Rain, Rain GO AWAY!!!

So we aren't being plagued by tornadoes or hurricanes, nor am I comparing those devastating storms with our current state of affairs, but OH MY WORD! We are drowning up here in Minnesota!  Drowning!  I saw a stat on the news that confirms what we've been feeling lately.  After the world's longest winter (EVER) stretching through alllll of April, we were all ready for some May flowers around here and you know, a little heat.  We experienced approximately 2 days of that and boy were they glorious!  But now it seems we've skipped summer and moved right on into Fall, with temps in the 50's and 60's (70's if we're lucky!) and nonstop cloudy, dreary skies and endless rain. In fact, 27 of the 31 days in May brought some degree of rain , and of the 12 days in June so far, 9 of them have been rainy as well. So please forgive my complaint, but LORD HAVE MERCY!!!  Make it stop!!  Spring, summer and Fall in Minnesota are typically amazing and the reward/motivation to make it through winter.  But this year, I am losing my affection for this state we call home.  It is just downright depressing around here.  When I say I am fighting for some joy, I'm not kidding.  It's a deliberate choice I'm having to make, despite the real struggle in my soul to not pack our bags and hit the road for sunnier skies and a little warmth.  But that is not the hand we've been dealt for now, so we are limping through this Seattle start to summer and doing our best to get outside, even if just for a minute in between storms!

MUST. Choose. Joy.
Must. CHOOSE. Joy.
Must. Choose. JOY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ok, now that I have that off my chest, here are some pictures of what we're up to!

Another week, another wedding! If you're counting, I've had 4 weddings so far in about 8 weeks.  To say I've been busy is an understatement!  I'm currently enjoying a little break, but I have two more to go in the next 5 weeks.  Here are some of the bouquets from the wedding I did last weekend.  It was a small one, but I loved what the bride chose.
 Aren't those lavender roses gorgeous??  
 Bridal Bouquet.  
Stock, lilies, freesia, and roses. 
It smelled so good!!  

Grad parties.  We've been to like 18 or something in the last 3 weeks and have more to go this weekend  too.  Mostly they are fun, we have so many students in our life we love, but they are exhausting too.  Two weekends ago, Travis and I got to go to a bunch without the kids (who were in Iowa with my parents) which was delightful.  Like a long progressive date even.  But last weekend with the kids?  A different story.  They had their moments of being human and well behaved, but they also had some other moments.  Moments that had their parents sweating, with literal stress and anger being held ever so delicately under the surface until we could get to the car and you know, have some moments of our own.  But you know what, we couldn't blame them really.  We were asking a lot of them and stretching them just a little too thin.  So we tossed our best intentions out the window, went home for naps and a break, and then took turns getting to the parties we could.  And our mantra became, "We're just doing the best we can.  And we're barely doing that."  Thankfully I've been able to make it to all of my Bible study girls' parties and to our family parties for my cousins's kids.  It would help if we didn't like students and didn't want to celebrate with them :) But that's not the case when you've been at a Church for 7 years in student ministry! I love this picture with my Bible study girls!
 Enjoy this little photo booth snapshot from Emily's fun party!  I think it sums up our experience well!
In the middle of all our craziness, Travis ran in a half-marathon on Saturday morning.  You know, because we don't know how to relax or enjoy a morning with nothing to do? Regardless, he ran it and I decided to surprise him and bring the kids to cheer him on at the finish line.  In classic fashion, I barely got us out the door in time and I pulled into the little town it was in, realizing I had no idea where the race was or how to get there.  So with a quick prayer to point us in the right direction, I just drove in a direction I hoped was toward the race, honestly not knowing what I was doing.  Wouldn't you know it, I ended up in the perfect place with just enough time to grab the kids and tell them to start walking toward the finish line.  I had no clue where Trav was or if he was even still running, but we kept our eyes peeled for Daddy and then I thought I'd call him to see if there was some random chance he'd answer.  Amazingly he did answer and low and behold, there he was about 200 yards from us!  We got to watch him run the last mile and heard his name called as he crossed the finish line.  It was so fun for the kids and I think Travis was thrilled that we were there to cheer him on.  It was not an easy course, lots of hills, but he did great and clocked a good time.  He amazes me.  He's like the energizer bunny in so many ways, I keep wondering when he's going to slow down but so far that day doesn't seem to be near!  

He ran with his good friend John and they were blessed with a cool, overcast day.  Maybe the one time lately we've been thankful for clouds!  
We were so exhausted by the end of Saturday and the kids were besides themselves, so I decided to keep them home on Sunday morning so we could just have a low key day to rest and play.  It was definitely a good decision!  We all slept in, Carter and I til 8 and Ava til 9:30!!!  Crazy!  And then we stayed in our jammies most of the day waiting for Daddy to get home too.  After he hit a grad party or two on the way home!  
  Carter was a fan of that plan!  I found him on the porch all curled up with his favorites, listening to the rain :) 
And after some chores of my own, I curled up with my favorites too.  New sharpies, some new magazines and a book by BooMama (which is so good!!!).  It was a great ending to a hectic weekend.  Although I'm really looking forward to Church this weekend, I missed my peeps!  

So in case you were wondering, yes, it rained today today.  Stormed in fact.  Such is life in Minnesota this year.  Here's hoping for some sunshine tomorrow though!  


In the Kitchen Lately

I don't know about you, but I go through seasons in my kitchen. Some seasons I make the same dishes over and over; because we like them, because they are easy, or because I know them like the back of my hand and they are comfort on a plate.  Winter brings that out in me. But I usually reach a point mid spring when I just don't want the same things anymore. Anyone else?? Sometimes a girl needs to shake it up a little, you know? 

My kids are not super picky eaters, although they are still kids. One day their favorite meal barely warrants a bite and other days they'll try the one thing I swore they'd never eat. They are about as predictable as the weather! Because I am trying to raise experimental eaters, I try to put new things in front of them all the time but I don't always believe they'll go for it. Sometimes I'm shocked and sometimes I agree to yogurt and string cheese instead. Or noodles. Ava is on a buttered noodles with parmesan kick and some days the battle is just not worth the fight! I'd rather have peace than tears and consequences over food. So we give grace but we try to instill a gratitude for what we're given and a desire to not waste whats in front of us. They are both getting more and more adventurous. Ava will eat quite a variety of foods and she's almost always up for whatever I make. Carter isn't there yet but he's getting better and better at trying new things. The bottom line is that their food preferences have nothing to do with their godliness or character (really) so we're not stressed about it. I think life is easier when your palette is broad but "whatevs" as our students say :) 

So, basically the person I'm trying to appease with my cooking is my man. He is the biggest eater around here and cooking is one of the ways I express my love for him. It works for us :) As we've gotten older and been together for a decade now, our palettes have really broadened too and we've both turned into foodies, kind of. We're not crazy or super weird but we both love a meal out and we like to try new things all the time at home. So we've got some new things in the rotation lately that I thought I'd share with you. Three of them are from PW (pioneer woman), one is my Mom's and one I just threw together one night. So here you go, here are a few things on our plates lately... 
Homemade granola. My Mom's recipe (she got it from a magazine years ago) that is so easy and super delish! Why I haven't made this earlier I don't know?? She makes it for Trav when we come to their house and we all love it. One recipe makes two big batches and it freezes really well, so we usually eat half and freeze the other. We both love it with milk, with yogurt, on ice-cream or just by the handful. This version had dried blueberries, craisins and golden raisins in it but you could do whatever you like. Oats and a variety of nuts are the other ingredients, along with olive oil and vanilla. It takes about 30 min to make and it's very worth the effort. Next time I'm going to add a little cinnamon for a different flavor. Google it. There are a million versions out there! 
PW's Chicken Parmesan. Oh my stars, was this good!!!! Like a hands down, top 10 dish in our opinion. We loved it!!! It's in her second cookbook and probably on her website too. It's not that hard and it made a lot of sauce which we used for a couple of days afterwards. I know people complain that her dishes are so rich and use too much cream and butter but the truth is, they aren't all like that. Some are, but you can always substitute with a leaner ingredient or you can just relax a little. One cup of cream in a recipe that serves 8 means you aren't consuming all that much by yourself.  

*Fair warning**-I'm about to rant...I get so sick of this country's obsession over "health food", excessive label reading and whether it's "organic" or not. Don't get me started on that craze. I'm all for healthy choices, but watching this generation of teenagers struggle so greatly with body image and food related disorders and self mutilation, leads me to conclude that we're food/body obsessed. Good and bad, by the way. We tend to freak out over the extremes and I'm saying let's just relax, gain some perspective and live in moderation. A great dessert with real butter is not worth a protest and does not warrant a 10 mile run because you had half a piece. Good grief, what messages are we sending with this workout crazed, food depriving culture we're creating??? Listen, I'm not anti-working out and I understand legit food allergies require watching every bite and knowing every ingredient. Moderation and good health is what I'm talking about with less emphasis on what size we are or aren't. *End rant*

Eat some chicken Parmesan and just enjoy it!! This dish is surprisingly healthy with NO cream, so all you cream haters can just relax :) PW has really taught me how to make great, homemade tomato based sauces and that is my favorite part of this meal. Travis and the kids and I ate it up! 
I came up with this one night when Trav was gone and we've had some variation of it a couple times now. I called it girl food on Instagram but actually Trav liked it too! Tomatoes, avocado, and fresh mozzarella tossed in Olive Oil and Vinegar salad dressing from Newman's Own that we love! Light and healthy. We had it with some romaine too and it would also be yummy with a balsamic vinegarette. Perfect summer food. 

This is another PW recipe from her second cookbook. BBQ chicken and pineapple quesadillas. You could adapt these several ways but I baked and shredded some chicken, tossed it in BBQ sauce and set it aside. It calls for grilled pineapple and that is the highlight of this dish! So, so good! She combines the chicken and pineapple with cheese and a jalapeño but I'm not a spicy girl so I substituted that with caramelized onion instead. It was amazing and really, really easy!!! Quesadillas in my cast iron skillet are second to none. They get a perfect golden crunch on the outside with a melted center inside and they are heavenly. I make plain cheese quesadillas for my kids all the time and we love them. This is a great dish and you can serve it with guac, pico, or salsa and sour cream. The tang of the BBQ chicken with the sweet pineapple and a hint of the grill, are a divine trio of flavors. You should make these! Tonight! I've got some more quesadilla combos on the way to try too. It's such an easy way to hide some ingredients from the kids under the guise of cheese!! 
Finally, last night I made PW's homemade pizza crust with a twist on her Potato Leek Pizza. I kind of made this up on the fly but it was really good! We all  ate it, but Trav and I loved it. I took pics while I made it so here you go...
Her Homemade Crust. Easy and yummy!
Pressed on a pan drizzled with olive oil and then drizzled again on top. 
Caramelized onion, bacon (turkey bacon in our house) and ham, lightly sautéed. 
The craziest ingredient, potatoes!! Sliced paper thin to add a little crunch. I used my mandolin slicer and you would have to have one to make these thin enough. 
Fresh mozzarella slices on top. Did you notice there is no sauce?? Just cheese and potatoes and olive oil as the base. Yummy!! 
Onion, bacon and ham on top of the mozzarella. 
A sprinkle of Parmesan too! 
12 minutes later and this happened! My only modification for next time? I'd bake the crust first for 3 or 4 minutes, just to get the middle nice and crispy. Hard to do that with all the toppings without burning the edges. 
So, so good! A salty guys pizza for sure :) Next time we're doing a margarita version for me! 

So there you have it, a few things in the kitchen at our house lately that I highly recommend! What about you? What are you making these days that we need to try?? All this rain means lots of baking and cooking for us :) I've always got two kitchen helpers ready and willing to assist me; Ava reminds me daily that she is a "really good cooker!"  I love being in the kitchen but I fully embrace that not everyone does. I hate to balance a checkbook and I know some of you live for that! So no guilt if cooking is not your thing. Believe me, we consume plenty of frozen pizzas and frozen chicken nuggets over here too :) 

Hope you have a happy Wednesday, friends!! What's on the menu at your house tonight? Just curious...


Missed Me?

Good morning, blog friends! It's been so long but yes, we are still alive! Unlike the last post I left you with, the snow has melted and summer is almost here.  Life is good, everyone is doing well and the weeks are just falling off the calendar at warp speed it seems. Anyway, just thought I'd pop in to say hello and catch you up a bit. Clearly I've gotten a little behind! 
I'm trying a little blogging from my phone today, we'll see how that goes. My computer is more trouble than it's worth right now so this seems oddly, easier? 
Travis took me on a surprise overnight to this quaint little bed and breakfast. It was very sweet and a much needed chance to just rest.  Our week was so crazy last week with 2 sick kids, a wedding and 9 grad parties...I barely survived and thankfully before we picked up the kids from my parents, he took me away to relax. So sweet! 
I did wake up this morning thinking, "Who is bringing coffee and our first course to our room this morning??" I could have gotten used to that little treat! 
I had a wedding this weekend that was outside in a beautiful garden at our local Arboretum. It turned out to be a gorgeous morning but only by the skin of our teeth did we make it! The weather has been all over the map and we escaped the rain just barely! Too stressful. Although that garden was beautiful, I'm all about indoor weddings where you can control as much as possible! 
It was a pink wedding, with some simple but beautiful bouquets of roses. I love this raspberry pink color, don't you? 
Up close and personal with the bouquets
The grinning bride waiting to see her man!
Cute bridesmaids in their pink dresses and pink flowers! 
The bride had a lace, burlap and pearls theme going on so I tried to incorporate that into her bouquet too. We actually used an old dress of hers for the wrap.  I cut apart her old, stained dress from childhood and used the satin sash and some lace as her "something old" detail. Kind of fun! 
Some details from the reception. It was a vintage themed wedding with a ton of set-up. I'm so glad it's over for that reason alone! I slept 12 hours on Saturday night...I was wiped!! 
These were my favorite arrangements of the whole thing. It's always fun to do some big sprays, so I was happy when they ordered these! 
I had these two amazing workers on my team, helping me pull off the big day. I also had my favorite helper, Travy! When we arrived the girls from the wedding party were arriving too and some of them knew him from Church. I heard one of them say, "Wait. Travis is the florist??" Ha ha ha ha!!! Poor guy, I have dragged him along to help me on so many of these things, he just laughs and goes with it! I love him! He needed the B&B just as much as I did! 
Anyway, we survived a crazy weekend and yesterday I picked up my babies again. We really missed them! They both had strep at my parents house and I'm so grateful to my Mom, Dad and sister for taking good care of them! 
So cute!!! Best Grampy ever :) 
I missed this little nut and her giggles in the car! 

Hope you had a great Monday too! I have another wedding this week and we have like 12 grad parties this weekend again...someone shoot me now! Thankfully the wedding is a tiny one and it's on Friday so it will be over sooner than later.  This is our last week before our summer stuff kicks in so I'm trying to enjoy the pockets of unscheduled time as best as I can! I've got some bedrooms that need cleaning up so I'm off to put my organizing hat on. 

Happy Tuesday, friends!