1/16/17

Winter Days + A JORD Wood Watch Giveaway

Unique Wood Watch
Women's Watch
Women's Wood Watch
Women's Watch
Women's Watch
Jord Wood Watch
“I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was.”
Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children


Lately, these winter days have been dark and moody, and rather than dusted with snow they have been filled with long, rainy nights. Not the typical winter usually found in Ohio, but there is a sense of peace and relaxation in those foggy winter nights. There is an urge to sit still by the fire, wrapped in a wool blanket and a good book in hand. And when the morning arrives, the view out my window, the view out to the park, is hazy with a thick layer of clouds that linger above the dark green fields.

This time of year I always find myself gravitating towards warmth and comfort, whether it is rainy or snowy. Think large cable knit sweaters, wool socks, boyfriend jeans and oversized scarfs or textured throws. Since having kids I don't wear jewelry as often as I used to. I seldom wear rings and I traded my long drop earrings in for everyday studs. But one thing I always wear is a watch.

When JORD Wood Watches reached out to me about featuring a women's watch on my blog I was thrilled at the opportunity. And let me tell you, the quality of these wood watches is absolutely stunning. They are beautifully crafted, uniquely packaged and created with care. The watch I am wearing is the Frankie Series Zebrawood & Champagne but they have a wide range of women's watches and men's watches. These modern pieces are lightweight and comfortable and classy all around.

Now for the best part! YOU have a chance to enter to win a $100 gift code to use on the JORD site! Only one person will win, but EVERYONE will receive a consolation code worth $25.00 at the end of the contest! Contest ends 1/22 so head on over today and make sure you enter.

TO ENTER just click on this link. Enter your name and email and that's it!

A huge thank you to JORD Watches for providing me with the watch in this post, and the giveaway opportunity for my readers! Although this is a sponsored post, all opinions are my own and these watches truly are amazing.


Luxury Wooden Watch

1/13/17

Bib Lettuce, Dried Cherries, Bacon + Feta Salad with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

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When you come to our home for dinner, chances are you will always see a salad on the table. Salads are a great way to boost our intake of greens and are a perfect accompaniment to any meal. As an Ohioan, we are no stranger to the four seasons. Salads allow room for creative play and inspiration when it comes to seasonal ingredients. You'll probably notice (especially if you follow me on Instagram) that my honey mustard vinaigrette is my go-to dressing. I usually make it in a large glass jar and keep in the refrigerator for up to a week. I made a couple tweaks to this recipe and will share it with you next week over on EarthFare's blog, The Vine.

In the meantime, here is a great winter salad that is simple and full of flavor. You could easily turn this into a meal by adding grilled chicken, chopped kale and walnuts.

Bib Lettuce, Dried Cherries, Bacon + Feta Salad
Yield: 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:
2 heads of Boston lettuce
6 pieces cooked bacon, cut into thin strips
1/4 c feta cheese*
1/4 c dried cherries*

Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
INGREDIENTS:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs lemon juice
2 Tbs dijon mustard
2 Tbs honey
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Place all dressing ingredients into a tall glass jar and mix with a whisk or immersion blender until combined and creamy.
2. In a large salad bowl (I love my wooden salad bowl - and it's on sale!) toss together the bib lettuce, feta and cherries.
3. Toss with the dressing and sprinkle the bacon on top.

*On SCD feta may be used after about 6 months of improvement, but used only in small amounts. You can substitute with blue cheese or Parmesan.
*Dried fruits are tricky and most contain added sugar and other ingredients. Make sure the only ingredient is dried cherries. Here is one we like.

1/11/17

Reflections and Resolutions | 2016 to 2017

Stark Park
“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”
Pablo Picasso


As I have been reflecting over this past year, I am striving to learn from the joys it brought our family and the struggles that we also experienced. No year is ever perfect, but each year is the perfect learning tool to reflect on how we can embrace change and growth from our experiences. One of my personal resolutions for 2017 is growth. As an individual I want to find depth and meaning to who I am, I want to grow spiritually; in mind, body, and soul. I want to break free of our day-to-day pattern of life that seems to take over every hour, every second.

Wake up, make breakfast, clean the house, workout, make lunch, clean up, pick up kids from school, homework, laundry, soccer, ballet, dinner, clean up, baths, books and bed.

That's the majority of our days, summed up in one ramble-on sentence. Of course we need routine, children need schedules, but how do I balance spontaneity with the tedious repetition of our routine? Certainly there must be a way. As a parent, I need to grow and reach beyond my boundaries of comfort. I need to learn to let go of the trivial moments of the day, the cleaning up and the laundry, and embrace the moments that truly count.

As I reflect on this past year, I realize that my oldest is almost twelve. Twelve! We are a step away from the teen years and as I type these words I can feel my heartbeat racing a bit faster and my mind surging with anxiety. The mom guilt begins to kick in. Did I do enough with him? Did we read enough books together? Did we cuddle in bed or did I rush out the door to do dishes? Did I ask him about his day, I mean genuinely ask and listen? Did we play enough nerve battles? Did I ever let him show me how to play video games? Did we build enough forts or play enough basketball games?

As I search for the depth and meaning to who I am, I can never forget the building blocks that embody my persona; I am a mother, a wife, a friend, a sister and a daughter. As I find growth within myself, I also believe the key to happiness is finding growth in these relationships. I look forward to growing my relationships with my children in 2017. As I step outside my comfort zone, I hope they will take me by the hand and welcome me into their creative worlds. I hope they will open my eyes to innocence and freedom and allow me to release the stresses we adults tend to carry around, the stress that leaves an everlasting impression on our minds. I look forward to growing my relationship with my husband. After fourteen years he remains my best friend and every year with him is an amazing journey, but it is easy to get stuck in that routine of life. I look forward to breaking the mold and going on more dates, seeing more shows and concerts, staying up a little too late and diving into good conversation. Conversation is good for the soul.

Over the past few years I have met so many amazing men and women, I look forward to growing those relationships. Since becoming a parent, there are times I have also become an introvert. Especially after Jonas was diagnosed with Crohn's disease, I felt the need to always be home and be close and I passed up many opportunities to be around my friends. This year I want to focus on doing more with friends, even if it's just a coffee date, a trip to the gym or a walk around the neighborhood. As Thomas Aquinas said, "There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship."

And lastly, there is family. Family is everything. I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for my parents. They have supported and encouraged my decisions and have helped me to grow into the independent woman that I feel I am. They have been there every day during our struggles with Jonas and his health and continue to provide unending support. Over this past year I have watched my children become closer to family. Soon, there will be a time when the kids would rather be with friends than family, but if I can enlighten them and show them the importance of family then hopefully they will always value that gift.

This new year is dedicated to the root of parenting and personal development; it is about finding balance. The mysterious concept that we all long for, the key to success, the fundamental concept that is thought to go hand-in-hand with happiness.

Balance.

It is all about balance. Balancing personal endeavors, family time, parenting, household responsibilities, work, healthy living, friends, social media and the list goes on.

I'll be the first to tell you, I have no idea how to find this balance, but I believe it is there. We just need to do some deep soul searching, cleansing of our lives and I believe it will surface.

"Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony."
Thomas Merton


Photo by Mallory + Justin for Stark Parks

1/2/17

A Quick Trip To Friday Harbor, Washington State

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“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.”
Mark Twain

It's usually about this time of year that I yearn to travel and find myself researching exotic destinations or our next vacation spot when I should be falling asleep. While the holidays always bring joy and excitement, working in the restaurant industry means this time of year is accompanied with long work hours and far too much stress for my husband. Pair that work stress with the anxiety of the season and the fact we have all been sick for weeks and I would say we are ready for a vacation. Unfortunately, we don't have any trips lined up in the near future, but a girl can daydream.

We were fortunate to travel out to Friday Harbor this summer to spend some time with friends. The trip was short, but we managed to accumulate many memories that will last a lifetime. Hopefully this new year will be blessed with many gatherings of friends and family, celebrations, travel, good food, music, and health.

Here's to more adventures and less stress!

12/22/16

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Pomegranate Seeds + Lemon Olive Oil Dressing, SCD + Paleo

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Roasted root vegetables are always an easy side dish to prepare and can easily be made to follow the SCD and Paleo lifestyle. Every once in awhile we like to switch up this classic dish and get creative. My family loves Brussels sprouts, especially this time of year when they are in season. This hearty vegetable is high in many beneficial nutrients, including vitamin C and vitamin K, vitamin B6, fiber, potassium, phosphorus and omega-3 fatty acids. When you combine the leafy greens with vibrant red pomegranate seeds you have a splendid holiday dish!

When it comes to roasting veggies, my secret ingredient, in most of my cooking actually, is PALEO POWDER.
It's the perfect blend of spices that can be used as an all-purpose seasoning. The salt, chili powder, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, white pepper, cumin, cayenne pepper blend is just a touch spicy and adds the perfect flavor for all palettes, even the kiddos.

Roasted Brussels sprouts with Pomegranate Seeds
Yield: 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:
1.5 pounds Brussels sprouts, halved and stems trimmed
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt, more if desired
1/2 tsp cracked fresh black pepper
1 tsp Paleo Powder
2 tsp honey, drizzled over the sprouts

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Grease a baking sheet with coconut oil or line with aluminum foil.
3. In a large bowl, toss brussels sprouts with olive oil and spices.
4. Place the Brussels sprouts onto the baking sheet and drizzle with honey.
5. Bake until lightly browned and you can pierce with a fork, usually about 20 minutes.
6. Transfer to a serving dish and cool.

Lemon Olive Oil Dressing

INGREDIENTS:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Place all ingredients into a tall glass jar and mix with a whisk or immersion blender until combined and creamy.
2. Toss the Brussel sprouts in the dressing and add in pomegranate seeds.
3. Serve and enjoy!


**This post contains affiliate links.