Food & Recipes

What’s On My Coffee Table

September 29, 2015

We are smack dab in the middle of my favorite season and I’m soaking up every minute of the crisp-yet-warm weather we’re enjoying in the Midwest. Our new house is slowly coming together, and although we won’t be officially done with our renovation until early next year, I’m trying to make our in-progress house feel as put together and cozy as possible in the meantime. That means chili on the stovetop, coffee brewing around the clock, fall-scented candles burning and lots and lots of football playing on TV.

Now that I’m working from home most days, having a creative, beautiful and inspiring place to work is important. Maybe it’s just me, but creating an environment that fosters creativity and inspiration is big for me. Every morning after I drop Ainsley off at her childcare provider’s house, I brew a pot of my beloved Lavazza coffee (anything dark roast is my friend!), light a fall-scented candle and get to work on my laptop or the kitchen, whatever the day happens to have in store.

I’m not an expert in decorating by any means, but I do like a fun and functional coffee table spread. My mom actually picked up this little wooden drink holder (?) from Homegoods a while back, and I decided it would make a great addition to our coffee table. I filled the glass jars with Lavazza coffee grounds and artificial succulents, as well as a couple candles. Then, I set the holder inside a larger wooden tray along with a stack of magazines and another candle. The extra holders in the centerpiece? Well, they make a great place to contain your remotes!

Thanks, Lavazza, for fueling this year’s coffee-themed posts! There truly is no better coffee, in my opinion. Read all the other Lavazza posts from this year here: My Morning Routine, Coffee + Cream Pops, Almond Flour + Coconut Flour Coffee Cake.

This post was sponsored by Lavazza as part of their Lavazza Passionista program. I received product and compensation for this post. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. #sponsored






Long Live T-Shirt Dresses

September 28, 2015



GapDress_3I’ve been slowly transitioning my wardrobe over the last couple months. Now that my postpartum body has settled a bit and isn’t changing every two weeks, I feel more confident that the clothes I buy will still fit two months from now. Add on top of that the fact that fall is here and I’m working a more casual job these days and my wardrobe needs have changed.

This t-shirt dress is everyone’s friend. It’s comfortable (oh so comfy!) and casual enough to wear running errands or working from home but looks dressed up when paired with a blazer and wedge sandals or booties. Seriously, my love for this dress can’t be understated.

Major bonus: It’s on sale right now at Gap! It fits true-to-size and runs a little short, so if you’re above average height I would recommend purchasing the Tall.


Food & Recipes

Sweet and Salty Roasted Kalettes

September 24, 2015

If I had to choose my favorite vegetable, I would have a seriously difficult time deciding between kale and Brussels sprouts. I know, I know, how chilché and expected, right? But here’s the thing about food trends: most of the time foods become trendy because they’re actually really delicious, so I’ll sing the praises of trendy veggies for as long as I live.

Why all this talk about kale and Brussels sprouts? Well, I recently tried Kalettes, a kale-Brussels sprout hybrid, for the first time while eating at the Lunds & Byerly’s salad bar in Edina and have been hooked ever since. They require zero prep before cooking (something I can’t say about kale OR Brussels sprouts) and have a fun taste and texture that really is a good cross between the two veggies. A crisp-tender base with leafy, tender, kale-like tops.

Since I am all about the sweet-salty combinations, I turned these little Kalettes into an Asian-inspired side dish. They’re crispy and caramelized around the edges thanks to a bit of brown sugar but have plenty of salt to balance out the sweet. My personal favorite way to serve this dish is on top of brown rice (the kind that cooks in the microwave in 3 minutes!) for an easy, healthy lunch or dinner. If you’re looking to add a little bit more protein, you could always scramble the brown rice with an egg for a quick fried rice as well!



Asian Roasted Kalettes
Recipe type: Side Dish
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 servings
  • 1 bag (xx oz) Kalettes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon Thai Red Curry Paste
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • Hot-cooked brown rice for serving (optional)
  1. Heat oven to 425F. Toss the Kalettes with the 1 tablespoon olive oil and place in a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Roast 10 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the fish sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, curry paste and ginger.
  3. Drizzle mixture over Kalettes after 10 minutes of cooking and toss to coat evenly. Roast 5 to 10 minutes more or until edges of Kalettes are crispy and caramelized and they become tender. Serve immediately over hot-cooked brown rice and sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.

*This post is sponsored by Kalettes. All opinions are my own. 

Food & Recipes

Yellow Cake + Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

September 22, 2015


Joe recently celebrated his 28th birthday. I can’t believe that we’ve been celebrating birthdays together for the last 6 years. Where in the world has the time gone? This husband of mine, well I have to say that I think he’s the best. The nearly 4+ years we’ve been married and the years we dated before that (including a little while in high school, too!) have been some of the most wonderful, heartbreaking, difficult, joy-filled years of my life. Isn’t that what doing life with someone else is all about? It’s a study in contrasts, it’s work and elbow grease and it’s always, absolutely worth it.

So, my love, this year and every year I celebrate you. Your go-get-em attitude, your stubborn nature, your zest for life, toughness and compassion all rolled into one. You’re the best dad for Ainsley and the best husband for me. We couldn’t be more thankful for your presence in our life and I pray for many, many more birthdays to come. Here’s to making 28 our best year yet!


Also: I made yellow cake with chocolate sour cream frosting for Joe’s birthday. And, gasp!, I used a boxed mix. Because I love Betty Crocker and because sometimes it’s really all about the frosting anyway. :) The recipe below is just for the frosting, because I’m sure you don’t need me to repeat the instructions for making cake from a box!

Yellow Cake + Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting
Recipe type: Dessert
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 to 3½ cups powdered sugar
  • Milk, if necessary to reach spreading consistency
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the chocolate chips and butter, stirring frequently until smooth. Remove from heat and cool.
  2. In a large stand mixer or a large bowl with a hand mixer, combine the butter-chocolate mixture, sour cream, vanilla, salt and powdered sugar. Beat until smooth and well-combined. If necessary, add a little milk to reach a firm but spreadable consistency. Store frosted cake or frosting in the refrigerator.



Make Motherhood Your Own

September 21, 2015


For the last three days I’ve had the JOY to spend three uninterrupted days with women from around the country at The Influence Conference. I met up with my sister-in-law, Amber, and good friend, Laura, for some much-needed girl time, a break from daily routines and time to think about the bigger picture in life rather than the day-to-day tasks.

Did I mention this was my first overnight trip away from Ainsley? I had big plans for sleeping, but I found my heart needed girl-time and late-night talks more than it needed the extra zzz’s. So although I’m more physically exhausted than when I left, I’m filled up emotionally and creatively inspired more than I’ve been in a long time.

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Motherhood was the topic of many conversations and speaker sessions. As I took in all the information and digested what people were saying, I started to think about all the “shoulds” I carry into motherhood.

I should feel guilty leaving my baby for 3 days. I should miss her so much it hurts and shed tears when I leave.

I should feel more conflicted about being a working mom, and what does that say about me if I don’t?


I should make my own baby food.


I should read to Ainsley more and buy more developmental toys.

I should feel all the mom guilt about the things I don’t do well. 

Really, the list could go on and on. You know what? I didn’t shed a tear when I left Ainsley on Thursday morning. I missed her, but not achingly so. Knowing she was safe at home with dad and her Mimi, Nana and Papa all loving on her made me happy. I loved eating full, hot meals and sipping coffee and getting ready without rushing. And when I returned home? There was nothing sweeter than hugging that little munchkin and kissing those chubby cheeks. Enjoying my time away didn’t diminish my love for Ainsley. And, dare I say, it made me a better, more refreshed and inspired mom?

As I started to unpack the “shoulds” in my thinking, I realized that at the heart of almost every “should” was comparison. It’s not God’s standards that I’m holding myself to, it’s people in the world around me. And, as we all know about comparison, it’s always an ugly, unsatisfying road to walk.

We all want to be good moms. Heck, we all want to be amazing moms! To give our kiddos love, adoration and support. But how we arrive there comes in so many different shapes and sizes.

There is SO MUCH gray in motherhood, isn’t there? I have to imagine if we freed ourselves up from the “shoulds” and the guilt associated with the choices we make in motherhood the mommy wars would cease to exist. Because isn’t that what we’re all doing when we engage in those debates or carry that guilt or second guess our intuition?

In our hearts we know that this motherhood thing, it matters, it’s weighty and important and we’re desperately looking for validation that we’re doing it the right way. If the world tells us we’re doing things the “right” way, then we have no need to feel guilty.

I’m thankful that this weekend I was able to spend time with moms, women I know and respect, who have different perspectives on what it means to be a mom and what motherhood looks like for their families. I’m thankful for grace and forgivness and fresh starts in the name of Jesus, day-in and day-out.

For a while now, our family has been clinging and meditating on 2 Corinthians 12:9: But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in your weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

If you’re carrying the weight and burden of shoulds, if you’re tired and weary and feeling like you’ll never measure up to the version of mommahood that you desire, I want to encourage you. Let’s boast in the fact that when we’re messy and imperfect, we can live freely by knowing that our imperfections are an opportunity to point others back to Him.


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