings on the topic of interpersonal violence to a wide array of schools, underserved populations and professional organizations in and beyond the Hudson Valley. She has taught on the topics of domestic and sexual violence as an Adjunct Instructor at The College of New Rochelle and had the opportunity to present at the Faculty Resource Network’s 2011 National Symposium in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Her work as a prevention educator and crisis counselor has been highlighted in The Journal News.

Laura currently provides consultation regarding the endemic problem of men’s violence against women. She recently founded Feisty Fems, LLC to combat harmful gender stereotypes. The Pigskin Princess Project is her first program initiative.

For more information, contact Laura at 845.803.1749 or PigskinPrincessProject@gmail.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube!

snowman1. Get creative with your snowman! You don’t have to stick to a traditional snowman. Try connecting the balls horizontally to create a caterpillar, bring out the Mr. Potato Head pieces or make your snowman do tricks like this one!

2. My boys and I LOVE making snow ice cream snow ice cream(just mix sugar, milk and vanilla with your clean snow), but are really looking forward to trying these other sweet snow treats! Make Snow Candy, and snow cookies!

3. I am not a fan of the snow so if hubby isn’t home the kids don’t get to go out. They love the snow so we compromise! Fill a bowl, tray or even Tupperware bin with snow and let the kids play inside. We usual add bowls, measuring cups, spoons and even trains or trucks.

frozen bubbles4. Blow frozen bubbles. These look super cool! I haven’t tried them yet, let me know how they turn out if you do.

5. Going on a scavenger hunt in the winter is fun with a little pre- planning.Use a few drops of food coloring in ice cube trays to create some brightly colored ice. Hide them around outside for the kids to hunt in the snow.

ice sun catchers6. These below freezing temperatures this week are good for something! If possible, go on a nature hunt and collect things such as berries, pine needles and leaves, (if not possible, use slices of fruit, herbs or fake flowers). Turn your treasures into beautiful works of art with these amazing Ice sun catchers

7. Make a bird feeder. Don’t forget our feathered friends in the winter. Roll some bird seed in some peanut butter on a toilet paper roll or apple and hang from a tree branch.

8. A friend of mine ice forestposted a photo of her daughter playing in the snow the other day and I thought the idea was so great I asked her if it would be okay to share with you. So, with permission, here is the best Hudson Valley Ice Forest I have ever seen, dinosaurs and all!

9. We have a lot of wildlife in our back yards. Take the kids on a snowy walk (or hike) and see how many animal tracks you can spot! Can’t spot any tracks? Cut some animal feet shapes out of cardboard, tie up with some string and let the kids stomp around and create their own!

snow paint play10. Make snow art. You can simply bring your paints outside and paint the snow, use food coloring and water in spray bottles or eye droppers or bring a little snow inside, drop a few drops of food coloring in, mix and paint on paper: Snow Paint!

And top 5 favorite places to go in the snow in the Hudson Valley.

1. Thomas Bull Memorial Park. The Hudson Valley is filled with plenty of great sledding & tubing spots! At Thomas Bull Memorial Park you can go tubing, sledding, cross country skiing or ice skating! Other great spots listed here.

2. Holiday Mountain in Sullivan County has everything from beginner trails to advanced slopes. Many families enjoy a variety of ski slopes scattered through our area. A great list found here.

3. Trevor Zoo in Millbrook is open all year round. Visit the zoo in the snow this winter to see which animals are active. It is inexpensive to get in and as long as it isn’t bitterly cold out, a great afternoon outdoor outing.

4. Visit the baby goats, sample the delicious cheeses and see what the farm is all about at Edgwick Farm in Cornwall for the very popular winter farm tour! You must make reservations, dates sell out fast.

5. Mohonk Mountain House. As day guests you can enjoy a snowy hike, ice skating, snowshoeing or cross- country skiing. After a fresh snow, Mohonk Mountain is a great place to bring a sled, enjoy a warm meal or stop at the Mohonk Preserve (separate location) for  one of the great programs and events.

We’ve had an unusual food week.  My oldest is on an extra restricted (GAPS) diet due to some stomach issues, so we’ve had to get very creative in the kitchen.  We’re avoiding gluten and dairy as per usual, but have added soy, fructose, and all grains to the list.  What’s left to eat, you ask?  Well, not much.  Roasted meats and vegetables, and homemade bone broth is on the menu.  We’ve gone down this healing path before (last time, I shared our experiences here and here).  This time, my husband is helping out in the kitchen, and this week’s creation is compliments of him.

I know there are many kids out there who live on a special diet, and parents who shop for them, cook for them, and hurt for them.  In honor of all of those kids, and their families, I share our journey, in hopes that we restricted-foods-families can rally together, offer moral support when needed, and share tips, sniffles, and hugs.  Seeing your child miss out on treats with her friends is sad, but making a special dish and watching her enjoy it makes life much cheerier.

Stir Fry

Stir-fry

Ingredients

2 lbs. chicken breasts

3 peppers (we used red, yellow, and orange)

1 lb. Italian-style green beans (ours were frozen)

2 tablespoons coconut oil (another oil is fine would work if you prefer)

2 tablespoons coconut aminos (in lieu of soy sauce, which could be used if desired)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Preheat large frying pan on medium high, and put in one tablespoon of oil.  Cut the chicken and peppers into long, 1-inch-wide slices, and add chicken to pan.  Sauté until cooked partially through, about five minutes.  Move the chicken to the outside of the pan, and add the remaining one tablespoon of oil to the center of the pan, waiting until it is melted.  Add the peppers and green beans, mix into chicken, and sauté until softened and the chicken is cooked through.  Drizzle in the coconut aminos and desired salt and pepper.  Stir well until evenly distributed.  Can be served over rice or noodles, but we ate it as is… no grains in our house these days.  It was very filling, even my youngest, sometimes picky eater said, “Daddy, this dinner was awesome!”

To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.

Love Bank 3

With the recent passing of Valentine’s Day I’m reminded of the Valentine’s Day card my mother made for me when I was eight. It was a simple cut out heart with pages inside filled with her heartfelt words about how much she loved me and how she was so thankful that God gave her a daughter like me. Over the years my mother sent me flowers more times than I can count for Valentine’s Day or birthdays, but this card I have held onto all these years. This is the legacy I want to leave my own kids, giving them words straight from my heart that they can hold onto long after I’m gone. That’s why I created the Love Bank.

Love Bank 1Love Bank 2

I took a simple coffee can and glued construction paper around it. I decorated it with a heart saying “Love Bank” and cut an opening in the top of the lid for the depositing of Love notes for our family. I decorated it with some ribbon and heart stickers, which were plentiful right before Valentine’s Day.

Love Bank 16

I told my kids they were welcome to write notes for any of our family members and put them in there. I filled it with notes about what I love about each of my children. This morning I had them read some of the notes I put in there. Hannah read quietly, a shy smile spreading across her face. I had to read Jayden’s notes to him, which were met with, “Thanks mommy. I love you!” He even hugged Hannah after reading one of my notes to him. Hannah read some of the notes I wrote for Sydney to her. All in all I think it went over well. I think they liked reading what I wrote for each of them.

Love Bank 19Love Bank 18Love Bank 17

I asked where we should keep our love bank and Jay found the perfect spot – on the mantel tucked in between photos of each of my children. I hope this is a tradition I can keep going. I’m trying hard to be more intentional with my words because life is short and it’s precious. I tell them I love them all the time, but I’m attempting to fill their little hearts with all the reasons why. I’m investing in the people they will become. They will be husbands and wives and hopefully parents one day too. I want them to be intentional with their words and love.

Love Bank 20Love Bank 21

I LOVE the saying, “children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the important work.” So if this post inspires you in any way to be more intentional with your words that’s amazing, but my main reason for writing this blog is so my children will one day have this unique insight into my heart and who I am. I’m dropping little bread crumbs, leading them slowly into a world that will one day be void of me. It’s my hope that all the crumbs that have been collected along the way will nourish their spirits so they can go into that world knowing exactly how loved they are.

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