Limes(1)
Today marks the final installment of my partnership with Food Should Taste Good. It’s been so fun to have an extra reason to host and entertain friends while serving really delicious chips. But then again, I love any reason to have people over and eat a meal together.

We had our church group over last night for Mexican night. Although entertaining on weeknights after a busy work day used to stress me out, I’ve implemented a few simple strategies that make it much less stressful than it once was. Here are a few of my favorite tips:

1. Plan your meal mindfully.
I think one of the biggest stressors I used to have when entertaining was that I tried to do too much without adequate time. These days I pick my entree and sides with ease and flexibility in mind. The dishes I serve need to be easy to prepare and need to hold up well in case guests arrive late or I put something in the oven a little too early.

For this reason, I think enchiladas are perfect. I served two types of enchiladas (this recipe and this recipe) and prepped them in advance, then just tossed them in the oven 20 minutes before guests were set to arrive and left them in the oven until we were ready to eat. A little extra time in the oven doesn’t compromise the taste and texture of enchiladas, making them a perfect dish to serve on a weeknight.

2. Make the sides easy. 
Once again, the key is to not try to do too much with too little time. Focus on your entree and make the sides you serve on the easier side. Many times that means a pan of roasted veggies at our house that are cooked and seasoned perfectly. Last night, it meant Food Should Taste Good chips, salsa, homemade guacamole (recipe below), sour cream and lettuce. Nothing besides the enchiladas really took much time and most of it could be prepped in advance. Major win!

3. Play with size, color and texture.
A few little touches can make a big difference when setting your table. I’m not an entertaining master, but I do like to make the table look pretty. Place a few pretty cloth napkins underneath your serving pieces, use colorful paper napkins that fit your theme, serve your beverages in a metal pail with ice, etc. A few extra special touches go a long way in making your table look special without a lot of extra work.

Chips(1)

The chips we served at our party were the Food Should Taste Good Cantina chips, which are my absolute favorite. They taste the most like the restaurant-style chips that I eat way too many of when I’m out to eat with a great amount of salt that’s perfect for serving with salsa and guacamole. I probably should have had another bag on hand because they were practically gone by the time I got my food!

Guacamole(1)

I’m sure there are plenty of other more “authentic” guacamole recipes you could find on the internet, but I like to keep things simple with my guac, with just a little bit of lime, salt, tomatoes and jalapenos added to my avocados. The recipe I use is below! Although I have to admit that these days I don’t really use a recipe but rely on taste as my guide. Just be sure not to skimp on the salt!

Beer(1)

Quick and Easy Guacamole
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 4 medium ripe avocados, pitted, peeled and cut into cubes
  • Juice from ½ of a small lime
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • 1 medium roma tomato, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place cubed avocado in medium mixing bowl and use a fork to mash the avocado until some small chunks remain. Add the lime juice and stir until well combined. Season to taste with salt. Stir in the tomato and jalapeno and stir until well combined. Serve with chips or on top of enchiladas!

This post is brought to you in partnership with Food Should Taste Good. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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How far along are you?  19 weeks 1 day
Generally Feeling: I’m continuing to battle headaches quite regularly, but other than that I’ve been feeling really good. I still find that I’m tired at the end of the day more easily than before I was pregnant, but nothing too extreme.
Showing? Yes! I’m convinced I’m not going to ever get a huge pregnancy belly because I’m on the taller side, but perhaps I’ll be laughing about this when I’m 35 weeks along and huge?!
Cravings? This is the first week I really feel like I’m eating totally normally. I snack often but other than that, I’m feeling so normal. It’s amazing how I used to take feeling and eating normally for granted before I got pregnant.
Weight Gain: Still 13 pounds! I insisted on taking off my heavy boots (that I wore while being weighed last time) so I think that may account for the lack of weight gain this time around and the extra weight gain last time. ;)
Fears:
We had our 19/20 week ultrasound yesterday and overall it went really well! I was quite worked up about it, but all the measurements they got were right on track, and baby is even measuring a few days ahead.

Unfortunately, we have a stubborn little one on our hands because no matter what we did, we couldn’t get that little peanut to move in the right direction. Consequently, the tech could only get a partial view of his/her face and couldn’t get a good look at the heart. We’ve been referred to a specialist to have a level 2 ultrasound done to get a better look at the heart and confirm everything is healthy and normal, and I’m a little worked up about it.

Additionally we found out our baby’s umbilical cord has only 1 artery compared to the typical 2. It’s called SUA. Since all our other markers pointed to a healthy baby, our doctor wasn’t concerned, but I will be more closely monitored for the remainder of my pregnancy with ultrasounds every month to be sure baby is growing and getting all the nutrients they need along the way. Although the appointment was generally a HUGE success, it was hard for me not to focus on the things that could go wrong and be fearful, but I feel like God is pulling us out yet again and asking us to trust Him with our baby’s life and health. Not an easy task! 
Looking Forward To: Having our level II ultrasound over and done with next week Tuesday! Prayers for a great scan and healthy results would be so very appreciated. I know we keep asking for prayers, but boy do I feel like we continually need them.
What I’ve Been Loving: This past week was the first week I’ve really felt baby’s movements, even a few times when I’ve been able to feel them with my hand on my stomach! They’re still pretty inconsistent, but it’s fun none the less. 
Sleep: Better this week! We delayed putting the heat on at our house and the cold temps at night have really helped me sleep much better.
Maternity Clothes? Nothing really new to report here. Still wearing a mix since my bump isn’t all that big.
Boy or Girl: We’re keeping it a secret! But our ultrasound tech was 95% positive on boy v. girl so it’s nice to know with certainty what we’re having. We did decide to share the names we have picked out. So, without further delay, we’ve decided our boy and girl names are…

Holden Joseph Hofmeyer and Ainsley Jane Hofmeyer

We settled on Holden only a few weeks ago because we were deciding between Holden and Bennett, but ultimately Holden won out because we loved the masculine nature of the name, the fact that it’s easy to spell and pronounce and goes well with Hofmeyer. Ainsley has been our choice for a girl’s name for almost a year. We’ve loved that it’s unique without being too different and the fact that it is a little masculine and feminine all at once. And Jane is a family name, so it was an easy decision.

Madison

Christmas Card Photo 4 (B&W)
Yesterday I turned 27. I’ll admit that for the first 10 minutes of my birthday I totally forgot how old I was. I looked into the mirror in the bathroom and thought to myself, “I think I’m really going to like 28″ only to realize a few minutes later that I was actually 27. I guess it takes the sting off getting older when you’re prematurely aging yourself!

I’ve always taken the opportunity on my birthday to look back on the previous year and reflect, and 26 certainly gave me plenty to reflect upon. It was a year that started in my favorite place on earth, Gainesville watching my beloved Gators play with my dad and Joe,which is pretty much the best start I could imagine. I was in a strange place at the start on my 26th year, having just miscarried our first baby, I was filled with questions about our family’s future. Did we want to start trying to have a baby? What would the future hold and what would the road ahead look like?

When I look back at the past year, I feel pleased with how it was lived. There were plenty of tears but also lots of sweet memories, too. And when I look back, I’m glad that we chose to look beyond the harder moments and embrace both the good and bad of the past 12 months, because we certainly had our share of joys along the way as well.

Today, I’m kicking off my first full day of being 27 by going to our 19/20 week ultrasound. This afternoon we’ll find out if our little one is a boy or a girl (!!) and we’ll get to see him/her for the first time since our 12 week ultrasound, which feels like such a long time ago.  It seems so appropriate to start the year focusing on our baby, since 27 is (God willing) going to be the year that we welcome our first little baby into our family here on earth.

I’m filled with SO many questions as I start my 27th year. Will I be a good mother? How will Joe and I adjust to being (sleep-deprived) parents? I wonder what it will look like to welcome my 28th year and how different it will look from this most recent birthday. The last few weeks have, for a variety of reasons, reaffirmed to me how uncertain the future really is and what little control we have over many of the major events that shape our lives.

If you’ve followed the news, then chances are you’ve heard that those at my company (myself included) are facing a lot of job uncertainty. There is the threat of Ebola and Isis and worries about whether or not our baby will be healthy. Every day, if I seek it out, I can find more than my share of reasons to be fearful about the future. But I’m promising myself that 27 is going to be a year of walking out in faith, trusting that God has our future in His hands, believing that His plans really are best.

Madison

Apple Cinnamon Pecan Muffins | Espresso and Cream

After a little bit of a hiatus from sharing recipes on E&C, I’m finally back with something new and ultra tasty to share. Although I have a deep and long-standing love for all things pumpkin, I feel like apples really get overlooked during the fall months because of the popularity of pumpkin. Anyone else feel that way, too? It’s really a shame since apples are one of my favorite foods, and don’t even get me started with apple pie, crisp and cobbler. The best!

While I was at Influence Conference, I got a lot of questions about Espresso and Cream and what type of blog category it falls into. If you would have asked me a year or more ago, it would have been an easy answer: it’s a food blog! But over the past year or so, I’ve been shifting this little site into something that would probably be categorized more accurately as a “lifestyle” than anything else.

Regular readers have probably noticed this shift over the months. Perhaps some of you have liked it, while others have thought it’s been a shift from the original intent and purpose of the site. Since I spend every day at work developing recipes and food content, I’ve found that being able to talk about topics broader than the narrow focus of food has been necessary for me as a person and writer. Although I love food, thinking about it all day and then blogging all about food at night leaves me drained and less passionate than I really am. Having recipes in the mix of content for E&C instead of the sole focus has been incredibly refreshing and given me more excitement for blogging

So for those of you who have been wondering, I figured I would explain a bit about what type of content you will see on E&C going forward. Recipes will never disappear from the site, but my goal these days is to provide you with higher quality recipes (which means fewer recipes!) and more variety in my posts, sharing about life, fitness, pregnancy, family and faith. Thanks for continuing to follow along on this journey and my ever-evolving blog.

Now, back to the recipe at hand. These muffins are really easy to pull together and stay incredibly moist thanks to the chopped apple in the batter. I used a Granny Smith, but feel free to use whatever apple you like baking with best or have on hand! They aren’t ultra sweet, but just sweet enough to feel a little indulgent on a weekend morning. Joe likes them with plenty of melted butter, while I prefer my muffin with a thin spread of peanut butter. But that’s just me, and I’m probably a little strange that way.

Feel free to experiment with the type of nuts used in the recipe as well. I could see walnuts being a really natural fit as well! An added bonus? I’ve found they make a great mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack and are really great in lunches for hungry husbands (or kiddos!)

Apple Cinnamon Pecan Muffins (1) | Espresso and Cream

Apple Cinnamon Muffins with Pecans
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast, Snack
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 medium apple, peeled and finely chopped
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper baking liners; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the sugars and butter 2 to 3 minutes or until fluffy and well-combined. Add in the cinnamon, eggs and vanilla and beat until just combined.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add half the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and beat until just combined. Beat in the milk, followed by the remaining flour mixture. Stir in the chopped apple and pecans by hand until combined.
  4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin liners. Bake 20 to 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes in pan. Transfer to wire cooling rack and cool completely, about 30 minutes.

 

photo (38)

I realize that I’ve posted quite a bit about pregnancy-related topics lately. Hang with me if pregnancy posts drive you crazy, because I have some great recipes coming to the site later this month! Since opening up about our difficult journey to baby, my inbox has been flooded with questions about doctors and medicines and acupuncture. I’m always happy to answer each question individually via e-mail, but I wanted to put it all into a single post as another resource for women traveling the same journey.

Before I launch into what we did differently this time around, I want to say that I was a bit torn about sharing this post. First, despite the fact that we’re now past 16 weeks, I have no idea what the ultimate outcome will be of this pregnancy. Second, I strongly believe that the baby I’m carrying is a miracle and a result of so many heartfelt and sincere prayers. I don’t ever want to steal away from the miraculous nature of this pregnancy in favor of condensing it down to a science. We truly have no idea what “did the trick” but believe that God worked through some of the many medical resources available to us.

1. A Daily Baby Aspirin
After our second miscarriage, one of the first things our doctor suggested was for me to start a daily baby aspirin regimen. Aspirin isn’t typically recommended for pregnant women, but in some cases it has shown to have benefits for women who have difficulty conceiving or staying pregnant. Although my blood tests came back negative for any clotting disorders (a common cause of recurrent miscarriage) my doctor said sometimes a small dose of aspirin can prevent small clotting issues that may go under the radar undetected.

2. Acupuncture (a lot of it!)
The week after our second miscarriage, I started going to weekly acupuncture treatments at a practice specializing in pregnancy and fertility at the recommendation of a family friend. Thankfully the treatments were 80% covered by insurance (!!) so it was affordable and extremely enjoyable. I went every week for two months leading up to getting pregnant and every week through the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Now I’m going once every month until the end of my pregnancy, when I will resume weekly treatments.

I can honestly say that the acupuncture helped tremendously with recovery after miscarriage compared to my previous experience and helped my body get back on track right away. It also helped my stress levels and most of the time I found myself falling asleep during the treatments. Additionally, my acupuncturist prescribed me several herbal supplements that I took throughout my cycle and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

3. Lifestyle Modifications
My acupuncturist also suggested several lifestyle modifications that I followed during the first trimester, which included eating organic, grass-fed red meat to help build my blood supply and focusing on exercises that were “nourishing” rather than depleting to my body. That means lots of walking, swimming, yoga and Pilates and avoiding running, high impact cardio and other intense workouts that would deplete my body.

4. Changing My Vitamins 
Almost everything in my blood panel came back normal except for the fact that my doctor informed me I tested positive for MTHFR, a common (but rarely tested for) genetic mutation that inhibits my body from properly processing folic acid (the synthetic form of folate) and B-vitamins, which are key nutrients in pregnancy. My doctor didn’t think it was a big deal or cause for concern, but after doing more research on my own, I talked with her about prescribing me Metanx, a prescription-grade form of natural, active B-vitamins. She agreed there would be no harm to me taking them and wrote me a script. I also switched to a MTHFR-friendly prenatal that would work well for people with and without MTHFR.

If you’ve been diagnosed with MTHFR, I would highly recommend you doing a little research of your own. I started with this website, and this one, too. Or, you can always e-mail me. I’m happy to chat!

5. Added Progesterone
Although I never tested low for progesterone in my second pregnancy (we didn’t test with the first) my doctor and I decided to err on the safe side and supplement the pregnancy with progesterone during the first trimester. She prescribed twice daily progesterone suppositories that were a total pain to take, but worth the peace of mind knowing I was doing everything I could to help this baby grow strong and healthy. I stopped taking the progesterone at 12 weeks, which made me nervous, but my doctor assured me that it was perfectly safe.

I have had this post written in my “drafts” folder for a long time, but I got another e-mail this morning from a friend with questions about getting pregnant, and it gave me the push I needed to hit “publish.” If you have any questions or I can be of any other help, I’m happy to chat!

Madison

*I am not a doctor or medical professional. This is simply what worked for us, but as always, please consult your medical professionals about any lifestyle modifications and medications when trying to get pregnant. 

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