July: What’s Going on in the Garden

We have pretty intense heat in our area, with little shade around our garden; so our summer veggies are on their way out. We’ve pulled half our tomatoes, most of our summer squash is done producing, and our marigolds are ready to be tilled into the soil. We have started making plans for the winter garden, and the process of transitioning over.We still are eating tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, trombone squash, plenty of herbs, and melons.

These French cantaloupes are seriously our favorite cantaloupe we’ve ever eaten(Charentais). They are definitely on the “grow again” list.

The delicata and trombone have literally taken over. …well I have to say with all the excitement of a new baby, the weeds have taken over too. :( Good thing we’ve got excellent help out here. ;) How’s your garden growing?

Happy Tuesday, friends!

What’s in the ground: Eggplant, basil, chives, sage, lavender, raspberries, cayenne pepper, charentais melons, tomatoes, delicate squash, trombone squash.

Love, Grey & Brianna

Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Dear Friends,

Thank you for all of your kind words about our sweet baby girl’s arrival! It has been a month pure babyland in our house. Greyson just turned two last week, and has been a chock-full of energy. Between playing with him and stopping to nurse our baby girl almost every hour, when she’s awake, there seems to no time left over for much else.Apologies to anyone that stops by to visit our very lived in-house. It is quite evident that memories are being made here! Greyson is tall enough to open the drawers in our kitchen, and as I’m cooking, I get to find surprise race cars, and ninja turtles right along side our tin foil and silverware. I have to say, I’m loving the variety ;)

I had the brilliant idea to type “things to occupy a two-year old” into google. Which spat out all kinds of ideas to try. I chose beans. Put dry beans in a bin with toys, and let them have a textural experience! I’ve been sweeping up beans every day, and finding them in, you guessed it–drawers. “Oh there’s another lovely little garbanzo bean gracing me with it’s presence,” as I grab a bag of tea. Literally as I am typing this in my kitchen I just spotted another one under one of our bar stools.Anyways, I should get on with the business of this post before I get on a whole other tangent about other activities (some good, some that leave me wondering who the heck thinks of some of this stuff) we’ve tried via good ‘ol pinterest.

Oatmeal raisin cookies are on my top 5 favorite cookie list–for sure! Growing up, my mom used to make oatmeal raisin cookies with a pinch of ground clove. The combination of the buttery-sugary-spiciness was such a treat. I don’t really want to shouldn’t eat that version of oatmeal raisin cookie on  a regular basis and these are the perfect solution.

These cookies can double as breakfast in my opinion. Grey and I were noting how they would be a great snack/breakfast/dessert to bring along on a hike because they are so packable. They are basically a bowl of oatmeal in cookie form ;).

There is only five ingredients that make them up which all happen to be in our pantry list–so last minute baking is a cinch. I still love my mom’s oatmeal raisin cookie recipe, which I may just have to post sometime in the future (maybe during the holidays), but this one hits the spot for a little day-to-day indulgence!

Love, Grey & Brianna

Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 25 minutes | Serves: 18

Ingredients:

cooking spray

2 ripe bananas

½ cup raw cashews

½ teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups rolled oats

½ cup raisins

Directions:

Put the oven rack in the middle position, and preheat to 300 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.

In a large bowl mash the bananas with a fork. In a food processor or high powered blender, add cashews and blend on high for 30 seconds, or until cashews are ground very small or powdery. Make sure not to blend the cashews into butter!

Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl with the bananas. With a rubber spatula, incorporate all the ingredients together.

Use your hands to roll out balls of dough, and flatten them onto the cookie sheet. Because they contain no leavening they will not rise, so you can put them pretty close together. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned and the cookies are chewy.

 

Jada’s Birth Story.

 

Dear Friends,

I’m finally getting around to writing Jada’s birth story on her one month birthday. I’ll call it my maternity leave from blogging to make myself feel a bit better about quite a lengthy absence. To be quite frank, the recovery of this birth is taking more time. Every birth is unique, and Little Miss definitely gave me a different birth story to tell from her big brother’s two years ago.

Here we go.

On June 23rd, Grey and I made our first heirloom tomato pizza this season, from our abundance of tomatoes in the garden. I was six days overdue, and had come to accept the fact that my body likes to hold onto it’s babies for a little longer than 40 weeks. We ate dinner, got Greyson to bed, and planned to watch a movie.

We started one of the x-men movies (I’m not really sure which one) because that is what we watched the night I went into labor with Greyson (yeah…I was ready to try anything.) We turned it off after only about ten minutes because it just didn’t feel right.

We turned 180 degrees, and flipped on Kung Fu Panda. (I’m not sure why that needs to be in this birth story….but it just does.) We watched a chubby panda (voiced by Jack Black) overcome what was unlikely for him to achieve, and laughed.

Almost immediately after the movie, I started feeling contractions around 11:00pm, and unlike my first delivery, I knew I was in labor. I didn’t mention anything to Grey then, because I wanted him to sleep. I took a shower, finished packing our bag, and contrary to popular advice for when “you go into labor at night” I didn’t sleep, I cleaned for the rest of the night. Around 4:00 am I layed down to get some rest, and actually fell asleep.

I woke up around 6:30am with no contractions.

I was disappointed and confused. As I started moving around they came back much milder. I decided to go grocery shopping with Greyson around 8:00am to get the house stocked up with food for when the baby did decide to make a début. As I was shopping, things started to pick up again, and I felt like I needed to get home A.S.A.P.!

I felt much better in the comfort of our own home. I let Grey know, at this point, that today could be the day. I played with Greyson and just meditated through the contractions for the rest of the morning.

Around 12:00pm Grey and I alerted our family and friends that in a little while we would be heading to the hospital. Things felt like they were progressing, but I wanted to stay home as long as possible.

About 2:30pm we went to the hospital. Until this point, I had never spent a night away from Greyson, and as I was kissing him goodbye, a wave of all kinds of emotions came over me (our sweet little man cub, was going to be a big brother!)

When we got there, they checked me, and I was only 3cm dilated. This labor was going much slower than my first! I forgot the intensity of the pain, and I thought surely the nurse didn’t measure right. I thought “this feels like at least a five….I’ll even take four. Please tell me something more than a 3?!?”

Even though the contractions were pretty intense, I still had quite a bit of time between them. Grey was snapping a few photos, and we were even joking around between them for the first few hours. (I think this might be his first selfie.)  ;)I definitely was not looking this happy as time when on.

Around 6:00pm there were no more jokes. No more games. Anyone that attempted to make a funny was going to be excommunicated.

Seriously folks. That’s all I can really say about that. Seriously.

When I thought I couldn’t take the pain anymore, all I wanted to hear was 10. “You are dilated to 10cm, are you ready to push?” But that is not what I heard. What I heard was: “8 you are at an 8.”

Oh Lord.

Only one position was slightly okay, and that was on my hands and knees. I dreaded when they came in to monitor me and made me lay on my back.

The last time the nurse came to monitor the baby, she also checked me and I was at 9.5cm. Hallelujah. I was so ready for this to be over and I was waiting for the green light on pushing…I knew it had to be close now.

It was close until I heard them say: “the baby’s heart rate is dropping.” The midwife came in and looked at the monitor for a minute as the numbers kept going down down down. She very calmly said: “Brianna, I’m going to call the Doctor, the baby’s heart rate is very low. So low that I’m concerned enough to call him.”

In almost an instant they had an oxygen mask on my face, an IV in my arm and Grey was signing papers for surgery. I layed there on my hands and knees and listened to them talk about our baby’s falling heart rate, as my heart was sinking right along side hers. I felt such a mix of emotions hopelessness, desperation, sadness, and nothingness. My contractions completely disappeared. Grey reminded me so sweetly, that “everything is going to be okay–no matter what we are going to have a baby tonight.”

Birth is such an amazing process, and something happened amidst them running frantically. I wanted to push. I had a peace about pushing. They kept telling me to wait until I had “the urge to push” I don’t entirely know what that feels like because I never got it with Greyson, and I don’t think I really got that feeling with Jada, but I did have the urge to get this baby out. I knew if I didn’t soon, it would mean surgery.

I told them I was pushing…now! Because I didn’t have strong enough contractions to distract me from the delivery. I felt it. I felt how painful pushing a baby out is. But I yelled through 3 pushes and at 9:29pm she was born. Grey said: “It’s a girl! We have a Jada.” She was placed directly on my chest, and was, “is” perfect. I cannot begin to describe the wonderful moments right after she was born. I was so happy she was finally here. Grey cut the cord while I held her and she nursed right away. Our sweet girl, has blessed our family. I remember when I was pregnant, a couple stopping me to tell me that, “This baby is a blessing.” They spoke that over our family. What a blessing from the Lord she is!

We spent the rest of the night and next day admiring her sweet face and little self. A daughter. We have a son and a daughter. Craziness! I was so excited for Greyson to meet her! Greyson came the next morning and was surprisingly shy around his sister. He was unsure and kept hiding behind his shoulder. Our family has changed. After only a few minutes though he was smiley and interested to touch her, and get his face as close as humanly possible to hers. Family came to visit. We received flowers and gifts, and just soaked up the first hours of her life. We got to go home early, and were ready to get comfy cozy in our new life together as a family of four. Thank you Jesus we made it!

Thank you Grey for being the best husband and birth coach–ever.

Thank you Celeste for taking photos.

Thank you everyone for your love and support.

Happy one month birthday sweet girl.

Love, Grey & Brianna

The Best Granola

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I consider this the best granola recipe because it tastes delicious on it’s own, but can be the base granola for any flavor granola that you choose. It is customizable for any palate.

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We often make it on it’s own,but enjoy it with walnuts, cranberries, raisins, or whatever else we have in our cupboards.

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It uses honey as the sweetener, and a hint of cinnamon which adds real warm toasty flavor.

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Here’s a list of potential candidates for ways to transform this basic honey granola recipe:

DRIED FRUIT:

  • Dried Apples
  • Dried Apricots
  • Banana Chips
  • Coconut flakes
  • Dried Cherries
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Dates
  • Dried Figs
  • Goji Berries
  • Dried Mangos
  • Raisins

NUTS & SEEDS:

  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Pistachios
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Pecans
  • Cashews
  • Flaxseeds
  • Chia Seeds
  • Hemp Seeds
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Pumpkin Seeds

OTHER:

  • Chocolate chips
  • White Chocolate Chips
  • Dried Ginger

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Mix and match ingredients to make your custom granola. Or, like I said, just make and eat up this basic recipe–it’s good all on it’s own.

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The Best Granola

Ingredients:

3 cups rolled oats

3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup honey

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

cooking spray

Any of the desired toppings listed above

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300 F and arrange rack in the middle.

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. In a separate smaller bowl whisk together the honey olive oil, and vanilla extract.

Pour the olive oil and honey mixture over the oats, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula to get all the sweet stuff!

With a rubber spatula mix the oats and the honey olive oil mixture very well, making sure to coat the oats evenly.

Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Pour oats and spread evenly over the cookie sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes. Stir oats and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove oats from oven and let them cool COMPLETELY before storing. They will be soft until they are completely cooled. If you are adding anything to the granola (like nuts or dried fruit) add and mix it in now before storing. Store in an airtight container.

Love, Grey & Brianna

June: What’s Going on in the Garden

The garden is starting to look and feel like a summertime garden. I’m loving the buzzing bees, fluttering butterflies, and all the life that is out there. We’ve been eating summer squash since last week.

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…and cucumbers for two weeks.

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There are lots of tomato flowers…

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….and green tomatoes. …on the very bottom of one plant our first tomato that is turning this season: Black from Tula.

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Bug eaten borage. SONY DSCThe peppers are loving the heat we’ve been having.

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Punky little chive flowers.

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Tiny green strawberry pickin’ hands.

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Sour green strawberry eatin’ face.

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Pretty purple eggplant flowers.

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Sweet basil–the smell of summer!

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Charentais Melons!

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Tiny baby watermelon.

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Papery husked ground cherries.

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Trombone squash.

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Delicata Squash.

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…and their cute little tendrils.

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…lots of squash flowers.

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Raspberries.

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Drying onions.

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Fist full of garlic.

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…and I mustn’t forget to mention the marigolds….again. ;)

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Thanks for coming along on our little June garden tour.

Love, Grey & Brianna 

Green Chile, Summer Squash, and Quinoa Enchilada Bake

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I seriously love enchiladas…a bit more than Grey. He prefers lighter meals that don’t involve many tortillas or refined carbs, so I’m always on the lookout for inspiration to turn classic dishes into something we both can enjoy–same flavor, lighter ingredients.

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This enchilada bake was perfect the other night because 1) we’ve got zucchini and yellow squash already producing like crazy 2) it uses whole grains rather than tortillas.

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The green enchilada sauce, green peppers, and Pepper Jack Cheese are my favorite parts of the dish, while Grey enjoys the homegrown squash, onions, garlic.

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Not by coincidence, all of the above ingredients are corralled into one meal making us both happy.

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I hope this recipe makes your family happy too.

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Green Chile, Summer Squash, and Quinoa Enchilada Bake

Ingredients:

cooking spray

1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed

2 cups water

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups chopped summer squash, (ie: zucchini, yellow squash, patty pan etc.)

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/3 cup chopped cilantro

1 (19 oz) can green chile enchilada sauce

1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles

1 (15 oz) can white beans, drained and rinsed

2 cups shredded Pepper Jack cheese

Salt and black pepper, to taste

1 avocado, diced, for garnish, if desired

Extra chopped cilantro, for garnish, if desired

Sour Cream or Plain Greek yogurt, for garnish if desired

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. Add quinoa and water to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Turn the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until water is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Meanwhile in large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic. Sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the summer squash and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the cumin, chili powder, and cilantro. Stir to combine.

Add the cooked quinoa, enchilada sauce, diced green chiles, and white beans to the pot with the summer squash. Gently stir until combined. Stir in 1 cup of the shredded cheese.

Pour the quinoa mixture into the prepared baking dish. Top with remaining shredded cheese. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.  For the last minute or two, turn the broiler on HIGH to get the cheese yummy and golden (watch closely! It browns quickly). Remove from the oven, and let cool for 10 minutes. Garnish with avocado and cilantro, if desired. Serve warm.

Love, Grey & Brianna

Blueberry Picking.

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We went to one of those you-pick-blueberry farms on Friday. Which turned out to be such a fun thing to do, with an almost two-year old.

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My mom came to help too.

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We managed to fill our entire bucket, which was easy at first because Greyson was all business about blueberry picking.

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He’d pluck individual berries off the bush, and one-by-one drop them into the bucket.

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Slow…. but steady and effective.

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Before we got there, I was worried about him eating the berries before they made it to bucket, but he didn’t even think of it.

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…until he did.

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Once he realized we could just be out there eating all the berries, he was running here and there and we were trying to wrangle him into staying on track to fill the bucket.

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…and the fill the bucket he did…

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We did manage to get the job done, and keep him from eating too many in the process.

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Most importantly…We had such a fun time!

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I love the frosty color of blueberries.

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We are pretty stocked up now, so I’ll be dreaming up a few recipes to use up all these beautiful berries!

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Love, Grey & Brianna

Marigolds.

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We planted an entire bed of marigolds as an organic pest control method, and I’ve got to say, it’s one of my favorite parts of the garden right now. We grew them from seed and these marigolds are stout.

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Not like the six packs bought at the garden center. They are taller, more vibrant and a bit out of control. I love the variety of colors these heirloom seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company offers.

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I’ve been cutting them for in the house, and transplanting them here and there for color. Greyson has been plucking them and filling up dump trucks, and making this every day.

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This little yellow bowl of dirt sits here day after day and gets fresh marigolds pushed into it, which of course are all shriveled by the next day….but all the more reason to re-seed and start again.

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. Happy summer garden days.

Love, Grey & Brianna

Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Bites

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I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for a while now…because we’ve been eating and loving this snack for a while now. ;)

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I’ve been on the hunt for good snack recipes so I could stock up the fridge and freezer with easy to grab healthy options.

It makes healthy eating so much easier when everything is already prepared and ready to go. I store these in the freezer in a sealed container.

They are especially delightful after dinner, when I’m craving some kind of chocolatey-not-so-good-for-me-snack.

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We use natural peanut butter (Adam’s is the best!) and good quality cocoa powder. Grey packs them in his lunches in a small glass pyrex container and they hold up well outside of the freezer as well.

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I can throw them together in ten minutes because there is no cooking involved.

I like them because they are super fast to make, and because they’re chocolate peanut butter….and that doesn’t really need any further explanation.

Enjoy!

Love, Grey & Brianna

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Bites

Ingredients:

¾ cup pitted dates

½ cup peanuts, plus more for rolling

¼ cup natural peanut butter

2 tsp cocoa powder

Directions:

Pulse the peanuts in food processor until they are to your desired coarseness. We like ours a little more rustic ;).

Remove peanuts from food processor and set aside. Add the dates to your food processor and pulse for about 20 seconds. Add ½ cup of peanuts, peanut butter, and cocoa powder to the dates.

Blend until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Remove blade from food processor. Roll the date mixture into one inch balls. Then roll into the chopped peanuts.

Store in the refrigerator for about one week or in the freezer for up to six months.

May Things.

2015 SUMMER GARDEN

1. There are only 5 things this month, and this being one of them: Baby prep takes a lot of time….and energy. That has been the main focus of May. Scrub, clean, hang, sort, donate, toss, stock, pack, and grow a baby. Point number one, takes about 90% of the month’s focus.

2.Which brings me to point number two. We had our baby shower, and it was wonderful.

3. Mother’s day was low key. We missed church because our keys got locked in the car, harvested potatoes, and had a picnic lunch at home.

4.Memorial day was much of the same…well pretty different except for the low key part. Cousins went swimming and we had a BBQ that somehow ended up indoors.

5. I already ran out of thing to say for May because I can’t quite think clearly. There is going to be another human being in our household!


Love, Grey & Brianna