Thursday, May 31, 2012

Real {Fast} Food-a book review & giveaway

I'm not sure how I found Trina Holden on twitter (@TrinaHolden), but I am OH SO GLAD that I did. Not only is she a goldmine of information on all things REAL food, she is also quirky and fun-she doesn't take herself to seriously, and she isn't pushy about her food revolution. She is genuinely happy to see people try things one step at a time so that more and more of us can feed ourselves and our children REAL food.

I received a copy of Trina's book-Real {Fast} Food-a couple months ago. I have put off writing the review mainly because I haven't done all or even half of the recipes or techniques. Then I realized that wasn't really the point. I am not here to rate every recipe-I'm here to tell you about the plan. And it is a GOOD ONE.

The thing I like best about Trina's book is that you can jump all in or you can test the waters and see what happens. Seeing as I am a mama of two young kids and studying for the bar exam, I opted for the latter. I had already begun my food revolution a few years ago when I realized that I didn't want to keep eating processed food. I made a few changes, got acquainted with my kitchen, and started feeling good about making my own food. Over time I have incorporated more and more recipes for things I used to buy without really thinking about it. The big one this year was bread. What a great decision! So when I saw Trina advertise her book on twitter, I was intrigued.

A photo to start--here is my first homemade hamburger bun. First attempt, complete success. The recipe is EASY and oh so good!

It has been an awesome addition to my life.

  • First of all-it is so DOABLE. I can incorporate one or two new things every week. See what works and what doesn't. Tweak it to my house and my schedule. For example. The book talks about bulk shopping once a month. Well, here we grocery shop weekly. I make a meal plan. We go Sunday after church. It works for us. Trina doesn't say you HAVE to go once a month. She just gives you tips and tricks so that you can make Real {fast} Food without feeling completely overwhelmed.
  • Second-she gives amazing tips and tricks to help you have a real life while you eat all this real food. She includes wonderful personal looks into her own life so that you can figure out what to do. She gives an in depth look at her baking day, and lots of info on how to reduce time in the kitchen without sacrificing anything in the food.
  • Third-it opened my eyes to a whole world of EASY ways to give my kids REAL food. Soaking and cooking and freezing my own beans for chilis and soups. Making my own cream of chicken soup, broths, seasoning mixes. 
  • Finally-she is honest. Some of the things are not easy-apparently yogurt is hard. But she encourages you to keep with it. I haven't ventured into my own dairy products yet, but I feel confident that armed with Trina's book, I could totally DO IT!
What I am saying is, it is worth a little time, a little prep, a little bit of unfamiliarity in the kitchen at first to give our kids and ourselves delicious, nutritious food. I'd encourage ANYBODY to go get Trina's book. You can find it here. And if you leave a comment you will be entered to WIN a copy of your own!! Make sure to include your name and email address so that I can send it to you!

(The giveaway will stay open until next Thursday at midnight. I'll pick the winner and post it on Friday!)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

my messy shelf

When Corey and I first got married, we were both aware of the others quirks, or so we thought. But I was not prepared for the messy shelf. He would walk in, and empty his pockets on the shelf of the bookcase in our living room: wallet, coins, pens, whatever. It was plopped onto that shelf to remain until he needed it the next day, the next week, or never in some cases. There was also the area behind the TV in our bedroom. It was the depository for anything that didn't make it on the shelf downstairs.

It drove me nutso. I used to like to think that I was a very free-spirited person-do what you want-let's all get along. But no. I hate mess. I hate disorder. I hate clutter. I can't even decorate because it feels like clutter. So the messy shelf drove me insane. I tried to find a place for it. A drawer. A key-ring holder. A basket. But the mess always ended up on that shelf.

What is the point of this story? I have never given myself a messy shelf. I have never allowed a place of disorganization and chaos. Instead my very Type-A personality has always tried to make everything have place and purpose. I want things to fit into nice and neat little boxes. I keep my desk clean. I keep my side table clean. I keep my kitchen clean (unless I am cooking and then it is a mess).

Except here. And it has driven me crazy. I think about closing down shop-letting the "real" bloggers do this thing. Or revamping it to be a cooking blog? A Jesus blog? A blog of goals to meet? But it always ends up a mess of kids and food and adventures and church and friends. A mess of life.  And today I finally realized this little blog of thoughts and introspections and celebrations is my messy shelf. And I create it just like Corey created his--I lay down all the weights of the day-the passages, the funny quips, the recipes, and just leave them until the next day, or week, or never in some cases.  And it is okay if it doesn't make sense.
 loved this imae from currios. While I still like my house clean, a little mess is sometimes necessary.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Bar Prep: Week One.

We had to create study plans for a Bar Prep class I was in last semester. I had written that I would wake up everyday at 6 AM to exercise, have a quiet time, shower and just generally get ready to face the day. Then I would work for 4 hours non-stop; eat lunch; another 4 hours; dinner; kids; another hour or so; bed. 

That plan has already been thrown out as inconceivable. 

First-I found that giving myself an afternoon break to workout and shower was WAY better for me than doing it all in the morning. I still get up at 6 and do multiple choice questions, but save the other stuff for later on. 

Second-I cannot work for 4 hours straight on anything. I can work really hard for a couple hours, but then I need a break. I have to take a minute or two to breath-mentally and physically. 

Third-I underestimated my need for other activities. I NEED to do other things. I need to have ice cream dates with the kids. I need to sit on the porch with Corey and drink coffee. So I've made time for those things too. I have even added a couple new activities. One of which is contributing to a blog called The City of Morgantown. It is run by a guy named Sam. It is photos and articles and other random stuff about this town written by people that are from here. It is a fun outlet to take my mind off the bar exam. Check it out if you have a spare moment.

Finally- Having a day off is going to be necessary. My original plan had all 7 days accounted for. But I need a day off. That might mean that I have to work harder and longer the other 6, but I am willing. I did not do that this week, so the rest of my afternoon has to be spent learning about Constitutional Law--BOO. I didn't like it the first time around. I like it less that I have to do it while the rest of my lot is having fun. 

No sure what this blog will look like this summer. I pre-apologize if you are not riveted by my dive into the bar exam. It's what is going on with me right now-at least for the next 10 weeks.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

the evolution of my career aspirations...

I am not one of those people who always wanted to be a lawyer. I don't think I actually wanted to be one until about 4 years ago when I took the LSAT and got accepted to law school. And last week as I was purging my house of clutter, I found some old school stuff (I am not a hoarder-except when it comes to school papers and notebooks and silly awards like "Citizenship" or "Never missing class" from 6th grade. For some reason I have kept all these momentos over the years.). In that stuff was evidence of all the different career aspirations that I had over the years. It is slightly comical to look at them in a timeline fashion

1995 (5th grade): Author
1997 (7th grade): French Teacher
1999 (9th grade): Still want to be a French teacher
2000 (10th grade): Aerospace Engineer (what?!?)
2001(11th grade): back to French teacher
2002 (12th grade): Mechanical Engineer...until I have to build a car in AP physics and I am absolutely terrible at it so instead I will go into Advertising (really?)...I am enrolled as a Journalism major at WVU for 3.2 seconds before realizing I am bad at art. SO...Math Teacher.
2003 (Freshman year): High School Math Teacher
2004 (Sophomore year): Oh Crap I don't like teaching. Switch to Math Major in hopes of being an Actuary (hahahahahaha).
2005(Junior/Senior year): Unemployed person apparently. I graduated with a Math degree with no idea what I would do with it.
2006 (First/last semester grad school): Math professor (maybe college students would be better than high school ones?)
2007: Stay at home mamma
2008: Oh my goodness staying at home is really hard. AND now there are two of them and I don't sleep. What do I want to be when I grow up?
2009: I will be a...Physical Therapist. NO. a Librarian. NO. a Lawyer. No. a Nurse (hahaha-if you know me you know why this is hilarious).
2010: LAWYER.
2011: Energy Lawyer
2012: I don't know! (JUST KIDDING!) Corey says it better be a Lawyer after racking up all this debt :)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

this Diploma is brought to you by the following...

I feel like that is how I should start this day. It is my graduation day. I am finally finished. I get to wear a silly hat and ugly gown and get a doctorate degree.

But none of it would have been even remotely possible without the love, support, understanding, and willingness to help from those around me. I wish that I could throw all of you a big party to say "THANK YOU"--thank you for helping make my dreams a reality--thank you for helping me stay sane--thank you for all of it. But a blog post will have to suffice for now.

People ask me all the time how I got through law school with two small kids. And the truth is "I" didn't. I had an army of support from the first day....

Sooo...this diploma was made possible by the following...

My family
  • Of course Corey has made endless sacrifices for me to go to school full time. He has been my biggest fan and my rock through everything. 
  • Both sets of parents have also been instrumental. Babysitting weekly or overnight or allowing us to go on vacations that we needed for sanity sake. 
  • My extended family for being cheerleaders and encouragers!
All those that ever watched our children.
(this list is long, but I will include a few highlights)
  • Shawna-first year is dedicated to this woman. She watched my children (along with her two) 2-3 days a week (with little compensation). She let me bring them over when they were sick. She was awesome!
  • Becki-she has been watching Joe for us this year and he LOVES it. 
  • Alexis-our nanny for two summers! Oh my goodness, my children love her. She is ridiculous with them! She would bring crafts...she took pictures... she made working full time not so heart-wrenching.
  • Scads of friends have volunteered in a pinch-Lu, Brittany, Abby, Meghan, Lauren, Laura, Chelsy...

All those that were willing to study at my house or on my schedule
  • Lauren and Charlie definitely were champions of this category. Many a late night was spent around my dining room table doing flashcards or making outlines while the kiddos snoozed.
  • Brittany! She worked with me on my time. I don't think I would have gotten through Property, Payment Systems, Bus Org etc without her organizational skills!
  • The boys I bribed with food to study at my house...Jake, Drew, Nick, Noah, Aaron. Thank you! 
All those that kept being my friend even when I was whiny, or distant, or difficult.
(this list is also long. I am truly blessed to have so many people be my friend!)
  • Shawna-again. She is awesome. And has been my friend since high school-which says something about her staying-ability.
  • Danielle--far away but always constant. She has been my friend through all of this. Her and Scott have offered their home up many a time as a haven when school gets to be too much. 
  • Erin-who knew this gal would stick with me for so long. She was a constant reminder to keep going. It is fun to celebrate us both getting a doctorate! 
  • Becki-always quick to offer some coffee and conversation. Love her for that!
  • Abby--OH ABBY! You know. I'm not sure I could explain how important you are anyways :)
  • Ellen-being far apart has not stopped her from being an amazing friend to me. She has prayed and checked in and held me accountable despite the thousands of miles between us.
  • Meghan-as a fellow professional student, she has been an equally drained and exhausted friend. And oh so much fun from late night convos to spending two weeks in our spare room. I have loved this lady!
  • Lauren--my best friend in law school. We are so different in so many ways and so the same. She has stuck by me and encouraged me. We cook for fun. We reward with food (and beverage). She was so necessary!
  • Chelsy-I have never met someone as similar to me. She has kept me grounded when things got crazy. She has offered the Word to heal and encourage and love. 
I can't really do justice to any of you in a blog. But know that I thank God for you everyday. I would never get to walk across that stage without you. This diploma is for you :)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Law school ended last Thursday for me. There was no fanfare or ticker-tape. After three years of dreaming for this day to come, it lacked any pomp or circumstance. It should have looked something like this.

Instead, I got in the car, picked up the kids and went to Walmart. How is that for glamorous endings? 

I've spent the last few days reflecting. And cleaning out closets. I've spent time with the kids. Read books. I feel like I am exhaling for the first time in a long time. I have given myself permission to unwind. I am at this moment, unshowered, sitting on our back deck with coffee and kiddos enjoying the morning sunshine. The grind will begin again soon enough-so I am trying to savor this rare opportunity to relax. 

In a few days, we will take a much needed mini-vacation to one of favorite destinations--Knoxville. I can't wait to celebrate birthdays, and graduation, and life with some of our favorite people.