Wednesday, January 28th, 2015
If it’s possible, week 2 of vacation has been even more fun than week 1. The weather has been unbelievable for January–hitting 80 a couple of days! My inlaws were here a couple of days out of the week and we decided to try and take some family pics with my tripod and remote. We took a zillion and got a couple of decent ones…it’s hard to not to get shadows on your face because the sun is always out!!
We’ve spent a ton of time at the beach and the bay, have gone on walks almost daily with the girls, have had a couple of dates, and I’ve gotten to hang out with a bunch of my old girlfriends who still live in the area (which has been such a treat)! I love that San Diego has year round farmers markets…and they are huge. Parker wasn’t as into the market as her mama…fortunately there was an amazing park down the street from the market and that helped her burn off extra energy. A lot of vacationing with a toddler is keeping them busy. What I’m really loving is that Parker can run around all day because it’s beautiful outside and the sand keeps this child occupied for hours. And there are parks within walking distance when she wants a change of pace.
It’s been such a treat to watch the sun set on the water every night. The sun, warmth, views, friends, family…all of it has been so good for my soul.
Monday, January 26th, 2015
Blogging? What’s that again? I cannot tell you how fabulous it has been to truly get away from real life and enjoy lounging around with the family. The great thing about vacationing in an area that you lived (I literally lived blocks from the vacation home we’re renting in San Diego) is you don’t feel like you’re missing out on exploring and doing all the things. Andy and I figured out early in our relationship that we are what we call “loungers.” We don’t feel the need to do and see everything…we just like to hang out in warm, sunny places. Plus vacationing with kids is really all about keeping the kids entertained and tiring them out…much less about us.
My sister in law happens to live in LA so she’s been able to come down quite a bit to hang out with us, and my mother and father in law drove down to spend some time with us too…so we’ve been able to get away on a couple of dates which has been awesome.
Wednesday, January 21st, 2015
My husband and I went back and forth about whether to fly or drive to San Diego for vacation. Because my husband can do a lot of his job remotely, and our 5 year anniversary is coming up, and the winters in the Pacific Northwest are pretty depressing, we planned on a nice, long, 3 week vacation. Nobody in their right mind would want to road trip 20+ hours with a 2 year old and a 5 month old…but at the same time, if we flew we’d have to buy or rent all the kid crap that you need with a 2 year old and a 5 month old. And we’d need to rent a car…Plus you might as well be packing for a year long vacation…because 3 weeks in the middle of a San Diego January means you need to pack for 2 seasons. San Diego can sometimes surprise you with cold weather.
Once we knew we were going to drive, we debated on the best time to leave. After much back and forth, we decided to set our alarm to 5am, eat some breakfast and transfer sleepy girls from their beds to their car seats and pray they would continue to slumber for at least another hour or so. Andy and I woke up excited, almost giddy. Obviously we must have had some romantic notion of how the days would play out. Our plan failed before it began. We imagined Andy picking up Parker from her crib with her head slumped over Andy’s shoulder and zonking out once we buckled her up in the car seat. Instead Andy opened Parker’s bedroom door and Parker literally jumped from bed exclaiming “I’m AWAKE!!!” Her enthusiasm roused her little sister enough that when we pulled out of the driveway at 5:45 am we had two very awake children in the back seat. Pippa fell back asleep fortunately, but we had a very antsy toddler. We waited for Pippa to wake up before we stopped at our first rest stop and let Parker run around to “get the wiggles out.” Surprisingly, we had a fairly decent first day on the road and were actually making really good time. We were looking for hotels on the Hotel Tonight App (use my invite code: ATAYLOR268 for $25 off your first booking) and also looking through options via the Airbnb App. Fortunately we found a perfect place on Airbnb and ended the day in Redding around 5:30 pm.
We were pretty impressed with how the first day went, so we were hoping day two would be similar to day one. On day 2 we made a little detour to Fairfax California to visit Andy’s grandmother. We are both very lucky that these girls have now met both of their great grandmothers. It was such a treat to spend the afternoon with Grandma Simpson and have her meet Pippa for the first time and Parker for the second.
We didn’t know how far we would get on day two….the afternoon in the car with the girls was proving to be very challenging. Tantrums, tears, and screaming. We couldn’t find any last minute Airbnb options and the hotel options were slim pickings. So we continued to drive and by about 6:30 PM my head was between my knees from pure mental exhaustion of dealing with the kids. We just happened to pass a shopping plaza with some kid friendly restaurants and there happened to be a really nice looking hotel next to the plaza. I googled the hotel, it had great reviews, and was reasonably priced. AND it happened to have a jetted jacuzzi tub…just what these exhausted parents needed to wind down from a long day. (Plus it was great toddler entertainment). We only had about a 6 hour drive left so the next morning we took our time and prayed for a less dramatic drive. It went pretty well…Parker actually had a decent car nap (which didn’t happen the two prior days).
We pulled into our destination just in time to watch the sunset just a few steps from the beach bungalow we rented through Airbnb. We were so excited to finally be able to get out of the dang car and put our toes in the sand. Ahhhh…vacation!
Thursday, January 8th, 2015
We finished the Whole30! (See our before and after results here). I’ve gotten so many questions about what we ate so I thought I’d share how I managed awesome meals with minimal effort. Meal prepping is not my jam. I’ve got a 5 month old and a 2 year old, so trying to find a two hour window to chop and prep is simply impossible. The way I survived the Whole30 while also having unique and delicious meals was cooking a large amount of a protein every few days and making different meals from that protein. I would chop veggies just before cooking, and I would microwave chopped potatoes and broil them in the oven if I was running short on time or if I simply forgot to stick them in the oven an hour before we were supposed to eat.
I actually really started to enjoy cooking again while on the whole30; I was inspired to get creative and surprisingly everything tasted amazing…like really amazing; it was some of the tastiest food I’ve ever prepared!
Everyone keeps asking about recipes, but I didn’t follow too many recipes on the Whole30. I mostly made large portions of meat and created different meals with them by adding different veggies and/or potatoes as sides, putting it over a salad, or tossing into lettuce leaves or eggs…the possibilities are endless. These meats below create various combinations of meals:
There are pre-packaged items like compliant turkey burgers, chicken burgers and sausages that are great when you have zero time to prep…but I found they really lacked a lot flavor. Sometimes though, we just have those days when life is crazy and you just gotta pan fry a chicken burger and call it a day.
These recipes were really tasty and help change up the ‘shredded meat’ menu a bit.
Seafood Boil My husband is known among friends for his famous seafood boils. This recipe is not compliant, but it’s super easy to make it compliant. Obviously leave out the french bread, use compliant chicken stock, skip the sausage, and use ghee instead of butter. This is such a fun meal to eat with friends!
Thai Chicken Soup This recipe does require some extra prep time…but it’s really tasty! If you make it I suggest adding an extra squeeze of lemon or lime just before serving.
For condiments I used compliant mustard and made my own mayo. (I used mayo to make chicken salad and tuna salad). I also made my own horseradish sauce by grating horseradish root and adding a splash of white wine vinegar and a pinch of salt (we used horseradish to go with the roast we made for Christmas and had a ton of tasty leftovers). And this is an easy recipe for cocktail sauce if you’re craving shrimp. I bought a couple of bottles of Tessemae’s salad dressing and it was good, but it’s also really easy to mix up balsamic vinegar and olive oil for dressing, plus it’s a lot cheaper. Hot sauce is another condiment I use daily, fortunately there are compliant ones out there; you can see 3 of my favorites here, along with some of my other staples.
Because we started our Whole30 in the winter, I always had a variety of winter vegetables, squash, and potatoes on hand. Roasted squash (any variety) with sweet potatoes tossed in olive oil and salt and pepper was one of my favorite side dishes. Bacon wrapped brussel sprouts was also a hit and a great party food. No recipe needed…just wrap the brussel sprout with half a piece of bacon and bake for about 25 minutes at 400 degrees.
1. Shrimp cocktail with homemade cocktail sauce (recipe for sauce above)
2. Grilled steak with langostino shrimp. (Shrimp just sauteed in ghee) And sauteed onions and mushrooms.
3. Tuna salad made with homemade mayo (recipe above for mayo). Topped with sundried tomatoes and red chili pepper flakes.
4. Salad made with romaine, shredded broccoli and carrots, sliced mushrooms, chopped sweet red peppers, bacon, hard boiled egg and cucumbers topped with langostino shrimp. Switch shrimp with any protein and drizzle balsamic vinegar and oil on top.
5. Hard boiled eggs and black or kalamata olives make for a great snack. Sprinkled with Trader Joes 21 Seasoning salute
6. Chicken stir fry made with coconut aminos and topped over cauliflower rice.
7. Bunless burger with a fried egg, tomatoes and avocado
8. Spatchcock chicken (google how to make it…it can be grilled or baked) with bacon wrapped brussel sprouts
9. Roasted winter veggies. Squash, gold and sweet potatoes and cauliflower tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper and Italian seasoning.
Have you done the Whole30 or are you currently doing it? What are some of your favorite, unique meals?
Tuesday, January 6th, 2015
If you follow me on Instagram you may have noticed my enthusiasm for the Whole30 by all the pictures of food I was posting. 30 days have come and gone and I wholeheartedly have to tell you that my relationship with food has completely changed and I feel amazing.
I remember starting my first diet at 9 years old. I was a chubby kid and have early memories of being called fat. I had a tumultuous relationship with food through my adolescence and was obsessed with learning about nutrition in high school, so much so that I pursued a degree in nutrition in college.
Even after getting the degree I obsessed about body image and weight until I turned 30. Saying goodbye to the single life and meeting an incredibly affirming husband were probably big factors of me letting go of my body issues. My pregnancy, surprisingly was what helped me really abandon my self loathing. Seeing what my body created and grew was transformational in every way; I looked at my body (even in all of its postpartum-ness) with a new found respect. It took me close to a year after my first pregnancy to get back to my postpartum weight (I didn’t diet or go crazy with exercise) and I started the Whole30 around 4 months postpartum this time around. I discussed in this post why I was starting the Whole30; just to clarify, I wasn’t in a hurry to drop weight (but in all honesty, any weight loss at all is a plus) I just wanted to feel better. I was feeling pretty crappy most days. Weight loss was my husband’s goal, for me, any weight loss was just an added bonus as I am nursing and didn’t want to affect my supply.
Before I share our results I want to answer a few questions that people have asked about the most:
Was my nursing supply affected:
Were you compliant the entire 30 days?
Did you notice any other changes besides weight loss?
Did your kids eat the same way?
Did you spend hours meal prepping?
Was it hard?
So here are the results!
Monday, January 5th, 2015
We got engaged in this VW bus and had lots of dreams of what life had in store for us.
This VW Vanagon toured the West Coast as we dreamed of where we would settle…we thought it would be Northern California, but instead it was the Pacific Northwest.
I’m not a huge resolution person, but Andy and I do talk about our dreams and goals often. Whenever we go on long drives we tend to goal set and talk about where we were 1 year, 2 years, and 3+ years ago and how different our life has turned out from what we expected. Our very first year of marriage I distinctly remember us laying in bed with a sheet of paper and writing out our one year goals. We broke them into two categories. Goals and Dreams. Surprisingly, in that first year we actually reached many of our dreams. We are good at talking about goals and accomplishing them; at the same time we are pretty impulsive and tend to make decisions that have derailed some of our long term goals.
2014 felt crazy. Andy was growing his business, I was growing our family and our schedules just felt like they were all over the place. Don’t get me wrong, it was a fabulous year, but it felt like we were often running on adrenaline and coffee. I know that is pretty common for young families and business owners and there are seasons of life that are just nuts, and I’m pretty sure life isn’t going to slow down in 2015. I just want to be more intentional about how my time is spent and who I spend it with. I naturally want to say “Yes!” to all the things, and be at all the parties, and experience all the experiences and feel all the feels, but this year I feel the need to say “No” more to others and “Yes” more to my family, and especially my husband. Within the last few years many of our close friends’ marriages have fallen apart. I see how easy it can be to prioritize work and kids above marriage…I want to protect my marriage with everything in me. Marriages don’t crumble in a day, it’s the day after day after day of making everything else a priority above your spouse.
Andy suggested we look into finding a marriage retreat this year. I love that idea and that he proactively thinks about what we can do to strengthen our marriage. It’s so easy to fall into the comfortableness of one another and stop working at building your relationship.
I expect big things for 2015. This year Andy and I celebrate 5 beautiful years of marriage. We’re taking a family vacation to San Diego to celebrate and we’ll be road tripping (please pray for our 20+ hour road trip with two littles…I’m hella nervous), which means we’ve got ample time to plan out our dreams and goals for this year. (This year we’ll be driving a minivan).
I’m curious if any of you have attended marriage retreats? If so I’d love to hear about it!
Wednesday, December 31st, 2014
Looking back on 2014, it’s hard to believe it started so terribly. I was so incredibly sick in the beginning of my pregnancy, suffering with hyperemesis gravidarum, that I literally couldn’t leave my inlaws’ home after Christmas. I was bedridden for 6 weeks and losing weight rapidly in the beginning stages of my pregnancy. It was a dark time and I’m so grateful that time is over.
By the middle of my pregnancy my nausea was more manageable; I was able to get out some and we were thrilled to find out we were having another baby girl. This second pregnancy brought with it lots of other types of sickness however. I seemed to catch everything that passed through town, and shared a little TMI on this popular post.
We also celebrated 4 wonderful years of marriage with a last minute trip.
We were able to exhale as we got a great report on Parker’s hip dysplasia. Her next follow up is in a couple of months and we are praying God has continued to fully heal her hips.
All of a sudden my sweet baby girl Parker turned into a beautiful, rambunctious toddler.
During the beginning of my third trimester I was finally feeling fat and happy. So we went on vacation to California. It was such a sweet time to see so many of my amazing girlfriends. Andy and I are stoked to be going back on vacation to San Diego next month! Wooohoo!
I’m not into maternity sessions, but we had the sweetest family photos taken of our family of 3 before baby girl number 2 arrived. Oh how I treasure these.
We were embracing our last month as a family of 3 and had a memorable 4th of July.
I tried to spend as much quality time with my sweet Parker before she became a big sister.
I loved watching the bond of sisterhood.
I blinked and had a 2 year old.
We started to experience life through our childs eyes.
We of course are raising a princess.
My sweet Pippa Grace turned 100 days old.
Travel is hard when you’ve got 2 littles, so this year family came to visit us for the holidays!
We had such a beautiful Christmas this year. It was just Andy and I and the girls. We actually didn’t get any pictures because we were busy Facetiming and Skyping with our parents so they could “be there” while Parker unwrapped presents. I don’t have photos of Christmas day but my heart is so thankful that technology could bring us together in those moments even though we were thousands of miles away from each other.
2014 started off rough but ended on a beautiful note. Andy and I are so excited for what the new year has in store for us!
I appreciate all you wonderful readers that have followed along on our journey. Your thoughts, prayers, emails, texts, comments, FB messages, tweets and Instagram comments truly make this blogging adventure so much fun.
Best wishes to you and yours in the New Year!
Monday, December 29th, 2014
Since becoming a mom my sense of style has been overshadowed by comfort and tops that I can nurse in easily. Today in the Target parking lot a woman stopped me and said, “You look like a fashion Pinterest board!”
As I balanced a baby in a sling, my purse and a few Target bags I graciously accepted her compliment and it made me smile all day. Yes, it takes effort to do your hair and make-up, but it doesn’t really take that much more effort to put on some cute boots, a scarf and a top over leggings vs. wearing yoga pants and a spit up covered sweatshirt.
When my husband came home for lunch he was extra sweet with his affirmations and I decided spending a few extra minutes on myself is totally worth the confidence boost. You don’t have to go overboard with a new wardrobe and accessories, a few staples dress up the most basic of outfits. I’m totally a jeans/leggings and t-shirt kinda gal. Nothing spruces up an outfit like a great pair of boots. I personally think brown boots go with more than black boots, so if your budget only allows for one pair, I say go for the brown. I love the color of these casual riding boots from Rack Room Shoes. They have a little bit of western flair and a barely there heel because the last thing I want to be balancing is heels with a baby and groceries. And they are really comfortable. Nothing ruins an outfit quicker than uncomfortable shoes am I right? If you’re looking for a pair of boots, every single pair is on sale at Rack Room Shoes; I’ve been super pleased with both pairs I’ve received from them. Toss a scarf on with cute boots and you’ve gone from boring to beautiful with very minimal effort.
Do you have any style resolutions for 2015?
Wednesday, December 24th, 2014
It’s fitting that on Christmas day, this little brown haired, blue eyed beauty turns 5 months old. She is the perfect gift. Especially knowing where we were last year at this time. I was in the throws of hyperemesis gravidarum. I was so sick with my pregnancy I couldn’t get out of bed to celebrate Christmas day with my family. I spent the next 6 weeks bedridden at my inlaws and I was terrified what this sickness was doing to this tiny baby inside of me.
By the grace of God, here we are a year later, and we’re all healthy and happy. Little Pippa is a mama’s girl in every way. She developed severe separation anxiety around 3 months old and it has only increased with age. As exhausting as it is for her to have to be constantly in my arms; I try to remind myself that this is that last time I’ll go through these precious baby stages, and it helps me (some of the time) to enjoy this season.
When she’s with me she’s always happy. A smiley, giggly, inquisitive baby. She has been talking (squawking really, like a crow) a lot lately. She LOVES her sister Parker, and fortunately Parker loves Pippa. Every morning when Parker wakes up she goes straight over to her sister and talks, plays, and smothers her with hugs and kisses.
Pippa hasn’t quite figured out how to self soothe or sleep much at night. I’m managing ok, but really look forward to both of us having more than 2-3 consecutive hours of sleep at night. She’s still a back sleeper and not too fond of being on her belly. (Which I feel might help her sleep better, but she’s just not a fan).
I can tell she’s starting to get interested in food. I’m usually holding her while eating, and she stares intently at whatever is on my fork. I’m looking forward to getting her on solids, because just like her sister, she decided to stop taking the bottle and we just gave up trying.
Her famous head of hair finally reached too long of a length to stick straight up, at lays over which makes her look a little boyish…headbands and bows are now a part of the daily wardrobe. She doesn’t seem to fight them as much as Parker did.
It’s crazy to me that I’ve been a mother of two for 5 months already. I finally feel like we’re getting a little bit of a rhythm. It’s a chaotic, messy rhythm, but it’s sweet nonetheless.
MERRY CHRISTMAS FRIENDS!!
Monday, December 22nd, 2014
Meal planning was probably what caused me the most anxiety about starting the Whole30 challenge. Prior to starting the Whole30, dinner time was almost always a little stressful. Trying to juggle a 2 year old and a 4 1/2 month old, plus prepare meals for my husband, our two exchange students and myself was overwhelming. Since becoming a mother of two we’ve eaten a lot of pizza, take out, and frozen meals.
We are two full weeks into the whole30 and I haven’t spent hours chopping vegetables or prepping. I do spend some time thinking about a protein I can stretch over at least a couple of days, and once that is prepared, meals have been surprisingly easy!
That being said, sometimes life gets crazy or the protein I prepared didn’t last as long as I thought it would, or my day just didn’t go as planned and I don’t have time to spend more than 10 minutes in the kitchen. Here are some things that are staples in my kitchen and have helped me when I was in a pinch. These are the fats I cook with. The coconut oil, olive oil, and ghee are all from Trader Joe’s. The avocado oil is from Costco. My husband doesn’t love the flavor of coconut oil (I love it), so I usually use olive or avocado oil to cook veggies or potatoes. (Avocado oil is very mild and practically flavorless). I use ghee anywhere I’d use butter.
I’m a hot sauce fiend. My husband and I can go through a bottle of hot sauce in a couple of weeks. Make sure if you buy Franks Red Hot or Tabasco it’s the original; the other variations are not compliant.
All the food I’ve made from scratch so far has been delicious. What you lose in flavor you gain in time with prepackaged items. Trader Joe’s sells these chili lime burgers that are decent. They aren’t amazing, but if you are in a pinch for time they’re not bad. They are best topped with guacamole, or cut up and tossed over a salad.
Most sausage is not compliant…this is the only one at Trader Joes I could find that was. I know Costco sells a compliant chicken sausage too, but I didn’t want to buy a giant pack of them and find out I didn’t like them. Again, these are OK, not amazing. But sometimes you just need to add a little something to your eggs in the morning to change it up and these do the trick.
I love anything pickled. These pickled veggies make a great side, or taste awesome topped on a salad or eaten straight out of the jar! I buy mine at my local grocery store.
These plantain chips add a great crunch to salads and are great “dippers” for things like guacamole, tuna, or chicken salad. (Bought at Trader Joe’s).
These LaraBars are totally a survival item. They are compliant (these three flavors are, their other flavors are not), but are naturally high in sugars because their ingredients are dates and dried fruit. I’ll admit to caving and eating them a couple of times during serious sugar cravings, but I think their purpose is more for if you’re on the road, traveling, etc. Eat sparingly!
My Food Staples:
For proteins, my goal is to cook a large portion which I can use for the next few days and mix and match with salad, veggies, and eggs. So far these meats have worked great!
I could eat the same few meals over and over but my husband likes variety and gets bored of the same things. So far we have had a ton of variety and like I said earlier, meals have been really simple and amazingly delicious with having a protein prepared. We’re two weeks in (officially day 15 today) and so far I’m so pleased with what we’re eating and how we’re feeling!
Also, if you’re new to the Whole30, here is an article in US News and World Report I was featured in that talks more about the diet.