Browsing Tag

faith

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What’s In My Bag: Influence Conference Edition

September 16, 2015

MyBag_Influence

Tomorrow I’m leaving my favorite people (and my baby for the very first time overnight!) and heading to Influence Conference for the second year in a row. Conferences? Gah, conferences. I have such a love-hate relationship with them because my secretly introverted self feels so. dang. uncomfortable. But once I just do the dang thing? It’s always worth it.

I’m working on going out of my comfort zone more and more these days, and I think it’s doing me a world of good.

So what’s in my bag? Here’s a look:

1. My MacBook Air
I’ll be doing a little work while I’m there and hoping to jot down some ideas for blog content while I’m listening to all the amazing speakers.

2. My iPhone
How else am I supposed to FaceTime my baby five times a day? Plus, what’s a blogging conference without social media?

3. FLYJOY Bars
Conferences are notorious for having bad food and lousy snacks, so I’ll be taking plenty of FLYJOY bars for myself and to hand out. If you’re hungry and attending the conference, come find me and I’ll hook you up!

4. Wet Wipes
I’m getting all fancy and taking the cute, scented wipes since I won’t have a baby in tow. I’m now realizing that #momlife means getting excited about taking fancy wipes in your purse.

5. Business Cards
Purchased on VistaPrint. I’m never really sure why everyone hands out cards. Does anyone go back and look at them after the conference? I’ll never know, but I can’t imagine going without a stack.

6. Lip Glosses
Both basic (EOS) and fun (Victoria’s Secret) because that’s about as close as you’ll ever get me to wearing lipstick.

7. Notebooks
For jotting down thoughts, ideas, prayers and dreams. A couple days away, without distractions, is always good for my heart and mind. It’s such a breath a fresh air to have room to dream and plan and hope for the future.

8. My Joby GripTight Gorillapod Phone Stand
I’m convinced this will make Periscoping and selfies about a thousand times better.

Is anyone else out there going to Influence? If you are, please come find me and say hello!

Madison

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Mid-Year Reset

August 28, 2015

MidYearReview

 

In my “When Life Needs White Paint” post, I talked about a mid-year reset to start fresh. Although I’m no longer in school, I love the idea of starting new habits and intentions at the beginning of the school year. There’s something SO much more inspiring about starting new goals and routines in September than in the middle of the winter in January. Anyone with me?

Today we closed on our new house. There is more work to be done than I want to think about in order to make it a home that works for us, but we’re diving in headfirst! Although a lot of our free time will be devoted to home projects, I’m trying to be more intentional about my time by setting a few goals for the fall and beyond. Last week I jotted a few notes down about what I want to do and where I want to devote my time. Most of my list is pretty self-explanatory and straightforward, and now that I look at the list again I think it could be described like this: Live more life! Connect more, spend more time in the moment, experience new things and move my body more frequently.  I want to spend more time in my life if that makes any sense at all.

Now I want to hear from you! What do you hope to do this “school year” and beyond? Goals, hopes, dreams? Maybe we can all do a little mid-year reset together!

Madison

Fashion, Pregnancy

Does my body need changing? Or does my heart?

August 20, 2015

IMG_1128
Let’s talk about body image. It’s been a topic that I haven’t talked about much post-baby, but that’s not to say that it hasn’t been on my mind plenty over the past 6 months.

Going into pregnancy I was fearful about how my body would adjust and adapt to pregnancy and the postpartum period. I’ve never had a super fast metabolism and have always had to be relatively mindful of what and how much I eat in order to keep my weight in check. But, let’s be honest, I love a little chocolate at the end of a long day or a glass of wine now and again.

Now, 6 months postpartum, I have my good days and days when I’m more critical of my body that I think makes any sense. I don’t really have a lot of extra baby weight to lose, I’m active and at my most recent physical my doctor told me everything indicates that I’m living a very healthy life. But too often I find myself falling into the perfectionist mentality where my body is concerned.

Someone told me once that the problem with “good enough” for a perfectionist is that even when it’s good, it’s never enough. And isn’t that the truth? But when I think about it, I realize that’s not the legacy I want to leave. I want good to be enough and to find satisfaction in imperfection and flaws, even if that means making peace with a little extra softness around my middle or going up a size in my favorite jeans.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating against living a healthy lifestyle or in support of unhealthy eating. Living a healthy and active life makes me feel great and is something I’m deeply committed to for so many reasons. But sometimes I catch myself sliding down a dangerous slope, one that says it’s not enough. A little voice in my head advocates against balance and moderation and pushes me toward perfection.

Becoming a mom has changed the way I want to look at my body and relate to those around me. When I point out my bodily flaws, however minor they may be, I think about little miss Ainsley doing the same thing one day. Right now, at 6 months of age, when I sit her down in front of the mirror her face breaks out in the biggest smile. She sees herself and loves what she’s looking at! If only we could all have the same reaction, right?

I want to set an example for her. I want her to be able to look in the mirror when she gets older and beam at the beautiful little girl and young woman God created.

So if you’re struggling with your self-image, maybe take a look at your heart first? I know in my case it’s an important barometer. There are plenty of reasons to pursue health and fitness, and there are also a myriad of instances when good really is enough.

Come on, ladies! I need to hear your personal stories. How have you adapted, accepted and come to peace with your postpartum body? Maybe you’re still working on it? I would love to hear in the comments below!

Madison

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I didn’t realize how selfish I was until I became a mom.

April 6, 2015

photo (74)

Before I had a baby, I promised myself that I wasn’t going to talk about how hard motherhood is. I had heard so many other women tell me that motherhood was the most difficult/wonderful thing they had ever done, but quite honestly I was discouraged by those stories because they made me dread, rather than anticipate, what was to come for our little family. But now that I’ve been doing this motherhood thing for about six long and incredibly short weeks I can safely say that motherhood is every bit as hard as others told me it would be but for reasons I never anticipated.

You see, I knew that taking care of a baby was going to be challenging. I had babysat for years and had enough experience around babies that I wasn’t totally naive about how consuming childcare can be. But it’s not the baby care that’s so challenging. No, it’s the fact that caring for a little one and giving yourself to your infant exposes you and every single one of your selfish desires and there is no place to hide. Being a momma and loving our little girl has brought me face to face with just how selfish I really am, even though I never thought of myself as an overly selfish person to begin with.

Over the past number of weeks I heard that little voice in my head saying, “What about ME?” about a thousand times. When Ainsley is awake from her nap 30 minutes ahead of schedule and is crying for her bottle just as I’m getting out of the shower, dripping wet. Or when I’m starving and sit down to finally eat dinner, but Little Miss wants to be bounced and swayed and cuddled. Or when I’m laying in bed, desperate for a couple of consecutive hours of sleep but the paci fell out of her mouth and she needs to be soothed back to sleep for the tenth time that night.

When I write these things down, they seem incredibly trite. I mean, what’s the big deal on missing out of a little sleep, being a little hungry, or not having the time to blow dry your hair or put on a little makeup? But I think I seriously underestimated how much I cherished those basic things in life: sleep, food, exercise, a hot shower.

At church yesterday, Easter Sunday, I was feeling like the ugliest version of myself. I had on a pretty dress and my hair was curled and our family looked photo-ready. (See evidence above) But inside, my heart was anything but pretty. Ainsley had spent the better part of the night crying inconsolably and being incredibly fussy, leading us to believe that she had an ear infection. After a middle of the night call to the pediatrician, they suggested we go downtown to the children’s ER since all things related to your kiddo are bound to happen on a Sunday, aren’t they?! We trekked to the ER at 4 am, sleepy and weary and a little worried only to find out that Ainsley was just fine and most likely just going through a developmental leap leading to increased fussiness.

On the way home I felt relieved but more than a little agitated. I was grumbling to myself about how tired I was, how little sleep I had gotten, how much we were going to have to pay for our trip to the ER, etc. My pre-baby self was throwing a fit inside about not getting what I wanted. In short, I was acting a lot like Ainsley. Totally acceptable when you’re a 6 week old baby, a lot uglier when you’re a 27-year-old momma of a newborn.

So when I sat down at church and sang those songs about the sacrifice our Savior made for us two thousand years ago, the ultimate sacrifice, it put my little tantrum into perspective. I thought about how diligently we, and many others, prayed for this sweet little baby of ours and how I’ve spent the better part of the last couple of weeks complaining about the very blessing I wanted so desperately.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been so thankful for Ainsley and for our new life as a family of three, but it hasn’t been without significant growing pains. The very real and very difficult process of dying to yourself and your desires often gets lost in the sea of stories about how blissful new motherhood is. And it is blissful, most certainly, when your little one sleeps on your chest all curled up or starts to show signs of their very first smile. But it’s also difficult, and that’s okay, too.

So, if you’re a new momma, or about to become one, I want to let you know that it’s okay to struggle a bit, to miss your old life, and to struggle with your selfish desires. As my own mom affirmed to me yesterday, the transformation into motherhood is a process and something that takes a little time. Expecting that transformation to occur completely the minute you have your baby is holding yourself to an unrealistic standard. So let’s all vow to give ourselves a little grace in the process, shall we? I know that I, for one, have never needed more grace than I do now that I’m a mom!

Madison

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Ultimate Bakery-Style Chocolate Chip Cookies with Candied Pecans

January 13, 2015

Ultimate Bakery Style Chocolate Chip Cookies | Espresso and Cream

Many times I sit down to write and blog post without really thinking about what exactly I’m writing about. The words flow easily about the recipe I’m going to share with you, the flavor or texture or usefulness of the recipe at hand. It’s easy to fall into a lull of writing about food without really writing about anything at all. Does anyone really need me to wax poetic for four paragraphs about chocolate chip cookies?

Lately I’ve felt a pull towards different types of blogs than those that I’ve loved in the past. I’m drawn to the writing of women who are ultimately inspiring in the way they share vulnerability and failure without falling down the rabbit hole of negativity and hopelessness.

*I love the way Jess and Rachel write about faith, motherhood and anxiety, depression and the whole of life experiences. The way they bravely share their faith and passion for Jesus pushes me to share my faith more openly.
*My adoration for Shanna’s understated and beautiful way of looking at the world continues to grow with every post. I’m so thankful for her friendship over the years, even if it’s just been of the digital/e-mail variety.
*The way Laken writes about family life, motherhood and personal growth always leaves me feeling inspired and uplifted; her site always feels, to me, like the blog equivalent of Anthropologie for some reason.
*I wish every single day that Heather and I could sit and work together and drink coffee and talk like old friends. Another e-mail blog friend, I feel her warm spirit come across in every post, almost like a virtual hug.

Anyway, I suppose I’ve gotten terribly off course, but what I really mean to say is that I’m so thankful for those who are willing to share their lives online. Sometimes I wonder if having “blog friends” is strange or if I should just spend more time devoted to those friendships that I have in real life. But the beauty of the blog world is that chances are there is someone going through something similar to what you’re going through, whether it be a painful and trying time or a time of extreme joy.

I’m so thankful there are women who have written their stories for the world to read so that I can follow along, a few steps behind, and feel a little more prepared for what’s ahead. I’m thankful for those who are writing out their own crazy stories in the thick of it so that I can read what they’re going through and know that I’m not alone.

If you’ve made it this far down the page, thank you for reading my ramblings! I have nothing to really wrap this post together with except to say that I made cookies. Really, really good cookies, if I do say so myself. They’re perfect in the way that they’re crispy on the edges and soft and chewy in the center. They’re packed with chocolate chunks and candied pecans and have just the right amount of salt so as not to overwhelm you with sweet. Make them. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Ultimate Bakery-Style Chocolate Chip Cookies (1) | Espresso and Cream

Ultimate Bakery-Style Chocolate Chip Cookies
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert, Snack
Serves: 20
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1½ sticks butter, softened
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks
  • ½ cup chopped candied pecans (I buy mine at Trader Joe's)
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350F.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, corn starch and salt. Stir until well combined.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add in the brown sugar and granulated sugar and beat 2 minutes more or until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until just combined, followed by the vanilla and almond extracts.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and candied pecans by hand until incorporated.
  5. Spoon dough by heaping tablespoons onto lightly greased baking sheet, placing dough balls about 2 inches apart. Bake 9 to 10 minutes or until golden brown around the edges and slightly soft looking in the center of the cookies. Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet. Cool completely on wire cooling rack.

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