Family, Food & Recipes

Ainsley’s First Birthday Party!

March 1, 2016

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Last Thursday Ainsley turned one! And we celebrated all weekend long with a party on Saturday, family in from out of town and a baby dedication at church on Sunday. It was a busy weekend filled with truly special memories that I’ll carry with me forever. I thought I would be much sappier, but honestly I was just so excited to celebrate one wonderful year with Ainsley and the fact that we survived a whole year as parents!

Ainsley’s party was open house-style in the middle of the afternoon on Saturday, so I kept the menu simple with a dessert buffet (aka: easy to prep in advance!) along with coffee, Champagne, orange juice and water with lime and mint. It was really a no-fuss party that made it easy for me to enjoy the event without stressing about keeping food at proper serving temperatures or lots of dirty dishes.

The theme was pink and gold, which I sort of just stumbled into since we had some decorations that worked well and it was easy to pull together. I didn’t want to go crazy with the decorations or do anything to kid-like, even for a one-year-old’s party.

Recipes and resources are at the bottom of the page!

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MENU
One-Bowl Strawberry-Covered Chocolate Bundt Cake
Chocolate-Covered Graham Crackers
Rainbow Chip Cupcakes with Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting
Fresh Strawberries
Chocolate Chip Cookies (made by my sister-in-law, Ali)
Coffee
Champagne
Orange Juice
Water with Mint + Lime Slices

Ainsley’s Dress // Gap Kids
Madison’s Dress // Anthropologie 

Family, Food & Recipes

Easy Baby Eats // Cashew Cream

February 26, 2016

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Yesterday, my baby turned 1! I’ll be back with a full post about the birthday festivities (we’re having a party this weekend!) but today I wanted to share with you a recipe that I’ve been making for little Ainsley. I’ve been posting some of Ainsley’s favorite recipes on my Instagram account and have had a lot of you asking for recipes. Well, I don’t really have any intention to turn this into a baby/toddler food blog, but I do want to share what we’re loving.

Ainsley has had two teeth, and only two teeth, for almost six months. Just the last couple weeks we’ve seen four teeth coming through all at once, but figuring out what to feed a baby who likes to eat but doesn’t have many teeth has been a bit of a challenge. We stuck with purees and baby food/pouches for quite a while. Pouches are still one of Ainsley’s favorite ways to eat food, but since they can get expensive, we try to limit how many she eats.

I should be better than I am about limiting salt, but if I’m honest Ainsley eats a lot of the same foods that we eat. That said, those foods are almost always homemade, so when possible we add extra salt to our food after cooking and give Ainsley a less salty version. The good news? Perhaps we don’t need to be quite so worried about salt in baby’s diet after all. And now that she is one (!!) we don’t need to be quite as concerned about salt.

Whew! That’s a whole lot of copy about what we feed Ainsley. Today’s recipe, Cashew Cream, has been a fun way to mix up breakfast from the usual yogurt. It’s dairy-free, vegan and super delicious for both babies and moms. Make sure you have a high powered blender to make the cashew cream, which is how you get it to be super creamy rather than chunky or coarse. Ainsley eats this as a breakfast dish or an after-nap snack, usually with berries!

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Cashew Cream for Baby
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast, snack
Serves: 3 to 4 servings
 
Cashew pudding (also called cashew cream) is a favorite in our house for kids and adults alike! It’s calorie dense, but it is filled with nutrients and protein and low in sugar. We use it as a breakfast item for Ainsley or an after-nap snack in the afternoon!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup unsalted cashews
  • ½ cup filtered water
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Fresh or frozen and thawed berries for topping
Instructions
  1. Place the cashews in a bowl and cover completely with water. Soak for 2 hours or until cashews are softened. Drain cashews.
  2. Place cashews and the ½ cup water in a high-powered blender or food processor along with the cinnamon. Blend or process for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides as necessary, until mixture is smooth and creamy.
  3. Transfer cashew pudding to a bowl and top with berries to serve. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator.

 

Family

Risen Motherhood // An interview with Emily & Laura

February 23, 2016

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I’ve been excited about today’s post for weeks, you guys! As many of you know, my friend Laura blogs over at Oakland Avenue. Laura and I went to college together and then lived in Minneapolis at the same time for a couple years. While living in Minneapolis, I started reading Laura’s sister-in-law’s blog, Emily Jensen Writes. I’ve been constantly challenged and encouraged by both of these amazing ladies – their heart for the Gospel and for raising Godly children, their commitment to motherhood and family, and their conversational and encouraging writing styles.

Recently Laura and Emily launched a new podcast + website called Risen Motherhood. Trust me when I say this podcast is so heavy on the good stuff. It’s incredibly encouraging (and sometimes a little convicting!) to listen to Christ-centered talk about motherhood. I feel like I have two best friends sitting in my living room with me. So today Emily and Laura agreed to do a little interview/Q&A with me for Espresso and Cream readers. I hope you enjoy and I hope you’ll head over to Risen Motherhood to learn more.

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Questions for Emily & Laura:

Do you record your posts together at the same time? Or remotely from two separate locations? 

Emily:  Oh, it would be so fun if we could always record them together in person!  But, since we live about 5 hours apart, we typically  record via Skype.  Because of our kids’ schedules, recording has to happen at about 6:00am.  It’s early, but it challenges us to make good use of our time and we both think most clearly in the morning.

Laura: Ditto to Em. We’re usually both chugging our coffee as fast as we can before we hit record since we can’t actually drink while we record. I mean, that would be the worst sound to hear someone slurping on the show! It kills me to not drink my coffee slowly like usual, but I need the caffeine too much to wait until we’re done recording!

Do you talk together about what you’re going to say or let the conversation flow naturally?

Emily:  We’ve actually tried several different strategies, because Laura and I process differently.  I need more notes, and don’t do well just speaking “off the cuff”, but Laura gets anxious and bogged down by too many word-for-word points.  So it’s been interesting finding a happy medium!  When we get an idea for content, we  discuss it informally over Voxer or Skype .  Once we know what   the main  points we want to make are , we develop a loose show outline  to make sure our conversation stays on track.

Laura : One of our biggest struggles is finding a balance between sharing stories and relatable content, while also trying to make sure key points are shared about how the gospel impacts that particular topic. Emily and I are really different in how we consume and deliver content, so it’s been interesting as we learn to work with each other’s dynamic while still feeling like we’re “ourselves” on the show. One great thing is our strengths balance each other’s weaknesses. Emily’s tendency is to keep things deep, serious and impactful, while I lean towards wanting to keep everything lighthearted, funny and relatable. But at the heart, we value making the same impact: pointing moms to Christ – so somehow, even with our different focuses, it works, and I actually think it helps us strike a nice balance on the show.

How have you decided on the topics to cover? 

Emily:  Most of it is just gathered from our own life experiences – what we are learning about, what we are struggling with and so-on. If there is a topic we are both excited and passionate about we run with it!  We also want to talk more about unbiblical messages moms are getting on social media and on blogs – I’m pretty passionate about dispelling those “myths” or false teachings.

Laura: We get ideas everywhere! Honestly, all I have to do it look at my Facebook feed and find no shortage of topics to cover. One of our biggest focuses is to flesh out content that young moms are dealing with right now – and show them a) how they’re not alone, because we struggle with the same things, b) yet at the same time encourage them to “aim higher” in their mothering towards gospel-truth. The beautiful thing is, the gospel relates to everything! Which means no topic is off limits for the show.

What are your plans for the Risen Motherhood podcast going forward?

Emily:  I am just excited to focus on releasing helpful, quality content and getting to know our listers better.  Laura and I have been so encouraged by all the positive feedback and personal stories of God using this podcast in the lives of everyday moms.  It’s a joy to be a part of that!

Laura : Right now, I’m trying to bask in the fact that the website is finally done and live! That thing was a beast to program, so it feels good to have it done. Emily and I have lots of dreams for Risen Motherhood, but right now we’re looking at adding interviews to the show and taking on Q&A’s from listeners. It’s still mind-boggling to me that we would even have listeners to take questions from!

10 Questions with Laura

Favorite food: Anything fried. Ramen Noodles. Fritos. While I have decent self-control for this stuff normally, I’ll admit that these three vices are the reason I gain so much weight while pregnant. The train of thought goes something like this: “I’m preggers. I’ll eat what I want. Bring it or I’ll bounce you with my belly.”

Number of kids you have:  Two kiddos, a boy and a girl, 20 months apart, and finally – FINALLY – starting to play together. Game. Changer.

Hidden talent: I have a double jointed pinky … is that a talent? What can I say, I exploit the few talents I have! Nothing’s hidden anymore!

Favorite time of day:  I’m all about early morning. My husband gets up and goes to work early in the morning, so I started getting up with him and it’s turned me into an early riser. I love that it’s so quiet – and dare I say peaceful? – I can get a lot done in those few hours before the kiddos get up.

Least favorite task around the house:  Mopping floors and baseboards. In our house we have all white trim, but usually it just looks grey because there’s so much dirt and dust on it. Whoops.

Naturally messy or organized:  Naturally organized, but that’s not to be confused with clean. As long as the house looks picked-up, I’m happy. See “least favorite task.”

Guilty pleasure: My mom won’t like this one, but probably The Bachelor. It’s just such a game and I love trying to figure out what the producers made the contestants do, or how long they must have interviewed someone until they finally broke and cried. I just love the contrived drama of it all, what can I say?

Favorite way to de-stress:  Intentionally arriving to a hair cut 30 minutes early so I can binge-read magazines. Or just treating myself to a cup of coffee someone else made while I people-watch. That one’s much less expensive.

Best piece of marriage advice:  Believe the best in your husband. Usually, you’re wrong when you assume his motives. Trust he’s trying his best and affirm him in the process. Be his biggest fan.

Most embarrassing mom moment:  That time I walked around with my jeans unzipped. Oh wait, that wasn’t just one time, that was for three months straight each time I had a kid and switched from wearing maternity jeans to real jeans. 

10 Questions with Emily

Favorite food:  Sushi (particularly, spicy tuna rolls)  – and I will almost never turn down a good cookie!

Number of kids you have: 4 (all boys, ages: 3.5, twin 2-year-olds, and 6 months)

Hidden talent:  I would never do this in front of other adults, but I can put on a pretty great show when I read a children’s story.  It’s fun to be dorky around my kids!

Favorite time of day: I never thought I would say this, but I love the early morning.  The 5:00-6:00am hour is the best time. Everything is quiet, my brain is sharp, I feel somewhat rested, the sun is rising, and I’m alone with the Lord.

Least favorite task around the house:  Unloading the dishwasher, putting away folded laundry, and making the bed. (can I have 3 least favorite things?)

Naturally messy or organized:  I’m naturally messy, but have learned to really appreciate and enjoy a tidy space. Life with a family of 6 just goes so much smoother when our stuff is organized and under control!  It gives me more space to care for people instead of things.

Guilty pleasure:  When the kids are in the car, I am selective about what the type of content they watch and listen to, which means I’m usually blaring some type of toddler tunes. So my “guilty pleasure” is listening to whatever I want on the radio when I’m driving alone!

Favorite way to de-stress:  You can catch me taking long epsom salt baths while reading a book (until my water is no longer warm or I’m falling asleep).  When I’m really struggling to wind down, I’ll lay under my heated blanket in bed and listen to relaxing worship music. I learned that technique when I was pregnant, and I still love it!

Best piece of marriage advice: (Laura and I pretty much wrote the same answer for this question, but it’s so important, I’ll say it again!) Believe the best of your husband’s intentions and be his biggest encouragement. He needs to know you hold him in high regard and that you enjoy the life you have together.

Most embarrassing mom moment: Pretty much anytime I’m out with my 4 kids on my own, I have an embarrassing moment (which is why I don’t do it very often). I’ve had a couple of experiences at the park or leaving bible study where I’ve had to carry them individually kicking and screaming to the car while friends helped keep track of my other kids. It’s like they sense that I don’t have enough limbs to grab them all at once, so they purposefully lay themselves on the ground or disobey. Sometimes I’m “that mom” that everyone’s NOT jealous of!

Thanks, ladies, for taking the time to share! I’m so looking forward to finding out where this Risen Motherhood journey takes you!

Madison

Family

San Francisco Travel Guide

February 22, 2016

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As previously mentioned, Joe and I had the chance to run around San Francisco for two days kid-free. It was wonderful, it was hard, it was strange. Well, it was all of the above. Honestly, it was just really nice to have two full days (plus a travel day) to spend with my favorite guy, on Valentine’s Day weekend, to boot! Since we both had horrible colds we didn’t get out and about quite as much as we would have hoped, but I do have a few good recommendations to share.

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STAY
The Palace Hotel SF
I am a huge stickler on good hotels. There aren’t a lot of times that I research obsessively, but hotels is one such area. I hemmed and hawed on options and ultimately settled on this beautiful hotel. Let me say that we have ZERO regrets about choosing the Palace for our stay. It was every bit as grand as you might imagine with great service, a wonderful afternoon tea, a beautiful hotel pool and perfect location for walking almost anywhere you could want to go.

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EAT
Ferry Building Marketplace
We frequented the Ferry Building for breakfast both mornings we were there. We put on our running shoes and jogged the .75 miles down to the building, browsed around and picked up coffee + food and ate breakfast overlooking the water. It was lovely. Joe and I frequently have different tastes when it comes to breakfast (he wants heavy, cheesy, meaty and I want vegan + quirky + healthy) so it worked out well for the two of us. Joe enjoyed Cowgirl Creamery’s breakfast sandwiches (amazing!) while I ate all the goodies at Urban Remedy. We both enjoyed copious amounts of Blue Bottle Coffee as well. Oh, and Secret Breakfast Ice Cream from Humphry Slocombe? To die for!

Bonus: We happened to be around on Saturday morning and had the treat of walking around the farmer’s market. It made me a *little bit* jealous with all the beautiful produce, fresh flowers and amazing pastries!

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Sushi Ran in Sausalito 
We took the ferry over to Sausalito one morning and biked around this cute little town/over to the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. While there we ate at Sushi Ran. It was super tasty and fresh and we had a good time talking with the chefs from our seats at the bar.

Octavia 
Our second night in SF we made reservations at Octavia. It was a cute, quaint little spot that we never would have wandered on unless we were specifically seeking the restaurant out. What a find! It was the perfect little date night spot and the food was spot on. I had the most amazing ricotta dumplings with fresh veggies and Joe had a steak which was equally delicious.

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Great Eastern in Chinatown
I’ll admit that this was the first time I’ve ever had Dim Sum. We trekked to Chinatown to get a taste of authentic Dim Sum and I can’t say it was my favorite dining experience of the trip. But it certainly was interesting + cheap! I think after reflecting on the experience that it would have been helpful to have someone to guide us through ordering. We enjoyed a couple of the items we ate and hardly touched others, but the experience was fun and I’m glad we made the effort.

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DO/SEE
Ferry to Sausalito
I guess we technically did this the wrong way (a lot of people do this the opposite way) but we took the ferry to Sausalito one morning, biked around the town, ate lunch and browsed shops, then took the ferry back. It was really hilly around the area we biked, but it was a good workout, and we used a tandem bike so Joe could do most of the work! 😉

Golden Gate Bridge
While we were in Sausalito, we biked to the base of the Golden Gate Bridge to get a good view. It was a nice little way to combine exercise with sightseeing!

The Painted Ladies
We taxied out to see The Painted Ladies (aka Full House House!) and sat at the park in the sunshine for a while before walking back to our hotel. The walk back took us past lots of cute stores, including the Warby Parker store, which made the two miles fly by. Probably not a must-see item, but a fun little low-key afternoon.

Chinatown
We spend a couple hours walking through Chinatown one afternoon and soaked up the sunshine and beautiful weather while we were at it. A memorable dining experience was had, I picked up some much-needed cheap sunnies and a little t-shirt of Ainsley to bring home from our trip.

Honestly, I wish we would have had time to do and see even more but our time was limited and our colds kept us doing more low-key things rather than being on the go constantly. If you have other things to add, please leave them in the comments below!

Madison

Fashion

Favorite Anthro Finds

February 18, 2016

IMG_5209Marrakech Knit City Jacket || Old Navy Pleated Crepe Dress || Nine West Booties (similar)

This past weekend Joe and I were in San Francisco for a little weekend getaway. Joe was in California for work, so I joined him for the long weekend. I ended up getting sick while I was out there, as did Joe, but it was fun to be able to spend a few days as a couple sleeping in, eating out and doing whatever we pleased. That said, I was so happy to be reunited with my best girl on Sunday!

One night after dinner, Joe indulged me in a little shopping trip to Anthropologie. I can’t believe we used to live just a couple miles from Anthro, because now it feels like SUCH a treat to be able to browse through the store rather than shop online. I was seriously torn between three great options, and thought I would share with you my favorite items. (Spoiler alert: I bought the jacket pictured above and have been living in it ever since!)

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Holding Horses Farica Dress // Nine West Booties (similar)

Oh I so wanted to buy this dress, but I couldn’t justify buying more than one full-priced item at Anthropologie. Joe pointed out that I have quite a few dresses that look very similar, but this one was just so perfect. I’ll be stalking the sale section of Anthro waiting for this to go on sale!

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Amadi Crosswrap Dress (on sale!) // Nine West Booties (similar)

This dress was so much cuter on than I would have anticipated. I ended up buying it (it was an additional 40% off in store) to wear for Ainsley’s birthday next week. I would say that it runs slightly on the smaller side, if you’re considering what size to buy.

Madison

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